Summer Programs: June and July 2019

Green Meadow Waldorf School is now enrolling for our Summer Programs in June and July 2019, for children ages 3-9. Designed to complement our September through June programs, Green Meadow Waldorf School’s summer offerings extend the school year for 3- to 9-year-old children and engage them with a balance of summer activities that strengthen their developing skills and capacities.

The alluring scents and sunny days of summer tempt us to trade work and routine in favor of time outdoors. Our teachers understand the young child’s desire to daydream and explore during the summer season. They consciously plan experiences that allow children to unwind from the school year into a new “holiday” mood and a sense of freedom and exploration.

Run by trained Waldorf teachers, our summer programs take place on more than 11 acres of farm, fields, forests, gardens, and streams. Parents appreciate our unplugged environment, our ecological sustainability, and our commitment to serving food made with only natural and organic ingredients. We use rich materials for handcrafts and authentic tools for gardening, woodworking, and cooking. Children are welcomed into learning experiences that nourish their senses, engage their innate desire for self-initiated movement, and inspire their budding imaginations.

Summer 2019 Programs

JUNE 17-21, JUNE 24-28, JULY 1-3 (PLEASE NOTE: 3-DAY WEEK), JULY 8-12
$550/WEEK ($330 FOR WEEK OF JULY 1)

Register with Carol Grieder for ages 5-9 and Jessica Oswald for ages 3 & 4.

Summer Farm Days is an outdoor program located on a working farm. Our days will be filled with caring for animals, including feeding sheep and chickens, working in the gardens, harvesting vegetables on the adjoining farm, engaging in artistic activities, and helping with sheep shearing. We will enjoy rich imaginative play in the sandbox and barnyard, as well as circle and story times. Artistic activities are centered around wool and products of nature. Snack is included and lunches are brought from home. Water tables and sprinklers are available for creative outdoor play. This year, we are offering an opportunity for a group of younger children and a group of older children to collaborate and enjoy the farm experience together.

JUNE 17-21

Register with Ayako Yanagi.

We will spend a week with artistic activities, circle, and story times which meet the young child. The class will include colorful wet-felting craft projects such as necklaces, flower brooches, hair pieces, and egg-shaped rattles, and preparation of homemade snacks. Lunch is brought from home. We will play in the sprinkler, enjoy rich imaginative play on the playground, and take nature walks to the nearby forest.  The items created during the class will be taken home as completed.

JUNE 24-28
AGES 3-7

Register with Ayako Yanagi.

We will spend a week with artistic activities, circle, and story times which meet the young child. The class will include Plant Dyeing from onion skins and red cabbage, Japanese Calligraphy craft projects, and preparation of homemade snacks. Lunch is brought from home. We will play in the sprinkler, enjoy rich imaginative play on the playground, and take nature walks to the nearby forest.  The items created during the class will be taken home as completed.

AGES 3-7

Register with Ayako Yanagi.

We will spend days with artistic activities, circle, and story times which meet the young child. The class will include Origami and Kirigami craft projects and preparation of homemade snacks.  Lunch is brought from home. We will play in the sprinkler, enjoy rich imaginative play on the playground, and take nature walks to the nearby forest. The bamboo tree with ornaments of the Star Festival created during this class will be sent home at the end of the week.

JULY 8-12
AGES 3-7

Register with Ayako Yanagi.

We will spend a week with artistic activities, circle, and story times which meet the young child. The class will include finger knitting and weaving crafts projects such as a wall hanging decoration with branches from nature, and preparation of homemade snacks. Lunch is brought from home. We will play in the sprinkler and enjoy rich imaginative play on the playground and take nature walks to the nearby forest. The items created during this class will be sent home as completed.

JULY 15-19
AGES 4-7
$240 HALF DAY, $475 FULL DAY

Register with Martine Littlewood.

We will spend a week with artistic activities, games, and songs which meet the young child. The weekly theme will center around creating and sailing a small wooden boat. The daily rhythm will include rich outdoor imaginative play, preparation of homemade snacks, and nature walks to source materials to craft and launch our own sweet little boats. Lunch is brought from home.

JULY 22-26
AGES 4-7
$240 HALF DAY, $475 FULL DAY

Register with Martine Littlewood.

Adventuring and gathering we will go this week, allowing the young child to explore the magic of the plant and animal kingdoms. The theme will center around creating fairy gardens or gnomey homes from the items we will find in nature. The daily rhythm offers outdoor play, nature walks and observation, and homemade fairy and gnomey snacks. Lunch is brought from home. Our little habitats will be decorated and brought home at the end of the week.

Photo by Melanie Rieders.


Coming Up in June 2019: The Rose Ceremony

Community life at Green Meadow Waldorf School is rooted in rhythm and tradition, offering the children special events to look back on and look forward to, throughout their time here. One of the most special traditions is our Rose Ceremony, which takes place every September and June.

In September, the twelfth graders welcome the first graders into the school on everyone’s first day back. With Grades 2-11 watching from the audience, the small, often nervous first graders cross the large stage in Rose Hall, usually for the first time, and meet a smiling twelfth grader in the center, where the older student presents a rose to the younger child. It is beautiful to witness the personality of each child shine through in this interaction: the way each one walks, boldly or shyly, quickly or steadily; their facial expressions when giving and receiving the rose; the way a small child might sneak a peek at a parent, teacher, or classmate, seeking reassurance; the wistful countenance of the older students watching the young ones, some remembering the day all those years ago when they received their own rose from a towering teenager.

In June, on the last day of school, the process reverses and the first graders say goodbye to the twelfth graders by presenting them with a rose. Now the first graders are bigger, stronger, more confident. Many stride across the stage, exuberant with the awesome responsibility of presenting a rose to the very same senior who gave them their rose all those months ago on their first day of first grade. The seniors often walk more slowly than they did in September and appear much more reflective on this last day of their high school career. One sees them savoring the moment; they are saying goodbye to one stage of their lives and entering another. They accept the rose with grace and a smile, and the moment imprints itself on all present.

For many parents, the Rose Ceremony articulates so much of what we love about Green Meadow Waldorf School. Our children are seen, welcomed, given time to be children, educated with love, and then sent off as confident, well-rounded young adults, gifted with a presence and a steadiness that is rare in our speedy world. As adults, we feel the honor and the privilege of gathering together as a community to celebrate these young people, at ages 6 or 7 and 18 or 19, and hundreds of times in between; we want them to remember they are surrounded by adults who know them, care for them, and will guide them, through all their years here and beyond. For we know that this is one of the best ways to insulate young people from all kinds of crisis as they enter adolescence: we help them feel they are embedded in a community, accountable, and connected and we help them build resilience. These strategies aren’t a guarantee, but we know from experience that they are protective and effective. And so, with love, intention, and the gift of our presence, we create and maintain traditions that anchor and inspire them.

Header photo: First graders at the Rose Ceremony, September 2018 by Joseph Regan ‘18 ; other photos also courtesy of Joseph Regan ‘18 


Senior Projects: May 2019

In early May 2019, every 12th grader at Green Meadow Waldorf School presented a Senior Project. These presentations were the culmination of a year-long inquiry into a particular topic, chosen by the students themselves.

Senior Projects are a beloved tradition at Green Meadow and take place every year. The projects offer students a chance, during a busy and often stressful senior year, to work on a project of their own choosing, to get outside the world of homework and college applications and do something, often with their hands or bodies.

Students find that Senior Projects are an “out-breath” for them; this aligns with the rhythms of a Waldorf school where, throughout their day and the school year, students are used to a balance of focused academic work (in-breath) and artistic work or movement (out-breath).

No matter the age of the child, a typical day for a Waldorf student follows a rhythm that breathes. From quietly and attentively listening to a story in the Nursery or Kindergarten to participating in a critical discussion of Dante’s Inferno in the High School, there are moments during the day where students will be applying deep focus and concentration, or breathing in. Those moments will balance to breathe out in activities like open-ended play, recess, games, and artistic classes like handwork, woodwork, metalwork, drawing, and painting. This balance optimizes learning, diminishes stress and fatigue, and allows the students to move through their day in a healthy way. 

At a Waldorf school, during Early Childhood (preschool, Nursery, and Kindergarten), learning occurs by facilitating self-initiated exploration through play. The Lower School engages the vivid imaginative nature of the child through a program where academic learning is intertwined with and supported by storytelling, the arts, music, movement, and practical activity. And the High School delivers a rigorous curriculum that fosters critical, independent thinking, artistic expression, and hands-on experience.

In the early years, an emphasis on coordinated bodies, strong imaginations, healthy social interactions, and a love of work and play lays the foundation for academic excellence as students experience the beauty of language arts and literature, the culture of the world's civilizations through history and language, and the empirical qualities of the scientific and mathematical disciplines through a lively and engaging curriculum that introduces increasingly complex and sophisticated subject matter as the students grow and mature.

When children learn in a way that honors their unfolding development (without trying to rush or speed up the process), they gain a quiet confidence, a mastery of skills, and a sustained interest in the world around them. Waldorf students experience the journey of childhood without having their curiosity and creativity extinguished. Senior projects are the capstone on this experience, and showcase the well-rounded people that a Green Meadow Waldorf School education helps produce.

This year, students presented the following projects:

Motorcycle Restoration

Digital Photography

Game Design

Writing a Novel

Building a Tiny House on Wheels

Rebuilding a Jeep

Research Paper: feminism

Reimagining Flight

Standup Comedy

Being Human: self-care and self-knowledge


Bicycle Mechanics

Biodynamic Farming


Dollhouse Design & Build



Pottery on the Wheel

Poetry Book


Meditation & Yoga

Videos of each project will be available soon; watch our blog for links!

Photo by Jordan Dyniewski: The Class of 2019 performing their class play.

Our seniors are stellar interns!

Each year, Green Meadow Waldorf School 12th graders do a three-week internship in April, allowing them to experience a workplace firsthand. They keep a daily journal about their thoughts and impressions, and the school receives official feedback from the student's on-site internship coordinator. We are so proud of the responses we received about the Class of 2018 that we just have to share them. Students' names are omitted to respect their privacy. 

From Gonxhe Magellara, Commissary Manager Production at Momofuku Milk Bar: "[The student] was able to jump on any station, with full confidence and leadership skills...It was also helpful that she is bilingual, able to communicate in both English and Spanish...She was awesome to the team and super-reliable...If she were [looking for] a cook position, she would most certainly be hired!" 

From Cody Wells, Creator at C3Brix: "[The student's] knowledge/creativity/personality made him a perfect fit...there was no doubt he would exceed expectations. To have [him] here these three weeks was nothing short of a breath of fresh air. Can I have him back or can we clone him?" 

From Professor Amy Adamczyk at John Jay College of Criminal Justice: "[The student] had to think and work strategically to diagnose the many problems that arose [during the project] and work with other research team members to figure out a path forward...[She] is thoughtful, easy to work with, and highly intelligent. I wish all my students were as skilled and dedicated as she was."

From Debbi Fleckenstein, Producer at Elmwood Community Playhouse: "[The student] does not shy away from learning anything we have thrown at him...I wish we had three more like him. His initiative was shown in volunteering to do anything that he sees we're looking around for someone to do." 

From David Scharf, Owner at David L. Scharf Construction: "It's very rare to find someone who has so little construction experience yet is so good with his hands. He has a talent for this work (and I offered him a job this summer)."

From Lisa Devo, Owner, Soap & Paper Factory: "We love [her]! I can't wait to see where she is in 10 years. She gives me hope in our youth."

From Joseph Orchard, Senior Editor at Repertoire International de Litterature Musicale: "[The student] understood the project instantly.. [His] intelligence, independence, and motivation to complete the project were all immensely impressive." 


Curious about the Waldorf curriculum?

Our new curriculum map shows what students learn when. A clear picture organized by subject, this allows parents and prospective parents to see how our developmentally appropriate education unfolds, from grades 1-12.

Learn more about the Waldorf difference here.


Registration Open for New Public After-School Classes!

For the first time in our nearly 70-year history, Green Meadow Waldorf School is offering after-school classes that are open to the public. Beginning the week of September 10, 2018, all classes take place on our 11-acre wooded campus in Chestnut Ridge, in Rockland County, NY (just three miles from Bergen County, NJ). Courses are run by teachers, parents, and friends of our school.

These classes are designed to offer students opportunities to stretch their minds and bodies while they develop new skills and friendships.

Classes offered include: Activism/Civics, Capoiera, Circus Arts, Cooking, Culinary Arts, Fiber Craft, Gardening, Jewelry, KEVA Planks: The Making of an Architect!, Making Herbal Remedies and Products, Photography, Textile Design and Sewing, Theater Arts, and Woodworking.

Click here for the full brochure and here for the program webpage.

For more information and to register, please contact the teacher(s) of the class(es) that interest you. Contact information for each teacher is listed in the brochure.

For general program information, please contact Vicki Larson, Director of Communications and Marketing, 845.356.2514 x311 or

Green Meadow Waldorf School teaches 21st century skills

In a blog post this past Winter, we talked about the capacities that a Waldorf Education offers students. We want to talk today about the skills that a Green Meadow Waldorf School education imparts to students.

Let’s start from a theoretical perspective and hear from Jamie York, author and Waldorf math educator. In this post, he talks about the skills and competencies that make Waldorf graduates ready for math and beyond as they move into the world. He references an article by Pat Bassett of NAIS, who lays out how students can demonstrate the skills they are learning through performance-based assessment, used at Green Meadow and many other Waldorf schools.

Grant Lichtman is also relevant to this conversation, as an expert on the attributes of schools that are successful in teaching 21st century skills. Watch this video through to the end (15 well-spent minutes). At about minute 13.5, Lichtman shares three principles for schools: Teach into the Unknown, Develop Self-Evolving Learners, and Be a Self-Evolving Organization. These three principles align perfectly with Green Meadow Waldorf School's mission, and it's exciting to see alignment between mainstream thinking and the wisdom of Waldorf.

That’s the theoretical basis. Practically speaking, what are some of the skills that our students graduate with after 12th grade? (This is by no means an exhaustive list!)

Mathematical and scientific skills: Students learn cartography and surveying skills; they understand and practice the scientific method, including formulating and testing hypotheses; they study Anatomy and Physiology from a theoretical standpoint and from a practical perspective through drawing and modeling; they participate in lab experiments in Physics, Chemistry, and Biology; and they learn Algebra and Geometry and can go on to Trigonometry and Calculus.  

Critical thinking and public speaking skills: Students compare and contrast multiple viewpoints; can write a persuasive argument and a research paper; give a Senior Speech, present a Senior Project, and write a “Song of Myself” as part of their 12th grade self-exploration; compose poetry; understand and discuss the works of authors as erudite and diverse as Geoffrey Chaucer, Wolfram von Eschenbach, William Shakespeare, Zora Neale Hurston, and Langston Hughes, among scores of others.

Linguistic skills: Students graduate at an intermediate level or higher in a second language, able to converse, read a newspaper, and watch a film in that language. About 70 percent of our students have completed a 3- to 5-month international exchange program by the time they graduate from high school.

Musical skills: Students play an instrument from 3rd-12th grades; perform in bi-annual concerts and at least annual recitals; and participate in Band, Orchestra, and/or Chorus.

Manual and practical skills: Students learn to camp, canoe and/or kayak, use many tools, measure accurately, serve those in need, identify plants and animals, build a fire, hike a mountain, garden, sew, knit, paint, draw, bind a book in leather, and make beautiful and useful objects out of wood, clay, and copper.

The graphics below illustrate the nine intelligences and the ways that Waldorf Education supports these disparate and necessary capacities and the skills that help them come to life.

To learn more, visit the sections of our school: Preschool, Lower School, Middle School, and High School; come to an Introductory Session; or take a look at our school videos.


Did you know we are just three miles from Bergen County, New Jersey?

Green Meadow Waldorf School is a private school near Bergen County, New Jersey. Just three miles from the New York/New Jersey border, we are easily accessible from the Bergen County towns of Woodcliff Lake, Montvale, Saddle River, Upper Saddle River, Ridgewood, Allendale, Park Ridge, Mahwah, Ramsey, Glen Rock, and many more.

From our new Forest Preschool to a very special new After-School Program for 2018-19 (open to the public!), to performances and plays and facility rentals, there is so much on our campus that you don't want to miss!

This summer, call us for a private tour and see what our Preschool, Lower School, Middle School, and High School can offer your child(ren).

What to look for in a school: a series

In this short blog series, we'll be helping prospective parents navigate the process of choosing an independent/private school. This week, we'll talk about some general characteristics of a good independent school, and in the coming weeks, we'll focus specifically on how to choose a preschool, lower school, middle school, and high school.  

What are some general characteristics of a good independent school?

  • Accreditation
    Look for a school that is accredited by a regional, national, or international body aligned with the school's philosophy. This guarantees that a school goes through a rigorous self-study and outside evaluations on a regular cycle, ensuring best practices and ongoing growth. Green Meadow is accredited by the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA), the NY State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS), and the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America (WECAN).
  • Curriculum
    Is the school aligned with an particular educational philosophy? A guiding philosophy helps the school stay focused and true to its mission in a world where the educational landscape shifts constantly. Green Meadow is a Waldorf school, founded on a tried-and-true, developmentally appropriate, interdisciplinary philosophy developed in 1919 by Rudolf Steiner and constantly evolving to meet the needs of today's students. Read about Waldorf graduates here to see the outcomes of a Waldorf Education, and stay tuned: a new survey of Waldorf graduates from 1990-2017 was just completed and results will be published in the coming months.
  • Facilities
    Does the school have ample space for students in classrooms and outdoors? Is there good natural light, and beautiful spaces that inspire contemplation and learning? A gym and field for games, sports, creative play, and other movement? Practice rooms for private instrument lessons? An auditorium for concerts and plays? Lab facilities for science classes? A quiet, inviting, well-ordered library? Spaces for students to gather informally? Take a look at Green Meadow's facilities here. You can also see a gallery of classroom photos on each of these pages: preschool, lower school, and high school.
  • History, traditions, and unique programs
    How old is the school? How many teachers and staff have worked there for 10 years or more? Do students stay at the school from preschool through 12th grade? Are there traditions that build a sense of community life and belonging? At Green Meadow, the Rose Ceremony that opens and closes each year, curricular trips including the Third Grade Farm Trip, community events such as the Eighth Grade Talent Show, and unique opportunities including senior projects, senior internships, and our international exchange program are just a few aspects of campus life that excite and engage our students. 
  • Spirit of inquiry
    Do you feel a buzz on campus, an excitement about learning? Are there campus lectures and other cultural events for students and parents? Is there a school newsletter or newspaper that showcases current events, discusses the school's philosophy, and alerts the community to what's happening on campus? Green Meadow has a full annual calendar of community education events, brings speakers to campus frequently for conversations with students, and publishes The Bulletin bimonthly and the Alumni Magazine twice a year, along with an annual yearbook and an annual student-produced literary magazine, The Burning Bush.  
  • Teacher qualifications and engagement
    Are teachers at the school required to be certified beyond state teaching certification? What percentage of teachers are actively engaged in their field outside of school? Do the teachers lead clubs, coach sports, offer office hours for students, or engage in other after-school activities? How accessible are they to parents? At Green Meadow, several of our faculty have advanced degrees, all have received training and/or a degree in Waldorf Education, and they are actively engaged with students and parents through community activities like service learning, outside the school day. 

Alumni Voices: Matt Olson '17

Matt is currently at Queen's University in Ontario, Canada.

"All the best experiences I've had at school so far have been in my involvement outside of class. From competing in inner tube water polo to joining a club for impact investing, I've realized how important it is to take initiative and put yourself out there.

During my first week at Queen's, all the freshmen in my program (or frosh as they say up here) were interviewing for positions on the Queen's Commerce Society. I had never done a real interview before, however, decided I had nothing to lose, suited up, and took my shot. I ended up being offered a position on Queen's Social Investment Initiative which has undoubtedly been one of the highlights of my year. Being part of the club has exposed me to an industry I had no idea existed and aligns very closely with my personal values.

My transition to University was much smoother than I expected due to the vast differentiation of environments compared to Green Meadow. Tons of people go to Queen's knowing people beforehand and I was skeptical I would find a good group of friends. After being here for about an hour, however, all those worries vanished. Everyone is just here to get a good education and have 'the best 4 years of their life,' and I now find myself living on a floor with 30 people I can't imagine living without.

One thing Green Meadow helped me with greatly, which has benefitted me countless times already, is the school's emphasis on public speaking. Doing a 15-minute presentation in Rose Hall gave me confidence in my speaking abilities, which I have utilized competing in case competitions and presenting in front of my current class.

After leaving Green Meadow I felt more than ready to see what the world had in store for me and on what path my independence would lead me. Green Meadow prepared me incredibly well for the mental side of the transition, and I gained the skills necessary at Green Meadow to push through and teach myself in the areas where my background is lacking. All things considered, no high school has the ability to fully prepare students for the next chapter in their life, however, Green Meadow did exceptionally well preparing me for the mental transition." 

Alumni Voices: Grayson Sussman-Squires '17

Grayson is currently at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT.

"I don’t mean this to sound facetious, but I can’t imagine anyone graduating high school anywhere and feeling particularly prepared for college or the 'real world.' I certainly felt that I had a fine variation in skills and a fine education with which I could do well in college. However, I was out of the nest for the first time in a big way. It felt like my first night on exchange when I tried to settle into my new bed in Argentina and tossed and turned for lack of sleep, trying to wrap my head around the crazy adventure I was in for, thinking that there was no turning back now. That is as close a parable as I can get to how I felt coming out of GMWS.

The world grew a lot in those first months and I felt smaller and less significant than ever before. That’s how the transition into college began. I was one face in a crowd of three thousand, and compared to some of the institutions which my GMWS classmates now attend, my university is tiny.

At first, it was a little overwhelming to just comprehend the moment and live in the experience without allowing myself to get washed away in a torrent of newness. But Wesleyan University is not a place where one is easily washed away. I met my best friend on the second day here. And I continued to meet the most extraordinary people during those first weeks.

I am sociable and enjoy a good time, so making friends, although of course stressful, was fascinating and fun. I understood early on that those first friendships aren’t and shouldn’t be binding. I let my true friendships blossom and grow without hard feelings toward those that withered at the onset of class and the continual learning of others’ interests and passions. I now have wonderful friends from across the country and from all around the globe. Like-minded people, yes, but friends who push me to be my better self constantly too.

School work had its bumps in terms of transitioning too. I had to use technology more than I ever had in my previous education, but that didn’t hinder me. My school, and especially my fields of study (government and environmental studies), are heavy on reading and writing, which GMWS prepared me for extensively.

I am reading a ridiculous amount, but I love it. And my ability to formulate articulate written arguments has advanced me in my academic standing without a doubt. I attribute these two skills to my education at GMWS.

The capacity for which I am most thankful for fostering at GMWS, however, is definitely the ability to speak publicly and to clearly express my thoughts, opinions, and feelings. I have come into contact in my life with very few people who could not clearly articulate themselves. I found it quite astonishing how rampant this problem is at my university, which is considered one of the foremost in the country. In fact, my capacity to speak in public or private circumstances has defined me most at this institution, for much of the out-of-class learning comes through conversation and rhetoric. I found so much success with speaking, I joined a debating society, the Wesleyan Political Union, a non-partisan group of student that convenes to debate contemporary political, philosophical, economic, and moral issues.

The quality I value most from my Waldorf education is my well-roundedness as a person. At GMWS, I was very academically minded; I took every science elective, did well on block tests and wrote fine papers, but I never pushed myself in the arts. I never pursued music with any seriousness. My Main Lesson books were always complete and beautiful, but I never prioritized them. When I arrived at Wesleyan, I found how untrue all my conceptualizations of myself as unartistic or as 'only academic' were. I am very well-rounded. And so I finally found the importance of liberal arts.

I am a liberal arts student, for I derive joy and fulfillment from studying just about anything. I push myself academically, but I am also active artistically, musically, and rhetorically. I finally comprehended how well-adjusted and balanced my Waldorf education made me. It brought that better self to the fore. Only after leaving GMWS did I fully understand just what went on there. I was a lab-rat freed, only to find out the lab-technicians in their experiments had not altered me in some sinister way, but instead, had set me free.

I’ll close with this anecdote, this experience: as I write, about a week ago, on a wet day at the start of March, I sat atop Foss Hill and looked out on campus below me. The American flag whipped in the winds of an oncoming Nor’Easter, billowing out from its position at half-staff. I smelled the sea on the breeze and I pondered the date. Early March, I thought. Four years ago, on a Monday morning, I arrived at Green Meadow and entered the English classroom of the high school to find Mr. Wulsin standing in dead silence. On the board, a message told my 9th grade class to follow Mr. Wulsin in silence. We did. He led us on a rambling walk through the stretches of woods and fields, down into the hollows and across the streams of Chestnut Ridge. We reached the Red Barn and silently took seats scattered about the barn; I sat on a low rafter near the hayloft. Mr. Wulsin drew out a small, weathered paperback book, turned to the first page and read “Call me Ishmael...” He read the first chapter of Moby Dick to us. It was only in that moment atop Foss Hill that I realized what happened on that day. We were all Ishmael that day (the crew of the Pequod even) and we followed our captain blindly as they did in pursuit of that leviathan, that greater truth. I won’t spoil the end, but, happily, our ending was different from the book’s ending. We achieved what Ahab could not.
I began to reread Moby Dick that night a week ago, almost exactly four years to the day from when I first set forth on that same voyage. I want to tell you one thing about Waldorf very briefly: in the moment you might think, 'what on earth are we doing?' A lot of people do and and many of them never complete their Waldorf education. But, if you stick with it, it all becomes clear in the end. Just like Moby Dick and John Wulsin’s silent, wet March walk to the Red Barn."

Photos from today's Senior Projects

Join us this week for Senior Projects! (Full schedule here.) 

Two of today's highlights were Quilting by Sophia Dunn-Fox and Millinery by Miana Johnson. 

Quilt by Sophia Dunn-Fox '18

Quilt by Sophia Dunn-Fox '18

This photo & two below: hats by Miana Johnson '18.

This photo & two below: hats by Miana Johnson '18.

IMG_3340 (1).jpg

Senior Projects are coming up!

Senior projects are a beloved Green Meadow tradition, in which each 12th grader presents on a topic they have been immersed in, independently, for a full year. See the full 2018 Senior Projects schedule.

See excerpts and full senior projects from 2017 on our YouTube channel.

Capacities: a series

Week 1 : What are capacities?

Over the next few weeks, we will be writing about one of the key differences between Waldorf Education and mainstream educational approaches: a focus on the development of capacities. The Waldorf curriculum and pedagogy (what we teach and how we teach) build capacities, first and foremost. We do this alongside skill-building, which we will also talk more about in upcoming blog posts.

What are capacities? How are they different from skills? One way to think about it is that capacities are related to character, while skills are tools. Capacities are part of who we are, how we approach the world; skills help us navigate specific tasks and solve specific problems.

In his book A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, well-known author Daniel Pink talks about capacities. He outlines the "six fundamentally human abilities that are absolute essentials for professional success and personal fulfillment" (according to the book description): in his words, these six abilities are design, story, symphony, empathy, play, and meaning. These are capacities: everyone, in any industry or walk of life, benefits from having developed these characteristics (or approaches, or ways of thinking) and from applying them in any situation they encounter.

Whether there are six fundamentally human abilities or more is another question, but the important alignment between Waldorf Education and Pink's premise lies in the identification of broad capacities rather than specific skills at the core of success and happiness. 

Pink says, "I think Waldorf schools are very much in synch with the notion of Conceptual Age and the ideas of A Whole New Mind. They foster internal motivation in students, as well as mastery and persistence. They teach the habits of the heart that children need to do well in life after school."

An example: if we have the capacities of curiosity and tenacity, we are likely to succeed in solving problems, since we will have developed a habit of approaching difficult situations or questions with interest and a willingness to learn their contours, and we will persevere as we develop whatever skills we need in order to arrive at a solution. 

The cultivation of capacities takes many forms in Waldorf Education.

  • Our students build intellectual capacities (academic approaches and habits of mind) by participating in a developmentally appropriate, interdisciplinary, rigorous curriculum that is nearly 100 years old, always evolving, and absolutely unique in the world.
  • They build social and emotional capacities like patience, empathy, courage, and kindness by moving through their school life (and through their childhood and adolescence) in tightly knit class communities, forming strong bonds with the community of teachers and staff, and challenging themselves by taking advantage of curricular opportunities like performing a class play every year in the Lower School and going on an international exchange of three or more months in High School.
  • They build physical capacities through experiences inside and outside the classroom that push them beyond their comfort zone: walks in the forest from the age of three, wilderness trips, games and sports, knitting and sewing, weekly instrument lessons and regular recitals starting in Fourth Grade, and the movement art of Eurythmy, unique to Waldorf schools.
  • Finally, they build spiritual capacities like wonder, awe, and humility through a experiential education that prioritizes hands-on learning and a phenomenological approach, allowing students to come to their own conclusions through observation and identification with a subject. 

    In our upcoming posts, we'll look at the development of capacities in each section of the school: preschool (Nursery and Kindergarten), Lower School, and High School, and we'll talk more about the skills we help our students build, alongside the capacities described above. 

Friendship Games this Friday and Saturday, 1/26 and 1/27

Join us for the Friendship Games, our annual middle-school basketball tournament! We are excited to host the following Waldorf schools from our region: Baltimore, Brooklyn, Great Barrington, Kimberton, Steiner, and Washington.

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