September 2018

The end of summer vacation and return to school is always bittersweet, more so when your youngest enters first grade. At the end of kindergarten they look so enormous, all long legs and growth spurts. But watching the new first graders as they were welcomed to school by their eighth grade buddies at the Rose Ceremony--a tradition at Waldorf schools worldwide--they once again looked so impossibly small. It was comforting to see the warmth that greeted them on this new journey, and the excitement on their faces at the end of their first day as "graders." I know this bittersweet feeling was shared by our Early Chidhood parents in the Rose and Sunflower classes this week, and will continue for the parents of our Bluebell students who start school--many for the first time--next Tuesday. Be brave, parents! If your children can do it--and they can--you can too.

The 2018-2019 school year will be a busy one as we head toward our 30th birthday, re-accreditation with both the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA) and the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools (CAIS), PLUS the 100th anniversary of Waldorf education next September. Phew! Keep an eye on this publication over the coming months for details related to these activities, and in particular, the "Waldorf 100" initiative.


Christina Dixcy
Communications Director and Office Manager
Important Links
Imbue thyself
Upcoming Events
Dates to Remember...
No School: Monday, September 10; Wednesday, September 19
Picture Day: Tuesday, October 2
Early Childhood Parent Evening and Potluck
Friday, September 7; 6:30-8:30 PM
Rose Garden Building, 40 Dodgingtown Rd.

Early Childhood parents are invited to gather for the first parent evening of the year plus a potluck dinner. Please refer to an e-mail from your teacher for details.
Annual Back-to-School Picnic
Saturday, September 8; 3 PM until dark
Dickinson Memorial Park, Newtown

Make new friends and reconnect with old. This annual tradition is a casual affair -- stop by for as little or as much time as you'd like! Different waves of families tend to come and go over the course of the afternoon. Bring a picnic dinner and blanket or chairs.
New Parent Orientations
Wednesday, September 12, 8:30 AM
Friday, September 14, 8:30 AM
Monday, September 17, 6:30 PM
Tuesday, September 18, 1:30 PM
Administration Cottage, 51 Dodgingtown Rd.

We ask that at least one parent from each new family attend one session, including those families that have had children in our Early Childhood and now have a grade school student for the first time.The orientations will be short, about 45 minutes, and intimate, providing enough time and space to answer questions. All meetings will take place in the Administration Cottage. Please park at the Taunton Hill parking lot across the street, or in front of the Dodgingtown Firehouse. 
The Steiner Seminar
Starts September 12; 8:30-10:30 AM

No day should pass in our human life without our receiving at least one thought that alters our nature a little, and enables us to develop instead of merely to exist. 
– Rudolf Steiner

A weekly class exploring Anthroposophy, the philosophy behind Waldorf education,
with Melissa Merkling
10 Wednesday mornings between September 12 and December 19, 2018
8:30-10:30 AM
in the Handwork Room, lower level, Compass Hall

Explore new dimensions in your understanding and appreciation of Waldorf education and Anthroposophy, the modern spiritual path that underlies it. Reading Rudolf Steiner’s works is especially rewarding in a group; this class is open to seasoned students of Steiner and newcomers alike.  

Participants are asked to buy their own copies of Steiner’s Learning to See Into the Spiritual World and Verena Stael von Holstein’s Nature Spirits and What They Say. We will also read other texts, including some fairy tales.

Our mission is to discover Steiner’s worldview, and to discover in our own lives the reality he describes. This requires expanding our awareness to include the invisible and inaudible, and seeking to experience the extent to which, without realizing it, we are already living in the soul and spirit worlds he describes. 

Artistic practice is essential to this process, and the class incorporates various kinds of artistic work. Materials are included in tuition.  

Please commit to attending every class, and to reading in preparation for each meeting. The class will meet Sept. 12, 26; Oct. 10, 17, 24; Nov. 7, 14; Dec. 5, 12, 19. The tuition of $200 is payable in advance at the first session; no partial payments or refunds. The Seminar will continue with another series starting in January.

If you are interested in joining, or for more information, please email  

Melissa Merkling, HVWS founder and currently Educational Support Coordinator and Extra Lesson teacher, has been attending and leading Steiner study groups for thirty years. She is certified in Waldorf Early Childhood Education and has taught in the Early Childhood (6 years) and Grades (9 years) programs at HVWS, as well as serving as administrator (5 years), parent, and board member of the school. She attended the Rudolf Steiner School in New York City in grades K-12.  
Friday, September 28; 11 AM
South Campus, 1 Jacklin Rd.

Early dismissal (12:35 PM); no afternoon school bus; no aftercare or late care. 

The Michaelmas festival honors St. Michael, the mythical Dragon-slayer astride a white steed, who bears a mighty iron sword flashing like a meteor. Michael's legend symbolizes the autumnal resurgence of human strength, willpower and striving to overcome our inner Dragons -- laziness, greed, doubt, fear of the future -- who may have crept over us unnoticed during summer's dreamy warmth and forgetfulness. Every September, our school honors the Michaelmas festival with songs, games, and a wonderful play featuring the grade school students. Grade school parents, please check with your class teacher regarding your child's clothing for the Michaelmas play.

All HVWS parents and the public are invited to join the festivities at 11 AM, on the South Campus playground at 1 Jacklin Rd.

You may park at the South Campus parking lot (1 Jacklin Rd.), the North Campus Taunton Hill parking lot, the North Campus EC horseshoe, the back of the Firehouse, behind the deli, and/or at Dodgingtown Garage (both on Rt. 302). 

Please feel free to bring blankets and folding/lawn chairs for your convenience, particularly if bringing grandparents or others who may be more comfortable sitting rather than standing for an extended period. 

The Class of 2019 will offer a delicious Sweet & Savory Bake Sale immediately following the festival. The proceeds support their class trip fundraising efforts.

Early Childhood Families
All Early Childhood families are invited to attend this celebration. If you plan to attend, please pick up your child at 11 AM from the Early Childhood playground and escort him/her across the street to the South Campus. Teachers will escort remaining students to the celebration. If you do not plan to attend, please pick up your child at 12:30 from the South Campus parking lot gate (1 Jacklin Rd.). Please check your e-mail for information from the Early Childhood teachers about the in-school Early Childhood Michaelmas celebration.
Save the Date: Fall Fair
Saturday, October 13
South Campus, 1 Jacklin Rd.

Puppet show, food, crafts, and activities for the whole family! If you are interested in working on the Fall Fair Committee, please e-mail Carrie Donat, Development and Volunteer Coordinator, at
Raising a Resilient Child: Helping your Child Regulate Intense Emotion
Thursday, October 25; 7-8 PM

A talk by Leslie Cohen-Rubury, LCSW
Lower Level, Compass Hall, 1 Jacklin Rd.

Anxiety is at epidemic proportions in children today; self-harming behaviors, panic attacks, and all kinds of avoidant behavior are on the rise. Anxiety is often misdiagnosed as ADHD or Oppositional and Defiant behaviors.

Learn how to validate your child’s emotions and focus on coping skills rather than hyper-focusing on problem solving and trying to “fix” the child. Learn how to recognize anxiety and teach your child what it is and how to cope, using cognitive skills, distress tolerance skills, mindfulness skills, and other emotional regulation skills.

You can expect to leave this talk with a broader perspective and understanding of your child as well as with practical tools and strategies that you can start to use immediately.

Parent testimonials:
“I am amazed at how strongly I believed that good parenting was just common sense. I have realized that it is much more than that and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to take part in your class.”
“I’ve read a lot of these books and been to a lot of therapists including the Yale Parenting Center. Your method is the first to work immediately and long term and feel so natural once I really grasp it.”

Leslie Cohen-Rubury is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, with an MSW as well as a Masters in Special Education. She has 37 years’ experience working with families and children in school and community settings. With a private practice in Redding, CT providing individual, family, and marital therapy, Ms. Cohen-Rubury has ongoing parenting groups and regularly conducts workshops and lectures in the community. She is intensively trained in Dialectic Behavior Therapy and now leads DBT skills groups for adults, teenagers and their families. This work focuses on emotional regulation and interpersonal skills training. Ms. Cohen-Rubury has been married for 37 years and has 3 children: a 31-year-old son and 28-year-old twin girls. She is thrilled to have a daughter-in-law and two young grandchildren as well. Ms. Cohen-Rubury is committed to helping parents develop a framework and perspective that decreases burnout and increases competency at what is often referred to as the world’s hardest job: parenting.
Photo Album: The Rose Ceremony
Photo Album: Summer Camp
Click the play button for a video of the musical group Andes Manta and HVWS summer campers creating the sounds of the rainforest...
Handwork Group
The Handwork Group would like to begin meeting on Thursday mornings with an eye to making items for Pocketman and the Fall Fair. We are still determining a location for the group to meet. Please contact Natasha de Castro if you are interested!
Alumni Updates
After an intense three-day tryout, Matthew Nesto (HVWS Class of 2018) was selected for Team Connecticut's U14 hockey team, which meant he was one of only fifteen kids statewide who got to attend the USA Hockey New England District Development Camp at Keene State University in New Hampshire this past July. He trained with, and competed against, the top fourteen-year-old players from Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.

Update from the Unschuld Family… Anna Marie (HVWS Class of 2005) is very excited and happy to have started her new job as an Interventional Radiology Nurse at Lincoln Medical Center in the South Bronx. Elena Rose (HVWS Class of 2007) has just returned from her honeymoon a glowing newlywed and has returned to her teaching position at Barbieri Elementary School in Framingham, MA. Michael (HVWS Class of 2011) is a senior at Cornell University and has already had his first job offer at Blackrock, NYC. And mother Alice has started her elementary music teaching in Naugatuck Public Schools.
Summer Staff Adventures
We asked our faculty and staff to share a snapshot of some of their most memorable experiences from this past summer. The following are a few of their responses!
Isabel Gandara, Sunflower Kindergarten Teacher

Summer has gone by fast and was very busy for me. It began with the graduation of my youngest daughter from Bethel High School and visits from family for graduation. Then for a few days I had the opportunity to see more members of my family when I traveled to Guadeloupe, a French island in the Caribbean, and Ecuador. I worked for a week each at Apple Blossom's summer camp and HVWS's summer camp. I also enjoyed some time with my granddaughters and helping my daughter get ready for college. The really fun thing I did was use a gift certificate that the Sunflower Parents gave me at the end of the 2016-17 school year and fly a small airplane for an hour. (Parents knew that my dream as a teenager was to become a pilot, right before I became a Waldorf teacher!) It was very fun. Thank you Sunflower Parents.
Heather Hemphill, Rose Kindergarten Assistant and Aftercare Teacher

Over the summer I enjoyed visiting my best friend and her two children in Virginia. We also love camping, but did not get to do it nearly enough this summer! For the 2018-19 school year I am looking forward to meeting new families and making more connections in the community.
Allison Washington , Class of 2024 Teacher

I spent four weeks at training over the summer: one week in New Hampshire at the Renewal course for grade 3 readiness training, and three weeks at the Sunbridge Institute for Waldorf teacher training. Aside from that I was able to spend time playing in the waves with my family out on Block Island and also up in the Adirondack Mountains where I really enjoyed hiking the Northville-Placid trail, kayaking, and fishing. I am looking forward to teaching grade 3 -- I am especially excited for the farm trip to Plowshare Farm in NH in the spring!

HVWS faculty and staff take a break during summer training at Sunbridge Institute.
Patricia Campbell , Traditional Dance Teacher

This summer I got two peppers from my two pepper plants before something chewed up
the plants! I also traveled to Memphis, TN and Jonesboro, AR. I love seeing how much the students have grown and changed over the summer. I look forward to being with the amazing faculty and also
teaching new dances!
Laetitia Berrier-Saarbach , Eurythmy Teacher

This summer's most important event was certainly saying goodbye to my 18-year-old daughter who left to travel the world with her backpack. It was an experience both in tremendous excitement and facing my old fears. In this process, my retreat in Taizé (an ecumenical Christian monastic community in Burgundy, France) was definitely key to connect with my inner serenity. Coming back from France, my garden was overgrown with kale and basil and my month of August revealed itself quite busy between pesto making and house remodeling! I am so excited to come back to my students at HVWS and reconnect with the community. I have many grand plans involving students' Eurythmy performances... Let's see how many of them we can achieve! But I definitely want to continue my path in leading Eurythmy classes so we can all find joy.
Nigel Harrison , Therapeutic Eurythmist

Photo highlights...
Sharing time with my family on the island of Iona in Scotland, where we gathered to celebrate my father’s life one last time and spread his ashes.
A sunrise walk in the hills of Northern Cyprus.
Marleen De Grande, Class of 2020 Teacher, Pedagogical Resource Teacher and Re-accreditation Coordinator

My favorite things from this past summer: the walks/ hikes /conversations on the windswept island of Iona (Scotland) with my Scottish in-law family members and visiting Picasso 1932 at Tate Modern, London with my goddaughter Sarah.

This year I look forward to bringing the familiar grade 7 curriculum in a new way with plenty of individual work for the students, and furthering my mentoring work with Ms. Patalia and Mr. Vojack-Weeks.
Melissa Merkling, Educational Support Group Co-Coordinator, Extra Lesson Teacher

In July I rode 2400 miles on the back of a motorcycle, visiting Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, Canada. Pictured is the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island, NS.
Therese Lederer , Enrollment Director

Definitely on my summer top 10 list was attending an Imagine Dragons concert with the whole family. My two summer novels were An American Marriage by Tayari Jones and Saints for all Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan.
Christina Dixcy, Office Manager and Communications Director

I was thrilled to finally make a trip with my family to Chincoteague and Assateague Islands in VA, where we were able to see the wild ponies on Assateague!
Leslie Lew, Class of 2023 Teacher

This summer was filled with family and friends, some of whom came from as far as Australia. One highlight was going to a Collaborative Leadership course at Sunbridge Institute with Alex and Therese. Another was seeing the sunrise off the coast of Long Island with very old friends. I read  Born a Crime by Trevor Noah this summer and highly recommend it.
Thank you to the many parents who helped with gardening and landscaping work led by Marcella Kapsaroff over the summer and in the lead-up to the opening day of school.

Thank you to the second grade parents for hosting the first grade parents after the Rose Ceremony.

Thank you to everyone who helped the Administrative Staff, led by Facilities Manager David Demment, clean out the Administration Cottage basement, in particular Nigel Harrison and Marcela Perez.

Thank you to Emily Remensperger, Marcela Perez, and Vince Vojack-Weeks for cleaning up and organizing the new faculty lounge.

Thank you to the many parents who have helped teachers organize classrooms, brought in food or flowers, and generally supported the return to school.
It is with tremendous sadness that we share our deepest sympathy with the Koors family on the passing of Paul Koors. You can read about his life here. Thank you to everyone who has offered support to the family.
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The mission of the Housatonic Valley Waldorf School is to develop each child's unique capacity to engage meaningfully in the world.

Guided by the principles of Waldorf education, the faculty inspires in our students creative thinking, moral sensibility, and a passion for learning.

We offer a classical education that integrates experiential and artistic learning, in an environment emphasizing academic excellence, respect for diversity, and reverence for the natural world.

Our faculty, board of trustees, and parents work together, with dedication and warmth, to support our school community.
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