Lakeside School at Black Kettle Farm offers birth – 1st grade education based on the Waldorf philosophy on a working farm in Essex, NY.
Lakeside School Intern Experience
I first came to Lakeside in September to tour the school in preparation for internships that completed St. Lawrence University‘s Adirondack Semester. As soon as I set foot in the school’s rustic farmhouse, I knew that out of all of our internship partners, I wanted to be at Lakeside. I knew very little about Waldorf education but was instantly reminded of my own preschool years at a Montessori school in New Jersey. I have had an extremely unique experience over the last two and a half weeks at Lakeside and will attempt to express this, although I am doubtful that it is possible for me to truly verbalize how powerful of a time it was.
Lakeside is first and foremost a school, a place for individuals to learn and grow, but it is also much more than that. Lakeside is a haven. Teachers can share their feelings, emotions and opinions, parents can voice concerns and be heard, and children can run, fall and roll outside in every element while expressing themselves. There is even a place for newcomers, like myself, who are quickly welcomed and accepted into the school’s family by all. There is something about the picturesque landscape and old farmhouse that create a magical atmosphere where anyone can feel comfortable and at peace.
After a few short days in the Kindergarten classroom and with Robin’s beautifully clear and concise explanations, I was able to pick up some of the basic principals of Waldorf education. I now see this alternative style of learning to be made up of the following: 1) Students learn through experience rather than explanation 2) All activities and lessons are developmentally appropriate and purposeful 3) Song, rhythm, repetition and creativity all play a large roll in child development 4) In exploring their surroundings with ALL senses, a young brain is able to retain and absorb more knowledge in the future. While to an outsider these principals and beliefs may seem far fetched or lacking in purpose when compared to traditional schooling, it is obvious to me that something about Waldorf teaching is working. I have never met more mature, intelligent and enlightened children than those I came to know at Lakeside.
While my time at Lakeside was devastatingly short, I nevertheless felt like a part of both the Lakeside community and the greater Essex community. The teachers invited me into their homes and were always asking if I had everything I needed. The students embraced my presence in the classroom and on the play yard and parents were always eager to converse with me before or after the school day. I already am excited to return to Essex this summer with the hopes of working alongside such a diverse and interesting group of people.
I would like to thank Kathleen, Robin, Dari, Greg and Kristin for their warm welcome into their close circle and for all of their support and friendship. Parents, thank you for choosing to send your children to Lakeside, otherwise I never would have been touched by so many wonderful young people.
A St. Lawrence intern on the Adirondack Semester
Lakeside School at Black Kettle Farm, Essex, New York
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