David Sloan, the founding teacher of the High School, is retiring after 15 years at Maine Coast Waldorf School, and a nearly 50 year career across different Waldorf schools from California to Maine.
David joined the MCWS community in 2006 and began working with Lurcretia Pascarelli and others to envision and form the high school. While a high school had been discussed for some time, there were always obstacles that got in the way of creating something that would be true to the higher ideals of the school– a place that would treat young people “as young people…always stressing the complex humanity of each student heading to their unique place on the threshold of adulthood” as High School teacher Jeff O’Brien, another founding teacher, put it at David’s farewell party.
Getting right to work, David had four main challenges he had to address head-on in his first years: finding physical space for the high school, enrolling students, and hiring faculty, and forming a curriculum. Setting his sights on Pineland Farms in New Gloucester, working tirelessly to enroll students and hire enough faculty, the High School began with five tenth graders (from the Bridge School, a Waldorf home-school program created by MCWS parents) and ten ninth graders in Fall 2007. The rest is history. Under his guidance and leadership, the High School has grown from 15 students on rented property at Pineland Farms, to a dynamic community of around 75 students with a beautiful net-zero, Passive House building that opened on the school’s main campus in 2017. This past year, the High School graduated its largest class in history—24 students.
More than anything, though, David will be remembered as an inspirational teacher and supportive, caring colleague. Speaking at his retirement event, former student Eric Shurtleff reflected that “the depth of what you’ve given me and thousands of others is quite unfathomable. It is a living force in my life. And it is from you I learned to seek, and to ask, and to find.”
High School teacher David Barham noted that his “unique combination of powerful academics and high standards with the arts and social life” made the High School among the strongest Waldorf schools in the country. Moreover, his lectures, workshops, observations and advice are all reasons that “David has had the impact he has had on so many for so long now.”
Reflecting on long career, David expressed his appreciation for the “courageous, creative, committed founding teachers and all of the supporting teachers throughout the school who helped to nurture and support the idea of this high school.” He’s looking forward to slowing down, spending time with his grandchildren, gardening, writing poetry, and “pursuing the mysteries of golf.”
We know that David’s legacy will be ever-present in the high school, and while we’re sure he’ll be back occasionally for plays and other performances, his daily presence will surely be missed!