The Value of A Waldorf Education
While starting in Europe almost a century ago – Waldorf education has been a part of the American independent school movement for 83 years. And, Waldorf Sarasota is proud to be one of 160 registered Waldorf Schools in this country.
What sets Waldorf education apart from other forms of education is both its unique path to learning and its outcome: graduates with a lifelong love of learning, courage, confidence, creativity and contribution to the world. Here, students don’t study to test. Instead, through the use of music, movement, theatre, writing, literature and myths – students actually experience the various subjects that they study, fostering all the while their love of learning.
Waldorf students are allowed to develop their unique gifts, standing poised to apply them in life. They become individuals certain of their path and are ready to serve the world. Founder Rudolph Steiner’s idea for the pedagogy was that it addresses the needs of the child in developmentally appropriate ways. Waldorf curriculum and teachers abide by this foundational axiom, offering a powerful opportunity for the child to learn because they are met where they are. When children relate what they learn to their personal experience – they are more interested and motivated from within to own what they learn.
As an independent school – we have the grace of serving the child, not the system. Not the test. Not the funding source.
To help create more awareness about our school in this city – last year, we launched a campaign called Where’s Waldorf. The point of the campaign is to highlight where Waldorf graduates end up in the world with their contributions.
Last year, we spotlighted Juliana Margulies, an acclaimed actress and graduate of the High Mowing Waldorf School; Kenneth Chenault, the head of American Express Company and Garden City Waldorf School graduate; and, Lea Semple, co-owner of the award-winning local travel destination, Elysian Fields and graduate of New York’s Rudolf Steiner School.
We also spotlighted two of our very own graduates: Gabriel Monahan and Grace Gerdes. Grace and Gabriel join the other Waldorf Sarasota graduates who have been accepted to gifted and talented programs in both private and public Florida schools. These graduates are receiving honors for their talents and serving the community in outstanding ways.
I recently learned from a Rudolf Steiner High School alumna where their 2013 class is matriculating. The colleges and universities include Vassar College, CUNY’s Hunter and Baruch Colleges, Brown University, Brandeis University, Fordham University, George Washington University, Sarah Lawrence and University of Mass at Amherst.
This year – our first spotlight for the Where’s Waldorf campaign is on Matthaus Akinson, a Product Engineer and Project Specialist at Kennedy Space Center. I think that means he’s a rocket scientist. Akinson is a graduate of the High Mowing Waldorf School.
So – what we know is that Waldorf works in both the near and long term.
The Vision for Our School
We have two immediate goals for the school. First, we want to enhance our internal and external communications.
On the internal side, we are developing programs to support, build and grow community engagement. One of the ways we hope to achieve this is by creating an “open source” newsletter that will live on our website. Some of you may remember the Luminary, our school’s newsletter. Regrettably, when its editor moved to south Florida two years ago, it became a challenge to continue that point of engagement for our community. With an on-line “open source” collaboration among the members of our community – we can capture inspiring articles, photos, news and updates in an easy format that is more alive, organic and timely. Other internal program developments will be announced later.
On the external side, we continue to develop our social media portfolio. Right now, we have our website and Facebook platforms. We also advertise on a limited basis, promote our events in local news outlet community calendars and continue to work with our distribution partners, who allow us to use their outlets as promotion platforms for our school’s activities.
Our second immediate goal is to complete our business model and strategic plan work. We are very close to completing this work and will advise everyone of its status before this school year is out.
We also have two short-term goals. Our number one priority is to build a strong elementary school. While we still hold the vision of developing a school that moves our children from early childhood through eighth grade – we believe that it is imperative that we first build a hearty elementary school. For now, our school will continue to hold children from Little Seedlings, our Parent-Child Playgroup, through to Fifth Grade.
Around third or fourth grade, our parents start exploring what successful transitions from our school will look like for their children, so that planning can begin for education beyond Waldorf Sarasota. Our second short-term goal is to support your exploration and planning with a program that offers options for you. Until we are able to carry our children beyond the fifth grade, we would like to develop Sister Schools that will collaborate with us on creating stable and successful transitions into the “world after Waldorf” for our fifth grade graduates. Our hope is that this program will be in place to support the current fifth grade graduating class.
Other longer-term goalswill be shaped on the basis of our completed work on the business model and strategic plan. We will update you as soon as we can.
Why Fundraising is Important
When we are fully funded, we can train our focus on the vision for growing the school, instead of how to sustain the school.
As an independent school, we have the freedom to educate our children in ways that our friends in public schools and other private preparatory schools may not share. However, with that freedom comes the responsibility to actually make our vision a reality. Because we don’t have access to public funding or large private grants right now – we are expected to fund our ideals and our educational choice for our children ourselves. As an independent school, we join the ranks of most where tuition alone does not cover all expenses.
To continue our successful growth – we need all of the members of our community, as well as our family and friends, to generously give to our school. As the year unfolds, we will share our fundraising goals and programs with you. We hold the expectation of successfully reaching our fundraising goals for the year.
Why Volunteerism is Important
I recently learned that when children observe their parents working as volunteers for their school – they thrive more, becoming more engaged in the school themselves. In addition to finding ways to inspire our children with their work, volunteerism helps us to thrive more as a school. It is of fundamental importance that our community is thoroughly engaged in volunteerism for our school. So – I want to take this time now to thank those of you who are or will become volunteers. Your contribution is never taken for granted or overlooked. We are grateful for all that you do!
As volunteers, our school’s Board of Trustees carry this work, along with the administration, faculty and other parent volunteers. My beloved and esteemed colleagues include: Marguerite Chabeau, Trustee and Secretary; Cynthia Frank, Trustee Ex-Officio and Administrative Chair; Cheri Jex, Trustee and Faculty Chair; Carol McClelland, Trustee and Marketing Chair; and, Tom Perry, Trustee and Vice Chair.
We are deeply grateful for the choice that you all have made to send your children to Waldorf Sarasota. I look forward to working with you to make the 2013/14 school- year the best year yet!Glenda GraciaChair, Board of TrusteesWaldorf SarasotaRemarks: All School Welcome and OrientationAugust 17, 2013