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Graduates, with Vadim and Karen, showing off the “Together Class of 2024” sweatshirts they had made as a memento.

Last Friday March 15th the TWS music room was filled with a capacity crowd for the part time Early Childhood graduation. The invited audience of friends and family gathered to support and honour the 17 graduates from 鶹ֱ’s Professional Development for Waldorf Early Childhood Teachers Part-Time program, a record number.

In her introductory comments program director Karen Weyler wondered if the unusually large size of this class was due at least in part to people having responded personally to recent events, wanting to do something in response to the harm to childhood that resulted from Covid restrictions of recent years.

Talking with Laurie Harper-Burgess afterwards she expanded on that thought, noting that so many of the graduates already had advanced degrees and qualifications in other professions, and yet they left all that behind to take up the challenge of becoming a Waldorf early childhood educator.

The program started with a short eurythmy presentation by the graduates.

The graduation program included eurythmy, songs, a short marionette piece, and presentations from some of the students. However, most of it was Karen talking about each of the 17 students and presenting a certificate and a rose to each of them..

The following words about each of the graduates are based on Karen’s notes from the event:

Maria Agostini

Maria is now living in Spain and immersing herself in the community of the local Waldorf school that her two girls attend.  She had been in the Kindergarten at Halton for 6 years.  When I met Maria at that time, I could see her affinity for very young children.  Did an amazing presentation on the Care of the Caregiver from the Perspective of the 3-fold Social Order.

Janelle Burnham

Janelle leads a 3 morning preschool and 2 parent and child classes at Waldorf Independent School of Edmonton.  She is the mother of 4 children, a light-hearted person with a beautiful sense of humour.  Janelle isn’t quite sure how she found herself at a parent and child class with her first born about 16 years ago.  But there was no turning back for her and she probably never imagined at that point that one day she would be a Waldorf teacher.  Her research paper was titled Literacy in Waldorf Early Childhood Classrooms: what’s going on in there?

Maria Teresa Donayre

Maria is an afternoon assistant with the Forest Kindergarten and after-care teacher at Halton Waldorf School.  She also found Waldorf education through the parent and child class she attended with the little boy for which she was a nanny.  Marita is a quiet, consistent presence in this group who deeply cares for children and can feel what they are experiencing. Marita’s paper was titled How does technology impact child development from Birth to Seven?

Daniela Fernandez Holloway

For just one week now Daniela is the Lead teacher for the Dandelion Kindergarten at Halton WS.  In her life before children she used her industrial design and lighting design degrees working in a university in Chile.  But it was her son’s need for childcare, that eventually made her aware of Waldorf education and its value. She also has a daughter. Daniela brought us her research on How to Support Parents through the Early Years.

Lili Golbous

Lili is the assistant morning teacher in Birchgrove, Kindergarten, at TWS. She has a masters degree in Architectural Engineering, and has taught Interior Design, high school and elementary school, and then realized that it’s Kindergarten where the learning of life happens!  Lili is accomplished in handwork skills, loves puppetry and story telling and studying Rudolf Steiner’s works. Her paper was on How to Identify and Work with ‘Bullying’ in the Kindergarten.

Maria Hernandez

Maria is a kindergarten assistant at the Sunrise School of Miami. She attended Waldorf school in Columbia and also Florida, in her early and middle years. Maria is compassionate and conscientious, a baker, folk dancer and also Spanish teacher. During her studies here with us, Maria has simultaneously completed her Bachelor of Education degree. Perhaps Maria will have her own Kindergarten class this Fall. Her research was How teachers can help children and their families deal with the loss of a loved one.

Gayathri Kandasamy

She has been lead teacher in Cedar Kindergarten, at TWS, since September. Gayathri has an MBA and a degree in computer science.  But as a conscientious parent, Gayathri’s son brought her to TWS in 2018. In order to understand the Waldorf educational approach, she became active in the school as a supply teacher and started Foundation Studies. She has also been a lead teacher in the childcare.  Gayathri’s research was titled: Rethinking the relationship between the Teacher and the Assistant(s) in the EC Classroom.

Candace LeBlanc

Candace is an assistant kindergarten teacher at Polaris School and Centre, Ottawa.  She is the mother of four children and as a La Leche Leage leader, and pregnancy, labour and postpartum doula, she strives to serve humanity, especially young children and their mothers.  Candace enjoys writing poetry, drumming and dancing. Candace’s paper was the Moral Development of the Educator through Stories, Fairytales and Folktales.

Shannon Legere

Shannon will have her own Kindergarten class at Rowen Tree Children’s School, Peterborough this September.  She was on her way to becoming an Ontario Certified Teacher when she recalled the spark that learning about Waldorf Education gave her while attending a permaculture design course in Ecuador. Shannon has been at Rowen Tree since 2019 and brought Arlan to us during our time in this teacher education.  She gave us an enthralling presentation on Biodynamic Agriculture.

Madhavi Mali

Madhavi recently became the lead teacher for Dandelion Preschool at TWS.  It was through her friend at the temple that she learned about TWS and as an RECE happily joined the childcare at TWS.  She has a son and daughter, enjoys crafting and has a very large, giving heart. As a proficient cook, she provides all whom she knows with nourishment and love. Her research was on the Effects of Screen on Early Childhood development

Chandra Maracle

Chandra has been a student of anthroposophy for many years and co-founded Everlasting Tree School in 2010.   Chandra is our current graduate of the Birth-to-Three certificate.  She is the mother of 5 children and has a passionate understanding for the need of community around postpartum mothers.  She is currently working on her PhD with her thesis being on the nourishment needed to replenish and sustain new mothers and their babies, which she shared with us this week, including a puppet show and flavourful ‘corn mush’.

Janet McCarrol

Janet has been an educator of young children for almost 35 years ranging in experience as a childcare supervisor, kindergarten, lower school ESL and special education teacher in the public school board.  Currently she works with the grade 2s at TWS. With this certificate Janet has a sense she will be on her way to bringing her deepened understanding of early education to parents with their toddlers.  Janet is also working on a ‘yet untitled’ documentary film on Waldorf Early childhood in urban settings……stay tuned for the Grand Premiere

Shannon McMaster

Shannon is the owner/operator of the Forest Courtyard Initiative, a small private nature school in Tottenham. As the mother of three children it was her own experience growing up on a farm and time in Waldorf schools that she longs for her own family, and now offers to many others. Shannon is true, raw, pure and direct with her intention. She helped us all to be authentic. Her passion for children and the possibility of a holistic approach to live and education is clearly evident.  hannon’s presentation was on Creating and supporting a Waldorf home childcare agency.

Andressa Oliveira

Andressa is a kindergarten assistant at the Waldorf Academy, Toronto. With a degree as a physical education teacher, Andressa can confirm that she now has her ‘dream job’. She first met Waldorf education when she was seeking childcare for her daughter while they were still living in Brazil. Andressa considers ideas deeply and is diligent in finding what is true to her. Her research was on a very interesting topic, about the Disruption of the Foundational Senses through Immigration. 

Cuiting Pan

Cuiting is assistant toddler teacher in Rosebud at TWS. When she was in middle school, her teacher had told her class, in order to encourage the students to do well in their studies, that if they didn’t work hard and excel, they might end up being a caregiver of young children and have to change diapers. Cuiting has a degree in Architectural design and as the mother of two girls has realized that the highest calling is indeed to change diapers consciously!  In her search as a new mother, she learnt of Waldorf Education on line and quickly found her way to 鶹ֱ upon arrival in Canada. Her research was titled Cultivating the Inner Light of Early Childhood Educators.

Bandana Sandhu

Bandana has been a supply teacher at TWS for the last three years.  She is the mother of two beautiful children birthed by another and started her Waldorf journey with Parent and Child.  Bandana has volunteered with our sister organizations and with other social services.  She has a thirst to discover the multifaceted nature of Waldorf Education.  We have so appreciated her deep and poignant questions in our sessions.

Eunyoung Yuk

Eunyoung is the lead teacher in Elderberry Preschool at TWS.  With a Master’s degree in clothing and textile in Korea, Amy had her own business in clothing design and is so able to create in knitting, embroidery, sewing, as well as play the piano and doing folk-art painting.  Coming to Canada, Amy took her RECE designation at Seneca and found her way to TWS.  She has two sons.  Amy’s research was How do Waldorf EC teachers support the development to the four foundational senses during and in the aftermath of the Pandemic.

Part-Time Early Childhood Teacher Program

BEGINS THIS JUNE 16 – Professional Development for Waldorf Early Childhood Teachers: two-year, part-time Birth-to-Seven and one-year part-time Birth-to-Three. Programs start every other year. Enrolment now open. Learn more:

Students and their children gather round for the cutting of the graduation cake during the reception following the ceremony.
Chandra (middle) poses with friends and family in front of the hallway mural after the reception.
鶹ֱ board chair Robert McKay presents Karen Weyler with flowers to honour her work at 鶹ֱ and with Star Seedlings in Guelph.

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