Social Renewal

We have arrived at the midpoint of this landmark year in which we celebrate the hundredth anniversary of Waldorf education and the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of Sacramento Waldorf School. At Opening Day, Andrew Sullivan commenced this school year with an image of us standing between sunset and sunrise. Today, February 2, is the midpoint of the rising and setting of our school year.

Over the past few months, my work has included an abundance of inspiring conversations with alumni and previous SWS faculty. I have learned much about the commitment that previous generations have put into building this extraordinary institution. As members of this community, we have both a duty and an opportunity to preserve and enhance the legacy of what they worked so hard to create. I hope this inheritance inspires a commitment to conscious collaboration among all cross-sections of the community. This year, all adult members of the school community — teachers, staff, and parents — have a chance to renew our mission and our work together.

We welcome everyone’s participation in upcoming school workdays and everything from chaperoning opportunities to setting up Faculty-Staff luncheons. However, it is not just the work of our hands that co-create our school community; it is also making a conscious commitment to be more intentional and thoughtful in our interactions. We all hold differing perspectives on the many contentious issues that we are facing in the world at this time. Waldorf schools can serve as a model community when we prioritize reserving judgment, using active listening, and cultivating curiosity with each other. This is part of what Rudolf Steiner meant by social renewal. He believed that a third space can open up between two opposing interpretations of our world. In other words, we are participating in social renewal when a third way emerges out of the tensions of conflict. Extraordinary encounters of this nature are what we strive for, be it in the classroom or in the parking lot. Our governance model is set up to encourage this level of discourse and decision-making, and our faculty are committed to helping students grow beyond the limitations of their own assumptions. This holistic learning culture nurtures a growth mindset, rather than a fixed one, and it fosters the belief that together we can create a more harmoniously-functioning society.

Sixty years ago, a group of parents and teachers decided to bring these ideals to Northern California, starting the very first Waldorf school in the region, Sacramento Waldorf School. In the coming weeks, we will delve into the stories of our forefathers and foremothers who helped to make this school what it is today. Meanwhile, if you haven’t already, let yourself be inspired by the pictures and news clippings collected in a photo album in the lobby of Margaret Preston Hall.

Today, at the midpoint of our school calendar, is the holiday of Candlemas. In class, younger students often make candles in celebration of the return of light as our days grow warmer. This is a day when one metaphorically opens the curtains to the coming spring and peeks into the emerging days of renewal and reawakening. If we all adjust our perception, an engaging and synergetic feeling can be experienced on campus to inspire the work before us. I invite us to stand at this threshold moment with imagination, courage, and responsibility of soul. Taking up our service to the community with the spirit of social renewal transforms budding potential into reality. The faculty, staff, founders, and families who came before us will no doubt appreciate these renewed efforts of ours.

“I tried to show them how to deal with what happens when individuals meet one another across the gulf that separates this world from regions of soul and spirit. This takes place when the powers that hold the soul together are loosened. People of future times will have to learn how to conduct themselves, as such things increasingly take place.”

– Rudolf Steiner, 1919, the Founding Year of Waldorf Schools