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A journal of social practice & professional engagement for the Antioch community

Spring at The Initiative: Eleanore Staffanson ’19 at The Initiative: A Vermont Waldorf High School in Plainfield, Vermont

The Initiative: A Vermont Waldorf High School is an independent high school nestled on the Goddard Campus in Plainfield, Vermont.  The Initiative opened in 2013 to 9th and 10th grade classes, and will be graduating its first senior class this coming spring.  Its mission is to offer economically accessible Waldorf education which integrates community service learning, hands on and skills based courses, global citizenship, and the arts into a curriculum based on anthroposophical philosophies.  The students at the Initiative chose their school because of the Waldorf curriculum, many of them having a background of Waldorf or alternative education, the hands on skills based learning, the one-on-one time with and support from faculty, and the agency to influence their school’s development. The Initiative, while small, is vibrant in the midst of its development.  The faculty and students are still working together, problem solving, with the support of families and a caring community to build this school from the foundation up, actualizing their goals.

As the intern and teaching assistant at such a vibrant and young school, my responsibilities vary exceedingly and frequently.  I am doing everything from administering a test, to helping prepare a community lunch, to writing a press release for the local paper, to teaching volleyball for PE, to making spread sheet schedules of the curriculum.  I enjoy the variance of my work, and my fluidity is necessary.  I help the faculty with whatever is needed, often I am there to handle the unexpected tasks, to take attendance, and to answer the phone on behalf of the school.

I am learning invaluable skills such as flexibility, taking initiative, problem solving, and adapting quickly to new developments and situations in the work place.  Most of all I am enjoying connecting with the students at the Initiative, all of whom are very bright, artistic, and unique.  I am discovering how, with my personal experiences and skills, I can give back to this community and help this burgeoning school flourish.

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              Eleanore Staffanson joined Antioch College as part of the class of 2019.  She grew up in Viroqua, Wisconsin, in the heart of the driftless region, where she developed a passion for local and organic food, nutrition therapy, and community based organizations.  Her education at Waldorf schools fostered her creativity and passion for the arts, initiative, and interest in alternative forms of education.  Eleanore is exploring the possibilities of majoring in media arts or visuals arts, with a consecration in French, at Antioch College.  While she is undecided, the co-op program and the liberal arts curriculum afford her the opportunities to explore her many passions.  Currently, Eleanore is enjoying her second co-op education experience as a nutrition education intern at Vitamin Cottage Natural Grocers, in Denver, CO. She spent her first co-op working as a teaching aide and intern at A Vermont Waldorf High School.  At Natural Grocers Eleanore is learning about Nutrition therapy and the important role nutrition plays in health. She is also learning about researching competitors and effective outreach through working with the marketing department, along with many useful office skills.

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