Emerson Waldorf Alumni - Ready for Anything
As a Waldorf parent of three, over the years I've encountered the question, "But you don't teach serious math and science in the high school, do you?" The inference is that Waldorf kids are somehow disadvantaged when it comes to "real" subjects. I always chuckle inwardly. My reply is that students do learn those subjects, though differently from traditional high school. Their lesson blocks include thermodynamics, botany, anatomy, surveying, and more. In seminar-style classes where active participation is required, they learn to be truly present in any type of class. Waldorf high school launches them as multifaceted people equipped to continue a lifelong love of learning, independent thinking, empathy, and respect for self and for others whether in arts or sciences. They become musicians, engineers, artists, mathematicians, writers, scientists, actors, craftspeople and more. Our graduates attend a wide range of colleges from Dartmouth to Duke, Cornell to Johns Hopkins and beyond. They are ready to choose and follow their own paths, and, in Steiner’s words, “impart meaning to their lives.”
As for Waldorf students after high school - here's one recent example: during their busy senior year, our oldest son and two EWS classmates started a traditional music group with fiddle, mandolin, and guitar. They performed at dances and gigs around Chapel Hill that spring. After graduation, the fiddler embarked on a year-long journey to work and travel. In India she taught in a girls’ school far from any city. In Finland she scraped hides and smoked fish for a stone-age anthropology experiment. After her travels, she matriculated at Wellesley College with many tales to tell. The guitar player went to Dartmouth College, enrolling in courses as diverse as art and Arabic before settling on a math major with a term in France on his horizon. The mandolin player ran a sailing school during an Alaskan summer, returned to attend Duke University, started a rock band, sampled different subjects, and chose an earth and ocean sciences major with a minor in physics. Limited? Hardly!
– Lee Marchman, Parent of Three
"Last year I had an extraordinary opportunity to live and work in a north Indian village with Pardada Pardadi Educational Society. I was asked to develop an introductory program for a community of young girls from the very lowest sectors of society; a community whose members had no previous experience of school at all. Even the concepts of time and structure were foreign to them. I cannot imagine how lost I would have been without my nine years at Emerson Waldorf School and my observations of Waldorf kindergarten. The teachers and I created a curriculum and daily schedule that included morning circle, art, naptime, and outdoor games and playtime (even, at times, simply playing in the mud). The biggest challenge in art was learning to share materials. In morning circle, the girls became aware of the appropriate time to be noisy and when to sit quietly. Every morning I greeted each student by looking her in the eye, shaking her hand, and acknowledging her presence, the same way I was welcomed into the classroom by my class teacher. Now, whenever the school has visitors, my girls are the first to offer greetings, often showing off the simple English phrases they know.
I recall how my classmates and I often joked, “Only at Waldorf do we open an English class with a song, study plants at the school farm through botanical drawing, read Thoreau for a science class, or play ultimate frisbee and eat s’mores with our teachers.” Or so I thought. Since beginning my first year at Wellesley College this fall, I’ve done all this and even relived a tenth grade moment when I observed a 300-level class learning to survey. For my college classmates, many of whom come from prestigious boarding schools, this approach to learning is just short of a revelation. For me, such occurrences are simply an extension of my Waldorf education.
This year, the Princeton Review recognized Wellesley College for having the best faculty in the nation. I
have learned, however, that during high school many of my fellow first-year students never interacted with their teachers and are now reluctant to visit professors during office hours or to simply say “Hello” when passing a teacher on campus. From my perspective, these students are missing important opportunities. In our tight-knit Waldorf community, connecting with teachers, parents, and visiting adults is commonplace and has proven to be enormously helpful to me as I navigate the sometimes shaky ground of making the most of my opportunities, and appreciating perspectives of people from different walks of life.
As I continue to move forward, I am only beginning to realize the richness of my nine years at EWS. I anticipate I will have many more opportunities to appreciate how helpful those years were, and to reap the rewards of such an educational experience."
"As a successful actress, producer, and entrepreneur in Los Angeles, I'm often asked "how in the world do you DO so much!?" But more frequently, I'm asked, "what makes you think you COULD do so much?" It's funny to me to realize, right, not everyone has this innate sense of capability & self-sufficiency, coupled with this (overly) expansive imagination. It's both an asset and a curse :) I owe it - almost entirely - to the gift of my education, the gift my parents gave me by insisting I attend Waldorf school.
I started Kindergarten at a Waldorf school in Atlanta GA, and when I grew out of Kindergarten, my parents moved my brother and me to EWS. From painting to scientific discovery; from gardening to main lesson – I was introduced to a 'whole-mind, whole-body' kind of learning that I have craved ever since. It inspired the need to not only act in well-known TV shows, but also create my own. It ignited the desire to not merely use social media, but to form a company that used twitter and facebook from their API's out.
I cannot think of any single element that's contributed more to my education, my good grades later in public high school, my fearless pursuit of my dreams, and my joy in living than Waldorf school. I am an evangelist amongst my friends ... and amongst strangers."
Currently on CBS's, "The Young & The Restless," Cooper is a graduate of the prestigious North Carolina School of the Arts. She also stars in the new flagship series "SYNC" for Google TV, and in upcoming romantic-comedy, "Amy Alyson Fans," opposite Josh Sussman (Glee). She is the lead in a new action-thriller, "Meteor Apocalypse," airing on the SyFy Channel.
As an award-winning producer, Cooper has created & sold digital commercial campaigns for companies such as Post It Notes, Kimberly Clark, & Pop Chips. She also produced and starred in DailyMotion's #1 hit comedy "Squatters." She can also be seen in countless campaigns for such products as DirectTV, Mircrosoft, KFC, DishNetwork, LG Smart Phones and more.
Cooper is the Founder of a tech startup in the Los Angeles' "Silicon Beach" tech scene; Klickly helps big companies and celebs engage more effectively in the m-commerce and social media space.
Cooper does stunts & parkour, shoots guns, wields swords, rides horses, and dances & fiddles in her newly-formed country duo. More info at cooperharris.com
"Hello from just down the road, at UNC campus! Now that I am part of Chapel Hill’s enormous and infamous student body, I’m enjoying perks such as the absolute student pedestrian priority, laundry at home on the weekends, and seeing long-lost familiar Waldorf faces on campus. So far I’ve run into Alexa Holloway, Dana McWilliams, and Alexander Kenan from my fourth grade class. I guess Frau Boesch’s treacherous spelling quizzes paid off, after all, since we’re now at UNC together! After a laughter-filled summer with Sina Feuerstein, our infamous and much-loved Austrian exchange student of 2008 who revisited this August, I am settling into the intricacies of “real world school”. This time last year I was trekking through the Indian outback and practicing my Hindi; now I’m happy to be back home in NC and helping to run the UNC German Club! I send love to my fellow Waldorfians, whom I shall always hold dear.
Remember me, Emma
PS Here is a picture of Sina and me. No lighthouses like this in Austria!"
EWS Alumni, please let us know what you're up to! Please send stories and pictures to Barbara Holloway, Director of Marketing, at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'll mail you an awesome EWS t-shirt!