Development Review

What a year it’s been!

Amidst the heartfelt farewells, sharing of gifts, and kind wishes for the summer ahead, faculty and administration are now wrapping up the school year with meetings, report writing, and celebrations. What a special time it is to reflect upon the year as it comes to a close and to share a preview of what is in store for the coming school year.

As I sat watching the Grade 8’s ready themselves for their Moving-Up Ceremony yesterday, I was struck by how each child embodies the education system they have been immersed in through the past years. For some of those students and families, that ceremony marks the end of their first year at the school. For others, this is their child’s thirteenth year at the school. Some families in the audience came because they were a part of the class at some point in the past eight years. Similarly, the students were delighted to see that their first class teacher sat in the audience to join the celebration while their current class teacher, Mrs. Elliott, thoughtfully addressed each child from the podium. How touching to experience a ceremony where all who have touched or been touched by the class are welcome to attend. Even more touching is that all students from Grade 1 through Grade 12 also join the ceremony every year as yet another example of how our school prioritizes nurturing connections between students. The Moving-Up Ceremony, as with every other ceremony, celebration and festival, reinforces how thoroughly the practice of slowing down, expressing gratitude, and gifting presence is woven into the fabric of our children’s education.

Over the past year, each of us has had unique and personal experiences of how Waldorf education nurtures our innate reverence for the natural world and for each other. At the Grade 12 Graduation last weekend, I was inspired by the songs offered to the graduates as an acknowledgement of this exciting time of transition. Similarly, the gifts of song, poetry and verse presented by each class to the graduates at the Grade 12 Rose Ceremony last month reinforce the special connection that is cultivated between the children, teachers, parents and the graduates through their schooling journey.

Other highlights of the recent past include the Grade 2 class hosting a “Thank You Tea” to those in our community who have given so much to all of us through the years. Grades 1 and 5 joined together in song to officially open our newly improved knoll area at the Grade School, complete with handcrafted yellow cedar benches designed and constructed by volunteers. Grades 3 and 4 have whole-heartedly taken on stewardship of the gardens, including tending to the compost and regularly picking-up litter. Grades 6 through 8 have all contributed to our school community in unique ways, including painting our school values upon rocks, drawing gorgeous signage encouraging Kim John Payne’s pro-connection messages, and taking up the work of our Social Action Committee. Our High School students have led the way in getting behind outward-facing gestures that uphold our universal responsibility to care for the environment by participating in the new comprehensive waste management system at the High School and by joining the ongoing global climate action demonstrations. Finally, the May Day festival and end-of-year picnics hosted by the Early Childhood Centre faculty, children and families are truly beautiful experiences of spiritual nourishment and love.

Alongside the many moments of beauty, there have also been times of challenge. This past year, we have come together to work through changes in faculty, including class teachers and advisors. We have collaborated with staff and faculty in support of our children as they faced difficult social and academic circumstances. Through the ups and downs of the past year, I have observed that class communities become stronger when challenges are voiced and worked through as a group. Our class teachers and class reps play such a key role in nurturing the class community and they are due a tremendous amount of thanks for the energy directed to this end because strong class communities make for a strong school community.

This past year in fundraising has been one of growth. We set an ambitious goal of raising $50,000 by the end of our school year and we have exceeded our goal by raising $52,564! The final tally of proceeds raised through the Grocery Card Program is $9512, over $1000 more than we raised through the program last year. I have so much appreciation for the amount of work, energy, creativity and time our community has directed toward the school so we could raise that much money.

Looking forward, Laura and I will work collaboratively across our organization to establish priorities for the use of funds raised, create reporting and accountability processes, and a communication plan that will ensure that the time, energy, and money invested into fundraising by our parent body is recognized fully. Another area of focus will be forming a structured development committee that brings together a number of existing bodies, including the Parent Council, Class Representatives, the School Expansion Group, and our alumni community. We will also be designing a rich parent education calendar of events to offer a variety of ways to learn more about the Waldorf pedagogy as we recognize and participate in worldwide Waldorf100 initiatives. If you are called to learn more about any of the above, please do reach out. We love to hear from you and it means so much to know that our newsletter is being read. Stay tuned for more information about how things are shaping up as we kick-off the 2019/2020 school year in late August.

Thank you all so much for your family’s ongoing commitment to the Vancouver Waldorf School. Your decision to be a part of this community means so much.

Warm wishes to you all for a restful and rejuvenating summer break.

Mary Henley
Community & Resource Development Manager