Waldorf taught me how to learn

When most people think of spring break they don’t imagine high school seniors going back to their k-8 school, but that is exactly what I did. I was offered the opportunity to intern with Allison Budschalow in the Development office, and it has been such a great time. It always feels a bit like coming home when I return to The Waldorf School of Philadelphia, seeing the familiar faces and spaces, but this time I got to see the school through a much different lens than the one I have known most of my life.


The world around me has changed a lot since I left Waldorf.  I felt a little rebellious traipsing into the building with my laptop in tow, headphones dangling out of my bag. I spend most of my time at boarding school, in a world where iPhones are essentially a sixth finger and email-checking-addiction should have its own rehab. I spend hours every day on my computer writing papers and doing research. My math class has come a long way from clapping out times tables in circles; now it starts every day with a quiz on my smart phones before diving in calculus curves. The days of main lesson books and practicing recorder seem like distant memories (although I do keep knitting in my dorm room for the rare moments of free time).  It seems that no matter how much Waldorf makes a technology free world of learning work, the rest of the world demands it.


But I never found the adjustment uncomfortable. In fact, I had a much easier time picking up Excel when it was introduced in my freshman year Biology class than most of my “tech savvy” classmates. Making PowerPoints and Prezis has never been a source of anxiety, but something that was easy to navigate and understand. I can’t say for sure how much that is a product of the way that Waldorf teaches students to explore and think for themselves, but it definitely played a role.  I think a lot of this comes down to how I describe my years at WSP to people now: Waldorf taught me how to learn.


I was so excited to be able to put these skills to use with the Development office, helping out with the Spring auction and researching for grants.  As I folded papers to mail out, I was brought back to the mornings spent folding wax paper stars—if only I had a bone folder, I thought.  Thanks to WSP for inviting me back, hopefully I will be back in the summer to continue helping the office in structuring an alumni network.


Written by Sarah Cornelius


Class of 2010 WSP alumna and currently a senior at Phillips Academy , Andover, Sarah has been accepted to Reed College and intends to pursue linguistics, anthropology and computer science.