The Bulletin

We honor the passing of Richard Zinniker, a longtime friend to the Waldorf community

We wish to announce to the community that Richard (Dick) Zinniker, long-time worker in the biodynamic farming community and friend to the Chicago Waldorf School, passed away in the afternoon on Sunday, April 3rd. For many years, Dick and his wife, Ruth, welcomed our school children to their farm. In the early years of the school, they were hosts and expert instructors to each 3rd grade class as a culmination of the farming block.  Many CWS alumni will recount cherished memories of carting stones from the fields and singing at the St John’stide bonfire at the Zinniker farm.  Many of our children have had their bones and bodies nourished on Zinniker milk, meat and vegetables for many years.

Dick Zinniker

Here is a shared memory from Catherine Herzog,

a CWS alumnus who was a student on one of those 3rd grade field trips to the Zinniker’s farm:

I think my obsession with food began on the Zinniker farm. What has since blossomed into a defining feature of my character - my love for the slow food movement, passion for locally grown produce, and ongoing subscription to many food-blogs was nourished on that farm beginning with the moment that I was handed a crock of milk, and told I would help make it into butter.

As a 3rd grader that metamorphosis is magical. We were outside, sitting on a picnic bench and preparing our meal for that evening. We were taking turns churning butter, and when it was my turn, the profound realization of how food was made swept over me. I churned away for a while, marveling at how the milk congealed, changed colors, and became something entirely different.

15 years later, those details—of churning butter, sitting down to a communal meal in a lively pasture, and working with our hands to create something—are forever with me. The Zinniker farm is synonymous with a deep, lifelong learning, and I will forever be fond of the time I spent there.

And this reflection about Dick from CWS parent Sheila Donohue:

I watched Dick and his son Mark bring the cows into the barn one afternoon and I was stunned at the Zen quality of their work.  The way they led creatures weighing as much as car, fully horned into 30 small spaces to be milked, was truly amazing.  Each cow knew which stall she was supposed to be in and when she didn’t go there, Dick was right there to talk her into the right stall.  I was amazed at how quickly he communicated to the animals and how well they understood.  It was at this moment that I realized I was watching an art.  A world where man and the animals that provide for us are connected psychically.  An art that I hoped could be taught to future generations.

And this memory from CWS parent Mark Lazar:

I first went to Zinnikers with my son Jules’ 3rd grade class, (he’s 23 now) then with Simone’s class, Sebastian’s class and Fiona’s class. When Ruth and Dick stopped hosting the 3rd grade class I knew that a loss had happened. From herding the cows to picking up rocks in the field, working in the garden and cleaning out the chicken coop my memories are rich and vivid. Ruth and Dick were the best of hosts, enjoying our visits as much as we did.

I spent lots of time with Ruth in her kitchen and garden and with Dick doing chores. I loved the opportunity for honest work with friends who enjoyed my company as much as I enjoyed their’s. We always found something to laugh about….

The Chicago Waldorf School extends deepest gratitude and sympathies to Ruth, and to her children Chris Kilmer (Chuck), Sue Krusenbaum (Altfrid) and Mark Zinniker (Petra), and to all their children at the loss of this wonderful man of the earth.

CWS Community Honors Our School's Teachers

This past Saturday, parents, teachers, staff, alumni, parents of alumni and friends of our community gathered together at Café Brauer for the purpose of raising funds for our teachers’ professional development. Faculty members addressed the community and shared their personal experiences in developing as teachers and described the paths that led them to teach at Chicago Waldorf School.

Then during the ensuing Dutch auction, community members gave out of love for our school, for our teachers and to support and enable the professional excellence of Waldorf education. By the time the auction had concluded, the community had far exceeded all expectations in raising funds for teacher professional development.

The overwhelming generosity exemplified on Saturday night left our teachers genuinely moved and filled with deep gratitude. Attendees then proceeded to celebrate with enthusiasm and joy that spilled over into dinner discussions and concentrated revelry on the dance floor and throughout the Café Brauer environs. 

As Carol Triggiano remarked about the teachers’ experience of that night,

“Thank you so much for providing the funds that will help us in our striving to become the best possible teachers we can be. Thank you, also, for throwing us a glorious, fun, first class party. We loved every minute of it. We stand before you with heartfelt appreciation and sincere gratitude.”


Join Our Weekly Adult Eurythmy Group

Wednesdays 8:20am-9:20am

Did you know that there’s an adult eurythmy group that’s been meeting since the Fall? 

It’s led by CWS parent (and recent Spring Valley graduate) Sue Hiertz in the upper eurythmy room on Wednesday mornings after drop off. Every level of experience is welcome to join us. . . the more the merrier.  Wear clothes you feel comfortable moving in and bring eurythmy shoes if you have them, otherwise, socks are fine too.  An artistic performance in the Spring is a possibility.  Suggested donation of $5 per class to compensate our stalwart pianist, John McGuire.

CWS Alumnus- Olympic Skater, Ben Agosto

Chicago Waldorf School alumnus, Ben Agosto’s professional skating career included earning the honor of competing in the 2006 Winter Olympics where he and his partner, Tanith Belbin, took the silver medal in ice dancing.

Some of his former Waldorf teachers met him recently while he was in Chicago on a professional tour. This portrait shows Ben with Ro Hart (left) and Arlene Brennan (right), both former CWS early childhood teachers. Arlene was Ben’s kindergarten teacher when he was 5 years old (in 1987) at Chicago Waldorf School. Now he is 28 years old and an Olympic champion. Ben was pleased to reconnect with his former Early Childhood teachers.

Here are some facts about Ben’s athletic career:

Benjamin Alexandro Agosto (born January 15, 1982) is an American ice dancer. With partner Tanith Belbin, Agosto is the 2006 Olympic silver medalist, a four-time World medalist, the 2004–2006 Four Continents champion, and 2004–2008 U.S. champion.

In 2010, Agosto & Belbin were ranked 4th in the world by the International Skating Union (ISU).

At the 2010 United States Figure Skating Championships, they were nominated to represent the United States at the 2010 Winter Olympics, and ended up 4th in ice dancing.

Benjamin Agosto was born in Chicago, Illinois and raised in Northbrook, Illinois. He moved to Detroit, Michigan in June 1998 in order to train under Igor Shpilband. He is the son of a Puerto Rican father and a Jewish mother whose family has roots in Romania and Russia. Agosto attended grade school at the Chicago Waldorf School before moving to Michigan where he graduated with honors from Groves High School in June 2000.

In 2004, Belbin and Agosto won the U.S. Championship and repeated four times. At Nationals in 2005, the last year of the 6.0 system, Belbin & Agosto earned straight perfect sixes for presentation in their free dance. Of the 30 6.0s given out in ice dance at US Nationals, Belbin & Agosto have 14 of them. Their 6.0 count is second only to Michelle Kwan’s career 38 at nationals.

In February 2005, Belbin and Agosto organized and performed in their own figure skating benefit show, Skate Aid for Tsunami Relief, which raised more than $37,000 for Red Cross relief efforts. Belbin and Agosto went on to win the Olympic silver medal in ice dance on February 20, 2006. They were the first American ice dance team since 1976 (the first year ice dancing was contested at the Olympics) to win an Olympic medal.

See the source for these career facts.


PTO Sponsored Events for April

Math Night

PTO Sponsored Parent Education Evening
Thursday, April 7th
Refreshments at 6:30pm / Presentation at 7:00pm
Lower Eurthymy Room

A good foundation in math is always useful. If we learned math in a traditional school, we might wonder how our children learn math in the Waldorf curriculum. We might find it difficult to be helpful at home because our childrens’ lessons seem so different. Please join CWS faculty for this enlightening and educational discussion of how math is taught in the early grades and expanded upon in the middle grades and high school. This is an opportunity to experience Waldorf math, and a chance to reflect and ask questions.  This will help you and your child with math at home.

Please RSVP to Lisa Rekstad, PTO Parent Education Lead at

Doll Making with Nancy Melvin

April at Commons on the Corner
Friday mornings in April / 8:15am – 9:15am
The Parent Child Room, 1301 E. Loyola

Join CWS faculty member, Nancy Melvin, for a discussion of the importance of dolls in a child’s development. In addition, you will have the opportunity to knit a doll, beginning with making your own knitting needles. This is an experience that will give you insight into your child’s experience in the Waldorf classroom. Stay tuned for more information.

Direct questions to Commons on the Corner Lead, Christine Carroll at

Knitting with Megan Cummins

PTO Sponsored Parent Education Event
Thursdays, 4/7, 4/14, 4/21 and 4/29 / 8:15am – 10:30am
Parent Child Room, 1301 E. Loyola

What do you get when you rub two sticks together? Fire, right? Well, we are igniting the fire of learning by rubbing those sticks together – and adding wool. Yes, it’s time to learn to knit. This is a great skill and a lot of fun too! We will learn how to knit from fellow CWS parent and Urban Prairie handwork teacher, Megan Cummins. We will learn to cast on, knit, purl and even bind off. Don’t get cold feet… Why? We will learn how to make socks too!

Please register with Parent Education Lead, Lisa Rekstad at

Waldorf School Launches New Green Architecture Building

Did You Ever Wonder What Happens To All Those Shipping Containers?
They build a Waldorf school with them.

In a groundbreaking ceremony last month, kindergartners sprinkled both water and wishes on the vacant lot that will soon house the Waldorf School of Orange County’s new $2-million building. The pre-kindergarten through 12th grade school on Canyon Drive invited all 326 of its students to join faculty, parents and the community to see where it planned to erect what was said to be Costa Mesa’s first building made from recycled shipping containers.

“It has always been a dream of this community to erect a building that will reflect the character of this community,” said high school science teacher Ingrid Feck. The building will house high school classes, an art studio, a life-science lab, auditorium, administrative offices, student lounge and a virtual library with a foreign-language lab.

The Waldorf School of Orange County expanded four years ago to include a high school. The school’s first senior class will graduate this spring. The seven students in the senior class, three of whom have been at the school since they were in pre-K, were honored with digging the first hole, as were parents Chi-Lin and Donald Sun, and Sandy and Rob Meadows.

The building was a long time coming, and due to students and parents working to bring the high-school classes to Waldorf, Rob Meadows said. “We are here to celebrate the seed this class planted four years ago that will grow into a building,” he said.

The 10,000-square-foot building will sit on a half-acre lot adjacent to the school overlooking Fairview Park and the Talbert Nature Preserve. The building will be made out of shipping containers — a fairly new, but growing trend in the U.S., said architect Todd Spiegel. The building, which is expected to be completed in May, won’t look like stacked shipping containers, but will be aesthetically pleasing and eco-friendly, he said.

The school wanted the portability of being able to move if its lease isn’t renewed and have the ability to grow and change with time, said Paul Conolly, chairman of the school’s board of trustees. Beyond the flexibility the containers offer, the building’s eco-friendly materials reinforce the school’s philosophy, which is to include environmental consciousness in the curriculum, he said. “That’s very near and dear to their hearts,” he said.

Here is the source for this article. And you can preview the video showing timelapse building of the school.

New research shows that teaching kids more and more, at ever-younger ages, may backfire.

This article authored by a University of California at Berkeley professor who’s research of child development and cognition has produced results confirming core elements of the Waldorf approach to education. She shares her perspective and interpretation of data from two separate studies from research institutions that demonstrate learning outcomes and child behaviors that make a strong case for the age-appropriate, developmental approach that is integral to a Waldorf education. Here follows her article lead-in:

Why Preschool Shouldn’t Be Like School

Ours is an age of pedagogy. Anxious parents instruct their children more and more, at younger and younger ages, until they’re reading books to babies in the womb. They pressure teachers to make kindergartens and nurseries more like schools. So does the law—the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act explicitly urged more direct instruction in federally funded preschools.

There are skeptics, of course, including some parents, many preschool teachers, and even a few policy-makers. Shouldn’t very young children be allowed to explore, inquire, play, and discover, they ask? Perhaps direct instruction can help children learn specific facts and skills, but what about curiosity and creativity—abilities that are even more important for learning in the long run? Two forthcoming studies in the journal Cognition—one from a lab at MIT and one from my lab at UC-Berkeley—suggest that the doubters are on to something. While learning from a teacher may help children get to a specific answer more quickly, it also makes them less likely to discover new information about a problem and to create a new and unexpected solution.

What do we already know about how teaching affects learning? Not as much as we would like, unfortunately, because it is…continue reading

See the source for the full article by Alison Gopnik.  Posted to Slate Magazine / Wednesday, March 16, 2011

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