Waldorf School at Moraine Farm | Blog

Introducing New Faculty Members for the 2016-2017 School Year

It is with great pleasure to introduce four new faculty members who will be joining our community very soon.  We are excited and fortunate to have these new teachers bringing their own unique skills and experiences to the school.

Cristan VineisCristan Vineis has joined as the lead Kindergarten Teacher. Cristan brings many years of experience, coming from the Waldorf School of Cape Cod where she has worked since 2011. She held several roles in the early childhood programs. Most recently, Cristan was the Assistant Kindergarten Teacher and Lead Siesta Teacher at the Waldorf School of Cape Cod. She is a graduate of the University of Vermont and earned her Anthroposophy and Waldorf Early Childhood Education training through the Alkion Teacher Training. Cristan has also worked as a doula.



Branigan_ReedBranigan Reed is the rising First Grade Teacher.  Branigan comes to us via the Prospect Hill Academy Charter School in Somerville, MA. She earned her Masters degree from Antioch University as well as a Bachelors degree in Theatre Education from Emerson College. Branigan’s attributes her theatre background to the creative approach she brings to her work.


MarlenyMarleny Alfaro joins the Waldorf School at Moraine Farm faculty as a Spanish Teacher. She is a native of Cuba. Marleny has many years of teaching experience. At the Suncoast Waldorf School in Florida she taught Spanish and served as a Class Teacher. She also taught at the Taos Waldorf School. Most recently, Marleny and her family have been living in California where she worked at a Buddhist Retreat center.





Kevin Doering will be joining our faculty as the rising fifth grade teacher. He comes to us from Vermont where he has spent the last six years teaching grades five through eight. Most recently, he taught at the Orchard Valley Waldorf School where he took over the seventh grade class. Kevin earned his Vermont teacher license in 2009, a certification for middle school and elementary science, from the Upper Valley Educator’s Institute in Lebanon, New Hampshire. He also studied Earth and Atmospheric Sciences while earning a Bachelor’s of Science degree from Rutgers University. Kevin also has an interest in weather and writes a weekly column on the subject called “Weatherwise” for The Herald of Randolph, VT.

6th and 7th Grade Goes to The Big Apple

There is nothing more satisfying than to see up close and understand and appreciate what you are seeing and experiencing. This month, the sixth and seventh grade class did just that. They went to New York City for a three-day trip and visited places that featured topics of the lessons they learned throughout the year. Their recent studies in astronomy, mineralogy, and human physiology, gave them a genuine interest as they visited The Cloisters (part of the MET), Ellis Island and Statue of Liberty, Natural History Museum and these exhibits: 

Adult Handwork: Indigo Workshop

This past Saturday, June 4, Waldorf School at Moraine Farm hosted a workshop focused on natural dyeing. We used Indigo dye and Shibori folding and binding techniques that resulted in unique and beautiful designs. Luckily it was a mild morning which allowed us to be outside where we could get dirty, drip on the ground and enjoy the messy process.


Participants ranged from current and alumni parents, to colleagues from the Seacoast Waldorf School in Eliot, Maine as well as creative people visiting the school for the first time. IMG_20160604_114516713

Proceeds from this well attended workshop have allowed the school’s handwork program to purchase a stitching machine. This will enable us to increase our skills and abilities in sewing leather and thicker materials. Which will be especially helpful with the handmade shoes and sandals that our handwork teacher, Heather Collis Puro, has been working on with the middle school students and adult handwork classes.


We look forward to offering more hands on, creative and fun classes soon. Be sure to keep an eye on the school’s calendar and announcements for workshops in the future!


By Coleen Ryan

Our Teachers Dive Deep into Our Math Curriculum

A Summary of Math-Based Professional Development This Year

By Dianne McGaunn, Math Teacher and Math MentorBeauty of mathematics

We possess mathematical truths through the fact that we ourselves behave mathematically in the world. We walk, we stand, and so forth; we describe certain lines on the earth. Through this will relationship to the external world we actually receive the inner perception of mathematics. – Rudolf Steiner

This year, teachers have dedicated several pedagogical meetings to exploring our math curriculum more deeply. Some of our time has been working with Rudolf Steiner’s indications (see above) and their applications to our math teaching. As a result of our work together, we are developing a clearer understanding of the richness and power of our math curriculum and we can better communicate this to our community and beyond.

In our math discussions in the fall and early spring, it became clear that mathematical thinking in Waldorf education is cultivated from the earliest stages and through many different experiences. In the early childhood programs, opportunities to experience the world and its mathematical truths in an age-appropriate way abound. For example, if four students want to use the swings but there are not enough swings for all of the students to use at once, a teacher might ask: how many students will need to wait if there are four students but two swings? In addition, balancing on objects and experiencing the physics of the world through running, jumping, balancing and playing are all mathematical experiences that are integral to the youngest students’ day. In the grades, we experience math in our classroom work, including measurement, movement and balance activities, and other outdoor activities. The students’ math learning is further enhanced through music, an artistic expression of math; eurhythmy, in which students can experience math through beautiful movement; handwork, in which students create attractive and useful objects that incorporate mathematical concepts, precise work, and objective experiences; and German and Spanish classes, in which students reinforce important math vocabulary. In other words, math is an essential part of every Waldorf student’s life; students receive their math education through many different modalities, thereby building a strong mathematical foundation for advanced learning and thinking.

During our professional day on March 8, we discussed topics such as the importance of physical movement in math learning, issues surrounding math anxiety, and how to support different math learners. First, we brainstormed all of the ways that movement is used in a Waldorf curriculum to support all learning, and math in particular. From eurythmy to handwork, main lesson movement work and gym, outside play and exploration, it is clear that our curriculum considers healthy movement and sense experiences as paramount to strong math learning.

Next, we explored the general topic of math anxiety. As many of us know, negative feelings associated with math can have lifelong, deleterious effects on learning and how we feel about ourselves. (Although math anxiety is not very common with our unique, multi-sensory and multi-faceted math education, it does exist for some students.) We discussed the value in learning from mistakes and the importance of a positive mindset for embracing struggle and hard work in math (based on the work of psychologist Carol Dweck and Jo Boaler, professor of mathematics education at Stanford University).  We reflected on how important it is to allow time and space for deep mathematical thinking that might not be speedy or completely correct, but has immense value in the learning process. In addition, we emphasized the importance of art and beauty in mathematics education, and the social impact of how math is learned in the classroom. These topics led to a discussion on how to best support different math learning styles and needs in the classroom. We plan to take this up in more depth in the future, as it is critical to supporting all students.

Finally, we shared some of our best practices in math lessons, which was an excellent opportunity to learn from and with each other. Some teachers discussed how to modify lessons for different kinds of math learners; others gave sample lessons on math topics such as teaching proportions, how to find the algebraic equation for the total number of degrees in any polygon, inspiring ways to teach place value and carrying, and tricks for mathematics calculations.

In summary, this year we have generated enthusiasm and a renewed appreciation for our math curriculum and we have begun to better articulate the gifts of a Waldorf math education. Along the way, we have identified some areas for renewal in our math education and have reiterated our commitment to continually grow as math teachers and to meet the changing needs of students while keeping true to the foundations of Waldorf education. We look forward to next year as an opportunity to deepen this work and to further strengthen our outstanding math curriculum.

Frederick Tudor the Ice King: A Hike With the Fourth Grade

As part of the fourth grade’s local geography block we ventured out to learn about Frederick Tudor, who in the mid 1800s was nicknamed the “Ice King.” He became known for revolutionizing the ice selling industry. Prior to his endeavors, the average American would not even think of enjoying a glass of ice water.  Because of him and his persistence, ice from Wenham Lake was favored by people around the world, as far as Cuba and India and even by Queen Victoria herself. It was not an easy path for Frederick; there were many preliminary trips where his shipments arrived melted and resulted in financial loss. Frederick Tudor learned from such experiences and over time advanced the tools and methods used to both harvest and ship ice.

Our hike began with the students working together to create a grid of 2-foot by 2-foot squares. We later referred to this grid when looking out on Wenham Lake and imagining how the ice was cut into a grid of the same size ice blocks.

Fourth grade preparing the ice grid

As we hiked towards the lake, navigating through many intersections and trails towards the JC Phillips Preserve, the Ice King’s story was shared in parts. The story was interspersed with many riddles told by the students. For example, if there are two fathers and two sons who went fishing, and each of them caught a fish, how is it possible that only three fish were caught? Don’t know? Ask a fourth grader—they will be happy to tell you!

Near the lake we came upon a recently fallen tree that had been freshly sawed. Upon further investigation, it appeared to be rotten in parts and there was evidence of some kind of insect boring their way in and around. Many of us also tried our best to count the tree’s rings and guess how old it might have been. It looked like it could have been about 80 years old.

Counting tree rings

Once we made it to the shore of Wenham Lake, we took some time to explore and imagine what it could have been like cutting the late winter ice into those 2’x 2’ blocks and shipping them off to distant shores.

Gazing upon Wenham Lake

By Coleen Ryan

Waldorf School at Moraine Farm

701 Cabot Street
Beverly, MA 01915

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