by Jen Zimberg
I still can remember opening the shoebox full of handwritten papers, neatly folded and stacked. I was in twelfth grade at Green Meadow Waldorf School. We were having a weeklong class on Waldorf education itself, where we were shown some of the principles and practices that underlie our unique education experiences. We had spent some time observing younger classes in the school and talking about waldorf pedagogy and near the end of the week we were told to go home and ask our parents for our lower school reports.
From first through eighth grade at Green Meadow, there would be times in the school year when I would sit down with my mom and she, holding a small booklet of handwritten notes, would tell me what my teachers had to say about how I was doing in school. Mostly, she’d tell me what my class teacher had written, reporting perhaps on certain struggles or successes I’d had in our classes. I admired my class teacher David Blair greatly and though I liked receiving the reports, I don’t think I thought about them much because the day-to-day school experience was harmonious and engaging.
So when my mother gave me this shoebox full of reports, I imagined they would reflect my experience of them as a child: incidental writings on how I was doing in school. As I unfolded and began to read, the curtain of my childhood was lifted in a life-changing way. I found written reports from every teacher I’d had. But slowly I found myself reading pages written by my class teacher each year, chronicling his observations of my capacities and who I was becoming. His observations and thoughts reflected his deep devotion to his students’ individuality and growth. I read them through, starting from the young years and going up until eighth grade and saw my self through my class teacher’s clear eyes, and knowing he must have gone to the same lengths with each of my classmates as well. It gave the eighteen-year-old-me an incredible gift of courage to live life and gratefulness for those who had helped along the way, especially dear David Blair. I graduated school with the light ahead that perhaps I might someday be able to offer a capacity to see another’s growing self clearly.