Last summer, Ashwood alumna Katie Thompson ’02 got a call from Kim Murphy, the music director at Camden Hills Regional High School. Did Katie want to be the choreographer for next year’s musical, West Side Story?
Katie was thrilled. “It’s every choreographer’s dream to do West Side Story,” she said. “It’s so difficult! It was a huge undertaking.”
How did a 24-year-old confidently take on the challenge of whipping into shape a huge cast of teenagers? She started with a simple message: “You can enjoy being in your body and moving around.”
Katie knew from the start that she enjoyed working with young people, and she was particularly impressed with the group of students at CHRHS, several of whom were Ashwood alumni.
“While all of the kids were talented and really fun to work with, I noticed with the Ashwood students what I see in myself: a certain level of self knowledge, a sense of not being overly concerned about how you look or about embarrassing yourself, but always asking: How can I challenge myself?”
Katie was born dancing. She started with ballet when she was three years old and later fell in love with street jazz and hip hop. By the time she graduated from Ashwood, Katie was teaching her own dance classes at the YMCA.
Katie started her Waldorf years at Spindlewood Waldorf Kindergarten in Lincolnville. Following kindergarten, Katie attended Ashwood for all but a year and a half when she homeschooled. She missed Ashwood during that time and “couldn’t wait to get back.” It wasn’t just about being with friends. Katie felt that she was a better student when she was with her classmates: “There’s a ‘push’ that other students give you,” Katie said.
A visual and kinesthetic learner, Katie credits the insights of her mother and her kindergarten teacher Susan Silverio for recognizing that there was nothing wrong with her after she had a rocky start in public school kindergarten. Susan and her Katie’s mom knew: Katie just needed to move. She needed to be active in learning.
Although the Ashwood campus has changed a great deal since her day with the addition of Rosewood and the Grade School building, being on campus brought back vivid memories for Katie. “Everything was so beautiful. The colors are still vibrant in my memory. I never felt rushed here,” said Katie. “I could learn at my own pace.”
Katie laughed about another memory. In the annual class play she was cast as a boy every year, until finally, in the Eighth Grade, she landed the role of Rosalind in As you Like It—only to spend half the play, of course, dressed as a boy.
Katie feels extraordinarily grateful for her years at Ashwood, and blessed that her parents were willing to make the sacrifices to send her and her two brothers to the school.
Like many 20-somethings Katie sees herself as “still trying to figure my path. I love to do so many different things!” She works as a carpenter, continues to teach dance, and is working towards a degree in Liberal Studies at University College Rockland with an eye toward teacher certification. She’s also considering getting her Waldorf Teacher Certification. “I would love to give back to what has made me who I am,” said Katie.