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.