The Waldorf Buzz: Be InformedWeekly Newsletter for Students, Parents, and Friends of Waldorf Moraine
Letter from Teri Riddle, Board Chair
Dear WSMF Community,
The year 2020 was a year unlike any other. In the last three months we have individually and collectively experienced many triumphs and, likely, many challenges, too. As someone who has supported at-home learning one day per week for my two grandchildren, I am acutely aware of the great effort and commitment that was required by our families to successfully oversee and facilitate their children’s learning over the last few months. For me, it was both a great privilege to spend this time and also exhausting! We want you to know that your partnership has not gone unnoticed and cannot be overestimated.
As we look toward September, we are looking forward to providing our students with the optimal Waldorf school experience, whether that is on campus, remote, or a mixture of both. I am confident that the 2020-21 school year will bring new insights and opportunities for our school.
On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I also wanted to offer our deepest gratitude to the faculty and staff, who adeptly pivoted to provide a full Waldorf curriculum using a multitude of creative learning options for all our students. We know that we did our best, and we also know that we must apply all that we have learned in the event that we face mandated physical school closures next year.
Our Reopening Task Force will continue to provide information on guidelines and policies for reopening. Over the summer, we will be developing innovative programs and new ways of expanding our outdoor education. We are committed to offering a robust 2020-21 Waldorf curriculum to all of our students.
A few important notes:
- To our graduating eighth grade class, we are so proud of your capacity to be independent, creative thinkers whose moral strength and compassion will allow you to fully engage in the world and contribute meaningfully to society. We send you with great love out into the world.
- To our kindergarteners taking their steps into the first grade, we look forward to watching you grow into who you are meant to be. Branigan Reed, who will be our new first grade teacher, will bring her depth of experience in education, social emotional learning, and theater into the classroom. We look forward to many wonder-filled years ahead!
- We are in the final stages of the search for our new School Director. This has been a truly collaborative effort, with current parents, alumni parents, faculty, staff, and board members all coming together in a tremendous effort to find the right individual to lead our school. The candidates have been outstanding; hailing from all over the world, across professional fields, and from both inside and outside Waldorf education. We have winnowed the applicant pool down from forty to four (amazing!) final candidates. I look forward to being able to announce to you very soon the leader who will carry our school forward into the new academic year and well into our future.
- Based on the guidelines set forth by the state, we decided to cancel summer camp for our nursery and kindergarten students, feeling that it would be very hard to enforce the recommendations with our youngest campers. However, we are still moving forward in planning a robust schedule of summer camps for children aged 7 to 12, including theater, fine arts, and nature-focused programming. We are incredibly lucky to be on our gorgeous campus and most of our summer camps will be hosted entirely outside.
- In recognition that aspects of remote learning do not translate well for our youngest students, we have updated our tuition policies for our nursery and kindergarten families. For our early childhood families, if our school is closed for more than four total weeks in each half of the school year due to a COVID-19 related shutdown, families will receive a tuition credit of 50 percent for weeks five and beyond of remote learning, up to eight weeks.
- As you know, this pandemic has had both physical and financial impact on our community. As a result of lost tuition and fundraising revenue this year and some uncertainty about next year, our school is carrying a significant financial burden for this current year, as well as for next year. The good news is that in late April we were able to proactively secure a small business association Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loan, which covered the costs of approximately eight weeks of our total payroll. We are moving forward and revising our budgets and projections.
Thank you all for your trust, your support, and your belief in the value of the education we provide at Waldorf School at Moraine Farm.
We will be writing again very soon, but in the meantime, please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions or feedback.
Teri Riddle, Board Chair
on behalf of the Board of Trustees
Reopening Task Force Update • June 22
As the school year closes, and the summer opens, we are continuing to work through the logistics of reopening our campus – for both our summer camps and for our 2020/21 academic year.
As we wait for the state guidelines for schools to be made available, we are proactively working with the Association for Independent Schools of New England and the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America to prepare the school for all possible learning scenarios for the upcoming year, including on-campus, off-campus, and a hybrid blend.
Jack Hogan is securing necessary supplies, including cleaning agents, cleaning machines, hand sanitizer, and gloves. He has also mapped out how to reconfigure our physical space (classrooms, offices, common areas) to meet social distancing guidelines.
We are lucky to have 200 acres of nature at our front door. Our faculty and staff are reimagining how we will be taking advantage of our campus, including outdoor classrooms and learning spaces.
While we decided to cancel summer camp for our nursery and kindergarten students, feeling that it would be very hard to enforce the recommendations with our youngest campers, we are moving forward in planning a robust schedule of summer camps for children 7-12 years of age, including theater, fine arts, and nature-focused camps. Our summer camps will be almost entirely hosted outside.
There is much more work to be done, but know that we are actively working through many aspects of reopening and will be sharing information with you as it becomes available.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns please reach out! You can email firstname.lastname@example.org and your question will be directed to the right person.
Reopening Task Force Chair
More Pictures from End-of-Year Parade!
Pop over to our Community Facebook page to view pictures from our end of school year Parade which took place on Wednesday, June 17th.
WSMF Class of 2016 Graduate High School
Katherine Hill graduated from Rockport High and will attend The New School in New York City.
Gavin Dowley graduated from Marblehead High School on June 7. He will be attending Connecticut College in the fall – go Camels! When asked for his favorite memories at Waldorf he said kindergarten naps, eurythmy, cross-country skiing, and friends.
Sarah Durkee just graduated from Newburyport High School, and will be attending Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut in the fall. She plans on going into computer science and engineering. Her favorite memories from Waldorf are of all her classmates having fun on all the class trips.
Delilah Meyer graduated from Rockport High School, and will be attending Bates College in the fall.
A Chat with Signe Motter
by Marshunda Smith
Signe Motter has been my mentor since the fall of 2017 and I have enjoyed every minute of it! Our mentor ‘sessions’ were always just a conversation between the two of us. Through these conversations, we got to know each other better, and through that, we could make suggestions to one another of different subject matter that pertained to school….. or did NOT pertain to school.
Marshunda: Thank you for agreeing to be ‘interviewed’ Signe. I know you don’t like to be made a big fuss over.
Signe: That’s alright Marshunda. Only because it’s you do I agree! (laughs)
Signe Motter was born in Tromsø, Norway (which is 217 miles north of the Polar Circle), and she attended the public-school system. In Norway, the public-school system was influenced by the Steiner School curriculum, even though there were official Waldorf Schools in the country. (The first Norwegian Waldorf school opened in 1926.) Signe reminisces about the many similarities of her public school and her cousin’s school in Oslo. The Oslo public school had more resources than the country schools, so they could offer more classes like Form Drawing and many other arts. It depended on each school on how they extrapolated from the Steiner curriculum. To Signe’s surprise, later in life while training to become a Waldorf teacher, she realized that her training was very similar to the education that she had received as a young girl.
While in the early grades, Signe’s favorite subject was Geography. She LOVED it! She would pour over the entire atlas or globe and lose herself in the different places she found. She didn’t like writing, but she was completely fascinated by geography and history. Because of this love, she loved to read and research different places in the world. (In the graduation speeches this year, one eighth-grader mentioned Signe’s elation whenever she taught history or geography.)
In both grammar school and high school, Signed adored the English language. Her school also had French and German language classes, but she loved the English class the most! She would read beyond what her teacher assigned. She would even read her older brother’s old English books! When Signe was about thirteen years of age, George M. Schultz’s Peanuts comic strip, featuring Charlie Brown, came to Norway and was translated into Norwegian and of course English. Signe purchased the English translation of Peanuts and read all the comics. Later, when she was about fifteen years old, she discovered John Steinbeck. To this day, she still has the first Steinbeck book that she purchased.
Signe attended the Gymnasium, which is equivalent to two to three years of American college. Signe chose to specialize in Liberal Arts, but Old Norse Mythology and Math were other disciplines offered. After attending the Gymnasium, Signe, about nineteen years old, began working with prisoners.
Why did Signe work with prisoners you ask? Signe did a practicum, which is the equivalent of an apprenticeship. Signe has always had an interest in handwork and woodwork, so her practicum work allowed her to work with drug addicts to bring focus back into their hands. She was able to give prisoners a re-introduction to life through the arts and crafts. All the while, Signe was still learning about textile arts: spinning, weaving, design, etc. Signe waxes on about how AMAZING her teachers were! She learned from Masters at the same time as she was building her life skill sets.
ALERT: Here is a random aside, but very important in showing how cool Signe is!
Signe’s family has a history of being fishermen and farmers. During the winter, her grandfathers and/or uncles would sail towards Greenland and Newfoundland to catch tons of fish. During World War II, she had uncles sailing ships for the Allied harbors. Her uncles rode convoys between the US and England. The convoys were transporting food, tanks, and other war materials from America. During these convoys, there were lots of submarine attacks from the Germans. Because of the fraught traveling, one uncle lost a leg and another uncle lost an arm. Losses were great for both the Germans and the convoys of Allied ships. But being on or near the water ran through Signe’s blood.
When Signe was younger, from about the age of twelve until about 16, she wanted to join the Merchant Marines and become a communications officer. Because of Signe’s love of geography and languages, her knowledge of the morse code alphabet, and her fam’s maritime history running through her veins, this dream, using all of the knowledge that she gobbled up in her youth, would have been right up her alley. She wasn’t only dreaming about the harbors of Norway, she was dreaming about crossing the water around the world.
After her practicum, at about the age of 21 or 22, she applied to the ergotherapy school, which is equivalent to occupational therapy. Ergotherapy is the study of movement and motion and would allow her to work in any branch of social medicine. Ergotherapy was still fairly new and many of the textbooks were in English. The school only accepted 18 students every 18 months. Signe was accepted but had to wait until the following year to begin. While Signe waited, she found herself in Long Island!
Signe’s mom had a friend who lived in Long Island, and they desperately wanted a Norwegian au pair. So, as Signe waited to begin the ergotherapy school, she spent that year as an au pair in Long Island. While she was there, her American boyfriend came to visit and proposed to her. Did I mention she had a significant other? They met while in England when she was 18 years old.
Signe married Andy Motter in Norway during the Vietnam War. Andy’s parents worked at The Newark Art Museum, but they retired to their second home in Keene, NH. Signe and Andy lived in Keene for a little while but then moved to Boston. Signe ended up NOT enrolling in the ergotherapy program.
When Signe moved to Boston, she didn’t know anyone. One day, she was out walking in Boston and happened upon a bookstore. In this bookstore, she found three books on Rudolf Steiner. She was so surprised that this little American bookstore had these three books on Steiner! She purchased them right away! Within weeks of purchasing these books, as Signe strolled about Boston, she happened upon the Boston Waldorf School! This school later became the Belmont Waldorf School, and is now the Lexington Waldorf School. Signe and Andy later moved back to Keene and they started the Monadnock Waldorf School in their home.
Signe was the Early Childhood teacher and her young children, along with other little people, gathered in her living room and formed the first class of the Monadnock Waldorf School. Andy was president of the board and Signe remained the E.C. teacher for about eight years. Then Antioch University had started a Waldorf teacher training program, of which she was in the third group to enter that new program. For her six week internship, she chose to intern at a public school so that she may obtain knowledge on the American school system. Signe pauses and tells me that it is hard to talk about that internship. All she can say is that she has such admiration for the teachers teaching in the American public school system. Period.
After her internship, she took a first-grade class at Monadnock. According to Signe, the first six weeks felt like ONE. LONG. DAY!!! She had twenty-four students: eighteen boys and six girls. Interestingly enough, no woman had taken a class all the way through to eighth grade. The woman would leave for some reason or another. So, Signe was DETERMINED to break this ‘curse’ and be the first woman to take a class all the way through to eighth-grade graduation. Signe eventually took three classes through to graduation. During the last class of fifth-graders at Monadnock, Andy (Signe’s husband) passed away. After Signe graduated this class, the Princeton Waldorf School called Signe seeking help.
The Princeton Waldorf School needed an eighth-grade teacher for one year. Signe’s daughters and grandchildren were there at the school, so she decided to move to Princeton. After this year, the fifth-grade teacher decided to leave, so Signe stayed another four years. The following year, Signe did a lot of traveling mentoring other Waldorf teachers, and she came to Moraine Farm to teach a block for Mr. Dorring’s class. After Mr. Dorring decided to leave, Signe was asked to take the rising sixth-grade class. (YAY FOR MORAINE FARM!)
One of her fondest memories of this graduating class was when they went spelunking. “I had said no to other classes, but I had a sneaking suspicion that I’d say yes this time,” Signe reminisces. “We got to the cave and I went down this really dark hole! I knew this would be the last time I would have a chance to do something like this. There is just something about this class that I felt comfortable with. I was SOOO super aware of my body in that tight space that literally and physically touched me all around. I was slithering and snaking on my stomach! I was NOT afraid! I was calm and focused. I even checked in with myself…’Nope. I’m not afraid.”
According to Signe, she has always loved class trips, “especially the getting really dirty part” she laughs. “. I come home and I LOVE my bath! I’ve also always loved the plays and playing recorder with this class.”
I asked Signe what will she miss about teaching a grades class?
“Every school has a different smell. I get to school early and I putter around. I will miss that. I will also miss feeling the artistic, creative energy of the students…and the recall. The students give you the energy to keep going. I will miss the colleagueship with my peers. I can count on two hands when I’ve woken up and thought, ‘I don’t want to go to school.”
I have been an adjunct employee of Antioch and Center for Anthroposophy for more than 25 years. It is true that I have been the instructor, but the dozens of students whom I have been instructing have also been MY teachers. It has been an ongoing learning experience for me and will continue to be an ongoing experience.”
I speak for all my colleagues when I say that we will miss seeing Signe around the school on a daily basis, as well as her insights to life that she sometimes unknowingly offers.
For Parents, Teachers & Students — An Educator’s Guide to this Moment
Article from Spark.Adobe.com
In our EquityMatters! newsletter last August 2019 we wrote “many of us feel overwhelmed by the racial, cultural, and socio-political issues in our country and all over the world. We want to escape the news and focus on our classrooms and worksites. Our students, however, will be walking into school looking to us to teach them, make them feel safe, and help them make sense of the world. Are we ready?”
That was seven months before the COVID-19 pandemic, nine months before the video showing the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, and 10 months before the world watched the heinous murder of George Floyd. The issues our students face now are having a profound emotional impact and many of our students are facing them alone.
Read more and find resources at An Educator’s Guide to this Moment
WSMF STANDS group
The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee has created a group in WhatsApp geared towards sharing events, marches, protests, etc, in your area so that we can be in the know about where our voices can be heard. Join the WSMF STANDS group here. (you must have WhatsApp to join)
Community Pen Pal Signup
The final assignment for CARE Class students this year is to return to a simpler time and step away from technology and screens to write a letter to someone and send it off in the mail. I wanted to open the opportunity up to our wider community and match children and adults alike for some summer pen-pal fun!
If you are interested in participating, please fill out this google form by Friday, June 19. I will then pair folks up and share mailing information with participants early the following week. I hope you will join in the fun!
Parenting in Place: Helping Families Thrive in Challenging Times
In early March 2020, a group of parenting authors coalesced with a goal of sharing support, insights, and career advice about speaking to schools, parents, corporations, organizations, and mental health groups. Shortly after our first meeting, the speaking circuit shut down due to COVID-19, bringing all our travel to a crashing halt and forcing us to pivot in our work. Our bi-monthly call turned from a networking group into a lifeline for emotional support and making sense of the impact the coronavirus pandemic would have on children and families. From those conversations, the Parenting in Place masterclass series emerged.
Parenting in Place is a limited engagement live masterclass series from a new collective of prominent thought leaders in parenting, neuroscience, education, and well-being.
We are a group of parenting experts, therapists, authors, educators, and neuroscientists who feel passionate about helping families navigate these challenging times. We’ve come together to share our very best strategies and ideas for how you and your family can thrive this summer and also be ready for whatever comes next.
This is a 9-week series with a weekly webinar offered each Wednesday evening at 8:00 p.m. EST. Each Thursday, a webinar replay will be provided. Registrants also receive access to a bundle of asynchronous learning resources, as well as access to a closed Facebook group.
We thank you for your interest in the masterclass and our work. We are committed to better serving all parents by offering a diverse set of perspectives.
Waldorf School Job Postings: Assistants Needed
We are looking to fill a few positions on our staff. Please reach out to email@example.com with any questions.
End of Year Parade • Wednesday June 17, 5:30 PM
Wednesday, 6/17, is our last day of school before the summer break. Please join us at 5:30 PM on Wednesday, June 17th for a car parade on the school road. Teachers and staff will line the school drive to wave and congratulate you from a safe distance. Families are encouraged to decorate their vehicles or make signs of love, appreciation, and joy! The wish flags that you have made for teachers will also line the parade route.
In order to maintain a safe environment, no family members will be allowed out of their vehicles and employees will maintain safe social distancing protocols. Wearing masks is encouraged.
We recognize that for many early childhood families, explaining to your child that they are going to school, but are unable to get out and play or see their teachers will be difficult. Knowing this, the Early Childhood teachers are planning in-person events for later in the summer if/when state guidelines permit. All families are invited to the parade, but we understand that some families may choose to wait until these classes can meet in person.
Hooray! 8th-Grade Graduation
We are very excited to share with our community that we have found a way to have a short, safe, closed ceremony for our graduating class of 2020. Please know that we are only able to create this special ceremony under the strictest safety standards and therefore cannot open this up to the entire community.
Only immediate family and a small group of teachers will be in attendance. We know you all will be celebrating with our graduates in your hearts! Please join us in wishing our 8th-Graders a happy and healthy journey to high school!
Reopening Task Force Update • June 15
On Saturday, June 7, Governor Baker announced that the state was moving into phase 2 of the reopening plan. With that announcement, day camps were allowed to open and Guidelines for child care and summer camps were shared. After reading the requirements and discussing what is both feasible and feels authentic to a true Waldorf experience, we decided that we cannot deliver the quality of Early Childhood Summer program that we would like to. We currently still have 5 weeks of camps scheduled for 7-12-year-olds between mid-July and August. We will next decide the feasibility of running that program. By June 29, we could move into Phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan and some of the guidelines may be different and could allow us to host some summer events and programs.
We will continue to follow work being done by the CDC, State, and local Board of Health. In addition to familiarizing ourselves with the current state guidelines focused on summer camp, we are also looking at recently shared information about summer school. While neither of these includes the exact rules that we will be required to follow in September, they do help us form realistic expectations and enough information to begin to imagine what different scenarios our school may be working with this fall. We plan to share a few possible scenarios, for what school may look like in September shortly.
This week we will be sending out the End of Year Parent Survey, there will be some questions focused on the experience each family has had with the time in distance learning. We value your input and look forward to receiving your feedback. We anticipate sending a second parent survey that will focus on the fall and return of the school year later this summer.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns please reach out! You can email firstname.lastname@example.org and your question will be directed to the right person.
Reopening Task Force Chair
WCA Update: Week of June 15, 2020
St. John’s Tide
The following is an excerpt from “St. John’s Tide” written by Karen Rivers in the Celebrations and Festival section of Waldorf Education: A Family Guide.
Just after the Summer Solstice is the Festival of St. John, celebrated on June 24. From now until the Winter Solstice in December, the sunlight will be diminishing….
High summer has been celebrated with fire since ancient times. Huge bonfires were lit on the Summer Solstice to help the sun continue to increase rather than to diminish in the light it brings. An old custom required that people should jump over the fire to burn away their woes and weaknesses. This is a common ritual used to celebrate this festival in the Waldorf calendar year.
On this day, when the sun is at its height, we may turn our eye inward with the conviction that in times of abundance, the need for inner strength is just as great as in times of little light or in complete darkness.
WSMF Class of 2016 Graduate High School
Jesse DeWeese-Boyd graduated from Georgetown High School this past Saturday, June 13, in a “drive-in” ceremony. He will study history at UMass-Lowell in the fall. Congratulations Jesse! (photo by Kim Indresano)
James Mercier graduated from Rockport High School on June 5th. He will be attending Champlain College in Vermont next year. When I (Caroline Mercier, mom) asked him for a favorite memory from his time at Waldorf, he mentioned his friends, the Hale St. building and Huck-a-Buck bread
Lilly graduated on June 7 from Newburyport High School, which staged a fantastic car parade around town, winding up with each family’s car pausing at the front door of the high school, just long enough for a masked Mayor Holaday to hand the graduate her diploma. The best part was that so many townspeople came out and cheered for them with noisemakers and balloons and homemade signs.
Lilly will be going to URI for the Flagship Chinese Language Program sponsored in part by US Departments of Defense and State. She’s determined to be a fluent Mandarin speaker by the time she graduates. Her admission into this program was definitely helped along by her membership in the German Honor Society, in turn, owed to her ten years of German while a Waldorf student. She’ll have a dual major but doesn’t know yet what the other subject will be. (photo by Nancy Durkee)
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