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ONGOING BOTTLE RECYCLING FUNDRAISER FOR THE SCHOOL
Grade 9 invites you to help us with the school's Field Trip Fund by leaving your empty beverage containers for us to recycle. Here's what we are proposing:
- The drop-off day is Thursday only.
- Bottles and other beverage containers can be left on the East (staff parking lot) side of the fenced garbage collection area, in bags or in boxes – not in front of the doors to the garbage collection area.
Jack Searchfield and Grade 9 Students and Parents
PLEASE BRING EVERGREEN BOUGHS FOR OUR ADVENT SPIRAL
On Sunday, November 30th we will celebrate our Advent Festival in the Assembly Room. This annual festival helps us prepare ourselves inwardly as we remember and honour the light during the darkest time of the year. The celebration has the children walking the Advent spiral that we create from evergreen boughs (pine, spruce, cedar, etc.). If you have access to these types of trees, please consider doing a little (or a lot) of pruning and bringing us your boughs to help build our spiral. Or perhaps you know a landscaper, neighbour, or relative who has boughs they could donate to our school. Please bring any boughs you can offer (big or small, many or a few) to the north side of the main school beside the small brown shed.
Thanks very much for your help.
ADVENT FESTIVALSUNDAY, NOVEMBER 30th IN THE ASSEMBLY ROOM
FAIRYBELLS (MISS ROSE'S) KINDERGARTEN CELEBRATION AT 5:00 pm
MARIGOLD (MISS ALISON'S) KINDERGARTEN CELEBRATION AT 6:00 pm
GRADE SCHOOL (GRADES 1 – 9) CELEBRATION AT 7:00 pm
In keeping with the mood of advent, and to meet fire safety regulations (!!), order and quiet reverence from everyone are necessary for this Festival. This means we need your cooperation with two requirements, please:
FOR THE KINDERGARTEN CELEBRATIONS: ONLY CHILDREN WILL WALK THE SPIRAL.
FOR THE GRADE SCHOOL CELEBRATION: CHILDREN WILL WALK THE SPIRAL FIRST, AND THEN RETURN TO AND STAY IN THEIR ASSIGNED SEATING. FOLLOWING AFTER ALL THE CHILDREN HAVE WALKED THE SPIRAL, ANY ADULTS / ALUMNI WHO WOULD LIKE TO WALK THE SPIRAL WILL WALK SECOND. CHILDREN WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO WALK THE SPIRAL AGAIN WITH THEIR PARENTS OR WITH ANYONE ELSE.
ALSO, NO PHOTOGRAPHY OR RECORDING OF ANY KIND IS ALLOWED.
THANK YOU FOR HONOURING THESE REQUIREMENTS FOR A SAFE AND REVERENT ADVENT FESTIVAL.
The gift of light I thankfully holdA time of preparation for that which is to be born (Christmas), the festival of Advent helps us to prepare ourselves inwardly. We remember and honour the Light during the darkest time of the year. Historically this was a time of fasting, of quiet contemplation - a time for taking the little flame that began to shine brightly during Michaelmas on an inner journey towards the Divine Light.
And pass to my neighbour its shining gold,
That everyone may feel its glow,
Receiving and giving, may love and grow.
When all our friends have lit their light
No more shall continue the darkness of night,
But joyful all folk the message shall hear:
"The Light draws near!"
Advent lasts for four weeks (23 to 28 days) and provides an opportunity for young and old to participate in some of the inner preparation that so often gets lost in the commercialism that can cloud the significance of the season.
Those closest to the mystery of birth understand this festival effortlessly. As adults, we may look to small children for inspiration to help us face what can often be a challenging time of year. We can be strengthened by their innate capacity for confident anticipation, their trust in the goodness of life, and their ability to accept mystery. Advent is a time to enable the bright fire of the human spirit to light the darkness. As we light each of the four Advent candles on each successive Sunday, we bring the light to the darkness and lighten the path for ourselves and for others.
Our school's celebration of Advent involves the children walking the Advent Spiral (while a harp plays for the Kindergarten ceremonies, and while an acappella quintet sings for the Grade School ceremony). A spiral of greenery is laid on the floor, in the middle of which is a large, lit candle. As each child proceeds to the centre of the spiral in the darkened room, they light their own candle from the central light and then place it somewhere in the spiral on their way back out. As more and more children walk the spiral, the room becomes filled with light.
Students and their siblings over the age of five years are welcome to come and walk the Advent spiral. As adults, as we watch the children, we may explore the deep spiritual symbolism of walking a dark spiral toward the light.
We hope you can join us on Sunday, November 30th at 5:00 pm or 6:00 pm or 7:00 pm (depending on which classes your children are in) for our annual Advent Festival.
Please contact me (Cathie Foote, School Administrator, at 403–287–1868 ext. 152 or firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions. Thank you.
FROM THE FACULTY
RAINY DAY WISHES FROM A FACULTY MEMBER AWAY THIS FALL: AUTUMN REFLECTION #7
I missed The Faire last Saturday – particularly seeing my students at their first Waldorf Faire as alumni! I hope it was a splendid success for everyone. All day I was imagining the wonderful stories being told in the Story Garden, the beautiful music in the Café, and a plethora of handmade creations throughout the school. It is wonderful that as a community we have this event to mark the beginning of the holiday season.
And it is this community that I am feeling the absence of this morning as I sit down to write. Don't get me wrong. Writing for the Wednesday Notice each week has made me feel more connected to all of you. However, if I had my druthers, this would now be more of a conversation with you. A wise older man once said to me, "If you're talking to yourself, you're talking to a fool!" and I don't think he was being mean or personal. I remember his words whenever I am feeling caught in the hamster wheel of my own thinking, as I am this morning.
Perhaps it is the time of year, still dark at 7 am and dark again by 5 pm. Maybe my need to feel connected is heightened by the darkness, maybe I have just run out of things to say. Whatever the reason, I would love to try and address topics based on questions from you – parents and faculty. I find great creative power in dialogue, and I am only one teacher/parent who has been a part of the long history of CWS. I can offer my perspective on issues related to Waldorf Education, parenting, the classroom, etc. but would love to see this evolve into something bigger.
Please send me any questions/ideas/comments you have, and we will see where it all goes.
AUTUMN REFLECTION #6 FROM A FACULTY MEMBER AWAY THIS FALL
Winter has arrived! I am basing this assertion on photos of snow-covered trees and weather reports rather than on firsthand experience, mind you, but all the same it does not take much to conjure up memories of the first really cold winter day in Calgary. I hope that having last week off from school was a welcome treat. There is something delicious about being able to slow the pace of life when the dark of winter arrives – snow or no snow.
As a parent and an educator, I am ever grateful for the unique way our school community and Waldorf education embrace this time of year. Just when advertisers kick into high gear, marketing the latest and greatest "must-have" toys and gadgets, in our CWS classrooms stories of St. Martin and Santa Lucia fill the children with rich images of generosity and giving, and the hallways are in morning darkness as the school begins to mark Advent and the return of the light to come. Each Grade School class visits St. Nicolas around December 6th. Watching my students do this, year after year for nine years, I can tell you that no matter what the 15 year old Ninth Grader says after their visit, while they are sitting on the floor in the darkened room listening to Saint Nicholas's deep voice speak words of wisdom and guidance for the Class, he/she is young again and filled with wonder and reverence.
We all suffer from the deluge of marketing efforts that happens at this time of year. Depending upon our own childhood experiences, we can get lost in the materialism and the stress of expectations, without realizing the impact of our behaviours on our children. I ended my last Wednesday Notice article with the notion of striving to be adults worthy of imitation and I think that this time of year offers us plenty of opportunity to practice this principle.
Take the time to bake with little ones even if it results in a big mess and the cookies look more like a shrub than a tree. Wrap less and listen more, especially if you have teenagers. Let go of what does not bring peace into your home, and go sledding rather than shopping.
My wish is to "keep it simple" this season and create rituals and celebrations that support my well-being and the well-being of my community. Let us give our children and grandchildren something worthy of imitation – from the presents we give to the presence we give!
AUTUMN REFLECTION #5 FROM A FACULTY MEMBER AWAY THIS FALL
Happy Belated Halloween and All Souls Day from the deep South! With Parent-Teacher Conversations, all-Grades pumpkin-carving, a Middle School dance, and Halloween itself all happening over a four-day span, I am sure that the extra hour of sleep with the time change this past weekend was a gift to sleepy children and tired parents – not to mention exhausted teachers.
What a perfect time to talk about the parent/teacher partnership, the week after those one-on-one meetings, because it is in such conversations about the children where potential lives. Of course we want this "potential" to be of a collaborative nature. However, there is also potential for conflict.
Why is it when differences arise it seems so easy to forget that it is the best interest of the developing child that both the parent and the teacher are seeking – so easy for the adults involved to get caught up in "right and wrong"?
I learned, over the course of my journey as a Class Teacher and as a parent in a Waldorf School, that I needed to remember where these two roles began and ended. I use an image of a Venn diagram as I think about this relationship. There is the parent circle, the teacher circle, and then the place of overlap. None of these circles are static, especially not if the relationships remain for nine years. It takes willingness, trust, faithfulness, and humility to work out the dynamics of this ever-changing form.
The parents in my class taught me many things about faithfulness and humility. I learned much about how to listen without judgment and about how to work with my "teacher being" [I think that the shadow side of being a teacher is thinking that you know it all]. In essence, my class parents taught me how to be flexible and open-minded. They showed me again and again that we all bring something of value to the table.
Parenting, just like class teaching, does not come with a manual. When we try to pretend there is one (whatever theory we use), we cling fiercely to our opinions. This works fine in a philosophical debate, but not so well in relationships. And it is these relationships, the ones between parents and class teacher, which can support or undermine the well-being of the class.
One of my guiding principles as a Waldorf teacher, and as a human being, is Rudolf Steiner's advice to the first Waldorf Kindergarten teacher back in the 1920's. I will do my best to paraphrase: Observe the children. Meditate. Follow your intuitions. Strive to become an adult worthy of imitation. A lifetime's work right there!
Warm regards, from Christina MacWilliam,
Class Teacher on the Run
AUTUMN REFLECTION #4 FROM A FACULTY MEMBER AWAY THIS FALL
This morning I just have a wee bit of time to write, so I will not attempt to talk about anything in depth. In fact I think that part of these next many weeks of traveling is an exploration of the power of routine – or the impact of its absence – on my ability to think deeply.
In my twenties, traveling seemed to inspire all sorts of deep thinking and questions about existential matters. Now in my fifties, I am struggling to find a routine and rhythm that keeps me grounded enough to dig deep.
It is funny isn't it, that the very thing we are able to give or create for others is often the thing we struggle with the most for ourselves. The grounding and strengthening forces that a Waldorf teacher brings each and every day to the students through rhythm and routine is exactly what's needed here in Boston this morning.
That is why I am writing – even though the thread of my thoughts is thin at best this morning. I can almost hear the tapping of my partner's foot as he waits for me to help pack the van. I can definitely hear the "ping" of my daughter's texts as she questions me about the length of my time here in Boston.
But that's it really, isn't it? As we get older there are more and more connections which we must navigate while maintaining the connection with ourselves.
As our Duck Boat tour guide, Flo, said so eloquently yesterday, while talking about her interview process for her job, "I am a stay-at-home Mom with too many kids. I drive a mini-van. I can open a water bottle, tie a shoe, and break up a fight in the back seat. Call me if you want to offer me the job."
So, I wish you all a week where the connection to yourself is maintained no matter what the waters around you bring.
Class Teacher on the Run
AUTUMN REFLECTION #3 FROM A FACULTY MEMBER AWAY THIS FALL
I do feel much more "away" this morning as I sit down to write. This is likely because it's Thanksgiving, and I am alone in the quiet of a small Cambridge, Massachusetts apartment sipping Trader Joe's pumpkin spice coffee and feeling thankful: thankful that I have the time and resources to share a Canadian Thanksgiving with my daughter who's at University in Boston.
And this theme of gratitude or thankfulness filled my heart as I met with my Class last Friday evening - a little over one month into their High School experience. Those doubts that I spoke of last week, the ones I carried all through the nine-year journey, relaxed a little. I spent the evening with an amazing group of young people. They talked about High School from a solid, grounded place and I let out a breath that I had not even been aware I was holding.
I did say last week that I was going to talk about the parent-teacher relationship and about trust. I will get to this important topic, but this morning I am realizing that I must enter into this weekly writing process authentically. And that will mean being open to inspiration on the road. I am inspired now by the fact that I am late submitting this to the Wednesday Notice, and I'd better get something sent.
I think of my CWS colleagues now, standing before their classes and I am filled with gratitude. Gratitude for their striving, each and every day, to meet the needs of the children before them. This is love in action. I will now take you all with me as I walk the streets of Central Square and the banks of the Charles River here in Boston.
Until next week,
AUTUMN REFLECTION #2 FROM A FACULTY MEMBER AWAY THIS FALL
Autumn is drying and dying and flying right before my eyes here in Canmore. The winds give chase to the falling leaves and the snow line descends down the mountains as the light recedes behind. I am filled with a mixture of inspiration and melancholy – the perfect cocktail for a good song. Or perhaps, an article in the Wednesday Notice!
Mixed feelings (much like what many of us have about the coming of Autumn) is perhaps the best way to begin my musings about the journey of Class Teaching. Because although I sit here today having completed nine years with an incredible group of students and parents, I would be lying if I told you that the journey was without mixed feelings or without conflicts at times.
I remember the first day that the Grade One classroom door closed behind me and I was alone at the front of the room with 27 pairs of eyes looking up at me - looking at me to take the helm. I was terrified. What had I taken on? Could I navigate these seas? Was I a teacher? [And to be totally honest, I continued to ask myself these kinds of questions regularly for the next nine years.]
I apologize if these observations undermine your confidence in teachers, or just your confidence in me in particular, but the truth is that my journey as a teacher was filled with questions and uncertainty. Perhaps this helped me to realize early on that the journey of a Class Teacher in a Waldorf School is one of partnerships: partnerships with Class parents, with colleagues, with mentors, with the unseen forces of the universe, and eventually with the students themselves.
The pivotal relationship in the early years of teaching my class was with the Class Parents. Building trust is a delicate dance. Next week I will reflect upon the steps which I think build respect and trust into the parent-teacher relationship. Christina MacWilliam, Class Teacher for the June 2014 Graduating Grade Nine Class
AUTUMN REFLECTION #1 FROM A FACULTY MEMBER AWAY THIS FALL
For the last 14 years I have been either a parent or a staff member, or both, of the Calgary Waldorf School. This Fall I find myself neither, and with this pause in our relationship, I have time to reflect upon and to appreciate just how much this complex relationship has changed my life, my daughter's life, and the lives of my students.
My daughter started in the Kindergarten with Miss Vivian. I remember dropping her off at school early on in the new year and being struck with the realization that there was no other place I would want her to be spending her days. The warmth and loving guidance within those simple portable structures (back at the "old" school site) felt like a godsend to Tala, and therefore to my single-mother's heart.
As my daughter's journey in the school unfolded, so did mine. After working as an Assistant in the Kindergarten and as the Community Development Coordinator on the admin team, I made the decision to pursue a Masters Degree in Education and my Waldorf Teacher Training Certification. I moved to New Hampshire for a year to make this plan a reality, and then I returned to Calgary to take on a Grade One Class of 27 students in the Fall of 2005.
What I have now, as I embark on this Fall sabbatical, that I did not have the past nine years (when I was a Class Teacher with my students for Grades One through Nine) is time to reflect and time to write. I hope that you, CWS parents and colleagues, will bear with me over the next several weeks as I take up themes which are emerging for me in my "Autumn Reflections".
I began my Community Development job at CWS by writing articles for the Wednesday Notice; "Let's Talk Community" was my byline. I think that I came to a better understanding of what it meant to be a parent in a Waldorf School through this writing process. Soren Kierkegaard said, "Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards". Perhaps now, writing about my Waldorf Class Teaching, I am trying to build a deeper understanding of the incredible nine-year journey I engaged in with my Class, while also moving forward.
I begin an eight-week road trip soon [this is the living forward part], and I see this writing commitment as my continuing anchor to CWS. As a sailor I know the value of a well-set anchor in a protected harbour.
I welcome dialogue/questions/arguments/comments about anything I write and I wish everyone an inspiring Fall term at the school.
(Class Teacher for last year's Graduating Grade Nines)
Hello CWS community,
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to accompany my daughter's Class to Heart Creek for an all-day hike. It was a cool, crisp, and sunny autumn day, and the kids were excited, bundled up, and ready to spend a day in the mountains with Mother Nature. They did brilliantly, like hearty little mountaineers exploring their natural-world classroom for the day. The most magical moment for me was stepping back and watching the kids march through an open meadow, with the blue sky, Rocky Mountains, and orange and yellow-coloured aspens blanketing the backdrop. To me, this is one of the foundations of Waldorf education, to forge within us an appreciation for the natural world, and to let the feelings of the changing seasons enter our spirits.
These moments are precious gifts to our children, and are only made possible with family support of time and money. This Thanksgiving Week marks the kickoff of our Annual Giving Campaign. By the time of our November Break, our goal is to achieve 100% participation and raise $120,000 to support our supplementary fund that makes things like field trips, teacher training, tuition assistance, and upgrades to the school possible. The Annual Giving materials are in the mail to you now. Please reflect on what inspires you to give, and join our CWS community in making this important event a priority for your family. Thank you.
(CWS Parent, Board Member, and Fund Enrichment Committee Member)
FROM THE BOARD
GROCERY CARD SUCCESS STORY:
NEWS FROM THE FUND ENRICHMENT COMMITTEE
We have some great news from the Fund Enrichment Committee! Fundraising via our school's Grocery Card Program has increased 69% thanks to you, our parents and staff. We have increased the number of cards distributed per month from 663 to 908, which is a 37% increase. Also of note this year is that Calgary Co-op has raised the discount at which we buy their cards from 5% to 10.5% – which also increases our fundraised dollars with no extra cost to you.
Overall we are projected to increase our annual revenue from all Grocery Cards to a total of $ 65,000 this year (compared to the actual $ 38,435 last year). Thanks so much to everyone who continues to participate, to everyone who started participating this year, and to the many of you who order more than the minimum 4 cards per month.
Fund Enrichment Committee
(Carri Clarke, Susan Dunn, Cathie Foote, Matthew Good & Eva Kelly)
DEAR PARENTS AND COMMUNITY MEMBERS
Our Calgary Waldorf School regularly invites guests from other Waldorf communities, for visits of a few days to sometimes a whole week, to support the pedagogical work at our school. These guests offer various things such as workshops for teachers and parents, lectures for the community, or one-on-one mentoring or evaluating support for our faculty.
We are urgently seeking individuals or families who could offer a bedroom with an en suite bathroom and the possibility of providing breakfasts for these guests when they are in town. The school will pay a daily rate for housing our guests.
If you are interested in assisting the school in this way, please contact Anna Driehuyzen, Pedagogical Administrator, at the school at 403–287–1868 ext. 150.