Celebrating the coming of spring every year means so much to the children in our nursery, preschool and Kindergarten classes. Each day the children go outside for their nature walk and observe the buds sprouting and the flowers blooming. This sort of experiential observational learning forms the basis for math, science and physics classes in later Waldorf education.
These photos were taken courtesy of Larkspur Preschool/Kindergarten parent and photographer Ingrid Welch (http://www.gypsymamaphotography.com/).
Parent Survey: 93% Report Overall Satisfaction with The Denver Waldorf School
by Judy Lucas, Administrative Director
This year we asked the parent body for assistance in identifying our strengths as a school, and areas for improvement or priorities and strategies for change. We are mandated to survey our parent body as part of our re-accreditation process with the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America and the Association of Colorado Independent Schools.
Here are some of the findings, as identified by administrative staff and members of The Denver Waldorf School Strategic Planning Committee.
Several survey invitations were sent out to over 1,500 people in our community over a five-week period in January and February, garnering 142 individual responses. Thank you to everyone who participated.
The survey found that 93 percent of parents surveyed reported mid-high to high overall satisfaction with The Denver Waldorf School.
Specifically, 68 percent of parents rated their overall satisfaction with the school as “high,” while another 25 percent rated their satisfaction with the school as “mid-high.”
Another 4 percent rated their satisfaction with the school as “mid,” 1 percent gave a “low-mid” rating, and only 1 percent rated their overall satisfaction with the school as “low.”
Of the parents surveyed, 85 percent said the school has met, more than met or exceeded their expectations on a list of areas including educational philosophy, parent-teacher relationships and experiential education.
When it came to selecting a school, 93 percent of parents surveyed reported The Denver Waldorf School was their first choice.
Responses varied as to the most important reasons for choosing The Denver Waldorf School.
Approximately 20 percent said “educational philosophy” was among the top five most important reasons.
Another 12 percent said it was the “sense of community” that was the most important; 12 percent also said “experiential education.” The “breadth of curriculum” won 11 percent.
Overall, a majority of parents agreed that “teaching at the school is of a high quality.”
Another majority of parents agreed, “my child has a positive attitude toward the school.”
Strongest Attributes Parents offered many comments about the school’s strongest attributes, which included a sense of community, quality of education, curriculum, respect for the children and experienced, caring faculty who get along well with each other.
Among areas for improvement, parents highlighted the lack of a gymnasium and proper performance space, the campus facility and trying to do too much with too little. Others mentioned inadequate parking, not enough racial/ethnic diversity, new parent orientation, security and the length of time it takes to make decisions.
The Strategic Planning Committee is identifying the appropriate groups within the school to take on the specific areas of concern. Thank you to everyone who participated in the survey.
NBC 9News: Technology can impact brain development in good, bad ways
5:23 PM, May 20, 2013
ARVADA – Kim Myers teaches kindergarten at Allendale Elementary in Arvada. She is proud to use iPads, laptops, and an electronic whiteboard to help her kids learn with the latest tool at a young age.
“I bring technology into every content area,” Myers, kindergarten teacher, said. “It’s more engaging for them to be able to put in on a computer, to be able to use an iPad, to be able to use a clicker and answer questions in class.”
But, is what Myers doing, the right thing to do?
“So many of us have concerns that if these young children are immersed in all the technological stimulation at a young age, that may be problematic for their brain development,” Dr. Gary Small, neuroscientist from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Dr. Small wrote a book called I-Brain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind.
“When they spend a lot of time with the technology searching online, they’re sort of training their brains to teach the way they search,” Small said.
When young kids use technology, Small says it does strengthen information processing in the brain.
“The downside is, our face-to-face human contact skills; looking someone on the eye, noticing the emotional expression on a face; those neural wires are weakening,” Small said.
That’s why in Laurie Clark’s classroom, you won’t find any laptops or iPads. Instead, you’ll find ribbons to braid, bread to make, and chalk art instead of white boards.
“I think technology certainly has its place,” Clark said. “But, I don’t think it belongs in early childhood.”
In fact, you won’t find a computer in any classroom at Clark’s school until the ninth grade. She teaches at the Denver Waldorf School where Administrative Director Judy Lucas says they focus on brain development at young age.
“What we teach at our school is human interaction, social skills, social-emotional,” Lucas said.
What they do at their school is tie different parts of the brain through movement and information.
“The more that the students have to make alternative routes or alternative paths, the more they develop these paths; the neural connections in brain,” Lucas said.
Clark says teachers like to teach life, not computers to kindergartners.
“So, what we’re trying to do in early childhood is make a foundation for learning to take place,” Clark said.
Clark says students learn to struggle. They learn to solve problems. They learn grit.
“How much more will they remember that? How much more real with that be to him than simply Googling out an answer that comes and goes?” Clark said.
So, is what Myers doing at Allendale Elementary wrong?
“I use technology in my classroom because I can’t assume a kid sees technology at home,” Myers said.
She teaches to a student population of a lot of low income families.
“By incorporating laptops and all these resources, why not take advantage of it?” Myers said.
Small says bringing computers into young classrooms can be an important tool, if used properly.
“The technology is not the enemy. The enemy is too much technology,” Small said. “They have to bring [computers] in the classroom. They have to be innovative in how they deliver the curriculum.”
That’s why Myers does. She combines computer assignments with creative ones. She gets students to work together and communicate with each other to tackle challenges on the computer. Don’t forget, her kindergarten students can barely read, so forcing them to type out their answers on a laptop can strengthen their reading skills, according to Myers.
She says computers help her students develop their brain power.
“Technology is going to be resource to them,” Myers said. “It’s not going to be a crutch.”
Parent Review of Senior Class Play ‘The Matchmaker’
by Lauren Choate, Denver Waldorf School Parent
Go to the Bug Theater tonight. 7 pm. Just go.
I just got home from the Senior Play — The Matchmaker.
Go. Go see it. Go see what our school does and what our kids do. Go be inspired and amused with the amazing words written by Thornton Wilder.
When I was on the Board, I went to as many plays as I could to show my support as a Board member. I quickly realized what a gift it is to attend. I go now because I love going.
Mr. Johnson is masterful at picking plays. If you start attending as many plays as you can, over the years, you will witness not only the maturation of our children, but amazing plays and stories that move your heart, mind and soul. That’s what live theater does. That’s the gift you can give to yourself, your family and friends.
Go. Go to as many Waldorf plays as you can. Bring your kids unless an age is suggested.
Have an adventure. And for those of you who know the play, yes, it’s pudding.
Mr. John Reinhart, Denver Waldorf High School Language Arts Teacher, has published a book of poetry.
“I remember once informing my parents that I wanted to be an astronaut,” writes Mr. Reinhart, “NASA is unlikely to ever clear me for space flight, but these poems are my exploration of space, inner and outer.”
The first printing is limited to 100 copies, handbound with handprinted covers.
Dawning light of grace
speaking in the stillness
forgotten between bursts
of neon and promise,
grant me strength of patience
for my work yet undone.
Mr. Reinhart is a graduate of The Denver Waldorf High School. He earned a BA in political science from Hampshire College, specializing in social and political movements. He completed his Waldorf teacher training at Antioch University in New England, and received his Master’s in Education in December 2007.
Three years ago, Mr. Reinhart finished assembling and editing a cookbook of his grandmother Natalie Reinhart’s recipes. Almost two years ago, Mr. Reinhart and his brother, Patrick, sat down to record a second album of traditional fiddle tunes. Now comes “Missals From Space.”
Miss Rose’s Photography is Part of Denver Exhibit Near The Bug Theatre
by Miss Rose, Starflower Nursery Nap Assistant
Going to The Bug Theatre tonight or tomorrow for the senior class play?
As an artist I was part of a photography exhibit in the neighborhood of 36th and Navajo St.( near the Bug Theatre.)
One of my entries to this world exhibit is wheat pasted on the wall alongside some incredible artists.
This is an excerpt from The Big Picture blog which is part of the Month of Photography celebration in Denver:
“This show of grand scale contemporary photography exposes the possibility of images as art via email instantly exchanged globally and blown up to large mural proportions. Images gathered from photographers
around the world will be expanded as large Xerox prints and displayed inside galleries as well as posted in approved outdoor locations throughout the city of Denver and sister cities around the globe.”
The exhibit features artists from Syria, Germany France, Italy and across the United States.
“It was magnificent! Bravo to Miss Faustina and the 8th grade for taking on that powerful story of Sojourner Truth. They did such a fabulous job and the music was amazing and the movement and the way it also depicts part of what the 8th graders are going through at their age. Thank you, Faustina, and everyone else who was involved!” ~ Miss Cyndi Ross-Smith, Starflower Nursery Lead Assistant
“A Woman Called Truth” Play Review by Robin Mitchell
It is always a challenge to choose a play for 8th Grade students, since so many criteria come into play. For instance, does one look in the direction of Shakespeare or does one choose a more modern writer? Perhaps a musical show comes to mind? The size of the class and the many talents the class has to offer, also needs to be considered. Then again, one needs to assess the educative value for the students.
The Waldorf curriculum offers insight here. Revolutions and upheavals are part of the course of study during 8th Grade. Social change and civil rights issues such as the abolition of slavery and women’s rights are addressed, and their consequences are considered.
The play ‘A Woman Called Truth,’ by Sandra Fenichel Asher, focuses on these issues and challenges the students to delve into the attitudes and consequent actions and reactions of the various characters. Going further than simplistic cause and effect, both cast and audience are offered the opportunity to experience the role of ethics and morality as they play their part in social change.
It was interesting to see how the students managed to explore the characters they were playing, and bring them to life. Naturally, some managed better than others – yet they all played their parts well and the audience had no difficulty recognizing the motivations behind the actions on display. Noteworthy were all the central players – and especially Sydney Lewark – who had the responsibility of bringing this demanding play to life. But this was most clearly an ensemble production which required active participation from everyone in the class.
The effectiveness of this production also lay in its sheer simplicity.
There was no scenery – but well chosen use of the surrounding drapes, a few props and well designed and executed lighting. The costumes were also of simple design, indicating rather than dictating, and therefore more impactful. The use of tableau, of singing, and of simple dance sequences also shaped the various moods and time shifts so well that the continuity of the whole production went seamlessly.
I feel privileged to have witnessed such hard and inspired work from everyone involved. ~Robin Mitchell, retired Denver Waldorf School Eurythmy Teacher