Director of Education's Report
Connection and collaboration seem to be the themes we are working on as we near the Festival of Wisdom. All year long, our school festivals serve to connect us as a community of teachers, parents, children and friends as much as our work in the classroom and meeting spaces do. The collaboration between parents and board, board and teachers/staff, parents and teachers/staff and inside the classroom between students, is the gift of a conscious community. Lately, I have really felt this beautiful aspect of being part of a growing, conscious, school community.
This time of year is a time for reflection, review and intention setting as we kindle our internal light during the time of dwindling external light. In the classrooms, you may see an extra teacher sitting in the back of the yard/classroom. Each year, our teachers are offered feedback during an evaluation process during the fall. This connects us to each other and the world-wide Waldorf community as we reflect on the task of the Waldorf teacher and how best to support each other’s striving. This reflection is often followed by the assignment of mentors who have the intention to support professional striving through weekly support meetings and classroom observations. We consider this process to be a gift of collaboration, connection, integrity and support.
In meeting spaces, you may see gatherings of teachers with papers strewn about under furrowed brows of concentration. Each year our pedagogical leadership team (Director of Education and Faculty Director) leads the teachers through a program review process. We delve into our programs and measure them against our mission and Waldorf principles to ensure we are doing our very best to provide Waldorf education in the valley. This work leads us to reaffirm or recreate our programs for the next school year.
In classrooms, you may see children reflecting on their own development in age appropriate ways. In the upper grades, students might reflect in writing how a certain assignment showcases learning in a certain area and how it fits into their own learning goals. In the Kindergarten, you may see a teacher listening carefully to the words her students are saying as they play and collaborate. She might quickly scribble down their words, “I got to the top this time because I practiced so much” to show how her student assessed his/her own development. In every classroom, children are reflecting and making goals whether in writing, purposefully thoughtful, or organically arriving in the play yard.
This is what I love about Advent time… connection and collaboration through reflection, review and intention setting within a conscious community.
Happy holidays to all of you!
Faculty Director's Report
The life we have been born into, perfectly crafted to build the muscles of self-development, is a wonder to continually behold. Living in the northern hemisphere and experiencing four distinct seasons, is an aspect of our life that provides a certain workout for the soul. Can we see it as part of our destiny, that we repeatedly experience this season of the fall? Can we begin to observe how we make our way through this time and, just as a squirrel gathers nourishment for hibernation, can we be aware of what nuggets of nourishment we need as we descend into external darkness?
The fall asks for courage: courage to face the darkness of the world, courage to let your light shine despite the signs of death all around. Each year, the faculty work with this theme throughout the fall term, and looks at it from different angles, studying various lectures from Rudolf Steiner and sharing together as a group of seekers.
How different we all experience the fall, and how different it can be from one year to another. There is so much we can learn from the other as we share our heartfelt experiences together. Building connections forms community and creates light, and though some of us may feel the darkness more pronounced, there is comfort in the light that the group can kindle.
How do we give and receive this light? How do we kindle it, stoke the little embers in our hearts, and fan the flames to encourage brightness? One way is that we tell each other how we see them. We show them their light from our perspective. What a wonderful practice it is to be able to receive this beautiful and kind light from others. What a gift it is to then reciprocate.
In November, we celebrated our Festival of Compassion. Steiner said that compassion is a great and mysterious secret. He said that when we feel compassion for another, we are transcending our physical limitations, our ordinary existence, and entering the world of another being. Part of being a Waldorf teacher is the commitment to a path of self-development. Every word we breathe, every feeling we feel, every action we take is our responsibility to choose consciously. It is our responsibility to look at, explore from various angles, understand motives and impulses, desires and beliefs. This is a life-long practice that strengthens with each day one is committed to it. Being surrounded by others on the journey strengthens our own commitment to it.
This term we explored the nature of our chosen profession and took some time to discuss the demanding workload in relation to the financial compensation. What a healthy trust we have built as a faculty, that we can speak about our feelings around money and work expectations, and practice equanimity under potentially emotionally stressful discussions. What a wonderful opportunity to also practice compassion and respect. These discussions that took place over a four-week period, led us back to a place of honour and respect.
The richness we receive from the daily work with the children, the opportunities for learning as we delve into the curriculum, the development of the self from every angle as we are challenged to gain grounded depth and spiritual heights, does not go unnoticed or unappreciated. Our work environment is like no other. The depth of our work allows for deep and meaningful partnership with the adults in the community. Through this fall, we explored darkness, we asked difficult questions, we nurtured ourselves and others with compassion, and we carried the light within us and between us. For it is courage and compassion that leads us to wisdom, that leads us to trust that the sun will be reborn, and that the light does always return.
Blessings of light to you,
Board Chair's Report
On November 18, we held our annual general meeting and are pleased to welcome Georgia Pears, Nathan Rothgeb and Melanie Bean to our Board of Directors.
In reviewing our budget and measuring it against our school needs (physical and cultural), the board created a non-standing committee to investigate how to meet these needs. As a result, the committee has identified two options to support the goal of creating community whilst meeting the physical needs of the school.
Option one includes a tuition increase of $600 per full time family and $300 per part time family, to cover the cost of a full-time building and maintenance manager. As there will already be a 5% tuition increase for next year, the board has opted to move forward with option two which will meet both physical and cultural needs.
Option two allows each family to choose one of the following:
We strive to work hand in hand with parents and create a bridge between home and school. Parent and community engagement is an integral part of our collective operations. Our children experience connectedness and unity when they see their family members working with their school. This helps close the gap between school life and home life. Being active in school life also makes children feel supported and helps them develop their capacity as future citizens.
Thank you for your support!