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Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School


Maple Sugaring by Robyn Coe

Photo by Jenn Smith, Berkshire Eagle

On March 12, the first day temperatures climbed above fifty degrees, third graders shed their winter coats and headed off into a stand of maples adjacent to the main school building to learn a New England farming tradition taught to European settlers by native Algonquians: tapping sugar maples for the sap which starts to rise during the sunny days and cold nights of early spring. In company with teacher Michelle Marks, facilities director Hartmuth Sommer and Farming and Gardening teacher Hadley Milliken, third graders' spirits were high after a long and snowy winter.  Mr. Sommer (Herr Hausmeister to the children) started by helping the students to recognize a sugar maple, even in spring when the telltale bright orange and red leaves of fall are only a memory, by its crenelated bark.  Together, they selected a straight, strong tree, and he explained where on the tree to tap, finding a smooth run of bark without notches or scars, also explaining that sap flows only in the fruitwood, the thin layer between the rings of the tree and the bark.  The children spontaneously gave the tree kisses and hugs, and Herr Hausmeister demonstrated how to insert the large hand auger at a slight upward angle; the children and teachers each took a turn until sap began to flow.  Then with a gentle tap of his hammer, being careful not to split the bark, Herr Hausmeister inserted the tap.

aluminum buckets, from which they came with a wagon every day to collect sap, hung nearby. Students collected sap throughout the month and on April 10, boiled it down over an open fire, to evaporate the water and create concentrated syrup. Farming and Gardening teacher Hadley Milliken says, "The activity of maple sugaring is an important event in the year for the children, working in rhythm with the seasons, and creating an awareness and reverance for how the earth regenerates in winter, a healing time for the soil. I tell the children that sugaring is the 'first waking up' of spring." Herr Hausmeister explained that it takes forty cups of sap to create one cup of syrup. Farmer Hadley's plans for the farming and gardening program at the school include repairs to the sugar shack, built ten years ago by the third grade class as their house-building project, so that the entire school community can participate in the celebration of "sugaring off,"  which Farmer Hadley calls "the first real gardening project of the year," and a sweet way to learn about working with nature. To view complete maple sugaring slide show click here!

Third grade tapped two trees, attaching clear hoses and covered buckets to their taps. The Early Childhood students’ smaller 2

Spring 2014

Winter Sweetness by Langston Hughes The little house is sugar, Its roof with snow is piled. And from its tiny window, Peeps a maple-sugar child.

Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School


Summer at Steiner by Sally Michael Keyes

great barrington rudolf steiner school Newsletter Spring 2014

Now in its 36th year, Summer@Steiner offers the season’s sweetest pleasures for youngsters from preschool to middle school, with programs designed especially for each age. Younger elementary children thrive on activities such as horseback riding lessons, vegetable and flower gardening, puppet plays, river fun and full days of beach and sun at a local lake. Nine to ten year olds flourish with the challenges each week brings such as horseback riding, days of lake water fun and picnicking, and a weekly field trip to a wildlife sanctuary, Berkshire Museum, Bartholomew’s Cobble nature center or hiking trails. Tweens and teens delve energetically into an active week of outdoor challenges and new friendships while biking, hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, pool and lake swimming, river tubing, and exploring the little-known, natural wonders of the Berkshires.

35 West Plain Road Great Barrington, MA 01230 p. 413.528.4015

Contributers Barbara Carr Sally Michael Keyes Beth Oakley Kate Staples Kirsten Suberg Graphic Designer Stacey Hartka

Program Director Mark Eurich has run the camp since 2000. He comments, “I am always inspired by the kids’ enthusiasm. Most important is the easy pace – there is time to make a friend, build a spontaneous sand castle and have the freedom to just be a kid.” Summer@ Steiner’s weekly sessions run from June 23 to August 8. Children can participate in some or all of the 7 weeks. For more information, call Mark Eurich at (413) 528-4015, ext. 151, or email

Staff Liaisons Robyn Coe Jenna Lamond Tracy Fernbacher Article submissions 300-1,000 words: Photo submissions: (300dpi)

ADS & CLASSIFIED ADS please submit form, artwork and payment by deadline dates below: Newsletter-Ad-Placement-Form.pdf

GBRSS Newsletter deadline and release dates are: FALL deadline Oct 18--release date Nov 4 WINTER deadline Dec 21--release date Jan 15 SPRING deadline March 20-- release date April 15 SUMMER deadline May 20-- release date Jun15


Spring 2014

Summer in the Early Childhood by Beth Oakley

It's a hot July morning, and the children have just begun to arrive. The Steiner School kindergarten playground and downstairs nursery are soon filled with laughter and lively voices. Everyone sits down to help prepare the day's snack (strawberry and banana ice cream) chopping fruit merrily, not minding in the least if it splashes on swimsuits. They will soon be washed clean by the cool, shallow water of the Green River. After chopping, the children spill out onto the playgrounds-running through sprinklers, pulling vegetables from the cool soil of the early childhood gardens, washing dishes in delightfully sudsy water, and playing with the chickens. They stop only when they hear the familiar sound of the Blue Rider Stables' trailers pulling up around back. Excitedly, they move to sit in the shade. There, they wait to ride two gentle donkeys around the school's fields. Later, there will be swimming, exploring, storytelling, and resting. A perfect summer day. As we say goodbye to the school year in Early Childhood, the hum of things quiets down around our building--but only until the first day of summer camp! Summer @ Steiner's EC program is inspired by the daily rhythm followed by our kindergarten and nursery during the school year. The Players program (for 3 and 4 year olds) and the Discoverers program (for 5 and 6 year olds) are both designed with a joyful, age-appropriate day in mind. The children take part in traditional summer activities such as swimming and exploratory play. They also help with making snack, washing dishes, caring for our chickens, and of course, the gardening. Our gardening program has recently grown at the Steiner School, and this summer will provide ample harvesting opportunities for all. A favorite activity of the Discoverers last summer was to set up their own little "farmers market" for their parents. Early Childhood used the money from last years bounty to purchase new seeds for fall planting. The Players group for 3 and 4 year olds was begun last year, in response to a growing demand for the availability of sum-

mertime care for nursery-age children. The goal was to create something that would truly serve the very young child–a day that flowed slowly and easily, with ample time for play, resting, and of course, the delight of water. Summer is a relaxed season, a time to exhale. For nursery, that means a relaxed day–a little food preparation, a little indoor play while the children are helped into their bathing suits, and out we go! After a morning of swimming, picking raspberries, running and mixing sand and water into all sorts of concoctions, we lunch in the shade and then head in for an afternoon nap during the hottest part of the day. The children wake just in time for some fruit or popsicles before going home. As winter slowly begins to fade, some of the chatter around the Rose Room snack table has begun to include remembrances of summer camp: "Mrs. Oakley, do you remember when we were here in the summer and we rode the donkeys?" "Mrs. Oakley, when it's summer and all of my friends are here, I'm going to show everyone where the clay is at the green river!" It is almost as if the children know that warm weather will soon be here, even as the last of the snows have not quite melted on the fields outside. It heartens me to hear this talk of summer as we turn to the hopeful season of spring. I am so looking forward to experiencing, again, the joys of this season with the children. We hope you'll join us. Summer @ Steiner offerers two programs welcoming children ages 3-6 Players (Ages 3-4) led by Beth Oakley Discoverers (Ages 5-6) led by Laura Lin For more inquiries on the Summer @ Steiner early childhood programs please contact Mark Eurich, Program Director, at 413.528.4015, ext.151 or email

Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School


what formula? WHATisIS this THIS special SPECIAl FORMulA? by Mrs. Mrs. Carr, Carr, Handwork handwork Teacher teacher by

Is itexperiment a mathematical problem, a scientific experiment or a secret recipe? Is it a mathematical problem, a scientific or a secret recipe? K8, SL1, K1, PSSO, K1, turn work around For a 5th grader, much of the excitement of knitting a pair P4, P2tog, P1, turn work around of socks is the complex and magical turning of the heel. The K5, SL1, K1, PSSO, K1, turn work around instructions above guide them step-by-step through what is P6, P2tog, P1, turn work around considered by knitters as one of the most challenging of tasks, turning the heel of a sock. This is also the student’s first introK7, SL1, K1, PSSO, turn work around duction to a more technical approach to knitting, the use of a P7, P last 2tog written pattern. K remaining 8 sts. Using four five double-pointed needles, the sock is knit in the round with a ribbing pattern in colors chosen by the student and designed to fit their own feet. The Waldorf handwork curriculum for 5th grade indicates making something to wear that takes the shape of the body. The feet are the ideal starting point since at this time they begin to stand more firmly on the earth. Socks with the complex and magical shaping of the heel, involving mathematical sequences, are the perfect project.


Spring 2014

Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School 9

Music at GBRSS by Kate Staples

The progression of the music program through the grades is closely aligned with pedagogical theory. In the first grade, students start with the pentatonic flute, which helps develop fine motor imitation and breath control. By second grade, the students are beginning to understand the structure of the music they are singing and playing. "Songs they are familiar with, we begin playing with the pentatonic flute, and they begin to recognize the notes," says Mrs. Mitchell. The introduction of the stringed instruments in the third grade literally gives students another voice at a time they are going through the nine-year change and developing their own identity. Fourth grade introduces harmony and melody, infusing songs with color and bringing out joy and sadness, much like the fire and ice of the Norse myths the students are learning. Reinforcing that richness, violins and cellos play together more often.

No matter what the time of day, the Rudolph Steiner School is likely to be filled with music. It might be the voices of children singing in the round, or it might be those same songs richly transformed by the pentatonic recorder, the violin or the flute. Music, in a number of forms, is an integral element of a Rudolph Steiner education. At GBRSS, the music program is directed by Sigrid Mitchell, who also co-teaches the strings program with her daughter, Erika Ludwig. "A Steiner education has some aspects of a Renaissance education," says Mrs. Mitchell. "In the past, children with any schooling learned everything, from reading and writing to language, dance and music." At GBRSS, Mrs. Mitchell likens this approach to bringing "many spokes to the wheel." Children process new information in different ways and at different paces, and introducing a number of subjects at an early age allows each student the time to absorb a skill or subject at their own pace.

A new layer is added in the fifth grade, when students may switch to a wind instrument. This is also the year the class comes together and all the instruments play as an ensemble. The class learns about terminology and mechanical structure, and begins to understand what makes a sharp or a flat note. Sophistication and nuance enter into the sixth grade program, Mrs. Mitchell says. There is more singing and the content of the songs is in tune with the mood of the class. "Over the years, we have culled just the right songs, introducing more complex skills as the year progresses," says Mrs. Ludwig. "Where in the early grades, the songs are mostly about nature, music in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades addresses relationships, emotions and historical conquests." By seventh and eighth grade, students who are pursuing instruments have formed a strong bond, like a club," says Mrs. Mitchell. For the chorus, the seventh and eighth grade students practice separately and come together for rehearsals and performances. Throughout the grades, the music program fosters joy and encourages students to find new ways to express themselves, not just in school, but in life. "Music is in you," says Mrs. Mitchell. "If you nurture it, you might never read a note, yet it will always be with you."

"The object is not to produce musicians; if it clicked, that would be a by product," she says. The music program is carefully structured to coordinate with what is going on in the classroom, says Mrs. Ludwig. "For instance, we introduce string instruments in the third grade, and our language in describing the instruments is very much from the third grade curriculum. The class is learning measurements, and we start by measuring our fingers against the instruments. First finger is home because the third grade is all about coming home, coming into the body."

Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School



Julianna Margulies, Actor and Producer

Julianna Margulies currently stars in the lead role of Alicia Florrick in the legal drama The Good Wife on CBS. Last month, Julianna was again nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a TV Series, Drama for this role. Previously, she has won a Golden Globe, a Television Critics Association Award and the 2011 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her part in The Good Wife.

You’re encouraged to think as an individual.

Julianna first achieved both critical and commercial success as Nurse Carol Hathaway on NBC's long-running medical drama ER. She was awarded an Emmy Award and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor for this role. In 1998, she was named one of People Magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People in the World."

“When I get a script, it’s my job to interpret that script. I do it exactly as I would have to do a main lesson book. I envision a character completely separate from the script and I make her my own. Then I return to the script and put her into it. That way I create my own character, and the feedback from directors is always that was interesting. It might not be their interpretation, but they’re interested. I think that’s one of the greatest gifts of Waldorf Education, that if you do the inner work, and you make a choice, that choice is valid. I think that comes from this whole culture of making you feel comfortable in the world and learning that being an individual is a wonderful thing.”

Julianna attended grade school at both Green Meadow Waldorf School in Spring Valley, New York and Michael Hall School, a Waldorf school in London. She graduated from the High Mowing School, the only Waldorf boarding school in the United States. She received a B.A. degree in liberal arts from Sarah Lawrence College. As she reflects on her Waldorf education, Julianna says: “The first time I understood the benefit of a Waldorf education was my first week at college. Students around me were flipping out because they were afraid of writing papers. At High Mowing we had at least ten pages to write every night. It was such a big part of our education that I was very confident in my writing. We had to analyze each scene, then write the analysis. I still have my “Faust” main lesson book with me. When I wrote about it, I was able to expand my thinking and make it my own. That’s what’s so wonderful about Waldorf education. You’re exposed to all these different ideas, but you’re never given one view of it. 8

Spring 2014

Dante’s “Inferno”, that was another thing. I did a six-foot painting of all the stages in the Inferno—it took three and a half weeks. That’s how I understood every character in the book. It allows you to see things visually and not just intellectually, and without that, I don’t think I could be a good actress.”

Julianna also has a connection to the Berkshires and GBRSS. Her mother, Francesca Margulies, was our eurythmy teacher from 1993 to 2005 and she continues to provide therapeutic eurythmy to institutions and clients in the Berkshires. Recently Mrs. Marqulies is substituting during our transition to a new full-time eurythmy teacher. Mrs. Margulies comments, “All three of our daughters were brought up in Waldorf Education. We could not have imagined them being educated any other way. They developed rich capacities such as penetrating an idea deeply, inner strength, warmth and love of their friends and an ability to do what they need and want to do.”

German Curriculum, grades 1-5 by Kirsten Suberg, German Teacher

In first to third grade, the students learn German largely through imitation. I speak almost exclusively in German, and the children, with their adaptable powers of speech, "learn" the language by absorbing and imitating it in a way similar to how they learned their mother tongue. The early years are also critical in terms of vocabulary. It will form a foundation the students will build on in the years to come. I avoid all written work, encouraging the class to recite and gradually speak on their own. The emphasis is on poetry and singing, as well as storytelling and conversation. Most of the work is done through group recitation, though students are encouraged to participate individually, especially as they progress to later grades. 1st Grade We learn basic grammar: colors, parts of the body, items in the classroom, animals, foods, family, fairy tales, seasonal themes, polite phrases, greetings and some basic counting. 2nd Grade We expand on the material of the 1st grade: counting up to 50, simple addition and subtraction, days of the week, months, questions and answers, clothing and the classroom. 3rd Grade Our work becomes more involved: addition and subtraction, the alphabet forward and backwards, “Simon says," more complex commands (three to five steps), riddles using adjectives. 4th Grade In addition to speaking, writing and reading, we now incorporate a more conscious use of grammar: writing and reading poems and songs, chorally as well as individually; practicing the alphabet, spelling exercises as well as very short dictations. When necessary, we use free translation to assure that students have a picture of the content and material. Deepening the understanding of the inner workings of the language, we look at the grammatical gender of the German noun, how pronouns are determined, and the dizzying form of the adjectives. We practice simple sentences through riddles and basic description. 5th Grade We expand the new work we started the previous year: in addition to speaking and singing, writing and reading we deepen our consciousness of grammar by reading short stories as well as Die Kleine Hexe. We also learn past tense and, in a playful way, prepositional phrases. We place more emphasis on practicing vocabulary and spelling and continue to practice free translation through questions and answers. We incorporate culture, learning the names of towns and rivers in Germany as well as bordering countries.

In German now… "As the season is changing, so is our German curriculum. We are welcoming spring with new spring songs and activities.  1st grade is working on numbers and body parts, 2nd grade on animals and fruit, 3rd grade on occupations and food, 4th grade on numbers in math and time, and 5th grade on their first reader, Die Kleine Hexe. "As this school year comes to an end, I would like to say that I have very much enjoyed being 'Frau Suberg' this year and working with grades 1-5 in this capacity.  It was a very busy teaching year for me, but it was also rewarding and wonderful to work with all the children and families.  A special thank you to the 5th grade parents for supporting their class teacher in this double role this year."  – Mrs. Suberg

Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School 9

grade 1

Mrs. Brennan In the First Grade spring math block, each morning is heaped with a variety of activities that strengthen the students’ sense for numbers and encourage them to find solutions to problems both with and without the use of manipulatives. We stamp, clap, and tap with sticks to the rhythms that emphasize various multiplication tables. We count and count and count, forwards and backwards—by ones, twos, threes, fives, tens and hundreds. We play math games. We are learning the four processes and their signs, and are practicing writing numbers and equations.

Minus keeps her house as neat as a pin, For she takes away whatever comes in. Her rooms and hall are empty, For she subtracts everything!

Plus gathers all that he can find. Each hand holds quite a heap! He adds them all together, And all he carefully keeps.


Spring 2014

grade 2

Mrs. Morrison The Second Grade has been working on more complex math processes such as carrying, borrowing and regrouping through the lens of a vibrant and imaginative story about Math Gnomes and their Caves of Plenty, or “Borrowing Caves." The story, which is reprinted below, was gorgeously illustrated on the board with actual gem magnets in the ones cave, velvet pouches representing ten gems in the tens cave, and boxes signifying 100 gems in the hundreds cave (see photo) which could be moved and changed depending on the problem being solved. The children then learned the traditional method of subtraction and borrowing, which immediately clicked in their minds given that they already had this vivid and deep understanding of the topic through the story. The Gnome King and the King of Plenty: A window into Second Grade Math. Deep in the earth the caves twinkled with the light of crystal gems that studded the walls.

was constantly fluctuating in its stores of grains, copper pots, silken fabrics, crafts and supplies of all sorts including gems. Many different kinds of transactions took place, but this spring everything was at a standstill as the roads had been washed away or destroyed in the storms. King Gnome promised to re-build the roads in exchange for the loan of the King of Plenty’s crown. The crown had been wrought by his ancestors and the tradition stood that this trade would happen every one thousand years. The mole carried this message to the gate keeper, who told it to the squire, who passed it along to the King of Plenty’s page. As anyone who’s played the game of telephone knows, with many messengers sometimes comes miscommunication of the initial message. The King of Plenty was told by his page that the Gnome King wanted the loan of his fine silken bedroom slippers. Well you can imagine what kind of trouble everybody was in when the Dwarf king received the gift he did not request! by Rebecca Morrison

The math gnomes were busily working. The cave of ones, tens and hundreds buzzed with activity as the gnomes counted and placed the bags of gems in the right places (representing place value). Nim and Nom, the Gnome King’s counting knights, busily regrouped (borrowing) and added (carrying) gems as they arrived into the Caves of Bounty. Far above in the frosty world of the Forest of Plenty, the King of Plenty sent an urgent message to the Gnome King. The winter had a devastating effect on the many roads that led to the royal palace. The messengers from far and wide could not travel with their horses and carts to obtain their planting grains and seeds. This was a spring pilgrimage that the Northern, Southern, Western and Eastern lands embarked upon. Gifts were brought to the King and Queen. Trading was the daily activity and the royal storehouse

Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School


grade 3

Ms. Marks

We have measured everything from ourselves to the whole school using our own hand made rulers. We mapped out just how large Noah's Ark was using the biblical cubit measurements (in two feet of snow no less.) We filled and refilled containers to learn liquid measurement in quarts, pints, cups and gallons.  We baked Hamandashen in honor of Queen Esther for the Jewish holiday Purim, using the cup, tablespoon and teaspoon. With our own hands, we picked up and compared one fruit’s weight with another’s and discovered our hands are a balance scale. This led to learning about other types of scales used to measure weight.  We discussed barter and trade and the value of things and how humanity went from trading a handful of cowrie shells for some arrows to what we now call coins, dollars and money. The children went shopping at the farm stand and added up the amount owed and learned how to count back the change. The children have been enthusiastically engaged in measuring and sizing up the world around them.


Spring 2014

grade 4

Mrs. Cartier The fourth grade completed their second block of local geography this winter. They began the first block exploring the immediate space around them in creating maps of their classroom, school and towns. With the last block, the fourth graders expanded their focus to the whole state of Massachusetts.  A fold-out physical map of the state was the highlight of our block.

Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School


grade 5

Ms. Suberg

Growing Up in Ancient Egypt

In the morning, a child living in 21st century Egypt probably wakes up, gets dressed, eats cereal or eggs for breakfast, brushes their teeth and hair, and goes to school. She learns math or writing, has a sandwich for lunch, plays ball at recess, studies some more, has a music lesson afterward, hangs out with her friends, has dinner and gets ready for bed. Things were different 4,500 years ago. Not too different, however. Things definitely were not the same, but it wasn’t as different as night is from day. This place was Ancient Egypt. Children who lived in Ancient Egypt woke up, put on a moderate amount of clothing, applied eyeliner, ate bread and fruit for breakfast and did their chores. Depending on whether the child was male or female, rich or poor, they either went to school or worked at home. They didn’t have lunch, but in the afternoon, they would probably snack on figs. They had a family dinner, took a bath, removed makeup and clothes and returned to their bed mats, lulled to sleep by the rushing of the Nile. From the moment an Ancient Egyptian opened their eyes, they prepared for death. For them, life was preparation for death. They did not fear it as we do. For them, death was but the next great adventure, the journey to the next life, where they joined Osiris in the land of the dead. So, if you had a choice, which life would you pick?


Spring 2014

-- Katherine Humes, 5th grader

grade 6

Ms. Franco

There are many fascinating aspects of medieval life to draw upon as subject matter for compositions. Here are a few excerpts of 6th grade student work: "My name is George and I am an apprentice to my uncle, the local silversmith of the bustling city of Rosewood. The city is very busy, especially on market day, and I am still finding my way around. Sometimes I have to duck into the alley or flatten myself against the wall to avoid a cart, or a flock of sheep, or when someone above shouts out, Guardyloo! When I arrived, I found my master's shop by searching for a sign depicting a key, necklace and small hammer. I see other signs of barrrels, bread, needles, yarn, cloth, mugs and nails that hang

over the open air shops that line the cobblestone streets." Â "Hello, my name is Brother Nicholas and I live in a monastery. I am nineteen years old but I have been living here for quite a few years. At sunrise all the monks rise for morning mass and then go to work. I am currently working as a calligrapher. I will be adding gold paint to the manuscripts. It will be dazzling! One of my other responsibilities is caring for the garden. I love the sweet fragrance of the lavender. My favorite time of the day is midnight mass. It is quiet and peaceful, and the choir song is beautiful."

Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School


grade 7 Mr. Eurich

geographical and political information. A written report followed, with information on each country’s history, way of life and farming/ manufacturing products. A fact sheet included bullet points with national language, size, population, religion and other interesting facts. The conclusion was one page that compared and contrasted the two countries.

Right on the heels of the very successful Science Fair, Seventh Graders immediately began work on two in-depth country reports. As a part of the geography block, they researched and created reports in their geography Main Lesson books on both a European and an Asian country. Mr. Eurich gave his students a detailed handout that walked them through requirements and suggested deadlines, so the children could begin to take on more responsibility for their schoolwork.

Over the course of two weeks, students then took turns giving oral reports about their countries to the class. After pointing out their country on the map, the student summarized their report as best as possible without reading verbatim. If a student had a visited their country, they would talk about it from their point of view and share their experiences. Besides the Science Fair, this is the largest project of the year for Seventh Grade.

Reports consisted of a beautifully designed title page illustrating each country’s symbols such as the flag, national bird and coat-of-arms. Then the students painstakingly drew, labeled and shaded detailed maps of their countries, detailing all significant


Spring 2014

grade 8 Mrs. Giles

An Excerpt from Pamela Giles’ Interview with Culture Correspondent Taylor Cannon on Robinhood Radio (Sharon CT), WHDD 91.9 FM Robin hood radio: What sets GBRSS apart from other schools? Pamela Giles: The Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School is part of a worldwide movement of Waldorf education. We are distinct in that we integrate the arts into the academic curriculum. The 8th grade’s dramatic production of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” which is a play I chose for the class of 2014, is an example of the integration of drama into the study of history, English, literature, in a way that the children can participate in—not just study, but also take an active role in a dramatic presentation. The 8th grade class does a production each year? Each 8th grade class does a production. Usually it’s Shakespeare. I know that Shakespeare is difficult for high schoolers, so I expect it to be even harder for middle schoolers. How do you work with them on really understanding the language? The language is a part of the Waldorf curriculum from the first, earliest grades, in the first grade. Beautiful poetry, recitation, drama work has been built up over the years, through the curriculum that we have, whether it’s Greek myth plays or Roman history or Renaissance history. Each class usually does a play every year, so it’s not just coming out of the blue, but the building blocks are there. And yes, it’s a huge leap to go into Shakespeare, but they’ve developed something in their speaking and in their learning poetry by heart, so that’s already a muscle that’s been built. And then you have to move it to this really higher level. I think what’s so valuable is that they have a sense and appreciation for what they’re doing. They do have to go through the eye of the needle. There’s no doubt thirteen and fourteen year-olds aren’t born just knowing what to do and how to do it, but they know that there’s something there to attain, and so they’re willing to put the work into it. What skills do you hope these students have gained from working on this play? One of them, of course, is an appreciation of Shakespeare. But

within the play one just finds there is such life wisdom and humor. And this age needs humor. So you could imagine, in the production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” there’s so much comedy and so much truth, both at the same time. And when they work in drama and they’re active, trying out different characters, working on different gestures and interactions among the characters, they’re discovering those things, and they’re enjoying it as they discover. I think that one of the things that really has chacterized all our rehearsals has been laughter. There’s laughter at discovering what’s in this language, and the humor and the wisdom and the poignancy of it all, and the beauty. Then there’s the production. Creating a production is a thing of beauty, the costuming, the lighting, the music, and they love to be involved. So they’re really partners, with all their adolescent energy; there’s a real exuberance and joyfulness. The play directs the energy that the adolescent brings. Why did you choose “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”? Having produced several Shakespeare plays with 8th grades, I would say that “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is my favorite and maybe the best, because it looks back in a way—it has this magical story element that I think connects to their childhood—and it also looks forward, into the complications of relationships. So it looks back and it looks into the future at the same time, and they’re sort of on that cusp, themselves. There’s something from their childhood now that they actually can look back on, and appreciate the magic, the joy of those early years when they were, in a way, in a dream, and now there is a kind of a new reality that they are very happy to go into, as well. I love the play. There are so many moments in it for them to discover, and I love watching them discover it. And if there are people who might be interested in knowing what Waldorf students “do” at the end of their elementary school years, I think this is a really good opportunity: it’s especially interesting for me because I’m graduating this class at the beginning of June, and then next year I’m going all the way back to the first grade, starting over again. To listen to Taylor Cannon's interview with 2013-14 8th grade teacher (and 2014-15 1st grade teacher) Pamela Giles on Robinhood Radio WHDD 91.9 FM, click here.

Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School 17

grade 8 Mrs. Giles


Spring 2014

Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School 19

Renowned Scientist, Author and Educator

Michael D’Aleo Speaks on STEM Education for the Future at GBRSS


The Great Barrington engineers. I'm not interested in the argument; I'm interested in, "Is Waldorf High School, in it real, is it grounded and does it make sense?"  The word ‘sense' is partnership with GBRSS, the basis of ‘sensory.'  This idea that through an integration of how presented renowned we experience the world through our sense impressions and how we scientist, author and edbegin to conceptualize the world in our thinking, through two poles of ucator Michael D’Aleo, experience, we don't come to know the world, we don't come to know who discussed “From self, but we actually can begin to know that there's a relationship that Playing Fields to Electrohas this pull of world and self.   magnetic Fields: Going It's quite interesting that if you really begin to take an investigaBeyond an Object-Based tion of human beings independent of their biography, independent World Conception” on of their surroundings and upbringing, what they eat and where they Friday evening, January live, you don't really come to a person that's much more than the 10, 2014. Given current urgent educational discussions about generic individuality, which has nothing but a material nature.  It's science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), also interesting to ask ourselves the question: does the world exist D’Aleo’s lecture was a timely look at educating for America’s as we know it, as human beings, if a human being isn't actually enfuture. gaged in the act of perception AND conceptualization?  It's quite an Mechanical engineer Michael D’Aleo holds 17 patents and interesting question.  For me, I spend more than 15% of my year now is a founding member of the Saratoga Experiential Natural in the Adirondack Mountains, where I have a small place to do some Science Research Institute (SENSRI), where he is Director of research.  I've been in sections of these mountains where people Research. D’Aleo is also co-founder of the high school at the haven't been for probably 100 years.  I can get back to places where Waldorf School of Saratoga Springs, where he teaches physical all sense of footpaths and signs and footprints and candy wrappers science and mathematics. The author of two books, Sensible are gone--all that's left is the old wood stove.  And it's quite interPhysics Teaching and Embracing Materialism and Letting it go esting to be in that space and really ask yourself this question: What – An Experiential Guide to Overcoming an Object-Based World is this space for human beings to know, if there isn't a human being Conception, he has taught and trained physics teachers at the observing it or really beginning to understand what's happening in high school and graduate level for many years and lectures this particular area?  internationally on science, education and environmental issues. So, these ideals and principles are the very foundation of much GBWHS Faculty Chair Steve Sagarin comments, “We all acof Waldorf education, and they're also the foundation of a phenomeknowledge that the present environmental, economic and na-based approach to science.  And while I teach the sciences within geopolitical events require something new. However, the best a Waldorf school and train teachers and do research on my own, I solutions may be found not simply in new thoughts but in new can tell you that it's not because it's in Waldorf education that I beways of thinking. The phenomena based approach to science lieve this to be true.  When I went through my own engineering career offers us new insights into how to think differently about the of 7 years and began to look at why I was able to find solutions to world we live as well as about ourselves. Such an approach to problems that hadn’t been worked out before, I found that this can science and to thinking is the foundation of the approach to only work if you prove two things.  One: no one's done this before, science in Waldorf Schools.” and two: you have to show that this is not obvious to someone who's "skilled in the art."  It can't just be the next logical outcome.  The Mr. D’Aleo gave a dynamic lecture in the packed lower school example I always give is, you can't patent the four-legged stool and auditorium, followed by a question and answer session. Followthen say ok, now we're going to go do the five-legged stool and get a ing are some excerpts from the evening: separate patent.  It's kind of obvious.  So, you have to show that your Steve Sagarin, GBWHS Faculty Chair: Just to give you a little backidea is novel, and you have to convince [the U.S. Patent Office] that ground on who you're about to hear, recently I quoted Rudolf Steiner nobody's done this before.   to Michael, one of my favorite Steiner quotes: "Fundamentally, reality Now this was exactly the question that brought me into Waldorf consists of beings and relationships."  Michael looked at me and said, education.  I went to a large public school; I felt I had a decent public "Beings are relationships." school education.  I went to a very large technical university, RutMichael D'Aleo:  Let me just start here by saying I still have my gers University, graduated from the Engineering school and then engineer's hat on a little bit, and this is the fundamental ground on went straight into the electronics industry.  After 6 months working, which I build everything I do.  It's easy to have a theory, but if you're cranking out formulas and equations and doing this kind of work— an engineer, the rest of the world is going to tell you if you're right or and I was good at it—I found I couldn't solve problems.  My area wrong.  At the end of the day, somebody's idea is hard to prove right of specialization was heat transfer, and I was working in this field or wrong, but if you flip the switch and it doesn't turn on, you can tell at the real beginning of the miniaturization that was happening in all the stories you want; nobody cares.   the late 1980's, early 1990's, the beginning of the microprocessor There is a certain pragmatism, a groundedness, a coming to terms age.  Where they used to have big mainframes in the back room, now with reality of the real phenomena of the world that you have to have everything's being condensed down into a microprocessor. I was in doing engineering.  It's interesting, because if you look at Steindoing free-convection cooling, meaning no fans, just using natural air er's life and read his biography, essentially his first university degree flow.  You can probably see that's why I'm at the Waldorf school— was in that grounded, practical, hands-on field.  And you can build “Oh, he had to work phenomena-based from the beginning,” and something beyond there.  It's an old argument between scientists and it's true.   Spring 2014

Working in free-convection cooling, we would sit there with the equipment running and sticks of incense burning, watching the smoke patterns. We had an engineer from Vietnam and he introduced us to this one particular type of incense that has no scent at all, and we used that for our data collection. Slowly, through observation and a real understanding of why the smoke was moving faster or slower, we begin to tease out what was happening. Within about a year and a half, I had my first breakthrough and my first patent. Where did that come from? My team worked very collaboratively and we would always look for the pedigree, and say whose idea this was and was there somebody else who’s had this idea before? Over time, I began to recognize that we were having quite a bit of success. One of the particular designs ended up getting involved in a $60 million dollar patent infringement lawsuit. We won hands down, but I find it interesting that that's how powerful some of these ideas were--$60 million on the table. I'm pointing this out because in this was a really good question, and it’s what brought me to Waldorf education. The question that it brought out of me was the following: nobody taught me to do this in school. What am I doing? What are my colleagues doing? The whole group of us was quite successful; I was a more mechanical guy, there were a couple of electrical guys, it was an interdisciplinary team of people. What really began to interest me was, where did these ideas come from? What is intuition and how does it work? How can you have an idea that no one has taught to you? If any of you knows the pedagogy of Rudolf Steiner and what is behind Waldorf education, this really is the fundamental question: What does it mean to think? If thinking is seen simply as a recollection of what you've been told, I'd suggest one of the great successes we've had in the last 20 to 30 years is that we don't need access to memory anymore. Computers are really good for memory. Then we have to come back to this question: if you're working in a new technology or any unchartered area of science, how do you find these deeper relationships that may in fact go against what most people are assuming is correct at the present time? Other than going back to the initial experience yourself, and beginning to look for a new set of patterns and relationships, I know of no other way. What I found that became really interesting and important was that in order to have these new ideas I had to notice connections that others had overlooked. DaVinci wrote about this beautifully in his notebooks when he said, “I'm like one who comes to the fair on the last day, when everybody else has gone through the stalls, to see what they have picked up and discarded. I will see what they had missed and overlooked, and will find the value in what they discarded.” And that is my experience wholeheartedly, through my years of engineering and in education and teaching. In order to begin, we have to come back to our senses. We have to come back to the ground upon which we build the whole rest of our world, and also our self-knowing. When I work with students, one of the key things we have to do is undo all of those things that we think we know. And even though I have this kind of sense-based approach, I essentially had to relearn everything. You have to go through a complete transformation. I started to push myself on this and found that you can put this into poetry, and I'd like to try and share this with you. I was asked to present at a conference titled “Intuition and Innovation” and I wrote this poem, which has the same title: The greatest obstacle to intuition is what you already know. That which limits innovation is what you've already done. To see with new eyes requires a death and rebirth:

A death to every aspect of who you are, Because who you think you are and what you think the world is Is exactly what holds you back. The ancient ones understood this, The importance of death and its true transformative nature; Carefully guided it became a vehicle for a new rebirth. Today our fixed thoughts and imaginations, Our sentimental desires to relive what we have already lived Becomes the new death. Now the awakening comes not from a guide who raises us from the dead But instead, from our own striving to truly live anew: Truly new, a rebirth into the same world Only this time even more alive, And finally, so are you. This is the process that I found the true scientist has to go through. I agreed to do a guest teaching block in Vermont with the senior class. Every day I take the ferry across, and I'm going into the sunrise and it's dark over there. Those massive looming Adirondacks are behind me and the shore ahead is dark, and I'm already experiencing the geometrical and illuminative relationships. I'm supposed to teach visual physics, which is totally based on this. I often do this exercise with the students, where I literally take them out into the woods and have them close their eyes. We go for a walk, and they have their eyes closed. I place them in the woods and say, “Open your eyes, but pay attention to the first few seconds. What you see when you open your eyes, if you're really paying attention, is a whole recapitulation of the entire aspect of Waldorf education, from early childhood to adulthood. Because if you start to dissect it, here's what happens: initially the impression is only pure brightness—you don't even see color yet, and then it's immediately this saturated, vivid color. If you're really paying attention, just as the image comes into appearance (by the way, there are two images), and as you watch the two images coming together, all of a sudden it goes from two dimensions to three dimensions. And if you can prepare them in the right way without telling them that this is going to happen there is this really startling effect and the students say, “What's going on?” Let's dissect all of these really different qualities that are happening just for us to see. In closing, this courage, this willingness to see the world in a new way, every day to be able to even take the preconceptions we have— of an individual, of an object, of a way of thinking—and retest it, this is really the basis of a phenomenological approach to the world. I'd suggest to you this is really the basis of Waldorf education. And if humanity takes a step from an object-based world conception, to one based more on relationships, I can picture, and I'm sure you can as well, the beginnings of the integrated world that we hope for and long for and know is real. Perhaps we've lost a bit of our idealism because we don't know the path, and I'd like to suggest to you that Rudolf Steiner and a number of others have shown us the way of looking at it, and all we really have to do is just step into the possibility of freedom that's connected. Second in a series of science talks sponsored by the Waldorf High School, Michael D’Aleo also discussed “Understanding Electromagnetics and Human Beings” at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Stockbridge on April 23, and on WGXC 90.7 FM on April 24. For more about Michael D’Aleo, including a free download of his latest book, visit

Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School 21

Gnomie News: Science Fair RECAP March 2014

Gnomie News is a showcase for student work, submitted for this section through class teachers. Once again, the Science Fair has rolled around. We found our- mysteries was inspired to test finger printing on different surfaces. selves walking up to the 7th and 8th grade classrooms to interview Family support came in handy for many of the participants. the students participating in the Science Fair and were given some It wasn’t that easy to do, though. Most projects needed careful very interesting answers. measuring and delicate fine-tuning. Also, making those big presenThe projects this year ranged from gunpowder and volcanoes tation boards wasn’t the easiest thing in the world! The hard work paid off, though! We were treated to some amazing artwork at the to the physics of figure skating, jumping, karate, horses and flips. Before the actual fair, students described this experience as Fair. fun, challenging, interesting, awesome and cool. One 7th grader commented, “It was tedious in the making, but the finished product After the Science Fair, many students were relieved. One 8th was awesome.” grade student said, “I’m sort of sad I’ll never do this Fair again. I think I’ll miss this total chaos.” Another commented, “Complete During the fair, volcanoes erupted, cars zoomed, kids flipped relief.” and hot air balloons rose. Inspiration came from many unlikely places. Inspiration struck one student when her aunt’s restauMany thanks to Mr. Shrum and all the wonderful mentors! Much applause to every single participant. We can’t wait until next year rant was hit by Hurricane Irene. She wanted to teach respect and awareness of these tropical storms. An 8th grader who likes to see more amazing projects! Keep experimenting! -- Katherine Humes and Sophie Banks


Spring 2014

2014 Science Fair Projects

2014 Science Fair Projects

7th Grade

8th Grade

Sam Banks

Metal Thickness

Eliza Abrams  


Cory Barton-Cain

Centrifugal Force

Stella Bellow  

Sinking of the Titanic

Solomon Bennett

Model Ecosystems

Ben Bellow Coral Bleaching via Pollution

Louisa Pearl Elsbach   Cyanotypes Used as Photography

Kathleen Bissaillon Effects of Various Fertilizers on Plant Thornton Fernbacher     Air Cannon Growth Ezra Gudeon     Adobe Brick Making William Carsarsa Gunpowder Anika Helmke     Pavlovian Conditioning Alexandra Casasco-Lucarelli   Physics of the Axel of Dogs Jump in Ice Skating Georgia Karbelnikoff   Underwater House Rhys Curtis   Effects of Exercise Samantha Keyes     Hypnosis Used to Stop on Heart Rate in Cigarette Smoking Children and Adults Dimitri Koufis   Electric Car Anna Drucker Horse Movement Sophia Joffe   Bacterial Growth from Hand Samples Nova Kent-Limon Ferrofluids Luke Lamond Melting Points of Various Minerals

Nathaniel Lacombe Model Volcano and the Ring of Fire Ruby Lamond   Influence of Blood Type on Personality Valentino Major   Physics of the Vertical Jump

Shannon Lee Pain Threshold Breakdown of Sub Relative to Hand Adelaide McFarland stances with Sodas Dominance Syona Morrison   Model Hot-Air Balloon Quincy Maynard Wind Turbine Design Devou McArthur   Crystallization of Sodium Acetate Georgia Namuth   Growth of Copper Sulfate Crystals

Miriam Myers

Synthesizing Polymers

Daniel Papscun   Forensics for Crime Solving Noah Pott    

Model Robotic Hand

Liam O'Malley Physics of the Back Flip

Madeline Redpath The Science of Finger printing

Grace Phair    

Orrin Rydingsword Internal Combustion Engines

Magic Sand

Lucia Schwartz-Dufault Effects of Grooming on Heart Rate in Horses

Juniper Shalles   Gender Differences in Pink vs Blue Selection 

Abigail Stearn   Making Soap Cole Seitz   Development of Simple Lie Detector  Austin Wiggins   Physics of Tae Kwon Do Kicks Leah Rose Seserman   Camera Obscura Fionna Shea   Growth of Plants Under Various Light Conditions Sydney Suberg  


Aysha Vadukul

Model Geysers

Grace VanSant Effects of Hand Sani tizers & Soaps on Removing Bacteria

Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School


n gre dient i l a i t n e s s e n a e Big s pla she s ar hood. in a happy c hild

Give a kid a break this summer by sharing your hearts and homes for up to two weeks. With your help, an inner-city child will enjoy a safe and fun-filled summer. Please volunteer to become a host family today. Learn more at Please contact l-800-367-0003 or Lelia Bruun at l-4l3-528-670l A copy of our annual financial report may be obtained from The Fresh Air Fund, 633 Third Avenue, l4th floor, New York, NY l00l7 (2l2) 897-8900 or from the New York State Attorney General’s Charities Bureau, Attn: FOIL Officer, l20 Broadway, New York, NY l027l. Š20l2 The Fresh Air Fund.


Spring 2014


Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School



Spring 2014

Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School 27

Classified Advertising HAVE YOU HAD ENOUGH? > Embarassing “accidents” > Heavy, uncomfortable feeling “down there” > Sexual dissatisfaction

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Donation or loan of a high-quality digital camera for the admissions department of GBRSS. This will enable the school to continue taking beautiful weekly photos of teachers and students to share with the community. If you are able to help in this way, please contact Tracy Fernbacher at 528-4015 x106.


Spring 2014

Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School


GBRSS Spring 2014 Newsletter  

Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School Spring 2014 Newsletter

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