Archive for Sunday, November 9, 2008

Waldorf school increases numbers

Third-grader Lennart Simberg discovers his classmate Elan McCabe in a chest in a game of hide-and-seek Thursday before a class on form drawing with their teacher Dave Werdin-Kennicott at Prairie Moon School, 1853 E. 1600 Road. The school now has 44 students.

Third-grader Lennart Simberg discovers his classmate Elan McCabe in a chest in a game of hide-and-seek Thursday before a class on form drawing with their teacher Dave Werdin-Kennicott at Prairie Moon School, 1853 E. 1600 Road. The school now has 44 students.

November 9, 2008


Prairie Moon Fair

Prairie Moon Waldorf School's annual autumn fair will be Nov. 22 at Lawrence Arts Center, 940 N.H.

Unique eco-friendly toys made from materials such as wood, cotton, silk and beeswax will be sold from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. In addition, there will be hand-crafted goods created by the school's parent-led Fiber Arts Guild. Adult books on parenting, Waldorf and environmental education will be available along with children's picture books. Throughout the event people can bid on pieces created by local artists.

A live auction will be from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. There will be a $5 entrance fee for wine, hors d'oeuvres and desserts.

The roots to Prairie Moon Waldorf School sprouted in 2001 and continue to grow today.

Like most of the 142 Waldorf Schools in the United States, Prairie Moon began as a small cooperative effort among parents passionate about the unique curriculum.

"I'm really thrilled," said Monika Eichler, program assistant in the KU School of Social Welfare and former Prairie Moon school board member. She was influential in the beginnings of the school.

"Whenever I walk into the school, I think four, five years ago, this was just a dream. I'm really quite moved by it."

Waldorf education was developed by Rudolf Steiner in 1919. The curriculum emphasizes creativity, movement, spirituality, social awareness and a connection with the Earth. Mary Veerkamp, Prairie Moon's administrator, said Waldorf schools are a fast-growing alternative education around the world.

The nonsectarian, nonprofit school opened in September 2005 with 12 children in a mixed-age kindergarten class in what used to be the Grant Community Building, 1853 E. 1600 Road.

In addition to the kindergarten class, it opened a combined first- and second-grade class the next year. The class, which added 17 children, was taught by Bret Schacht.

Like most Waldorf schools, the teacher stays with the same children through the eighth grade.

A longtime Kansas public school teacher, Kathy Farwell, joined Prairie Moon last year as a teacher after enrolling her son in the school and volunteering there.

"What really was a draw for me in Waldorf schools was that all the curriculum decisions, although we have a nationally guided curriculum, they are made by the people who teach the children," Farwell said.

This year, 44 students are attending the school that provides an early childhood development class, kindergarten class and classes for first through fourth grades. They also hired a part-time enrollment coordinator to continue recruitment efforts.

Since joining the school full time in 2006, Veerkamp said she has made it her mission to make the presence of Prairie Moon known in Lawrence.

"I think this is a great community, and I think that Waldorf education and the ideals of people who live in Lawrence match very well," she said.

While the school is still in its infancy, Veerkamp said, she'd like to see the school add several more teachers and offer classes through eighth grade.

Lawrence parents have begun to take notice of Prairie Moon.

"We are absolutely thrilled that it's available here," Amy Stevenson said. Her son, Julian, 7, started at the school during its opening year. "I'd like to see more families come on board. It's just grown beautifully."


Fatty_McButterpants 9 years, 5 months ago

Ecorunning: Brace yourself because I can tell you all sorts of horrific things about Prairie Moon! Not only do they do such inherently dangerous activities as "hide-and-seek," they also let the kids play outside in the snow (I know! Ridiculous, isn't it!), climb trees (with the potential for a gust of wind, this seems like a very unsafe practice), take field trips to such lethal places as the "snake farm" (otherwise known as the Fitch Nature Preserve), get their feet wet walking in the wetlands (hypothermia is such an underestimated danger in these perilous times), and even such audacious things as allowing the kids to walk from the classroom to the bathroom without adult supervision!

kansans4kids 9 years, 5 months ago

Yes, White Dog...there are critics for any innovation...and Waldorf education is no exception. If you were interested in exploring other perspectives of Waldorf Education offers many real (and sane) explanations behind the pedagogical reasoning of this educational approach. I have watched this school grow and listened intently to their founders, board members and teachers. Their effort is to create a Waldorf school that reflects the idealism of Lawrence. A good Waldorf school is a reflection of the community it supports and that is what these pioneering people are striving toward. To truly know a given Waldorf school one must specifically observe that school's teachers and students and not rely on online perspectives from other states or countries. I can assure you that Prairie Moon curriculum involves real academics and authentic whole child learning. Gnomes are enjoyable for the young child's imagination and reincarnation is most certainly not a part of classroom lessons. It is always wise to research resources and check your facts. Just as many have moved to Lawrence for diversity, Prairie Moon strongly honors diversity of thought, of people, and of learning styles. Please visit the school before making a blanket statement about all Waldorf schools. Believing that our local Waldorf school must be just like those that the 'waldorfcritics' survived would be like saying that every public school is the same, every family, every person. Come and see for yourself...that would provide the most accurate research.

openmind 9 years, 5 months ago

To find out more about Waldorf Education and the Prairie Moon Waldorf School in Lawrence, go to the website at

ecorunning 9 years, 5 months ago

From the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC): "Don't allow a game of hide-n-seek to become deadly. CPSC has received reports of numerous suffocation deaths involving children who crawled inside old cedar chests, latch-type freezers and refrigerators, iceboxes in campers, clothes dryers and picnic coolers. Childproof old appliances, warn children not to play inside them." Also, child abuse is a serious issue. The remark about parents keeping their children in chests isn't humorous or clever.

WhiteDog 9 years, 5 months ago

For any parents considering Waldorf education, I would highly recommend doing a lot of research into Steiner and especially into anthroposophy. Be aware that there are whole online communities of people who consider themselves to be Waldorf "survivors" because of the extent of the negativity of their experiences.Here are some starting points for research: education is not just playing hide and seek or playing outside in the snow. It's also about being taught that gnomes and reincarnation are real and that some races aren't as evolved as others.

ecorunning 9 years, 5 months ago

I am sure the other parents would be surprised to learn that I know Prairie Moon is a safe, nurturing environment. I know the chest is safe. The question was raised to ensure that other parents realize that playing in these types of potentially unsafe places - can be dangerous. Many children are not so fortunate to be able to attend Prairie Moon and take part in such wonderful field trips. However, every adult should be concerned about the safety and protection of all children. I hope this type of concern is encouraged at Prairie Moon.

WhiteDog 9 years, 5 months ago

I have been to Prairie Moon. And I was intrigued enough to read more about anthroposophy, the understructure to the pedagogy. Every parent should indeed research and decide for his or her own children. For some families, the more "spiritual" elements feel right, and for others, it comes as a great big - and sometimes unwelcome - surprise. I'm just urging parents to do the research so that they aren't surprised and are comfortable with their choice.

WhiteDog 9 years, 5 months ago

Gosh, I didn't know I was "hotly debating." I thought I was saying that parents might want to know that there is more to Waldorf education and philosophy than is often presented in visits - or in articles such as this one.

wysiwyg69 9 years, 5 months ago

ecorunning,,,,,,,,,,,,, maybee your parents should have let you out of the chest a little more than they did. Also don't let your poor little child go outside today the might catch a chill.

ecorunning 9 years, 5 months ago

Should the children be allowed to hide themselves in wooden chests? Seems like an unsafe practice to allow.

anonymouse 9 years, 5 months ago

It is interesting that this school is so hotly debated in this forum. I agree that parents should be aware of the nature of both(or more) sides of any issue, especially those involving their children. There are far worse things than "Anthroposophy" in most children's lives that get no attention. The effects of too much video media, the possible harm in pushing a child to read too early, and not getting enough(or any) time out-doors in natural places.Although Anthroposophy helps to form the way the curriculum is structured, a Waldorf school is by no means a school of Anthroposophy. The Waldorf curriculum matches that of human development, engaging the child in a way that is most appropriate for the child as they evolve into adults. As for WhiteDog's assertion that a Waldorf school would Teach that gnomes and reincarnation are real, and that some races aren't as evolved as others is completely untrue. However to a child, Gnomes, Elves and even the Tooth Fairy are real, and to a Waldorf teacher it is important to allow the child to experience the wonder and to develop imaginative potential at a young age (six and under). Fairy tales are told as part of the curriculum in First grade because that is what is most alive in the children at that age. Acording to the AWSNA website, (mentioned above) Prairie Moon is the only Waldorf school in Kansas. Where better than here in Lawrence? I don't think that anyone would suggest that a Waldorf education is right for all families. However, with "No Child Left Behind," mandating public schools to focus most of their efforts on the lowest 5-10% of the scorers on standardized testing, a Waldorf education which looks at the whole child as an individual, it is a refreshing and encouraging option. I looked at the other two articles on local schools to see how their comments fared compared to Prairie Moon's. The little red school house received no comments, and there was nothing but positive feedback from the article highlighting the ESL at Hillcrest. A little further research showed me that Kathy Farwell, mentioned in this article as the teacher of the First and Second grade, was honored as Teacher of the Year, here in Lawrence, for her work at Hillcrest the year prior to her work beginning at Prairie Moon. (Lawrence Journal World article, May 23, 2007) From what I read in this and other articles I believe that a Waldorf school is ideally located in Lawrence, Kansas as a very viable option for young families to consider for their child's education.

Fatty_McButterpants 9 years, 5 months ago

Get over yourself "white dog." People are debating Waldorf, not you.

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