Supporting the Healthy Growth of our School Community
Greetings from the Development Office!
Hopefully, you’ve all revelled in the long warm, sunny days of summer while balancing adventures and quiet time so that your family is rested and ready for the 2018/2019 school year.
Our school has been a hive of activity through the summer with four students working away on a variety of maintenance tasks, our administration team planning for the year ahead, and faculty preparing their classrooms and themselves for their new grade. Our Faculty Room has been beautifully lazured and tiled thanks to the incredibly generous gift of time and creativity from the Baker-Simpson family. The Grade School foyer is now home to the stunning graphic artwork, “Hoobiiyee”, by local artist Marissa Nahanee and gifted by Amy Parent and her family. Our Grade School Hall has also been much improved with a fresh coat of paint and a new floor. Painters have been busy at the High School as well, refreshing our space to create a calm and inviting place for our teenagers to learn and socialize. Also at the Grade School, you may have noticed that the parking lot lines have been repainted. Thank you for your diligence in keeping our parking lot and surrounding traffic areas safe by driving cautiously at all times, parking only in designated spots after 8:10 am to allow our teachers easy access to parking, and honouring our “kiss and drop” policy in the driveway if you cannot park in the neighbourhood and walk in to the school for drop-off.
Building Our Foundation
In the Development Office, Laura Bergstrome and I spent time reviewing our events, programs, and communications and will continue delivering critical information to you as clearly and efficiently as possible, while offering relevant Parent Education evenings each term and ongoing opportunities to connect and build your relationships within our community.
Our focus this year is “Building Our Foundation” because we are taking an intentional approach to community and resource development that allows for each of you to engage with the school easily and as best suits your family situation and schedule.
Parent participation is a requirement at Waldorf schools and though you may have heard this before at the VWS, you may be unclear about what that means in real terms. You will always have participation responsibilities in your child/ren’s class/es, which will range from bringing in fruit for your child’s birthday celebrations in the early years to shuttling your child and their classmates for offsite field trips in the middle-school years to planning fundraisers for your senior students. All of those activities certainly count as parent participation! In addition to class-specific activities, which are managed through your Class Reps and class teacher, all parents are expected to participate in school-wide events and fundraisers that benefit the greater whole in order to foster an environment that allows our school community to thrive.
Three School-Wide Fundraisers
There are three school-wide fundraisers managed by the Development Office, that I would like you to plan to participate in as we move into this coming school year: the Grocery Card Program, the Children’s Christmas Fair, and the New Moon Social.
1 – Grocery Card Program
Last year, about 20% of families participated in this program and just over $8,000 in funds were raised. Now that ordering is online, it really couldn’t be easier to get involved. It took me a while to get into the habit, but now that I can easily order my grocery cards online, grocery cards are what I use most of the time. I love knowing that a percentage of the cost of my big weekly grocery shops comes back to the school with very little extra effort from me.
Come and talk to Laura or me at any time so we can show you how to get set-up or click through here: vws.ca/online-ordering-for-the-grocery-card-program
2 – The Children’s Christmas Fair
If you have attended the Christmas Fair before, you know how fantastic it is; and if this is your first year at the school, I am thrilled that you and your family will experience the fair in a few months.
If you haven’t yet volunteered on the organizing committee, as a coordinator, or for volunteer hours, please plan to do so this year as you will not have experienced what a herculean effort it is to bring the event to life and how incredibly rewarding it is to contribute to its’ magic. At a bare minimum, every parent should plan to sign-up for one volunteer shift either during set-up, on the day of the event, or for take-down.
As commonly happens in the domain of volunteerism, the lions share of work is often completed by a minority of folks. The outcome of that unequal sharing of a load is that those who do the work get unreasonably tired and eventually may become resentful and ultimately, stop volunteering altogether. Let’s avoid that by sharing the load, and honestly, by sharing in the joy of participation.
All that said, please know that it is completely understandable that family or personal circumstances may preclude you from directing your volunteerism toward the Christmas Fair. However, I do hope that if that is the case, you will be in touch with your Class Rep or organizing committee coordinator so your absence is met with understanding and compassion rather than a curiosity resulting from a lack of information.
3 – New Moon Social
June of 2018 marked our first annual New Moon Social, which is a parent-led community connection fundraiser. I was so fortunate to support two amazing parent volunteers from the Early Childhood Centre to bring this excellent soiree to fruition. We learned a lot through the process and plan to build on last years’ event to host an even better celebration in 2019.
Your volunteerism for the Social may be collecting donations for the silent auction, working with sponsors to finalize food and beverage details, selling tickets to the event, setting-up or breaking-down and even encouraging your friends to attend.
We will begin planning the Social in January but please do start thinking about how you can contribute to our biggest fundraiser. In 2018, we raised approximately $10,000. I know we can do better than that in 2019!
Directing Funds Raised
We’re raising money to support the groundwork being completed now across all departments to elevate our school into the next phase, where our vision of building a new school begins to truly take shape. As an example, I would love to hire a videographer to prepare a short film to showcase our school and community. As we approach our 50th anniversary in 2021, I also plan to publish a book that tells the story of the Vancouver Waldorf School. And eventually, I would like to use these pieces to demonstrate to foundations and philanthropists that we are up to big things here at the VWS so our students can live into their destiny as free individuals. As much as I am new to anthroposophy and to my role here, I know for sure that our students are change-makers.
On a personal note, last year, being new in my role, my overall goal was to meet and connect with as many members of our community as I could. I was also focused on participating in and attending as many programs, events, meetings and gatherings as I could squeeze in, which made for an incredibly busy and fun-filled year. Family responsibilities precluded me from attended everything, and though I took a little comfort in knowing that I will attend those events in coming years, I still felt a sadness as I know they won’t be exactly the same. The players will be different, as will the proud families and friends in the audience. That said, even though I’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of our school culture, I’ve certainly gained an appreciation of how much time, energy and heart go into making this school what it is. After buying flower bulbs, cookies, market wares, hot lunches, and grocery cards; attending plays, parties, and ceremonies; and hosting Community Coffee, an evening of story-telling, the New Moon Social and our end of year picnic, I have solidly landed on two realizations:
- a lot is asked of our parents; and
- everyone is participating in our school community the best they can.
So, please consider yourself warmly invited to participate in co-creating our community. You will always be welcome no matter how available you are to give of your time and energy.
Community & Resource Development Manager