Cynthia Way will be our First Grade Lead Teacher for the Class of 2027. The Class of 2027 will be Mrs. Way’s third lead teaching position at our school as she has previously led the classes of 2009 and 2018.
In Waldorf education, the lead main lesson teacher stays with students over the duration/course of multiple years, ideally from grade one all the way through grade eight. Class teachers stay with the same students to become a steady authority in a child’s life.
Solid relationships between teachers, students and parents are beneficial to social and intellectual learning.
Waldorf schools maintain this practice because solid relationships between teachers, students and parents are beneficial to social and intellectual learning. Not only does this allow the teacher to appreciate a deep understanding of each student’s gifts, but it also allows the establishment of deeper connection.
While this practice is Waldorf tradition, there are also many research studies showing that a student’s relationship with their teacher is an essential function of learning. According to the American Psychological Association, six different studies done between 1997 and 2010 show, “Positive teacher-student relationships — evidenced by teachers’ reports of low conflict, a high degree of closeness and support, and little dependency — have been shown to support students’ adjustment to school, contribute to their social skills, promote academic performance and foster students’ resiliency in academic performance.”
According to Waldorf Alumni parents, Nate and Gretchen Wright, whose twins graduated from Mrs. Way’s class in 2018, Cynthia’s incoming students are about to have an extraordinary experience.
“Mrs. Way is easily far and above the best teacher on the planet. She was truly extraordinary in getting to know each of them and working with them in exactly the ways they needed academically, socially, emotionally, and spiritually. They will look up to her forever.”
– Nate and Gretchen Wright
They say, “We are parents of twins who have very different personalities, learning styles, social and academic interests, and general ways of being in the world. To give just one example, one child taught herself to read the summer before her last year in Kindergarten, and the other child didn’t read, or even express much interest or desire in reading, until 3rd grade. We wondered how the same teacher would be able to come to understand each child and meet their needs in and out of the classroom. As it turns out, we needn’t worry at all. Neither of our children are shy about expressing honest criticism of their teachers, and both say without hesitation that Mrs. Way is easily far and above the best teacher on the planet. She was truly extraordinary in getting to know each of them and working with them in exactly the ways they needed academically, socially, emotionally, and spiritually. They will look up to her forever.”
We at the Waldorf School of Philadelphia are equally impressed with Mrs. Way’s credentials. Mrs. Way graduated from Oberlin College magna cum laude in 1984 with a B.A. in French Literature after which she engaged in various types of work, among them gallery sales, furniture finishing, professional calligraphy, teaching French, cabinetmaking and making wedding cakes. She enjoys all kinds of music, plays the flute and sings, and also enjoys writing poetry, gardening, sewing, designing costumes, binding books and reading mystery novels when she can.
Cynthia developed an interest in Waldorf education as her children progressed through our school’s nascent years. At that time, she volunteered in the school office, became her son’s class’s parent representative, attended parent-tot classes with her daughter and began to sub in the first grade.
Waldorf first grade, in particular, was inspiring to Cynthia. After her three-week subbing stint, Cynthia realized she wanted to become a Waldorf teacher and proceeded with her training at Antioch University to graduate in 2007.
First grades in Waldorf schools are very different than typical first grade classrooms across the country. Learning to learn: this is the purpose of the Waldorf first grade. First grade academics are never rushed as no one is teaching to an upcoming test. The teacher’s task is to create a rhythm for the children’s school lives to enable them to grow and learn in a healthy, developmentally appropriate way.
A first grade Waldorf teacher will discover the varied learning needs of each child in class— social, physical, and cognitive — and take that into account as she develops lessons and plans for scaffolding learning in future grades.
We know that Cynthia is looking forward to moving through this rewarding process with her new group of students next year as they begin first grade. And she is committed to seeing them through to graduation — from learning to read, write, understand botany basics, and do their time tables to mastering platonic solids, algebra, Shakespeare, and chemistry.
Welcome back Cynthia and welcome Waldorf School of Philadelphia class of 2027. We know you’re all going to love learning and growing together.