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Ru d o l f S t e i n e r S c h o o l

B ULLETIN WISH, WONDER AND SURPRISE

CALENDAR HIGHLIGHTS: High School Drama Club Performance

March 2009

BY JENNIFER ROSENSTEIN, SEVENTH GRADE CLASS TEACHER Week of 3/2

Spring Benefit Planning Meetingall invited! LS Cafeteria; 8:30 am

3/11

Diversity Committee Meeting; 4:15 pm

3/11

All School Spring Assembly at Rodeph Shalom

3/13

In the seventh grade, there is a block with the intriguing title, “Wish, Wonder and Surprise.” As a title to a main lesson block alongside the heady titles, “Physics,” “Chemistry,” and “Algebra,” one would think we’d gone quite mad. To have such a seemingly frivolous bit of time with a name like that thrown into the year, I mean, really! This is middle school, after all! We’ve got work to do, right? Indeed, we do.

The over-arching theme of seventh grade is the Renaissance (rebirth). Renaissance Winter Break 3/16- in both the Middle East and Europe was a time of discovery of the Arts, Sciences 3/27 and new worlds to put it simply. Without the element of wish, wonder and surprise none of the discoveries of the most recent European Renaissance would have For a complete and up-to-date come about. Alongside the great artists were the great scientists and often they Calendar of Events for the were one and the same. What was alive in the mood of the people of western month of March logon to Europe during the time of the Renaissance is similar to what is stirring in the mood www.steiner.edu. of the children between the ages of 12 and 13 (and beyond). Something new is wishing to come to life, to be reborn anew. They are bursting forth with creative new energy and ideas, hungry for ways in which to express them. Attn: MUSICAL STUDENTS GRADES 3 - 8 SUMMER INTERLUDE June 15 - 26 Join us for two weeks of chamber music, jazz band, orchestra, and musical theatre. Placement Auditions in April SIGN UP TODAY! For a brochure, please ask Ms. Bachleitner or check at the LS Front Desk. For any further inquiries or questions, please contact Anna-Maria Baeza at abaeza@brearley.org

In my Wish, Wonder and Surprise block, (each teacher’s approach is unique) I found different ways to help the students experience the world through their senses and then helped them to write about those experiences and observations in journals. I brought to them many types of writing samples from fairy-tales to the presidential speech. We learned about how to enhance writing through many different literary techniques and shared our writing with each other on a daily basis. This year’s seventh grade began the block with a new seating chart, which might sound mundane to anyone who isn’t a teacher or a student, but to a child, this means the world. We began sitting in a seminar style U-shape, which was a surprise for them, for now they would face each other, and quite the courageous act for me because now they would face each other and not me! Only the morning light lit the room, and we began by hearing stories that harkened back to early childhood, listening to them with fresh ears. I read to them, “The Red Shoes,” by Hans Christian Anderson, in which a pair of red shoes take on a life of their own. Continued on page 2...


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WISH, WONDER AND SURPRISE CONT. On that first day, the students were asked to choose an object from the “magic box.” In this magic box were several items that they were only to feel with their fingers. Items included a large pinecone, a recorder, a paperweight, a pillow, and a crystal. Then, they were asked to sit and describe what they felt without naming the object itself. That evening the students were asked to write a story about the object they chose and in the story, the object must come to life. We then began to explore the literary technique of personification. Lessons continued in this way, with many variations, throughout the block. At the end of the block, each student prepared an illustrated portfolio of original works. I hope to share some of their stories with the larger community over the next few months through this Bulletin. The students learned to expand their use of interesting adjectives and verbs, to use simile and metaphor, to dig deep into description and to use personal reflection whenever it seemed appropriate. Mostly, we had fun listening to each other’s brave attempts to create wonderful new stories and images. It was certainly one of those blocks that I wish never had to come to an end. This first story comes from an assignment where I asked the students to think about a beloved stuffed animal from their childhood and bring it to life in a story.

THE LITTLE GIRL WITH CURLS BY A SEVENTH GRADE STUDENT

I belong to the Martine family. They live in the little town of Olean, New York. Olean is a quiet town, where everybody knows everybody else, which gives it a very friendly atmosphere. The streets are lined with cute little houses of many colors, and it is usually very, very cold. The Martine’s are very Italian, so by now I feel nearly relaxed by loud noises. The Martine's have three children, two daughters and a son. The daughters are Stephanie and Andrea, who play with me the most. I am an aqua colored bunny, with pink and yellow egg-shaped dots around my torso. I have big floppy ears and large blue eyes. My fur is very soft and my tummy is stuffed with cotton, making me very cuddly. I sit on a small bed in Stephanie's room, a bed with the ABC's written on the sheets. I sit here most of the day and watch the girls play cheerfully with their little beige dolls made from dried corn-husks. There is a white fluffy rug on the floor of the room, and a big pink bed that looms over mine. There's a bookcase next to the bed with the father’s, Dr. Martine's, big books of old literature. The window curtains match my aqua color and have little ruffles at the top. There is a big white dresser by the bookcase, and sitting on it is a miniature carousel that goes round and round with music that plays when you wind it up. The other music box is round and dark blue. When you wind it, it makes the plastic whales inside look as if they're jumping over waves; and soft, sweet, sentimental music emits from the box as the whales go round and round. It plays that tune that you heard in your childhood but never quite knew the name of. Continued on page 3...


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When the girls eventually bounce over to the bed to get me, the bed makes a loud creaking noise with every movement. I’ve lived with the girls very happily, watched them grow up, and have been very content. Then one day, the mother, Patricia, came over, took me off the bed, and up the old stairs to the attic. The attic is very old. It's filled with dusty boxes, and smells like old library books. It has large windows that bring in sunlight, and is very stuffy and hot. I sit on one of the boxes, and I am visible as soon as you're at the top of the stairs. I feel like I will be here in the musty old attic for an eternity. One day, many years ago, I heard a noise on the stairs. They were a pair of feet I did not recognize. They were small and sweet like the pitter patter of raindrops on the roof. A little girl came up the stairs who I’d never seen before, but she held the resemblance of a familiar face. Her hair was comprised of little brown ringlets that just brushed the tips of her shoulders ever so lightly. She was wearing a pink lacy dress, little white shoes, and a little white sweater to match. As she tottered over to me the light from the windows touched her gently, illuminating her rosy cheeks, even though her angelic face already seemed lit up. When she stroked my fur she let out a little giggle, bringing her small white teeth into a big smile. Suddenly, I heard a woman's soft voice winding up the stairs. "Claire" the voice said with a motherly ring. Then a woman's figure emerged from the stairs. She was wearing a baby blue linen dress, and had long curls that matched the little girl's who was quite obviously her daughter. As she scooped her up with a beautiful laugh, I recognized her as Stephanie, the little girl that loved me so much. When she let Claire to the ground, Claire scooped me up into her fragile little arms with the same laugh. She carried me down the stairs to that room I once lived in. It looked mostly the same, but the curtains were faded. I supposed we still matched because I’m a bit faded too. I noticed the corn doll box under the big pink bed. It had a thick layer of dust gathered on the cover from the last time it was played with. She played with me all day and slept with me all night. For the next week or so I was very happy with little Claire. One day, Claire came over to my bed and gave me a big squeeze and kiss. She held me so close that I could feel every ripple in her chubby belly against my lower chest. The little patch of chub hanging from her chin brushed over my head. And then, when she heard the sweet voice of her mother calling her, she placed me back on the bed and ran down the stairs. She visits me every once in a while, still with a reborn enthusiasm every time. I no longer see the happy face of Stephanie, but I can feel her and her love constantly, lingering in the house. When Claire visits, I can feel a certain sadness in her at times. When that feeling is there, I can see the faint outline of Stephanie, touching her shoulder, and smiling at me.


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BLESSINGS AND GRATITUDE -REFLECTIONS BY

FROM THE DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE CHAIR, JOY PHELAN-PINTO

(Even More) Reasons to Love and Support Waldorf Education As Chair of the Development Committee, which (at its most fundamental level) considers objectives, policies and programs that affect fundraising, I find myself frequently stepping back to consider a more elemental question: Why? Why do I feel so passionate about supporting this education? Can I effectively summarize the aspects of the pedagogy that so deeply compel me to devote countless volunteer hours to the school? Luckily, I don’t have to. Other people—who are far more knowledgeable than I about Waldorf education—have already put those sentiments into words. Accordingly, I am pleased to dedicate this month’s column to tributes and testimonials to Waldorf. Most of the quotations below, and so much more, can be found in an outstanding online resource that I enthusiastically recommend. The richness and depth of its content is stunning. You’ll spend hours immersed in the articles at: www.WhyWaldorf.com Testimonials and Quotations on Waldorf Education "Waldorf education addresses the child as no other education does. Learning, whether in chemistry, mathematics, history or geography, is imbued with life and so with joy, which is the only true basis for later study. The textures and colors of nature, the accomplishments and struggles of humankind fill the Waldorf students' imaginations and the pages of their beautiful books. Education grows into a union with life that serves them for decades. By the time they reach us at the college and university level, these students are grounded broadly and deeply and have a remarkable enthusiasm for learning. Such students possess the eye of the discoverer, and the compassionate heart of the reformer which, when joined to a task, can change the planet." —-Arthur Zajonc, Ph.D., Chair of Physics Department, Amherst College "American schools are having a crisis in values. Half the children fail according to standard measures and the other half wonder why they are learning what they do. As is appropriate to life in a democracy, there are a handful of alternatives. Among the alternatives, the Waldorf school represents a chance for every child to grow and learn according to the most natural rhythms of life. For the early school child, this means a Continued on page 5...


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non-competitive, non-combative environment in which the wonders of science and literature fill the day without causing anxiety and confusion. For the older child, it offers a curriculum that addresses the question of why they are learning. I have sent two of my children to Waldorf schools and they have been wonderfully well served." —-Raymond McDermott, Ph.D., Professor of Education and Anthropology, Stanford University "The importance of storytelling, of the natural rhythms of daily life, of the evolutionary changes in the child, of art as the necessary underpinning of learning, and of the aesthetic environment as a whole--all basic to Waldorf education for the past 70 years--are being 'discovered' and verified by researchers unconnected to the Waldorf movement." —Paul Bayers, Professor Columbia Teachers' College “The great Margaret Mead once said, ‘No education that is not founded on art will ever succeed.’ I think the beauty of the Waldorf system is that they don't teach art - it's not a subject. Art is the way by which everything is taught and learned. Art is ‘high play’ and only through high play does real learning take place. Yes, this is the way to a real life. The rest of it is conditioning to another's employ, another's motive, another's idea of life.” —Joseph Chilton Pearce, former faculty on child development at the Jung Institute, Switzerland; author nine books on child development.

*** Next month’s column will feature more testimonials to Waldorf education, including some from our own faculty. And, last but not least…. While you’re appreciating the wisdom and beauty of Waldorf education, I hope you’ll take a moment to appreciate and support Rudolf Steiner School with a contribution to the Annual Fund. As the Annual Fund representatives of each class have probably explained in class meetings by now, 100% parent participation to the Annual Fund is essential…. In these difficult economic times when tough choices have to be made, we hope you’ll make support of your child’s education your top philanthropic choice, if you are able. No gift is too small or unappreciated to help us reach our goal of 100% participation. We extend a sincere thank you to all.


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WEBSITE DESIGN PROJECT Thank you to everyone who participated in the discovery phase of our website redesign project on February 5th and 6th. Louis Gudema and Rosalind Landsman of Magic Hour Communications received many wonderful impressions of the School. They were delighted to meet everyone. There will be a “websites screening meeting” on Thursday, March 5th at 9:00 a.m. in the Lower School cafeteria. This is an opportunity for us to give Magic Hour a good sense of the kinds of features we like in other websites as well as make clear the features we’d like to see in ours. If you are interested in participating, please join us.

HIGH SCHOOL DRAMA CLUB The Rudolf Steiner High School Drama Club The show is generally considered appropriate will present performances of the musical, for 9 years and older due to the 2 hour running Les Miserables, in the lower school assembly time and some dark material. room March 4—March 8th as follows: It is highly recommended that you make reservations at the Lower School front desk, or you Wed. 3/4 at 7pm may call our reservation hotline at 212 327 0543 Thurs. 3/5 at 7pm ext. 201. Fri. 3/6 at 7pm Sat. 3/7 at 2pm and 7pm We are looking forward to this exciting theatrical event and hope to see you there. Come supSun. 3/8 at 2pm port our high school students!

COMMUNITY NEWS


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Parent Bulletin, March 2009