Waldorf Education

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.
 

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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 vlarson@gmws.org.

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.

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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." 

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.

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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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Is Waldorf "hygge?"

You've probably heard about the Danish concept of hygge. You can read about it here and here (and, it seems, everywhere). We recently came across the hashtag #hyggeschooling and that made us think about how especially in Early Childhood, Waldorf embodies hygge.  

The social atmosphere and the simplicity of the classroom, the aesthetic pleasure of the scents and sights and sounds, the tea and cozy slippers and wooly layers: Waldorf children get the best of hygge from the early years. (And then they go on to knit their own socks and go on camping trips...but that's for another post.)

This is not by accident. The founder of Waldorf Education, Rudolf Steiner, wrote and spoke about the importance of protecting and nourishing the developing child's senses. He articulated 12 senses and said, "Everything we have in us, even everything we experience in our soul, is related to the outer world through our twelve senses. These are the senses of touch, life, movement, balance, smell, taste, sight, warmth, hearing, speech, thinking, and the sense of the I." His work on this topic is outlined in The Care and Development of the Human Senses.

If you are curious to know more, join us on December 9 for Celebrate the Seasons with a Waldorf Teacher or come by any Monday for Tea & Play for 1pm. (Both events are open to families with children ages 2-6.) Register with our Early Childhood Admissions Coordinator at 845.356.2514 x326.

  Photo of a felted acorn in the Nursery classroom by Nursery Teacher Rebecca Ruof.

Photo of a felted acorn in the Nursery classroom by Nursery Teacher Rebecca Ruof.

Celebrate the Seasons with a Waldorf Teacher

Join us on Saturday, December 9 from 10:30am-12pm for a special seasonal event. Spend time in our beautiful cozy classroom on a cold December morning, while children play and adults have time for conversation. We will make felted acorns and learn some verses about Little Jackie Frost and King Winter. We'll also share a bowl of warm oatmeal together. Slow down, connect with new friends, and allow your little ones some time for an unhurried, magical morning.

Please register with Barbara Mann at 845.356.2514 x326 or bmann@gmws.org.

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Generations: an alumnus teaching the children of fellow alumni

Recently, we told you about our First Grade teacher, Daniel Bieber (Class of 2003), who has six GMWS alumni as parents in his class, along with three alumni from other Waldorf schools.  

Today, in the third installment of this blog series, we'd like to introduce you to Maureen Satriano, GMWS Class of 1988, whose twin daughters are in Daniel's first grade class. Maureen also has two older children in the school, serves as our school nurse, and has played many roles at GMWS since graduating.

"One of the best parts of my time at Green Meadow was learning to look at everything from many angles.  I feel it has given me a perspective in life that is sometimes challenging for others, and for me too.  But most of the time I find myself thinking about an event, an experience, or a person, and trying to understand, or at least consider it from someone else's perspective.  There were many outstanding aspects of a Waldorf Education that I am passionate about, but trying to figure something out in many different ways, or imagining what it must be like for someone else, stands out as a valuable tool to have in our modern times.

I chose Green Meadow because I wanted a Waldorf Education for my children.  There was no other choice, in my mind.  I want my children to experience learning in color, warmth of teachers and community, joy in learning, and depth of thinking.  I want to have children who can look their teachers, friends, and friends' parents in the eye, and carry on a meaningful conversation.  I want more Waldorf graduates in the world, who think outside the box, look at issues from all angles, have a global perspective of the world, and are inspired to make positive change, and who feel they have to tools to make a difference.  I wanted my children to love school, and I knew they could do that at a Waldorf school."

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Generations: an alumnus teaching the children of fellow alumni

Recently, we told you about our First Grade teacher, Daniel Bieber (Class of 2003), who has six GMWS alumni as parents in his class, along with three alumni from other Waldorf schools.  

Today we'd like to introduce you to Dr. Nicole Falanga, GMWS Class of 1998, whose son is in Daniel's first grade class.

"Green Meadow encouraged me to really think; to learn from and to question the world around me rather than becoming robotic and focusing on memorizing information and taking tests.
The teachers knew each of the students deeply and nurtured us toward our potential. I was given a safe platform to explore my individualism and was gently rerouted or guided when needed.

I wanted my children's early education to be play oriented; where self-directed learning would allow them to slowly discover the world. As Andrew begins 1st grade, I am excited that he will be given the tools to approach his life, learning, and interpersonal relationships in the thoughtful and intentional way that the school provides. I am confident that as he moves into the upper grades and high school, the sophisticated academic and social environment will be great preparation for life and learning beyond Green Meadow."

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Generations: an alumnus teaching the children of fellow alumni

Recently, we told you about our First Grade teacher, Daniel Bieber (Class of 2003), who has six GMWS alumni as parents in his class, along with three alumni from other Waldorf schools.  

Today we'd like to introduce you to Amina Gurcan, GMWS Class of 2004, whose son is in Daniel's first grade class.

"When thinking of my Waldorf Education at Green Meadow, what stands out most is the dedication of the teachers to their students, particularly the class teachers of the lower grades and how they commit to teaching and guiding the children for eight years. It amazes me how involved they are with their class, almost as if they were another parent. I will never forget the incredible dedication and patience my teacher had for each one of us in the class. I remember that she would make extra time to work with me on certain subjects that needed more improvement. She believed in me and that has always meant so much. 

I am awed not just by the way I was taught through Waldorf Education, but by how much I did while a student. I performed plays, made books, went on trips, learned to sew, had art, woodwork, and pottery classes, learned to write poems, learned a new art for my senior project, learned to play an instrument and read music. I played Beethoven's 5th Symphony! Not necessarily well but at least I experienced playing such an great piece of music. I don't believe I would have had such opportunities if I had attended a different school, and I am very grateful for my education at Green Meadow.

While pregnant with my son, Ensar, and thinking of his future, I knew that we would do all we could to try to send him to Green Meadow. I feel so blessed to say that he is now a Green Meadow student! Through my own experience, I see the great value of a Waldorf Education and knew that it was the type of education I wanted my children to have. Kindergarten was a wonderful experience and Ensar loved it. He is now an eager, enthusiastic, and curious first grader really ready for this new venture. These first two weeks have been both thrilling and nostalgic for me, as Ensar transitions to his new class. Having Daniel Bieber, who is also eager and enthusiastic, as the teacher, it all just feels right. "

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Photos from the Rose Ceremony (Sept. 2017)

The Rose Ceremony is a beloved tradition at many Waldorf schools, including Green Meadow. On the first day of school in September, the 12th graders welcome the 1st graders into the school by handing them a rose. On the last day of school, the (now taller, older, and wiser) 1st graders reciprocate and say goodbye to the 12th graders with a rose of their own. The whole school gathers to witness both events.

Last week's Rose Ceremony took place on Sept. 6 and was, as always, a beautiful and moving rite of passage for all of our young people.

Photos by Fernando Lopez

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Summer Blog Series: Highlights from The Bulletin (#10)

Our Summer blog series continues through early September, as we share some of our favorite articles published this past year in The Bulletin. Take a look at the article by Dan Feldman '89 on page 16 of this issue and read a short interview with him from the start of 2017 at IoT Evolution.