It’s that time of year! The Denver Waldorf School administrative offices are buzzing with activity as we prepare to welcome all of our new families and welcome back all of our returning families.
Emails with information and forms will be sent out on Monday, August 5th. If your student’s 2013-14 registration is complete and you do not receive your Back-to-School email, please contact Christa Gustafson, Main Office Manager, at 303-777-0531 x 100 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re looking forward to a great year!
A Waldorf Spotlight on Rachel Ladasky, The Denver Waldorf “Bluebell Garden” Nursery
The Denver Waldorf School is opening a second, off-site nursery school to enhance our early childhood education program and meet the growing demand for Waldorf education in our area. We have located a church site at 17th and Dahlia in Park Hill and, if all goes according to plan, The Denver Waldorf School will open “Bluebell Garden” in fall of 2013. In preparation, The College of Teachers has offered Rachel Ladasky, Morning Glory Lead Assistant, the position of Lead Nursery Teacher and she has accepted.
Rachel first came to The Denver Waldorf School as an intern in Morning Glory Kindergarten and then worked as a substitute and Lyre Assistant. She attended a Waldorf nursery school herself and was also a volunteer French teacher and substitute at River Song Waldorf School for two years. Rachel holds a BA in French and Education from Colorado State University and a M.Ed. in Early Childhood Waldorf Education from Antioch University New England. Congratulations, Rachel!
A Conversation With Rachel Ladasky …
Hi Rachel! Tell us about the name for the new nursery site?
“Bluebell flowers are known as fairy thimbles. As the fable goes, you ring a bluebell to gather the fairies in the forest. Bluebells are such delicate, sweet little flowers. They have this connection to the fairy world and the spirit world and that’s right where the little children are, still connected to the heavenly realm.”
Why did you want to become a Waldorf early childhood education teacher?
“In early childhood, everything is new and magical and exciting to them and watching it unfold is just incredible. The Denver Waldorf School Nursery Program is such a bridge between home life and Kindergarten. It’s their first experience of school, the whole world is new to them and they’re safe and secure. There is beauty everywhere and it’s a good place to be. I get to help them grow into themselves and be happy and secure.”
What are you most looking forward to next year?
“I’m really excited to have my own class and I’m really ready for it.
The space is so sweet and warm and cozy, it’s the perfect space to hold the children and gently introduce them to Waldorf education.”
You have spent time in more mainstream educational environments ~ what draws you to Waldorf education?
“Waldorf is so much more heartfelt and purposeful. Not just with the children but among the faculty as well. There is no way I could go back after experiencing and seeing first-hand the love the teachers here have for the children. Having such a strong philosophical foundation that we’re all working out of is so unique. To be in a school that honors the children’s development to help their growth versus focused on what they need to know, that is truly beautiful.
Here, it’s magical and it’s fun and it feeds my soul.”
~Interview by Jennifer Parker, Community Development Coordinator
The Denver Waldorf Middle and High School Cross Country teams are beginning to gear up for the fall season.
Our inaugural season last fall was a success and we’re looking for our second year to be even better. If you are interested in participating on the Cross Country team next fall, please let Jennifer Parker know at email@example.com so that we can add you to our email distribution lists.
All you need is a pair of good running shoes!
Informal, optional practices for both Middle School and High School runners will begin on Tuesday, July 23 and will occur every Tuesday and Friday morning from 7:00 am ~ 8:00 am.
The team will meet at the Boat House at Washington Park. Just show up when you can. Depending on the interest, we may increase the frequency of the runs after the first couple of weeks.
Formal practices will begin Monday, August 19 (time and location TBD).
The first race of the season is Thursday, Sept. 5.
For questions or summer workout ideas, please contact any of the coaches:
Oza and Milan Klanjsek – firstname.lastname@example.org
Tim Williams – email@example.com
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.”