Our History

Tender Roots first opened its doors in September 2006. The journey of Tender Roots began with Founding Director Dusty Rummer’s teaching career in New York City.  In graduate school, Mrs. Rummer was introduced to Howard Gardner’s “multiple intelligences” theory and the Reggio Emilia Approach. While teaching at a NYC public elementary school, she became focused on the how to use the environment to improve students’ learning, while using “multiple Intelligences” to reach all students.

While living in Washington, DC, Mrs. Rummer substituted at the Reggio school, St. John’s Episcopal Preschool. She was inspired by her experience and passionate that Reggio was the best way to educate young children.  At the same time, she and her daughter had the benefit of being part of two neighborhood cooperative playgroups, Intown Playgroup and Blue Igloo.

After moving to Arlington, VA, she discovered during her search for her second child’s schooling that there were no cooperative playgroups in the area like she had experienced.  There were also very few high quality options for very young children.  Mrs. Rummer decided it was the right time and place to open the school she had been envisioning through the years.  It would be a school that would combine the qualities of a Reggio school and a cooperative playgroup.

The name Tender Roots was chosen because it embodies the philosophy of the school.  “Tender” represents young children who still need the comfort and care of their parents.  “Roots” signifies the need of young children and families to create roots in their neighborhood with friends. Tender Roots is meant to convey the feeling of a grass-roots neighborhood organization centered around children and their families.