Monday, November 5, 2012

Update from The Board Prez

Greetings Greenwood Families!

Greenwood Tree will now be sending out weekly updates on upcoming events, updates, important information, etc. in one main email.

It is good to be back on the west coast after being delayed in our return home from New Jersey while the east coast tried to regroup after Sandy left her path of chaos. It was a good reminder of what we all have to be grateful for and also a good reminder of how we are coming into storm season here as well and how it benefits us to be prepared. Oddly the biggest lesson I learned was - if a big storm is coming your way, fill up your gas tank! 

As with many challenges, there was also the gift of being completely "unplugged" even from our cell phones. It gave our family rare moments of sitting together, not being rushed with a to do list, just talking, playing word games, and connecting in ways that seem so out of reach in our busy lives. It may be something that our family chooses to do on a regular basis from now on.

Upcoming Events this Week:

Tuesday, November 6th - Election Day! 
  • Apron sewing party at Maria Hansen's home for Holiday Bazaar and Fundraiser -9:30 AM. Call her at 766-4488 if interested in attending.
  • Set -up of the school - reminder to work around the men's group that meets at the church the 1st of the month from 5:30 - 7:00
Wednesday, November 7th
  • Fundraising Meeting - 4-6pm at the school. Open to anyone.
Sunday, November 11th - Martinmas and Veteran's Day
  • Lantern Walk/Martinmas Festival - Hillcrest Park in Mount Vernon.
-4:00 Lantern making. 
-5:00 Gather for circle and singing. 
-Snacks to follow. Please see attached flyer and spread the word to family and friends. More specific information to follow later in the week.
-There are a few things we could still use help with, see below for more information.

Looking Forward:

November 15th - Board Meeting 4:15-6:15pm at the school. Open to all members, please let a board member know if you plan to attend.

November 17th - Holiday Bazaar. 10am-4pm. Held at the school. Spread the word to family and friends. We may still have spaces open for vendors. Contact Shelley Shoenberger ( if interested.

This will be our main fundraising efforts for the remainder of the season. If you have not already signed up to help in some way, please consider doing what you can. There are things you can do if you are not available to attend that day. See below for more details.

November 21st-23rd - Thanksgiving Break. No classes held this week

November 29th - Parent Meeting. 5:30-7:30pm at the school.

What you need to know:

We could still use a few items for the Martinmas festival, can be brought that evening. Please contact Maria at if you are willing to bring any of these items:
    Firewood - just enough for a small fire to burn a few hours
    Hot Tea 
    Apple cider - hot desired, but cold is always good too!
    Simple, nourishing snacks - muffins, popcorn, cheese, cut up fruit and veggies, etc. (NO NUTS)

The Holiday Bazaar is less than 2 weeks away and we still have a bit more room for some vendors, contact Shelley Shoenberger ( if you or someone you know is interested.

You can help by:

  • Making aprons or donating material, thread - contact Maria if interested
  • Helping to run one of our "stations" - entry table, bake sale, children's crafts, Greenwood Tree sales table - see sign up sheet at the school, or email Maria. 
  • Donating baked goods - can be dropped off either on day of the sale, or Friday before ( November 16th)
  • Making a few simple signs to be put up during the sale - contact Maria if interested.
  • Donating items to the Greenwood table. All proceeds for the sale benefit Greenwood. 

Spread the Word! - a flyer will come out as soon as it is ready, but just telling your friends, everyone on your email list, etc.. we can let a lot of people know that it is happening and that it will be fun! There will be children's crafts and storytelling by our own Holly Gundolfi at 11am and 2pm.

And a friendly  reminder:

We so appreciate your helpfulness in the classroom. A cooperative cannot run without it and we recognize that everyone puts in time in their busy schedules. It is deeply appreciated by the teachers and the board, and our children really benefit from the attention that you help to provide and the behind the scene assistance that makes the day run smoothly.

If you are a helper, especially in the afternoon and particularly on Fridays when we take down, please make sure that the kitchen is truly clean and dishes are not only washed, but dried and put away. This will help in keeping good relations with the church and it is not something that is expected by the take down helper and we want our teachers, who have given so much to our kids and are TIRED by the end of the week to not have to feel this is something they need to worry about. 

We suggest that as time permits, you start to clean up even before the end of class, including asking the teachers what could be put back in the supply closet. 

Thanks for your continued support and hard work! If you have questions or concerns, feel free to contact a board member.

See you this week!

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Note from Teacher Victoria

Autumn Roundelay
Here I sit and wait for you,
Neath the spreading branches.
Cool the grass with shade and dew
Sunlight on me dances.

Hi lu leea leea la
Now my voice is ringing
Hi lu leea leea la
Songs to you I'm singing

Fall is in the air today
Hear the wild geese crying
Don't delay come out and play
Snow will soon be flying.

Hi lu leea leea la
Now my voice is ringing
Hi lu leea leea la
Songs to you I'm singing

Dear Timbers Parents,
       What a beginning to the year!  In just a short month I have been so inspired and have already learned so much from the Greenwood Tree Community. Thank you so much for your positivity, support and generosity inside and outside of the classroom. I so enjoyed the Autumn Festival-this community’s connection to nature, the physical beauty of the Skagit Valley and the spirit of abundance alive in everyone’s contributions continues to amaze me. Your children come to Greenwood Tree so open and eager to engage in our work, with one another and myself, it is a true pleasure to be their teacher.  At this point I feel that the students and I are beginning to know one another and to have some solid ground under our feet in terms of where they are and what will best meet them, individually and a group. I appreciate your patience in waiting for this syllabus. If you have Saplings, or Trees, thank you for bearing with some repetition. Here is a review of what we have been doing and what the rest of the fall will look like:

Daily morning verse: 

Morning Verse for Grades 5 - 8
I look out into the world
Wherein there shines the Sun
Where glimmer all the stars,
Where lie the silent stones
The plants that live and grow
The beasts that feel and move
Where man in soul creates
A dwelling for the spirit.
I look inward to the soul
That lives within my being
The spirit of (Creation) God is weaving
In sunlight and in soul-life
In heights of world without
In depths of soul within.
Spirit of (Creation) God to thee
I turn myself in seeking
That strength and grace and skill
For learning and for work
May live and grow in me.
Rudolf Steiner
Introduction of materials
A big part of our first six weeks has been introducing various elements of the curriculum: main lesson books, colored pencil, oil crayons, clay, watercolor, beeswax, handwork (finger knitting and knitting), form drawing, movement and singing. Now that most of these mediums have been experienced, we will begin to differentiate our schedule a bit more. Note: In subsequent communications I will go into detail about our work in the various media. We also hope to begin working with simple interval flutes soon. Please note that in order to allow the students to more deeply take in each story, I try to allow the students time before I ask them to write or draw from it, therefore we are always staggering stories, the one from the previous week that is retold and the new story for the week to come. The students seem eager for the form of our work in all areas: the layout of their writing, drawing techniques, courtesy, problem-solving. Students are also gaining confidence in participating in the retelling of the main lesson story, sharing their work with one another and engaging in class discussions.

  After speaking with the parents of the Timbers and assessing the student’s needs, I feel it is most appropriate to settle on the content of the Waldorf Grade Five Curriculum:

Ancient Mythology and Ancient History, North American Geography and Botany Sense of place education is an on-going study from year to year, so we will be weaving, regional geography and local history with emphasis upon the study of the local Native American traditional and contemporary life and culture.

Opening/Art Journals
A week is quite a span between classes, so when we see each other, there is a need for warmth and to reconnect.  Typically we do this by working in our Art Journals using the prompts from “Chill and Spill” a series of user friendly ideas based upon exercises used in art therapy that support artistic reflection in youth, whether or not they are inclined to the visual arts. This approach is not therapy, but it acknowledges the therapeutic impact of artistic expression and self-reflection upon the mental health, resilience and general well-being of youth.  These journals are private, but often students choose to share about their work and ideas even if they do not show their work.  This is not a “Waldorf” method, it is a tool that intersects and supports Waldorf methodology. I encourage you to find out more about the Seattle organization that developed this work: Art with Heart. Once the students have had their creative juices flowing for 15-20 minutes they are primed for our main lesson work.

Main Lesson
We typically begin our lesson by taking turns orally presenting different parts of the story from the prior week, standing in front of the class. Based on this retelling of the story we compose a short summary of the story, working together to identify powerful and rich language.  The have also begun adding individual writing to these compositions and also make choices regarding the vocabulary that they feel best expresses the story. The story for the week to come is introduced at the close of main lesson. Letting students “sleep” on material before expecting them to express it orally, pictorially, written or by demonstration of skill.
      Following putting their compositions in their books we work on different aspects of drawing to illustrate the story: background shading, planning the use of space, looking at general shape, proportion and spatial relationships in drawing human beings and animals.  We also strategize to correct “errors” or whatever the students find problematic in their drawings.  We are bringing simple form drawings into the borders, which will be a regular activity and introducing formal penmanship practice. This attention to care and neatness, if not overemphasized to the point of perfectionism, greatly increases their satisfaction in their efforts, as well as, building their motivation to do their best work.

Creative Writing
Creative writing is another important element of each week.  I have been reading to students from a book called “Writing Magic,” by the author of Ella Enchanted. This book is written to young authors and contains several writing prompts at the end of each chapter. The goal is to get students some volume and momentum in their writing. When they have 8 weeks of creative writing, everyone will choose a piece to begin editing and looking at in terms of 6 trait writing:  ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions.  We will also look at writing samples to build skills for recognizing the elements and qualities that characterize strong and poor writing.  They do not have to share their writing, but usually several will read their work aloud.  Again, this is not a traditional Waldorf method, but an approach which is consonant with Waldorf education in terms of the use of autobiography on the author’s part and the flexibility to meet the students where they are.

Greek Mythology
“Nothing without Theseus”-Traditional Athenian toast
They seem well-satisfied by the archetypes living in the God’s and Goddesses and drawn in by the adventures and misadventures of the mortals who cross their paths.  Not everyone was ready to risk eternity in Hades, by eating pomegranate seeds but many were game.  They also were intensely occupied by the challenge of drawing labyrinths after the story of Theseus and the Minotaur.  Summarizing the Greek Myths has been an opportunity for working with writing, composition and word choice.  We have touched upon parts of speech and will be moving to a compare and contrast essay next.  The elevated language present in the Greek myths supports the expansion of their working vocabulary in both their writing and speaking.  Students have become increasingly comfortable retelling parts of the story in front of the class. They have also grown in their courtesy and respect as a peer audience. Moving forward we will be incorporating small group cooperative learning activities that serve not only to enhance their learning, but their level of  active involvement in the learning process and their accountability to fellow students.

Local History and Geography Math
Our “Sense of Place” block in November will be an opportunity to touch on concepts related to the measurement of distance. I am still researching and seeking input as to some of the stories, content and field trip in this block. The study of traditional Native American place name will be a thread connecting our local, regional and national studies. Chief Seattle, Sacagawea, George W. Bush (the pioneer) will be featured biographies. This approach is somewhat of a compression of what is usually touched upon over many years, particularly 3rd, 4th and 5th. I felt to jump right into North American Geography, specifically Canada and Mexico would be a bit abrupt based on the range of familiarity with this subject among the students. I am hoping that for the students who have already covered this content, that what I bring will deepen and enhance their previous knowledge.
         In December we will introduce the history of Geometry.  Math is a subject to check in with me individually if you would like support for your child based on their specific needs and level. Let me say here, that if your student has yet to master the times tables, then this is an important goal for the year-and if they have challenge them to learn up to the 13’s, 14’s and 15’s.  Please don’t let your child down by saying, “that’s what calculators are for”-this is a skill that we rely upon every day that needs to live in the unconscious and automatic realm. The primary aim of Waldorf Education is to address our breadth of capacity as a human being; there is plenty of time for specialization later. If your student is at an impasse or needs direction, please check in personally. Amazingly, even the most dismal and misogynist of math teachers couldn’t ruin math for me. There is an objectivity and beauty in math that meets students on a deeply moral and spiritual level that some may not be able to experience in any other subject. I am no mathlete, I still have to work at math, but this is something I can help with.
          I can’t help but wish we had more time, but I am grateful for our time together. If you think about it, we have only had 6 class days (5 if you include my absence in September)! I am proud of how they have formed as a group and of what they have accomplished in this short time.
Halloween/Day of the Dead /Greek Potluck
We will celebrate Halloween by dressing up as Greek God’s and Goddesses and having a Greek potluck feast.  Please watch for sign-ups via e-mail. Please help your student assemble or create some accessories for their chosen God or Goddess or other Greek Mythological Creature.  I am hoping to see an impressive Zeus, Cyclops, Medusa and Hades based upon what the students have said so far.
        Students are also invited to bring a photo of family members or pets who have passed on for our Day of the Dead altar.  I would welcome the assistance who has more experience with this celebration who would like to organize a craft, set up the altar, bring marigolds, etc.

A note on Birthdays: I am going to suggest that students celebrate their birthday by bringing a simple snack to share with friends and a book to gift the class library, relevant to our curriculum studies (I will create a wish list, if you have a book that you or your child would like to suggest, please just check first). Please keep snacks nut-free and low-sugar, (or at least lower!) with something such as banana bread, or muffins. During lunch we will sing a birthday song, share snack, read the book your child brought and I will give your child a small gift. While it would be lovely if we were able to always include all children at birthday celebrations, I understand that this is not always practical or desirable. If your child is having a birthday party that does not include some classmates, please mail invitations, rather than distributing them at school. Thank you in advance for your sensitivity to the children’s feelings.

I hope that you will find this information helpful to your planning and that you will not hesitate to contact me with any questions, concerns or feedback. Also, let me know if you would like to see or hear any of the verses mentioned here. Moving forward, I will try to provide suggestions for extending the work of our class time, for those who are interested in this support. Meanwhile please be thinking of a couple of dates and times that will work for your family for a home visit. I am also available, at Greenwood Tree, by appointment on Mondays. Finally, a thank you for all of the hard work and warm support, every day I feel that we are able to accomplish much more than I could have imagined based on the enrichment of parent contributions at every level. I feel very lucky to have a vocation, where I can look forward to each day with anticipation for the novel contributions of the students. Seeing how they meet the material is where my true learning begins and where my greatest enthusiasm lives.

In Gratitude, Victoria Baker

Our closing verse 
To Wonder at Beauty… By Rudolph Steiner
To Wonder at Beauty…
By Rudolph Steiner
To wonder at beauty,
stand guard over truth
Look up to the noble,
resolve on the good
This leadeth one truly,
to purpose in living
To justice in dealing,
to peace in one’s feeling
To light in one’s thinking,
and teaches us trust
In the workings of God, (Love)
in all that there is
In the width of the world,
in the depth of the soul.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Teacher Holly Shares

A few highlights from our past couple of weeks....

What a perfect harvest moon graced our festival. The bonfire and archery, the obstacle course and pot luck with the zucchini (and carrot) bread were amazingly organized. I love how the simple tools of the cider press and grain grinders reflected the week we had when got "saucy" using the apple peeler/corer that clamped to the table and giving the children a chance to crank. How festive everyone looked with their hair wreaths making corn husk dolls. Such a wonderful event and one that illustrates the open heart of this community so rich with tradition.   

The felted apples turned out nicely and were a satisfying project. With help from MaryAnn we wet felted (it's all about agitation!) and dyed the apples, and sewed on the stems and leaves The dragon bread was delicious and artistic. Laurel shared a dragon tale that I passed along to other classes as we ate our bread.  

We celebrated our 3rd birthday; Esther in Root Children, so now we have had a birthday in each age range. We look forward to celebrating Rue's birthday this week and this will mean that every class will have experienced a birthday story with more to come in the future of course.   

Last week we moved into October and this brings more to celebrate as the autumn themes of falling leaves, Halloween and Day of the Dead lend plenty of rich artistic material to draw from. We have done a creative dramatic story about the old farmer woman who asks the children to make scarecrows. It is very amusing (and hard to keep a straight face) seeing how the children act out their parts as scarecrows who come to life under a magical mischievous full moon. 

We have also acted out a less involved story of the journey of the falling leaf. 

The Seedlings were the first to hear the story from Mexico of Mariposa. This story is of the Monarch butterfly which ties in with the Day of the Dead. Puppets will be added for the retelling.

Last week this group also painted a patterned butterfly; an exercise in symmetry. The Seedlings and Sprouts painted wet on wet watercolor; a study in blue. Pumpkins, skulls and more are yet to come as we transition into the autumn with new finger plays and songs. 

The help and inspiration from our parents makes this school a lively and nurturing learning environment The contributions of songs, the helping hands in art, and the bread bakers... There is assistance in so many ways that I sometimes can't remember who did what or suggested a great idea or handed me a song. Please know that every work day here is made easier by the cheerful demeanor of so many parents who are so supportive and I appreciate the many kindnesses.     

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Upcoming Dates!

The end of the 2011-2012 school year at GWT is coming to a close and there are many events that we want to make sure you all know about.  Note that the Saplings will be on field trips for the first two weeks of June (June 1 and June 8) and the Seedlings 2 will be on a field trip on June 1. 

*Seedlings 1 will not have class on Thursday, June 14.  All classes will be together on Friday, June 15 from 10 to 1pm at Padilla Bay.  We will be sending out an email with more details in the coming weeks.

Please email if you have any questions.  We hope to see you at the many events occurring throughout the next few weeks. 

May 24: 12:15-3pm Board Meeting at GWT (new board member nominations)

May 25: 6-8pm Parent Education Form--Quantum Storytelling

June 1: 9-11:30am Seedlings 2 Hike (more information to come from Cassandra)

June 1: 1-4pm Saplings Hike (more information to come from Cassandra)

June 1: 5:45pm Saplings Movie @ Lincoln Theatre

June 1: 6-8pm Potluck and Sorting for Flea Market @ GWT (following Saplings movie)

June 2: 9-3pm GWT Flea Market across the Co-op Deli

June 7: 12:30-3pm Doll Making Workshop @ GWT (RSVP or sign-up @ GWT by Friday)

June 8: TBA Saplings Rope Course

June 15: 10-1pm End of Year Celebration @ Padilla Bay (more information to come from GWT Board)

June 15: $50 Enrollment Fee due to hold a spot for the 2012-13 school year

Monday, February 6, 2012

Family Social Night

Welcome back to all of our families.  Greenwood Tree will be hosting a Family Social Night next Thursday night, February 9 from 6 to 8pm.  We will be gathering together for a potluck dinner to commune with all of our families.  We hope that you are all able to join us for an opportunity to become more familiar with all of the faces in our community and strengthen those relationships that have already begun. 

Following dinner we will gather around and share songs that are commonly heard in your home and some that are being currently being used in the classroom as well.  We hope to use this opportunity to share with one another and to go home with a few more songs that we can use with our children throughout our week. 

Please join us next Thursday and share your evening with us.  Bring a potluck dish, picnic supplies (plates, silverware, etc.) and songs to share. 

The GWT Board, Resource Council and Teacher

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Gong Hey Fat Choy!

Happy New Year! in Chinese (Cantonese).

Last week, the children of The Greenwood Tree ushered in the Lunar New Year. Welcome, Year of the Dragon. Seedlings 1 and 2 celebrated by painting a massive dragon in red and gold. The Saplings created a massive feast which included hand stuffed dumplings. Root children decorated a dragon mask, slipped under a piece of red fabric with noisy tambourines to parade the dragon through the halls of the school.

Teacher Maria offered the Root children and accompanying parents special insight into Chinese New Year celebrations and culture. Maria spent two years living and teaching English in China in the 1990s. As Root children teacher, she brings a wealth of early education experience, ease, and fluidity to the weekly Root children class rhythms. Did I mention her gorgeous singing voice?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Saplings ~ Fall 2011 Activites

In November, the Saplings held a Potlach (a gift-giving festival practiced by indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast) and enjoyed a potluck lunch and exchanged small handmade gifts with each other. See pictures of the event in our school Photo Gallery. Currently, they are hard at work rehearsing a puppet play for the Winter Festival.

The winter season is a time when many cultures and faiths around the world mark this period of seasonal darkness with festivals featuring the power of light. Celebrations such as Advent (four consecutive Sundays beginning Nov. 27), Hanukkah (Dec. 8-16), Santa Lucia Day (Dec. 13), Winter Solstice (Dec. 21), Christmas (Dec. 25), and Kwanzaa (Dec. 26), feature symbols of light - lanterns, candles, fire, sun - and provide us with the reminder to let our lights shine, even in the darkness.

Some of the Waldorf-inspired traditions we mark at Greenwood Tree in December include Advent (recognizing the mineral, plant, animal, and human kingdoms during each of the four weeks), St. Nicholas Day, and St. Lucia Day. The Greenwood Tree community gathering on December 17 celebrates with a Winter Festival and Spiral of Light, with crafts, songs, perfomances, and dining. The Saplings perform their Winter Solstice puppet play written by Maryann and Cassandra.


The first Light of Advent, it is the Light of Stones:
The Light that shines in seashells, in crystals and our bones.

The second Light of Advent, it is the Light of Plants:
Plants that reach up to the sun, and in the breezes dance.

The third Light of Advent, it is the Light of Beasts:
The Light of faith that we may see in greatest and in least.

The fourth Light of Advent, it is the Light of Humankind:
The Light of hope, of thoughts and deeds, the Light of hand, heart and mind.


Deep Mid-Winter drawing near,
Darkness in our Garden here - -
One small flame yet bravely burns
To show a path which ever turns.

Earth, please bear us as we go,
Seeking Light to send a-glow:
Branches green and moss and fern,
Mark our path to trace each turn.
Brother animals, teach us too
To serve with patience as you do.

We walk with candle toward the Light
While Earth awaits with hope so bright:
In the Light which finds new birth
Love may spread o'er all the Earth.
Deep Mid-Winter drawing near - -
May Light arise in our Garden here.

by Nancy Foster