'When I had my daughter, I started getting educated about education. It was an eye-opener to say the least, and my learning curve was vertical. I picked a Waldorf education because, honestly, I was so impressed with the kids in the high school...they knew themselves. They were present, thoughtful, articulate and compassionate. They were smart, interesting people, and the most amazing thing about them was that you could tell immediately that their hearts were as educated as their minds. Amazing.
I picked a Waldorf education for my daughter because I wanted her to be alive, deeply alive, at the end of her schooling, at the end of high school. I wanted her to be enriched by the process and not deadened by it. I wanted to have a kid who, when hanging her toes over the edge of some distant catastrophe that none of us can even imagine right now, could be able to say, "Hey, I have an idea, what do you think about this....?"
Honestly, the true beauty of this education actually happens in the high school, where the whole journey comes together and flowers right in front of your eyes. I have been blessed to witness the transformation of these kids, to see the essence of them as babies, and now, that essence radiates all the way thru them into the young adults that they are today. It seems to even be in the air around them. They are whole and grounded and alive in the most profound ways. They really know themselves. They are prepared for life."
~Patti Nicolella, Current parent
“The Waldorf academic experience was invaluable to me on so many levels. It was 20 years later that I began to study and truly understand the guiding principles and thoughtfulness behind this all-encompassing, ‘child friendly,’ form of education. The more I learned, my enthusiasm and commitment continued to grow. They are now indelible. As public education continues to falter, technology strips away our truest connection and humanity, financial and in-kind support have never been more crucial. I can think of no greater honor for my father, Paul Newman’s legacy, much less for me, than to provide continuing support to help create an improved learning environment, and to offer this extraordinary form of education to more students.”
--Susan Newman, alumna class of ‘71
"If my parents hadn't made the decision to place me at Highland hall, I don't think I would love learning as much as I do. Waldorf education truly made me feel successful and confident in my abilities to learn as an individual."
~ Casandra Campeas, class of '07
“No matter how long you have been at Highland Hall, one month or since the first grade, you will take something away with you that you will use at some point in your life. You will be amazed that some seemingly insignificant thing you learned will pop into your head at exactly the right time and will be just what you need to solve a problem or move to the next step on a project. It has happened to me so many times I no longer question it. I am just grateful.” --Giselle Teller, alumna class of ‘73
“The greatest thing about Highland Hall was that it was part of the fabric of our lives. The students, the teachers, and the parents were part of our community. It was a very loving and nurturing community to be part of and it was like an extended family…..What Highland Hall gave me was an enthusiasm and passion for learning and being creative. Those things are much more important to your success in college and beyond.” --David White, Attorney, alumnus class of Class of ‘81
“The lack of fear of trying something new. I think this has been the most long lasting….I also appreciate the huge variety of subjects and experiences that you take away. That’s something that few other people have”. --Dan Low Ph D., Professor & Vice Chair of Medical Physics, UCLA Dept. of Radiation & Oncology, alumnus class of Class of ’77,
“My spiritual life I realize more and more is due to the magic that was introduced to me at a young age.” --Adela Schwab, alumna class of ‘89
“Highland Hall presented me with a balance of my creative and analytical aspects -- it is what makes an engineer/artist possible.” --Kim Emmanuel, Mechanical Engineer, alumna class of class of ‘73
“It gave me the tools I need to interpret my world and allowed me to be a great communicator, both verbally and in the written word.--Julie Weitz, alumna class of ‘75
“It has shaped my outlook on life and the world, and instilled in me the sense that I am obligated to do what I can to make that world better. I feel emotionally and spiritually connected to all I meet--all I see, even--and I have no doubt that my Waldorf education is responsible for that.” --Jacob DeMonte Finn, alumnus class of ’05
“I often see a clear difference in how I learn compared to my peers. I cannot count the number of ways Waldorf has shaped me. I am truly grateful.” --Mackenzie Howe, alumna class of ‘07
“Highland Hall and Waldorf education in general both helped me become a well-rounded student, and to look at the world from many different perspectives. It also gave me a strong humanistic outlook that has served me well both inside and outside of academics.” --Owen Galipeau, alumnus class of ‘07
“The confidence and sense of self I gained during my Highland Hall experience greatly prepared me for the real world.” --Alma Hecht, alumna class of ‘73
“The colleges were impressed with our interviews. I spent most of my time in the interviews talking about Waldorf education, and I’ve heard similar stories from other Waldorf Students. Actually, the admissions department at Mount Holyoke later asked me to help them recruit more students from Waldorf schools because they did so well there.” --Dede Lyons PhD, Molecular Biology, alumna class of ‘98
“What Waldorf education provides from an early time is the ability for the individual to listen to their inner voice and try to follow that.” --Ken Hardcastle, PhD, Structural Geologist, alumnus class of ‘79
"Waldorf education is one of the greatest gifts we could have given our two children. It served both of them so richly despite how different they are in just about every dimension. The fruits of their primary and high-school experience at Highland Hall continue to reveal themselves even as they are now 21 and almost 25." –Marcy Axness, PhD,
What Waldorf Education Means to Me, by Catherine DeMonte, former parent
“When our eldest son began elementary school my husband and I looked for one that did not teach children by rote or focused only on the students' minds. We purposely chose a school known for developing the child’s heart, hands and mind. That was 20 years ago and now that both of our sons have gone all the way from kindergarten through senior year of high school, it has proven to be a decision we feel very good about. As a result of this type of schooling our boys and their classmates are multifaceted, with many left and right-brain talents. Both are extremely artistic, musical, creative, love books, speak Spanish fluently (which was taught in their school) and also love science, are good in math and other academics. But what is more, they are comfortable with others, and in their own skin. They are tolerant, respectful and easy to talk to. Even as children, they and their classmates were comfortable with adults and carried on meaningful conversations with them. The children raised in this fashion (in our case, it was the Waldorf schools but there are others that have a holistic teaching approach) were not “Little Adults”. They seemed more carefree, open, happy. It is as if the light hadn’t gone out of their faces as I sometimes see with children in our culture.
“As a psychotherapist in private practice, I often see children and adolescents from some of the public schools or college prep schools in my area. Often they are there to see me for anxiety or depression. One felt suicidal. When asked about their lives, they talk about how “full” they are and how they “have no time”. Often there is pressure and tension at home between the kids and their parents. I think this is in part because the children are tired, overwhelmed and anxious, and the parents too are short-tempered as they worry about their children’s grades, their future college prospects and getting them to all their other scheduled activities so that their college applications will look good. Many of the same students who go to these high-pressured, grade driven, over-crowded schools are also doing extracurricular sports and activities and volunteer work. I feel for them. One such client could never make her appointments because her mom put the daughter’s other activities in front of her therapy which she herself, the mom, had sought out for her daughter because she was so anxious and depressed and overwhelmed! I found that more than a little ironic. She only came for a handful (about 4) sessions in all, and those were not consecutive like they should have been. If some other activity came up the daughter would attend that instead of therapy. I thought of many families when I saw the film "Race to Nowhere", but I especially thought of her.
“This emphasis on top grades, AP classes and so much homework, leads to, besides burnout, cheating for some students, or for those who don’t do that, not taking care of themselves. There just isn’t the time to get enough sleep or down time or to, just, well, “Be”.
“It is time to give children back their childhoods. They need to occasionally have time to look at the sky and see things in the clouds, to dig in the earth, to run, to play to imagine. Children taught to just spit information back will later be our doctors and mechanics. How can they find the solutions to problems if they have only been taught to remember the answers? Or if they felt so much pressure to get good grades they never got to learn from their mistakes? Teaching a child to love learning because it has been enjoyable, developmentally appropriate and creative turns out an adult who can think for him/herself, relates well to others and continues to love expanding.
“Children come into the world happy, naturally spontaneous, curious and with a love for discovery! Ironically too many schools in the attempt to utilize and foster some of those very same traits; being curious, gaining knowledge, etc, drill it out of them. It’s our job as the adults to see that they retain those gifts. In fact, we – kids and adults, would be well served if we could retain the gifts of joy and spontaneity a baby comes in with.”
Catherine DeMonte, is a licensed Marriage, Family, Child therapist in private practice in Calabasas and Beverly Hills and the mother of two Highland Hall graduates.