When we started this school year, we knew that we needed to be ready for some big changes. We were prepared for sharing the parking lot with trucks, construction materials and lots of workers with hard hats. Our teachers adjusted to the noise and activity outside of their classroom windows with tolerance and grace and only moments of frustration. Many thanks to all of the teachers, but especially of grades 1 – 4 who had front row seats and most of the noise!
Now, we have a lovely addition on the 1-4 building, already busy with teachers and students working in that space every day, and a beautiful new office complex filled with sunlight, quiet offices, comfortable gathering spaces for teachers, and finally…Ms. Mainella has a window! She can see everyone coming and going from the parking lot to the 5-8 building! A real corner office!
And the portable is gone! Change is good!
I did a little research on the history of our office portable. It started out in the early 90’s as a classroom building when “Merriconeag Waldorf School” was located in South Freeport. It was moved here around 1994, after the 5-8 building was completed. By 1999, the 1-4 building was finished, and the portable was used for grade school teachers and staff as the administrative hub of the school. For the past 15 years our humble little shoebox shaped “portable” served us very well.
When the portable was driven down the road, there were cheers of excitement, but also a little sadness, remembering all it had been, over 25 years to the parents, teachers and students of our school. I looked at Mrs. Thurrell, and wondered if she was remembering the days of teaching her “first” first graders in that building.
Within hours, the 7th graders went to work with Mr. Kessler and Mr. Saccone to clean up the debris that was left behind. Suddenly, the hole became an open space. There was now the opportunity to see something new, to find new vantage points and views through campus.
It is a good thing to remember this about change. Change is hard, and it is often unclear what will happen when things change….though it feels like an ending, thoughtful, responsible change usually builds on what has gone before, and rather than leaving a hole behind, it is also a space…a space for something new and different and important for the future. An opportunity for all of us to take on new responsibilities for the care and work of our school community.
Today we are saying thank you and farewell to 6 teachers. All will leave a space to be filled, all have made a difference in our school… Each one has shared their love of teaching, their devotion to our students and their enormous talents with our school community. We are deeply grateful for all they have shared with us over the years.
In the grade school, Kemal Lowenthal, who joined us as an apprentice over five years ago, has taught woodworking, first grade afternoon, after school program, math and language arts in middle school. Kemal will be returning to his Waldorf alma mater in NY as a math teacher. He and his young family are looking forward to living closer to their deep family and community connections back in Chestnut Ridge.
Kacie Breault, our agricultural arts teacher and first grade afternoon teacher, will be leaving to travel and take a year for new discoveries and exploration. We are grateful for her hard work in expanding our gardens and sharing the love of the plant kingdom with our students.
Four of our Early Childhood teachers will be moving on to different work next year. Three assistants, Stephanie Blackburn, Briana Robillard and Brianna Biel-Goebel, as well as Monika Eichler, our EC afternoon teacher. They have all brought such warmth and care to our little ones, and lots of hard work in the practical spheres of cooking, gardening and cleaning up, such important practical and nurturing tasks in our program.
We thank all of these teachers for their wonderful contributions to our school community.
New teachers who will be joining us for the 2016-17 school year include:
In the High School –
Christopher Lee, Part-time math
Liva Laswell – Humanities apprentice
In the Grades –
Cerridwen Aker, First Grade Teacher
Anastasiya Dariavach, 6th grade assistant and aftercare teacher
Michele Burkey, First Grade afternoon and support teacher in 5th grade
Ezra Smith, our part-time math and science teacher in the middle school this year, will carry the woodworking program next year.
In Early Childhood –
Jen Corning – Assistant in Daisy Room
Tania Zuckerman – Assistant in Buttercup Room
More detailed information regarding our new teachers will be part of our summer letter. Have a joy-filled summer!