Greetings MLWS Families…

Welcome to the 2020-2021 school year! We hope things are off to a smooth start in your household. This year, Parent Council will once again publish this newsletter, which will include a Parent Council update, highlight activities of our classes and other school-related topics, offer Classified listings, and provide information about upcoming events in the MLWS community.

Parent Council Update

Parent Council will be holding monthly meetings via Zoom during the 2020-21 school year. We will also hold smaller working group meetings via Zoom to work on our priority projects, which will be scheduled as necessary to advance these efforts. These projects include a monthly Brown Bag Lunch Series (via Zoom) featuring MLWS community speakers, Grounds Beautification Projects, Food Drives, a Welcome Committee for New Families, “Art for the Elderly” Community Outreach, and this newsletter.

If you are interested in being involved in one of the working groups for a priority project, or if you have an idea for another initiative you would like to work on through the Parent Council, please email Please consider getting involved and offering some of your time to one of our projects. Many hands make light work!

Welcome New Families & Returning Families

If your family is new to Mountain Laurel Waldorf School and you are looking for support as you find your way, please reach out to the parent rep for your child’s class (your child’s teacher can tell you who it is!) and/or contact MLWS Parent Council at and request to be paired with a mentor family. Our monthly Brown Bag Series (on the second Tuesday of each month is another wonderful way to strengthen your connection. And we are also excited to announce “New Family Zoom Mocktails” this Monday evening, November 9, 2020. See the Calendar section below for more details.

This school year, social distancing and related rules have radically changed the rhythms and textures of our community. During these unusual times, when we cannot come together in-person at gatherings, rituals and celebrations which would usually offer us opportunities for engagement, learning, social contact, and information dissemination, let’s find ways to connect!

News & Happenings

In past years, the newsletter has often featured highlights from two classes in each issue, offering a glimpse into what the classes are working on. Because parents aren’t able to be in the school building this year, we are starting off the year sharing an image of every classroom in the school, to offer parents a sense of what the inside of the school building looks like this year!

Brown Bag Lunch Speaker Series

Mark your calendars for MLWS Parent Council’s Brown Bag Lunch Series: The Role of the Practical Arts in the Waldorf Curriculum on Tuesday, November 17th, 12:30 – 1:30pm. We will have the privilege of speaking with both Donna Jensen, MLWS handwork teacher, and Tricia McCloskey, MLWS sculpture teacher.

Donna Jensen has been teaching at MLWS for 17 years. In addition to sharing her journey to Waldorf education, she will speak about what the handwork curriculum entails and why it is important to the developing child. She also has much wisdom and many observations to share about our community, having played an active part in the College, parented two alums and taught many classes of children.

Tricia McCloskey has been a parent and teacher at MLWS for many years and recently stepped into the role of lead sculpture teacher. She will share with us how she came to sculpture and the skills and will required of the students to make art in this way.

Through this series of events, we are hoping to create a stronger and more connected parent body at our school by offering a social opportunity to touch base with each other as well as providing information about our school, Waldorf education and the broader community of like-minded organizations and individuals. Each meeting will feature a speaker on a given topic. Upcoming topics include festival life, the importance of warmth, the role of music at MLWS, biodynamic farming, chalkboard drawing and the structure and governance of MLWS. We hope you are able to join us!

MLWS Parent Council Food Drive

Mark your calendars! The 2020 MLWS Fall Food Drive will be held the week of November 16th-20th. During this time of unpredictability and inequality, we are fortunate to have a warm community, in-person education for our children and resources to live in a beautiful and safe part of the world. We can be good neighbors by giving back wherever and however we can. As in previous years, we will be donating non-perishable goods to the food pantry hosted by Family of New Paltz. Stay tuned for an email with the logistics and details of this event. If you would like to help us with this important project, please email

MLWS Coat Drive

In the spirit of Michaelmas and of St. Martin, the patron saint of beggars and outcasts whom the festival of Martinmas honors, Mountain Laurel Waldorf School will be collecting children’s and adult gently-used, clean coats from Monday, October 26 until Wednesday, November 11. Please deposit your donated coats in the designated bright blue bins located at the Mountain Dandelion, Mountain Garden, Mountain Rose and main school gates.

Leave of Absence

Frank Trapanese, our site facilitator extraordinaire is taking a leave of absence for medical reasons. He is very much missed by all and we hope he will return in the future. If families would like to send cards to Frank, that would be lovely. They can drop them off at the school, either by sending them with their child or giving them to Susan and Sue at morning drop-off, and the administration will send them on to Frank. The children have already sent him many beautiful cards and drawings!

Welcome New Family Members

Congratulations to Ms. Gill (class teacher of the MLWS Class of 2020) and her family on the arrival of sweet Sadie, born on August, 21, 2020. Pictured with Sadie in his lap is Crusoe Gill (currently in 7th grade here at MLWS), proud and tender brother.

Congratulations to Mr. Wish (current 8th grade class teacher) and his family on the arrival of their baby daughter, Francie, born on September 18, 2020.

MLWS Health Corner

In an effort to support our community in staying abreast of recent pandemic and health-related announcements, we present to you the Health Corner:

For those who were unable to attend the All-School Meeting last Tuesday, October 27, here is the link for a recording of the zoom meeting.

Please remember that MLWS’s mask policy requires students to wear face coverings at all times while in school, even when six feet of social distancing can be achieved. It is essential that masks are well fitted and completely cover the nose and mouth.

Here is a link to an article from the New York Times that explains how and why masks work.

Here is a link to an informative and graphically clear article from the Spanish newspaper El Pais on how the coronavirus is spread through the air in a room, a bar and a classroom, according to several scenarios.

And please remember to complete the SchoolCues Health Screening and to take your children’s temperature every day, even when your child is absent on a school day.

A Healthy Recipe to Try at Home!

Sauerkraut is made from cabbage mixed with salt and then fermented. The fermentation process creates a yummy gut-healthy probiotic packed full of nutrients. It’s not only fun for families to make but is also delicious!

Homemade Classic Sauerkraut Recipe:

  • 1 small head of red or green cabbage
  • 1 tablespoons of sea salt*
  • 1 teaspoon whole caraway seeds (optional)
  • Filtered water
  • Wide mouth quart mason jar

Yield: 1 Quart
Prep time: 30 minutes

1. Remove the outer leaves** and the core of the cabbage.
2. Shred the cabbage, either by hand or a food processor.
3. In a large bowl, add the shredded cabbage and sprinkle with sea salt.
4. Using clean hands massage and squeeze the cabbage for 5-15 minutes, or until a large amount of liquid is visible on the bottom of the bowl.
5. Add the caraway seeds.
6. Pack the cabbage into the mason jar, using your fist to tamp the cabbage tightly. Liquid should appear at the top. Add in all the brine from bowl or filtered water as needed, leaving 2 to 3 inches of headspace from the top of the cabbage and the opening of the jar. This will allow the mixture to bubble and expand as it ferments.
7. Close the jar, either with an airlock lid or a regular lid, and set at room temperature out of direct sunlight, for about 6 days. If the flavor and texture are not as desired, check every day or two until it achieves the tang you prefer.
8. Store the sauerkraut in the refrigerator for up to one year.

Notes: If you are using a regular lid, check the cabbage daily to make sure it is fully submerged in the brine, simply push it down if it is not fully covered.

*Celtic sea salt is a great option, just be sure to use non-iodized sea salt.

**A large clean cabbage leaf can also be used to keep the cabbage submerged.

A Peek Into The Classroom

Ms. Lawson and the Third Grade class:

The third grade have been learning about time. We’ve been human sundials tracking our shadows through the day and we’ve made a water clock! We’ve heard about how people planted crops according to the placement of the sun and stars and phases of the moon. Finally we’ve learned about man-made time-telling machines, clocks and watches!

On our weekly bike trips to Red Barn Farm we have made friends with the chickens, planted wheat, garlic, and lettuce, divided strawberry plants, planted Spring bulbs, dug up potatoes, made cloches and generally enjoyed getting our hands dirty!

Mr. Steve Bernstein teaching Games to Ms. de Jong’s Fifth Grade class:

The Fifth Graders have been practicing their javelin throws, trying to draw rainbows across the autumn sky…

Mr. Neel and the Seventh Grade class:

The Seventh Grade began the year with perspective drawing, then went on to study African geography, and now we’re finishing a chemistry block. In Seventh Grade chemistry we learned about the elements, combustion, precipitation, solvents, and how to separate different gases with a water displacement apparatus. Next week the Seventh Grade will begin social studies, which starts with the fall of Rome, and goes through the Renaissance. Later in the year, we will study physiology, which is Mr. Neel‘s favorite!

The Fund For Mountain Laurel

Many thanks to all who have already given to the Fund. Every donation gets us closer to our goal and we appreciate your abundant generosity and support! If you haven’t already donated, please consider doing so today by clicking here.

We are raising money for Mountain Laurel Waldorf School to offset the unexpected costs of outfitting our campus with necessary equipment and staff that enabled us to welcome our students and faculty back to campus for full-time, in-person learning during the pandemic.

We encourage you to share the donation link with anyone you think may be compelled to help our cause, including extended family and friends.

Click here for more information and to donate.

Thank you!

The Administration