Project Description

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

Spanish 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 program 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 country 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.

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.

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 fourth 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, fifth grade 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.

Specialty Teachers:

Ririko Oshiro
Handwork Teacher

Ririko 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!

Carol Diven
Music Teacher

Music has played a huge role in Carol’s life. She cannot remember a time when she was not actively engaged in lessons…

…practicing, performing, and, in many other ways, enjoying the gift that music is to us. Growing up she was incredibly fortunate to have some amazing music teachers; people who taught her how much music can enliven and enrich the life of a child. Through them she learned how to appreciate the nuances and heights to which music can take us; the joy music can bring, and even the challenges, which, inevitably, made me a stronger and better person. When her daughter was in second grade Carol discovered Waldorf Education and immediately realized that she could be a Waldorf teacher! She received her teaching diploma at Rudolf Steiner College in Sacramento, CA., and for the past thirty years has taught in Waldorf schools in California and Pennsylvania, where she has also mentored other teachers and helped to develop and implement strong and vibrant music programs. As a music teacher it is her goal to bring to all her students the same love of and wonder at music that she experienced growing up. When Carol is not teaching she is blessed to spend time with her family, enjoy sailing with friends, and curling up with a good book.

Jay Hemphill
Strings Teacher

Jay was born and raised in Long Beach, California. He started playing the cello in the 3rd grade…

…and has been unable to put an instrument down ever since. Growing up, he was inspired by the wonderful music teachers in Long Beach, and he has been very fortunate to teach alongside them in the Long Beach Harmony Project for the past 4 years. As a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, composer, and audio technician, Jay is keenly aware of what it takes to become a well rounded musician. He wants to teach his students how to learn, so they are able to teach themselves anything they want to know!

When he is not involved with music, Jay loves to cook, roast coffee, and come up with new ice cream flavors. He is incredibly excited to be at Maple Village and looks forward to growing with this wonderful community!

 

Francesca Preponis
Chorus Teacher

Francesca 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.

Iris Ortiz
Spanish Teacher

Iris was born and raised in Argentina. In 1968 she became a school teacher and in 1974 she completed her studies…

…as a professor of Piano and Theory. In 1985 she discovered the Waldorf philosophy and began teaching Spanish at Highland Hall Waldorf school and throughout the Los Angeles County. After doing that for seven years, Iris returned to Argentina and opened a children’s program that focused on music and arts and crafts as well as teaching music at several schools. In 2001 she returned to California and to the Waldorf schools and has since been engaged in using music to teach Spanish to children and adults in various settings, from private classes to public and private schools in Orange County. Iris enjoys reading, crafting and knitting and her passions are her 3 grandchildren.

Ciana Lee
Games Teacher & Grades Extended Care

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