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The “Ultimate” Sport


It was not until I entered college that I heard of Ultimate Frisbee. I immediately fell in love with the game. It’s easy for beginners to learn and play. Yet, despite it’s accessibility, there’s no end to how skilled you can become at this extremely athletic game.

When I became a Waldorf teacher I began to fully appreciate another aspect of Ultimate. There are no referees, even in competitive tournament play. All officiating is done by the players on the field who make their decisions in light of the Spirit of the Game™ “a tradition of sportsmanship that places the responsibility for fair play on the players rather than referees.”

The benefits of self-officiating are clear to me as a someone who has taught games and sports to children for many years. Children need opportunities to work through disagreements and conflict in healthy ways. They need chances to learn and practice good sportsmanship.

Traditionally, team sports were an avenue for those opportunities. However, as we’ve moved away from sandlot baseball to televised Little League World Championships, in too many cases winning has become more important than interacting with the other team, and adults have taken over the officiating.

Ultimate provides players the opportunity to develop the healthy sportsmanship that is so needed in our sports crazed society.

This is the second year I have taught the afterschool Ultimate Club at Ashwood Waldorf School for grades four through seven. Even after a long day of teaching I’m excited to get out on the field and play Ultimate with these enthusiastic students.

I’ve been impressed with the conduct and skill level of this year’s club team. It’s truly a joy to coach them. Adults are always welcome to join in on the fun!

We have more Ultimate planned for the summer. I will be leading Ashwood’s new Ultimate Frisbee Summer Camp, from August 5-9, a weeklong experience for students in grades four through seven.

Sign up for the “Ultimate” Summer Camp!

There’s more information on the camp at, as well as a link to download a brochure/registration form.

Want to know more about Ultimate?

Thinking About Art

Eighth Grade Projects

Building a pedal-powered ice cream maker

Ashwood’s art program features prominently in Nancy Harris Frohlich’s May 7 blog Thinking About Art. In it she refers to her experiences with Ashwood students and families at the opening exhibition of the CMCA student art show as well as her impressions of the Eighth Grade Projects at our recent open house: “These young thinkers were solving authentic problems, and through this project they learned about the process of solving more complex and challenging problems – the kind they would face in adulthood.”

More: Eighth Grade Project Night


Ashwood Eighth Grader Directs and Stars in Musical

Gabe as Dr. Horrible

Gabe as Dr. Horrible

For his Eighth Grade Project, Gabe Ferrero decided that he would star in and direct the musical “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-along Blog.” After a year of planning and rehearsals, Gabe’s debut as a director will be at the Waldo Theater, 916 Main Street, Waldoboro. Show times are Friday, May 10 at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday May 11 at 1:00 p.m.

The show runs to about 50 minutes. (Please note that the very young might find some parts of the story too intense.)

Set in Dr. Horrible’s Lab, a city street, and a laundry mat, this musical weaves the sorrowful tale of superhero Dr. Horrible, played by Gabe. Horrible’s problem? He’s just not evil enough. To make matters worse, he accidentally introduces his love interest Penny (Ashwood Eighth Grader Chloe Isis) to his nemesis, “the too good and quite conceited“ Captain Hammer (Lincoln Academy senior Griffin Han-Lalime). But, not to worry! Horrible’s good friend Moist (Ashwood Eighth Grader Taliesin Peck) is by his side—along with a talented cast of actors and singers—to help Horrible reach his dream.

This weekend’s shows will benefit the Waldo Theatre as a thank-you for the many years of plays and friendships that have enriched the lives of the young people in the community. Many of the actors in this show first experienced the thrill of the stage while performing at the Waldo.

Gabe would like to thank Beth Preston, Linda Blanchard, and Griffin Han-Lalime for sharing their musical talents. Thanks also to Melissa Hearth for assisting with logistics and Cayleigh Hearth for lending her hand in tech support.

May Faire Memories

Ashwood friend, co-founder, alumna parent, and keeper-of-the-maypole Bridget Qualey sent this video clip of May Faire 2007, when her daughter Emily was a student here.

Watch it and enjoy that great May Faire vibe while you mark your calendar for the annual May Faire & Open House on Saturday, May 4 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Ashwood campus.

Click on the photo to see the video


Animal Studies in the Fourth Grade

From Nature Stories to Natural ScienceP1040198

by Lesley Finlayson, Fourth Grade Teacher

The Fourth Grade spent the month of February immersed in its second “Human Being and Animal World” block. These two blocks are truly marvelous, for many reasons. The classroom is abuzz with enthusiasm, because the children are enormously interested in animals, and throw themselves into the subject with great curiosity and interest. But this interest has a new quality now, because the children are becoming more and more aware of the distance that separates them from the world of nature. As they lose their sense of oneness with nature, they become more interested in looking at the world in a new way. A division between their rational thought and their imaginative thought begins to occur, and the children want animals that are not part of fairy tales or fables but part of the world in which they find themselves. So the teacher brings descriptions and stories of real animals, which serves as an introduction to the world of science.

The Animal Project was the culmination of the “Human Being and Animal World” blocks. Each child chose an animal that makes its home here in the landscape in which we live—an animal of Maine. I was fascinated to see how each child chose an animal that seemed, in some way, like a reflection of that child. The children got books and magazines from the library, and learned how to write a research paper, taking notes, organizing ideas and facts, then writing an essay based on the material they had collected. This was a huge step in their academic learning, and they seemed to relish it. At the same time, they were modeling their animal in clay and beeswax and— for the first time in school—making numerous, very accurate drawings from photographs.

After the reports were written and the children had an understanding of the world of their animal, they each wrote a story, told from their animal’s point of view. Several children in the class told of brushes with death: the bear cub witnesses the death of a male bear, the fisher kills his first porcupine, the turtle is almost crushed by a wagon, the fox is killed by a farmer. Several told of an important moment on the journey from childhood to the independence of adulthood: the owlet learns to fly, the otter gets lost and then finds his way home, the beaver builds her own lodge, the moose grows his first antlers. And one story details a quest for a magical healing flower, which may well be a part of a baby hummingbird’s day!

The final step for the children was the construction of dioramas, showing their animal in its habitat, going about some aspect of its day. These were beautifully done, with careful attention to detail and novel solutions to showing the landscape of Maine (including eight different ways of showing water.) They were presented to the whole school, with the children standing by their dioramas and answering questions about their animal.

During this project, I saw the children make great strides in their ability to do academic work independently, and also form a deeper conscious connection to the natural world and its inhabitants. I was also delighted by the generosity of the adults and of all the other children in our school, who were so supportive of the class during their visits to see the children’s animal presentations.

See pictures of all of the Animal Dioramas at: Fourth Grade Animal Dioramas. When you get there, click on one of the photos for a very colorful slide show!

Ultimate Frisbee Club: Sign Up Today!

g3 boy outside ultimate 2There is still time to sign up for Ultimate Frisbee Club!

All students in the midcoast community in Grades 4–7 are welcome. Bring your friends! This club is coed, and no experience is needed. You will learn all the skills and

rules you need to play. Your skills are sure to improve, but the main goal is to have fun.

The club meets on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3:15–4:30 p.m., April 29-June 5 (11 sessions; no practice on May 27). Students may sign up for either one or two days per week.

Cost is $25 per student

We will meet at Ashwood Waldorf School, 180 Park Street, Rockport, at 3:15 and walk to the Marge Jones Recreation Fields on Rte 90. We will be playing on the Babe Ruth Field. Pick up is at the recreation fields at 4:30p.m.

Sign up information: Please call Elizabeth Larrow at 207-236-8021 if your child would like to join the club.

Students will need to bring running shoes or cleats, a snack, water bottle, and appropriate clothing for the weather.

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Hats Off! Auction – New Items!

auction logo top hat

Only two weeks to bid on your special items!


Check out the new items!

Over 250 items on which to bid!

Bidding ends April 25th at 8pm.


Live event to follow on April 27th, 6:30pm at the Rockport Opera House


Example of what you might receive every month!

Example of what you might receive every month!

Creature a Month – Surprise yourself, or someone you love, with 12 magical monthly gifts. Once a month for a year, you will receive a felted item in the mail, handmade by the talented and creative Early Childhood teacher Liz Ferrero. If you’ve seen LIz’s remarkable fairy houses and charming little gnomes and critters, you know how incredible her work is, and how much children and adults love it. You choose the dates, the theme, and the recipient, and Liz will do the rest. All items will be handmade and felted, with the potential for some embroidered accents and other varying details depending on the chosen theme.


Home, Clean, Home!

Home, Clean, Home!

Chemical-Free House Cleaning – It’s Spring, the sun is warm and strong… illuminating all the spots in your house that could use some attention! Treat yourself to the gift of 2 hours of Chemical – Free House Cleaning with Marlee Luehman! Using only non-toxic cleaners, Marlee will give you a jump start on your spring cleaning. She has been in business for 3 years and it can be hard to break into her weekly schedule, so this is your chance to pamper your home… creating a “Healthy Haven” for your family.


Everybody loves Toki!

Everybody loves Toki!

Wearable Toki Art and Birthday Calendar – Everyone loves TokiArt, and you’ll especially love wearing it with these two 100 percent cotton white t-shirts, each featuring one of Maine artist and Waldorf teacher Toki Oshima’s lovely, folksy drawings. You’ll get “The Neighbor’s Tractor” (adult small), featuring a fabulous red vintage machine drawn in Toki’s trademark style, and “Afternoon Visit” (adult medium), featuring a sweet image of a cow with a blackbird perched on its head. Also,

William Alexander ’10 Accepted to USC Honors Program

william-alexanderAshwood graduate William (“Whit”) Alexander ‘10, has received a letter of acceptance to the University of Southern California’s Resident Honors Program. This highly competitive program accepts only 20 to 30 students each year. Applicants must have a minimum combined SAT score of 2050, a successful high school record with a 4.0 grade average, and demonstrated leadership ability.

William is currently a junior at the Watershed School in Camden. Admission to the USC Resident Honors program will allow him to skip his senior year of high school and enter USC as a freshman in September.

Acceptance automatically qualifies William for a one-fourth tuition scholarship for four years.

Congratulations William!


Ursula Leonore: A Life in Service

© 2012 Marti Stone Photography

© 2012 Marti Stone Photography

As a recently retired teacher after almost 35 years of teaching and close to 70 years old, I have the leisure now to think about and reflect on a long string of life experiences. When I began to write the article about Ashley Bryan (“An Encounter with Maine Artist Ashley Bryan”), I realized that all my life I have been drawn to, or was surrounded by interesting and inspiring people who have played an important part in my life. Throughout my teaching career in the Waldorf schools I strove to bring biographies of outstanding men and women to my students as models for them, or I invited people to the classroom who had the quality to inspire them. I grew up myself with strong models in my life.

After the war, my father was given a leading political position in the town of Bremerhaven in northern Germany where I spent most of my childhood. My parents often invited people who played an important part in the political restructuring of Germany after the war. This reflected on the nature of our home life. It was a rich and inspiring environment. I feel fortunate that I lived in a close-knit family where lively discussions and debates were the norm, as well as much humor and good-natured laughter—maybe to offset the terrible times of the war and Russian occupation my family had to endure. Classical music resounded daily in our house from our Gründig record player, in addition to my mother’s beautiful piano playing. Thoughtful conversation, literature, music and art, and folk singing were a constant part of my childhood, until I left home at 18 to study nursing.

I lived in a sheltered environment, the youngest of three; but after my siblings who were much older than I, had left home, I grew up like an only child. I adored my mother, and she and I became inseparable. My playmate and companion was my dachshund, not other children. This was after World War II and people struggled with rebuilding their bombed-out houses, trying to find normalcy again in their lives. Children were often left to their own devices, or had to help after school. My parents were very protective and cautious; the streets were not safe in the late forties and early fifties for children to roam on their own. We had a fenced-in yard where I played by myself and created many imaginary games; I tended to my beloved flower bed in our vast garden, or I amused myself playing with my little dog, my dolls and stuffed animals. I had then, and still have, a strong love for nature and animals and one of my hobbies as a teenager was to observe and photograph wild birds and keep a record. It was a habit among many German families to take a Sunday afternoon hike in the forest on the outskirt of the town. My family kept to this custom religiously, hiking every Sunday, rain or shine, several hours in the woods and then going home for the traditional “Four o’ Clock Coffee and Cake”. The feeling of wonderful togetherness with close family in nature has never left me and inspired me to continue exploring the outdoors with my own children and my students.

Before coming to the North American continent, I had traveled abroad a few times: to England at 16 to study English; at 20 to Canada and Australia while working on the Greek passenger ship, the QSS Arkadia, as assistant nurse. These experiences opened my eyes to the wider world and other cultures and languages; I met many wonderful people and forged lasting friendships. Later my travels included trips to Hungary and Slovakia, where my husband’s family and relatives lived, and of course we visited Germany numerous times. Naturally, my young family and I were exposed simultaneously to several languages—French, English, German and Hungarian, as well as to their cultures. My children learned from early on not to discriminate and to be open to other people, their languages and customs. They are passing these values on now to their own children.

My interest in children, languages, history, religion, and philosophy brought me to study education at the universities in Montreal, Quebec, in order to become a teacher. After I graduated, I found out that the job market for teachers was saturated. The only employment I could find was in a private pre-school as piano accompanist and music teacher. Fortunately, music and playing instruments, one of them the piano, had stayed with me as part of my life. After 11 years of teaching music to very young children, I happened to connect with a group of people in eastern Quebec who wished to found a Waldorf kindergarten on a biodynamic farm, and they were looking for a kindergarten teacher. I fell in love with the people, the farm, and with Rudolf Steiner’s philosophy, and enrolled in studies in anthroposophy and Waldorf education and moved to the farm. Besides leading the kindergarten, I also taught German and English as a specialty teacher and then enrolled in studies to become a Waldorf class teacher. I led my own music summer camp on the farm and later worked many summers in other Waldorf summer camps in the U.S., the first state being Vermont. In Vermont I rented a small farm and realized my childhood dream of having horses. I was able to follow that dream until the combination of teaching and caring for horses became too much responsibility for me and I had to relinquish the idea, which was a very painful experience and sacrifice. My last horse, named Copper, a Quarter Horse, now lives in South Paris, Maine.

In almost 25 years as a Waldorf teacher, I have taught in Quebec, Canada, and in the U.S. in Vermont, Rhode Island, and in Maine. I felt that I was able to realize my potential and talents best by being a Waldorf teacher, which is to me a most rounded education. I am calling this part of my life “my Waldorf adventure and spiritual journey.” During all this time I have met the most wonderful and inspiring people; I have made numerous friends with whom I am still in contact, dear colleagues and former students and parents. At this moment in time, I feel especially blessed that I have I had the good fortune to find a profession that nourishes my whole being, my heart and soul, and that I found my true path in life. By following the example and guidance of Rudolf Steiner and anthroposophy, I have chosen a path that I can follow for the rest of my life and always share with people in practical and spiritual ways. My new goal is to teach young children the art of gardening using the science of biodynamics and inspire them with the help of Mother Nature so they can become true guardians of our dear planet Earth.

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An Encounter with Maine Artist Ashley Bryan

Ashley-Bryan webTwo years ago, Ms. Purdom’s Fifth Grade class and my Fourth Grade class, as part of a camping trip to Acadia National Park, took a side trip out to Little Cranberry Island, Maine to meet artist and poet Ashley Bryan. It was an unforgettable experience for us all as we toured his studios, played with his handmade toys, marveled at his beautiful children’s books, and got to know this unique man.

Though this former Dartmouth professor, artist, author, and poet, is soon to be 90 years of age (his birthday is July 13), Ashley Bryan has kept young, physically and in spirit, his mind always in creative mode. There is no question that he has kept his inner child alive throughout the years. Children and adults alike are drawn to Ashley who makes everyone feel special by giving his whole attention to them, no matter who, or how old they are. His enthusiasm and his love of life and people have no bounds. He will engage deeply in a conversation with a five year old and demonstrate one of his movable toys, happily playing with the child in his “Toy Museum”, quite forgetting the time. His house and studio are brimful from floor to ceiling with handmade toys, collectibles, and artifacts from all over the world, as well as with Ashley’s own creations: his paintings, collages, puppets, stained glass windows made from sea glass, papier-mâche, woodcuts, and of course, books of all kinds. It is a fascinating place to visit!

Ashley loves to share his art, and he loves to tell stories. His mind is overflowing with ideas, poems, and wisdom. I remember Ashley welcoming our classes at the mail boat landing on Little Cranberry Island and walking with us in long energetic strides on the way to his house, reciting some of the poetry of Langston Hughes in a booming, resonating voice. With patience and unwavering commitment he tended to two busy classes of children and several adults that day, demonstrating his toys, answering questions, and making us feel that were were his honored guests.

Ashley stands out with his vibrant personality, but also by his stature (he stands very tall) and by being the only African American living on Little Cranberry. However, Ashley feels connected to all people, no matter what the color of their skin, their religion, or ethnic background.

Ashley’s biography is as eclectic as his artistic tastes. He studied art in France and Germany and has a particular affinity for these languages and cultures. He still travels widely, collecting folk tales in Africa and finding inspiration for his art from the folk soul in other countries. Although he suffered racial discrimination in New York where he grew up, he decided early not to be affected by this, but to concentrate on the positive in life and to see the goodness in every person he met. He had to overcome many obstacles on his way to becoming a professional artist, but as he says, “I never gave up!” I have never heard him refer to any negative experiences in his life, not even to those during World War II, where he served in the U.S. Army as a 19 year old: “All through the war years, I drew whenever I could,” said Ashley. “During any lull I would take out my sketchbook and draw.” He has a vast collection of inspiring stories and humorous anecdotes from his life that he will readily share. Ashley even refers to the years of the Great Depression as a memorable time when he learned to make his own toys with cast-off materials he and his sister found in the streets. This kind of “treasure-hunting” lasted all his life; his sculptures, his puppets and other creations bear testimony to an enormous creative spirit that allows him to incorporate beach finds—drift wood, bones, shells, pebbles, and mundane objects, into new art forms; as he says, “The inspiration that comes from collecting things has stayed with me all my life.”

Ursula Leonore with Ashely Bryan at his Islesboro studio

Ursula Leonore with Ashely Bryan at his Islesboro studio

A teacher at heart, Ashley captivates audiences of children and adults with his warm personality and radiant smile. He is a model for young and old to emulate. In his autobiography, Words to My Life’s Song, Ashley points to the people in his early life who inspired him—his parents and teachers, whom he recalls with great fondness. His parents supported his artistic talents in any way possible, though they had small means and looked after a large family. At his local elementary school, he was introduced to “the practice of performing poetry.” He says that “the understanding of poetry as a performance art has never left me. It is at the heart of all of my work.” Ashley is the author and illustrator of many books for children, as well as books of spirituals and poetry. He has won numerous awards, among them, the 2012 Coretta Scott King Award-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Wherever he goes, especially visiting schools and addressing children, Ashley transmits his love for learning and for art and literature. Of course, he has a natural connection to the children on Little Cranberry Island (also known as Islesford) who absolutely adore him. No wonder that the children on this island petitioned to rename their school, the Ashley Bryan School. What a fitting way for the islanders to express their love and gratitude to this unique man and citizen of Maine, and create a memorial for future generations! Ashley has deeply touched me personally; I love his art and his books, but most of all, I love his goodness.

Ursula Leonore is a retired Waldorf teacher. She lives in Union, Maine.