Waldorf Education weaves the arts, music and movement into the fabric of every student’s daily life. Waldorf’s rich and varied curriculum includes rigorous academic work as well as engaging artistic and practical experiences, all of which are appropriate to the age of each child. Beyond the morning main lesson with their main classroom teacher, students study a variety of special subjects to engage the intellectual, physical and emotional development of every child.

Handwork

Handwork plays an important function in helping to develop the will of the child, in fostering self-esteem and an appreciation for beauty.  It also plays a part in helping to establish critical thinking and activates pathways in the brain that link the left and right side of the brain. The hands are the primary instrument…

…that growing children use to inform themselves about the world in which they live. What the hand feels the brain knows. Starting with knitting in first grade, the students will continue to learn more complicated stitch patterns and projects throughout the years. They will learn spinning and natural dying then move on to crocheting, embroidery and cross stitching. In the older grades the students will make stuffed animals and learn textile arts as well as machine sewing. By the end of the eighth grade, the students have a good grounding in textile arts but, more importantly, they have learned perseverance, an appreciation of beauty, and a sense of  satisfaction that comes from accomplishment.

Music

Music is an essential part of the curriculum and permeates the school day in every class. Music not only enlivens the spirit but also increases a child’s capacity for learning. Through the study of music, they learn to sensitize their hearing, allowing them the ability to really hear the sounds of the world and each other.

In first grade, the children sing and usually, after winter break, begin to play the pentatonic flute. In second grade, children continue to sing and play the pentatonic flute for the entire year. Third grade students learn how to sing in rounds and usually after the winter break transfer their skills to C-flutes (diatonic). In the fourth grade, students learn more complicated rounds, and they also continue work on the C-flutes. The children begin to play the violin this year, as well.  Students in fifth grade may continue the violin or they can choose to play the cello.

Chorus

Beginning in the Early Childhood classes, singing is incorporated into the day with circle time…. In the Grades, singing is not only a part of their lessons with their main class teacher but with a weekly music class that incorporates choral singing, folk dance, singing games, listening exercises, and improvisation activities. Beginning in the fifth grade, the vocal work takes on a variety of styles.

Spanish & Japanese

Spanish and Japanese instruction begins in the first grade in a purely oral form through verses, songs, rhythms, poems, games, fairy tales and stories.  The teacher uses gestures, pictures, puppets and other props to convey the meaning of the material.

This allows each child to develop a sense of, and an enthusiasm for, the culture and language in a natural way, similar to the way in which native speakers acquire language.  Vocabulary goals start simply with numbers, colors, and items in the child’s everyday life along with common verbs and prepositions. Vocabulary will expand throughout the grades with the goal of reading through writing more complex constructions. Grammar is introduced through active exercises, especially all regular and a few irregular verbs in present tense, and the use of prepositions, and adjectives.  In the upper grades, the programs continues to build on the students’ knowledge of basic sentence structure, vocabulary, and fluency through the use of dialogue. Vocabulary is also expanded by reading poems and stories appropriate to the students’ reading level. Cultural aspects of life in a Spanish speaking countries and Japan are also shared in English, and students read excerpts from books.

Games/Movement

Our school’s movement program for grades one through eight is taught developmentally, presenting the skills that each age specifically needs.  In the first grade, story or singing games, string games and basic hand-clapping games are shared.

Basic gross motor skills like running, jumping, swinging and galloping are practiced and students learn how to throw and receive, walk on a balance beam and skip rope.  Many versions of tag are played, along with imaginative and nature games. The second and third grades practice these same activities with the movement teacher, although more intricate games and exercises are added. Imaginative animal stunts are practiced as a basis for tumbling in later grades.  Blind and backspace games are introduced in grade three as the children grow in spatial awareness. Fourth grade activities build upon earlier practices. Tag games and relay games become more complex with more props. Ball handling skills are enhanced through games. Students develop movement memory as they imitate a sequence of movements in rhythm.  Javelin and discus throwing, long jump, running and wrestling of the ancient Greek times are introduced in grade five. Emphasis is on beauty, form, grace, style and symmetry. The class competes together with students from other Waldorf schools in mock “city-states” for the annual one-day Pentathlon. All other movement activities become more complex. Sixth grade moves from the Greek to the Roman culture.  The students experience their muscle strength in a new way and the movement teacher meets this with stretching and strengthening exercises. More sport-specific skills and games are introduced. Roman law finds its way into rules and goal-oriented sport and games. Gymnastic work is formally introduced, beginning with simple technical skills. Archery and rod fencing are also brought to the students as preparation for the Medieval Games, another annual one-day event that brings Waldorf students together.  Now that children have clearly passed the nine-year change, juggling, balance and resistance play a strong theme, testing the burgeoning individual in spatial relationship to others. The seventh grader is easily drawn toward levity at this pubescent time. Movement classes play with this exploration of levity and gravity, flexibility, and agility as well as working on cooperation and communication in games. Outdoor activities offer great challenges as individuals begin to form a team and develop the spatial relations among team members.  The eighth grader, contrary to the seventh grader, leans towards gravity. Focus in eighth grade is on uprightness of posture, deepening technique of previously learned skills and sports, and building a team through cooperation, communication, consciousness of others, and challenge activities.

Woodworking

In woodworking the will is put to task as arms are strengthened and hands become skilled.  In completing a woodworking project, students gain the experience that they can make things happen, that they have the power to be a creative and transformative force.

Regular woodworking classes begin with the fifth grade when the children have grown strong enough to work with a tough, dense material.  The first project is a wooden egg, a simple, archetypal form. Created only with rasps and files, the project requires patience and determination.  The work is steady, rhythmic. All of the essential elements of woodworking are contained in the egg: a rough piece of wood is converted to the shape its maker intends, polished smooth, and given a finish that protects and enhances the wood.  Next, students carve wooden spoons. This project is about making a tool that is useful and beautiful. The convex form of the egg is shadowed by the spoon’s concave bowl. The students learn to use saws and carving gouges. Their confidence and ability are expanding.  Various projects have been undertaken in grades six and above. Most attempt to reflect something from the curriculum. Mechanical toys involve an understanding of physics. Interlocking cube puzzles are a wooden equation that demand clear thinking and precision. In grades seven or eight, as the students are learning about the Industrial Revolution, a few basic power tools, such as drills and jigsaws, are introduced.

Throughout all of the classes, students are taught the safe and proper use and care of tools, as well as an appreciation for the gifts of the forest.  Social skills are also exercised when students assist each other, tending to the occasional cut finger, or cooperating in group projects. More than anything, woodworking provides an opportunity for the students to learn to direct their incredible energy and creativity.

Eurythmy

Eurythmy is an expressive art that makes language and music visible through movement.  The children participate through individual expressive gestures and by moving in accordance with particular forms as a group. 

Eurythmy develops balance, coordination, hemispheric lateralization of the brain, and spatial, rhythmic and musical awareness.

The eurythmy program begins in kindergarten and continues through the eighth grade.  In the early years, the students imitate the teacher’s sound gestures as the teacher recites imaginative stories and poetry.  The first and second graders combine simple geometric floor patterns, beginning with a beautiful circle and then following the circle through various forms such as the spiral, with the sound gestures of spoken poetry.  Music is introduced in the first grade and continues to eighth grade. The children clap and step the musical rhythms, follow the rising and falling of a melody with their arms, and learn simple dances incorporating elements of what is known as tone eurythmy.  Rhythmic activities, which lift the children off the ground, like skipping, galloping, and dancing, are balanced with grounding skills such as stamping and exact stepping. The third through eighth grade curriculums build on this work, delving into more complicated forms and rhythms.  Stepping exercises requiring increased concentration are introduced along with forming more complicated geometric figures, such as the five-pointed star. The movements are accompanied with drumbeat, music and poetry. Movement with copper rods is also introduced. This involves the rhythmic passing of rods in a circle, exercises involving fingers and hands, rolling rods on one’s own arms and into the arms of a partner, and balancing the rods on the top of the head.

Throughout these years the students become conscious of the meaning of specific gestures and movements in eurythmy, learning the movements for the tones of various scales or for the alphabet sound gestures, for example.

Specialty Teachers:

Ririko Oshiro
Handwork Teacher

Ririko Oshiro was born and raised in Okinawa, Japan. She earned her BA in communications at Regis College in Massachusetts…

…and her MA in Asian American Study at San Francisco State University. She recently graduated from the Teacher Training program at Waldorf Institute of Southern California (WISC). While being in the training, she taught Japanese Language to Grade 1 to 5 at Waldorf School of Orange County from 2016 to 2018. She joined Maple Village Waldorf School as a parent in 2010 when her son started kindergarten. A few years later, her daughter joined the kindergarten program. Her study of anthroposophy led her to develop a passion for working with children with the Waldorf curriculum. She is grateful and excited for the continuing journey to teach handwork here at MVWS!

Patrick York
Woodworking Teacher

Patrick York was born and raised in Long Beach. He is a Multiple Subject Credentialed Teacher, which he earned from Cal State Long Beach…

…and he has a degree in Liberal Studies from Cal State Dominguez Hills. Patrick has worked in education and with children for the last decade; as a teacher, an instructional-aide in a special needs classroom, a tutor, and as a camp counselor at the Alpert JCC. Before he changed paths to pursue education, he worked as an EMT and was on track to become a firefighter.

Patrick enjoys working with his hands and creating items both practical and artistic. He has completed many woodworking projects over the years and continues to hone his craft. He is excited to share his passion for woodworking and creation with the students of Maple Village.

Patrick is new to Waldorf Education, but is eager to learn all that he can. He is under mentorship and guidance from the Maple Village staff, and is studying Waldorf theory. When not at Maple Village Patrick enjoys spending time with his wife, Sé, and daughter, Indigo. He also enjoys camping, drumming, surfing, and playing board games and D&D.

 

Hiromi Koyanagi
Japanese Teacher

Hiromi Koyanagi was born, raised, and educated in Japan. She has been a Waldorf Language Teacher for 17 years, most recently…

…at the Waldorf School of Pasadena. In Japan, she was a nutrition science teacher for two years and a Japanese teacher for 10 years. She earned a Teacher of Japanese as a Foreign Language Certificate in 1997 and an Elementary Waldorf Education Certificate in 2005.

When Hiromi was seven years old, her grandmother’s uncle, who was an American immigrant, visited her home, and said, “It’s big in America. You should see it.” That inspired her to come to the United States in 2001. While her family and relatives did not have any background in Waldorf education, Hiromi became a Waldorf teacher because she experienced, first-hand as a young child, how important it is for teachers to understand children. After graduating from school, she continued to seek out a teacher training course to find a place where that relationship is taught. In 2003, she arrived at the Waldorf teacher training course in New York.  

She is very grateful to Maple Village Waldorf School for starting the Japanese language program. She is very excited to share the Japanese language and culture through many activities with the children and instill the Japanese soul into their hearts. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, traveling, and spending time with her two grandchildren and a Chihuahua dog.

 

Xochitl Brizuela
Spanish Teacher

Xochitl Brizuela was born in Mexico and was brought to the USA by her father. She grew up in a multigenerational home with her monolingual…

…Spanish speaking grandmother as head of household. She has a Bachelors’s in Sociology with a minor in Political Science from CSULB and has a passion for working with people in grassroots ways. Xochitl worked as a grassroots community organizer in Long Beach, a crisis childcare counselor for teenage girls in the foster care system, as well as adults with “difficult behaviors” and varying mental abilities. Her passion to look into alternative methods of relating to children actualized when she had her now 21 year old son. She knew she wanted something different for him than what she experienced and knew about. She’s taken a variety of parenting courses, all centering around respect for children. She began her formal educational journey of working with children when she began working at a private preschool in Long Beach, and this is also where she began teaching full immersion Spanish playgroup classes. She then worked at a homeschool co-op center with K, 1st, and 2nd graders, and then began working for herself in an effort to make her teaching philosophy more accessible to all communities. Xochitl has worked with infants to adults and has completed a variety of teaching courses/workshops and philosophies from different schools, and LBCC. Currently, she is looking to continue learning and growing along with the children. Her top three values are empowerment, community, and building bridges, which are values she practices within herself. Xochitl enjoys spending time with her son, her immediate family, reading, exploring nature, art, and being creative…and she is always looking for opportunities to experience joy

 

Korina Williams
Music & Strings Teacher

Korina Williams started playing the violin at five years old. She studied classical music and later learned to improvise and grew confident…
… playing several genres ranging from fiddle tunes to hip hop. She started teaching private violin, viola, and cello lessons in college and fell in love with sharing her knowledge and joy for music with others. 
Korina earned her bachelor’s degree in Classical Violin Performance from Cal State Long Beach and her Master’s degree in Contemporary Performance and Production from Berklee College of Music. In addition to teaching private and group classes for over a decade, she has performed with several artists including J. Cole, Ariana Grande, Smokey Robinson, and Anderson Paak; played at festivals such as Coachella and the Nublu Jazz Fest; has been seen on television playing for the Academy Awards, the Ellen Show, and Jimmy Kimmel Live; and has performed in 8 different countries and 30 states. All of these experiences have come with many lessons and have drawn Korina back to teaching and guiding her students through the infinite ways to express themselves through music. She aims to show her students that music is not about competing to be better than your peers but expressing the best version of yourself wherever you are today.
When she is not playing music, Korina loves to read, create tea blends, and spend time with her family. She is so excited to join the Maple Village community and connect with the students through music!

 

Francesca Preponis
Lead Parent/Child Teacher and Chorus Teacher

Francesca Preponis feels blessed to serve as lead teacher of Maple Village’s parent/child programs (Parent/Toddler and Baby & Me class)…

…as well as the middle school chorus teacher. Her journey with Waldorf Education began when her first child began attending MVWS’ parent/toddler class, fulling immersing herself in the years since in learning all she can about Waldorf. She holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in music and owned and operated a Waldorf-inspired early childhood music enrichment program. She currently enjoys working as a freelance vocalist and chorus teacher. This is Francesca’s third year as the lead teacher of the Parent/Child programs and fifth year as MVWS’s chorus teacher. When she isn’t teaching Francesca enjoys hiking and camping with her family, traveling, making music, making things with her hands and growing food.

Ciana Lee
Games Teacher & Lead Aftercare Teacher

Ciana Lee has actively sought being part of educational and creative environments from the beginning. As the eldest of five, a dancer…

…an active musician, visual artist, writer and educator they seeks to engage and nurture others to express their freedom and confidence. Spending their high school summers as a camp counselor triggered their passion to guide children and peers to their greatest potential with a sense of fun and imagination. Throughout their education at Ventura Community College they volunteered as an art director with City Corps and facilitated community service engagement for troubled youth. While earning their degree in Art Education from California State University of Long Beach, they gained classroom experience with all ages of students in various Long Beach programs. Ciana is a recent graduate of WISC Teacher Training program and is honored to be back at Maple Village Waldorf School for their seventh year.