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Curriculum Enrichment – Parents Skills

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Costumes made with parent Tanja Mergler and Class 11

Costumes made with parent Tanja Mergler and Class 11

by Mateus Owens, parent

One of the unique features of Ringwood Waldorf School is found among its community of parents, who regularly give up their time to enrich the learning and rhythms of the children. They offer practical experience and professional advice to the students and to the community as a whole.

As a father to five children at the school, I have seen the huge benefits that this community-based philosophy of learning can bring. From parents that spend hours behind the scenes making sure things run smoothly, to those that offer unique perspectives or skills to the students. Here’s a selection of examples:

Additional sport

Mateus Owens lends his martial arts-based training to various aspects and activities in the school, including performance and sport-related activities, such as choreographing the sword fights in Class 10’s  2012 production of “Romeo and Juliet”.

Learning Support

Nicki Benoit-Means As a former EFL teacher, Nicki works with individual children to help with their literacy skills focusing on handwriting, reading and spelling, “which I really love” says Nicki.

Jenny Drake has been doing Learning Support working with individual children and small groups for 2 or 3 years now. As a former Maths Consultant, she’s focused on support for Maths, but also works with children on spelling and writing. Jenny has also performed, organised and coached many school-based events around music and song.

Jewellery 

Tim Ayers a cabinet and jewellery maker, has been working with the Upper School on an art project called ‘Bike and Body decoration’ The project was intended to help students remove preconceptions when designing things.

“Jewellery is our standard body decoration; I wanted to fire up the enquiring mind by essentially designing jewellery for the bike – by decorating it and making it more beautiful, the bike became the customer. Having made a model of their decoration and fixed it onto the bike, the aim was to then design a piece of body decoration for another member of the class, using techniques learnt on the bike. I was really pleased with the results and the effort the students put into their work.”

Animation 

Claudia Fasola-Moore Senior Lecturer, National Centre for Computer Animation, Bournemouth University, and partner Malcolm, delivered a week-long Animation workshop ‘Introduction to Techniques for Stop Motion Animation’ to the Upper School’s Class 9 in Spring 2012.

The workshop covered animation character development, storytelling, props and stop motion filming techniques. Working in groups of 4 or 5 students, scripted, developed and then filmed their own animated films. IT tutor Moray Dubree-Carey delivered technical support and editing.

Claudia comments; “the work was very much hands-on and each member of the group took on a specific role - director, tech director, arts director, animator, etc. The week was a great success - fun, educational and creative for us all!”

Dressmaking 

Tanja Mergler trained as a seamstress and architect, and has taught various topics at University level in Germany and England for almost 10 years. She’s been teaching Tailoring and Dressmaking to last year’s Class 11.

“I decided to run the lesson more as a design project than as a pure sewing lesson... The students were asked to design and make a costume for a classmate rather than for themselves, expressing the theme “Sky”. They were given two basic patterns as a basis for their designs which they customized according to their ideas. 

We had five extremely inspired weeks together. Many students didn’t only customize their patterns, but also produced their own fabrics with batik technique, dying, using materials like feathers, sequins and pearls, and experimenting with many sorts of other techniques. The students were extremely confident in trying out things they had never done before, and they also proved to be very skilled in executing their designs technically. The results were extremely successful and bursting with ideas and inspiration. 

The big finale took place when Sabine Hirschmann, a former school parent, choreographed and rehearsed a fabulous catwalk show with the class, in which they had the chance to show off their amazing Sky costumes. Sabine was also responsible for hairstyling and make-up. She did a fantastic job turning the students into absolutely amazing fantasy-creatures. The performance at the Variety Show was a huge success, and we got a lot of positive feedback, both from the students and folks from the school.

It was an absolute pleasure and amazing experience to teach this talented, friendly and beautiful class!”

 

In conclusion, the skills that the parents give to the community are both enriching for the volunteers and the students alike, whilst strengthening what the school is offering.

When a family joins the Ringwood Waldorf School, they become part of a diverse and valued community, in which they can all play a part.

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