The Bulletin

Shared Values: Architecture and the Waldorf Experience

Wednesday, May 2014

A parent perspective by Mark Miller, CWS Parent

My wife, Anne Cousineau, and I had been living in Rogers Park since 1995. Part of our decision to raise a family here (Zoe, eighth grade and Eli, fifth grade) was the connection to nature the nearby beach, parks and lake provided. This encouraged balance in our lives.

When it came time to select a school, CWS resonated with us immediately for its approach, and understanding of the value of balance, nature and spirit. It has been a large blessing in our lives.

An unexpected blessing from being in this community is that I have been asked by many CWS families and the school itself to assist them professionally with my skills as an architect. For those of you who don’t know me, you will recognize my work from the barn play structure in the side yard and the theatrical sets for many school plays including the recent eighth grade play Oliver Twist in which Anne spearheaded the set and production design. For me, it is a pleasure collaborating with Waldorf families, as we share similar values. It’s fun to work as a team with like-minded people to create architectural works where these values are reflected. It’s clear from the feedback the spaces we create together are enjoyed and enrich the lives of those who experience them on many levels.

Appreciation of nature, a Waldorf cornerstone, resonated in the recent completion of a renovation for the CWS Boyce family. They moved from an all glass mid-rise building with connections to sun, the lake and Lincoln Park to a 100-year-old Victorian home in Evanston. To help “open up” the home and reconnect to these elements, we completely removed the rear wall and added an all-glass English conservatory which transitioned to a semi-circular deck and the garden.

These values informed the new home I designed for EC teacher Ms. Nancy Matson, her husband Alan and their family, who have an amazing site overlooking the Chicago River and Cook County Forest Preserve. I like to ask my clients what about their current residence really annoys them (what is “blocking” them from connecting with spirit.) Nancy shared she disliked the dark stairwell that lead up to the second floor. So, one important goal was to provide the family a staircase that would remedy this. The new stair became an “open riser,” allowing one to see through it. The stair, placed next to a two-story window wall, faces the sun and forest. Now, from any spot in the home, one is connected to the sun and the forest. Views of the wildlife, treetops and flowing river are integrated throughout the experience of “being” in the home.

Two additional collaborations have come from assisting CWS moms Jenn Paschen and Bridgid Rooney in their work: places of healing. Jenn is the owner of “The Nest” acupuncture and prenatal health center and Bridgid Rooney owns Lakeview Physical Therapy. For Jenn, health is related to an unobstructed flow of energy in the body. I designed her new center to make this flow of healing energy more apparent to visitors, using curving shapes in her bamboo floors and treatment room walls. Natural materials and Japanese shoji screens made new visitors feel at ease, and so healing can begin as soon as a client walks into the center. In this context, the architectural design assists the philosophy of the practitioner, just as the collaboration with Bridgid Rooney incorporated her views of healing.

Like Waldorf education, when we infuse values of awareness, spirit and an appreciation of nature to architecture, we enrich the physical, mental, intellectual and spiritual experiences for our whole being. --

More of Mark's architecture for Waldorf families can be see at his website, ZenPlusArchitecture.

Appreciation of Grandparents & Special Friends Day

Tuesday, May 2014

Grandparents Day • May 2, 2014

A huge thank you to everyone who helped make Grandparents Day a huge success—we had more than 130 grandparents and special friends visit the students in their classrooms and stay for the grades presentations!

Colleges Seek Out Waldorf Graduates: Seniors Making Decisions

Monday, May 2014


This year at Chicago Waldorf High School, twelve of our graduating seniors have applied to a college or university. The schools below have accepted our graduating seniors as of the reporting deadline in early April.  Merit scholarship offers have been generous as these colleges attempt to lure the most qualified students.

Twelve colleges/universities are new to our list when compared with the last few years. These schools include Carleton College, Bates College, College of William & Mary, Pepperdine University, Emerson College, Denison University, Elon University, University of Redlands, St. Mary’s of California, University of Kansas, Champlain College, and Whittier College.  Colleges and University Admissions Staff's familiarity with Chicago Waldorf School continues to expand with each graduating class! 

Congratulations to Our Seniors and their Families!

This year's tweleve seniors have been accepted to:


Bard College, NY

Bates College, ME

Carleton College, MN

Champlain College, VT

College of William & Mary, VA

Columbia College Chicago

Connecticut College

Denison University, OH

DePaul University, IL

Dickinson College, PA

Eckerd College, FL

Elmhurst College, IL

Elon University, NC

Emerson College, MA

Evergreen State College, WA

Hampshire College, MA

Indiana University–Bloomington

Knox College, IL

Lawrence University, WI

Lynn University, FL

Milwaukee Institute Art/Design

Northeastern Illinois University


North Park University, IL

Occidental College, CA

Pepperdine University, CA

Rollins College, FL

Savannah College of Art/Design

Southern Illinois University

St. Mary’s of California

University of Colorado Boulder

University of Dayton

University of Illinois at Chicago

U of Illinois Urbana Champaign

University of Iowa

University of Kansas

University of Oregon

University of Puget Sound, WA

University of Redlands, CA

University of Vermont

Western Illinois University

Wheaton College, MA

Whittier College, CA

Willamette University, OR


Note: this list represents reported acceptances as of 4/8/2014

Celebrate National “Screen Free Week”

Friday, May 2014

Welcome to national Screen Free Week (May 5th-11th )

Hear are some start-up guidelines and activities, or get creative and make up your own!

  1. Draw a silhouette picture of your family members
  2. Play board-games, card games or tell stories.
  3. Read a book/story aloud
  4. Write a hand-written letter to a grandparent or special friend
  5. Take advantage of the longer daylight hours by going for a walk or planting seeds.
  6. Make a home for the bees in your backyard (in the garden or outside your window) with this project from the Pollinator Partnership.                              

There are many ways to approach this week’s self-planned events with your family and friends. See the Screen Free Week Family Guide for additional details and guidelines for participating. Or visit: for more support and to connect to others embracing this event.

101 Screen Free Activities is a document providing just what it says…read on and,

Happy Screen Free Week!

“The Third Metric”: Teaching Joy & Creativity in Math

Monday, April 2014

Lisa Babinet, a Waldorf High School Math teacher from the California Waldorf School of the Peninsula has published a reflection, "Teaching Math and the Third Metric," on the distinctive aspect of teaching and learning Joy in the classroom. Here is an excerpt from her article:

"I teach high school math, which by most accounts is a rather intellectual subject. However, in my latest three-week block teaching conic sections (the curves formed when one slices a cone with a plane) I assigned my students a project where the primary criterion was to create something that brought them joy. Yes, the primary criterion was joy! It did not take them long to come up with projects involving art, air soft guns, cooking and even the space-time continuum.

I think an open-ended project that focuses on joy is important for many reasons. First it helps the students engage in their own learning. I find much of what is asked of high school students these days feels to them like hoop jumping for a grade. Learning is an inherently satisfying activity, and when the students can bring their own interests and unique perspective to learning they are more engaged and joyful.

Second, I teach a diverse group of students, both in ability and interest wise, but enjoyment is something they all share; it is the common denominator in the classroom -- they all can participate equally. Third, I want them to practice being creative and take risks in their thinking and doing. I want to encourage them to connect dots that no one has connected before and think of the world in a new way -- in their own way.

Even after more than 30 years of teaching, I hear questions from my students about math that I have never thought about, making the class more alive and engaging for everyone. With this assignment, I have had students take on explorations where there were no conics to be found (fire spinning and the earth illumination map) and we celebrated those explorations. I do not want my students to play it safe just to "get a good grade" but daring to ask outrageous questions to see what they can find out.

I realize that I am blessed with the freedom to do this as I teach in a Waldorf school, and I am grateful for its philosophy designed to develop independent and creative thinkers. If you don't know much about Waldorf Education, you're not alone. Even though Waldorf schools have been in existence for almost 100 years and are found in almost 100 countries around the world, until recently they were not well known...

Last month while watching the Wisdom 2.0 conference, I was especially inspired by Arianna Huffington's talk about the third metric. The third metric adds another dimension to the traditional definitions of success -- money and power. Money and power are like two legs on a three-legged stool.


To truly thrive, we need a third leg -- a metric for defining success that encompasses our well-being,
our ability to draw in our intuition and inner wisdom,
our sense of wonder and our capacity for compassion and giving.

In her talk, Arianna emphasized the role women must play in developing the third metric; I believe that teachers need to embody that role as well as we plant the seeds of how students themselves will define success. In the classroom, we can value joy and well being in addition to academic performance, practicing being present so that we don't miss the moment when true engagement and learning occur. Her talk both inspired me and reminded me of what I strive for as a teacher: preparing the students for a life of well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving."

Click here to read the FULL article at its source on Huffington Post.

Click here to see a 17 minute video on Waldorf Education.

Author, Lisa Babinet, PhD is a founding high school teacher at the Waldorf School of the Peninsula in Silicon Valley where she loves to teach math. She lives in Redwood City, CA with her husband and two teenage children.  Photo credit: OJO Images via HuffPost via Getty Images

How do Finnish Schools Excel? A Comparison to Waldorf Education

Monday, March 2014


Chicago Waldorf School long-time veteran grade school teacher, Carol Triggiano, reflects on some of the similarities between the core principles of Waldorf Education and the Finnish educational system that makes them such vibrant, successful and widely respected educational models. In her article, she writes,

"I recently heard Pasi Sahlberg, director general of the Center for International Mobility and Cooperation in Finland’s Ministry of Education, speak at the Chicago Humanities Festival about why Finland ranks first with the best school system in the world. His best-selling book, Finnish Lessons, has inspired educators and parents to reevaluate how we educate children and has prompted discussion on how we can institute change. While Sahlberg’s ideas seem radical in the light of American standards, they reaffirmed to me the value of a Waldorf education.

Sahlberg compared the Global Educational Reform Movement (GERM) to a cancerous virus that has spread worldwide. Over the last forty years schools have operated on a philosophy that promotes ideas such as, competition, standardization, test based accountability and education as an industry.

That approach has netted us an overall decrease in skills, a huge jump in the ADHD diagnoses, children on medication and an alarming increase in adolescent suicide. Something clearly is not working.

Sahlberg went on to describe how the “Finnish way” has transformed their educational system into the pinnacle of success. I would like to compare how Waldorf education has been following most of these key principles for almost one hundred years..."


Triggiano goes on to catalogue about 10 commonly held core values that have been essential to Waldorf education since its founding in 1917. To read her perspective in its entirety SEE THE PDF linked above.

Experience Waldorf Education in our April 10th Open House

Monday, March 2014

New to Waldorf?
Interested individuals are welcome to visit and see our class curriculum firsthand.

All are welcome to attend this opportunity to see the students and teachers engaged in morning lessons; observe High School topics classes, world language and handwork classes. You can visit your child's classroom or see other grades to get a full sense of the scope of the Waldorf curriculum arc. Its a great way to see the social interactions and unique aspects of Waldorf education in action!

Chicago Waldorf School's Open House

Thursday April 10th  -  8:00am - noon

Please RSVP to reserve your seat now (spaces are limited).


Here is the schedule of lesson plans you can visit:

GRADE SCHOOL Morning Lessons (8:00 - 10:00am)

Grade Teacher Lesson Topic
1st Chris Kuck Arithmetic
2nd Megan Rotko Arithmetic
3rd Becky Moskowitz Play Practice, Hebrew Scriptures
4th Nancy Szymanski Local Geography and History
5th Carol Triggiano Ancient Greece
6th John Trevillion Astronomy
7th Karen Hartz Treasure Island Play Practice
8th Lauri Sullivan Modern History





HIGH SCHOOL Topics Classes (7:55 - 9:35am)

Grade Teacher Lesson Topic
9th Michael Holdrege Geology
10th Barbara Huckabay Classical History
11th John Denman Astronomy
12th David Massie Transcendentalists
12th Jim Kotz Biochemistry



GRADE SCHOOL World Language Classes (10:30 - 11:15am)

Grade Teacher Lesson Topic
2nd Ashley Gambill German
3rd Ileana Valencia Spanish


GRADE SCHOOL Handwork Classes (11:15 - Noon)

Grade Teacher Lesson Topic
2nd Patricia Holdrege Handwork
8th Ashley Gambill German


RSVP by Friday, April 4th

to Jeremiah Davis in the Main Office or 773.465.2662

Event Registration Details:
• Space is limited—first come, first served. 12 visitors per class. (EXCEPT FOR 1ST GRADE—LIMIT IS 8)
• Arrive by 7:45am, sign in at the Main Entrance and receive your room assignment
• Parents & Guests may observe any 1st-12th grade morning lesson, but can only choose one.
• Parents may stay and observe a world language and/or handwork class following the morning lessons
• Parents must be able to stay for the entire lesson. We ask that you not leave mid-lesson.
• Early Childhood classes are NOT open for visitors, but we strongly encourage Early Childhood parents to observe a grade or high school class

Reserve Your Seats Now!  Limited seating is available.

CWS Alumna, Laura Holdrege, Travels in Nicaragua & Mexico

Sunday, March 2014

For those of you who know Laura Holdrege (CWS class of 2011), it will come as no surprise that she is spending many months in adventure, travel, collaboration and work in Latin America. She spent her time volunteering and studying at the Mariposa Spanish Language School in San Juan, Masaya, Nicaragua before pursuing further travels. But you may not know that she is also authoring a web travelogue to chronicle her journey. Follow her blog to see one Waldorf alumna's experiences post-graduation. In her introduction to her web journal, she says :

"I will be exploring Nicaragua and Mexico for the next five months and thought I would share some of my experiences along the way. I will spend three weeks at a Spanish Language School outside of Managua, Nicaragua and from there will travel to Cuernavaca, Mexico where I will spend the semester studying social work in a Latin American context."

CLICK HERE to read more about Laura's travels and see photos in her travelogue, Adventuring.

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