Richmond Waldorf School is proud to welcome Spikenard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary to our campus on March 2 and 3 to lead our community and other interested individuals in exploring sustainable solutions to the Honeybee crisis.
The greater Richmond community has a wealth of clubs and resources for beekeepers, but the approach of the beekeepers at Spikenard Farm is unique. Gunther Hauk, the founder of the Spikenard Honeybee Sanctuary, has been teaching at Waldorf Schools and working with bees for almost 40 years. He co-founded the Biodynamic Pfeiffer Center in Spring Valley, NY in 1996 and has taught at Waldorf schools in Germany and the US.
As Waldorf education celebrates 100 years in 2019, the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA) has requested that Waldorf Schools celebrate next year’s important anniversary by creating gardens for pollinators and possibly having honeybees as part of our campuses. These events at RWS will help us join the nationwide Waldorf movement to support safe spaces for pollinators.
Spikenard Farm is a remarkable place which the fifth graders from RWS experienced during a fall trip there. The principles of Waldorf education, Anthroposophy, and biodynamics are at the heart of their work, and they are excited to bring their deep understanding of stewardship of the earth to the Richmond Waldorf community. The lecture and workshop are open to the public and will enhance everyone’s understanding of the honeybee while enriching our knowledge of Waldorf and Rudolf Steiner’s work.
Schedule of Events:
Friday, March 2, 7:00 – 9:00 – Lecture and Q&A led by Gunther Hauk and Alex Tuchman
$10 recommended donation
Saturday, March 3, 9:00 – 4:00 – Biodynamic Beekeeping Workshop
$45 – $60 sliding scale (payable in advance or the day of the event)
We hope you will join us. Anyone interested in participating in the lecture on March 2 or workshop on March 3 is encouraged to call Richmond Waldorf School at 804-377-8024.
Join us for Richmond Waldorf School’s Annual Spring Auction and Gala. Our festive evening celebrates St. Patrick’s Day with style while raising money to support the programming at Richmond Waldorf School. An Emerald Evening is open to the public and will be fun-filled party with:
• Music by E3Rocks
• Silent Auction
• Cash bar
Raffle – $10 per ticket
What: A five course gourmet dinner for 8, along with fine wines, poured and discussed by wine professional, Nancy Collie-Beard (WSET Level 3, Sommelier, VA, distributor for International Cellars, and Wine Whiz Kid writer).
Where: Right in the comfort of your own home!
When: Use before September 30, 2018 at a date mutually agreed upon by the winner and the chef, Deane Collie. Please allow 30 days lead time for planning and preparation.
Estimated value: over $1200
All proceeds from An Emerald Evening benefit Richmond Waldorf School, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Richmond Waldorf School provides a learning environment that promotes independent thinking, cultivates creativity, builds confidence, and develops practical skills. Our proven, holistic approach to education lays the foundation for a life full of meaning and purpose.
It’s that time of year where we emphasize giving rather than receiving and the meaning behind the holiday season. Regardless of how your family celebrates the holidays, the season offers an opportunity to be with the ones we love and to support the people and causes that are important to us. As we settle in for the last few days of the holiday season, we pause to reflect on why Waldorf education is worthy of the support of our community.
Simply put, we believe in Waldorf education because we believe the world needs truth, beauty, and goodness.
Now, more than ever, we believe in the positive impact of Waldorf education and the need for an expanded program in Richmond. We hope that you, too, believe in the mission and goals of Richmond Waldorf School and will join us in giving your support in whatever way you can. Volunteer with us, study with us, and if you are able, support us with a tax-deductible charitable donation. Every individual gift, no matter how small, helps make Waldorf education in Richmond possible. Learn more at RichmondWaldorf.com/annual-fund or YouCaring.com/RichmondWaldorf
Winter is upon us. As the weather changes, the days darken, the last of the leaves fall, and chilly winds abound. To cope, we warm ourselves with cozy sweaters, hot chocolate, or an extra blanket at night. While most people retreat to the indoors for the next few months, Waldorf communities find warmth in the cold.
Waldorf education believes in the importance in being outdoors and learning from nature. To continue exploring the outdoors in Winter, we must create and preserve warmth. Warmth in our clothing means dressing in extra layers of cotton, wool, and silks. We believe that there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing!
Waldorf holds onto warmth through festivals and celebrations that honor the season. For instance, on one of the darkest days in December we create a Spiral of Light. In this ceremony, each child will lay a candle on a spiral of pine boughs. As the candles are added, the spiral grows in brightness to symbolize the light and warmth of the coming spring.
Waldorf also develops warmth in our students by providing an education that fosters love and compassion towards the world. The students at a Waldorf school are socially responsible, kind, and intellectually bright. There is a natural curiosity and love of learning that exists in all of us, and children thrive from the hands-on approach of a Waldorf school.
The faculty and staff at Richmond Waldorf School recently spread a biodynamic preparation on our school’s grounds and fields. Biodynamic Farming was inspired by Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf education. It seeks to “awaken and enliven co-creative relationships between humans and the earth, transforming the practice and culture of agriculture to renew the vitality of the earth, the integrity of our food, and the health and wholeness of our communities” (https://www.biodynamics.com/about-the-bda).
We were delighted to have Jenny Dilworth, Visual Arts Teacher at RWS, give us some background and lead our staff in spreading a field preparation that will awaken our grounds and lay the framework for our future gardens.
This is the first step in a longer process to prepare the ground for gardening. Through this preparation, the ground begins to awaken. The preparation should improve the soil by bringing livestock material and crops together in the ecosystem, thereby balancing each other and increasing the biodiversity of the ground. It also brings awareness and intention to the ground which brings a cosmic force to the land.
In a lecture from Soul Economy and Waldorf Education, Rudolf Steiner spoke about how a teacher’s creativity feeds the students’ souls.
“If you tell students what you found in books—no matter how lively you may be—if you tell them what you have read and perhaps even memorized, you will talk to them like a dry and desiccated person, as though you did not have a living skin but were covered with parchment, for there are always death-like traces in one’s own being of what was thus learned from the past.
If, on the other hand, you are creative in your work as a teacher, your material will radiate with growing forces, it will be fresh and alive, and this is what feeds the souls of children.”
Throughout my career, I have found this to be true. Whenever I create something original—stories, plays, birthday verses, blackboard drawings—the students respond differently than when I re-create something from another source. Not only that, creative work feeds my soul as well.
In fourth grade, students develop their writing skills by copying the teachers’ compositions from the board; by creating their own compositions, play scenes, or poems; and by taking dictation.
When I create a composition for the students to copy, I try to render the topic in clear, succinct, expressive prose, so that the children will absorb those important stylistic aspects and become better writers.
When the students create own original work, they prepare by talking about the subject, so that when they write, they are just ‘talking on paper.’
When I create a dictation, I write passages that benefit from repetition, since each part of the dictation needs to be repeated until the children can write it from memory.
In our current language arts block, the students have been hearing some of the Norse myths. During this block I decided to challenge myself to compose dictations in the form of poems that reflected the Norse poetic style that features half lines with two stressed syllables and alliteration that is sometimes reflected in succeeding lines. The strong rhythms of Norse epic poetry reflect the Norse peoples’ search for power; the alliteration their search for resonance between people, objects, and events.
Here are poems I wrote for the children during the past two weeks:
Gullveig the Golden
Haughty and gleaming, the beautiful maiden
Entered the hall where all the gods sat.
Grief had she brought to the dwellers of Midgard;
Gold lust and greed, unhappiness great.
Spears threw the gods, but they could not pierce her,
Three times they tried to burn her alive;
But Gullveig the golden could not be vanquished;
Curses and war she brought to the gods.
Swift through the sky rode Thor the Thunderer,
Ready to battle Hrungnir, the huge.
Fast flew the hammer, Mjollnir, the mighty,
Seeking the giant’s enormous hard head.
Straight flew the hone hurled by the giant,
Hit by the hammer, it broke into bits.
Down fell the giant his head burst asunder,
Pinning the god beneath his huge leg.
Furious Thor lay there held fast by his foe,
Until his son Magni released him at last.
Miraculously, each of these poems was ‘composed’ quickly in the morning at school before the children arrived. I say ‘composed, ‘ but I take little credit for their composition. Like in many other instances, I simply served as a voice for the muse that whispers her wisdom in the ear of all teachers who are privileged to drink from the living spring of the creative word.
And here are some more examples of creativity in action: blackboard drawings from this block.
4th Grade Class Teacher
The founder of Waldorf Education, Rudolf Steiner, said: “Color is the soul of nature…and when we experience color we participate in this soul.” The use of color in Waldorf Schools is something that cannot be missed, and is one of the many defining features of Waldorf. Color is a way of expression and connecting our emotions with the world in which we live. Color is the emotional life of nature, and seeing color in school engages our souls and feeds our creative spirit.
Colors play an important role throughout the child’s phases of development, and it is common to see lazure coloring in a Waldorf School. The treatment of lazure is a beautiful, translucent water coloring which allows those who experience it to see beyond the walls and to “breathe” beyond the surface of the wall. Some have said that lazuring allows for “soul space” in the school and fosters the creative and imaginative spirit that we nurture in Waldorf Education.
We are amazed by the beautiful hallway and classrooms at Richmond Waldorf School that feature the unique lazure technique. Many thanks to master lazure artist Charles Andrade who spent several days creating a beautiful work of art in our main entrance and hallway. The flowing progression of color leaves a lasting impression on all who experience it. Thank you, Charles, for your beautiful work. We will treasure the feelings your art evokes for many years to come.
Learning a world language is not just an academic exercise at Richmond Waldorf School; it’s a gateway to understanding cultural traditions and experiences in the daily lives of people. It increases the flexibility of a child’s thinking and also encourages a heightened awareness of our native language, highlighting its particular capacities of expression, its own beauty and musicality.
The 6th Graders have been studying Spain this year, including performing a play of the famous legend of El Cid. In the second semester, the class has been reading “La gitanilla”, a short story about a young Gypsy girl by the eminent Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes. The story features much music and dance with castañuelas (a handheld instrument made typically of shells that dancers rhythmically clack together while dancing) and tamboriles (a type of percussion instrument).
For a fun Friday class, the students made castañuelas from cardboard, stones, and glue while listening to traditional Spanish music that would have been played around the time of “La gitanilla”. We were all fascinated by the differences in the sounds that our castañuelas made. The students also had great fun trying to play them as quickly as we heard the professionals playing them. Two of our boys created a rhythm and short dance to teach the other students, which we enjoy doing each day to lift our spirits and get in character.
~ Mrs. Stephanie Freeman, Middle School Spanish Teacher
Waldorf teachers know that artistic experiences leave lasting impressions. Information can be gathered or retrieved, but the experience of subjects through the arts enriches all learning and the whole of a student’s life. Every day Waldorf teachers strive to cultivate a sense of wonder and to inspire children to view the world, even in its most basic form, as magnificent. They deliver an education that is rich with meaningful sense experiences, classical academics, and artistic beauty in all subject matters.
Below you will see some of our own teachers’ artwork, prominently displayed in the classroom on large chalkboards and ever-changing to reflect the current lesson. Enjoy!
The annual Spiral of Light ceremony is a favorite of many in our school community. It is a truly unique and meaningful celebration of this time of year, a time of anticipation and preparation, as we look toward the midnight of the year. In all of us there is expectation and hope. As winter approaches in the northern hemisphere, there is a growing mood of outer sleepiness in the world. The earth is growing more quiet with every passing day. The fallen leaves, the animals in hibernation, the shorter daylight hours which bring us inside much earlier, all contribute to this experience.
The Winter Solstice marks the turning point of the year, the shortest day, and with it, a celebration of the return of light. Throughout many cultures this midwinter holiday has had festival connotations of light and sun, of the time when winter’s increasing darkness begins to draw to a close with the renewed promise that spring’s light will soon increase. Among these festivals is Hanukkah (Hebrew), Diwali (Indian), Solstice (Druid), and Advent (Christian). The word advent means “coming” or “arrival.”
The Spiral Walk at Richmond Waldorf School is a way of acknowledging and honoring this time of year. We celebrate this time of year with the Spiral of Light, a ceremony of light, movement, and change. This ceremony heightens the awareness of moving from darkness to light in a simple way for the children. In a darkened room, students are invited to walk a path of evergreens, a natural symbol of life in the dead of winter, to the center of the spiral. The children carry a red apple with a candle in it and light their candle by the burning candle at the center of the spiral. As they walk back out, they find a place in the path to set down their candle. As each child kindles their light, the darkness grows slowly into a beautiful golden glow. The ceremony begins in darkness and ends brightly lit by many individual lights, each contributing to the bright warmth that envelopes us all.