The Bulletin

8th Grade Field Trip Explores the Colorado Plateau

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The 8th grade took their annual class field trip on a river-rafting and canyon-hiking expedition in the Colorado Plateau. The plateau itself is a desert landscape punctuated by mesas, abrupt but isolated mountain ranges, vast sweeping expanses, and deep canyons (including the Grand-est Canyon of them all), some with rivers at the bottoms, others not. It is home to the Utes, Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, Apache, and other native American tribes. 8th grade teacher, John Trevillion, gave this report:

After a pleasant orientation to Deer Hill Base Camp on the day of our arrival, we set about in earnest to prepare for our river journey. On our first night we gathered for the first of regular, evening “circles.” Our group leaders presented us with a nightly set of questions and invited each one of us to respond sincerely, and from the heart. On the second day by mid-afternoon we were on our way – three large oar-driven rafts, one 10-person paddle raft, and five two-person “duckies”. It took but a few minutes for the “river wars” to begin – quite refreshing, I must say, on a hot afternoon. We quickly entered into the deep (500-800 feet) canyons that would enfold us for the next five days. Their layers told a story that our very competent guides were quick to narrate. It was, in fact, the geological component of the story of the Colorado Plateau. En route we saw big horn sheep, scorpions, a bird that we christened the blue-crested butt-wagger (use your imagination!).

All the students had work to do once we arrived at our first night’s camping spot by the river – setting up tents, preparing dinner, locating and establishing the “groover” (our very effective portable toilets). Although we set up tents daily as an insurance policy against a sudden rain-storm, we did, in fact, enjoy clear nights for the entire journey. Practically everyone chose to sleep under the stars each night. Our guides impressed on us the ethic of “Leave No Trace” (LNT). It made a strong impression on all of us throughout the trip.

Practically everyone chose to sleep under the stars each night. Our guides impressed on us the ethic of “Leave No Trace” [which] made a strong impression on us all...

Each day on the river the work-to-play ratio shifted increasingly towards the “work” end. On the final day on the river, with 17 miles of river left to reach our final destination, we awoke very early in order to achieve our rendez-vous at the take-out point in the early afternoon. At one point we linked all 9 boats together to enjoy a floating breakfast on the river. We arrived a bit late, and after much work boarded vans which took us to our next appointment on a camp ground on the Ute Reservation.

On our final day we journeyed deep into the reservation and, under the guidance of a Ute park ranger, descended into a canyon. Perhaps 50-100 feet below the plateau surface, but still hundreds of feet above the canyon bottom, we encountered the remains of Pueblo Indian “apartment blocks.” Invariably they seemed situated to shield the dwellers from the full heat of the afternoon sun. Indeed, our guide dismissed the theory that these cliff dwellings were positioned so as to achieve maximum security against enemies. He thought (and I found myself agreeing) that the cliff dwellers chose their locations for reasons of comfort and enjoyment.

Our last morning at base camp was spent hosing down equipment and preparing for departure. Our farewells to our guides were deeply heartfelt. These young men and were superb role models for all of us. We had utmost confidence in them – and rightly so, for the journey was not without its moments of real danger, as well as the hazards that are part and parcel of life in the desert and on the river.--- Report submitted by John Trevillion, 8th grade teacher.
Photographs by 8th grader Sibhuan Stormont & also John Trevillion. Thanks for valuable assistance from parent Isabel Liss.

Middle School Athletes Shine at CAMS Track Meet

Please join us in congratulating our middle school track athletes for their success at the Chicago Area Middle School Track Meet known as the CAMS 2012 TRACK MEET INVITATIONAL.

CWS Athletics Director, Janine Moore, reflected that, "Despite being the smallest team (with the least amount of team members) at the track meet, our students were confident and finished at the top of their perspective races. I was very proud of the strong effort and positive attitude put forth by Claudia, Emma, Darcy, Sean and Roman. They showed great unity and sportsmanship by supporting one another and rooting for students at the other schools. They represented the Chicago Waldorf School very well and I couldn't be more proud."



  100m Dash – 6th Grade Girls   100m Dash – 7th Grade Boys
  2nd Place: Emma Hartmann   3rd Place: Roman Scott
  3rd Place: Claudia Bonaccorsi    
  100m Dash – 7th Grade Girls   200m Dash – 7th Grade Boys
  3rd Place: Darcy Palder   1st Place: Roman Scott
      2nd Place: Sean Harper
  200m Dash – 6th Grade Girls   400m Dash – 7th Grade Boys
  2nd Place: Emma Hartmann   4th Place: Sean Harper
  4th Place: Claudia Bonaccorsi    



Care To Share: End of Year Updates

1. Chicago Waldorf School's Care To Share helps start a new program in South Africa

The Care To Share (CTS) committee just received a lovely detailed thank you letter from the McGregor Waldorf School.

Through our community fundraising (and your generous shopping during the Holiday Fair!), Chicago Waldorf School was able to send $2,000 of funds raised to the McGregor Waldorf School. This money enabled the start their first physical exercise program with a paid instructor and new equipment. Here is an excerpt from their letter:

This money will go towards the physical exercise that the primary school children since two weeks receive. It is the first time that the school is able to offer this and everyone, including the children, are really happy about it. Physical exercise is very necessary for the children to develop well! In South Africa there is a high incidence of obesity because of a diet that does not include fresh vegetables and fruit. This can lead to diabetes which often goes untreated causing early death. So it is important that the children learn about a healthy diet and exercise..."

The funds were also used to purchase Balls: rugby (6) soccer (6) netball (6) basketball (6), Tennis balls and rackets (12 sets), Cricket set (1) + bats (6), Baseball set (1),Orange beacons (20), Mats of 2mx2m (10), Skipping ropes (10).” You can see more photos on the McGregor facebook page.


Congratulations to the (now) 5th and 6th grade at CWS!

Your correspondence with McGregor students is something to be very proud of. Sharing with children across the globe knits our communities together. The McGregor students look forward to sharing with you again next year and we will likely exchange new ideas, art and stories!


2. The Maya Fund for Indigenous Children

We have also received a thank you letter from Escuela Caracol in Guatemala. Our donation of $500 was placed in their Maya Fund, which provides scholarships for indigenous Maya students. Many of the school’s 70 students come from local poor families who are in need of scholarship funds. Congratulations to the 2nd grade, Ms Szymanski and Caitlin Flannery who made this contact and will be sending pictures and letters to students at Escuela Caracol next school year. We will be sending additional funds in June and will update you then.


3. Nairobi Social Circus

We will keep you updated during the summer on how Meshu is fairing with the Nairobi Social Circus and his work with the Mbagathi Rudolf Steiner School. A Care to Share seed grant is ready for assisting the Nairobi Social Circus to obtain new equipment and supplies for its youth circus performances.


4. Join Our Efforts to "Care To Share"

During the summer, take some time to check out these web sites (linked above) and learn about Waldorf education around the globe. You will be amazed to see things that look just like the work your student is doing, work that is very different and ideas born out of the reality of having so little funding, but a strong educational philosophy that unites us all as Waldorf parents. We look forward to seeing all of you in the Fall with our crafting and handwork workshops and lots of new ideas. Thank you for all your efforts and support in caring and sharing this year!

Care To Share organizes ongoing outreach and collaborative efforts with various schools in the Waldorf worldwide education movement. If you have any questions, want to get involved, or want make a donation, please contact the Care To Share Committee leads: Laura Donkel, Margaret McGuire, or Dru Muskovin, 773-772-4005

Faculty Professional Development: Claude Driscoll

As part of last year's Year of the Teacher fundraising at the CWS 2011 Gala, funds have been dedicated to support CWS Faculty's educational & professional development.

Waldorf Handwork Teacher, Claude Driscoll, reflects on the value of attending The World Kindergarden Conference, in Dornach, Switzerland:

Due to your support, dear parents and teachers, I was very fortunate to be able to represent the Chicago Waldorf School and participate in the early childhood world conference in Dornach, Switzerland. This conference which happens every 8 years was focused on the incarnating “I” in the young child. I am an educational support teacher; I do the first grade assessments, look at the 5 year olds and supervise short sessions of zoo exercises for the kindergarteners. I was interested in this conference because I am puzzled by the frequency of retained reflexes I see in the children. It is increasingly difficult for our children to come into their bodies. They are confident in their intellect, are often very clever but with less and less awareness of what their bodies can do and how to use them. I wanted to deepen my understanding of the process of the incarnation of the ego, which has to unite with the physical body of the child.

The child has to experience himself as a unity—“I am one.” How can we support the process of sensory integration in the child so that harmony can be possible in their inner life?

Beside the exciting travel, my five days in Dornach went very quickly. Every morning 1,100 attendees, all concerned principally with the first few years of childhood, came together in the beautiful auditorium of the Goetheanum for verses in different languages. The morning lectures were embedded in anthroposophy. Edmond Schroorel gave us an overall picture of how the different physical, soul and spiritual streams work in the young child and how important it is to give time, care and understanding during the first 7 years. Renate Long gave examples of children who "cannot play" in the early childhood classes.

Many of these children are stressed in their body; many have retained reflexes and need to activate their body to get unstuck. One of the causes can be seen clearly: Many children now are on equal terms with their parents, in terms of making judgments; they are forced to act as "little adults" in the adult world. This causes an acceleration in the realm of the intellect; children might be very clever but there is no simultaneous acceleration in the realm of the soul and that creates a gap. We have to help these children through intuitive responses so that the intellect does not get stuck in the will and so that they do not become self-centered individuals. Claus Peter Roh spoke of [how] the child has to experience himself as a unity—“I am one.” How can we support the process of sensory integration in the child so that harmony can be possible in their inner life?

< Every morning 1,100 attendees, all concerned principally with the first few years of childhood, came together in the beautiful auditorium of the Goetheanum for verses in different languages.

One of the most amazing experiences at the conference was to meet people from all over the world, from South America, India, Asia, from all different parts of Europe, Israel, Romania, Russia, Australia, New Zealand and more. To hear so many languages and see such different cultures working together for the future.

I met Nobuzwe Mavis Mbaba from South Africa who started a “small” school--Noluthando day care center--with 45 children in 1994 out of her own humble house. She now, along with 17 other helpers has 306 children in her care. One of the highlights of my evening workshops was to listen to and meet Sally Goddard-Blythe (she is the author of The Well Balanced Child, one of the most popular books in Waldorf Schools) which helped me realize how strong and cutting edge our own educational support program is in comparison to different international and American schools. The richness of this trip will stay with me and ultimately will serve the children well.

With humbleness, thank you, Claude.

End of Year Reflection from the Enrollment Office

As the 2012-13 enrollment season winds down, we would like to extend our deepest appreciation to the many students, teachers and parents who welcomed and supported our prospective families this year. Each of us plays a unique role in describing the value of Waldorf education, and we find that building enrollment in CWS is best achieved through the enthusiastic and collective efforts of the community. This year was another fine example of this work.

First and foremost, we thank our inspiring and dedicated high school student ambassadors: Malcolm Collins, Juan Correa, Claudia King, Sarah Lavin-Burgher, Jeremy Marder, Fiona Masterton, Claire Matthews, Torii Maysonet, Bianca Moreno, Merci Randolph, Elijah Teague, Joe Wendy and Wilny Wilkerson. Together, with the help of Anyah Akanni, Michael Chungbin, Lauren Dubendorf, Natalie Good, Isaiah Hasselquist, Helena Joho, Auset Muhammad, Iris Pavelic, Jenna Rogers, Augie Verciglio, and Becca Wright, they hosted 43 visitors as well as our own 7th & 8th graders.

Many thanks to Anyah Akanni, Armel Cazedepats, Liam Lundy, and Yarden Solomon for joining the student ambassadors in supporting seven tours and orientations. We are also grateful to Camille Dozier, Roman Scott, Augie Verciglio and particularly Keven Henley for their musical gifts.

Each of us plays a unique role in describing the value of Waldorf education, and [this] is best achieved through the enthusiastic and collective efforts of the community.

Thank you to all members of the Enrollment Committee, and especially Susan Mudd, Katherine Rogers, Rebeca Itzkowich and Lauren Pilgrim for their leadership and extraordinary commitment. Lastly, we appreciate the efforts of the all the parent volunteers who provided support for enrollment: Catherine Boyce, Karen Brennan, Megan Cummins, Dawn Hall, Jennifer Davis, Christy Galyon, Cheryl Henley, Corey Hirsch, Margaret Hock-Koehler, Maria Luz, Clifton Muhammad, Lisa Rekstad, Judy Shaver-Chungbin, Genie Tan, Sarah Wellington, Christine Wendy, Kelly & Cosmin Vrajitoru, and Jennifer Zumann.

To all our wonderful volunteers, THANK YOU for your generosity and commitment to Chicago Waldorf School!

The bounties of this good work are best expressed in the words of prospective parents:

- The grade school and high school students were so polite and enthusiastic. It was lovely to see children so positive about their school.

- I was very much impressed with CWS. What I told my wife after the visit best expresses my experience: “If I had founded a school myself I would have done very few things differently.”

- This is exactly what my child needs. No worries about challenge for college prep – much more interested in providing an overall integrated and enriching education for my child. I couldn’t be more committed to having my daughter attend Chicago Waldorf.

- I was impressed by the students themselves. They seem very outgoing and well rounded. Very warm welcoming, very well organized, very informative. The organizers addressed all questions we had. What I most liked was going to the classrooms, talking with the 6th grade students and listening to the high school students.

- I got a sense of the richness and depth of a Waldorf education from the wonderful teachers I saw and heard. I was impressed by the engaged atmosphere in the classroom.The cellist playing in the foyer was a lovely touch also.

- We were thoroughly impressed with students’ support and concern for each other as well as the affection and esteem with which they hold CWS.

Submitted by the Admissions Committee: Susan Bruck, Barbara Huckabay, Lisa Payton, Lauri Sullivan, Jennifer Zielinski.
Photographs are of handmade enamelled copper sculptures created by our current seniors when they were in 11th grade.

How Finland Became an Education Leader

By David Sirota for

How has one industrialized country created one of the world's most successful education systems in a way that is completely hostile to testing? That's the question asked―and answered―in a new documentary called "The Finland Phenomenon: Inside the World's Most Surprising School System."

Examining the nation with one of the most comparatively successful education systems on the planet, the film contradicts a test-driven, teacher-demonizing orthodoxy of education "reform" that dominates America's political debate.

Harvard professor, Tony Wagner, explains how Finland, the nation, achieved extraordinary successes by de-emphasizing testing.

On my KKZN-AM760 radio show, I talked to Harvard researcher Tony Wagner, who narrates the film and who is the author of the 2008 book "The Global Achievement Gap: Why Even Our Best Schools Don't Teach the New Survival Skills Our Children Need And What We Can Do About It." Because the interview became the basis for so much feedback, I wanted to publish this abridged transcript of our larger discussion. You can listen to the full interview here.

DS: What has Finland achieved, and what's the history behind its improved education system?

In the early 1970s, Finland had an underperforming education system and a pretty poor agrarian economy based on one product -- trees, and they were chopping them down at a rapid rate that wasn't going to get them very far. So they knew they had to completely revamp their education system in order to create a true knowledge-based economy.

So they began in the 1970s by completely transforming the preparation and selection of future teachers. That was a very important fundamental reform because it enabled them to have a much higher level of professionalism among teachers. Every teacher got a masters degree, and every teacher got the very same high quality level of preparation.

So what has happened since is that teaching has become the most highly esteemed profession. Not the highest paid, but the most highly esteemed. Only one out of every 10 people who apply to become teachers will ultimately make it to the classroom. The consequence has been that Finland's performance on international assessments, called PISA, have consistently outranked every other western country, and really there are only a handful of eastern countries that are educating with the same results.

This is what Finland has done that's different―they've defined what is excellent teaching...and they have a standard for that. Second, they've defined what is most important to learn, and it's not a memorization-based curriculum, but a thinking-based curriculum.

So, Finland basically focuses on teachers and not on domestic testing.
Those PISA tests that you cite are international assessments.

That's absolutely right. There is no domestic testing except a very quiet auditing program to test demographic samples of kids; not for accountability, not for public consumption, and not for comparison across schools. The fascinating thing is that because they have created such a high level of professionalism, they can trust their teachers. Their motto is "Trust Through Professionalism." The difference between the highest performing school in Finland and the lowest performing school in Finland is less than four percent, and that's without any testing at all.

DS: This is the antithesis of what we're hearing about in the United States in terms of so-called education "reform." When you hear the debate in the United States over education, the idea is that we need to demonize teachers and that the real way to fix our education system is to simply test the hell out of kids. Why do you think there is such a difference between the attitudes of our two countries?

First of all I want to point out that Finland is rated among the highest in the world in innovation, entrepreneurship and creativity. It's not your grandfather's socialist country in any sense of the word....

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