SMWS Alumni White Paper

SMWS Alumni White Paper

Dear SMWS Community,

It is with great pride that we share with you our first Alumni White Paper, entitled “A Portrait of the Shining Mountain Waldorf High School Graduate”. This article is the result of 18 months of dedicated research by Nita Davanzo, our Alumni Relations Coordinator and proud graduate of our High School. Nita conducted two surveys in addition to countless in-depth interviews with a selection of our 389 High School graduates, spanning 20 years from 1996-2016. Her research identified many distinguishing traits, capacities, and themes of our graduates, creating a profile of our students and shining the light on the power of our education in making a difference in the world. Happy reading and feel free to share this article far and wide!

Jane Zeender
School Director


AATG 2017 prizewinners

National German Awards

National German Awards

10th, 11th and 12th grade Shining Mountain Waldorf German students took the American Association of German Teachers national exams at the end of January. There were about 20,000 participants in all.

Please congratulate the following students who received awards in this tough competition:

Alec Evans (12th grade) – Level 4 Goldurkunde (Gold award)

Emma Schaefer (11th grade) – Level 3 Leistungsurkunde (achievement award)

Eric Mahoney (10th grade) – Level 2 Goldurkunde (Gold award)

Marcus Zeender  (10th grade)- Level 2 Silberurkunde (silver award)

Elisa DuBose (10th grade) – Level 2 Leistungsurkunde (achievement award)

Gold award winners who have not spent more than 2 weeks in Germany also have the opportunity to apply for a three-week study award to Germany. 10th Grader, Eric Mahoney, is  the first student from Shining Mountain who is eligible to apply for this. We will keep you posted!

~Paula Blum, HS and MS German teacher

AATG 2017 prizewinners

Photo: Melissa Chilson, SMWS 12th grade student

From left to right: Alec Evans, Marcus Zeender, Emma Schaefer, Eliza DuBose, Eric Mahoney



SMWS High School German Program Featured in Boulder Daily Camera

High school students at Shining Mountain Waldorf School now have the opportunity to prove their German skills through an exam and earn acceptance to a German university.

German teacher Paula Blum said Shining Mountain is the first Waldorf school in North America to partner with the German government to offer the Deutsches Sprachdiplom program.

Read the full article here:




Shining Mountain Waldorf High School’s Production of “Into the Woods” by Stephen Sondheim

Before Thanksgiving Break, the High School came together for a week spent inside the Nomad Theater working on this year’s musical production, Into the Woods, by Stephen Sondheim. The vision for bringing this story into life came from Dr. Lawrence Mathews’ initial impulse last spring. Flying on the wings of his creative and enthusiastic vision, into rehearsal the high school students skipped. Each and every high school student had a hand in the creation of the production―from marketing, documentation, lights, sound, sets, effects, costumes, make-up and of course acting. The students were asked to “rise up” on many levels, and it was with pride and joy that they brought their work into performance before sold out audiences each night. The musical was a story full of magic, full of longing, of dreams, sadness, and full of hope and dedication to community. It was a story that we could and can all resonate with; a timeless story of growth, transformation, and of life’s highs and lows. Congratulations to those students who worked so hard on this production! And thank you, Shining Mountain community, for supporting them to shine so bright!

~Nita Davanzo, SMWHS Theater Director and Teacher

Watch scenes from the High School musical here: https://youtu.be/xHlU9Wo82Ic



High School Musical “Into the Woods”

Shining Mountain Waldorf High School Presents:

Into the Woods by Stephen Sondheim 

Shining Mountain Waldorf High School is delighted to bring you Into the Woods, a musical for all ages about wishes, fairy tales and the challenges and adventures that life brings our way.

Nomad Playhouse 1410 Quince Ave, North Boulder

Friday, November 18 | 7:00pm
Saturday, November 19 | 7:00pm
Sunday, November 20 | 1:30pm

Family friendly, appropriate for all ages!  Running time is approximately 2 hours with one 20 minute intermission. All seating is general admission. Doors open 1/2 hour before the performance begins.

Tickets: $10-15

For more information and to purchase tickets:




Colorado German Awards Banquet Speech | 11.4.16 | Jane M. Zeender, School Director

Shining Mountain Waldorf School the first Waldorf School in North America to offer the German Language Diploma Program… and why World Languages are so important at our school.

Good evening! My name is Jane Zeender, and I am the current School Director of Shining Mountain Waldorf School in Boulder, Colorado. I am honored to be one of your guest speakers this evening, and my goal in the next few minutes is to educate, inspire, and maybe even provoke you to think about the German language and how vital learning a world language is in these interesting times of our current world order.

Nelson Mandela has said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language-, that goes to his heart.”   Johannes Kiersch, an early Waldorf World Language teacher, states: “The overall objection of language teaching in a Waldorf school is to give pupils individual experience of the reality of language. ….. It is a schooling of empathy.”

These two quotes reinforce the Waldorf School’s belief that learning a world language makes you a citizen of the world, and allows you to stand in solidarity with people who may have been raised far differently than you, and to see and understand the world through their perspective. And it honestly does not matter if that language is German, or French, or Spanish, or Swedish, which was my first language, or even American Sign Language, the language of the Deaf, which I learned when my daughter lost her hearing several years ago.

Taking the effort to walk in another’s shoes through our voices, or hands, or dialects, opens our minds, our hearts, and our feelings in ways that translators can never even imagine, and is one of the paths to peace in our world. Just imagine, if every citizen of the world committed to learning another language, and committed to understanding another culture, what would our world look like? What COULD our world look like? This is our task as educators, to teach our children another language so they can be messengers and promoters of peace.

The first Waldorf School, and every Waldorf school that has come after it, was founded as a model for restoring peace in our world and for educating young people who would help heal the challenges of our times, and work in human connection in service to others. Almost 100 years ago, a man by the name of Emil Molt, who owned the Waldorf-Astoria Cigarette Factory in Stuttgart, Germany, approached an Austrian philosopher by the name of Rudolf Steiner and asked him to start a school at his factory for the children of his employees, all blue collar workers. Their vision and dream was to create a new educational model that would eliminate the conditions that led to World War 1, and all that transpired in Germany and in Europe at that time. The context of this education would be to focus not only on a child’s intellectual and academic potential, but on their social/emotional, physical, and spiritual potential as well. To recognize that each of us is a unique spiritual being, with a destiny to pursue, and with the hope of raising balanced, integrated, and healthy human beings. This is the core of the Waldorf pedagogy.

Shining Mountain Waldorf School was founded in 1983 by a very passionate group of parents who wanted this education for their children, and over a very short time built out our 12 acre campus in North Boulder, that today serves 300 children in preschool-12th grade. We teach two languages at our school- German and Spanish, and we begin teaching these languages in first grade. The children alternate between each language about every 6 weeks, and in 8th grade they choose one language to carry through High School. By the time our students leave 12th grade, they are conversationally fluent, and the majority of them test out of level 1 and 2 Spanish or German when they go to college. The reason we start so young is to not only immerse our students in these languages by ear, but to immerse them into the cultures that these languages arise from.

The Waldorf schools were founded out of the German cultural traditions, and although many Waldorf schools around the world have adapted their cultural traditions to their country, Germanic principles and ideals still are embedded at our school. I don’t have to be married to a Swiss German man to understand the importance of order, precision, beauty, and attention to detail in our school! In addition, we instill strong levels of respect, appreciation, resourcefulness, caring for the earth’s resources, and having fun at Shining Mountain, all values that resonate deeply with what many consider Germanic principles. All of these values, traditions, and principles are alive and well at Shining Mountain Waldorf School, and we are incredibly grateful to Emil Molt and especially Rudolf Steiner for their work almost 100 years ago in founding the Waldorf school movement, which remains the fastest growing educational movement in the world. Rudolf Steiner himself stated that “The gradual unfolding of language capability should occur in such a way that first of all a sense for what is naturally correct arises, and then a sense for what is beautiful, and finally a sense for the power language confers in the conduct of life.”

In closing, we are extremely proud and excited to be the first Waldorf School in North America to be a part of the German Language diploma program, and know that it will not only serve our students going onto university, but will help us attract and grow our High School. Many of the students in our High School who study German are interested in pursuing careers in the sciences and engineering fields, and know that fluency in German will help expand their opportunities, both in the US and abroad, over many years. Thank you to each of you for your dedication to teaching German in the United States, and to supporting our school in being dedicated to teaching German throughout our entire program. As Istated at the beginning of my talk, learning another language is a pathway to peace, which is so needed in our world today. Our work together is vitally important to the future of our children, and their children, and their children’s children. I am the proud mother of two teenagers who are learning German, and one of the greatest gifts of this language to my family was seeing my children speak German last summer with their Great Aunts and Uncles in Switzerland. German was the bridge to their connection with each other, and there is nothing more precious to me than seeing my children, and other children, cross over that bridge into those deep personal connections.