Film by Kellen Quinn '00 at Montclair Film Festival

Kellen Quinn '00 recently produced Brimstone & Glory, which will be shown on May 6 and 7, 2017 at the Montclair Film Festival.

Here's a synopsis of the film:

Tultepec is known throughout Mexico primarily for one thing—it is the beloved home of Mexico’s fireworks industry. Each year, the community gathers for an annual festival for San Juan de Dios, creating a ritual celebration of fire, explosion, and danger unlike any other. BRIMSTONE & GLORY is an immersive portrait of Tultepec as it prepares for one of the most spectacular displays in the world; a concussive, pulsating event that fills the streets with revelers seeking a colorful, shimmering dreamscape. (In Spanish with English Subtitles)

Congratulations, Kellen!

 

Please support the Pfeiffer Center!

The Pfeiffer Center's Neighbor to Neighbor program builds community among children from many walks of life in Rockland County, NY, cultivating relationships with plants, animals, the soil, and each other through a variety of activities on our small organic farm. Green Meadow students partner with low-income students at Chestnut Ridge Middle School through this important, innovative, multi-faceted project.

Demand for the program far exceeds what the Pfeiffer Center can currently provide. If you Give a Click, the Pfeiffer Center could be considered for a major grant to expand Neighbor to Neighbor. Visit this page, and vote every day until May 12. 

This grant will enable the Pfeiffer Center to hire staff, develop programming, partner with local organizations, and bring the Neighbor to Neighbor experience to many more children.

Senior Projects (Part 2 in a series)

Senior Projects finished up on April 6. We have been introducing a senior to you each week in this short blog series. (See our April 14 blog post for the first installment in the series.)

This week, I'd like to introduce you to Matt Olson. Matt joined Green Meadow in Sixth Grade, after moving to the US from Canada (when his mom, Ruth Olson, accepted a job as a Class Teacher at Green Meadow).

For his senior project, Matt designed and built a tiny house with the help of his mentor, GMWS alumnus Michael Scharff '77. Concerned about the environmental and financial costs of a traditional home, Matt set out to build a small, efficient house that he could donate to a family or organization in need when he was finished.

Read more about Matt's project in our local paper, The Journal News; see him on News 7 NY; or watch a short video of his senior project presentation. You can also watch the full-length presentation

Congratulations, Matt!

 

Why Waldorf? (Part 3 in a series)

In this series, we have been introducing you every week to a teacher, parent, or student who shares something about why they love Green Meadow and Waldorf Education. Today we hear from Maskit Ronen, Life Sciences teacher in the High School, and mom to four children in the school.

The science curriculum in the High School is designed to meet the needs and interests of the students, which change and expand every year. I love that all the students learn the basic concepts of different sciences, regardless of the path they are going to take in life. Since I teach some of the life sciences and earth sciences curriculum in each grade, I can introduce a topic in 9th Grade, give the students some knowledge about it, and then revisit the same ideas and expand on them the following years. This spiraling back and deepening methodology helps the students integrate new ideas with previous ones, which increases their ability to then apply their accumulated knowledge to real-life situations.

I am lucky to be able to observe and address the students’ thirst for facts in the 9th Grade, followed by their need to better understand processes in 10th Grade, then by their interest in causality and hidden forces behind these processes in their junior year. When I meet the seniors in the Fall of their last year in high school, their interest in who they are becoming and how they fit into the world around them is palpable. The curriculum meets these needs with a wider look at the Animal Kingdom, and explorations of ideas such as natural selection, philosophy, architecture, and modern history. As with any group of young adults, there are struggles along the way, but the enthusiasm our students have towards the future keeps me hopeful and motivated and makes it all worth the effort.

Senior Projects (Part 1 in a series)

We just finished Senior Projects Week. The 22 members of the Class of 2017 all shared their amazing projects, which you can see on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram. We are very proud of all of them.

I'm a Green Meadow staff member and parent, and I have had the privilege of teaching a senior math class for the past two years in the Fall, so I get to know our seniors fairly well and I'd like to introduce several of them to you in this short series.

First up is Grayson Sussman-Squires, who presented on photojournalism.

Grayson came to GMWS in Ninth Grade after attending elementary school at Mountain Laurel Waldorf School in New Paltz. Grayson is an environmentalist and activist who was published in The Huffington Post in January 2015, when he was a sophomore at Green Meadow.

Watch Grayson's presentation on his photojournalism project, excerpted here.

You can see more of his photos on his blog.

Congratulations, Grayson! 

Senior Projects Make the News!

Matt Olson '17 built a tiny house to donate to a family or organization in need for his senior project. Here's a short video and article about Matt's project.

Congratulations to Matt and all our seniors! Watch clips of senior project presentations.

Why Waldorf? (Part 2 in a series)

Every week for the next several weeks, we will introduce you to a teacher, parent, or student who will share something about why they love Green Meadow and Waldorf Education. Today we hear from Jaden Laboriel, Grade 2. As you will see as you read below, Jaden is a keen observer and tells it the way he sees it.

(If you click on the title of this post, you will see a photo. Jaden is pictured on the far left, at his First Grade Rose Ceremony in Sept. 2015.)

GMWS: When did you come to Green Meadow?

JL: In Parent & Child classes.

GMWS: What are your favorite classes?

JL: Handwork & Games.

GMWS: What is your favorite thing about Green Meadow?

JL: I like the Fall Fair, because of the Dragon Run.

GMWS: What would you tell a student coming to Green Meadow?

JL: I'd say it's a good school, probably better than the one you're in. Each class is unique, the teachers are nice and really polite, we celebrate good holidays, we get to do good plays, and we have a lot of buildings. We have Rose Hall, where we watch some of the plays. We have a real ringing bell instead of the kind of bell most schools have.  We also have a good basketball team. And the kids here have good posture. The school is amazing.

Why Waldorf? (Part 1 in a series)

This week, we are excited to launch a blog series featuring the perspectives of parents, teachers, and students from across the school. We will hear why they have chosen Waldorf Education, and what it means to them. Stay tuned for weekly posts on this theme through the end of May!

Why Waldorf?
Week 1

From Jessica Rowe, Early Childhood parent

It all started on a spring day three years ago. My husband, Jim, passed me an article in The New Yorker magazine about the rise of Waldorf schools in China. In considering the educational path we wanted for our children (Ozzie, Luke, and Luna), we were stuck between public school and homeschooling, but neither felt right to us. Our lives changed that day as we were introduced to Waldorf Education. The following week, we took a tour of Brooklyn Waldorf School, and later that month, we enrolled Ozzie in kindergarten. 

Initially, we were drawn to the beautiful pink walls of the Kindergarten rooms, the smell of fresh bread baking, and the ample time for free play throughout the day.  In the past three years, there have been so many other things we’ve come to value as our children’s education has infused our family life: spending time together on a walk through the woods, saying a blessing together before we eat our family meals, tapping a maple tree in our yard for its sweet sap, or snuggling up together and reading a fairy tale.

Our love of Waldorf Education has continued to grow at Green Meadow because it nurtures the individuality of our children while teaching them the value of working and playing within a group; because our children’s teachers have given them freedom to explore along with the structure they need to feel confident and relaxed within that freedom; and because it’s a place where we’ve been supported in learning and growing as parents and as people. We’re so grateful that we’ve found Waldorf Education.

Senior Project Presentations, April 3-6

Senior Projects are a hallmark of many Waldorf schools and a beloved tradition at Green Meadow. All seniors conceive their own independent senior project in May of their junior year, and then work with an outside mentor as well as a faculty mentor throughout their senior year until their school presentation in April. Join us for this memorable and moving week.

This year’s Senior Projects include Building a House, Photojournalism, Midwifery, Finance, Writing a Novel, Fashion Design, Roller Derby, SCUBA diving, and Luthier Training.

Hear directly from four seniors about their experience: take a look at pages 14 and 15 of the March/April issue of The Bulletin.

Click here for specific presentation times during Senior Projects week.

This Saturday, 3/25: It's About Time! Benefit to launch our endowment

This year, we are focusing on establishing our first endowment; hence the name of our fundraiser: “It’s About Time: A Benefit for Our First Endowment.” The proceeds from our benefit will begin planting perennial seeds and establish a foundation to grow upon. An endowment is a permanent fund in which the principal is held in perpetuity and only the investment income is expended annually – providing a permanent, long-term source of funding. Endowed funds support activities not just for one year, or even one generation, but forever! Funds are invested prudently to ensure they can sustain current and future needs.

A healthy endowment will provide strength, longevity, creativity, and flexibility for Green Meadow, ensuring steady income to support key programs and invest in new ideas.

Buy tickets here (before Saturday 3/25).

Bid in the online auction. (Closes at 10:30pm on Saturday 3/25)

Understanding Waldorf Education

This article offers some great information that corrects common misperceptions about Waldorf Education. 

In summary: 

Misconception #1. “It’s artistic.”
Yes, but it’s not just for artistic students. The art enhances all aspects of deeper learning and unites the hemispheres of the brain.

Misconception #2. “It’s unstructured.”
We are very structured in our daily rhythm, in core academics, and in the expectations of the teachers, among other things. We are very conscious of allowing the children "out breath" activities like movement to balance the "in breath" of focused academic work. Our daily, monthly, and yearly calendars follow a coherent and predictable structure.  

Misconception #3. “It’s for children with learning challenges.”
Most schools are able to meet a small number of children with challenges in any given class.

Misconception #4. “It’s non-academic” (especially the Kindergarten).
No. Not at all. The Early Childhood lays the foundation for future academic rigor with rich language, imaginative stories, and all kinds of skill-building. Lower School students (who begin learning two languages in First Grade and play in an orchestra beginning in Third Grade) are learning through their feelings to engage deeply with material presented by their teachers. Our High School curriculum is challenging and prepares students for college and career.

Misconception #5. “They don’t start reading until third grade.”
Reading is much more than the sum of its parts, so we use a holistic approach similar to today’s Whole Language teaching style. Our pace is different than mainstream schools, and the result of the way we teach is that Waldorf students emerge from school as lifelong learners. 

Misconception #6. “It’s way behind the times."
Modern scientific research is bringing to light some astounding facts about human development in the first three decades of life – discoveries that are highly consistent with the academic progressions recommended a century ago by Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf Education. Much of what is considered cutting-edge today (teacher looping, block-style learning) has been integral to Waldorf Education for nearly 100 years.

 

 

Don't miss Screenagers on Tuesday, March 7!

 

The award-winning film Screenagers probes into the vulnerable corners of family life, including the director's own, and depicts messy struggles, over social media, video games, academics and internet addiction. Through surprising insights from authors and brain scientists solutions emerge on how we can empower kids to best navigate the digital world.

Rose Hall,  7:30pm
Free and open to the public.

Watch the trailer.

Register for the screening.

GMWS granted accreditation by NYSAIS and AWSNA

Green Meadow Waldorf School is pleased to announce that we were recommended for accreditation by the NYSAIS Commission on Accreditation and approved by the NY State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS) Board of Trustees at their meeting at their January 2017 meeting. In a joint accreditation process, the school was also re-accredited by AWSNA (the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America).

NYSAIS is authorized by the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York, “to evaluate and accredit nursery schools, kindergartens, elementary and secondary schools operating within the State of New York and, as concerns New York corporations with branches in other states and countries, to evaluate and accredit those consistent with the laws, rules and regulations of host states and countries.”  Additionally, NYSAIS is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools’ (NAIS) Commission on Accreditation which includes nineteen regional and state accrediting agencies.  As a member of the NAIS Commission on Accreditation, the NYSAIS accreditation process is recognized across the United States and throughout the world.

This joint accreditation represents the culmination of an in-depth self-study that includes an exhaustive internal and external examination of all aspects of the school community including mission and culture, governance, educational program, student and student services, finance and school operations, parents, faculty and non-teaching personnel, community relations, and communications.  Through a process of continual self-improvement that includes visiting teams of professionals from outside the school community, Green Meadow Waldorf School has fulfilled the accreditation requirements for an independent school.

According to Dr. Mark W. Lauria, NYSAIS Executive Director, “the rigorous accreditation process that each NYSAIS school undergoes represents a significant commitment of time and energy allowing the school and NYSAIS to thoroughly exam all facets of the school as part of the continuous improvement that is needed to best serve students and their families. Green Meadow Waldorf School is to be commended for their participation in this important process of self-improvement.”

Pedagogical Administrator Bill Pernice said, “We are grateful to have received this re-accreditation, an important confirmation of our work with our students. This recognition from NYSAIS and AWSNA affirms the commitment of our faculty and staff and the value of the Waldorf approach. As a 67-year-old school, we appreciate the opportunity the accreditation process offers us to reflect on our programs and policies and re-dedicate ourselves to our mission of educating students who will make a positive difference in the world.”

About NYSAIS:

The New York State Association of Independent Schools was founded in 1947 by eleven schools and has grown to over 195 member schools and organizations incorporated in the State of New York.  The NYSAIS mission is:

The New York State Association of Independent Schools promotes the independence, well-being, and public understanding of, and respect for, New York Independent Schools and serves as an accrediting body charter by the New York State Board of Regents.

About AWSNA:

The Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA) is a non­profit membership organization of independent Waldorf Schools and Institutes in Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

The Association was founded in 1968 to support schools and institutes. Our vision is to strengthen and nurture Waldorf Education and to advance Waldorf principles worldwide. Today there are over 900 Waldorf schools in 83 countries. In North America, there are greater than 160 member schools and 14 teacher education institutes.

AWSNA's mission is to support schools through collaborative regional work, professional and resource development, accreditation, community outreach, and advocacy. The Association’s work is based on four core values. These values are:

  • Evoke and develop Quality and Integrity in everything we attempt and achieve
  • Promote Strength and Resourcefulness in every school community
  • Foster, encourage, and support inspired Leadership and Colleagueship
  • Work towards conscious and collaborative human Community and Relationships                                                                                       

For more information about NYSAIS or NYSAIS accreditation, please go to: www.nysais.org.

For more information about AWSNA, please go to: www.waldorfeducation.org/awsna.

Play is essential for young children

This article from last year in The Atlantic sheds light on one of the many reasons that play is essential for young children. The author, pediatric occupational therapist Angela Hanscom, notes:

"Like many other American parents, I had an obsession: academic success for my child. Only, I was going about it completely wrong. Yes, my daughter would later go on to test above average with her academic skills, but she was missing important life skills. Skills that should have been in place and nurtured during the preschool years. My wake-up call was when the preschool teacher came up to me and said, “Your daughter is doing well academically. In fact, I’d say she exceeds expectations in these areas. But she is having trouble with basic social skills like sharing and taking turns.” Not only that, but my daughter was also having trouble controlling her emotions, developed anxiety and sensory issues, and had trouble simply playing by herself!

Little did I know at the time, but my daughter was far from being the only one struggling with social and sensory issues at such a young age. This was becoming a growing epidemic. A few years ago, I interviewed a highly respected director of a progressive preschool. She had been teaching preschoolers for about 40 years and had seen major changes in the social and physical development of children in the past few generations."

At the heart of Green Meadow's Early Childhood program is our understanding that self-initiated play is critical to healthy development. As soon as children learn something new, they start to play with their new capacities, practicing and testing their skills until they tackle more and more difficult tasks. Therefore, ample time for creative play is part of each morning.  

Open-ended toys made from natural materials, like silk scarves, knitted wool puppets, wooden blocks, and acorns collected from nature walks, nourish the child’s developing senses. With these natural items, children may flex their creative muscles and imaginative capacities, and further develop their emerging fine motor skills.  In addition, involving moveable structures that they can explore in environments that invite movement helps to develop gross motor coordination. We believe that creative play is the child’s most important developmental tool, whether to discover new skills, work with experiences, or express emotions.

Our children benefit from a rich variety of outdoor play spaces.  In addition to our beautiful playground, they experience the natural wonders of the forest, field, farm, garden, pond, and woodland stream, all within walking distance of our classrooms.

Rain or shine, ample opportunities exist for developing strong, healthy bodies.  Depending on the time of year, children sled down snowy hills, climb rocks in the Rocky Dell, and balance on fallen trees in the Fairy Woods. Munching on autumn apples in the orchard or tasting a maple tree’s sweet water in late winter can foster a lifelong respect for the earth and a deep appreciation for nature’s bounty.

Read the rest of The Atlantic article.

Come to Morning in the Nursery/Kindergarten on March 4.

 

Reserve your seat today for Screenagers on March 7

In collaboration with our friends at The Nature Place Day Camp, we are hosting a free screening of the important film Screenagers on Tuesday, March 7 at 7:30pm in Rose Hall. Tickets are free, but please reserve your seat now. We expect a full house! The screening is open to the public, and students in Grades 6-12 are welcome. (We ask that students in Grades 6-8 attend with an adult.)

Watch our school videos!

Have you seen our four school videos yet? We produced them in Spring and Summer 2016: a general short film on Waldorf Education, and one video for each section of our school: Early Childhood, Lower School, and High School. Take a look, and deepen your understanding of why and how we do what we do at Green Meadow.

Science in the Waldorf School: Developing an Ecological Consciousness

By Harlan Gilbert, High School Math and Science Teacher

In the Kindergarten, children are active in wind, water, and soil conditions in every weather. These rich, holistic, practical experiences are not only joyous parts of childhood. They also give an unparalleled basis for comprehending the world in myriad ways. Upon this solid foundation of investigation into the natural world, scientific understanding can later build. At this age, the first ecological consciousness of the immediate environment forms through the children’s daily experiences of adults cultivating the natural world in healthy ways. One of the teachers’ primary goals is to model responsible citizenship in the natural world. Thus the importance given to garden work, tending the land by planting, watering and weeding in springtime, harvesting in summer, raking in autumn, shoveling snow in winter, and many more activities.

The curriculum of the first elementary school grades wisely includes extensive time for lessons on environmental awareness. In these years, students learn to “read the book of nature,” coming to recognize the wondrous range of animals and plants that live and land formations that form their surroundings. Imaginative descriptions form the basis of nature education at this age. For example, some years ago a First Grade teacher at Green Meadow named the low-lying area near the Arts Building the “Rocky Dell,” turning the area into an imaginative homeland for a generation of students, whose creative play has blossomed in this complex landscape.

Science lessons in these early grades center around stories of nature, bringing alive the wild and cultivated plants, the domesticated and wild animals, the streams and hills, the winds, and the stars, sun, and moon as intimately experienced aspects of our lives, just as the traditional stories of native peoples did for their children. After hearing a story about the mighty oak and the lithe willow, for example, students visit these in their natural setting. Ideally, the names and character of the elements of the natural world become a natural vocabulary for young children, so that by the time they are around nine years of age they should be able to recognize and name many of the local plants and animals, land formations, constellations of stars, etc., as naturally as they recognize and name each other.

In the following grades, the Waldorf curriculum leads students systematically further in their scientific understanding. This begins in Third Grade with an exploration of the ways humanity can take responsibility and care for the natural world of soil, plants, and animals. The Farming block in this year guides children to comprehend the farmer’s role as sustainer of the health of the Earth, balancing the interrelated needs of soil, crops, and livestock. They come to understand that healthy soil is the basis for healthy crops, that healthy crops are the basis for healthy livestock, and that healthy livestock and crops provide the manure and compost needed for healthy soil. The cycle is complete.

The Third Grade also includes a study of Building. Building depends upon understanding how the natural environment can be used to create stable structures, Understanding how different peoples developed unique architectural styles based upon the available materials illumines the natural environment from a new perspective. Building structures using at least one of these styles allows students to comprehend on a kinetic, tactile level the nature of materials and the principles of structure. As architecture advanced, building also came to depend upon the cooperation of a variety of people, each with special skills (masons, carpenters, glaziers, roofers, plumbers, electricians, etc.). Imagine if we each had to excavate, build a foundation, put up walls and a roof, insulate, glaze, plumb, and wire our houses! What would most houses look like if each was wholly built by its owner?! Thus building offers insight into the importance of the ecology of human interaction.

In Fourth Grade, students study animals. They quickly discover how each animal has a specialized form and particular way of life suitable for its particular environment. Comparing this to how human beings live—and recalling the many building styles they explored in Third Grade—they can discover that, while animals’ relationship to their surroundings is fixed, human beings can live in harmony with any environment. This flexibility is possible because we can both adapt our way of life and transform the environment. We rely on wisdom, where animals depend upon instinct.

In Fifth Grade, Waldorf students study plants. This usually begins with a broad survey of the simplest organisms—mushrooms, algae, and mosses—and proceeds through increasing complexity to arrive at the flowering plants. Each plant is suited to a particular soil and climate, so it is natural to study the climatic zones, and to see how these are affected by both latitude and elevation.

The study of plants offers a glimpse of the principles of sexual reproduction. This has wondrous consequences: the “offspring” of simpler plants, which use asexual reproduction, are exactly like their parents; however, through sexual reproduction, each organism is absolutely unique. This applies to them, too: each human child, too, is absolutely unique.

In Sixth Grade, the stones come into focus. These offer a fascinating plethora of form, texture, and color, all arising through three basic processes: intense heat (igneous rock), intense pressure (sedimentary rock), and a combination of both heat and pressure (metamorphic rock). Crystal formations are highly geometric, allowing connections to the study of geometry undertaken in this year. 

Also in Sixth Grade, students systematically explore the senses that inform us about the world around us. They explore optical, tactile, thermal, and acoustic experiences, and seek to comprehend the laws that underlie these. What conditions give rise to a rainbow? (Try a prism to find out!) When is sound transmitted along a material? (Does it matter if this material is wood or string?) Is our experience of warmth and cold absolute or relative? (Compare your experience of a 50-degree day in November with that of the same temperature in June!)

Many Sixth Graders are beginning to experiment systematically on their own, building model airplanes, creating stop-frame animations using materials such as clay or Lego, or trying out chemical experiments such as a vinegar and baking soda rocket. Green Meadow has recently started a Science Club, open to Sixth Grade and up, which extends the range of experimentation available to middle school students.

This new interest in experimental method is met strongly in Seventh and Eighth Grades through practical studies in mechanics (Can you lift a dumpster? Pull yourself up into the air?), chemistry (slaking lime, analyzing the elements of a burning candle), and electricity and magnetism (building a telegraph and motor). They study human anatomy, examining a real skeleton and drawing the organs of the body, and physiology, exploring how the human body operates and how diet, sleep, and lifestyle choices affect their health.

I hope that the above has whetted your appetites! To explore the rich scientific and technological curriculum of the high school would go beyond the limits of this essay, but perhaps another day… 

 

Astonishingly, pyrites naturally crystallize into the shapes of all five Platonic solids. The cube (below) and octahedron (above) are shown.

Astonishingly, pyrites naturally crystallize into the shapes of all five Platonic solids. The cube (below) and octahedron (above) are shown.