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FRIDAY MESSAGE FROM THE WSOC RETURN TO SCHOOL COMMITTEE 6/12/20

Dear families,

It’s official! The last day of school for our 2019-20 school year! We wish you a summer filled with relaxing times with your family and hopefully lots of moments outside in nature. The weather has been very un-June-like with lots of warmth and sunlight. Fresh air is especially appreciated with the events of the last several months in mind!

We will continue our Friday communications throughout the summer to ensure that everyone in our community stays in the loop. We are excited to share that summer camps are definitely happening on our WSOC campus and we will have final details by next week with times, themes, age groups, etc.

On the subject of summer, our high school students have been given an intriguing reading assignment by English teachers Ms. Beka and Ms. Kuczenski. In the assignment, they say, “By joining forces in a spirit of collaboration, we’ll germinate the innovations that will lead to creative and powerful solutions for the problems our world faces while continuing to walk this long, lovely, and difficult trail towards true adulthood. All we can tell you for sure is that it will be worth it! In his book Where Good Ideas Come From, Steven Johnson writes that ‘the most productive tool for generating good ideas remains a circle of humans at a table, talking shop’ (61). The Summer Book-Love Project this year is all about taking up your place at the table—you know, that table where you don’t know anyone; where you might feel intimidated; and where some of the perspectives most definitely will differ from your own.” Please click HERE learn more about what our high school students will be reading and discovering this summer!

We also are pleased to share an inspirational letter published today by educator Torin Finser, Ph.D. on the subject of celebrating our socially conscious teachers. Torin has been an educator for three decades and a keynote speaker at international conferences and throughout the United States.  He has also served as an organizational consultant for many schools with special emphasis on leadership development. He has served as General Secretary of the Anthroposophical Society in America and Chair of the Education Department at Antioch University New England.  A founder of the Center for Anthroposophy, he has recently pioneered their new Building Bridges Program for practicing teachers in independent and charter schools.

June 12, 2020

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

When Rudolf Steiner addressed the monthly assembly of children at the first Waldorf school, he often asked: “And do you love your teachers?” He was so heartened by the children’s enthusiastic response that he sometimes repeated the same question later during the same gathering! He knew that when the relationship between student and teacher is strong, a much deeper form of learning is possible.

In these brief talks, which were usually attended by the children’s parents as well, Steiner also described how the social mission of our time is best served by the on-going self-development of the teachers, the strengthening of human relations within a school community, and the deliberate cultivation of love for all humanity.

Now, 100 years later, we are reminded how much work remains for us to do. In response to the anguished cry of “I can’t breathe” heard around the world, we have the words of Brooke Williams this week at the funeral for George Floyd: “I can breathe. As long as I am breathing, justice will be served.”

All around us we see the struggle to breathe in many forms: systemic racism, social injustice of all kinds, income inequality, bureaucratic mandates, and thousands of people attached to ventilators struggling to breathe as a result of Covid-19. So many of these present challenges are connected to what in Waldorf education is called the “middle realm” of breathing, circulation, the life of feeling and relationship. We are being asked in so many “languages” to address the ailments of this realm –– and not just by issuing more proclamations. We need to do something!

As with so many things, effective change often begins not centrally in some locus of power but peripherally, in loose social associations such as the wide-flung network of our schools. We need socially conscious, self-aware teachers and the organizations that support them. Antioch University, Center for Anthroposophy, and other non-profit organizations with a social/educational mission can play a vital role in cultivating transformative practices. We need our schools and institutions of higher learning more than ever so that “justice will be served” and a new generation of leaders can help us succeed where past leaders have fallen short.

When teachers love their work, new growth is possible, individually and collectively. Let us celebrate our teachers. Let us listen to those who are working with children daily. Then we can move beyond abstract theories and learn from those who are building relationships through each subject, each lesson, each conversation. Our future rests with the success of our teachers and their schools.

Best wishes to all,

Torin

Warmly,

The WSOC Return to School Committee




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