Welcome the 2012-13 First Grade Teacher

Rebecca Morrison returns to GBRSS as the 2012-13 First Grade teacher, formerly teaching Eurythmy. She brings with her a wealth of life experiences and a great deal of Waldorf training. Born in Wales, Rebecca spent most of her childhood in Africa and, she says, “The heart of her education attending boarding schools in southern England.” In early childhood, under the influence of her father, a mechanical engineer, she spent many hours observing, assisting and exploring the workings of things through projects such as dam building, go-cart making and tree house construction. As a result of her childhood in the 1960’s in Central Africa, she developed a reverence for nature and of discovery, and suffered no excess in material comforts! Life in boarding school, on the other hand, was an adventure in academics; Latin studies and all the classical subjects filled many days and nights. Biology, which was taught in a phenomenological way, was her favorite subject. Later, Rebecca received her Bachelor’s Degree in Education and Elementary Education Certification in Pennsylvania and supported herself through college as the Director of Youth Activities at the YMCA. One of the highlights of her time there was a play, that she co- authored and directed, which was performed by the children in the woods. In 1992, Rebecca moved to New York to attend Sunbridge College, embarking upon Eurythmy training. During this time Rebecca met her husband and two step sons. After completing the training, she taught Eurythmy at Hawthorne Valley School and at Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School. She continued her Waldorf studies at Antioch in Keene and at ALKION in Harlemville. Ask Syona, in the Sixth Grade, to point her mom out and welcome her to GBRSS!

Published in the Spring 2012 Mosaic Newsletter of the Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School (PDF).

Reflections on the 2012 Annual Appeal

Dear Parents, Alums and Friends,

Cast your mind back 40,000 years. Your ancestors lived in small kinship-oriented tribes, were close to the land and in tune with the seasons — living much the same as generation upon generation before them. They dealt with the exigencies of their present, felt strongly connected to revered traditions and worshipped their ancestors.

Things are different now. The pace of change is breathtaking. Cultural and social forces are fractured in hundreds of directions. Our children are not likely to succumb to the saber- tooth, but we feel vigilance is required to enable a path toward their full human potential.

GBRSS Early Childhood ProgramThank goodness for GBRSS, our partner in this worthy endeavor. For forty years our teachers have worked to “provide students with the foundation to create lives of meaning and purpose” and to build the school. But, in our own daily struggles, we too often take the school for granted. It is just there – by chance at the right place and time for our children to pass through on the way to their futures.

Please take a moment to consider the School’s future. Everyone reading this page already supports the school in myriad ways, and for that we are truly thankful. I believe that supporting the school is one of the highest and best things that we can do for the future of humankind. Please consider the Annual Fund appeal in that light. The school needs every penny you can give, and I promise we will use it wisely and well. The extra $10 or $500 you add to this year’s pledge could be the tipping point.

Max Dannis, President of the Board of Trustees

Published in the Spring 2012 Mosaic Newsletter of the Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School (PDF).

Me and Meow

Review by Sally Michael Keyes

Me and Meow by Adam GudeonAdam Gudeon, parent of two children at the school, published his first book, Me and Meow, with HarperCollins this fall. Adam was inspired by a drawing by daughter Iris, a student in Mr. Coulter’s class. True to its origins, the book is sweet, full of spirit, and a delight to read….but I am crazy about kids books, red cats and lots of color, so don’t take my word on this… here are excerpts from national press outlets.

From the School Library Journal, “Simple childlike pictures and a minimal childlike narrative describe a day in the life of Me and her constant companion, Meow, a red cat. The primitive figures are expertly posed and arranged with simple props on color- saturated spreads to reflect the joy and devotion the companions share. Children as young as two years will appreciate the brevity, rhythm, onomatopoeia, and repetition in the text.”

Publishers Weekly says, “Gudeon’s first picture book uses naïf stick figures and candy-colored backgrounds to create a book that feels as if it might have been drawn and written by an actual child” and its “lighthearted devotion to everyday pleasures should please the youngest readers.”

It also received a Kirkus starred review, “Gudeon’s…debut is high on style and charm…boldly colored illustrations follow the characters through their daily routine. Minimal backgrounds include just a few items rendered in the naïve style.”

Me and Meow can be found locally at Bookloft, and can also be ordered online. Adam is presently at work on his second book.

Published in the Spring 2012 Mosaic Newsletter of the Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School (PDF).

Jessica Ryan
, Class of 1999

What were the forces behind your decision to join the Peace Corps?

There were several forces behind my decision to join the Peace Corps in 2010. First, I’ve always been curious about the world and its different cultures. As a Peace Corps Volunteer, I’ve had the unique privilege to intimately know a foreign culture and lead a completely different lifestyle for two years in the farming community of Cuisnahuat, El Salvador. Second, my career goal is to work for the Foreign Service and Peace Corps is a natural stepping stone with its emphasis on international public service. Third, I believe that a worthy life is defined by meaningful work and for me there is no work more meaningful or inspiring than helping others improve their lives. Despite the many hardships during my service, I’ve never doubted that my time in the Peace Corps was well spent.

Could you describe what your overall mission is in El Salvador?

1999 GBRSS Alumni, Jess Ryan & her girls, Lake Suchitoto

1999 GBRSS Alumni, Jess Ryan & her girls, Lake Suchitoto

The focus of my Peace Corps work is youth development, which means I design, organize and manage activities to help children and adolescents develop healthy lifestyles, gain life skills, learn strategies to successfully navigate the workforce/generate income and be more active in their community through involvement in local organizations/public service. One of my favorite projects was an empowerment camp I helped design/organize/manage for 19 at-risk Salvadoran girls to teach them knowledge/skills in goal-setting, leadership, self-defense, sexual health, family planning, HIV/AIDs prevention and self-esteem. I am currently working on a parent-child reading program in the local school to help combat the 60% illiteracy rate in my community and mentoring 5 recent high school graduates to receive USAID scholarships in order to go to college in the United States.

What is it like on a day-to-day basis?

Everyday I eat beans and tortillas for all three meals, use a latrine full of roosting chickens, shower with a bucket of cold water and gossip with my neighbors in Spanish about everyone’s business. Every morning I rise at dawn to the crow of roosters and wait in the street with the other women to buy fresh bread delivered to us by kids on bicycles. Once a week I ride the bus for two hours to shop at the market in closest city of Sonsonate, which happens to be territory controlled by the infamous drug gang MS13. Every night I tuck in my mosquito net against the scorpions and fall asleep to the sound of the choir singing in one of the town’s seven churches.

What has surprised you most in your time there?

The most surprising thing I’ve learned while in the Peace Corps is how much our culture accounts for defining who we are. I used to believe that cultures were just different ways of living and now I realize they’re also different ways of thinking— about oneself and the world. For example, I know my family and my Steiner education were very influential in cultivating my love and respect for animals. However, in Salvadoran culture animals are seen as tools, not members of the family like in the United States. A dog is for guarding, not for playing. A cat is for killing mice, not for petting. It still upsets me to see my neighbors “mistreating” their animals, but at least I now realize it’s cultural, not personal. In other words, my neighbors don’t feed their dog because they’re mean. They don’t feed their dog because they can barely afford to feed their own children. I am privileged to have grown up in a culture in which most people have the luxury of caring for and thus about animals. Unfortunately, most people in El Salvador are too busy worrying how they will care for themselves and their children to worry about feeding the skinny dog hanging around their house. My biggest challenging while serving as a volunteer in El Salvador has been adapting to the local culture and respecting it even when I don’t agree with it.

Has your view of the world changed? How?

I used to think I was going to make a difference by changing the world. However, my time in the Peace Corps has taught me that “making a difference” doesn’t have to be global to be meaningful. My most successful projects in El Salvador have focused on helping a few people in very select ways (i.e. college scholarships). The projects that tried to help too many people solve too big a problem were the ones that failed (i.e. no more teen pregnancy). I still think it’s possible to change the world, but now I realize that real, sustainable change must first start small with local support to solve specific problems and then, eventually, can grow to a global scale.

Also, could you give me just a brief sentence on what you were doing before you went to El Salvador.

Before joining the Peace Corps I graduated summa cum laude from Smith College and did a post-graduate teaching fellowship for a year in Spain. I also spent 6 months over two summers at a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center in the Amazon Jungle of Ecuador.

Do you have any general ideas of what you’d like to do after your mission is completed?

My time as a PCV ends this April 2012, however I am planning to stay with Peace Corps in El Salvador for another year as a regional leader in charge of volunteers. I hope to visit the Berkshires later this year to see my family, eat a good home-cooked meal and take a hot shower.

Published in the Spring 2012 Mosaic Newsletter of the Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School (PDF).

Girls Basketball Team 12-2 Record

GBRSS Girls Basketball Team 12-2 Record

Congratulations to all the basketball players!

The boys’ team saw tremendous improvement over the course of the season and by their last game were playing with confidence and knowledge of the game.

The girls’ team finished with a solid season under their belts. Lead by a healthy number of 8th graders they posted a 12-2 record. Special mention is also in order for their victories at the Waldorf Tournament. The girls won all their games, including the game against Green Meadow, the host team. The gym was packed and the girls held their composure throughout.

Pictured here are the 7th & 8th grade girls at the last game of the season against Hotchkiss.

Thank you to all our parents for your support, enthusiasm and help!

Tuesday, May 1: All School Open House

May Day Celebration at Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner SchoolOn May Day, GBRSS is hosting an open house and tour at 9am, prior to the May Day celebration, or on an informal basis after the event.

For more information, please contact Tracy Fernbacher at 413-528-4015 x. 106 or admissions@gbrss.org

Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School Invites the Community to May Day Celebration Tuesday May 1

Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School ~ Igniting a lifelong love of learning for over 40 years

May Day Celebration at Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School

Festive Maypole dancing with live music, spring blossoms, games

(Berkshires, MA) March 26, 2012 – Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School (GBRSS) invites the community to celebrate the delights of spring on the school grounds at 35 West Plain Road, Great Barrington. The age-old spring festival of May Day is celebrated at the school with live music and dancing around the Maypole. May Day festivities begin at 11:00am, with performances by local Morris dancing teams and country dancing by elementary school students. The May Day celebration continues with games and picnics on the lawn. The community is invited to bring family and friends, blankets, hats, sunscreen and picnic baskets, and welcome summer joyfully! The school will also host an open house and tour at 9am the same morning, prior to the celebration, or on an informal basis after the event. For more information, please contact Tracy Fernbacher at 413-528-4015 x. 106 or admissions@gbrss.org

Waldorf schools all over the world celebrate festivals from many heritages throughout the school year. May Day is a favorite among students due to the energetic dancing, cheerful singing and games, and draws many alumni and extended community members to join the festivities. Historically, Northern Europeans considered this time of year (the end of winter, midway between spring and summer solstices) as the beginning of the new year. At the Steiner School, the 1st of May is celebrated with traditional Morris dances, singing and group dances which weave bright ribbons around the 25 foot tall Maypole. During February and March of each school year, 4th through 8th graders anticipate the end of winter by learning country dances using ribbons, bells and wooden sticks — bells to attract fairy folk, and wooden sticks to wake the earth. The 5th graders perform the dances that weave ribbons around the May Pole with vibrant spring colors.

May Day Celebration at Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School

Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School: Authentic Learning in the Berkshires – Founded in 1971, the Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School provides a warm welcome to learning through Early Childhood programs, including Parent/Toddler, Nursery and Kindergarten, progressing into engaging elementary education for First through Eighth grade. The Early Childhood program nurtures children ages 2 to 6 in five classrooms in the Early Childhood building, surrounded by gardens, woods and play areas, and prepares them for elementary school on the other side of the 30 acre campus. First through eighth grade students (from the Berkshires, northern Connecticut and New York’s Columbia County) follow a rigorous academic and artistic curriculum, preparing them for their choice of high school and college. One of over 1,000 Waldorf schools worldwide, and part of the movement of independent schools developed over 80 years ago by scientist, philosopher and writer Rudolf Steiner, the Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School operates from a core belief that to educate the whole child is to engage the intellectual, spiritual and physical self in all areas of learning.
Interviews and high resolution images are available. To schedule an interview with May Day Master of Ceremonies Christopher Sblendorio or GBRSS School Administrator John Greene, please contact Robyn Coe at (518) 392-2469, or robynpc@gmail.com

Saturday, April 28: Fools Rush In – An Evening of Mirth and Lunacy

Fools Rush In, An Evening of Mirth and Lunacy at the Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School

Saturday, April 28 Flea Market Fundraiser

Safe Water Saves Lives – Water 1st International

Students in 6th grade at GBRSS are doing their part to help reduce poverty through water, sanitation and hygiene education


Helping communities in developing countries gain access to safe, sustainable water sources and hygienic toilets is a challenging problem to address.


Help yourself while helping others.

Rent a spot to sell your stuff, your clutter, your treasures from your own market parking place in Great Barrington.

Wheeler and Taylor has offered their parking lot next to the Berkshire Co-op Market for a Community Sale on Saturday, April 28 from 10 am – 2 pm.

• Multi-Family Sale • Treasures • Second Hand Stuff
• Great Prices • Flea Market Setting • Inspired by youth

“One person’s junk is another’s treasure”

Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School 6th grade
When: April 28th 10 am – 2 pm

Where: Wheeler and Taylor Parking Lot in Downtown Great Barrington
(beside the Berkshire Co-op Market)

Space available until there isn’t any left!

Call Rebecca McFarland at 413 528 1954 to reserve your spot for $25

Wednesday, April 25: Peer Pressure, Parent Education Series

Peer Pressure Panel discussion featuring Nancy Franco, Pamela Giles, Krista Palmer, and Steve Hoff Wednesday, April 25th at 7:00 pm in the GBRSS Library

Peer Pressure” Panel discussion featuring Nancy Franco, Pamela Giles, Krista Palmer, and Steve Hoff Wednesday, April 25th at 7:00 pm in the GBRSS Library