This post is the second in a series of reflections on 2022, giving you a glimpse into a year in the life of the initiatives that make up Hawthorne Valley. These reports were first shared in our Annual Impact Report, which can be accessed in its entirety here. If our work inspires you, we invite you to also support our educational endeavors by making a tax-deductible donation to the initiative of your choice here.



gratitude for even the smallest opportunities to come together and share experiences

Photo by Lawrence Braun.

The 2021-22 academic year was a difficult but rewarding one. Our hopes that we had moved beyond the restraints of running a school in a time of pandemic were quashed before the school year even began when the Omicron variant of COVID swept through our community. Finally having dependable access to both molecular and rapid-antigen tests was a major resource in controlling the spread, allowing us to remain open the entire year for in-person, on-campus learning. Faculty and staff worked long hours to find ways to establish COVID safety protocols and contingency planning that are sustainable over the coming years.

A silver lining has been a shift in perspective among parents, teachers, and students. We all have a more profound sense of gratitude for even the smallest opportunities to come together and share experiences. Parents have been particularly happy with the return to class trips, class plays, and school athletics. It was definitely not an easy year, and there were hiccups and setbacks throughout. We have all had to make compromises in our hopes, plans, and expectations. Overall, however, I think teachers have felt more motivated than ever and have felt the true necessity of their vocation—and parents have felt more gratitude that the Waldorf approach exists. Being with the students and seeing them thrive makes it possible to face each day and its demands.

Our enrollment numbers increased by about 20% in 2021-22. This increase in revenue allowed us to hire several new faculty members: a High School Humanities teacher, a new School Nurse, a High School Chemistry/Shop teacher, a Learning Support Coordinator, a Middle School academic mentor, a School Therapist, a new Grade 1 class teacher, a Games/PE teacher and a new Orchestra/Strings teacher. We also acquired a new Athletic Director and began rebuilding our athletics program.

We managed to bring back several key school festivals over the academic year including: our Flower Ceremony, a September Songs orchestral concert, a Michaelmas Assembly and Martinmas Pageant, a Winter Celebration of Light and Song, our Grade 6 Medieval Games, our Grade 7 Circus, our traditional May Faire, and class plays throughout the grades. At the end of the year, we launched a capital campaign project called Renewing Community. The central projects tied to this campaign were the construction of a new outdoor pavilion that will support community gatherings and the installation of new playground equipment. Our campus feels alive and full of new life!

We are hoping in the coming year to continue taking steps back to our “normal” processes and traditions. Next year marks the school’s 50th anniversary. We hope to re-enliven our Festivals throughout the calendar year, and to have more time, space and energy to work on curriculum development, to codify class trips and wilderness excursions, and to strengthen our music and Eurythmy programs. Building our Ecology programming is another goal for the coming year as is creating an Apiary program. As Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School continues to meet the needs of our time, it is clear that helping students to feel engaged and to find meaningful and creative work is a key part of nurturing their intellectual growth.

Contributed by Karin Almquist, School Director



empathy for all of the living things

Photo by Keetch Miller.

The work of the Place Based Learning Center is foundational to the mission of Hawthorne Valley Association and straddles multiple elements of the vision. I have heard it said best by the farmers themselves, following a prolonged period without the presence of children, “It is lovely to have the children back on the farm, something was missing without them!” The farm and farm community, therefore, misses a vital element if the children, with their laughter and their curiosity, are not present. For the children that come, the experiences they gain during summer camp or school trips are life-long, deeply imprinted in their memory, and help to promulgate a link to the land and nature that is tenuous in society-at-large.

In the coming year, we plan to continue deepening the richness of our offerings for visiting classes and summer camps, and to explore new activities, while investing time and energy in consolidating the existing perennial activities. We have begun to explore the possibility of beekeeping, which, while helping to educate children and interns in the importance of bees to society, will afford us opportunities to work with their gifts of honey and wax through arts and crafts. We also intend to upgrade our visiting student program and overnight camp infrastructure by replacing aging tents to ensure the experience continues to be a memorable one for students and camp counselors alike!

High on our list of achievements for the year was reopening the Visiting Students Program in February after closing for almost 2 years because of COVID. We managed to reconnect with most of the schools we had previous relationships with to offer 16 weeks of overnight programming. All told, we hosted over 350 students throughout the winter and spring from 13 different schools.

We also restarted our overnight summer camps this year. Day Camp saw about 70 campers this year, and overnight camp saw about 80 campers. COVID threw us a few challenges. Two of the classes had to go home mid-week because of the virus and one class had to cancel their trip at the last minute. We are still getting used to running our program in a changed world.

“A trip to Hawthorne Valley is not just a simple trip to a farm but an opportunity to take our learning outside, miles away from our classroom. The weeklong journey is transformative for our children: sirens are replaced with the sounds of tractors, crowded sidewalks are replaced with herds of cows coming in from the upper pasture, and racing from here to there is replaced with gentle morning walks to go out and feed the baby sheep and to gather eggs. Acts of service such as making bread and butter for meals and collecting eggs for breakfast, and caring for the animals, give children an opportunity to step into a role of service and learn empathy for the living things around them that help make our world run.

The best part about coming to Hawthorne Valley Farm is how all of this, and more, is woven into fun and adventure. Each day our children bolt out of bed to start their day with outright glee and laughter. Each day is infused with the essence of love, joy, and kindness. The staff at Hawthorne Valley Farm embody these qualities and their commitment and sheer excitement for sharing their knowledge comes through every minute of the day. Visiting Hawthorne Valley Farm is, by far, the highlight of our learning each year.”

~ From Jamie Ewing, Grade Five Teacher, Rudolf Steiner School, Manhattan

Contributed by Matt Davis and Joe Harris, Co-Directors, Children’s Programming



drawing new, energetic, idealistic people and families to the area to receive quality training in Waldorf Education

Photo by Keetch Miller.

We are the only local resource that prepares people to become Waldorf Teachers, a profession in dire need of trained, dedicated individuals. We also introduce people to the wide-ranging, innovative ideas of Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf Education and numerous other fields of human endeavor.

Our program draws new, energetic, idealistic people and families to the area who contribute much to the community, whether they end up settling here or not. Though our enrollment numbers were down for a couple of years due to the pandemic, 10 students from 2020-22 completed their requirements for graduation. In addition, through a special, concerted effort of faculty, we were able to additionally award 11 Teacher Certificates to students from past years who submitted research papers in the course of the 2021-22 school year. Most of these graduates have either found their way into local teaching positions or beyond, or had already obtained Waldorf school employment before seeking us out for professional training.

Our end of year student surveys consistently praise the quality of teaching, attention to individual needs, and inspiration that they receive from our core and adjunct faculty. The Alkion Center is well integrated into the fabric of Hawthorne Valley Association and the surrounding community.

Contributed by Martina Muller and Patrick Stolfo, Alkion faculty and co-administrators