Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School was originally called the Rudolf Steiner Farm School. It was envisioned to be a community of students, teachers, craftspeople, artists, and farmers where children learned first through their hands. Children were becoming alienated from nature and the Farm School set out to create an antidote.
While Hawthorne Valley School grew and prospered along more traditional Waldorf lines, this original vision smoldered in many hearts. Kindled by a visit from Ruskin Mill’s Aonghus Gordon in 2010, 35 community members began a study of Karl Ege’s An Evident Need of Our Time. Out of the study, a founding team of Rachel Schneider, Indigo Ocean, and Stu Summer began to nurture EARTH.
The formative image of “enclosure” shaped our developing initiative. How do we create a safe “nest” that supports a child as they meet their own challenges? How can nature herself guide and strengthen the children’s efforts? How can we draw the children’s learning directly from their experiences?
During the summer of 2013 this search for “enclosure” was very palpable. Where would EARTH find its nest? Our faith was strong, but one possibility after another drifted out of reach. Then, two weeks before school started, someone said, “Why don’t you use the new yurt?” “What new yurt?!?” And there it was, a beautiful new yurt 10 minutes walk into the woods. This hidden gem became our second home, a perfect retreat. Within and around its protective walls, we gained carpentry skills, self-reliance, and learned the cutting, splitting and healing qualities of the different trees of the forest.
As time progressed, classes of various sizes and constellations enlivened the EARTH program. We continued to evolve as we learned more about the needs of the students and families who came to us. Our approach, founded on the basis of Waldorf educational principles, those outlined by Rudolf Steiner in his curative education lectures, and infused with project-based outdoor learning, has continued to build strength to meet the students of today and into the future.