At the end of October, the WSP community will say goodbye to 6th grade teacher Cynthea Frongillo as she heads into retirement, and plans new adventures with her husband Alex, our former math and recorder teacher. When asked about how she became a Waldorf teacher, and her experience teaching at the Waldorf School of Princeton, Cynthea wrote the following:
Alex and I discovered some of Rudolf Steiner’s lectures on nature while browsing in a friend’s bookshop in 1973, and were immediately inspired to seek out more of his works. We joined a local study group while I was pregnant with our daughter Lyra (now with three children of her own!). Paraphrasing Owen Barfield, I think we both can say that some of Steiner’s writing we recognized to be true, some of it felt true, and that we have been endeavoring to understand the rest through all the years that have followed.
When we discovered that Steiner had been instrumental in a new kind of education, we determined that our daughter would be educated in a Waldorf school. In focusing on the anthroposophical views on education, the wish to work within the Waldorf philosophy grew in us. In 1978, we sold the house we had just built by hand in rural western Massachusetts, and set off for Detroit, and later Emerson College in England to be trained as Waldorf teachers. This has been our joint vocation since that time.
The most inspiring thing about being a Waldorf teacher is the link that develops with each child I have taught. It is an awesome responsibility to help to educate a child, but a joyful one as well. To see the children grow from skill to skill, to grow into the world with their feeling life, and to love learning for its own sake is what motivates every teacher. As a Waldorf teacher, I have been graced with the gift of a wonderful curriculum that is like a magic box; whatever the children need to grow aright is right there in the subjects for us to learn together each year. The main lessons are like a lens; through it the world lights up for the children, and through it I can see more clearly what aspects of the subject at hand will contribute most to their healthy development. And to have the freedom to turn that lens this way and that—here is the responsibility the teacher the teacher bears to the students and their parents.
Alex and I have understood that Waldorf education is the best hope for the future. We, parents and teachers, cannot say what challenges will face those who are in our care today. We know only that there will be challenges. Surely the best preparation we can give them is the ability to see and think clearly with an open mind and heart, and to act with conviction.
Memories of WSP are all wonderful! Beauty, wonderfully supportive and caring colleagues, wondering what children would be like, the very open, gentleness here, the beauty of the landscape, and much more.
I never intended to leave this class, and looked forward to living in this lovely area with my wonderful colleagues for some years to come. But lately, I have realized ( my life, memory, and concentration are all telling me this) that my intentions three years ago are not identical to my stamina three years on. When the opportunity presented itself to hand my class on to Mr. Heberlein, I jumped at the chance, for my students’ sakes. I hope they, and Mr. Heberlein, will grow and prosper together.