Alumni Stories

The comprehensive, experiential curriculum at SWS well prepares our students for high school and beyond.  SWS graduates go on to attend and get involved in select schools, both public and private, in the Central Pa area.

The Survey of Waldorf Graduates indicates that Waldorf Education cultivates the following 21st century attributes, sought after by universities and employers:

• Multiple Intelligences and Cross-Disciplinary Learners
• Global Consciousness and Sustainability
• Creative Problem-Solving
• High Levels of Social Intelligence

• Environmental Stewardship
• High Levels of Emotional Intelligence
• Thinkers Who Think Outside the Box

Lili Thomas-Brumme

Class of 2006

Time at SWS and where she is now…

I was a student at SWS from 5th through 8th grade and I graduated in 2006. Four formative years. Now, I work as a set decorator, set dresser, and art department for film/commercial/TV in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Favorite memories of SWS?

The memories that pop into my head are very incidental times in our classroom. Of course, there were the amazing field trips. We went to Rome in 8th grade which was great. Who else can say that!? But the times of just sitting and talking and playing games are my favorite memories. Mr. Martino would let us play a board game before the main lesson started, and it’s that kind of incidental time, growing close with people without there being too much structure, that I think of really fondly. You don’t really get that in other forms of education. There can be an expectation to be performing in a certain way but we were allowed to just be with each other.

How did SWS prepare you for your path?

Having confidence in who I am. When I was in public elementary school, it was like anybody who didn’t fit the mold, anyone who didn’t get these grades on standardized testing was wrong. It was all about how you performed in numbers and how you could conform. And if you didn’t conform, if you were the cog that didn’t fit in the wheel, it was a problem with the public school because they had to come up with a whole personalized education plan just to help you because you were the one that didn’t fit. I just always felt wrong and broken in a lot of ways.

Coming to SWS, it was a total 180. I was offered support. “We are here for you and for how you grow. We’re going to work with the skills and the learning that you have and that you need and we’re going to do this together.” It wasn’t just the teachers and the students. When I was having trouble in math, my teacher would take the kid who was really good at math and tell us to study together. And so it was the confidence of knowing that I wasn’t broken, I wasn’t the problem, I am strong for having the mind and the skills that I have. These are the things that make me the person that I am. For me, personally, that was huge. I say sometimes that Waldorf education totally saved my life. And it feels really dramatic but I really believe it to be true. I don’t know where I would be if I didn’t grow up having that support and confidence. I wouldn’t be where I am.

Has your perspective of your education at SWS shifted over the years?

I think even when I was at SWS, I loved it and knew that it was better than anything else that I could be doing. Elementary education ended at 4th grade at the public school I was at before SWS and three different elementary schools were combined for middle school. I was terrified. Of the amount of people, of going to a new place, and since I already had trouble in elementary school. I was told, “You can’t take a test with everyone else, we’ll send you to a different room.” I was already the weird kid. I remember telling my mom, “I am not going to 5th grade, I’m going to fail 4th grade,” and she was like, “hm, okay, let’s find something else.”

Going to SWS, without having words for it at the time, I remember the feeling of being alive. And, even though I couldn’t say why or what, I just felt different. I felt brighter. And I think that that perspective has gotten deeper over the years. With age, I’ve been able to actually understand and pinpoint the reasons why, and know myself in a more concrete way, this is why it worked, this is why it’s good, and this is what it did for me.

What makes SWS special?

I think the community aspect of it is huge. Specifically at SWS because it’s so small and concentrated. It was really amazing to be there and to know people so deeply. The community and the support to grow into who you’re meant to be and how everyone is supporting each other doing that is so special. On a broad scale of Waldorf education, when I meet another Waldorf kid out in the world, we’re both like, “Wowwww!!!” Even from an entirely different state, there’s a deep level of connection.  Individualism is a very American perspective, like “head down, concentrate on your own, take care of only yourself,” and Waldorf education teaches something different from that. It’s about bringing people together.

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