Board of Trustees
The Board of Trustees meets monthly to lead and foster the development of the Anchorage Waldorf School as indicated in the articles of incorporation.
Current Board Members
Kim Thomas– Board Member, President
Dorn Van Dommelen – Board Member, Vice President
Jann Mylet – Board Member, Secretary
Laura Pannone- Board Member, Interim Treasurer
Caitlin Douglass- Board Member & Faculty Representative
Linda Shepherd – Board Member
Annette Marley-Jester – Board Member
Franny Hall – Board Member
Hello Anchorage Waldorf School friends,
Those of you who attended the All-School meeting in March will know that the board is working towards our strategic plan goals of 1) Cultivating the social mission and anthroposophical life of the school and greater community, 2) Increasing enrollment to full capacity using a Mixed Age Grades Model, 3) Stabilizing Finances, and 4) Defining clear and consistent policies, procedures and communications that are aligned with the school’s vision, mission and core values.
These are lofty goals! You might wonder how we are going to operationalize the strategic plan in real terms? We have created three task forces that are looking at changing our tuition structure for the 2017/18 year, studying ways to improve faculty compensation, and exploring ways to diversifying our funding sources. The plan is that these taskforces do some basic research in their respective areas and report to the board at our meeting this month (Monday, May 9th, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., all are welcome!) and next month (Monday June 13th, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., all are welcome!). This taskforce research will kick off a broad conversation on tuition and school development that we would like to have in the early part of the school year in September. While faculty and staff salaries won’t be up for open discussion, the board does intend to hold a series of open meetings and encourage lots of conversations on the question of how our tuition should be structured and how we should view development in the school.
By development, we are referring to fundraising efforts, like the gala and annual giving, that are both a key part of the school’s financial health, as well as the social health of our community of families, volunteers, and donors, all of whom are incredibly important to the success of the school. How we work to develop our school is a critical part of the board’s mission, and we believe that now is an important time to think deeply about how we do it. In fact, the board is already considering a few changes to the way we approach development in the coming year, but we also want to encourage folks to help us form a strong development plan for the future well-being of the school.
Tuition restructuring will take even more consultation and the board is quite committed to hearing as many voices as possible on this issue. Tuition structure is about so much more than paying the bills. It is about how we can make Waldorf education available to as many children as possible and how we can create a structure that is just and fair. Obviously, changes to our tuition structure cannot be entered into lightly, thus we ask that you join the discussion and help us to address this important issue.
The board plans to share the findings of the tuition task force as soon as possible. We hope that these findings will start a conversation that will continue through the summer and into the fall. Our plan is to make a final decision on tuition structure at our November board meeting so there is still plenty of time for you to weigh in, especially as we learn more about our options.
I’d also like to use this message to welcome a new board member, Franny Hall. While Franny is new to this board, she is far from new to Waldorf education. Franny first taught at the Aurora Waldorf School as a kindergarten teacher in the early 90s. Her daughter, Katie, was in our school’s first successful first grade class (taught by Bette Montgomery). Franny has also worked with the Winterberry Charter School and in her own home kindergarten program. In addition, Franny is a certified Simplicity Parenting trainer and coach. Her experiences add a depth to the board in foundational knowledge of Waldorf education and anthroposophy and will help us in our ongoing efforts to build strong bridges with the broader Waldorf community.
If you are interested in joining a taskforce, please get in touch with either Kim or Dorn. And watch for information about community-wide meetings on development and tuition restructuring. We look forward to working with our community on these projects.
Kim Thomas, President, AWS Board of Trustees (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Dorn Van Dommelen, Vice-President, AWS Board of Trustees (email@example.com)
It doesn’t take long to realize that Anchorage Waldorf School is not like other schools. In fact, it is not just a school at all. Sometimes it’s hard to put a finger on exactly what makes it different, and it’s especially hard to put into a sound bite when talking with a friend who expresses interest in the school.
Perhaps it is difficult to encapsulate what our school is about because it comes from some big ideas. Our Waldorf school is the educational manifestation of a larger philosophy about human beings’ relationships to each other and the world, known as Anthroposophy, as developed by Rudolf Steiner. As an independent, privately funded Waldorf school we have the unique freedom to put this philosophy into practice, which is fundamental to inspire and nurture the natural capacities all children have. The Board of Trustees has been working hard to create a practical, three-year strategic plan that is aligned with and promotes this foundational philosophy, not only in the classroom but in all that we do and the way we do it. In this big way, we are living out a social mission.
After being reviewed by the Faculty, Board, and Parent Council members, we have articulated the following as our school’s own social mission statement to help guide us like a star in all that we do:
The social mission of Anchorage Waldorf School is to promote the evolution of human consciousness through our actions, from the everyday to the large scale. We promote the right of everyone to freely develop his and her capacities to become the best human being possible. Throughout our school, we emphasize serving others, honoring our connection to the earth, and promoting peace. Based on these values, our school strives to make Waldorf education accessible to all children regardless of economic circumstances, and celebrates the gifts that a diverse community brings to us. We believe that all human beings should be treated with equal dignity and respect, with brotherhood being a principle value at our school. In all of these ways, we strive to be a model of how the larger world could be.
Our strategic plan reflects our social mission in multiple ways, including a new priority to foster the study and practice of Anthroposophy and a plan to make tuition affordable to all families. The Board looks forward to presenting the strategic plan at the next All School Meeting in February. As always, if you have any questions, comments, or specific interest in the Board’s work, please feel free to contact any Board member and attend our meetings.
In practice, we already see this social mission manifested in so many ways at our school. We see it in the way that children are respectfully addressed and inspired to learn by teachers. We see it in the ridesharing, childcare, social occasions, and care given by families to each other. We see it in the way we communicate and resolve conflicts, which is upheld and supported by our policies and procedures. We see it in the way that we as a community work together to assist families with tuition. We see it in the service of creating care packages for the women at AWAIC this Saturday and the puppet plays being freely offered by our kindergarten teachers to children at public libraries. And we see it in the way that we tend the earth with our school’s beautiful vegetable garden and recently installed compost bins. No wonder it is challenging to summarize what it is that we love about our school, given how much good is happening.
–Annette Marley-Jester, Board of Trustees
Hello Anchorage Waldorf School friends,
Last month, board president Kim Thomas sent a message out to everyone announcing a change in leadership and letting you know what the board has been up to. We are going to try to send out some sort of message every month, and I am the lucky soul to write this month!
Kim discussed that the board and faculty had added a new strategic priority to the developing strategic plan. This new priority is focused on enriching the social and anthroposophical life at the school, and I thought I might write a bit about why we believe this to be so critical.
While most of you are familiar with the idea that anthroposophy lies at the heart of Waldorf education, I am guessing that many have not considered why this is the case and why we feel that it is important for us to develop a greater interest in anthroposophy at our school.
Anthroposophy is a philosophical approach developed in the late 19th and early 20th century in time when many philosophical approaches were vying to be the underpinning of modern social development. It emerged out of the philosophical “family” of phenomenology, that argued, among other things, that the world cannot be understood by simply measuring superficial phenomena, rather, the phenomenologists argued, the world needs to be understood at a deeper and more holistic level.
While anthroposophy differed sharply from many of its phenomenological cousins, it agrees with them in a wholesale critique of a scientific worldview that believed in the past, as many still believe today, that truth is somehow found by measuring the world. This way of looking at things, even in education, has become dominant. If you can’t measure student progress, we are told, students aren’t learning. Thus, we should be testing, measuring, and insisting upon the imposition of metrics in education.
Anthroposophical thought, and its educational arm, Waldorf education, stand in opposition to this view, believing that education is more holistic and not about measurable “student learning outcomes”, but about a deeper change that takes place in the student, her teacher, and even in her parents. Thus, the board and faculty believe that we need to nurture an understanding of this profound critique of modern educational standards and that this one aspect of our school, if nurtured and allowed to flourish, holds the promise of setting us apart from other alternatives.
So, we are pursuing this new strategic priority and are hopeful that this initiative will be embraced across our wide community. If you have any questions, or want to become more involved in learning about or nourishing our school’s anthroposophical life, feel free to contact me or anyone on the board.
–Dorn Van Dommelen, Vice-President, Board of Trustees
The Operations Group works to handle communication and to ensure that faculty are regularly updated and consulted during school operations. It is made up of the Early Childhood faculty chair, Grades faculty chair, and the Executive Director. This group meets weekly.
Parent Council’s purpose is to enhance the community life of the school. It’s goals are to
– encourage active, positive communication between parents, classes, committees and the governing bodies of the school,
– inspire parent involvement in the school,
– provide a forum for parents’ ideas, initiatives and concerns,
– coordinate social and educational events for the school community, and
– strengthen our connection to the Anchorage community by hosting education events and initiating community service projects.
Fall Gala Committee
Creates a signature event that raises our school’s profile and supports our school’s financial health.
Assists the Board of Trustees and the Executive Director in assuring the positive financial health of the school by monitoring finance, budgeting and making financial recommendations.
Recruits and oversees the hiring process for main classroom teachers, specialty teachers and aftercare providers.
Marketing & Enrollment Team
Develops and executes successful marketing materials and enrollment strategy, with the goal of building the student body to a level that provides stability for the school and strengthens our vibrant learning environment.
School Store Committee
Maintains our school store as a community resource for high quality items that support Waldorf education. Volunteer school store committee members manage inventory, sales and reconciliation.
Social Health Group
Facilitates and nurtures a healthy social environment within our school community, through the integration of social inclusion and community social health programs.
WalDads + HandyGals
Meets quarterly to work on projects around school, including grounds keeping, repair + maintenance, and organization.