“I am confident that the education they have received will make them individuals who can and will take the time to think for themselves and inspire and lead others.”
In June of this year, five eighth graders will graduate from White Mountain Waldorf School, and two seventh graders will continue on to eighth grade. As this year of transition approaches, Susannah Tully, Language Arts teacher, asked the students to begin reflecting upon their experience at the Waldorf School.
Most of the students began in Early Childhood at White Mountain Waldorf School and have vivid memories of their experiences there. Mrs. Tully discusses with the students how she too, experiences the same feelings of pleasure when she brings her youngest son to Early Childhood and how she will miss the nurturing aromas and warmth when he moves to the grades in a few years. What a wondrous way to begin an educational experience!
Other themes that keep surfacing in the discussion are the curriculum, the size of the classes, the festivals and, most of all, their fondness and love for each other. Waldorf students often spend eight years together under the guidance of a morning lesson teacher, as well as many subject teachers. This creates a family atmosphere of acceptance of each other and no other option but to work things out together. This has gone a long way with this group, as you will see from their own words. You may even wonder, what do they learn? Well, they learn kindness, responsibility, and stewardship. In their words we hear about the high quality of their work, their focus and preparation for the day and in the larger sense, their life. The students continue to reminisce about the years that are coming to an end for them, and here are their comments:
Sullivan Gaudreault, an 8th grader headed to Kennett, wrote a two and a half page paper about his experiences at the school! He started off talking about entering the school at the age of one, and being the third of three boys in his family to graduate from the school. Sullivan feels his brothers and other alumni that he knows are excelling in high school. He talks about the teachers being generous and the music curriculum being outstanding. He has a favorite memory about gardening with his class in third grade.
Purlin Twigg-Smith, a seventh grader who has been part of the combined 7/8 grade class and will say goodbye to her friends next year, says, “Waldorf is not just about education. It’s about making friends, making memories and creating yourself. I feel very lucky to have been able to go to this school and am looking forward to the events coming at the end of the year (graduation and class trips). I have good friends to cherish forever and am happy to have had it here at the Waldorf School.”
Manny Baptista, an 8th grader that will be graduating and heading to Fryeburg Academy writes, “I have had so many amazing memories making friends and learning from fantastic teachers. I came from public school in third grade and have been here five and a half years. Coming from public school, I wasn’t used to singing in the morning or listening to stories as part of learning.”
Hannah Thelemark remembers oat cakes and cottage cheese for snack and looks forward to spending the rest of the year getting prepared for her entrance into Kennett High School. Trevor Sylvester, a 7th grader that just joined the class this year, emphasizes the lack of technology in the class room compared to his public school education. Being a lover of nature and the outdoors, Trevor loves the extended recess times.
Logan Snell, an 8th grader heading to Kennett High School next year, says, “I love the detailed one on one teaching that can be received if needed The teachers are especially understanding and there to help you when you need it. Some of my fondest memories are definitely creating the life-long friendships. Our bond with each other is unbreakable, and these are people that I can fall back on when I need someone. The school’s teaching methods are based around the student’s educational level.”
Nick Sanderson will also be going to Kennett next year. He says, “In my whole Waldorf career, I have had a pretty good time. I loved eating the food in Early Childhood. I loved taking those afternoon walks through the woods. I am also looking forward to our 8th grade trip to the Adirondacks.”
People may wonder what Waldorf Education is all about. For these students that are about to enter high school, Waldorf Education is about a meaningful educational experience that starts in the early years and goes through adolescence. Teachers and the community meet the child holistically and intentionally. They understand that the school and their teachers have an underlying belief and expectation that they can and will meet the academic tasks ahead of them, not out of force or necessity, but out of a will and love of learning.