[WE Talk] Ann Orsinger-Olson – Driven to Learn, Driven to Thrive


Ann Orsinger-Olson

Driven to Learn, Driven to Thrive

On this episode:

  • Reflections on education–from public school to Waldorf School
  • Being a Waldorf School alum and now current Waldorf School parent
  • Beauty, truth and goodness in and outside of the Waldorf School classroom
  • Waldorf School students: renaissance individuals
  • Insights into Waldorf students’ academic strengths
  • Lifelong learning and living a balanced life


Nita Davanzo: Hello, and welcome to WE Talk. A podcast that explores the role of Waldorf Education in helping children, parents, and families thrive in an ever-changing world. WE Talk is brought to you by Shining Mountain Waldorf School, and this is your host Nita June Davanzo.

On today’s podcast, I am delighted to welcome Ann Kathryn Orsinger-Olson to the show. Ann is an old and dear friend of mine. She and I graduated in the same class from Shining Mountain Waldorf High School, the class of 1999.

After graduation, Ann attended Saint John College in Santa Fe, New Mexico, taking part in their amazing Great Books program. After graduating Saint John’s, Ann then went on to work on a masters degree in the Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science at UC-Irvine, then transferred to the University of Texas-Austin to complete her masters and PhD in political science, with a dissertation on how the aesthetics of schools can help to develop democratic civic virtue in students.

Ann is a true Waldorf student in ever so many regards, and one can see this in her current lifestyle. Anne is a teacher of math, philosophy, and cello, a published children’s book author, a mother of three, a step-mother of five, and an avid and talented basketball player.

Ann – welcome to WE Talk Podcast!

Ann Orsinger: Thank you. I’m so excited to be here.

Nita Davanzo: Thanks for coming and being on the show. So, my dear, it truly amazes me to think of all that you do and all that you are, and all the places that you’ve studied, and the things that you’ve created in your life. You were just noting a moment ago sometimes it’s hard to remember all the things we’ve done. I hope we can touch upon at least some of those incredible offerings and pieces that you’ve created and brought into the world during our time today.

When I think about you, Ann, I feel like you are indeed a true renaissance individual, whether you feel like it or not, and also a true Waldorf student. When I say that, or when someone else says that to you, how does that make you feel? What do you think about that phrase, being a true Waldorf student, and do you feel like you are one?

Ann Orsinger: I do feel like I am one. I feel like I get the opportunity to share that I’m a Waldorf student because my kids are at the Waldorf school, and so it’s really fun to talk to other people who decided to have their kids at a Waldorf school to tell them, hey, I got to go here.

So many people wish that they had the opportunity to go to Waldorf, and I just feel really lucky that I did get to go, and that I know firsthand how amazing it is. I also feel like it’s a wonderful community to belong to. We’re kind of in this little cocoon, and then we go off into the world, and it’s nice to know we can always touch back in with that community and have a place of belonging.

Nita Davanzo: Absolutely. Ann, you are at currently the Austin Waldorf school. Tell me how many children you have there, and what grades.

Ann Orsinger: I have three children, and five step children, so we have a full house. The youngest, Sophie Rose, she’s three, and she is going to come to the Waldorf school next year. It’s a mixed-age kindergarten, and so she’ll be joining next year. She’s currently at an in-home program that I helped to start, that’s Waldorf inspired, just down the road. She’s there.
Then I have my daughter Aria, is in the kindergarten. She’s what we call our rising first grader, so she’ll be in first grade next year. Then my stepson Abel, they’re nine days apart, so he’s also in the same kindergarten.

Nita Davanzo: Are they in the same class?

Ann Orsinger: They’re not. There are three gardens, Star, Moon, and Sun, so they’re in different gardens, but together on the playground a lot, which is really special.

My son Ody is in the second grade, and super excited because he gets his library card this week. He’s in one of the last groups, and he just cannot wait to go, so it’s really fun.

My step-son, Levi, is in the third grade, and step-son, Theo, in the eighth grade, and two step-daughters in the 10th and 12th grade, so we have a full range. My step-children have all been in the Waldorf school all the way through, so deeply connected to it.

My husband also is the athletic director at the school, at the Waldorf school, and coach of many sports there as well.

Nita Davanzo: You guys are deeply in. (laughs)

Ann Orsinger: (laughs) Yeah, we are.

Nita Davanzo: Wonderful. As a parent now looking at your children going through their respective Waldorf journeys, what is it like for you? How does that feel now to be a parent watching them go through these different developments and through the grades?

Ann Orsinger: It’s really great to watch my kids in the Waldorf school now, and really special to see them going through it. It makes me wish that I’d been there my whole time, kindergarten on. Often I’ll ask my kids about what happened in their day, and they’ll be like you know, you were there, you went there. I’m like well, no, I wasn’t in second grade at a Waldorf school, I began at a Waldorf School in Seventh Grade, you have to tell me about it.

I feel like what they’re getting is really unique in today’s day and age, and something that I don’t feel like I could find easily for them anywhere else. It feels like kind of a safe haven of meaning and goodness, where I just have this whole community of people who are helping me raise my kids.

Nita Davanzo: That’s incredible. We certainly need more of that.

Ann Orsinger: We do. I think one of the most surprising things to me is that parenting can be really lonely, you can really feel like gosh, I have this huge responsibility, and I’m not sure where to turn. Connecting into the Waldorf school just makes that completely different.

I feel like all these other parents, and all these teachers, like my son’s class teacher, I feel like I have a partner in loving him and working with him, and leading him. I really cherish it.

Nita Davanzo: Wonderful. It sounds like a pretty incredible experience. I haven’t yet visited the Austin Waldorf school, but hope to soon.

You have been in education whether as a student yourself or now as a teacher in a whole variety of facets and regards, and teaching a whole variety of offerings. I wonder as a teacher when you teach Waldorf students and non-Waldorf students, and certainly now have your children at the Waldorf school, do you see any differences in students who are Waldorf students and students who are not Waldorf students?

Ann Orsinger: I got the opportunity to teach in a Waldorf high school last year, and I’m currently teaching college level in Austin as well. There’s a big difference in students’ dedication, in their ability to focus in, and feel like there is meaningful work for them to do.

Their level of writing is extremely different. I just feel like, and I kind of have a snapshot with my children and step-children all the way along, and looking at how their writing is progressing, and I see my eighth grader writing better than many of the college students that I have, and then just seeing that refine and improve throughout high school as well. I feel like it’s got a lot more depth and a lot more engagement from the students as well, compared to the students who’ve never had the opportunity to do Waldorf.

Nita Davanzo: That reminds me of some years ago, it was at Shining Mountain Waldorf School’s 25th anniversary. My husband and I attended, and we left that evening, and he was almost crying in the car. I said, “Honey, what’s wrong?” and he was so upset that he didn’t get the opportunity to be at a Waldorf school. It made me wish that everyone could have the depth and the richness of Waldorf education.

Ann Orsinger: That’s what I end up wishing, too. I think it’s not just the depth and the engagement, but also the different focuses all the way along that the students get to have, focusing on goodness of the world, focusing on the beauty of the world, focusing on finding and seeing truth in the world. I just feel like there’s no one and nothing in our world that wouldn’t be better off if they had that foundation to come back to.

I feel like we’re in this day and age always rushing ahead to the next best thing, trying to get there faster, and push our kids faster, and who got to learn to read quickest, and it just feels like so much is lost then. I feel like Waldorf actually prioritizes what’s important, and says yeah, there’s a whole host of things out there in the world, and they’re not bad, but they also aren’t necessarily what a five-year-old needs or what a seven-year-old needs. We need some foundational things first to be able to enjoy the world as an adult in a happy, healthy, balanced way.

To me, that underlying philosophy, I kind of just keep coming back to goodness, beauty, and truth. I feel like it’s so rare for anything to hold those three up as the pillar to strive for in today’s society.

I started to think about teaching and childhood as an opportunity to curate experiences. You have these kids, and you have their captured attention for years, and years, and years, and I just think it’s a really serious question as to what we bring before them during that time. There are so many truly amazing things in this world, beautiful things, that humans have done, natural things, just so many wonders, and it seems to be a shame if we don’t bring our best before our children.

Nita Davanzo: Absolutely. Right, and just that reverence of the world around us, and the wonder of the world around us, I think that’s something that will certainly with my having taught in public schools too, and some different schools, that that’s not there, and that’s really it’s a tragedy.

Ann Orsinger: Yeah. It’s something that’s really missing.

Nita Davanzo: Yeah. As our world is quite, quite amazing and beautiful, and to–especially now –to really know that and own that and take responsibility for keeping our world as beautiful as it is.

Ann Orsinger: Yeah. I think it’s hard. It’s hard right now for those of us that receive that message the strongest, it can still be hard to keep your faith up and to continue to look past the tragedies paraded in front of us, and say yeah, but that’s just part, and there’s other goodness.

I think it just could be really easy to spiral downward if you don’t have that inner core belief and experience of the good and the beautiful.

Nita Davanzo: Absolutely. Speaking about good and beautiful, and creations too, I know you recently published a children’s book. Can you share with us just a bit of your process in that, and then also what inspired you to create a children’s book? I believe that you are still writing others.

Ann Orsinger: Yeah, I am. Thank you.

It was I think I would say a really inspired process. I mean I didn’t set out to write a children’s book. I was going through a divorce with really young kids, and I think that this definitely comes from my experience with Waldorf that I would look to stories to help them. Stories really encourage you to look at challenges that you’re having with your child, and to create stories for your child that somehow helps them to move through it, instead of just sitting down and speaking adult words about what they need to do.

It kind of came from that place, and I just started telling them the story. Before their dad and I separated and moved out, and I knew that’s what was coming for them, I just started telling them the story about when Father Sun moved to the sky.

So the basic story is that Mother Earth and Father Sun used to live together in the same house with their Flower Children, and Mother Earth’s hills blocked Father Sun’s light, and Father Sun’s light made Mother Earth’s soil hard and dry, so it was better when he moved to the sky. I was really just so fortunate to partner with a good friend of mine who’s an amazing artist, who just did the most aesthetically beautiful, colorful, vibrant drawings to go with it, and she was going through a divorce with small kids at the same time, and I think we spent like a year on the phone, three to five days a week, just talking each other through it, and so there was a way that we were really just on the same page, and it felt like this collaborative thing that just emerged out for us.

Then I sat there with it done for about two years, and didn’t do anything with it, and recently came back to it, and discovered print-on-demand publishing, so indie publishing where you’re not buying a box of 500 books to sit in the garage, but it’s just for sale on Amazon, and then as people order it they print it, and it’s just a really amazing opportunity, I think, for anybody who has something to say.

Nita Davanzo: Sounds good. What is the name of your book, and your author name, too, so that people can go and find it?

Ann Orsinger: It’s When Father Sun Moved to the Sky, and it’s for young children, probably 0 to 7, although honestly I think every time I read it I feel better about my own divorce, honest, so I think it’s for parents, too. It just brings this sense of hope and goodness around a time that can be really challenging. I published it under Ann Kathryn Orsinger-Olsen, hyphenated last names, and it’s available on Amazon.

Nita Davanzo: Wonderful.

Ann Orsinger: Please spread the word.

Nita Davanzo: Yes, listeners, please check it out and spread the word.

Ann, if you were to give your life a title or a theme, looking at all the various realms and pieces and parts of it, what might you come up with?

Ann Orsinger: (pause) I think something like Meaning Through Words, or Learning Development and Stories. It’s something that gets at self-development and growth, and that process through connection of literature and spoken word as well, so discussion. I think those are the things that I really value. I think I always have, and I think it’s coming into even sharper focus for me about the relationship of those two, of understanding yourself through understanding others better, and vice versa. For me, the written word has always been really powerful, and I think using stories, using literature for adults, and for younger children, young children’s books, to try to get at some of our deepest places, I think that can happen most effectively through stories sometimes.

Nita Davanzo: Certainly a Waldorf education certainly meets and cultivates that capacity to learn and to work through life and life situations in that way. You came to Shining Mountain Waldorf School in seventh grade, and I clearly and vividly remember the first time you came into the classroom because you were raising your hand and answering questions already, and I was like who is she, wow. Like I noted at the beginning, I always felt you were a true Waldorf student, but you weren’t always in Waldorf.

Ann Orsinger: Yeah. I always loved school. I went to kindergarten in a public school, and came home the first day and said. “ooh, what’s this?” I wanted to go to school. We’re in the sandbox and singing songs. I often wonder what my experience would have been like in a Waldorf kindergarten, because even though you’re not reading, you’re not doing academic stuff, I feel like there’s more substance and meaning and realness there. I wonder if I would have had the same experience.

I’ve always loved it, and have gone to school in different states, and had different experiences with different schools, and coming to the Waldorf school was kind of like coming home, I felt like. I still remember we recently moved back to Colorado from Wisconsin, and so I was in a new school. The school I had been in in Wisconsin had a lot of art, a lot of music, was a small K-8 school, and a really great place, high academics, took sports seriously, kind of all across the board. The public school I came back to in Colorado was very different than that. It was a big public middle school. It was really low academics, and no girls sports, and no music, no art. We were looking around for other options, and I just vividly remember coming to the winter faire at the Waldorf school, and it was just like my eyes were sparkling.

There were people playing recorder walking around. I think there were hot chestnuts for sale, and pocket ladies handing out gifts. Then walking into these classrooms where like there were these little workshops, like you were really making candles, and you were carving wood, or using real fibers to make something, and it’s like my life has never been the same since that moment because all of a sudden I thought to ask a question that I had never asked before, which is like why aren’t kids given real materials to do real artwork in schools.

In public schools, at least my experience, even at a school that had quite a good art program, we were gluing noodles to a page.

Nita Davanzo: It makes it seem so sad to be there, but it’s true, you’re right.

Ann Orsinger: It’s true. We were painting plastic cartons, using pasta for supplies!

Nita Davanzo: Perhaps one day that style of art will be in a museum. (laughs)

Ann Orsinger: Maybe. (laughs)

Nita Davanzo: This is called “Rigatoni on the Wall”. (laughs)

Ann Orsinger: Somehow I think even if we were using noodles in the Waldorf classroom, it would have a validity and a seriousness to it in taking students seriously that I just never had felt before.

I think then I went to an information session on the high school, and I turned to my parents and I said I will only go to this school, I’m dropping out of my other school, I better get in here. Yeah, I mean it was just such a huge turning point for me. I loved it. I had played the cello, and kind of that renaissance woman, that’s who I’d always been, so I’d always enjoyed all these things that the Waldorf school and the students at the Waldorf school appreciated and valued.

I think if I hadn’t found my way to the Waldorf school, I’d still be who I am, but I think I’d be really depreciated, I’d be a lot less than I am kind of even on the inside, because I think you can’t underestimate the value of who you are being supported by a community. I think that was the case for everyone in some regard because it’s such a broad range of opportunities that people have. Maybe you’re good at art, maybe you’re good at math, maybe you’re good at sports, but you don’t get labeled, you get to participate in all of it, and you get appreciated for what you have to contribute. That’s a gift that I want to give to my kids for sure.

Nita Davanzo: And you are giving that gift. So, my dear, if you were to look back on your life thus far, this question came to me as I was on a hike with one of my dear friends this past weekend, and we were going up, we were ascending this mountain, and as we were going up there’s all these boulders and rocks, and we kept on losing the path. We finally got to the top, and looking down the path was so clear behind us. It’s that analogy of life, is that really you can only make sense of things when you look back upon it. If you were to look back at your life, and maybe just look at some of the guiding themes in your life, what might those be for you? What might you choose and recognize for yourself?

Ann Orsinger: I definitely think it’s the case that life is like a long hike, and so you kind of wander along, and then you reach a summit, and you see, oh, yeah, everything was leading me here. But then you keep going, and sometimes you lose the path again, and then you can see the whole thing put together. I feel like life has been kind of a series of those.

I’ve had many points where I felt really strongly that I could feel this guiding hand keeping me on a path, and that definitely has always had to do with education and with inspiration of teaching and learning environments. Waldorf and then my undergraduate college, Saint John’s College, which really in many ways is an extension of Waldorf just as far as its broadness and a seriousness with which it takes its students and just really emphasizes the learning of the individual, I think that that has been central for me all the way along.

Currently, I feel like I’m about to reach another summit and look back, kind of see how where, get a sense for a minute of where I’m going, and how everything has been leading here. I was thinking that in a lot of ways I think maybe all of us at this point are in a phase of life that we maybe didn’t plan out exactly. You kind of think like I’m going to get married, I’m going to have kids, I’m going to get a job, but there’s so much life after that. Then getting divorced, and Texas, I never assumed I was going to live in Texas forever, and I’m very happy to be here, and I didn’t in my wildest dream imagine eight children.

I feel like in many ways life has just given me more than I could have planned or imagined myself, and asking for more too. I think my plans were a lot simpler than real life, and I have to march ahead and I’ll work it out. I think there’s a lot more left to what I’m going to do, and hopefully a bigger reach also as to who I can reach. That’s why publishing is really exciting to me. It’s wonderful in a classroom to reach the students in front of you, and it’s really exciting to think about reaching a lot more than that with what you have to say. I’m excited to see what lies ahead.

Nita Davanzo: As you are about to ascend this next possible peak in your life, what might you see in your future? Are there some other books on the horizon?

Ann Orsinger: Yeah. I’m currently working on quite a few other children’s books, and I feel like it’s sort of this dual process of both my own creation, but also then learning just the technical ropes, how do you get stuff published, and formatted, and then marketed, and also connecting with illustrators.

I guess maybe I’ll put it out there right here, I’m looking for illustrators to partner with. It’s kind of a unique opportunity where I don’t have a lot of funds to pay somebody up front, so it’s a co-partnership in the project together. If you’re interested, let me know, all you Waldorf artists out there.

Nita Davanzo: Calling all illustrators!

Ann Orsinger: Yeah, exactly. I’m just learning the ropes, and kind of building that business up in Austin, and it’s been a really great learning experience, it’s kind of some exciting initiatives there that I’ve been involved in with creating a new seminar program for incoming freshmen that I’m really passionate about. I feel like being connected to education in some way, either at the Waldorf school or at the college level will probably continue, although I feel like I’m not completely clear on in what way that I’ll end up panning out.

Nita Davanzo: You’ll know when you’re on that next peak.

Ann Orsinger: Yeah. I’m just starting a reading group, a reading seminar for the community, on self-transformation in literature, where we’re going to be working with a book and having several sessions, and just kind of asking those introspective deep questions that only the best books bring out in us, and discussing them. I feel like there’s a future there as well, to kind of build this all together.

Nita Davanzo: Wonderful. Ann, your work sounds so inspiring, and it is so inspiring. Thank you so much for taking the time today to talk with me today on WE Talk.

Ann Orsinger: It’s fantastic, and I love that you’re doing this, and I can’t wait to hear the interviews to come.

Nita Davanzo: Thank you for listening to We Talk, brought to you by Shining Mountain Waldorf School. Nita Davanzo is editor, producer, and host. Introduction music was created by SoundDotCom.com.

If you’d like to be interviewed, have a suggestion for an episode ahead, or simply wish to share feedback or ideas, please email us at WeTalk@SMWaldorf.org.

Healing through Music: An Interview with Julia Emery, class of 2008



Like many string musicians who are Waldorf students, you have been playing the cello now since the 3rd grade. When you first began playing, was it an immediate love? Did you know that that was what you wanted to pursue in your life, or was it something that grew slowly and became clear as you got older?

I began playing the cello in 3rd Grade, when the decision to pick between a violin and a cello first emerged, as part of the Waldorf curriculum. At the time, I was unaware of the journey that would unfold, as a result of playing the cello. However, as time progressed, getting to know the people within the musical communities of Boulder and Denver, as well as continuing to deepen my understanding and love of the cello through study and performance, served to both continue and expand my love of music, and of playing the cello with others.

How has your relationship with cello and music changed and developed over the years?

My relationship with music has both remained constant, and has also evolved as time has progressed. Education has been essential for my life and growth as a cellist, and as an individual. Specifically, throughout my studies, my understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of the cello has deepened profoundly; from all aspects of physical technique and solo performance, to the subtle communications of chamber music, and the precision and attention to detail necessary in orchestral playing. Growing up, playing the cello was always something that I enjoyed, and engaged in on a weekly basis: in lessons, practice, rehearsals, etc. However, only after connecting with my primary cello instructor at the University of Denver did it become clear to me that playing cello was something that I wanted to continue with, as a path.

When comparing this relationship to other musicians who did not go to a Waldorf School, do you see any differences—in regard to their relationship with music and/or being a musician? In the way that music was presented to them as a young student?

I think the primary difference in learning music at Shining Mountain has been the embodiment of music present in all elements of study; from singing in morning lesson and choir, to playing the recorder and engaging in weekly or bi-weekly Eurythmy classes. Throughout my education at Shining Mountain, music, and all artistic practices seemed to be incorporated into almost every facet of learning and study, for which I am tremendously grateful.

You note that one of your main reasons for performing and teaching music is based on healing and helping others. Was there a time/s in your life when you felt that music “got you through”? How did it help you, and how, where, and when do you see it helping others?

I believe that music has an incredible capacity to heal, reflect and effect our ability to understand ourselves and each other, which is why using music as a tool for healing has always been of particular interest to me. Playing music has always been very grounding and healing for me, especially in transition, and it has been a great joy to be able to share that with others, as they move through transitions ranging from hospital visits and assisted living homes, to hospice.

You teach as well as perform. Describe a few of your favorite (and least favorite) teachers – their techniques, their styles – and how this has inspired and informed you in your teaching and working with students.

I have enjoyed, and loved all of my cello teachers very much; from my studies at Shining Mountain and private lessons, to my time at the University of Denver, and the various teachers with whom I studied both at DU and abroad. Each teacher has been incredibly unique, in both style and technique, and I feel that every teacher has taught something that I hope to be able to share with my students.

Do you prefer teaching or performing? What does teaching give you that performance does not? What does performance give you that teaching does not?

I enjoy both teaching and performing, as they are vastly different from each other, but still very much connected. It feels as though, in helping a student prepare for a performance, the understanding of performance preparation and execution become clearer, and more defined. Similarly, learning new repertoire to prepare for a concert is both exciting and important, both as a teacher, as well a perpetual student of music, and of the cello.

You have played a variety of musical styles and performed in orchestras, chamber groups, small duos and trios, solo, and more. When choosing a project, piece or performance, what guides you?

I think my preference of musical performance, venue and audience, etc., is connected to the people I am playing for, as well as the music being played. I greatly enjoy performances for elders, and within assisted living communities. I also enjoy playing music of a more experimental nature, because it is possible to explore sounds that might not have been heard before.

Heading into a career in music is not necessarily an easy choice. The promises of “fame and fortune” are slim, and the hours and work (in rehearsal, being self-employed) can be challenging. DId you think about this when you were younger – these “practicalities and realities”? If so, what drew you to continue to pursue music? Did your time at SMWS instill a sense of purpose and belief in your talent and ability to follow your dreams?

Music has been a part of my life ever since I can remember. However, it was not completely clear to me that I wanted to pursue music actively until university and the inspiration that came from working with my primary teacher there. Being at Shining Mountain, and then having the opportunity to study with my mentor throughout university, created a framework of continuity in both education and inspiration that allowed me to explore music in a way that might otherwise not have been possible.

What advice and words of wisdom would you give to your younger self and to other young musicians today?

In terms of advice, I think being open to what presents itself is very important, especially as a musician. There are many opportunities available within the world of music, but sometimes they are not as obvious as they could be. I think, as with everything, timing is very important, as are the relationships that are built. Finding a community, and teachers who are both fully invested in teaching and listening, as well as open to exploring the different possibilities present within the world of professional music, is also very important. Ultimately, I think the more we continue to learn about ourselves and engage in what we love to do, the more we will be able to understand, and consequently, work with, and help the world around us.

Striving and Serving: an Interview with Blaine Meserve Nibley, Class of 2007

CG STA Monterey 2008

Petty Officer First class Blaine Meserve-Nibley is the leading petty officer for the In-Service Transfer Team at Coast Guard Recruiting Command in Washington, DC. Upon reporting, he became responsible for reserve recruitment in the Mid-Atlantic region including six recruiting offices in five states. His duties currently include facilitating Coast Guard member component transitions, reserve programs and benefits training, and reserve marketing content.

Petty Officer Nibley joined the Coast Guard Reserve in 2010 from San Jose, CA, and began his service at the CG Pacific Strike Team where he responded to natural disasters and hazardous materials incidents including Hurricane Sandy and the West Oakland Lead Contamination response. In 2014, he deployed to Afghanistan with the CG Redeployment Assistance and Inspection Detachment (RAID) to inspect cargo and containers. While deployed, he additionally served as a trauma medic in three multi-national trauma centers. In 2015, Petty Officer Nibley served as the Coast Guard Liaison Officer at the CSU Maritime Academy where he led efforts to establish and implement Auxiliary University Programs at maritime and military academies.

Petty Officer Nibley attended the California State University Maritime Academy where he focused in Global Studies and Maritime Affairs (GSMA), writing his thesis in recreational boating safety. He earned the 2016 GSMA Service Award for sustained efforts to improve Coast Guard programs at the maritime academy.

Petty Officer Nibley’s personal awards include Coast Guard’s District 11 Reserve Enlisted Person of the Year (2013), CG Pacific Strike Team’s Sailor of the Semester (2013), CG Station Monterey’s Sailor of the Quarter, Army Commendation Medal, Coast Guard Achievement Medal, Commandant’s Letter of Commendation (4 gold stars), and the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal.

What did you first want to be when you grew up, and why?

I grew up wanting to be a firefighter. As early as I can remember, the lights and sirens drew my attention. When I was 4 or 5, my mother took me to a local firehouse where they had us stay for lunch and showed me the equipment. I was hooked from then on. My particular interest in the Coast Guard was driven by my parents’ stories from working on the cruise liners in Hawaii. My dad used to tell stories about spectacular rescues the Coast Guard would make out on the open ocean with his cruise ship and that drove my interest to join.

Did you have opportunities at SMWS to fuel this passion to help and serve?

Waldorf has a culture of promoting diversity, awareness, and individuality. SMWS provided opportunity for me to pursue my own focus. One particular thing that helped allow me to explore the emergency field was taking the emergency medical technician (EMT) course at  Front Range Community College. My advisors were helpful to have me meet the course requirements (10 credits) and simultaneously complete SMWS senior requirements.

After working as a firefighter, EMT and park ranger, what prompted you to join the Coast Guard?

Firefighting, emergency medicine, and law enforcement each provided unique challenges and a sense of community and belonging. When I became a boat ranger for Larimer County, I already had a strong conviction to work on the water and the Coast Guard seemed like the logical next step.  I joined the Coast Guard Auxiliary in 2006 as a volunteer and was able to live at CG STA Monterey for a month at a time during the winter from 2007-2009. I worked on the small boats and stood the radio communication watch (essentially dispatching). The experience of volunteering with the Coast Guard in Monterey really drove me to pursue joining the military. The Coast Guard is charged with 11 missions including (and not limited to) search and rescue, law enforcement, environmental and living marine resource protection, and drug interdiction. This particular service met my interests and exists for missions I truly believe in and support.

In your years of service, what are some of your personal highlights? (Afghanistan, Hurricane Sandy, New Mexico, Cal Fires, other?)

I have a few moments professionally that stand out. Deploying to Afghanistan was certainly a unique time in my life. On Mother’s Day, 2014, I was stationed at Kandahar Airfield. A vehicle-born improvised explosive device detonated in the middle of a Coalition convoy just off base. I arrived to the trauma center about an hour after the explosion and there were more than 30 soldiers already being treated. The trauma bay itself had 15-20 beds and all were full. In total, 56 Coalition soldiers received trauma care from that one incident and five Afghan soldiers and civilians died. That day stands out as the most impactful day I have had in the Coast Guard. (photo of the trauma bay and one of my teams).

One other story that comes to mind was a case we had in Monterey during a winter storm in 2008. I remember it was Sunday night and the culinary specialist had made chili cheese dogs. This is an important part of the story for later. At around 9:45pm, a distress call was heard for a 20 foot sailboat 25 miles south of Monterey caught in the storm. We geared up and were underway on a 47’ Motor Lifeboat within a few minutes of receiving the call. When we got to the mile marker buoy, the coxswain (boat driver) determined that the seas were too heavy for his level of qualification and we turned around and picked up another heavy weather coxswain. About 1.5-2 hours later, we arrived on scene and found the sailboat in heavy seas without fuel for their motor. We towed them back to the harbor which took about 8 hours. I have never been more seasick and those chili cheese dogs did not help from earlier. Ultimately we were able to save the sailboat and rescue the people on board but we did not get back until 9am the following morning (11 hour rescue). (I sent this as one of my pictures when we all got back to the dock).

Many Waldorf (an non-Waldorf) students go straight on to college after they graduate high school. How was it for you to begin working full-time right after high school commencement? (Do you think more people should do this? do you think going to college later helped you truly bring your focus into practice?  did you question yourself when many of your classmates were venturing on another path?)

I applied to a few colleges on the East and West coasts as well as Colorado. During my visits to Massachusetts and Connecticut, I began to realize how expensive out-of-state tuition was. I also understood that what I wanted to professionally accomplish did not require a 4-year degree and I decided to enroll in Red Rocks Community College instead with some fire science courses. After being a volunteer firefighter, I was hired onto the Raton Fire Department and later moved back to Colorado and taught at the Red Rocks Fire Academy. I did not think too much about college until I started seeing classmates graduating with their degrees.

After joining the Coast Guard in 2010, I started looking at the California State University Maritime Academy and decided college would be a good path to advance my military and civilian career. I found that waiting was a blessing because I understood the cost, appreciated the courses, and valued the time in the classroom more than I would have immediately after high school.

You are a man of many talents! From an EMT to Marine Science Technician, to holding an (almost) degree in Global Studies and Maritime Affairs from Cal Maritime. What do you feel are the through lines or connections between these talents and interests? (ie desire to serve, love of hands-on action, engagement with people, love of learning, other?)

Having a hands-on career path has always been important to me. The service component existed and has been a common theme in my work and volunteering. Another theme would be working on and around the water. When I moved to Colorado the first thing I missed about California was the ocean. The Coast Guard, CSU Maritime Academy, and being a boat ranger in Larimer County each provided that water connection.

Do you feel your Waldorf education supported you in being who you are today?

Yes. I am a huge supporter of the Waldorf model of education. I had a great moment about halfway through boot camp but to tell the story I have to set the scene. Imagine every day the absolute physical and mental chaos of company commanders (Coast Guard version of drill instructors) in your face with zero privacy, zero autonomy, and zero coffee. It was one of the most grueling experiences I have gone through. I remember sitting on the floor polishing my boots when a fellow recruit leaned over and whispered, “Hey Nibley, I have a question… did you go to Waldorf?”

That moment really was significant to me because neither of us had ever spoken to each other before. It turns out he had gone to another Waldorf and for whatever reason, picked up that we had that similar upbringing. Waldorf puts a worldly spin on education that is rich in diversity and awareness and it absolutely prepared me for today. I credit Waldorf as creating an environment that allowed me to see from different perspectives.

If you were to give your high school self some words of wisdom, what might they be?

“You can’t control what you can’t control.” I first heard those words while working on a project. I was furious about an issue at work and my supervisor calmly listened to my frustration, nodded, and told me that phrase. I also would have told the younger me to live in the present rather than only looking to the future.

CSU Maritime 2013

Hurricane Sandy 2012

Ranger 2011

Trauma Center 2014 Kandahar, Afghanistan

CG STA Monterey Rescue Crew

Language, Love and Learning: An Interview with Jonathan Ford, class of 1999



Please share a brief bio.

I moved to Boulder when I was 11, starting at SMWS in the 5th grade, and eventually graduating from SMWHS in 1999. After that, I spent a year studying abroad at the American University in Cairo before starting a bachelors at the University of California, Berkeley. At Cal, I graduated with honors with a degree in Cognitive Science, emphasizing in Linguistics. I decided to stay in the Bay Area after college and started a career in technology. I am currently enjoying life in San Francisco.

During high school, you studied in Spain, France and Egypt. What were your experiences like? And how might this travel and study have affected your future decisions, career path and life?

Read more

Serving the Global Community – An interview with Bryce Wilson, class of 2011

Bryce Wilson-4

Bryce Wilson-4

Can you share a brief bio?

I’m a lifelong Waldorfian. From 3-day kindergarten to the SMWS high school class of 2011, I was granted the incredible opportunity to learn and grow in one of the most exceptional educational philosophies that our world has to offer. My family and I moved from Southern California in 2006, where I attended another Waldorf School in Orange County, to grant my sister and I the opportunity to continue our Waldorf education through the high school level. After high school, I journeyed up The Hill to attend The Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado to pursue a degree in marketing and advertising.

You departed SMWHS to study business, advertising and marketing. How did this course of study and subsequent career change your view of the world and your place in it?

Business school taught me to see the world in a very particular and limited fashion. However, armed with my Waldorf education and unhindered curiosity, I began to incorporate the teachings I had learned in a more holistic manner and allow them to serve me along my journey rather than to limit my perspective.

What were some of the challenges you faced in entering the marketing and advertising world? And what were some of the joys and lessons?

I always knew in my heart that I was never cut out for the typical office job, and even if it was at an awesome Colorado tech company (SpotX), I needed to learn that lesson first hand. It helped develop my learned skill set in a real world setting and allowed me to become knowledgeable as to how the current world of advertising, marketing and business operates.

What drew you to engage in your current work as Marketing and Development Director  for Pride Pad? And what inspires you to work there? 

After parting ways with my office job, I knew that I would still rely on many of the skills and lessons that it taught me. I sought to continue to cultivate myself and apply my expertise in a setting that I truly believed in. Once I was ready to do so, an opportunity with an organization called Pride Pad Project practically fell into my lap. I could immediately see the tremendous value that the organization was creating in our global community. I was inspired to say the very least. The mission of Pride Pad is to provide organic sanitary pads and empowerment based education to young women and girls in Ghanaand eventually to other communities around the world that can benefit from our support. Pride Pad also strives to provide leadership skills and entrepreneurial based opportunities to such communities to further maximize our positive impact.

How has your work for Pride Pad changed your perspective on the world, and how has it affected your relationships with others in your local community and greater global community?

The work I have been doing for Pride Pad has reaffirmed that every one of us can make a difference. Be it in ourself, our local community or for those in need in countries across the worldI was reminded to never underestimate the power of the individual to cultivate love and positive action.

Do you feel that your time spent as a student at SMWS affected or influenced your current work and life choices? If so, how?

Absolutely, SMWS and the Waldorf School of Orange County both helped cultivate the person who I am today. I am a confident, curious, kind and caring individual who received the nurturing support I needed to learn and grow into the man I am today. I am forever grateful to the teachers, parents and fellow students who helped me along the way and created an incredible educational experience for me and so many other lucky Waldorfians!

What are your main objectives and goals for your work at Pride Pad?

My primary goal for my work at Pride Pad is to serve the global community. I have been so loved and nurtured throughout my life that I want to do my best to spread that love and support women and girls across the world, as well as in my local community. I am currently spreading awareness of Pride Pad and our mission and fundraising in the effort to ramp up our operations in Ghana. 

Since November 2016, we have distributed over 70,000 pads to girls in Ghana, and are partnered with the Ghanaian government to eventually ramp up production to serve the entire population and surrounding regions.  

We are actively seeking community support to help purchase additional manufacturing equipment to help ramp up operations to eventually produce 15,000,000 pads per month. 

How can people support this project?

Any contribution, no matter how big or small, makes an incredible statement about your support for not only this project, but for a better world. I ask this incredible, conscious and generous community to help in any way you can. $24 provides a young woman with enough sanitary pads to last her entire high school career! Monetary donations are very appreciated, however they are not the only way you can help. Please spread the word to any friends, family or others who you think could help in any way, It truly takes a village for an undertaking such as this. I’ve provided links to our website, Facebook, and crowdfunding sites below for additional information and contributions. I want to thank every reader in advance for your time, consideration and support for this cause! Please feel free to reach out to me at brycewilson7@gmail.com for any additional information and I will be happy to provide more details about the project, the team and our vision.

Below are additional resources for more information about Pride Pad Project:



Go Fund Me:

If you were to give high school students today any advice or words of inspiration, what might they be?

Trust your heart and listen to what it says. Do your best to find love in this world and forgive those who have yet to find it within themselves. Be truthful in every possible momentespecially with yourself. Be gentle with yourself and others along the way, when you open your heart, others will open theirs. Don’t forget to enjoy this beautiful worldit is full of love, mystery, magic and opportunity.

Bryce Wilson-5

Bryce Wilson-3

Bryce Wilson-2

Bryce Wilson-1

Choosing the Path Less Travelled: An Interview with Franceska Suarez, Class of 2015

Photo by: Franceska Suarez

Interviewed by Nita Davanzo
August 31, 2017

Franceska Suarez, alumna of class 2015, attended Shining Mountain Waldorf School from 3rd through 12th grade. After she graduated, Franceska took a gap year in which she traveled and performed community service. She visited the Bahamas, India, Ecuador and Europe, and then went on attend the University of Arts in London, studying fashion design. She then transferred to a school in Florence, Italy before finally coming to clarity that the study of fashion design no longer called to her. In February 2017, Franceska went to Thailand on a personal health holiday and ended up staying on at PhuketCleanse as an intern and then as a staff member. She now works as a chef in their kitchen, and develops the cookbook and online blog for PhuketCleanse. Read more

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


Barn Swallows, Beauty, and Biology – An interview with Iris Levin, class of 2001

Iris and barn swallow

Iris and barn swallow

What initially drew you in to pursuing Biology and Environmental Studies? (was it a former teacher, a “calling”, an interest in helping the planet and human beings, the interconnectedness of all things, or “just a whim?”)

 I knew I wanted to study Biology in college, but I had my “ah ha!” moment in a class my sophomore year. The course was Behavioral Ecology and Population Biology with Nat Wheelwright at Bowdoin College. By the third week of class, I knew – I wanted to be that guy. Nat happened to study birds, and ever since my first summer of doing research with him, I’ve worked on avian systems as well. It is amazing what an influential educator can do!

You note that you have spent much time in the study of birds. Was there something in particular about birds – their ability to fly, their relationships, their mating patterns or anything else that drew you initially to study them? Had you always been interested in birds, or was this a new passion come college? 

Birds are wonderful. We know so much about them, in part because bird watching is and has been a popular hobby among scientists and non-scientists alike. Birds are abundant, they are relatively easy to study, their behavior is interesting, and they can be an excellent experimental system. I’ve been lucky to study birds in amazing places: I did my dissertation research in the Galapagos Islands, studying seabirds and their parasites. These days I study a common bird, the barn swallow, that you see swooping between cars at intersections or perching on power lines near open fields. But, why birds for me in the first place? It goes back to those influential moments in class and lab as an undergraduate. You can imagine my delight when I overheard a student this past Fall semester as she passed by my office saying “you know, I find myself really interested in birds!”. Those are the best moments in my line of work!

You currently study barn swallows with your students. Tell us a bit about barn swallows and their social behaviors. What is it about these birds that prompts the study of them? Is there anything that we as human beings can or should learn from them?

I first started studying barn swallow social behavior while I was a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Colorado – Boulder. I was working with Rebecca Safran, who is on faculty at CU. She’s worked with barn swallows since her graduate research and we met at a ornithology conference a several years ago. Social network research was new to me, but the barn swallow is the ‘goldilocks’ bird for this sort of work; they are social, but not so social that the interactions are difficult to make sense of. Still, studying social behavior has some major challenges. What is a social interaction? How can we possibly record all of them, especially in an unbiased way? I meet this challenge by using these novel proximity loggers. The birds wear these small devices as a backpack during the time when I’m collecting data on social interactivity. The tags each emit a unique ID pulse that is recognized by other tags nearby. That way, I can collect data on every close proximity interaction between all tagged birds. From this, I can construct a social network. Then the fun part starts. After some initial work determining what physical and physiological characteristics corresponded with a “popular” barn swallow, I could experimentally manipulate these traits. For example, we know that males with darker belly feathers are preferred by females as mates. When I darkened the feathers of males and recorded how their interactions change, I found that females increased their interactions with the males who experienced this “make-over”. The coolest part? The magnitude of the shift in social interactivity was strongly correlated with the magnitude of the color change, such that males with the greatest shift in color (pale to dark) experienced the largest increase in social interactivity with females! This seems to have all sorts of simultaneous effects on physiology too, as these “made-over” males also experienced an increase in testosterone and a dampened response to stress. Folks are usually quite amused by this work and find all sorts of uncanny connections to human behavior. For me, the most exciting bit is that this is great evidence that organisms are dynamic, interconnected, and integrated systems.

You are a tenure track professor at an all women’s college (congratulations!). You also taught at Grinnell and CU Boulder. Did you choose to specifically pursue teaching at an all women’s school? If so, why? What are some of the benefits and / or challenges that you see in teaching at an all women’s school vs a co-ed institution, and what might you see as some of the benefits and / or challenges for your female students?

[I actually didn’t teach at CU, I was just doing research].

I love my job at Agnes Scott! I didn’t specifically seek out a position at a women’s college, but I am very happy to have a position at one! It’s difficult to get a tenure track job anywhere, and I was very lucky to have several options last year. Agnes Scott was by far my favorite among the job offers I had in hand at the time.  I had enjoyed my campus interview a lot, especially the time I had with students. There is definitely something different about my classrooms now compared to co-ed classes I have taught at Grinnell and the University of Missouri – St. Louis. I actually have a hard time putting my finger on exactly what it is that’s different! One thing for sure is that I tend to get more even participation from a larger proportion of students than I am used to in co-ed classes. And these women are highly motivated to learn, which is a joy for me. I’m also very lucky to teach at an institution that has a fabulous commitment to diversity. Our student body has no ethnic majority, we support a large number of first-generation college students, as well as students from modest economic backgrounds.

As a female scientist, have you experienced any difficulties in making progress for your self or your work in the field? Do you feel that science is on a more inclusive trajectory, regardless of gender? And have you seen a shift in the years since you were student up to now in terms of gender equality in the field?

I recognize moments in my career where I experienced sexism, but to be honest, I am more aware of those moments now than I was at the time (perhaps because I’m at an women’s college!). Women are now the majority of undergraduate biology majors, we’re getting PhDs in my field at a high rate, and are well represented at the postdoc stage. There are still fewer women in tenured and tenure-track positions in biology, but that’s hopefully changing too. To succeed in academia one needs to be all in. I pretty much live and breathe my science. This is possible in part because my better half is also a biologist! I’ve had some absolutely terrific female mentors who have shown me that it is possible to achieve one’s goals as a scientist while still living a balanced life. Now, I’m so excited to get to be a role model for my own students in this way.

How do you feel that your Waldorf education served you in pursuing the sciences and your chosen teaching profession? [can you call this academic profession? So often, folks interpret a faculty position at a liberal arts college as just teaching when in fact we are (mostly) active in research too!]

 I’m 100% sure that my Waldorf education (I’m a lifer!) made me the creative scientist that I am today. Science is truly a creative endeavor; the best science makes new and exciting connections between existing bodies of knowledge, asks new questions, and looks at old questions in new ways. Writing is also critical to good science. Science students don’t often realize this, but as professionals, we write a lot. Our ability to secure funding depends on clear, persuasive grant writing and we disseminate our findings in scientific journals. I learned to love to write as a Waldorf student and this has served me well in college, graduate school, and beyond.

As a biologist, I imagine that you see the world through a slightly different lens than the average person. Can you describe this lens? (This may be hard question- because you have never looked through any other lens other than your own!) 🙂

 Biologists are curious about the natural world. By that definition, I’d hope we are all biologists! Unfortunately, we are often too busy on our phones to notice the world around us. It’s a real shame, because we miss a lot. If we don’t know the world around us, we’re far less likely to care about it. We’ll never protect something we don’t care passionately about. So the next time you’re walking outside, try generating five questions about the life around you.

You work with young adults on a daily basis. What words of wisdom and inspiration do you seek to give to them? And what inspiration on a daily basis do they in turn give to you?

I think that one of my favorite parts of being a college professor is watching my students figure out what they don’t know. As a high school student you get pretty good at knowing what you know, but it is typically in college that you start figuring out just how much you don’t know! This is critical for me as a teacher/scholar because then I get to push my students to do something with what they don’t know. How would we figure this out? What’s the next step? That’s not really about words of wisdom though. I think the most important thing I find myself saying to students when I’m advising them about careers is that they should do what they love, not what they think they should do or what their parents think they ought to do. You’ll be so much more successful (however you wish to define that) doing something you’re crazy passionate about! My students regularly inspire me with their willingness to try (and sometimes fail). Teaching is a two way street and the best moments come when students are engaged in learning, and that involves being wrong.

Iris Agnes Scott students and bluebird


Living Positive Action in a World of Change – Interview with Jordan Chase Jacobsen, class of 2001



Can you give us a brief overview of what transpired in your life post-SMWS?

After graduating from SMWS in 2001, I attended Connecticut College, which has fantastic international opportunities that allowed me to study and intern for United Nations organizations in both Vietnam and Germany.  After graduating, I moved to Washington, D.C., where I worked at the Federal Trade Commission (2005-07) and then the Central Intelligence Agency (2007-2012).  While continuing to work at the CIA, I went back to school for a law degree at Georgetown starting in 2011, and interned in the part of Obama’s White House focused on science and technology.  Since receiving my J.D. from Georgetown in 2014, I have been practicing law at the international law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.

What led you to study International Relations at Connecticut College, and what prompted you to continue your studies at Georgetown?

On September 11, 2001, I was a college freshman in my first weeks of classes when hijacked planes slammed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.  In retrospect, although my family and I were physically unharmed by the attack, I think 9/11 had a profound impact on my choice of studies and career.  As for many Americans, 9/11 instilled a fear for my personal security that I had not previously felt, but it also ignited an intense motivation to learn more about the world and others.  I redoubled my efforts to learn foreign languages, live overseas, and understand the socioeconomic root causes of terrorism.  This is what led me to study and write an honors thesis in International Relations.  This is also what led me to work at the CIA.  I owe a lot of credit to SMWS for providing me with the tools to respond to 9/11 in this way.  SMWS instilled in me a love of learning and a desire to seek greater understanding and empathy at a time when many were recoiling in fear. 

What were some of the highlights and challenges about practicing law during this time in US history?

This is a fascinating time to be practicing law!  In my opinion, it has never been more important than it is today to use legal tools to protect free speech, equal protection, press and religious freedoms, and antidiscrimination laws! My law firm has been front and center in responding to President Trump’s unconstitutional and, frankly, un-American immigration crackdown.  But there are also many less newsy ways in which lawyers are helping.  For example, last year, I helped a woman from Afghanistan attain refugee status and served as pro-bono guardian ad litem representing two children in a child custody dispute in the District of Columbia.

Similarly, what were some of the challenges and highlights of working as an analyst at the CIA, writing assessments for the Presidential Daily Brief?

Keeping it short!  Especially when writing for the President and other Cabinet-level policymakers, I found that the greatest challenge was communicating complex information concisely.

More generally, analysts at the CIA face the challenge of deciphering meaning from an overwhelming volume of incomplete and often-contradictory data, both classified and public. I think SMWS prepared me particularly well for these challenges because it instilled in me an incredible appetite for learning.  I also think my education gave me the ability to communicate ambiguity and complexity where others might seek categorical black-and-white answers. 

What were some of the underlying reasons prompting your return to Boulder, away from DC?

In short, we moved back to be closer to family and to give our children the opportunity to grow up in this wonderful place.  We decided to move back to Boulder when my wife was pregnant with our second child.  Now we are just a short walk or drive from my parents, and my oldest son is already attending Boulder Waldorf Kindergarten. 

If you could choose to take on only a certain kind of case and / or client, what and who would that be?

Actually, one of the aspects of practicing law at Gibson Dunn that I like best is the breadth of clients and issues.  I have had the opportunity to defend a small startup developing cancer-fighting immunotherapy drugs, draft appellate briefs on behalf of the largest freight railway in North America, research First Amendment protections for commercial speech in a food labeling case, and help defend immigrants from deportation.  However, to attempt to answer your question, I think if I had to pick one client or area of practice, I would try to choose an innovative company in the renewable energy field because I believe that climate change presents the single greatest long-term challenge to our civilization.

What advice would you give to a young adult (and to us all!) growing up in this turbulent and charged political environment?

I think the best response to the current political environment is to seek truth and empathy for others.    My two year old has entered the age of asking “why” all the time.  It has been a wonderful reminder to me to try to look past the latest headline or tweet and to try to understand the underlying motivations or fears of those with whom I disagree.  We live during an incredible age of information, but there is also a lot of disinformation out there.  I think we need to continue the age-old search for truth.

You have 2 little ones now. What’s the most important value that you as a dad would wish to share with them, and why?

Gratitude is the value that I wish to share with my sons.  I think it is often difficult for us to acknowledge all the help we have received along our journeys.  Perhaps we think that it would diminish our own accomplishments.  But I certainly would not be where I am today without the assistance of such wonderful parents, teachers, and friends, not to mention the unprecedented levels of peace, prosperity and civil liberties that our generation has enjoyed and so often takes for granted.  I think just drawing attention to the privilege that we enjoy helps us to live better lives.


SMWS Alumni Panel | Thursday, March 16, 7-9pm


What Can You Do With A Waldorf Education? Anything. And Everything.

Please join us for a special evening with some of our treasured Shining Mountain alumni and learn how Waldorf education and their time at SMWS have impacted their life paths and what wonderful things they are doing now in their lives!

Event: SMWS Alumni Panel

When: Thursday, March 16 | 7-9pm

Where: SMWS Festival Hall, 999 Violet Ave, Boulder