Building A Sense of Community
By Jennifer Irwin
Around the time when the children are in their 9th year of age (typically Grade 3) in a Waldorf School, there is a large emphasis on being a part of the community and bringing practical skills to the students. The children are entering a phase of development where they are beginning to look out into the world with fresh eyes. The children are coming to recognize themselves as individuals in the world. This is a wondrous, new adventure that can bring on feelings of isolation and insecurity at times. The purpose of learning practical skills like farming, cooking, gardening, and building during this year, is to help the children feel a sense of security. A feeling of security can be brought to the children by giving them the tools needed to survive upon the earth.
Often the Grade 3 class in a Waldorf school takes on a building project that is for the greater community. In our case we began building a schoolyard playhouse for the preschool and kindergarten children. In October, Class 3-4 began their building project with the help of my husband, and skilled carpenter, Adam Irwin. We were fortunate enough to have him available on a weekly basis to plan and guide the project. As the class had just completed a linear measurement block, they were eager to put their new skills to work by measuring out all the boards in preparation for the cutting. Adam found ways to involve the children at each step, from the measuring, to the drilling, to the roofing. Each child learned something new about the process of construction, and most importantly each child had an opportunity to contribute positively to the Saltwater School.
In the following interview with Michelle Nagle, teacher of the Saltwater Family Program, she reflects on what she created during her Waldorf primary and secondary education and the skills as well as the meaning she gained from it.
1. How long did you attend a Waldorf school?
I attended a Waldorf school for 9 years, from Grade 4 through Grade 12.
2. What kinds of things did you create there?
There were many creations. On a daily basis there were activities such as painting and drawing, in our Main Lesson books, and as individual creations. I still have many of my Main Lesson books and paintings.
In handwork and woodwork there were projects that we worked on for many weeks. Some of these that I distinctly remember from Grade school and still have are: a knitted flute bag, slipper socks, a cross-stitch emblazoned pillow, a wooden bowl, a wooden spoon, a carved wooden box, and a batiked skirt I sewed. In high-school, I continued with: metal work- making precious metal jewellery, ceramic dishes and building a kayak for my Grade twelve project.
3. What was the purpose of these creations?
The purpose of these creations as I see it is: to bring us into all parts of our bodies (in particular our hands, but also our feet as you need to be grounded to use for e.g. a chisel or blowtorch), to allow our creativity to shine through, to empower us to recognize what we are capable of, to create with longevity in mind and to build focus. All of these attributes support academic learning.
4. What do they mean to you?
When I look back now I recognize how these creations helped to form the person that I am today. Upon entering the Waldorf school from the public school I had been attending, I never thought of myself as creative or artistic. I did very well with language and numbers and took pride in these aspects of myself. When I arrived, I had difficulty with handwork classes to begin with. The very first thing I was asked to create was my knitted flute bag and when I completed this and then subsequent projects I felt I was reclaiming a part of myself. I now have a continuing connection to the projects I created-- I have an inner smile when I wear the skirt I made, or take matches out of the wooden box I carved.
These projects have given me respect for sustainability and the big picture. We were introduced to where the products we created with came from (e.g. with knitting we had the experience of beginning with freshly shorn wool- washing, carding, spinning, and then knitting the wool into a final product). The items I created I use as part of my daily living and creating products intended to last has provided me with self-reliability and consciousness of our individual impact in the world.
The Saltwater Community and the Christmas Fair
By Marcie Jamieson (organizer of the Christmas Fair)
In these sunny days of Spring, the Christmas Fair seems long ago. However, the success of the Christmas Fair reminds me of the warmth of that December day as the school community came together to make the fair a success. Thanks to the dedicated families, friends and faculty of Saltwater School, our second annual Childrenʼs Christmas Fair was a huge success. Excitement and joy filled our school as children and parents spent their day visiting, eating, creating, shopping and being entertained by a variety of musical talent.
As I wandered through the halls that day, two things became obvious to me. First of all, I watched the children and thought how magical it must be for a child to experience the wonder and beauty of such a celebration. From choosing the perfect cookie, to creating a gift for someone special, to preforming for the crowd – “it are what childhood memories are made of”.
Secondly, I was able to really appreciate how many people happily came together to create such a magical day for our children and community. The time and talent that went into baking all the cookies, preparing the crafts, creating the handmade toys and gifts, bringing together the entertainment, and organizing such a wonderful spread of delicious food is truly amazing and inspiring. In addition to this, so many helpful hands spent hours transforming our school into a Christmas Wonderland, volunteering through the day and then pitching in to get the school ready for Monday morning.
I am so proud to be a part of this school and the community we are creating for ourselves and for our children.
The Work of the Parents – Desk building
By Rebecca Watkin
When we searched the Internet for a desk supplier for the grade three – four class, we were overwhelmed by the options and by the cost. Since beauty is one of the three tenets of Waldorf education and it is always a goal to keep things in the classroom as natural as possible, the desks needed to be made of good quality wood. We were stuck not being able to afford the desks from the Waldorf classroom furniture supply websites. Stuck, that is, until Josh Jamieson stepped forward and offered to make them with his father.
Josh studied the information on the website where our favorite desks were. He worked with Jennifer Irwin (grade 3-4 teacher) to ensure the desks would fit into the classroom and would be able to support the materials she was planning to have the children use. Josh and his father worked all summer long on the desks as volunteers. In the end they had created 4 double desks with storage for books and materials. The desks are sizable so that they can grow with the children. The desks are wonderfully functional, affordable and they are absolutely beautiful.
Thank you to Josh who has agreed to make desks for the grade two-three class in the fall. Thank you to all parents who put their time and energy into building Saltwater School and the Saltwater community. Our children's lives are made rich by your efforts.
1. Periwinkle Preschool ~ A New Schedule in 2013/14
Our school is blossoming, and in the process we are making changes. The Preschool room will become a Grades classroom to accommodate the new Grade 5 class. Periwinkle Preschool will share the Kindergarten Room. The children will enjoy the bigger play space and the warm ambiance of the room.
Preschool will be in the afternoon; Monday to Thursday, from 12:30 to 3:30. Dewdrop Kindergarten will continue in the mornings, from Tuesday to Friday.
2. Board Updates
Planting seeds for new growth
In order for Saltwater School to be officially recognized as a Waldorf School, we must become members of the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA). This is a lengthy process that occurs in stages that can take up to seven years in total. The first stage is writing up a 3-year Development Plan for the school. AWSNA provided us with a comprehensive list of questions that cover all areas of operating a school. The faculty had a series of questions to answer pertaining to their focus in the school. Over the last year, the Board has been answering all of the remaining questions during meetings, or having committee heads take on the questions separately. The Development Plan is almost complete, and it will be submitted to AWSNA by June. Once it is reviewed and accepted, Saltwater School acquires the status of Developing Member of AWSNA. One privilege this affords us, is the use of the name “Waldorf” in our advertising.
Part of the Development Plan requires the Board to look at building facilities over the next 3 years and beyond. Saltwater School is in a very fortunate position, as we are growing quicker than originally anticipated. The Board’s job at this point is to discuss and brainstorm all the various possibilities and scenarios for our next step and be ready for action when we do outgrow our current facility.
One suggestion was to have one class move to a rental facility nearby. This was brought to the faculty for discussion. It was easily decided that having one class separated from the rest of the school would not be optimal for many reasons that would affect parents, teachers and students. So in order for our entire school to stay under one roof for at least one more year, we decided that the Preschool Program will become an afternoon program that will take place in the Kindergarten room. This will free up the current preschool room to be used for a grades’ classroom. The faculty and Board are very happy with this decision as it keeps the faculty, students and parent community together, and it keeps the costs down as well.
This is our plan for the 2013-2014 school year. We can only plan one school year ahead as the number of students enrolled in the school is not known that far in advance. It may be possible to work within our current facility for the 2014-2015 school year as well, but this will be determined next year.
The current role of the Board is to remain aware of the changing needs of the school. We are in regular discussion about our options. We are working on our vision for the next stage in growth. Part of our visioning involves input from the school community. The Board is planning a community gathering that will bring parents, teachers and Board members all together to “Imagine the Future” of the Saltwater School.
The Board is filled with strength, positivity and excitement about the future of our school. We are honoured to be supported by a community that so strongly believes in Waldorf Education. The next step will unfold in due time based on all of our discussions, visions and commitments.
On behalf of Saltwater School Board of Trustees
3. Planning for Saltwater School Growth
Some parents have been wondering how the school plans to move forward when it outgrows its present facility at the end of the next school year. The Board has designated a Facilities Committee to help plan this expansion with Board member Niels von Meyenfeldt as its representative.
The Committee is looking for members who are interested in facility planning, consensus building and implementation strategies, people who like to move projects forward. Niels can be contacted at 250-871-3056 or E-mail him at email@example.com
. One of the first tasks of the committee will be to hold a visioning workshop to which all members of the school community are invited. This is scheduled for May 10th from 7:30-9:30pm at Creekside Commons.
Preliminary work on enrolment projections and space needs for a K-8 school has been carried out. Also on the table are different options for moving forward that need to be evaluated, not the least being site selection. A core issue is site flexibility, allowing the school to grow economically to its full potential as student numbers and resources warrant.
Your time commitment will be a meeting once a month for the next six months at least. Come help shape your children’s future!