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Voices of Us

In the nearly 10 years that I have worked at Otto Specht School, I have grown quite accustomed to speaking and writing about the unique approach of the Otto Specht School,  the benefits of Waldorf Education, and the incredible unfolding we see in our students year after year. It is easy enough to intellectualize my experiences, validating our programming and various modalities with research articles on the benefits of being outdoors, the importance of movement in human development and learning, the positive outcomes from adding music and art to school curriculums, and more. It is also easy to get swept up in sharing anecdotes - telling and retelling those gratifying moments when the seeds you have sewn with your students suddenly burst forth and that student’s entire countenance beams in his or her knowing. I speak to parents, to organizations, to other schools, to educators, and to perfect strangers. I tell the stories of Otto Specht School, but they are really my stories, through my lens. So this time I decided to get to the heart of the matter, each child’s experience.

I asked a few general questions and allowed students to respond in whatever way they could or desired to, whether orally or in writing, typed on an ipad, or with the assistance of an aid or therapist. As I listened and read, various clear themes arose, but the thread that connected all of these experiences was the feeling that the students are happy. Otto Specht School students genuinely enjoy school and appreciate the various opportunities they are given here. Here were the basic questions, which sometimes led to further discussions or questions expanding upon the first answers:

  • How would you describe Otto Specht School?

  • What would be two words that described Otto Specht School?

  • What is your favorite thing about Otto Specht School?

Emerging themes included a sincere appreciation for the farm (a big shoutout to Otis and the cows!) and all outdoor activities, for the teachers, for PATIENCE, and for our coming together on Friday mornings for assembly.

Below is a sampling of answers, as told or written:

How would you describe Otto Specht School?

“Otto Specht School is not just devoted to opening to the child’s perspectives but also to connecting with them.” - High School

“It is Waldorf.”  - High School

If you could describe Otto Specht in two words, what would they be?

“Patient.” “Outdoorsy.” - Grade 6

“Fun and awesome!” - Grade 4

“Fun and learning.” - Grade 4

“Hands On.” - Grade 4

What do you love about Otto Specht School?

”My favorite activity is going for a walk. I like walking in the garden.” - High School

“My favorite class at school is Farm because I like the cows.” - Grade 3

“I like math class here.” Why? “Because I like math. They make it easier than anywhere else.” How? “PATIENCE” - Grade 6

“There are many good things at our school.

I like the farm fair because of the animals.

I have friends at school.

I like to hang out with them.

I like to do watercolor painting. I feel good about school.” - High School

“Song writing, farming, and being able to be outside.” - High School

“We get to sled. We get to play with the animals.”  - Grade 4

“We get to play with Otis, the horse.” - Grade 4

“We learn a lot.” - Grade 4

“Teachers are nice!” - Grade 4

“Games, Main Lesson, German, Reading.” - Grade 4

“Lots of recess.” - Grade 4

“Greenhouse and sand pit.” - Grade 3

“I like going to the farm. I like the animals. I like going into the toolshed and seeing all the tools and choosing the tools. I like going to the pond at the end of the year - and the sugaring off party!” Grade 6

“Assemblies!” - Many (all ages)

Tell me about assemblies:

“More fun than worksheets!” - Grade 4

“Singing!” - Grade 3

“I like seeing how different people’s voices mix together.” - Grade 6

“It’s cool.” - Grade 5

At the end of the day, a high school student who has been with us since first grade said,

“Two words?

Understanding.

Embracive.”

Embracive (Adjective) 1 : disposed to embrace. 2 : inclusive, comprehensive