Greetings MLWS Families…
As the smells, sounds and sights of Spring shift into those of Summer, we are coming into the home stretch of the school year. We hope this unexpected “pause” has provided some positive opportunities for you and your family, in addition to the obvious challenges and inconveniences it has brought. While there is understandable sadness that many of the events and activities that we usually look forward to at this time of year have been cancelled, we can draw upon our flexibility and resilience to adapt during these times.
Please read on to learn about how our school community has been continuing to delve into the wonders of learning through MLWS Connect and remote learning. We hope you enjoy this final issue of our newsletter for the 2019-2020, and we look forward to reconnecting in the Fall!
Parent Council Update
Parent Council met regularly during the 2019-20 school year, and we intend to do so next school year as well. We will continue to strategize priority projects (which include Faculty Nourishment, Food Drives, a Welcome Committee for new families, and this newsletter) and we are open to exploring new initiatives. If you are interested in working on one of the above projects, or if you have an idea for another initiative you would like to work on, please send an email to us at email@example.com. We also hope to organize an Enchanted Walk in late October 2020, having taken a break from organizing this event in 2019. Please consider getting involved and offering some of your time to one of our projects. Many hands make light work!
A Note From The Office
Since the students and teachers left the Mountain Laurel campus in March for remote learning and teaching, we have enjoyed our access to MLWS Connect, sneaking in for a glimpse of a student’s beautiful main lesson work here and a teacher’s recording of a tricky flute piece there. Every teacher at Mountain Laurel has shown incomparable agility in teaching beyond the classroom with substance and soul using tools that were “incompatible” with Waldorf Pedagogy only a few months ago. We are bursting with pride.
Meanwhile, time stood still inside the school building with classroom blackboards still showing March calendars in June. In the play yards, however, instead of the sounds and sights of bustling children, nature is thriving. The woodchip area by the main school building, no longer trampled by active feet, is turning green with a carpet of clover. A deer family took residence at the 6 Elting play yard while a family of hedgehogs settled comfortably in a hole by the fire escape – we caught all six of them sticking their heads out one day, thoroughly at ease with the situation.
Seeing our Mountain Laurel Community eager and smiling, with every family snugly fitting in their rectangle at the opening of the Zoom Work Share made our hearts swell. And as they were driving up Innis Avenue, honking and waving at our faculty and staff during the Parade in Place, we were thinking of how wonderful it will be in the Fall, when the children will be dropped off at the gate and eagerly run to their classrooms for on-campus learning.
With the health and safety of everyone in mind, the Mountain Laurel Faculty, Administration and Board are putting all their creative energy, strategic visioning, and professional skill sets to work to plan the reopening of our dear school in the Fall. We are very much keeping in mind the need to nourish every student’s head, heart, and hands to prepare them for this changing world.
To bring a reflective awareness of racial injustice so prevalent in a multitude of layers in our culture, Mountain Laurel Waldorf School is establishing a Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Committee to start this vital, necessary, and on-going work of changing the fragile social fabric of our country through education.
We would like to thank all our families for their patience and support.
Susan and Patricia
A Peek Into The Classroom
Mountain Dandelion Nursery, Ms. Fridlich:
The last few months of our school year have felt so surreal without the final yearly celebrations and rhythms that typically come in our nursery class. Yet each child has found new rhythms and so much joy spending time at home with their families. Our class has stayed connected by sending pictures of the children engaged in projects and special moments with their families. Many art projects have been made during these times at home and it’s such a joy to see how each child’s creations comes out unique, just as they are. We all feel how the children’s work at home has almost broken the spell that’s been cast upon our magnificent kingdom. And one day soon we will all be together again!
Kindergarten, Miss Mackenzie:
It feels like so long ago that our arms were stretching up “high as apple trees” and our legs were walking through that perfectly dark night with our lanterns held so bright. I still wonder how many gnomes we made for the Winter Faire, and how many slides were had down the small hill in the play yard. I am so grateful for our Walk Day, for delicious pots of soup, for the stories made and friendships formed in our sweet Kindergarten world. Just like in the fairytales, this year lives on inside each of us, and our joy and learning together will continue when the apples grow ripe again.
First Grade, Mr. Kohn:
Our class has been delving into the deep ends of multiplication and division through the eyes of gnomes, mother squirrel and blue jay. We have also been celebrating our First Grade journey through nature, verse and song.
Second Grade, Ms. Lawson:
The Second Grade has moved through the wondrous, reverent world of the saints and into the mischievous, tricky world of fables and animal stories from around the world. We’ve had some fun “zoom acting” with our animal puppets, practicing all the times tables, working out place value and beginning to work with vertical sums, carrying and borrowing. We have been grateful and happy to “virtually” see each other every day and look forward to being back at school in the fall!
Third Grade, Mr. Lundin:
The Third Grade has been meeting for five lessons a week and finishing independent tasks. In arithmetic we wrangled the long tails of long division and directed clear columns of numbers and space holder zeros to complete long multiplication. We’ve worked steadily on a picture with the numbers of the sevens table such as seven trees and fourteen birds and twenty-one clouds. Weekly form drawing lessons challenged us with overlaid repeating forms. Weekly painting has been a balm for stressed souls, providing contemplative quiet and encouraged indulgence with vivid color events. They have marked our audio stories of the Israelites in the Old Testament, reaching from Moses to the prophets and kings.
Fourth and Fifth Grade, Mr. Evans:
The fourth and fifth graders completed our block on Ancient Civilizations which included the mysterious cultures of Ancient Persia and Egypt. When Spring came it was fitting to begin our study of plants and animals. Each student planted a garden at home. Part of their schoolwork was to tend their garden. In addition, each child chose a tree in their yard to study. The children wrote poems and made observations of their tree and the life around it. Studying their home environment enabled the children to develop a bond with the wildlife around their homes.
Sixth Grade, Mr. Neel:
The Sixth Grade has taken the responsibility of doing their work at home very seriously. They’ve completed one hundred and forty pages of beautiful writing and drawings of their own compositions, depicting everything from the founding to the fall of Rome!
They have also been working on a creative writing assignment in which they journey into a dark time to bring back the light to Grandmother Moon. Some took this assignment on with great gusto and wrote amazing stories. Interestingly, the Sixth Grade has used this time of social distancing to focus on their work more than would be possible in class. I’m very proud of each and every one, and we all look forward to seeing each other in the fall!
Seventh Grade, Mr. Wish:
In the Seventh Grade, we’ve been spending our last block of the year studying African Geography. We started with the Sahara Desert, and from there we have worked our way down through the different regions of the continent, making a stop in each key region to study a unique group of people. It’s been a great way to wrap up our year!
Handwork, Ms. Jensen:
As the school year comes to an end, we’ve all learned how to be adaptable and flexible in facing the educational challenges of remote learning. I’m so proud of how Mountain Laurel students, parents and staff have risen to the challenge of this very different educational model. During this time of remote learning, as always, developing and nurturing the children’s will force is critical and handwork is one of the key components of Waldorf education to serve this function. When we shifted to remote learning in March, many of the handwork projects were close to completion and the students have continued to work on their projects at home. With the help of instructional videos, borrowed sewing machines, video calls and much perseverance, many projects were completed. I’m so proud of the students.
Sculpture, Ms. Liebovitz and Ms. McCloskey:
As we are all home working online and alongside our families doing our academic work, we are also working on other subjects such as sculpture. The sculpture teachers prepared work for the children to take home
Orchestra, Mr. Mark Bernstein:
This semester, before we moved to the online format, we worked on a very ambitious program:
1. ‘Aboriginal Rituals’ by Elliot Del Borgo
2. Tchaikovsky Symphony #5 —‘Finale’
3. ‘Slane,’ a fantasy on an Irish melody, Arr. by Douglas Wagner.
We were very close to being performance ready and I can tell you, the orchestra sounded great! We are even considering adding a Bruno Mars medley!
From the middle of March to present, the orchestra classes have been split between studying Western Music History on Wednesdays and preparing for a Virtual Orchestra Performance on Fridays.
The students have been great — patient, resilient and trying their best to be engaged with the music in this challenging format. Kudos and much gratitude also to you, their parents, and to my amazing colleagues at MLWS!!!
Chorus, Mr. Steve Bernstein:
7th & 8th Grade Chorus:
We practiced a lot of music between January and March 13.
“Yesterday,” by the Beatles, “Your Song,” by Elton John, “Seasons of Love,” from the Broadway show “Rent,” “Follow the Drinking Gourd,” with percussion “tryouts”on conga and shaker, and “UFO,” by Coldplay.
Distance learning included focusing on Seasons of Love until it was clear that we would not be having a concert. There was a songwriting assignment with choices of writing music or lyrics. And then there was Educational Jeopardy!
4th, 5th & 6th Grade Chorus:
We practiced many tunes including “Penny Lane,” by the Beatles, “Casey Jones,” Traditional American, “Into White,” by Cat Stevens, “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child,” African American Spiritual, “Dona Nobis Pacem,” 3 part Round, and “Go Lassie Go,” Traditional Scottish.
Distance learning (for the 6th Grade only) included questions and a drawing pertaining to one of the songs we worked on. And then there was Educational Jeopardy as well!