Updated and Revised Attendance and Tardy Policy

»Posted by on Jan 15, 2014 in School News | 0 comments

SpringGardenlogoAs part of the Strategic Plan developed last year by the faculty, staff, Board, and parents, we are in the process of reviewing and updating school policies to reflect current and best practices. We have recently completed a revised Attendance and Tardy Policy, which will go into effect on Tuesday, January 21 (following the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday).

The most significant change concerns late arrivals. The school day begins promptly at 8:30; students are expected to arrive between 8:15 and 8:30. While we have always required parents to sign in tardy students, some parents of grades-aged students have fallen into the habit of dropping off their children at the door without walking them in or signing them in, and some early childhood parents take their tardy children to the Meadow without notifying the office of their arrival. Under the new policy, when arriving late, parents must sign in students in the office, at which time students are given a late pass which they must turn in to their classroom teacher.
Copies of this revised policy will be placed in your mailboxes this week, or you can click here to download a copy.

SGWS 25th Annual Benefit Auction

»Posted by on Jan 14, 2014 in School News | 0 comments

SGWS 25th Annual Auction Announcement HR

Spring Garden Open House Jan. 12th

»Posted by on Jan 9, 2014 in School News | 0 comments

Experience Waldorf and meet teachers, parents, administrators and fellow prospective families. Bring your curiosity and your children at 1:00, Sunday, Jan. 12th!


Can’t come on the 12th? Consider our Walk Through The Grades event on Wednesday, January 15th, at 9 am to see classes in session.


Fill out my online form.


Movement, Games, and the Waldorf Curriculum

»Posted by on Jan 8, 2014 in Curriculum, School News | 0 comments

JeffTThe Parent Council is hosting a presentation by Jeff Tunkey of the AHE Friday, February 7, 2014 – 7:00 p.m. at SGWS to discuss the role of movement and games in the Waldorf curriculum.  Jeff is a member of the Aurora Waldorf School faculty and the Association of Healing Education board.

There is a growing body of research in education and neuroscience about the link between learning and movement. Studies have shown that physical changes from exercise can boost cognition, such as the increase in blood flow, brain mass, and neuron development. But research like this study about critical thinking and dance, or this one done through Seattle Public Schools, also connect dots between boosted academic performance and learning through movement.

For several years, our guest speaker, Jeff Tunkey, has been the Games (Gym) teacher, Care Group Coordinator, and, until recently, Extra Lesson Teacher at Aurora Waldorf School. He is an experienced speaker and has led several faculty workshops. You can learn more about Jeff’s work on his website MovementforChildhood.com.

For more information about this upcoming event, email Diane Miskinis.

Common Core and Your Child

»Posted by on Dec 16, 2013 in Curriculum, Early Childhood, Research | 1 comment

Grade3-2Opponents call it the One-Size-Fits-All education, while supporters say it’s holding children to higher, more in-depth learning standards than current achievement tests. Common Core Standards are rolling out this year and are estimated to cost school systems millions. But what does it mean for families?


Too much, too soon, too stressful

Children will be tested earlier and more regularly. Child clinical psychologist Dr. Megan Koschnick is concerned that many of the early childhood Common Core Standards are developmentally inappropriate for young students not yet reaching Piaget’s concrete operational stage. And her peers at the American Principles Project are concerned that no developmental or neuropsychologists were involved in the committees for creating the Common Core. According to Koschnick, there is also little to no scientific research supporting the aptitude recommendations at early grade levels.

As Koschnick said in this video:

When standards are not developmentally appropriate, “Teachers are going to see typically developing children as delayed, parents may be informed that their children are behind and kids are going to get measured against inappropriate standards and might be held back or tracked into remedial classes that they don’t really need.”


In addition to the standards being potentially inappropriate for a child’s cognitive abilities, principals in New York, who adopted Common Core early, also say the standards are causing undue stress to little ones. They have written an open letter of protest saying the Common Core was too hard on younger children and they reported crying and physical ailments like vomiting and wetting during test taking.

And it’s no wonder the children are stressed. In Ohio and several other states, there are strict consequences for failing the third grade test. Students unable to pass a retest will not go to fourth grade with their peers. Ohio has joined others in the 3rd grade common core retention law meaning 3rd graders who fail to demonstrate sufficient reading ability on the new state standardized test will be held back.

Are Late Readers really “Behind?”

Winston Churchill -- Behind but not below average.

Winston Churchill — Behind but not below average.

Many great thinkers and leaders throughout history reported being late readers or late bloomers in general including Albert Einstein who could barely read in the third grade and Nobel Laureates Richard Axel and Gerardus Hooft. Would Winston Chruchill, who failed 6th grade in a traditional education system, have passed a Common Core third grade test? Hard to say. But children who are labeled as “behind” in today’s world are often thought to be, or believe themselves to be, below average.

But if a slow-reading third grader is agreed to be “behind” what is required for testing, does that mean he/she is developmentally delayed or below average? The new standards push early reading and many studies show that those who start reading at 5 versus 7 show no differences by age 11.  Does this mean the only benefit to early reading proficiency is the ability to take tests?  In today’s public school system that question is irrelevant, as is the psychological concern of labeling students “behind” when they are initially slower readers.


What’s The Common Core FOR?

As Common Core strives to raise standards among global peers, many find it telling that top Western school systems prescribe to an opposite approach. The ever-popular, idealized Finnish school system does not allow children to even begin academics before age seven, which means reading instruction is delayed. But students in this school system do not need to read test instructions by first or even third grade. In fact, students in these high performing schools are not required to take tests or even receive grades until 8th grade.

Sir Ken Robinson’s popular TED talk explores the idea that U.S. education is outdated because it was created during the industrial revolution for jobs that no longer exist and is also modeled after an industrial process rather than considering the unique skills and talents of individuals. He maintains that a culture of testing and standardization has inappropriately labeled students and stunted curriculum. And often he points to the Finnish system as a model for how to address individual learning styles while still competing globally.


Waldorf Education and The Common Core

Grade8Waldorf Education is often cited for mimicking the Finnish system, which has a low-stress, non-testing environment for early elementary students and also takes a different approach to reading, with comprehension skills being taught first and phonics decoding beginning in first grade.  What is core in Waldorf standards is catering to a student’s individual learning style with reverence and respect for each child and their gifts.

Waldorf educators also encourage a love of lifelong learning, which they believe cannot flourish in an environment where being slightly behind in one skill set:

  • Causes undue stress and defeatist attitude.
  • Elicits a label for a child as being less intelligent.
  • Leads to a child being unnecessarily held back – delaying learning of other skill sets and social growth.

Waldorf Educators also subscribe to Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, which  deconstructs the idea of one “general” intelligence ruling someone’s abilities. In other words, a slow reader is not a slow child.

Is your child at risk of being labeled “behind” because they are a late reader or an anxious test taker? Consider Waldorf. Learn more at our website, visit us, request information or call 330-666-0574 to speak with our Admissions Director.

Alumni Invites the Pope to Dinner

»Posted by on Dec 15, 2013 in Alumni | 0 comments

KatieWagnerAs reported earlier this week by The Akron Beacon Journal, Katie Wagner, along with her fellow Walsh University students studying abroad in Rome, was able to hand a dinner invitation to Pope Francis. Katie and fellow students got to St. Peter’s square at 6 a.m. for a good spot and when the Pope stopped near them, they were able to hand him a heart-shaped card and dinner invitation.

Katie is studying Early Childhood Intervention in the Education Division at Walsh University in N. Canton and was studying in Rome for eight weeks with Walsh’s Global Learning program.


Alumni On SGWS.org

»Posted by on Dec 13, 2013 in Alumni | 0 comments

Since our ever-popular Alumni section gets much attention here on the blog, we decided to conglomerate those posts and create a page on our website. Here’s the link: http://sgws.org/alumni-accomplishments/  Our new Page Contents are also below for easy reading. We are SO proud of all our alumni. Great job everyone!

Nate Howe

Northeast Ohio native and Spring Garden Waldorf School alumni, Nate Howe, designed the Olympic logo for NBC 2012’s coverage of the games. Nate transferred to Spring Garden after what he described as being “disengaged, unmotivated and unconnected” to his public school education. Nate continued on in Waldorf education for high school. He is now an EMMY® Nominated multidisciplinary creative director and designer based in LA and has a client list including Coca cola, MTV, Oprah, and Ford. See Nate’s portfolio of work at http://www.nathanielhowe.com. SGWS admissions director Amy Hecky spoke with Nate about how his schooling influenced his creativity and career. “SGWS set a foundation for me at a critical time in life.  In my public school, there was no value or respect for art. Plus, teachers and students lacked diversity in their thinking and their awareness of a world outside of their day to day interactions. Spring Garden opened my eyes to an appreciation of human diversity and art.” Nate told Ms. Hecky that SGWS “changed my outlook on education and life” and noted class trips to Chautauqua Institute and Niagara Falls among other experiences that brought him to the belief that “things are possible and I had the inert ability to go out and do them.” According to Nate, “SGWS began a chain reaction of positive things in my life.” When asked if going to school without technology had a negative impact on his techno-centric career, Nate said, “There is a time and place for technology.  It is not for young children.  It is a tool.  It should not be used in place of human interaction or as a distraction.  Students in upper grades could benefit from exposure to using technology as a tool to create, but young children should have their lives rooted in reality first and then be introduced to technology later.” So what kind of education will Nate choose for his own children?  He says Waldorf education is the best — for him and for his family. “Waldorf education fosters values, morals, creativity, diversity and endless possibilities. And Spring Garden allows children to be sensitive and to be themselves in a safe environment. This nurturing atmosphere provides space for growth in exponential ways.”

Erin Brown

erin_self-portraitFilmmaker and Director, Erin Brown, started off at our very own Spring Garden Waldorf School in Northeast Ohio. In fact, on her website, http://workbyerinbrown.com/, she says, “… [my] Waldorf grade school education taught me the importance of artistic expression and individual identity.” Erin creates and directs commercials, music videos, films and more having worked with an impressive list of clients including ABC Family, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen and Skinny Cow. Erin has won 9 awards from the Open Frame Film Festival and is currently working on her second feature film, Honeychild, which she describes as, “A documentary about a former child prostitute’s journey across America with her daughter as she recounts her struggle for survival in the 1970′s sex trade.” We are very proud to have been an influence in this accomplished young woman’s life.

Chris Connelly

Spring Garden Waldorf School alumni, Chris Connelly, was awarded the Kroc Fellowship with National Public Radio. The fellowship is an honor to receive and Chris is paid to intern in all aspects of NPR.  He is currently a producer for All Things Considered.  His next assignments will be as a reporter both producing his own stories and reporting on national news in Washington D.C. Chris went from Spring Garden to Firestone High School and then to Antioch and Berkeley for Media and Journalism. He says his elementary education at SGWS taught him how to collaborate. “It is such an incredible skill to be able to talk with people and critically engage with each person’s ideas—100% of my work is collaborative now so being able to communicate and collaborate along with thinking critically has been invaluable.” The folks at NPR have worked before with Waldorf graduates and told Chris his attributes are true to what they have seen before in Waldorf students. “Everywhere I go, more and more people have heard of Waldorf.  When I say in passing, oh I went to a Waldorf school, the typical response I hear is ‘that’s why I like you so much!’  It’s like it’s an explanation of why I am a good person.”

Max and Ed Mitchell

Spring Garden Waldorf grads, Max and Ed Mitchell, are doing great work out in the world.

Ed Mitchell

Ed Mitchell

Max is a reporter for The Legal Intelligencer, which is the oldest law journal in the United States. Here is a recent article written by Max and picked up by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette or you can read many more examples of Max’s work by reading His Blog at The Legal Intelligencer.

Ed is an industrial designer for Bresslergroup and was recently featured in Wired Magazine for his creative work redesigning each of the flags for the 50 states to represent a more “United” States. You can view the images of his flags and hear more from Ed about the process of the United We Stand redesign project HERE.


Chloe Marie Comunale


Chloe Marie Comunale had her artwork shown at the Cleveland Institute of Art Foundation Show on Friday. December 6, 2013. The two drawings to the upper right are both by Chloe, “Self Portrait” and “Footwear Landscape” (both charcoal and graphite on paper). All works in the show are selected by the instructors based on merit.


William de Cardenas

WilliamdeCardenasWilliam de Cardenas, an SGWS grad and current senior at Theodore Roosevelt High School, in Kent Ohio, has won Best in State in the Verizon App Challenge. Cardenas, along with classmates in the App Club, designed an app to test streams for pollution. The team has qualified for national competition, a $10,000.00 prize and a trip to Florida.  

Isabella Sparhawk

IsabellaSparhawk2 Isabella Sparhawk is an SGWS grad whose Mock Trial team for St. Vincent – St. Mary moved on to state competition March 2013 in Columbus. Ms. Sparhawk also won an award at Regionals for Best Attorney. And we also just learned she won 1st Place Grand Champion in the Northeast Ohio Science and Engineering Fair. After which, she made the news for being granted a patent for her science project work this year; her project has also advanced to be judged at Intel ISEF, the world’s largest international pre-college science competition, which offers cash awards ranging from $1,000 to $100,000.

Timothy Fries

TimothyFries Congratulations also go out to SGWS alumni, Timothy Fries, who has received the Second Year Distinguished Scholar award from Muskingum University, where he ranks in the top 5 percent in academics for his graduating class. Fries was also inducted into the Omicron Delta Kappa, the National Leadership Honor Society in 2013.

Hannah Schurr

HannahSchurr SGWS alumni, Hannah Schurr, has been awarded an all-expenses-paid trip to London, Salsburg, Vienna, Venice and Rome. Schurr,who is majoring in drawing with a minor in art history at Edinboro University in Pennsylvania, competed against students from 14 Penn State Universities for this honor. Students had to provide a resume, recommendations, samples of work and complete interviews before two were chosen to attend the trip.

Aubrey Tingler

AubreyTinglerSGWS graduate, Aubrey Tingler, is one of 9-12 students across all of Emory University chosen to work with a local Atlanta artist to create an art installation focused on prominent social issues. She was chosen via competitive application to be a participant in Emory University’s Art and Social Engagement Project, whose purpose according to the Emory Center for Ethics is, “to engage the Emory University student body with Atlanta non-profits as co-creators of thought-provoking collaborative art projects designed to address important social issues in Atlanta based on proposals by Artist Facilitators.” Aubrey was chosen by a panel consisting of the Director of the Ethics & the Arts Program, Carlton Mackey, the Director of the Ethics & Servant Leadership Program, Dr. Edward Queen, and a representative of (sponsor) Southwest Airlines. In addition to creating an art project about a pressing social issue in Atlanta, Aubrey will work with the other chosen participants to create a white paper, “describing the impact of the social issues their projects seek to address on the Atlanta community, and the ways in which their projects address said issues.”

Ariel McCleary

Ariel McCleary, an SGWS grad, is having great success as a vocalist and instrumentalist at Stow High School and in her band Recipe of Life. ArielMc2Ariel will be performing in the Stow-Munroe Falls High School musical “Hello, Dolly!” where she will play the second female lead Irene Molloy. Ariel and her Recipe of Life band mate Shelby Denton also won the 2012 Stow-Munroe Falls High School talent show with their original song, “The Journey.” McCleary credits Spring Garden for opening up her eyes to the music world: “If I hadn’t been in the choir or played musical instruments in the orchestra and music classes, I would’ve never found my notch with singing. I would’ve never found a desire to be in the musicals and plays in high school. Spring Garden taught me the beauty of music and how it changes you.”

Matt Rossi

RossiHoban The Mock Trial team of fellow SGWS grad, Matt Rossi, a senior at Hoban,  also advanced to the state competition in Columbus this year. And Matt won “Outstanding Advocate” at the State Competition.

Katie Wagner


KatieWagnerAs reported in The Akron Beacon Journal, Katie Wagner, along with her fellow Walsh University students studying abroad in Rome, was able to hand a dinner invitation to Pope Francis. Katie and fellow students got to St. Peter’s square at 6 a.m. for a good spot and when the Pope stopped near them, they were able to hand him a heart-shaped card and dinner invitation. Katie is studying Early Childhood Intervention in the Education Division at Walsh University in N. Canton and was studying in Rome for eight weeks with Walsh’s Global Learning program.


Emma Hunko-Hayneck

Emma Hunko-Hayneck, SGWS graduate and daughter of SGWS teacher Cate Hunko, had the opportunity to meet President Barack Obama in the Student Center at The Ohio State University.

Alyssa Humes

Alyssa has been teaching since 2010 at Spring Garden. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of Akron and is a graduate of Spring Garden Waldorf School. Here are highlights from a recent interview. What is your favorite quote about teaching or education?

“Teaching is learning twice.”

HumesHow did you first hear about Waldorf education?

I attended Spring Garden Waldorf School from Kindergarten to 8th grade. Along the journey I realized I wanted to be just like my 1st through 8th grade teacher. So here I am years later, fulfilling my dream!

What is your dream for the future of Spring Garden?

My dream for the future of Spring Garden is that the faculty continues to be open and caring, the students continue to love to learn, and the families continue to value education.

Who is the person that has had a profound effect on your life and choice of path? Why?

Marie Paul, my 1st through 8th grade teacher, has had a profound effect on my life. I decided in 6th grade that I wanted to be a teacher just like her, and since then she has always encouraged me, given me confidence when I needed it, helped me through hard times, and has supported me every step of the way towards becoming a teacher. Even now that I’m a teacher, she is a constant supporter and is always there when I need help.

What is your favorite subject to teach?

Well, I haven’t had experience teaching many different subjects, but I like letters and numbers best. Teaching slowly at a pace the children can understand and be excited about the stories behind the forms is so wonderful.