Barbara, her husband, and two daughters.

We are celebrating 35 years of Susquehanna Waldorf School this year! In honor of our 35th anniversary, we’re interviewing members of our community to share why they love SWS. Former teacher and alum parent, Barbara Freiberg, sat down with us to talk about her time at SWS. 

On her many roles at SWS…

I arrived to Susquehanna Waldorf School as a parent in the 90s. After being there for a year, I started working with Miss Linda as a Kindergarten Assistant. I had worked at Sunday School churches but working in Waldorf education was different. I ended up in a lot of different roles at SWS over the years. I taught afternoon care and just loved it. We’d have spaghetti and play until their parents could pick them up at 6pm. I wanted to learn more about Waldorf education so I studied eurythmy, painting, administration, and handwork. I was the receptionist for a couple of years before we had an intercom system. So I answered the phone and had to take it to the office. That took patience and it was sweet. I always really loved working with the children, though. They always find a way to be creative. 

I worked at SWS off and on for 25 years. There was always something to come back to. The beauty of the building and the people brought me back. I learned so much at the faculty meetings. We were given so many tools to process the work we were doing. We studied anthroposophy. There was beauty in the education for our students, but also for everyone who worked there. There are talented people at SWS. They have that little something extra

Why Waldorf?

We loved the curriculum at SWS. I was first introduced to Waldorf education at an exercise class I used to teach. A couple came in and started talking about SWS. How they presented their curriculum artistically: chalkboards, students writing their own books, teachers wrote their own plays. My husband knew about SWS from an independent newspaper. We visited and the environment really caught our attention. My husband loved that there was no plastic. He came home and threw away all of our tupperware. There was a nature play table and the teacher made it so fun and magical. I saw how lively these very basic stones and sticks could become. How they became toys but with reverence and respect. 

Studying all of the world’s religions was really important to us. I was Catholic and my husband’s Lutheran. They studied religion as a philosophy and it kept our children very open minded. We traveled a lot and loved that Dela studied German and French. It’s a worldly curriculum. They had a lot of cooperative games. They were exposed to healthy foods in Kindergarten, which created a really good foundation for us as a family. 

Favorite Memories?

The best days were all of the days. I can’t think of any bad days, I really can’t. 

I remember this day. It was Three Kings Day and the fire alarm went off. There were three fire trucks at the school. “Oh my god, it’s Three King’s Day, look at the three fire trucks! The kings are here! The kings arrived!” 

It’s been sweet watching my grandchildren go to school there. My children are 35 and 33 and they have children now. It’s comforting to see where they are. Students come out of the school with so many life skills. The languages, music, and handwork. 

What does a SWS education mean to you and your family?

Waldorf education formed my family. Before our children started at SWS, we didn’t know many people here. We didn’t have much community. The people were so friendly at SWS. There were potlucks and other events to meet people. I made some dear friends who I’m still friends with today. We went on trips together. Our children are in their mid-30s now but we’ve stayed friends. 

We enjoyed bringing culture and music into our home. Dela really loved the flute. Waldorf really helped with healthy food choices and brought more conversations around our dinner table. All of that was reinforced by me working at the school. As a teacher and employee, I really needed to walk the talk. We were caring for everything around us and that was lovely. I brought that into my home. We had a lot more care for things. You end up with a lot of rocks in your house. It was just great. 

What makes SWS special?

Those wooden floors are beautiful. The old brick building. The river, the parks, and the walk. It’s a village. The people that are there make it so special. I’ve seen people come and go over the years but the people who work there are sincere in wanting to teach. The community that the teachers and staff build is reinforced by a common ground of study. Not what they teach the children but what they study in faculty meetings. It makes them a unit. 

SWS has been good to us and now it’s being good to my grandkids. It’s a well-rounded education with exposure to so many different things. It’s three dimensional. I always hope it will be here. I always hope there will be Waldorf education in the Susquehanna Valley.