At the Waldorf School of Atlanta, we believe that a healthy social life is vital to the development of the child and to the functioning of a community. In 2007, our school began a coordinated endeavor to bring deeper consciousness to social issues and to strengthen healthy social practices for all members of the community. Under the guidance of Kim John Payne, M.Ed, Founding Director of The Center for Social Sustainability, we began a three-year journey of implementing his Social Inclusion approach in our school. Parents, teachers, staff, and students are all involved in this important and inspiring work.
Students from our middle school and from our sister high school, Academe of the Oaks, serve on the Social Action Committee (SAC). These students work closely with younger students in our school, forming close relationships with them and helping to guide them through the inevitable social ups and downs that arise in childhood. In the process, the older students gain invaluable skills in leadership, communication, and conflict resolution—strengths that are sure to serve them well for life. Noreen Crowley and Joshua Gartland guide our middle school students, with Sharon Annan and MJ Randleman Smith serving as coordinators for the high school students. Now in our fourth year of this work, we have seen student interest in Social Inclusion surpass our expectations!
Adults from our community serve on the Social Inclusion Coordinating Group (SICG), whose work includes nurturing a school environment of mutual respect, safety, and inclusion; integrating Social Inclusion practices into school life; supporting teachers with students experiencing social difficulty; and monitoring student social health and making recommendations to faculty.
As adults in a Waldorf school community, we strive to act as role models worthy of the students’ emulation. In doing so, we hope to create the kind of environment where Rudolf Steiner’s Motto for a Social Ethic finds life:
The healthy social life is found
When, in the mirror of each human soul,
The whole community finds its reflection,
And when, in the community,
The virtue of each one is living.
This article was originally published in the Spring 2011 Garden Breeze newsletter of the Waldorf School of Atlanta.