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WINTER 2020 / ISSUE 10

The Alumni Issue

The Alumni Issue

The first graduating class and teacher Jeff Kofsky reunite in the Presidio

Contents . . . 3

Alumni Association

Meet a graduate and


Meet Our New Alumni Coordinator

you know someone


Q & A with Joseph Dockstader (2015) on Drone Technology

who is determined to


Welcome New Trustees

make an impact on


Post Grads Earning Master’s Degrees and Doctorates

the world.


National Survey of Waldorf High School Graduates


Charlotte Halifax (2015) Returns to her Roots


Allason Leitz (2010) in Arts Administration


Tallulah Froley (2018) is a Force in the NCAA


Adam Fine (2007) of Dropcopter Wins Genius NY Award



A message from our Administrative Director

About Cover Photo: The school’s first graduating class gathered in the Presidio in summer 2019 with teacher Jeff Kofsky. In the cover photo from left to right are: Jason Cook, Nevada Lane, Etienne Leher, Heather McCuskey, Ravi Lau, Tzaddi Thompson (Board of Trustees), teacher Mr. Kofsky and his wife Holly, Aeden Motnyk, Ben Russack, and Adriana Dakin.

Dear Parents, Friends, and Alumni,

December 2019: A number of alums attended the annual Embarcadero Ice Skating Party. It’s always good to see these familiar faces and catch up!

As I reflect upon a century of Waldorf education and four decades of our school, I am drawn to the stories of our founders, people like founding teacher Monique Grund and early parents (and current faculty!) Corinne Fendell, Joan Caldarera, and Dagmar Eisele. These individuals had the faith and boundless energy necessary to transform living room conversations into a thriving school. I also think about the personal sacrifices of hundreds of parents who gave their time and money to build and sustain this institution. In this newsletter we focus on the outcome of these efforts, the students who developed here then headed out into the world, students to whom our work is dedicated. You’ll read stories about a few of the more than one thousand alumni, young people and community leaders who strive to bring the best of themselves to renew the world. With these alumni in mind, I reflect upon the mission of our school: With love and devotion, we strive to nourish the unique capacities of every student, that in each may awaken the critical and creative intelligence to envision the future, compassion and commitment to understand others, and the courage to be a free and active participant in our common human experience

Class of 2012: Michael Beleson, Austin Fusco, Adriana Peterson and friend


Each day at school when I observe the children — from the tiniest toddlers building new worlds in the play yard to the seniors inspired to make their mark in the new world of college and beyond, I am filled with hope for what is to come. I wish you a 2020 full of growth and hope and joyous reflection. All the best, Craig

Check the website for complete calendar.


From the archives: a 2012 alumni reunion

40 Graduated Classes 1,000 Alum and Counting


No one tells the story of the school like a graduate, so we feature an alum in each newsletter. Over the years we’ve showcased entrepreneurs, artists, activists, and scientists. We’ve heard from leaders of global humanitarian aid efforts and innovators of the local sustainable food movement. As the new decade turned, we discovered our alum inbox overflowing and decided to dedicate an issue to our extraordinary graduates. What’s here is just the tip-of-the-iceberg; we always hope to hear from more grads and their families! For now, enjoy a few exciting updates and learn about our growing Alumni Association. The Alumni Association: more than one thousand and counting The goal of the Association is simple: to support graduates professionally and personally, and help keep ties to the school strong. Whether you are forging a path in business, technology, public service, academia, or the arts, we can help you connect with each other, the school’s mission, and Waldorf graduates everywhere. Here’s how it works: Connect Professionally: Exploring a new career or moving to a new city? Alumni connections can be invaluable and we can help. Connect on LinkedIn, or give us a call. Interested in expanding your business? Consider listing in our Professional Directory. Have Fun: Want to reconnect with friends and meet new people? We host outings to Giant’s games, ice skating at the Embarcadero in December, and evenings out on the town. Leave a Legacy: Alumni Associations are foundational sources of support for schools and colleges. As our school nears the half-century mark and our Association grows, so does the impact of alumni giving. Donors become philanthropic leaders: Alum and alum families have made a major impact on recent initiatives — the $3 million endowment and the $8 million Home Court Campaign — and support annual operations with generous contributions to the Community Fund (previously Annual Fund). Gifts are made at all levels and donors include founding families, recent college graduates, and alum who are now parent leaders at the school.

Continued on next page: Alumni

Brianna (Bri) Gerard is a Northern California native with a love for the coastal redwoods. She grew up in Sacramento, attended undergrad at UC Santa Cruz, and arrived in San Francisco in 2012. She is continually inspired by the students she’s served and is happiest when she can directly support environments that cultivate strong future leaders. Bri looks forward to connecting with our alums and hearing their stories.

Q & A with Joseph Dockstader (2015) From senior project on drones to life-saving start-up

Can you tell us about the Red Propellers? The Red Propellers (RP) was my senior project. It was a non-profit for humanitarian aid/disaster relief. I created the initial prototyping and concept, and registered the business as a non-profit by the time I graduated from high school. I’ve handed it off to my co-founder, Steven Rivest from Tam High. We were middle school classmates.

Alumni Association Continued from previous page Spread the Word: Our graduates are an inspiration to current students and families, and your voices of support help people find the school. (Prospective families always want to hear from alumni who join the panels at Open Houses!) Thanks to all of you who share your San Francisco Waldorf School stories with friends, colleagues, neighbors. You are our Ambassadors, and we couldn’t do it without you!

Who were you inspired by in high school?

Ways to Connect

Dr. Carini for the physics aspects, for his enthusiasm for things that are usually opaque or difficult to get excited about because they’re hard to process. He had an infectious enthusiasm. And he has high expectations of all his students, which taught me a lot about work ethic.


Tell us about your current work. Zipline is using drones, large fixed-wing unmanned aircraft, to deliver blood and other medical supplies like vaccines in Rwanda and now Ghana. I was part of a team in Rwanda training a new cohort of operators to start a new operation. We worked closely with the government on a system that delivers supplies from a hub to distribution centers and hospitals. This used to be done by van in urban areas or by dirt bike with a box on the back, like delivering pizza, for more remote areas. The average delivery time was four to six hours, which is fine for resupply but not for emergencies such as when a patient is hemorrhaging. One of the leading causes of death is post-partum hemorrhaging, and that rate has dropped tremendously. How did your high school influence your post-high school career? There is a well-roundedness to it, the main lessons, the way that it gets you to learn about things you would otherwise never learn about. If I had had the choice, I wouldn’t have done a lot of the classes I ended up doing, but they are such an integral part of the education. You spend an intense period of time and do a deep dive into each of them; that breadth has helped a lot. Do you have any advice or reflections for the current students? What has helped me the most is not getting too hung up on some of the more established and broadly applied measures of ability like GPA or what college you go to, studying something in college that is seen as more prestigious, or having to go to college although it is important and a very good thing. I think it is more about finding something you are passionate about or good at and exploring something — put as much into it as you possibly can. It wasn’t a degree that got me a job here — it was starting and running the RP and what I demonstrated I could do and achieve along the way.


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Share Your News Online “Stay Connected“ Form We want to hear from you, so we can create another alumni issue!

New Global Networking Platform Waldorf Alum Connect The Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA) has launched a new professional networking platform: Waldorf Alum Connect. Explore job listings, events, and a map of alum connections. Join and let us know what you think: this is a pilot program partnership for our school, and we want your feedback.


WELCOME NEW TRUSTEES The Board of Trustees welcomes Jane Baughman, Joe Freund, John Lucena, and Melissa Smith. Come to a Board meeting and meet our Trustees!

Jane is a seasoned Executive and Finance professional with 30 years of experience in the retail industry. Jane is currently the President and Chief Financial Officer for Cost Plus World Market where she has taken on increasing levels of responsibility throughout her 23-year tenure. Prior to joining Cost Plus, she worked in Finance for Gap Inc. and Nature Company as well as in investment banking in New York for several years. Jane earned her BA in Business Economics from The College of Wooster in 1988. Originally from Ohio, Jane moved to San Francisco in 1991, where she resides with her high school student, dog, and cat. She and her brother own a small vineyard in Alexander Valley.

Joe grew up in St. Louis, MO and graduated from Drury University

with a BA in Business and Communications. After college, he relocated to Chicago and worked in leadership roles in the incentive travel industry, then moved to San Francisco in 2000. Joe has been a small business owner for 16 years as a State Farm Agent, providing insurance and financial services to over 10,000 customers with offices in Pacific Heights, Glen Park and Sonoma. He is passionate about his work helping people manage the risks of everyday life, planning for the future, and legacy planning. Joe is active as a fundraiser and community leader for Public Resource Center San Francisco, a non-profit that serves people in our community affected by HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, or mental health issues. He also works to support youth with such organizations as Ronald McDonald House, Mercy Home for Boys & Girls, Root Division, Richmond District Community Center, Larkin Street, and Horizons for Youth. Joe resides in Corona Heights with his husband, Ken, and son, Elliott.

John sits on the Advancement Committee of the Board of Trustees. He has spent over 25 years building technology based companies in the SF Bay Area. While for most of his

career he has been a co-founder or executive of several software start-ups, for the past six years he has worked at Google as a software engineer building out their cloud platform. He currently serves on the boards of Western Aloha Inc., an apparel brand, and the Jordan Park Improvement Association, the SF neighborhood in which he has resided for 20 years. John is the father of John and Juliette at the grade school and the husband of Janice who serves on the SFWS Parent Diversity Committee. John has a BS in Industrial Management/ Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University.

Melissa holds a PhD in Transpersonal Psychology, with a specialization in Teaching, Education, and Research. After a 25 year corporate career in sales, marketing communications, and product management, Melissa went into private practice, focusing on evaluating organizational dynamics. Specifically, Melissa analyzes the interaction of structure, process, and personnel in both business and educational settings. She works primarily with Senior Managers who have a charter for change and growth in their organizations to identify and overcome obstacles to growth. Now largely retired, Melissa serves on SFWS Board of Trustees and on the Board of Trustees for Willamette University, her undergraduate alma mater. Melissa and her husband live in San Carlos. Their son, Jackson Smith Van Harte, is a 2012 graduate of SFWHS.

Waldorf 100: Keep an eye out for these emerging artists!

Post Grads Many of our graduates continue beyond bachelor studies, earning master’s degrees and doctorates across fields.

Many thanks to vocalist Haley Grey (2016) for her captivating performance at Waldorf 100 in May. Haley, accompanied here by bandmate Hunter Johns, returned to San Francisco after spending a semester abroad in Cuba. Haley studies at and performs around Hampshire College and will return to Cuba in January to perform in an international jazz plaza festival.

Joseph Lacap (2010) is a PhD candidate and Graduate Student Researcher at UC Davis. He has a Master of Engineering (MEnd). Joseph is also part of RePurpose Energy, a mechanical and aerospace engineering startup that took first place in the 2019 Big Ideas contest. RePurpose Energy’s “big idea”: helping California achieve its clean energy goals by repurposing used batteries from electric vehicles (EVs) as energy storage systems for commercial solar developers. Read more coverage here. Karin Narita (2011) is a doctoral student in Politics & International Relations researching Japanese conservatism at Queen Mary University of London. Brittany Salazar (2011) is a PhD pre-candidate in the Cancer Biology program at the University of Michigan.

Thanks also to dancer Nehemiah Aldrich (2016) who agreed to perform at Waldorf 100. Unfortunately, the unseasonable weather got in the way of dance on the Bandshell stage. Nehemiah is a student at Boston Conservatory at Berklee. He has a passion for contemporary dance that’s built on a classical ballet foundation. He has trained at The Place in London, the Ailey School, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Mark Morris Dance Group, and San Francisco Ballet School, among other places.

Kyra Walenga (2012) is pursuing a bilingual (Spanish - English) master‘s degree in Hemispheric American Studies at FAU ErlangenNürnberg in Germany. Continued on page 8: Grads


BOOK RELEASE Becca Tarnas, PhD (2006)

A San Francisco Waldorf High School Graduation

National Survey of Waldorf High School Graduates The number of U.S. Waldorf high schools has doubled since the year 2000. What does survey data tell us about the growing pool of graduates? While every high school is unique (and we think ours is extra special), a few interesting nuggets were revealed in a 2019 survey conducted by the Research Institute for Waldorf Education. The survey mirrored polling by the National Association of Independent Schools. Careers: Graduates pursue a greater variety of fields than their independent school counterparts and have higher numbers in science and technology.

Portrait of a Waldorf Graduate 98% attend college 95% feel prepared for college/university 99% feel prepared by their education to be creative/ innovative Top Colleges with Waldorf Grads Bennington College Columbia University New York University

Advanced Degrees: With the exception of business and administration, Waldorf graduates pursue post-collegiate degrees in greater percentages across subjects surveyed: sciences (combined S.T.E.M. and social/behavioral), arts and humanities, and health.

Northeastern University

Source: Research Institute for Waldorf Education 2019 survey included 39 high schools and roughly 1,000 respondents.

Skidmore College

Oberlin College Reed College Sarah Lawrence College School of the Art Institute of Chicago UCLA University of Toronto

Congratulations to Becca Tarnas, PhD (2006) on the release of her first book: Journey to the Imaginal Realm, A Reader’s Guide to J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. The book was published by Revelore Press on September 22, a significant day in the history of MiddleEarth — Frodo’s and Bilbo’s birthday — a day that is now affectionately known as “Hobbit Day.” Becca received her doctorate in Philosophy and Religion from the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) with her dissertation titled The Back of Beyond: The Red Books of C.G. Jung and J.R.R. Tolkien. Becca received her BA from Mount Holyoke College in Environmental Studies and Theatre Arts, and earned an MA in Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness at CIIS.

Charlotte Halifax (2015)


Budding activist returns to her roots

Continued from page 6


It was a gray afternoon with a biting wind chill, and the window I peered out of was fogged with condensation. I was loitering in a very busy coffee shop, awkwardly moving around when I felt I was standing in one place for too long, waiting for a table. It was quite a scene in the bustling cafe with a range of folks: high schoolers pouring over textbooks and pumpkin spice lattes, babies squealing displeasure to the universe, a potential first date complete with overly-loud laughter, and a petite elderly woman engrossed in her salad. You could tell that this shop in a tiny San Francisco neighborhood served their coffee with a side of strong community. How fitting, then, to meet Charlotte Halifax there. Since graduating from Oberlin College this spring, Charlotte has been working on the ground in her San Francisco community: advocating for local control over corporate influence, working for Dean Preston in District 5, and supporting immigration law firms in the city. This drive to get involved in a big way in her community originated with her experience at San Francisco Waldorf High School. “Because our teachers cared about our health and our environment,” Charlotte says, “that definitely influenced me to also care [about my community].” For many families, the Waldorf education experience begins in early childhood programs, building years of kinship with staff, faculty, and classmates. However, for the Halifax family, their introduction didn’t come until later. While making high school decisions in her last year at San Francisco Day School, Charlotte considered her brother John’s first two years at the high school (he graduated in 2013). She recalls hearing about curriculum that was unique and exciting, like brewing Charlotte and Julia Ingolia (2015), fellow beer for Chemistry and spending Oberlin grad and high school classmate. significant time on art and music. Charlotte decided to apply, despite not knowing anyone else there. She called it a “leap of faith” to choose to attend San Francisco Waldorf High School. “At first it was intimidating, because it always is when you start a new school, workplace, or any [new] situation, but that was pretty easily dispelled because people in the Waldorf community are really nice. There’s a broader sense of how to do well, and the community is really strong. I feel like I will always have the Waldorf community.” Continued on page 11: Halifax

Lola Bushnell (2014) is pursuing a master’s in Environmental Technology at Imperial College London, exploring the ways in which we can leverage burgeoning technologies and data processing to better value and manage our natural resources. She is also working at the engineering and design firm Arup developing methodologies to apply regenerative design principles to urban planning and major infrastructure projects using the Planetary Boundaries Framework. Davia Schendel (2014) is a graduate student at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Studies. She graduated from UCLA in 2018. Emily Murray (2015) is a graduate student at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health where she is studying community health science and sexual and reproductive health. Maya Silverman (2015) is working towards her PhD in Physics and Astronomy at UC Irvine. Her interests are theoretical particle physics & astrophysics, especially dark matter models. India Wilkerson (2015) is studying for her master’s in Nutrition at Boston University (BU). She graduated from BU in December.


Allason Leitz (2010), Multitalented Arts Administrator When Allason Leitz (2010) ventured to Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo at age 19 to take an internship with Yole!Africa, a nonprofit that hosts the Congo International Film Festival, she didn’t know how much that experience would continue to shape her work moving forward. She’s wasted no time since, working the festival eight times, earning a master’s in Arts Administration from Columbia University, marketing the i-doc series Kinshasa Collection from Berlin, and managing a cabaret theater on the Upper West Side of New York City (NYC). Allason now juggles multiple professional positions — Programmer and Cinema Manager for the nonprofit Maysles Documentary Center and, recently, coordinator of the Double Lens Harlem DocFest — all while working with internationally acclaimed filmmaker Petna Ndaliko (founder of the festival in the DR Congo) on the distribution and publicity of his latest film,

Matata. Additionally she’s helping with a couple different projects at St. Marks Productions as their Creative Assistant Producer. This coming spring she’s headed off to Rotterdam International Film Festival and Berlinale representing Maysles Doc Center and Ndaliko. As busy as she is, Allason still finds time for two of her alma maters: Columbia’s Arts Administration program and the San Francisco Waldorf School. Waldorf education, she reflected in a phone call from NYC, taught her to step back from a problem, reflect, and really question how something logically works before diving into the deep. In the end, thanks to Waldorf teachers, “you know in your bones when you truly understand something.” Readers are encouraged to explore this graduate program spotlight and how Allason’s advanced studies intersected with her professional path in independent cinema.

Class Notes Dan Hoyle is the type of comedian you want to get to

Jeremy Engels (2017) completed a summer internship at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Currently studying mechanical engineering at UCLA, Jeremy is also the Executive Director of the campus Racing Club. The club of about 150 students develops cars to compete nationally. Check it out here!

Jeremy designed the chassis for this off-road car. Here he shares the achievement with fellow members of the UCLA Racing Club.

Sahara Ndiaye (2016) is a senior at Amherst College studying Art History and Sexuality, Women’s, and Gender Studies. She studied abroad in Granada, Spain last semester, immersed in the Spanish language and history. “I learned about Spain under the Franco dictatorship and Spain during the Inquisition and under Moorish rule,” Sahara shared. “It was an amazing experience that brought me back to my two-month exchange with Marti, my exchange sister from the Santiago Rudolf Steiner school, who I still keep in touch with.”

Garrett Price (2017) was awarded a Reed College Science Research Fellowship — a program created by Reed alumni who were elected members of the National Academy of Sciences. He worked in the Columbia Gorge and in the biology lab studying how forests recover from fire under drought conditions.


Halifax Continued from page 8 Charlotte built strong foundational relationships with friends and classmates who continue to be an active part of her life after graduating high school in 2015. These meaningful relationships also included teachers, something Charlotte believes is unique to San Francisco Waldorf High School because of its emphasis on human connection. Small classroom sizes facilitated these bonds, and as a result the advice she received from faculty held weight in her consideration for the future. Charlotte attributes her decision to visit Oberlin College to Mr. David Weber, who teaches Humanities and Music. “Mr. Weber talked to me and said I should look at Oberlin because [his] son went there and it’s a really good school. It’s engaging, it’s political, and [his son] really enjoyed it,” Charlotte recalls. Her mother was shocked when Charlotte told her she wanted to visit the small liberal arts school in Ohio. “My mom told me there’s no way I’d want to [live in] Ohio, but I told her we were going because Mr. Weber told me to,” Charlotte relays with a smile. Sally Xinle Zhou (2016) was named 2019 Richter Research Abroad Scholar. The scholarship is awarded to students who devise international projects of scholarly merit that promote cross-cultural engagement; Sally’s research at The Chinese University of Hong Kong was designed to help identify neural markers of speech in noiseperception in normal hearing adults and cochlear implant patients. She used the neuroimaging technique of fNIRS (functional near-infrared spectroscopy) for the project. The summer 2019 research represented the culmination of her impressive undergraduate studies at Occidental College where she majored in neuroscience, cognitive science, and linguistics. She graduated in fall and is considering several short-term employment offers in her field: geriatric speech pathology, where she will be treating patients who have neurological and cognitive limitations resulting from surgery and/or brain trauma, before heading into graduate school.

It’s a good thing she listened to Mr. Weber because Charlotte’s experience at Oberlin College was foundational to her work now. Going to a school with deep roots in radical politics inspired Charlotte to become involved in matters that are important to her. The conviction of people’s ethics at Oberlin felt familiar to those at the high school, and their influence bolstered Charlotte’s confidence to be on the ground for local issues. The jump to college from high school can be a challenging one, but Charlotte expressed gratitude for how the unique philosophy of the high school prepared her for college in a way that went beyond GPAs. “What Waldorf taught me that a lot of people I met at college didn‘t have was critical thinking skills. I can go into a new [experience] and adapt to it even if I didn’t master it in high school already. That was a really big advantage.” The critical thinking Charlotte honed at the high school contributed to her interest in activism. “People at Waldorf have this critical thinking [style] where we’re willing to question authority,” she says. The passion both her high school and college peers gave to community causes and social justice inspired Charlotte‘s work on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2016 as well as her recent work with the Dean Preston campaign, local immigration law, and the activist group San Franciscans for Local Control, Not Telecom. Most of this work originated from connections Charlotte made at the high school. Whether it was the variety integral to the curriculum, connections she made with peers and teachers, or physical challenges during rigorous outdoor education trips — some of Charlotte’s most treasured memories — Charlotte feels incredibly lucky to have the educational experience she gained in high school. When asked what advice she would give to high school students on their journey to a fulfilling future, Charlotte had this to say: “Have a good time and take advantage of everything San Francisco Waldorf High School can offer. Find things you care about, that you really enjoy, and just do them.”


Spotlight on Sports UC Santa Barbara red-shirt freshman Tallulah Froley (2018) helped lead the Gauchos to their first NCAA appearance since 2004, turning back top-ranked Texas State University in the first round while logging a career-high in kills. For complete match coverage and Tallulah’s post-game reactions visit the Santa Barbara News Press. In regular season play, Tallulah was named Big West Freshman of the Week, then Player of the Week. She began breaking records in high school, helping the volleyball team to four consecutive BCL-Central titles as well as North Coast Section and Northern California victories.

Dropcopter, cofounded by Adam Fine (2007), Awarded $500,000

Photo Credits

Dropcopter, a groundbreaking startup that is the first to use autonomous drones to pollinate orchards, recently won $500,000 in the Grow-NY food and agriculture business competition, funds that will allow co-founder Adam Fine to expand operations. Founded in 2013, Fine and his partner Matt Koball moved their company to Syracuse in 2017 to compete in Genius NY, a statefunded business accelerator and competition for unmanned vehicle technologies, for which Dropcopter received a $250,000 prize. Read the lastest news coverage of Dropcopter.

page 6 - Robert Torres, Copyright 2019 Boston Conservatory at Berklee page 7 - (from top to bottom) Scott Chernis, In Her Image Photography page 10 - (at bottom) UCLA Racing Club back cover - UCSB Athletics

Profile for San Francisco Waldorf School

Newsletter - Winter 2020  

Alumni Issue

Newsletter - Winter 2020  

Alumni Issue