Today I heard one boy’s answer—
When I left New Jersey, leaving behind my work as the Director of Community Development at the Princeton Waldorf School in 1995, I didn’t know that when I settled in my hometown in northeast Massachusetts, I would learn of a group trying to start a Waldorf school in Portsmouth, NH. No sooner did I restart my publishing company, I joined the group of five, two of whom were starting their Waldorf teacher education program through Antioch New England in Keene, NH.
As one can imagine, starting a school is arduous, and without going into details of this pioneering effort in today’s blog, the group succeeded and a few years later we opened Tidewater School across the river from Portsmouth in Eliot, Maine with a Kindergarten and Grade 1. Even with its enormous challenges, it grew and is now a Developing School of the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA).
The site always had its challenges—and even with amazing transformations thanks to the parents with carpentry skills, lazuring parties and countless Open Houses—we hoped to expand our small site to a full-fledged Pre-k to Grade 8 school. We didn’t know if it would develop to its fullest at this site or somewhere else.
During that exciting opening day’s ceremony, I felt it a special privilege to tell the children and parents the story of the opening of the first Waldorf School.
I stayed on the Board of Directors for five years and since then, have joined the community periodically for May Faires, special events, fund raisers and other celebrations. Over the years, the school developed up to Grade 6 with small classes and then lost a few grades and had to regroup. This past year it had several Pre-K classes, Kindergarten and a Grade 1/2. The enrollment is strong for September.
Today marked the closing of Tidewater Waldorf School. In September it will open as Seacoast Waldorf School—a new name and at a new site. One other founding Board member and two founding parents were able to join me today at Tidewater’s closing ceremony.
Grade 1/2 children formed an arch with arms stretched upward while the children of the new Grade 1 class came through—all being met with applause from teachers, parents, and guests. Each child in the new Grade 1 class marched one-by-one under the arch of arms wearing a birthday gold felt crown and a gold silk piece of fabric around the shoulders. It was if their gold silks matched the exuberance and brilliance of today’s morning sunshine.
Everyone moved to a grassy area while classes recited poems, the community sang the official “Tidewater Song” and thanks were extended to the founding Board members and parents, the present faculty and the whole community. The ceremony closed with announcements about the move shortly to the new site up the road, followed by fresh strawberries and ice cream for everyone!
It was both a poignant and joyful day. As expected, many adults took photos and offered lots of congratulations as well as good-byes. I hadn’t seen one of the founders in ten years and we reflected on our experiences—exhausting and exhilarating—getting the site ready right up to midnight, just hours before the opening day so long ago.
We both were so pleased the school had purchased another site and for a reduced price during a foreclosure sale this spring. It is in excellent condition and has so many amenities our original site lacked. At the same time, we acknowledged the mixed feelings knowing that the building on Tidewater’s original site would probably be razed by a new owner.
Do you love your teacher?
During my 28+ years in Waldorf Education, I often heard that Rudolf Steiner had asked this of the children when he periodically visited the first Waldorf school. Today, as I left after the closing ceremony, I received one boy’s answer to that question.
I stopped to speak to Debra Marcotte, Grade 1/2 teacher. As I said my good-byes, I noticed a sweet young boy standing off to one side. I stopped my conversation and greeted him. He stepped forward shyly, but then took a breath, which seemed to give him confidence. Before Debra could introduce him as Seamus, he said: ” Thank you for this school. I love Tidewater and I really love my teacher!”
What a memory to cherish—