In the fall of 2020, a small group of graduates from the Antioch Waldorf Teacher Training began meeting, via zoom, to explore the formation of an Alumni Association. Diverse in geographical location, year of graduation, and work experience we spent the winter considering why we wanted an alumni association and how such an association might be of service to our diverse and far-flung community. We discussed the two recent alum surveys and the findings and requests arising from these questionnaires have guided our conversations. From these conversations, the following mission and vision statements cooperatively emerged.
Our Alumni Association exists to further the excellence and integrity of Waldorf education and its ideals. We strive to advance the personal and professional connections of the graduates of Antioch University New England (AUNE) and the Center for Anthroposophy (CfA) by building a strong, easily accessible community of mutual support and creative collaboration.
- Specifically, we intend to create an online platform for connecting with each other to promote:
- Opportunities for interest-based study and collaboration
- Building connections between the graduates of the many programs offered through AUNE and CfA to support teacher training and on-going professional development
- Networking for employment and volunteer activities in conjunction with AWSNA, WECAN, and the Alliance for Public Waldorf Education
- Mentoring and speaking partner opportunities
- Gatherings by and for alums
Statements from the Leadership Team
Stepping forward to help this initiative has already allowed me to reconnect with old friends and begin to make new ones. These winter months of distancing and isolating have been a wonderful opportunity to reminisce about my experiences as a member of the fourth group to enter the Antioch Waldorf Teacher Training (1986–1988); my many years as an early childhood teacher married to a class teacher (a member of the very first class at Antioch of 1983–1985); my work as a long-time adjunct faculty member at Antioch; and, simply, my life as a human being which has been so enriched because I was fortunate enough to pursue this training.
I arrived at Antioch a total novice regarding Waldorf education and anthroposophy. I was a teacher looking for an educational philosophy that would help me to “tie it all together.” My former principal had taken to ducking into hiding whenever she saw me coming because I was so relentless in asking, “Why are we teaching this to fourth graders? How does the math curriculum relate to the science and social studies curriculum? Where is this all leading and why?” I remember one December, I did not want to take my class to watch a movie on birds building spring nests simply because that was when the film became available!
The Waldorf Teacher Training at Antioch immediately and deeply answered my educational questions. Thirty-five years later I can still find myself in awe at the applicability of Steiner’s insights and indications regarding human development and education. At this point I have worked with hundreds of children and families, been part of countless study groups, benefited from on-going life-long professional development, and received the insight and support of so many gifted and thoughtful colleagues. Still, I can pick up almost any of Steiner’s works and discover new aspects of his thinking that I had never noticed or tried to apply before.
I no longer teach in the classroom full-time, it’s true, and a number of my Antioch friends and classmates either never taught or only taught for a short time before pursuing other life paths. Among them are business owners, healers, builders, priests, public school professionals, university teachers, and artists. Recently I taught in a public school where my “hands were tied” in terms of directly applying almost any of my true educational skills or beliefs. This gave me time to contemplate, “What is a Waldorf teacher with none of the outer trappings of a Waldorf school or community?”
This is what I have come to: a Waldorf teacher training is somewhat like a Waldorf education. It is an opportunity to become more human. Studying both the arts and anthroposophy has given me the possibility to refresh myself; to summon my courage to face each day; and to be brought almost to my knees in gratitude in the most varied situations.
As we talked about the possible function of our Alumni Association, my first thought, of course, was how much I look forward to the human connections – old and new! But our hope, as a Leadership Group, is that this can serve as a practical support to all of our colleagues, whether actively engaged in teaching, other work, or moving to a more contemplative stage of life.
As we come to the end of a battering year, I hope that through the Alumni Association we can help to facilitate hope, joy, equanimity, and strength amongst us all – and maybe a little fun as well! Despite all the distance, the divisiveness, and isolation of the past year, my hope continues to live in the old Irish proverb: It is in the shelter of each other that we live.
Diana Tesni, also a member of the Leadership Group, adds:
I am happy to be working with our emerging Leadership Group to develop an Alumni Association that will serve to connect, inspire, and renew us. Anyone who journeyed through the Waldorf Teacher Training Program at Antioch was on a special educational journey, and we have all ended up in some interesting places doing some interesting work! Some of us are working in the schools, while others have brought the ideas of Waldorf education to new environments.
For myself, since graduation I have served as a class teacher in two Waldorf schools in the Northeast. I am now bringing my experience and background to positions as a college writing instructor, a Unitarian Universalist Director of Religious Education, and an international Waldorf tutor to a family living in Vietnam. Where else will this work call me? Where has it called you? How can we support one another in our endeavors, be nourished by shared stories and experiences, and expand our influence ever wider to transform lives? How can we support those who are hearing the call to learn about Waldorf Education right now?
When I graduated from Antioch, my classmates and I all wore felted flowers––made by several of my colleagues––pinned over our hearts. I still treasure this flower, as I treasure the memories of my summers in New Hampshire and memories of classmates and teachers. I look forward to helping create an organization that can make the heart connection that we share through our experiences as Antioch Alumni bloom into a source of strength and support for us all.
Finally, we received this note from Baruch Simon:
I owe tremendous gratitude to each of the seeds that the teachers, colleagues, and experiences planted in me at Antioch University New England. They are now being watered, pruned, nourished, and harvested in my career as a teacher. My passion to preserve, honor, and protect the innocence of young children is now joined with a joy I feel to experience the gift of each moment with children –– a present, if you will, that children help unfold.
I attended Antioch from 2005-2007 in the Year Round Waldorf Teacher Training program. This led to a M.Ed. as well as Waldorf certificate and a New Hampshire state teaching credential. After graduating, I taught in Rose Kindergarten in California at Yuba River Charter School for eight years, before moving with my family to Colorado in 2015 to teach at the Waldorf School on the Roaring Fork in Carbondale, Colorado. There I taught for five years in the Sunflower Kindergarten. This past year, I returned to teach in California, once again at Yuba River Charter School, and again in the Rose Kindergarten class. I have served on both schools’ pedagogical councils and as department chairs, and more recently on accreditation teams for both AWSNA accreditation and Alliance accreditation. I enjoy supporting teachers and mentoring new teachers to help discover their unique gifts and talents. I’ve taught forest kindergartens and bicycle camps, and I enjoy learning while in movement and outdoors. I view mother nature as our primary teacher. I look forward to serving the group in whatever way I can.