Solana Hoffman-Carter is not only a graduate of Waldorf School of Princeton, but also our 1st Grade teacher for the 2021-22 school year. We are excited to feature her in our first interview for our Amazing Alumni series.
Can you tell us about your post-WSP life? Where have you been? What are you doing, now?
After WSP, I graduated from the University of the Arts with a BFA in dance and minor in Religion and Philosophy. After graduating, I continued to dance in many different companies and projects in New York City and abroad.
In addition to my dance career, I co-taught at an Early Childhood, Waldorf-inspired program in BedStuy Brooklyn - Brooklyn Morning Garden, while also attending Sunbridge Institute to train as a Waldorf teacher at the Elementary levels. Last year I returned to WSP as a classroom assistant and Movement and Crafts teacher, and now I am excited to have joined WSP’s faculty, leading this year’s 1st Grade class!
What is your WSP origin story? - What age/grade did you begin your journey at Waldorf School of Princeton? What made your parents decide on this school?
I began my Waldorf Education at the age of 3 in Susan Starr’s nursery kindergarten that was located in Hopewell at the time. A memory that will always stay with me from that experience is the smell of the fresh bread in the church basement and enjoying snack time sitting with other children around the table with a lit candle. In this particular memory, I remember having a salad during that snack time with cherry tomatoes in it. My mom had known about Waldorf Education for years. Some of her cousins in Germany went to Waldorf Schools and she had a very good friend tell her about it once I entered the world. But, what brought her to send me there was meeting some neighbors who had gone to the Waldorf School of Princeton - who they were as individuals and the way they presented themselves in life sent her to an open house at WSP. From the moment she stepped into the room, she knew that is where she would send me. I will never be able to thank her and my family that helped to send me to the Waldorf School of Princeton enough. My 3 years of being at the Hopewell nursery program, and then 1st through 8th grade with David Heberlein, will live with me forever.
Can you tell us about a memory that really stands out from your time at WSP?
There are so many memories to sift through that come to mind, but I must say the opportunity to go on our Third Grade farm trip stands out strongly in my mind. To be 9 going on 10 and traveling to a farm, without your parents, and learning the ins and outs of how to care for animals, how to milk cows, how to collect eggs and create meals for each other was incredible. The way my class was able to bond on that trip between laughs, hard work in the cold, chasing chickens when they were accidentally let out, and hiking in the snow aided in our development as a class for the rest of our time together. This experience didn't happen on the WSP grounds, but the trust in us as children - to be away on a farm - came about because of all we had learned and experienced on WSP’s campus. The many skills developed in Handwork and Gardening were brought to life when having the opportunity to see how that hard work is done on a farm. And that feeling of hard work was so grounding for me at that time. I fell in love with working hard. Those weeks, paired with returning to school and doing so much work with our hands throughout all of our classes, are times I always reflect on. I still remember the lunchtime verse that we sang at the farm and brought back to school:
“Thank you for this food, this food,
This glorious, glorious food.
And the animals,
Brownie! (Brownie was the name of the horse on the farm)
And the vegetables
And the minerals
That make it possible
Waldorf taught me over and over again that I can have interests in all areas of life - that the process of learning, and the love of that process, is what matters most. With that understanding, I believe anything can be accomplished in whichever field one chooses. I was opened up to the possibilities of meeting and being interested in other people. I traveled to many different countries during and post college and craved those experiences, because, I believe, learning through stories in Main Lesson over the years taught me the beauty of
travel before ever having to leave. So when the time came, I was ready. The passion for dance that I have alway had was only fueled by all of the freedom for movement, rhythm, creativity and play in school. I think these qualities can be applied to and inform all areas of life and professions. For me they are the core of everything I do. My Waldorf Education prepared me to feel full and dive into life no matter what challenges present themselves. This continues to feel incredibly pertinent as the world that we live in today continues to struggle to heal and shift.