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 The Leaflet a newsletter for parents and friends of Ashwood Waldorf School

April 30, 2014Join Our Mailing List
From the Director
Early Childhood Teacher 2014-15
I am thrilled to let you know that Beth Lunt has decided to return to Ashwood next year. While doing a thorough job search, having multiple invitations to interview, and securing another Waldorf teaching position, Beth kept questioning her decision to journey forth from Ashwood. She reports that,  while visiting other schools, she found herself comparing them to Ashwood and realizing how much she appreciates our school, the children, the parents, and this faculty.
In the end she realized that this is exactly where she wants to be. We are very glad to welcome her back.

-Jody Spanglet  

Festivals
Celebrate May at the Faire This Saturday! 

 

Everyone is invited to celebrate spring at Ashwood's beloved annual May Faire on Saturday, May 3, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. This is a free event for the whole family.

 

Activities include pillow jousting, a cakewalk, plant-a-posy, a puppet show, face painting, and dancing around the maypole, with music and merriment throughout the day. A delicious, wholesome lunch will be available for sale, and if the weather obliges, Ashwood's beautiful campus is a grand place for a picnic. Classrooms will be open and student work will be on display.

 

This is a wonderful opportunity to introduce our school to friends and family; come one, come all!

Early Childhood News
Being "Here, Now."  A Waldorf Kindergarten Teacher's Perspective
As a young mother, so many years ago, I remember reading a book that really spoke to me. It was Be Here Now by Ram Dass, a former Harvard professor whose life was changed by an encounter with his guru (teacher) in India back in the early 70s. The teaching premise and sharing of this book was to train your mind and heart to be in the moment. I loved this book so much, I actually bought an extra copy one time and papered my kitchen walls with the lovely drawings and sayings. But I never really understood on a soul or experiential level what this meant in my day-to- day life with a large household of children, husband, and many assorted animals on our small back-to-the-land homestead.

In the early 90s I began working and training as a Waldorf kindergarten teacher. I truly felt I had stumbled upon my destiny and calling, but I certainly had a good deal of inner resistance along the way to some of the philosophy. I wondered to myself, "How can these rhythms, which are the same each day...day in and day out...year in and year out, not become boring, and not only for the children, but, most especially, for me?" I was someone who craved change, moving to new areas, trying new things and just in general being very open to all of life.

As I later began my work running a home-based Waldorf program, I was really on my own and actually learning to figure this out.  Never one to accept dogma or philosophy without inwardly experiencing it to be true, I formed my program based on the philosophy I had learned and I observed it as it unfolded over the course of eight years. I often toyed with the thought of changing my program, and I sometimes did, but each time I attempted this, I found that the children "fell out" of the energy, their behaviors changed and, ultimately, so did the mood of our day. Intuitively, something did not feel right. So, I then recognized Rudolf Steiner's wisdom when he addressed this question, and the concept that "it does not matter what you DO with young children, it is who you ARE that feeds them on a soul and physical level."  What???

But then I saw that, when I was feeling together, grounded, and attentive, we had wonderful days.  Conversely, when my mood or emotions were off, this was also reflected in the children's behaviors. I then began the work of cultivating an even temperament, at least when I was present with the school children! That did not always work for me with my family, I might add!

I am not certain when I began to understand, but every so often I trained myself to slow down inwardly and to be truly present at a different level during my interactions with the children. To really see and hear with love and attention, and to be fully "there" in that encounter. This took a LOT of practice, but then the reward I felt within began to dawn upon me. In those moments, I actually experienced the "soul encounter" I had read about in so many of the spiritually based books I had read over the years.  I was finally learning to "Be Here, Now"!

Now as I enter my 20th year in living and breathing my work with young children as a teacher, I find this inner experience to be such a guidance and blessing. I observe and see for myself that, in fact, Rudolf Steiner was right!  Children are indeed nurtured and nourished by daily rhythms, in fact, they crave them!  Carried along with the knowledge of what comes next at school is just like being carried along by the rhythms of nature we see all around us. The waxing and waning of the moon, the tides and the changes of the seasons, are all a different sort of inner "beholding." Our songs, stories, and activities change within the cycle of the year, but the "bones" of support and structure during the day do not. The children, given the free space to be (under loving guidance, of course) have no challenges in being fully engaged in their play. It is always amazing for me to see how they run from any scheduled activity to get right back to their "real" work. Which is playing, playing!

Over the years I have also come to understand, and try to share with parents, that children do not live and receive things at all in the way adults do. Their worldview is completely different. They really appreciate, and intuitively know, when someone "sees" and respects where they are and can be right there with them. I often say that people spend lots of money on retreats and the like simply to experience what I experience each day in the kindergarten. Not that this is easy; let me assure you of that! It really is about inner discipline. And as we say in the language of Waldorf education, we must keep working on our "will" forces, which to me means training our monkey mind to behave and to be present and to always strive toward doing the right thing from a place of inner freedom. Slowing down is not easy for most of us! But this, in fact, is a cornerstone of the Waldorf approach to early childhood. It is a lot of work, with many failures as well as successes along the way.

Another book that changed my life forever was Models of Love, the Parent/Child Journey (1982), by Joyce and Barry Vissell. This book led me to Waldorf education, and I am forever grateful.  Standing as a model of love to our children is not always an easy task, but it is a rewarding one. Children are keen observers and they see how we treat and speak about the people we meet each day. Are our encounters warm? Our words compassionate? This makes it a special task, at least for me,  to stand before them each day and to be in my truth and integrity, always striving to be that model of love. It is completely a job worth doing, and it is an honor and a privilege to be doing it with your children! I am so grateful for all of my teachers along the way.
-Elizabeth Lunt
Grade School News
Meet Our New First-Grade Teacher
Thursday, May 1, at 6:00 p.m. in the grade 1-2 classroom, we'll be introducing Ashwood's new first-grade teacher for the coming school year, Donna Wenckus. Donna is known and loved in our community for her dedicated work in the forming arts, and we're excited to help launch this next step on her teaching journey. Join us!
Annual Appeal
Update
We are nearing the finish line, Ashwood!  We have less than $3,000 to go before we meet our annual appeal goal. Reminder letters will go out this week, just in case you lost yours. To those who have already given - thank you! To those who have yet to find your checkbook - thank you! Perhaps you'll forgo a cup of coffee this week so you could become part of Ashwood's 100% participation; perhaps your gift will be much larger. Either way, join us. We are here to welcome you. 
-Annie Mahle 
Special Thanks
One a Penny...
Warm thanks to our midnight baker, Cherry Short-Lee, for the bountiful baskets of hot (and they were, indeed, HOT) cross buns on our last day of school before spring break. Our lively and inspiring "in-school open house" was sweetened immeasurably by the special treat Cherry again prepared for us. Thank you, dear Cherry!
Alumni News
Ashwood Grad's Work Featured at Boston Film Fest
Harper Alexander, a 2009 graduate of Watershed School and a 2005 graduate of Ashwood, is still a senior in college, but the short film he shot was recently honored with a screening at the Boston International Film Festival. Alexander was the director of photography for the film, "Link," which was directed by Boston native Alex Thompson, his classmate at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

 

The 15-minute film is about two escapees from a Nazi prison camp, shackled together, who initially hate each other, but find common ground after stepping on a land mine that will explode if they move. Alexander, 22, says the period drama was a particularly ambitious student project. "The scope of the project was daunting," he says, "and photographically we faced many challenges, such as shooting a night exterior rain scene with limited resources and a meager budget."

Other challenges included rounding up historically correct Nazi uniforms and prisoner garb, teaching the local actors how to speak German, and securing the services of a local fire department, which provided the thousands of gallons of water necessary for the rain effects in near-freezing nighttime temperatures. The film was shot over three days with a crew of sixty people. "Some of the professors said there were too many challenges and we wouldn't be able to pull it off," recalls Alexander. "They didn't want to see us end in frustration. But we just made it happen."

 

The Boston premiere is notable because it is a venue for professional first-run films, not student work.

 

Alexander has been a film fanatic since he made his first movie while a student at Ashwood, using the video camera on his father's cell phone. Later he started the Watershed School's film club and lobbied to create a film studies course at the school.  

For more information on the Boston International Film Festival go to http://bifilmfestival.com.

Announcements
Ultimate Frisbee Club
Sign up right away if you want to join the fun! Ultimate Frisbee Club, led by Jeremy Clough, begins Monday, May 5. The club meets Mondays and Wednesdays from 3:15 - 4:30, May 5 - June 4. Students may sign up for one or both days. Call the school (236.8021) or email to sign up.
INFORM
Read the May newsletter from AWSNA, the Association of Waldorf Schools in North America. 
 
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In This Issue
Important Dates

Thursday, May 1 

Meet New First Grade Teacher Donna Wenckus 
6:00 p.m.

Thursday, May 1
Campus Beautification Day
10:30-12:00 Campus Beautification
12:00-1:00 All-School Picnic

Friday, May 2
No Assembly

Saturday, May 3
May Faire
11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Friday, May 9
First-Second Grade Play
4:00 p.m. 
 

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Why Waldorf?
The Heart of Education
Cincinnati Waldorf School teacher Lori Kran gives a TED talk about how she engages her students.
"The Heart of Education" Lori Kran at TEDxCincinnatiChange
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