Through a generous capital gift from the Rainwater Charitable Foundation, BRIT dedicates its new education wing as the Suzanne Rall Peacock Education Center. The education center will house BRIT’s education programs for teachers, children and families, and adult learners. The center will be home for the BRIT SEED School to carry on the work Suzy began, upholding a standard of excellence as a place that honors, nurtures, and inspires teachers, preparing them to help children experience nature and learning in life-changing ways. BRIT is honored to be a part of Suzy’s legacy to Fort Worth’s citizens and students.
How do you open the eyes of a child to the wonders of the world? Suzy Peacock knew.
It meant getting children outdoors. Here, their child-like curiosity sparks imagination and leads them to the wonders of nature—the interconnectedness of all living things.
From her earliest years, growing up on her family’s ranch in Fort Worth and attending Westcliff Elementary School, Suzy had an eye for the aesthetics of nature. Its beauty framed her view of the world, shaped her deep personal environmental ethic, and influenced her professional journey, as well.
Through the years, Suzy and her long-time friend Richard Rainwater dedicated themselves to making a difference in the lives of children. Through the Rainwater Charitable Foundation, they fostered the local school garden movement, planting seeds of hope. They inspired an entire community through school garden projects and numerous other programs for children who needed their help the most. Their vision and determination made schools a nurturing and stimulating place to learn, and these schools continue to touch the lives of countless children, educators, and families today.
Believing that everyone concerned has a special gift to bring to this work, Suzy formed REAL* People. This community leadership program brings together teachers, parents, and partners committed to learning how best to support the education of our children.
In 2003, BRIT formally entered the picture and partnered with Suzy and the Rainwater Charitable Foundation. BRIT’s strong education program, with its successful professional development for teachers, supported the work in local schools. BRIT staff also served on the advisory board that created a focused organization for the outdoor learning vision, REAL School Gardens. This Fort Worth-based nonprofit takes education beyond the classroom walls and creates and supports learning gardens in urban elementary schools. Suzy’s vision helped REAL School Gardens grow into an organization that has supported elementary schools in the design and installation of learning gardens, trained thousands of teachers to use them as outdoor classrooms, and built a community around them to nurture support for urban schools.
As synergy builds between BRIT, REAL School Gardens, Fort Worth ISD, Fort Worth Botanic Garden, Fort Worth Nature Center, Texas Christian University, and many other community organizations, a state-wide movement called the Texas Partnerships for Children in Nature is taking root. This movement is focused on getting children outdoors to connect with nature. Its vision, one that BRIT has long embraced, is that “all Texas children and their families will spend more time outdoors, engaged in nature for a happy and healthy life.”
As a trustee of BRIT, Suzy understood the importance of education to BRIT’s mission and continually supported our work. In 2008, the Rainwater Charitable Foundation provided seed money to BRIT, and we were privileged to dream with Suzy to craft a vision for a new teacher education center, the BRIT SEED** School. Over a full year, we worked together. We envisioned teachers who are empowered, effective, connected, and creative. Their students achieve academic goals and become life-long learners who are environmentally responsible, connected to their community, inspired by nature, and scientifically literate.
With an eye to the future, a $5 million endowment from Rainwater Charitable Foundation is building a foundation for The BRIT SEED School.
The School will provide a way for BRIT to carry on the work Suzy began, upholding a standard of excellence as a place that honors, nurtures, and inspires teachers, preparing them to help children experience nature and learning in life-changing ways.
“Our work is another way of saying ‘I love you’ to the children and the educators we serve,” Suzy once wrote, “and a way of saying ‘I see how hard you work. I see the gift that you bring, and I honor that. I value that enough to bring you the quality of experience you deserve.’”
The seeds provided by the Rainwater Charitable Foundation and the blossoms tended by the hands of Suzy Peacock are yielding fruit in our community through the programs and people she loved. Suzy’s challenge with a 9-year illness ended October, 2009, but her inspiration lives on.
*REAL—Rainwater Environmental Alliance for Learning
**SEED— Sustainable Environmental Education Design
“Friend, mentor and advocate for children and education”