Smiles, laughter, and joy were on display on a picture-perfect morning as Maine Coast Waldorf School began its 36th school year for grades 1–12. The return of familiar faces to campus was extra special, as it marked the first time the community was able to come together since March 13, the day last spring that the switch was made to remote teaching and learning in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
In the months since, we have met the challenge to pivot from distance teaching and learning back to in-person instruction. In developing our plan to return to campus, the health and safety of each child and family was the top priority. The faculty, administration, and Board of Maine Coast Waldorf School have worked tirelessly to develop a plan that takes advantage of our unique combination of small class sizes and expansive 75 acres of outdoor learning space, requiring universal facial coverings both indoors and outdoors.
Already, our fields, forests, gardens, pollinator habitat, and woodland trails are buzzing with activity, and these outdoor resources will continue to be a vital resource and opportunity for our students to learn, discover and explore. Moreover, we are in the process of creating 16 outdoor classrooms—one for every grade from early childhood to high school. Seven of the outdoor classrooms will be one-of-a-kind semi-permanent SOuL canopies, which are 26 feet in diameter and made of tightly woven cloth, which is waterproof and strong enough to withstand moderate winds and snow. Together these 16 outdoor classrooms will create a village for inspiring, nature-based education where students will learn in all kinds of weather, both now and into the future.
The return to campus has been made possible by the generosity and efforts of so many in our community. Faculty members have been busy all summer planning curricular changes to take advantage of outdoor spaces. Others have offered financial resources, which have allowed many of the changes to our infrastructure to be possible. Even on this first day, there are numerous volunteers hard at work outside building canopies. The pandemic has presented an opportunity for the community to come together, and the community has responded to the call.
In the end, the work is worth it because we know the power of a Maine Coast Waldorf School education to develop curious, confident, and well-rounded students who are appreciative of the world around them. “Being on campus last week I experienced a health-giving force,” said Pedagogical Director David Eichler. “I hope this new rhythm will allow you to settle into the school year in a manner that you find strengthening.”
Here’s to a great year!