I made the not-so-surprising decision to go to a small liberal arts college, as the core principles echo those of Waldorf schools. Waldorf graduates appreciate the value of small communities: breadth as well as depth of study, and a focus on learning how to learn. At Hamilton College I've been studying and tutoring in the computer science department, running three seasons, working as a campus tour guide and organizing the juggling club (directly inspired by our very own John Saccone). I am lucky enough to have conducted computer science research at school last year, and to be interning as a software engineer this summer in Portland. Merriconeag (Maine Coast) has excellently prepared me for all of this. While I can’t beat any of my college friends at video games, I look back fondly on my years at Merriconeag and wish I could sign up for woodworking with Mr. Thurrell next semester.
After graduating from Merriconeag (Maine Coast) in 2013, I began preparing to attend Barnard College, the women’s college of Columbia University in the City of New York. The leap that would take me to Barnard was intimidating. Having grown up in Freeport, Maine, the college itself and New York City were equally daunting. But two years later I am looking back on incredible years at Barnard, and now consider New York City my home. I am a Russian Literature and Language major (with a potential minor in Biology) and speak Russian somewhat proficiently. I work in Barnard’s Writing Center, sing in Columbia University’s Gospel Choir, train 25+ hours per week on the Columbia Rowing Team, and explore a discounted New York City on my student ID. My Waldorf education has undoubtedly been the single most important factor in what has allowed me to enjoy such a diverse and successful time at college thus far. I can’t recommend the pairing of a Waldorf education with a rigorous college like Barnard enough. Waldorf schooling encourages thoughtfulness, love, and a critical eye in everything the child does. This thoughtfulness paired with inquisitiveness and openness grow into the perfect tools to tackle whatever comes next.
Matthew is a writer, teacher and researcher. He graduated from Dartmouth College and is currently a PhD candidate at Princeton University, studying literature of the English Renaissance. Previously, he taught courses on Shakespeare and creative writing workshops in the English department at Cornell University, where he also received his MFA. Matthew's literary criticism appears regularly in the Los Angeles Review of Books and he is now at work on a first novel.
As a teacher and as a graduate student, I have a renewed appreciation for the many ways we learn in Waldorf education. In fifth or sixth grade, studying geometry didn't just mean learning the Pythagorean theorem: We spent hours making careful constructions with our compasses and illustrating them as beautifully as we could. I understood much more about geometry through that slow process with my hands than I ever could have through rote memorization. These days, teaching Shakespeare or leading a writing workshop, I never let my students merely read or only write. We act out scenes with our bodies. We memorize and perform poems to understand how the breath works and where the stresses fall. We take notes by hand so we’re forced to synthesize and compress knowledge, and not just record facts. I try to engage as many senses as possible, because real knowledge works by being present in so many different ways. Waldorf taught me that.
Sun who makes it ripe and good
Dear earth, dear sun by you we live
Our loving thanks to you we give
Those words, a daily blessing I said at Merriconeag (Maine Coast Waldorf School), are words that resonate with me today. In fact, as a farmer, they are words I now live by. When I’m asked to think back on my Waldorf education, I can say without a doubt those years influenced me in a very positive way. My teachers fostered in me a love for the natural world which led me to pursue an education focused on agriculture and ultimately to the establishment of East Branch Farm in 2013, a certified organic farm in Durham, Maine. It is a dream come true to work outside with my hands everyday. It is laborious work but it calms me. As a child it was no different and anyone who knew me could tell you I could not sit still for long. The importance of movement in the Waldorf curriculum was a gift to me. Without the time we spent skiing through the forest, planting an herb garden, juggling or even doing eurythmy, I could not have sat down to write in our main lesson book without some major fidgeting. This is a simple yet powerful tool that I took with me; a breathing rhythm.
I went on to high school (Tabor Academy) and found that sports were where I could get that energy out. I played varsity soccer, lacrosse and even started a ski and snowboard team (with my now wife Meag) during the winter. I even went on to compete regionally as a member of the University of Vermont freestyle snowboard team while I was there pursuing my degree in ecological agriculture. When a lot of my friends were not so happy to be dealing with a long cold winter, I was out snowshoeing through the woods for a forest ecology lab I elected to take or flying through the air on my snowboard atop Mount Mansfield.
As a student I'm not sure I ever really thought about why we were learning things in the way we did. It was just school and all I knew. As a parent now with two kids of my own, I have a whole new lens through which to see the world of education. Choosing Maine Coast Waldorf School for our kids was not an automatic decision, although an obvious one once we started to look at other options. As the snow falls over the early childhood building and when I see my son walking off into the woods after his morning verse to do his “mighty strong work”, or he tells me a story about the seasons or that at school he learned to plant bulbs with their feet down, head up with their coats still on, or I watch my daughter follow the rhythm of the Parent-Toddler class with ease and comfort, there is no doubt in my mind that a Waldorf education is still the right choice for my family.
Our alumni represent inspiration in action.
In recent years, the Research Institute for Waldorf Education conducted an extensive survey of graduates from Waldorf high schools throughout North America and found the following.
- 94% attended college or university
- 47% chose humanities or arts as a major
- 42% chose sciences or math as a major
- 89% are highly satisfied in their choice of occupation
- 91% are active in lifelong education
- 92% placed a high value on critical thinking
- 90% highly value tolerance of other viewpoints
Three Key Findings about Waldorf Graduates
- Waldorf graduates think for themselves and value the opportunity to translate their new ideas into practice. They both value and practice lifelong learning and have a highly developed sense for aesthetics.
- Waldorf graduates value lasting human relationships – and they seek out opportunities to be of help to other people.
- Waldorf graduates are guided by an inner moral compass that helps them navigate the trials and temptations of professional and private life. They carry high ethical principles into their chosen professions.
College Acceptance List
Maine Coast has had excellent success in college placement. The following is a partial list of the colleges and universities that have accepted our graduates over the past six years. Asterisks represent matriculating institutions.
American University in Paris
College of the Atlantic*
College of Wooster
Evergreen State College
Fort Lewis College*
Green Mountain College*
Hobart and William Smith College
Lewis and Clark College
Maine Maritime Academy*
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Rochester Institute of Technology
Roger Williams College*
Savannah College of Art & Design*
St. John’s College (New Mexico)
St. Lawrence University*
St. Michael's College*
St. Olaf College*
University of New Hampshire
University of Maine (Orono)*
University of Maine (Farmington)*
University of Massachusetts*
University of Southern Maine
University of Vermont
Wentworth Institute of Technology
Wheaton College (Illinois)*
Wheaton College (MA)*
Worcester Polytechnic Institute