Following in the footsteps of a family of education professionals Cannie Bennett discovered her passion for education after the birth of her daughters. She longed to find a quality kindergarten with a play-based learning environment for her children. Together with three other like-minded mothers, they co-founded Highgate House School in 1992. This was the beginning of Cannie’s journey as her passionate love for early childhood education continued to grow.
In 1993, as a young mother and entrepreneur learning on-the-go, Cannie was one of four Education Consultants that pioneered an international kindergarten joint venture with the Guangzhou Tianhe District Education Bureau. This gave her the determination to remain involved in the ever-changing educational sector, and continually strive to expand her knowledge and develop stimulating techniques and curriculums.
By 2002, her daughters were growing up and Cannie had more time to focus on her dream. It had became clear that her calling was in early childhood education. While furthering her interest in early childhood learning, she was introduced to Waldorf Education, the foundation of which paired perfectly with Cannie’s ideal teaching style. Since then, she has supported teacher training programmes and conferences on Waldorf Education in Hong Kong and around South East Asia.
In 2005, she sought to build a little Waldorf community near her home in Sai Kung, searching for an environment best suited for children. A close connection to the natural world, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, was a must. Eventually, she found an ideal location to establish Garden House School, but the landlord was not interested in leasing. It took Cannie three years (literally knocking on the door) to finally convince the landlord. Her persistence finally paid off. In 2008, she set up a kindergarten, using the Waldorf curriculum, at this location in Clearwater Bay. She developed a homely and secure environment that continues to nurture the development of children’s senses and imagination today.
With the foundations of the kindergarten in place, her commitment to Waldorf Education led her to become one of the Regional Coordinators for Greater China on Waldorf Early Childhood Education (2010-2015, 2018-present), and she continues to support Waldorf teacher training programmes. With shared ideas from a multitude of expert educators, Garden House has evolved to benefit of the children in three ways: head, heart and hands. The kindergarten has received much praise, and soon many of the parents were questioning Cannie about the idea of starting up a Waldorf primary school so their children could continue their education using the Waldorf methodology. For Cannie, this idea seemed too good to be true, but with the help of many persistent mums, the charitable organization, Forest House International School Limited, was established within a year. Through many contributions and continual support from passionate parents, teachers and the community, Forest House Waldorf School, the 1st Waldorf Primary School in Hong Kong, was born on 1st February, 2016.
Cannie served as a founder member for this pioneer project, alongside many educators, teachers and parents who helped to turn her dream into a reality.
For more than two decades, Cannie has been working tirelessly to provide a platform for the wider community in Hong Kong to experience Waldorf Education; thus, insuring more children have the opportunity to enjoy a trusting, homely and natural environment.