By Miles Lloyd
I am about to embark on my final year as a senior at Brandeis University, looking out the window to a busy and vibrant campus that I have called home for the last three years. I find myself reflecting on the education that led me to be successful here.
I enrolled at Bellingham Waldorf School as a 6th grader after being homeschooled for most of my education prior. After attending Waldorf schools around the country, including Bellingham Waldorf School and The Waldorf School on the Roaring Fork, I moved on to TARA Performing Arts High School in Boulder Colorado—eventually graduating from Maine Coast Waldorf School.
Each school came with a strong and unique community. I could name everyone in my entire high school at each of the schools I went to, and this made my learning environment familiar and comfortable each day. I made meaningful connections with my peers and teachers at these schools, and we all highly anticipated the school trips and plays each year when we could spend time exploring Quebec City, going to Broadway shows in New York, camping on a remote island on the Maine coast, or spend hours running over the same scene until we got our lines just right for a play. I have taken this eagerness for exploring with me into my life after Waldorf, and I am constantly amazed, as I was then, by what the world has to offer.
Recently I decided to plan out my first solo backpacking trip. The skills that I needed to execute this plan can be directly linked to my high school education. Not only did I have to research the equipment needed, the trails to take, and the food required, but I also had to believe that I could do this. Having no prior experience taking on a hike of this magnitude, that belief in myself was essential for persevering through the physical strain I would face. This was fostered throughout my educational experience, especially my time in high school when I stepped outside my comfort zone and developed my capacity for independence.
Waldorf structured learning in a way that kept me engaged, always breaching subjects that were challenging or novel to me, while my work also remained exciting and rewarding. I found that after high school this became increasingly important to me. Going into my fourth year at Brandeis University, I have found myself continuously eager to learn and challenge my current understanding of the world. Waldorf prepared me for reading dense novels or complex articles and forming that information into critical and informative essays—a process that is as much for my own development as it is for my letter-grade in a class.
Waldorf also provided me with an opportunity to explore many creative interests. Whether it was acting, various outlets for music, sculpting, painting, drawing, or dancing—I loved it all. I never had an interest in blacksmithing, but after I got the chance to try it, I realized I was actually quite good at it and enjoyed the process of forming the metal with patience and precision. I got to really explore my interests in music as a singer and multi-instrumentalist, which has certainly stuck with me beyond high school.
Even if art, music, travel, reading, or writing don't peak your interest, I deeply believe there is still something for your teenager at Nova High. I could have chosen to study biochemistry instead of American Studies and Film in college, and while it would have been more challenging for me personally (or frankly, kind of miserable), I feel I really came out of Waldorf equipped with the core skillset to pursue my interests, whatever they may be. I also learned not to limit my capacity to try new things and grow my interests, realizing that anything is possible for myself, and that I might be surprised by the results of trying something new. I gained an appreciation for academic and artistic vigor, the ability to apply myself fully to my work, and a strong sense of my own independence and capacity to achieve my dreams.
I graduated from Maine Coast Waldorf School ready to take on my life as an upright and well rounded human, prepared for the hard work and constant growth ahead of me. I believe my Waldorf high school experience was fulfilling, transformative, rigorous, and inspirational. To me, there is no other education that meets the needs of developing human beings like Waldorf education.