Photos by Lauren Thomas
With the sounds of flute, harp and mandolin in the air, revelers gathered at the Mountain Laurel Waldorf School. Tables full of homemade yarns, pottery, crafts and delicious foods were there to greet them for the annual Winter Faire. Indoors, parents and kids watched as the Star Penny Puppeteers put on a production of “The Shoemaker and the Elves.”
Rosana Workman, a teacher at the school and a puppeteer in the show, noted that their production was meant to get people into a festive mood.
“It’s a winter story of magic and color,” Workman said.
Music plays a huge part in a Waldorf education, because the schools mandate music lessons and choir for each student. It’s a part of the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, the original founder of the teaching style. New Paltz’s school has three student orchestras.
Steve Bernstein, one of the music teachers at Mountain Laurel, noted that each student must learn to play the recorder and the flute. And music is blended into the curriculum for everyday lessons.
“I think it’s the education that really helps them receive the music,” Bernstein said.
Bernstein also played mandolin for the puppet show, which he noted mark special occasions at the school. “We try to do a puppet show for some of the bigger events,” he said.
Helen Stubblefield Anderson sat before a spinning wheel turning unprocessed wool “roving” into yarn. Kids and some adults watched, transfixed by the process.
The owner of the fiber art studio Helen of Memphis noted that dark gray yarn she was working on — which vacillated from thick to thin — would eventually be used for a knit hat.
“It’s such a simple process. The wheel does most of the work,” she said.
Winter Faire has a long history with the school, which was founded in New Paltz in 1983.
“We’ve had this fair for the last 20 years,” explained Judy Jaeckel, the school administrator. The celebration started back in 1995, when Mountain Laurel moved from the outskirts of New Paltz onto South Chestnut Street.
“We needed something joyful. We needed something for the community,” Jaeckel said.
The celebration, of course, draws out a lot of parents and students from the school. But it’s open to the whole community. And that’s the point of it, she added.
“It brings so much life to downtown New Paltz,” the administrator said. “It’s a gift to the community.”
Jaeckel was quick to thank the local businesses that helped out with the Winter Faire, including Japanese noodle restaurant Gomen Kudasai and The Village TeaRoom.
For more information about Mountain Laurel Waldorf School, or Waldorf education in general, head to www.mountainlaurel.org.