Come and peek inside our classroom, come and walk along our trails, come share snack around our table, as the children spin their tales.
Lakeside School at Black Kettle Farm may be the best kept little secret in Essex. Following the Waldorf School Curriculum, the children are immersed in beauty, seasonal rhythms and purposeful play in nature’s great classroom and the loving arms of Robin Gucker, Kristin Fiegl and Gregg Van Deusen. These three incredible teachers work in quiet harmony to make magic in those hills with 20 of the North Country’s brightest youngsters ages birth to 7 years old. Over the next three years there are plans to expand the program up through grade 3.
Here is a window into Lakeside School through Robin’s weekly letter home…
I hope that this update finds you all well! It has been a glorious stretch of weather and the sunshine has brought new inspirations to the children’s play. They were thrilled to rediscover the wooded area of the play yard today hopping like frogs on lily pads from stump to stump! They were spider monkeys with awfully clunky boots on the balancing boards. They splished and splashed in puddles, as if spring had come to stay. They also attempted to slide in sleds upon the sliver of ice over the grass. I felt like I should round up the drill and begin to tap the maples today!! We have visited the pond often to slide and glide while the ice is still thick and firm! The children have discovered ice spiders and silver coins frozen in the clear patches. They have invented every method for sliding upon the surface. They have grown stronger each time we climb the hill back to the schoolhouse classroom.
Did you know we have 6 new little ones in our classroom? In a special basket I brought home from Ecuador reside the softest little dolls that the children have stitched together with care from recycled cashmere sweaters. They added the heads and drew simple rosy faces upon them. Their bald heads will soon have cozy hats to cover them. We now have a wonderful collection of little friends that have taken up rolls in play and rest. They each have emerged at the pace of each child’s interest and concentration. Some are yet to arrive, but the introduction of the first few “little ones” has inspired others to stitch away. The dolls have been busy around the classroom sliding and singing and mixing things alongside their makers. It is wonderful to observe the children swaddling the dolls so tenderly. At rest they tuck them in under the blankets, the way they wish to be tucked in. I believe this is just the beginning of the joy that these handmade friends will bring!
Today we painted on a heart shaped piece of painting paper. The experience of painting with just red was new for many of them. It was met with resistance at first and then they each realized how unique each of their paintings was despite the use of only one color. I will be sending these home for the children to use to make one big valentine to bring for our Valentine’s day celebration on Tuesday next week.
We had just enough candle ends to make some beautiful candles to share. The children helped to pour the hot wax into a mold and worked carefully one by one to decorate them. The room was filled with the sweet smell of beeswax and the children loved watching the wax turn colors as it hardened.
Kristin, Gregg , Emily S. and I are all headed to the WECAN conference this Friday. This Waldorf Early Childhood conference I have attended for the last 12 years and it is always inspirational! This year Susan Weber who founded Sophia’s Hearth and a Kindergarten Teacher from a Waldorf school in France will be the Keynote speakers. I am attending a workshop specifically about serving the 6 year old in the Kindergarten. This will be hosted by the woman who started the first farm based Kindergarten program on the East Coast and developed the Teacher Training program for Mexico and South America. Right up my alley! Our parent meeting in March will likely be filled with new things to share from my day-to-day work here and the insights from this conference.
We have two new inquiries for the First Grade Teacher position and a couple who will be visiting to look into the sublease of the Farm and the Farm Educator position. Next Monday is our first Observation Day! Please encourage any prospective families or community members to see our Kindergarten first hand. Leah Nelson will be here on the 17th to practice teach and interview for the 1st grade position. We have a lot of excitement in the air! Look for the upcoming Winter Newsletter soon to come! Be sure to thank Jodi for the beautiful layout and design!
I want to be a kid again! Please? What a magic-infused meander through your daily adventures at Lakeside School, Robin. Thanks for opening the doors of the Essex Waldorf School for those of us too chronologically challenged to be eligible otherwise. Congratulations on your success at the little farm up on the hill…