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Winter Spiral of Light for the Community

This year, on Wednesday, December 2 at 6:00 p.m., Ashwood is inviting parents, alumni, and friends to participate in the Winter Spiral of Light celebration in the early-childhood center.

The winter spiral is a lovely tradition celebrated in Waldorf schools around the world. The theme is nonsectarian and embraces all beliefs; we honor simply the light that each of us brings to the world, particularly when we share that light with others. We especially need this as the days grow shorter and the light wanes earlier and earlier each day.

Participants quietly enter a darkened room. As soft music plays, each receives an apple “candleholder” bearing a taper. A large spiral of evergreens waits on the floor, adorned with golden stars. In the center of the spiral a tree stump supports a lighted candle. Each person walks, one by one, from the beginning of the spiral into the center and lights their candle from the central flame, then turns and walks back, setting their candle down on a golden star along the way. One by one, each small flame lights up the whole room. When everyone has walked, they leave the room silently to bask in the inner image of the glowing spiral as they wait in the foyer of the early-childhood center for the delivery of their candleholders, which all are invited to take home.

If you plan to attend, please arrive no later that 5:50; thank you!


Alumni Forum Rocks the House!

Ashwood Waldorf School hosted it’s annual all-school meeting on Tuesday, November 17, featuring a conversation with alumni moderated by alumni parent, Sarah Baldwin, a Waldorf educator and proprietor of Bella Luna Toys, and online retail site based in Rockland.

Alumni Aidan Acosta (2012), Caroline Ginsberg (2000), Alden Robinson (1998), Abraham Stimson (1998), Emily Seymour (2006), Valerie Shepard (1998), and Jesse Snider (2012) spoke with gratitude and enthusiasm about their time at Ashwood. Ginsberg stated, “This [education] is one of the biggest gifts my parents could have given me. I feel so appreciative of my parents for that.”

The graduates addressed two common misconceptions about Waldorf education: that students don’t learn to read, and that they are at a competitive disadvantage because no electronic technologies are used during grade school.

Shepard, a Mt. Holyoke graduate, said that her development as a reader was gradual. “At Ashwood there was no pressure on me. I could take my time. I had the freedom to develop on my own. Now I am a fast reader. It might have hampered me if I had been pushed.” All the alumni read regularly for pleasure.

Two of the former Ashwood students are web designers; both cite the school’s emphasis on “learning how to learn” and on imagination and creativity as crucial elements of their education. Robinson noted that modern technologies are designed to be easy to learn: “If you know how to learn then you can learn technologies.” Abraham added, “Curiosity is so much a part of the Ashwood Waldorf experience. It becomes part of your DNA and part of how you navigate the world.” And, graduates spoke of the need for balance in how we use technology: “I grew up without technology; it’s taking over people’s lives now. Without it you can tune in to who you are and who you are with and be more present in the moment.” (Valerie Shepard)

Looking toward the future, the graduates all said that they would choose a Waldorf education for their children. They cited the values of community, academic excellence, respect for and love of the natural world, imagination, empathy, and wonder as the hallmarks of their experience at Ashwood.

alums 2015

From Molding Beeswax to Shaping the World

all school meet 2015 flyer

Eighth-Grade Graduation 2015

Save the date for Ashwood Waldorf School’s eighth-grade graduation! The Class of 2015, along with their dedicated teacher, Amy Watson, look forward to seeing you at the Strom Auditorium at Camden Hills Regional High School on Saturday, June 6, at 1:00 p.m.

Graduation is the culminating moment of each student’s time at Ashwood. It is the students’ last chance to share their talents with our school community and for our community to honor their growth and achievements.

At Ashwood, graduation is seen as a significant moment for the whole community: for the younger children who are inspired by the eighth graders and who look forward to their own graduation; for the teachers who have all had a hand in their education; for the parents of children in other grades who have watched and helped the eighth graders grow through the years.

Our hope is that all parents and friends of Ashwood will also join us. It truly is a wonderful event!

Ashwood Grads, 2015

Ashwood Grads, 2015

Sparkle! Event and Online Auction

spark logo

Bid for a getaway at Sugarloaf; a windjammer cruise; horseback riding lessons; restaurant meals; a CSA share; bodywork sessions galore; and much, much more. February 28 through March 14, Ashwood Waldorf School is hosting an online auction. The array of offerings includes items for all budgets and tastes. Online bidding is easy and quick.

Ashwood is also hosting a gala event at the Rockport Opera House: Sparkle: Music, Food, and Community, on March 28 at 7:00 p.m. Showcasing music by the
Gawler Family and Friends and a dance performance by Droplet Dance, the evening also features great food, a cash bar by 40 Paper, a silent auction, and a 50/50 raffle.
Tickets for the celebration at the Rockport Opera House are $20 advance online at Bidding Owl or at Ashwood Waldorf School, $25 at the door.


Zoot Student Art Show

zootZoot Coffee on Elm St. in Camden, Maine is hosting an exhibit of artworks by Ashwood Waldorf School students during the months of December and January.

Ashwood’s professional faculty is devoted to challenging and engaging each student through a curriculum that integrates science and mathematics with literature, history, and the arts.

Every Waldorf student can play an instrument, paint, draw, and create handcrafts. However, we are not an art school. Waldorf schools around the world integrate the arts into every subject to bring lessons to life and draw out the children’s inherent capacities. The classroom atmosphere fosters interest, wonder, and enthusiasm.

In kindergarten and the lower grades, children paint with watercolors weekly. Younger children focus on the primary colors; later, they encounter more colors and techniques. They also have regular opportunities to color with crayons and model with beeswax. In the early grades, teachers emphasize the artistic process; as the children mature, the result of their artistic work becomes more important.

In the upper elementary grades, students continue with watercolor painting, and may also work with pastels, draw with pencils and charcoal, and paint in layers. Students paint and draw still-lifes and portraits and depict moods and landscapes. Students work with clay in many settings, integrating the arts into other subject areas.

Form drawing is a unique component of the Waldorf curriculum and has both pedagogical and artistic value. Form drawing in first grade leads to the formation of the letters of the alphabet. As the grades progress, form drawing hones fine-motor skills and hand-eye coordination, which leads to later precision in free hand geometric drawing.

Stop by and feast your eyes!

Ashwood Hosts Film Screenings

School’s Out: Lessons from a Forest Kindergarten. Ashwood Waldorf School Hosts Film Screenings

On Sunday, August 10, Ashwood Waldorf School hosts two free showings of the film, School’s Out: Lessons from a Forest Kindergarten. The short film will be presented at the Rockland Public Library at 2:00 p.m., and again at 4:00 p.m. at Ashwood’s early-childhood center at 180 Park St. Childcare will be provided for both screenings.

Ashwood is launching a forest kindergarten program this fall, the first in the Rockport area. The forest kindergarten will offer a full Waldorf early-childhood experience, outdoors. Fall, winter, and spring, in all weathers, children will enjoy seasonal activities, circle time, gardening, forest walks, and creative free play. The Forest Kindergarten movement is growing rapidly in the U.S. after more than 40 years’ success in Europe and Scandinavia.

Both film showings are free. Please RSVP no later than Friday, August 8: 207.236.8021

schools out photo.

Class 3-4 Trip to Beech Hill. By Class Teacher Robert Kaczor


It was a damp, foggy, almost springlike day on Friday, January 17, when the Grade 3-4 class left campus to hike Beech Hill in Rockport.  We had been studying local geography and it was my hope that we would be able to see and sketch some of the islands and mountains the students had been learning about.  It was obvious even before we left campus that the low clouds and thick fog were going to be a hindrance on this endeavor but I decided we would go for it anyway.

Though my plan would certainly need to be modified, the students seemed unperturbed by the conditions.  As we hiked/ran/splashed/trudged up the dirt path to the top of the hill, the students sang, talked, and joked with one another in high spirits.  As we looked out the blueberry fields faded away into the fog and, before us, the path itself seemed to disappear into nothing.

“It looks like we’re walking off the end of the world” one student observed.  I was feeling the same way.  I was determined to find some worthwhile experience from this trip since my original plan for the day was being swallowed by the ubiquitous fog so we took a moment to imagine that we were at the edge of the world.  Then I let the student run to explore the stone Beech Nut “hut.”

In the first local geography block, I start in concentric circles from our immediate surroundings, the classroom, school building, campus, and gradually work to the range of the furthest students’ homes.  Though not very tall or difficult to hike, Beech Hill offers a view of just about that distance and certainly manifest the character of the Camden Hills and Penobscot Bay.  The fog however, was forcing us to focus back in on our immediate surroundings so we explored the grounds of Beech Nut and identified some of the plants and trees that we found; black spruce, blueberries, bayberries, wild rose, etc.

“An owl!” called one student excitedly.  More enthusiastic echoes came from his classmates.  I hurried over to see.  About 50 yards from us, almost our total visibility, perched a large bird with a bright white head.

“A bald eagle perhaps?” I suggested.

“No, it’s turning its head like an owl.” Indeed, it was, and, it had the unmistakable face of an owl.  But what kind of owl?  White face; grey plumage; LARGE body.  We observed it as carefully as we could but it had already assessed us far better.

It decided that our romping around was either going to scare up some critters or convince them to stay in their homes.  With a few wide flaps it took off into the air and circled right over our heads to see if any of us were small enough to carry off; we stayed bunched together.  As it flew directly over us, it was clear to me what we were seeing.  From below the owl was as white as the fog it was carving through.  Had it not already been reported in the area I might not have known that it was – a snowy owl.

It circled above us for a few more silent moments before disappearing into the fog.  I felt my eyes well slightly at such a rare and beautiful sight.  The students also seemed to sense the significance of what we had just seen and began to dance and play and recount the experience to one another.

The rest of our visit to Beech Hill was as stimulating as I had hoped it would be.  We walked the forest paths and identified any and all of the local flora and fauna that we could.  By the time we made it back to the hut for a snack, the sky had finally cleared enough for us to look out and take in Penobscot Bay and the Camden Hills.

Our trip to Beech Hill was not as I imagined it would be.  The paper I brought to make sketches was damp and we didn’t have a lot of time to identify all the geographical features around us, though we named many.  However, the real lesson that I took away from that day, and hope the students did too, was perseverance; we could easily have rescheduled our trip for a nicer day but we stayed committed and were rewarded for it.

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”

-William Hutchinson Murray, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition

Martinmas Celebration

lantern walk

Early Childhood
On Friday, November 15, our Rosewood Kindergarten class joined with Mr. Clough’s first and second grade for a truly magical experience. All week we had been working on our lanterns for this event, speaking of it, telling stories and singing songs. Anticipation was in the air!

Earlier that day, the first and second graders and I placed lights along the path to illuminate our way. The children worked diligently to gather wood for the fire pit, piling twigs, branches, and logs into wheelbarrows and wagons, metal tubs and baskets. They showed great industry and willingness. Thank you, children, for your help!

Mr. Clough lit a bonfire as the moon rose in the mild November night sky. The grades children performed songs, depicting in lovely gestures the story of St. Martin. Mr. Clough captivated all with his telling of St. Martin stories.

The moon was full and bright as we lit the lanterns. Ms. Ursula led the way and off we went on a completely silent lantern walk. This was the first silent–and the most reverent–walk in my experience! What a lovely sight to see the lighted lanterns silently winding their way through field and forest! Picture a full moon, silent and purposeful walking, and only the whispering of leaves under many feet. All went home in silence, and we thank you for that! This festival was a gift. May all of you carry the light within you through the cold, dark nights of winter.


First and Second Grades
The stories of great human beings who have touched the lives of those around them inspire us and remind us of the highest virtues we, too, possess. Martin of Tours, who later became St. Martin, is one example of such a human being. He was forced to join the army against his will, but even as a soldier he found ways to care for those less fortunate than himself. On a cold November day he stopped to help a freezing beggar. He cut his cloak in two and gave half to the beggar. St. Martin went on to become a monk who lived his life in service to the poor and less fortunate.

We celebrate Saint Martin’s deeds with the festival of Martinmas. In this time of year when the nights are growing longer we make lanterns to light our way through the darkness. Our small lanterns illuminate our path and symbolize the flame of kindness and compassion in us all.

-Jeremy Clough, First and Second Grade Teacher.

Annual Pumpkin Carving

Every year Ashwood Waldorf School students create jack-o-lanterns for our All Hallows’ Eve Walk. Click one of the images for a slideshow.