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."

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."

Dawson Satriano kids P1070966.jpg

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."


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.


Generations: an alumnus teaching the children of fellow alumni

For us at Green Meadow, one signal that we are successfully living out our mission is the fact that many of our alumni return here when it is time to choose a school for their own children. They see the value of the Waldorf Education they received and want to offer the same for their children. 

Our current first grade, the Class of 2029, tells an even more special story: the teacher of this class that includes so many children of alumni (more on that later) is himself a graduate of Green Meadow.

Daniel Bieber graduated from Green Meadow in 2003. After attending Bard College and helping run the family business (The Nature Place Day Camp), among other things, he decided to begin his Waldorf teacher training at Sunbridge Institute. He then served for two years as a Lower School Assistant at GMWS while in his teacher training. Daniel applied last year for the First Grade position and, having gotten to know him as an adult in his role as Classroom Assistant, we were thrilled to offer him this opportunity to take a class at his alma mater.

We will be writing in the coming weeks about the many alumni who are now parents in Daniel's class (six GMWS alumni and two alumni from other Waldorf schools), sharing their stories of why they decided to return to GMWS and send their children to the school they attended. Stay tuned.


Daniel Bieber '03 with his First Grade, the Class of 2029, on the first day of school, 9/6/17

Daniel Bieber '03 with his First Grade, the Class of 2029, on the first day of school, 9/6/17

Meet our Alumni: Isaiah Thron, Class of 2015

Isaiah started at Green Meadow in Nursery school. He says, "I was at GMWS for 15 years. Only missed out on Parent & Child." 

Green Meadow: Can you say a little bit about where you go to college and what you are studying?

Isaiah Thron: I am studying at SUNY Binghamton University. I am majoring in Electrical Engineering and minoring in Sustainable Engineering. 

GM: How did Green Meadow prepare you for college? What were the best aspects of your time at Green Meadow? What do you think makes Green Meadow most unique or special?

IT: I'm going to answer those questions in reverse order. I feel like Green Meadow truly educates their students. Going to the roots of the word "educate," it means "to draw out." My experience at Green Meadow is that teachers make you really think about the material, come to your own conclusions, and "draw out" the knowledge from yourself. I think this is one of the things that makes Green Meadow unique, along with plenty of other things (only some of which have to do with fairies and gnomes). 

Green Meadow allowed me to have a rich and joyful childhood, full of imagination and nature. In the Lower School, everything was taught through a story. Even Math, with Prince Addition and Princess Subtraction, was introduced to us in first grade through the medium of a story. That is one way that we had to use our imagination, but also outside of the classroom, with the no media policy. This made us be creative: go outside, be our own superheros, and build castles and grand rivers out of sticks and the hose. Green Meadow created the opportunity for us to connect with nature, bringing us on nature walks and having us play outside no matter the weather, rain or shine, allowing us to build a relationship with the world we live in. 

The other thing that I love about Green Meadow is the teachers. Lower School through High School, they all care. I have always felt like the teachers were there for me and that they saw me as an individual, not just another student. 

Now, how did Green Meadow prepare me for college? Honestly, I feel like it's a little bit silly that everything is about getting into the best college, then getting the best job, and so on. As someone who has just finished the first two years of engineering school, I'm not sure anything can really prepare you for college. But Green Meadow did prepare me, in a few ways. I learned how to take in the material and understand the concept. This is very useful for any kind of learning, but it especially helped me in a Chemistry course my first semester (which was both Chem 1 and 2 in one semester). I came to understand the material and was also able to explain it to my friends who were struggling.

The material at Green Meadow is expansive enough that everyone can choose different directions to go in their lives, but deep enough that even now in Calculus 3, I am still learning things that we covered in High School (in the upper math group). I've had that experience in many of my general science classes.

Green Meadow prepared me for more than just succeeding in college; it prepared me to succeed in life. I graduated with the ability to learn and with at least a little bit of knowledge in many fields. 

GM: What advice would you give to a parent or student considering GMWS, especially someone who thinks they might want to study STEM?

IT: Green Meadow fosters creativity, which is imperative in all subjects but especially, as some might not know, in STEM. In the STEM fields, creativity is needed to come up with solutions and design projects.

If you want to learn more about a field that you are interested in, join a club or do outside work that will teach you about the subject. Green Meadow builds you up so you will be able to absorb the material and make it part of you.

Also, have fun and don't let the work stress you out!


Isaiah in 2015, doing his Senior Project on Modern Dance. Photo courtesy of  Dyana van Campen .

Isaiah in 2015, doing his Senior Project on Modern Dance. Photo courtesy of Dyana van Campen.

Meet our Alumni: Alex Chin, Class of 2012

Over the next few months, we'll be introducing you to many of our recent alumni, who are scattered across the globe doing amazing work and engaging in study.

Today we are sharing a bit about Alex Chin '12, who will also be featured in an interview in the September/October 2017 issue of The Bulletin. Alex is currently traveling in Ghana; we look forward to talking with him when he returns. 

Green Meadow: Congratulations! We understand that you were accepted recently to MIT and the University of Rochester for graduate school. Which school will you be attending and in what field of study?

Alex Chin: I will be attending the University of Rochester to pursue a PhD. in Physics. I will focus primarily on High Energy Density Physics.

GM: Can you say a little bit about where you went to college, what you studied, and the path that led you to graduate school?

AC: I went to SUNY Geneseo for my undergraduate degrees in Physics and Math. I decided to go to graduate school so I can keep studying and doing research in Physics. I still have so many things to learn.

GM: How did Green Meadow prepare you for college and beyond? What were the best aspects of your time at Green Meadow? 

AC: I started at Green Meadow in Kindergarten, and being at the school gave me the opportunity to have experiences that I never would have had elsewhere. I have no idea how many times I tried to explain what eurythmy was my freshman year of undergrad.

Look for the full interview with Alex in an upcoming issue of The Bulletin.


Alex receives his diploma in June 2012 from then-Administrator Tari Steinrueck.

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!