We sat down with our new Class One teacher at SGWS, Kristen Oberhaus, to ask her a few questions about her life and love of teaching. Welcome to our new first grade teacher!
What is your favorite quote about teaching or education?
I have lots, but currently, but my favorite is: “EVERYBODY IS A GENIUS. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein
Why did you decide to become a teacher?
I have always enjoyed working with children. When I am teaching, I don’t feel like I am working, it is mostly joy I feel. That’s how I knew this was the career for me.
How did you first hear about Waldorf education?
I first read about Waldorf education in a book about parenting when my first child was only a baby. In my head, I thought, “Wow! That’s where I would have like to go to school.”
What is your educational background?
I grew up very close to SGWS and attended Highland Local Schools K-12. I went to Marietta College in southern Ohio. I started off as an education major, then switched my sophomore year to international business. I really liked to travel and envisioned my self living overseas one day.
How long have you been teaching?
I have been teaching for decades. I began teaching dance lessons at 16. I have also taught swim lessons, sewing, soccer, and Girl Scouts. Most of my classroom experience is at SGWS where I have worked since 2013.
How long have you been teaching at SGWS?
What is the most interesting thing you that most people don’t know?
I used to be a pretty good tap dancer.
Who is the person that has had a profound effect on your life and choice of path? Why?
My mother is very wise and she always gives me great advice, although I don’t always take it! She has been the greatest influence on me. My children have had the most profound effect on my life and have led me down the path I am now on. I may be in a completely different place had I not become a mother when I did.
What is your favorite subject to teach?
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Sewing, hiking, running, reading, anything crafty
What are you doing with your little ones this summer?
Consider the Spring Garden Waldorf Parent Child Classes held weekly for seven weeks, 9:30-Noon, on either Thursdays, Fridays or Saturdays. Classes start June 9,10 & 11 and parents register for the day of their choice.
Parents and children (ages 18 months to 4 years old) join together in a class that is held mainly outdoors and imitates the rhythms and atmosphere of a Waldorf early childhood class experience. Classes are taught by Marina Ristev Rana, an experienced Waldorf early childhood teacher. Children are guided through the morning by the gentle rhythm of circle time, nature walk, creative play, snack, and story time. Young children learn through imitation. With this in mind, we will ask that parents participate in each of these activities or help with daily tasks depending on the lead given by the teacher.
The natural world and seasonal festivals are reflected during circle time. This provides the opportunity to learn through music and rhyme. Games and movement activities engage both large and fine motor coordination. Stories and puppet plays nourish the child’s imagination and provide rich material for creative play. Time in nature throughout the seasons allow for awe, wonder, and discovery of our world.
During class, we will offer information and give parents an opportunity to discuss child development, parenting questions, and Waldorf education with an experienced teacher.
Cost per session is $200/parent and child and $100 for each additional sibling. Limited space available. Register today!
Register for Thursday’s Class Starting June 9th. Click HERE.
Register for Friday’s Class Starting June 10th. Click HERE.
Register for Saturday’s Class Starting June 11th. Click HERE.
We are pleased to announce that our Early Childhood program is expanding to accommodate the growing interest in Waldorf education in Northeast Ohio!
We have a healthy waiting pool of applicants for our Early Childhood program for the 2016-17 school year, and the Administrative Faculty has made the decision to expand our Early Childhood program in two areas to accommodate the needs of our community.
We will be growing in the following ways:
- We will create an additional Nursery Preschool room for 3- and young 4-year-olds on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. This room will have one lead teacher and six students. The other Nursery Preschool room will have one lead teacher, one assistant, and 12 students.
- We will add a third afternoon room on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays to accommodate the increased number of full day students in our Early Childhood program.
If you have any questions about this growth, please feel welcome to contact me. We will begin the hiring process and we look forward to introducing you to the teachers. If you have friends or family who are considering SGWS for their young children, please share the good news and have them contact Amy Hecky at email@example.com.
Mrs. Andrea Zeno, an experienced Waldorf teacher and the current first grade class teacher, has graciously offered to give a talk for all parents. Her talk will cover how skills and curriculum are approached in the first grade. This is an exceptional opportunity to educate yourself on how Waldorf education meets the needs of the child by presenting developmentally appropriate material, or as we like to say “the right thing at the right time”.
This event is FREE and open to all SGWS families as well as the greater community. We hope you are able to join us for this informative presentation. Please feel free to bring friends, family, or acquaintances who would like to learn more.
To register for the 9:00 a.m. session, please click here
To register for the 7:00 p.m. session, please click here
“We can’t blame children for occupying themselves with Facebook rather than playing in the mud. Our society doesn’t put a priority on connecting with nature. In fact, too often we tell them it’s dirty and dangerous.” – David Suzuki
The National Wildlife Federation has essentially created a whitepaper on dirt to explain and encourage mud play among children. There’s an International Mud Day in June. And Immunologist, Mary Ruebush, has written a whole book about it: Why Dirt Is Good: 5 Ways to Make Germs Your Friends.
We know playing outdoors, in general, has a myriad of proven health and learning benefits. And sensory play is also essential for developing skills, especially in younger children.
But why is mud, specifically, so good for children?
First, there is the issue of children’s immune systems. As Ruebush says, “Let your child be a child. Dirt is good. If your child isn’t coming in dirty every day, they’re not doing their job. They’re not building their immunological army. So it’s terribly important.”
In fact, there are many ways in which dirt’s microscopic bacteria benefit children’s bodies and minds. One in particular, Mycobacterium vaccae, had been found to increase the levels of serotonin in our brains, which boosts mood and relieves anxiety.
Researchers at The Sage Colleges in Troy, New York also wondered whether, in addition to its antidepressant effect, M. vaccae may also have an effect on schoolwork.
“Since serotonin plays a role in learning, we wondered if live M. vaccae could improve learning in mice,” says Dr. Dorothy Matthews, who co-authored the study. “We found that mice that were fed live M. vaccae navigated the maze twice as fast and with less demonstrated anxiety behaviors as control mice.”
Turns out there are great body benefits, too. In addition to being good for the immune system, experts at the University of California at San Diego have found that mud play combats inflammation while improving wound healing. The researchers studied both mice and human cells in their lab and found that common bacteria, called staphylococci, can reduce inflammation after injury when they are present on the skin’s surface.
But most importantly, the kids love it because it’s fun to get dirty, fun to play outside, and fun to be with friends and have unrestricted playtime in nature. So let the kids be kids.
As American botanist Luther Burbank once said, “Every child should have mud pies, grasshoppers, water bugs, tadpoles, frogs, mud turtles, wild strawberries, acorns, chestnuts, trees to climb. Brooks to wade…bees, butterflies, various animals to pet, hayfields, pine-cones, rocks to roll, sand, snakes and hornets; any child who has been deprived of these has been deprived of the best part of…education.”
by Jennell Woodard
Waldorf Education is about the whole child – mind, body, and soul. The body and movement are intimately interconnected and interdependent in learning from this whole child perspective.
The goal in Waldorf Education is to support development in which education is more than gaining knowledge. Learning is not all in our heads. Waldorf Education recognizes that there are multiple ways of knowing, which take into account sensory experiences, temperament, emotion, how the child is “hard-wired,” and where neural networks are malleable to change.
We have more than just the five senses – Waldorf Education recognizes as many as 12 sensory systems – and learning comes also through these other senses like the kinesthetic, vestibular, and proprioceptive systems. Extra Lesson at Spring Garden Waldorf School incorporates movement, drawing, and painting exercises that help students with difficulties in writing, reading, and math, as well as behavior.
The premise is that the challenges a student experiences may be a result of inadequate spatial orientation and poor body geography, and research supports this link between learning difficulties and early child development.
Extra Lesson is an assessment and intervention program based on Rudolf Steiner’s holistic developmental perspective and the Waldorf philosophy of education.
- Improving mobility, motor skills, and flexibility
- Building and strengthening neurological networks
- Providing change without labels
- Providing opportunities to re-navigate possibly missed developmental stages that contribute to underlying problems emerging now
- Helping sensory input connections in the brain
- Building patterns for cross-referencing experiences
- Connecting movement with sensory input, gravity, spatial awareness, tactile sense, proprioceptive senses, and sensory integration issues
Here are some of the learning difficulties Extra Lesson is designed to address:
- Low frustration tolerance
- Avoiding certain learning tasks
- Difficulty following directions
- Low academic performance
- Balance, coordination, and organizing
- Confusion with numbers, letters, and math signs
Extra Lesson at Spring Garden is taught by Jennell Woodard. She has been with SGWS for over 30 years and says, “My interest in “how we learn” began when I was a class teacher and looking for new avenues to unlock this mystery in some of my dear students. Then I discovered the work of Audrey McAllen, who worked diligently with the Foundation of Waldorf Principles designed by Rudolf Steiner.”
Ms. Woodard pursued a course of study with Extra Lesson from the Association for a Healing Education and currently works weekly with students in Kindergarten, Grade One, and Grade Two. She also works with individuals and small groups referred by class teachers.