At Kimberton Waldorf School (KWS), education of the Head, Heart and Hands is the foundation for raising students to be creative thinkers, compassionate global citizens, and leading edge innovators both at home and in the world. With over 75 years of holistic teaching, committed teachers and staff have provided endless opportunities for environmental and experiential learning on the 430-acre setting in bucolic Chester County, PA.
Learning academics through the prism of art, working in the organic garden and visiting the biodynamic yogurt farm (Seven Stars Farm) across the street, all set the basis for local and offsite field trips as the children increase in age, confidence and skills. The yearly class trip is an eagerly anticipated vehicle for engaging students in a deeper experience of learning and practicing principles brought forth in the curriculum. Challenging many students in new arenas both personally and as a team, class trips expand a student’s vision of him/herself and of the larger community in which they live.
Last year, Mr. Peter Lehman, a class teacher since 1983, decided that his 7th grade class (who had been with him since 1st grade) would embark upon a wilderness adventure involving hiking, canoeing and sustainability practices. Kroka Expeditions in New Hampshire was the natural choice for this pivotal experience. With the motto “Where Consciousness Meets Wilderness,” Kroka would provide another level of depth and learning for the students, expanding upon the many values of Waldorf Education. We knew this worthwhile cause would require a substantial amount of fundraising and that key opportunities needed to be identified in order to achieve our goal.
As prior classes at KWS have done, our class eagerly chose Equal Exchange (EE) as one of its core fundraisers. Mr. Lehman was key to motivating the students to participate wholeheartedly in this inspirational fundraiser as the values of Fair Trade and helping people create better lives for their families, while demonstrating stewardship of the environment, rang through and true to all. Each EE product carries with it stories of various families and cultural regions — a mother empowering her children by being able to send them to school, a father able to provide good food for his family, and many other heartwarming stories.
One product in particular that spoke to many of the parents who visited our table sales was the ‘Proud Mama’ coffee. With many mothers at our school well-versed in babycarrying using slings, and the daily sacrifices made to send our children to the values-rich Waldorf education, the notion that empowerment via work was making a difference to mothers in other countries as to whether or not their children could attend school struck a deep chord of compassion within many hearts. The benefits of buying an EE gift go far beyond the purchase itself, extending back to its creator and forward to its recipient.
As the time of year chosen for the fundraiser was well before the holidays, it was easy to remind students and families that EE products make delicious gifts while directly making a positive impact in the world. Suddenly, the many tasks of employing catalog sales, table sales, compiling orders, sorting, checking, double-checking and delivering orders, became welcome and energizing tasks. Truly, the students were making a difference locally and globally. The fruits of their labors, beyond the delicious chocolates and beverages, were gleaned when the students finally left school one Sunday morning in May for the long-awaited adventure of a lifetime. Parents eagerly awaited the return of the students and hoped to hear stories of this precious and poignant week, after a busy year of fundraising.
With a commitment to sustainability, empowerment, service and education, KWS students become vibrant young adults and engaged citizens of the world. Equal Exchange is a natural choice for our students and we look forward to seeing this year’s 7th grade class participate in this valuable fundraiser!
(For more info: www.kimberton.org)