For tonight’s Town Hall, I was asked to look through the list of excellent questions posed to us from the community. And as I read through these, a central theme quickly began to emerge. It has been obvious for a while that our community is experiencing great uncertainty and some fear during these unprecedented times. These thoughts were mirrored in the people I called and spoke with during the last few weeks. Based on this, I have decided not to answer a single, specific question, but to address these concerns in hope of helping as many people as possible with their uncertainties.
The fears and uncertainties we are experiencing as a community are legitimate and felt by many community members. I believe we have all felt, or are feeling them, to some extent. Many are concerned with the aspects of paying tuition, what our school might look like come Fall, and perhaps even larger, more personal issues revolving around family health and employment loss. These are truly confusing times for many, and our school community understands, sympathizes and stands ready to assist in any way we can.
It is within the realm of a strong community that we can begin to help assuage many of the uncertainties that our members are now facing. To me, the definition of a community is “a group of like-minded people working together toward a common goal”. Obviously, we believe that the Waldorf method of education is the right fit for our children, or we would not be here. As a 30-year teacher in public education, it is easy for me to explain why I feel this form of education is superior to any other method available to us.
But the feeling of strong community takes time to establish and recognize. My daughter, a rising 9th grader, has two close friends in her class that are part of a family of five children who attend our school. I asked their mother last Fall why they were attracted to, and attend, Sacramento Waldorf. Her answer was quick and simple; she stated that her children were safe here, they were flourishing and she had complete confidence in the school itself. Those were strong words.
If you remember the ambulance that came onto campus last October, it was here to help our daughter. She suffered what was determined to be a random migraine headache which caused her to lose coherence and her ability to communicate with others. The whole situation was handled perfectly, from awareness to substitute teachers arriving to the diagnoses of her condition by a high school science teacher who has experience as an EMT. Wendy Gittleman even rode in the ambulance as it transported her to Kaiser, and stayed until we were able to arrive. The care, procedures, compassion and the love we experienced during that situation were simply amazing. These, and so many more stories, emphasize what an amazing and loving community we have, and our family is both proud and honored that we can be part of this astounding group of people.
In these times, let us remember that this same community is still here. It may look differently, but our school is still operating with these same Waldorf philosophies. Compassion, love, respect and a belief in doing what is best for our children is still at the forefront of everything our school is doing.
This has not, and will not, change. And I really believe the following two things:
- These crazy times will eventually subside and go away
- And, when they do:
At the lower school:
- Valerie will still ring the 8:10 bell
- Teachers will still greet each child as they enter the classroom
- The ladies in the office will still balance the financial books, help coordinate festivals and events, enroll and acclimate new families and bandage skinned knees
- Fields will teach your kids to knit and sew, and Mr. K. in his Fedora will instruct strings class
- Farmer Steve will – and still is – producing delicious organic food for our community
- Elder will graduate our 8th grade class, the maypole dance will resume, the Greek games will reappear and yet another dragon will be constructed for Michaelmas
- And, of course, Atticus, Frankie and Patty eagerly await our return
In the high school:
- Dean Stark will once again prowl the gym, class greetings and discussions will resume, and senior rites of passage will once again commence
- Sarah Winfield and her drama crew will produce new plays for us to attend and enjoy
- Jacob Hosler will teach Calculus, run off to teach strings, and bring us great concerts
- Beloved sports programs will return
- Pugh and other arts teachers will introduce our students to wonderful and unique classes like stained-glass production and blacksmithing
- And all the great teachers will deliver the amazing curriculum that has enabled our students to enjoy learning while preparing them to succeed in the most rigorous college institutions in the country and the world
Finally, as a close-knit community, we must continue to press on, and help, each other with any situations that may arise. Please continue to reach out if you have concerns, questions or problems you might be experiencing. With head, hands and heart at the forefront of our schools guiding principles, we will emerge from these trying times an even stronger and closer community. I cannot imagine a better place for my family.