Greetings from the Development Office!

I began in my role as Community and Resource Development Manager in late September and since then have had two priorities: to meet and connect with our community and to gain an understanding of our operating environment and culture. As I work my way through the many documents and systems, the years of history and shared experiences, and cultivate relationships across our community, I’m beginning to understand the role we all play in shaping our school’s biography. The narrative we ourselves create and the stories we choose to tell define our perception of this dynamic school and solidify the foundations of its’ culture.

As I settle into my role, I have been reflecting upon the power of culture. Regardless of how nebulous or subtle a particular culture may be, it informs each individual’s experience of a place and of its’ community. I’ve been thinking about how each of us interfaces with the VWS culture in a way that is personal and reflective of the changes we experience through the months and years that we are engaged here.

As parents, we navigate evolving relationships with our child/ren, changes in our personal relationships, and daily interactions with our class teachers, fellow parents and staff. I’ve been thinking about the shift one experiences in that moment when we realize that we feel included. That we are comfortable with the culture and remain engaged with the school through all of the transitions we navigate. And that our family is in the right place. While settling my own young children into the rhythm of the fall and guiding them through the excitement of the winter, I noticed myself sitting in gratitude. Our youngest hasn’t had the easiest time adjusting to school and as I moved through the sometimes difficult process of supporting his journey, I’ve been comforted by hearing your children playing, singing, and expressing their light. Through the challenging moments, a part of the comfort I felt came from recognizing that I feel included in this community.

While listening to the Grade 11’s discuss Aldous Huxley’s dystopian “Brave New World”, watching the Grade 7’s perform “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”, sitting in wonderment during the Advent Spiral, and witnessing our community present a gorgeous Children’s Christmas Fair, I shifted into a deep knowing that my family is in the right place. What a gift that is.

My primary goal for my work at the VWS is to support the continual blossoming of a culture of philanthropy, where we all feel that we belong. I choose the word philanthropy deliberately and intend for its’ most simple meaning to be conveyed: goodwill to others. Through the daily challenges of managing all that we manage, wouldn’t it be wonderful if our school culture allowed for all of us to feel a sense of belonging that affirms our decision to be here? In some ways, our school culture already does that because of the shared values that draw us here, the investment we make to stay here and the relationships we nurture through the years.

As we move through the coming years, Laura Bergstrome and I will work deliberately to shift our culture from subtle and nebulous to obvious and clear. We are working to create programs that support your volunteerism, engage our hundreds of alumni and their families, honour and include our elders, and invite the wider community to experience the reasons why we all choose to be here. We are building a comprehensive fund development strategy that will support a thriving school for our children, we are giving voice to our strategic planning process, we are streamlining our communications and events, we are gearing up to celebrate our school’s 50th anniversary and the 100th anniversary of Waldorf Education, and most importantly, we are listening to your ideas and giving you space to envision your family’s future at VWS.

Sometimes my role is called Development Manager; sometimes Laura and I are collectively referred to as the Development Office. Regardless of how we are named, know that our role is to embody the shared intention of all faculty and staff: that you are welcomed just as you are, and that our relationships with you and your children are cherished. As I regard my tenure here, and in answer to the question “What do you do?”, I land solidly on the answer: I am here to support you. Please be in touch if you would like to connect.

Mary Henley,
Community and Resource Development Manager

Greetings from the Development Office