Co-Founder's Children Donate $50,000 at 50th Anniversary Auction

Cynthia, Chris and Mark Wilhelm, the children of DWS co-founders Rudolf and Amelia Wilhelm, donated $50,000 to our beloved school.  This gift is in support of Phase One of ADA compliance for our historic Albert Kahn building, in honor of Rudolf and Amelia Wilhelm and in celebration of the 50th Anniversary.  DWS faculty, staff, and parents are deeply grateful for the Wilhelm family's steadfast support and continued generosity.  Once again, thank you! 

Mark, Chris, Co-founder Amelia Wilhelm, Cynthia (pictured left to right) with their mother after announcing the donation on Saturday, April 30th.

Mark, Chris, Co-founder Amelia Wilhelm, Cynthia (pictured left to right) with their mother after announcing the donation on Saturday, April 30th.

Photo above and gallery below courtesy of DWS Alumna and current Early Childhood teacher, Ms. Grace Halloran

Posted on May 12, 2016 .

3rd Graders Build Shelters from Around the World

The students were so excited to show me their shelter projects this week! The study of house building across world cultures is part of Waldorf's 3rd grade science curriculum. I was completely impressed not only with the creativity behind each child's project, but the way they explained their shelter with such depth, detail and pure excitement. This is why I love Detroit Waldorf School! I could actually see the children's love of learning in their eyes and hear it in their voices.

Please enjoy the photo gallery of each shelter from this year's 3rd grade class.
~Charis Calender-Suemnick, Enrollment & Outreach Director

Posted on April 7, 2016 .

Parenting Educator Kim John Payne Visits Detroit Waldorf

Detroit Waldorf to Host Simplicity Parenting Lecture & Workshop on March 11-12th

What if you could do one little thing to completely change your family? A small shift to eliminate stress and increase happiness and success?

Small, doable changes are the work of Kim John Payne, a world-renowned parenting educator who is coming to Detroit Waldorf School March 11-12 for a special, two-day free and open-to-the-public program on Simplicity Parenting.

“One of the best ways to build resiliency with kids is to give them a very simple, balanced home life, time to decompress,” says Payne. “You don’t have to turn your life upside down. We will be teaching how to make sensible, simple steps to balance a kid’s life.” 

Payne leads Simplicity Parenting, one of the largest parenting organizations in the world. His book by the same title and this movement were inspired by Payne’s volunteer work in Asia, in Thai Cambodian refugee camps and Jakarta, Indonesia slums. “I saw stress really up close,” he relates. “When I moved back to the West, I saw the same look on kids’ faces. I came to think of it as the undeclared war on childhood. They weren’t in a war zone; there was cumulative stress, going too much, too soon, too sexy, too young, an overall sense of overwhelm. It was the new normal. A highly stressed life is the new normal.”

Payne believes kids need parents to be present and to lead. Simplicity Parenting, he says, teaches how to harness “the power of less.” A big part of that, he says, is “filtering out the adult world. We’ve lost track of what’s appropriate for kids and for adults and that the two things sometimes are different. A lot of the adult world needs to be filtered out of kids’ [consciousness] because it’s just plain scary and stressful for them.”

The March 11-12 events will help parents identify “small, doable shifts” to bring more peace and harmony to their families. Reservations are available for a lecture on Friday, March 11, from 7-9pm and for a half-day workshop on Saturday, March 12, 9am-1pm. Both events take place at Detroit Waldorf School, 2555 Burns Ave., Detroit.


Kim John Payne, M.ED,  is the author of three books, including Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier and More Secure Kids, and a consultant and trainer to more than 200 North American schools. Payne has been a school counselor, adult educator, consultant, researcher, educator and a private family counselor for 27 years.

“We are delighted to bring Kim John Payne to our community to help families recalibrate their lives and schedules to bring more peace and success,” says Charis Calender-Suemnick, Enrollment and Outreach Director at the Detroit Waldorf School.

“Just like we focus on educating the whole child according to their unique developmental stage, we believe people of all ages do better and find more happiness when they achieve balance and harmony in relationships, schedules and routines. This unique event will help everyone find that alignment!”

Posted on February 23, 2016 .

Scarf Bombing Photo Gallery & Channel 2 Coverage

I am constantly overwhelmed by the power of helping others. I am also convinced that this is the most precious capacity we can instill in young people. This MLK Day came with severe cold and welcomed the release of over 75 scarves and hats across Metro Detroit for the homeless. One of our middle school students reflected on the project and said to me, "We can never completely solve the problem of homelessness but making something with our hands that someone can use, that has a direct impact on their life." 

Enjoy this photo gallery of our students this past MLK Day! I also included the coverage on Channel 2 News leading up to the event. ~Charis Calender-Suemnick, Outreach Director

Posted on January 20, 2016 .

DWS Community Knit Scarves for the Homeless

Last year, DWS students, alumni and staff tied 75 handmade scarves around telephone poles, trees, fences and lampposts in Greektown, Grand Circus Park, Riverwalk and near a homeless shelter on St. Paul. The scarves featured tags that read, “If you’re cold this winter, please take me.”

Since there is no school in session on MLK Day, the scarf-bombing activity, which will kick off with volunteers meeting at the Roasting Plant in Campus Martius on January 18th at between 10am-12pm., is voluntary. However, knitting is part of DWS’ handwork curriculum, offering students the opportunity to participate.

Handwork skills are integral to cultures worldwide; mass production in modern times prevent many from realizing the intellectual and creative aspects of participating in such fine motor projects. In Waldorf education, knitting is taught in first grade; Waldorf founder Rudolf Steiner referred to “thinking as cosmic knitting.” Early handwork activities in the Waldorf curriculum set a foundation for a sense of self-reliance and pave the way for learning physics, geometry and other areas of math and science later on.

Children learn crochet in second grade and return to knitting after that, learning to purl. Sharp needles for embroidery and cross-stitch come in 4th grade, mirroring the journey of crossing from childhood into adolescence. Knitting in the round happens in fifth grade, reinforcing mathematical concepts, and long-term sewing projects begin in grades six and seven.

Research shows a connection between fine motor skills and brain development. Children learn to use both sides of the brain simultaneously when practicing handwork, and eye tracking and numeracy are reinforced by these lessons.

Even more than all of these academic benefits are the heartfelt ones DWS students feel when they use handwork lessons to create something that benefits others. Like many parts of a Waldorf education, the handwork curriculum integrates the intellect with the academic, nurtures a sense of caring for others and builds practical skills for confident human beings ready to impact the world around them.

Written by Lynne Golodner, DWS parent, blogger and owner of Your People Public Relations

Posted on January 7, 2016 .

8th Grade Class Trip 2015 - Temagami Ontario

This post was adapted from the "Waldorf Today" national newsletter. Ms. Shurney, DWS 8th grade teacher, and student Maisie, submitted the following reflections about their trip this past summer.

“It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey in the end that matters.”

The quote above by Ursula K. LeGuin gives a beautiful illustration of the meaning behind my eighth grade class’ adventure to Northwaters Wilderness Programs in Temagami, Ontario.  I cannot imagine a more suitable start to our school year, as the students were welcomed into a community that firmly embraced the idea that we as individuals are free in our right to choose who we are, and who we wish to become.  The physical challenges of thriving in nature provided the students with many opportunities to recognize their own unique strengths and talents as well as that of their peers. 

As the students stand poised at the edge of childhood, ready and eager to make their transition to high school and young adulthood, the feelings of independence, self-reliance and community were made tangible for the students in a way that was both inspiring and long-lasting.  I was struck deeply by how openly the students expressed their appreciation for the natural world around them over the course of our trip.  What is more, the student’s realization of their own unique strengths and the gratitude the students showed for the company and support of their classmates set a healthy, heart-strong tone for the upcoming school year. 

It is in this final year of grade school that my eighth graders will arrive at a series of important ends.  As their teacher, I am eternally grateful that our experience at Northwaters has helped my students to confidently and consciously rise to occasions and relish the journeys that lie ahead.

Simone Shurney, Grade 8 teacher, Detroit Waldorf School

I came into the experience at Northwaters with very detailed expectations.  We would carry the canoe with another person.  We’d have really bad food.  It would be cold and wet, and the trip leaders would be wilderness guides. 

When we arrived by plane at Langskib base camp, I was happily surprised when I met Josh, Savannah, Dominic and Judith, and I thought it would be just like being on trail at summer camp. I was wrong.  Trying out the canoe and carrying the wannigan proved hard.  I wasn’t nervous or scared, I just thought the experience might be harder than I first expected.  That night, I dreamt about carrying the canoe better than everyone else, and I felt motivated.  By the time the meat grinder (an aptly named portage) came around, I was ready.  Nervous, but ready.  I kept telling myself it was just another portage, just a really hard one.  I struggled carrying the canoe, which I’d had success with earlier in the trip.  I struggled on the meat grinder, and found it difficult to stay in the moment. 

I think I thrived through the encouragement of myself and others.  I told myself that after every uphill we’d have to go down (which is funny because going downhill is really hard while carrying a canoe), reassuring myself that I could do it.  When I got back home, I told my mom that it was the best thing I’ve ever done, and the hardest.  I am very glad that I took this trip to Northwaters.

~Maisie, Eighth grade student, Detroit Waldorf Schoo

Posted on December 17, 2015 .

Alumna, Aniela Eddy, appears on NPR's, A Prairie Home Companion

Aniela Eddy, DWS Class of 2003 and student of DWS music teacher-Ms. Venus Rembert, recently appeared on NPR's, A Prairie Home Companion. Violinist Aniela Eddy is a member of East 4th Street Quartet along with fellow musicians, Chiara Fasani Stauffer on viola, Eva Kennedy on viola and Paul Miahky on cello.

Aniela is a graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the Cleveland Institute of Music. She has performed with ensembles such as the Lucerne Festival Academy Orchestra, CityMusic Cleveland, Ensemble LPR, Ballet Next, and the Blossom Festival Orchestra. In addition to frequently teaching at the El Sistema of El Salvador and Guatemala, Aniela has toured throughout India, performing concerts and promoting various organizations. She is a recipient of the Avanti Award and a faculty member at the Aurora School of Music.


Posted on December 3, 2015 .

Jeppe Flummer Visits Detroit Waldorf School

It was such a joy to welcome Jeppe Flummer from the International Forum of Waldorf/Steiner Schools. This was the first time the group organized a visit to North America. Jeppe traveled all the way to Michigan from Denmark where he taught History in a Waldorf high school for nearly 30 years. Jeppe was interested in our school because of the social impulse living in the city right now and the 50 year history we hold within these walls.

Jeppe and I weaved out of every classroom in the school as I told him the story of DWS, the building history and about the current community. We were greeted by many hugs in the PreK Rose classroom and joined in beautiful circle time songs. We heard riddles in Grade 2, gazed at fraction chalk drawings in Grade 4, guessed how long it took to build the pyramids in Grade 5 and marveled at our parent Eurythmy group. 

After the tour, our parent council group (CHAT) prepared a lovely reception for our visitor and we were surprised to see that Amelia Wilhelm (co-founder of DWS) was in attendance. Jeppe was overjoyed to meet her and as he was shaking her hand he exclaimed, "I can feel the whole history of this school and what you have done for the children!" 

~written by Charis Calender-Suemnick
Enrollment & Outreach Director

Posted on November 19, 2015 .

Mr. John Zettner: Renaissance Man

~by Carrie Sculati (parent of a DWS 5th & 8th grader and leader of CHAT parent organization)

On Monday morning, I was down in the Community Room making coffee and I kept hearing something that sounded like a cat meowing.  At first, I wondered if the Second Graders up above me were practicing their kittie-cat, but then I realized I was hearing a real live cat in distress.  I went to the windows, opened one and stuck my head outside. "MEOW!" came from up above.  I looked up and there the roof of Mr. Hantz's Garden House was a very frightened kitty.

Meanwhile the cat in peril had the full attention of the Second Grade class, on the first floor, and the Fifth Grade class on the second floor: "What can we do?  We have to save her!"  Yes we surely did, for no lessons could proceed with her cries for help right outside their windows.  And off I went to alert Mr. Zettner.   

Well Mr. Zettner was in the middle of his normal, busy morning.  I found him at his usual post manning "Mr. Zettner's Door" on Charlevoix.   We discussed some rescue plans.  Operation Kitty Rescue began with an attempt to extend a board across from the Second Grade window to the gutter of the Garden House.  The Second graders tried to lure the kitty across the plank, but to no avail. Time for Plan B, but first Mr. Zettner had something else he had to do.  You see he had already agreed to be in the skit which was planned for the Monday Morning Assembly.  As they say in the business, "The show must go on!"  Poor kitty had to hang on a few more minutes while Mr. Zettner fulfilled his previous obligation.

Finally, out he came to the poor helpless creature. Plan B involved leaning a ladder up against the utility pole which stands right next to the Garden House roof.  Up the ladder he climbed with kitty talking to him all the way.  At the top of the ladder he stepped over the chain link fence and onto the rungs of the utility pole.  Now he climbed the utility pole until he was level with the gutter of the Garden House.  He reached over and gently took hold of the still crying kitty, placed her over his shoulder and started back down the utility pole, over the fence and down the ladder. 

And now to find her house.  Her tag said Iroquois, and off he went around the block to deliver her.  As he went, DWS parent Chris Ann Roncone spied him.  She recognized the kitty as belonging to a fellow DWS family, the Mahoneys.  On he went down the street affirmed that he was headed in the right direction.  Finally, almost to Vernor, he arrived at the Mahoney home where mom, Andi, Keely, Grade 2, and little brother Ben, still in their jammies, ran out to meet him.  Their beloved kitty, Gia Starsparkle Mahoney, had been missing since Saturday night.  She had spent two night out in the cold, and a sadness had descended upon the Mahoney household.  Somehow she had made her way to Keely's classmates and was now back home safe and sound.  Mr. Zettner saves the day again!

All in a days' work for our Mr. Zettner:  Fixer of all things broken, Assembler of new furniture, Cleaner of "accidents", Raker of leaves, Mower of grass, Doorman, Actor, Cat-Rescuer.  What would we do without him!?  Thank you, Mr. Zettner for all the ways you have taken care of us and the building for the last 20 years.  We must add one more role to your job description though: Teacher.  You teach all of us everyday and we are grateful for your lessons.

Posted on November 12, 2015 .

Michaelmas 2015 Photos by Cassie Laymon

This year's Michaelmas celebration was particularly special! With 137 students in Grades 1-8, it was the longest dragon we have seen in many years. The smell of pine filled the air and a light rain misted the children's joyful faces. Enjoy this photo gallery provided by DWS parent and photographer, Cassie Laymon (5th grade parent)

Posted on October 22, 2015 .

2015 Walk-A-Thon on Belle Isle

This Friday, October 16th, Detroit Waldorf School (DWS) will host its annual Walk-a-Thon fundraiser on Belle Isle. Students from preschool through grade 8 will traverse a course on Belle Isle for the bulk of the school day, joined by DWS founder Amelia Wilhelm, who is 91 and a Bloomfield resident.

Details & Location
Friday, October 16, 2015
8:30 am-3 p.m.
Belle Isle

Detroit Waldorf School provides private education, although many students are assisted with their tuition. The walk-a-thon’s fundraising goal of $48,500 supports curriculum costs, since tuition does not cover the school’s operating costs entirely. 

Donations can be made at this link:

Support for the 2015 Detroit Waldorf School Walk-A-Thon is tremendously important to maintaining the school's long-term viability.


About Detroit Waldorf School

 The Detroit Waldorf Schoolprovides innovative teaching through the method developed more than a century ago by Rudolf Steiner. A Waldorf education is designed to cultivate children's inherent curiosity and love of learning. Our approach “brings forth” the gifts that all children possess so that they will develop clear, creative thoughts, balance and compassion in their feelings, and initiative and conscience in their work.

Fully accredited by ISACS (Independent Schools of the Central States) and AWSNA (Association of Waldorf Schools of North America), Detroit Waldorf School offers a curriculum rich in academics, arts, music and physical education. Our aim is to graduate students who are capable of independent, critical and creative thinking and who will enter adult life with the confidence and knowledge needed to take on the next level of challenges.

The mission of the Detroit Waldorf School is to provide a rich and dynamic pre-K-8th grade Waldorf education to a geographically, racially, and socio-economically diverse student body in Detroit and Southeast Michigan. Located in Detroit’s Indian Village neighborhood, DWS is a community dedicated to helping each child develop his or her full human potential: clear, creative thought and expression, balance and compassion in feeling; and conscience and initiative in action.   

Follow Detroit Waldorf School on Facebook:


Media Requests:

Lynne Golodner

Your People LLC


Posted on October 13, 2015 .

AWSNA Parent Enrichment Series-Free Webinars


The Human Encounter: Parent-Teacher Relationships in a Waldorf School Community: A Conversation with Torin M. Finser, General Secretary of the Anthroposophical Society and Chair of the Education Department at Antioch University New England

Wednesday, October 21, 8:00 p.m.

~~A school is a community, and its health depends upon the quality of its relationships. Join us as Torin speaks to the parent-teacher relationship. This webinar is co-sponsored with the Anthroposophical Society in America. Details and REGISTRATION


Discovering a Genius: Rudolf Steiner's Vision for the Future: A Conversation with Frederick Amrine, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor in German Studies at the University of Michigan and a professor at the Waldorf Institute of Southeastern Michigan

Wednesday, November 11, 8:00 p.m.

~~Who was Rudolf Steiner? What were his intentions in founding Waldorf Education? The unique insights and research of Steiner into subjects such as medicine, agriculture, education, and social forms have long been a sense of inspiration for millions. This webinar is co-sponsored with the Anthroposophical Society in America. Details and REGISTRATION


Posted on October 8, 2015 .


On behalf of the college of teachers, faculty, and staff, I would like to extend a warm welcome to all families. It has been wonderful to meet many new and returning families since the first day of school, as well as at the All Community Meeting last night. I shared that our school will celebrate the 50th anniversary next year, and that this is coinciding with the honor of our school hosting the annual 2016 AWSNA summer conference in June. (AWSNA is the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America -- Canada, Mexico, and the United States). DWS is an accredited member school of AWSNA.

The Detroit Waldorf School has alumni all over the world, and what they share in common is their love for the community that they were able to experience as they stepped into adulthood. Again and again, former students express how Waldorf education prepared them both academically and socially to find their place and purpose in the world. Innovation, resilience and social awareness are some of the capacities that they have developed to transform themselves and to meet the future successfully.

As we begin our year, we look forward to many experiences and accomplishments. Our days will be filled with new and exciting activities at school and at home, and for the benefit of our children, it is important to be mindful of healthy rhythms in our lives. A good daily rhythm supports a vibrant body and mind; regular meals, regular sleep and waking hours provide a balance between work and leisure times. By giving our children the gift of a rhythmical life both at school and at home, we give them a head start for their future life. Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf education, coined the phrase “RHYTHM REPLACES STRENGTH”, which infers that much more can be accomplished when a healthy rhythm is present.

I wish you and your children a wonderful year that is filled with new learning experiences, joy and time to play!

Susann Eddy, College of Teachers Chair, Eurythmy Teacher and Therapeutic Eurythmist

Posted on September 17, 2015 .

Ms. Dzvinka Hayda Returns to Our Growing Kindergarten Program

Photo by Donald Schulte 

Photo by Donald Schulte 

We are so thrilled to welcome, Dzvinka Hayda, who brings a wealth of Waldorf teaching experience.  She holds a degree in Waldorf Education from the Waldorf Institute of Mercy College, a Bachelor of Science Degree in Child Development from Madonna University, and a TESOL certificate from Oxford Seminars. Dzvinka has taught Kindergarten at the Waldorf Kinderhaus; early childhood classes, Fifth Grade and Parent and Child Classes at the Detroit Waldorf School; and facilitated the Parent and Child Program at the Oakland Steiner School. 

She is the founder of a Waldorf Early Childhood center in Ukraine, regularly lectures internationally on the welfare of children and mentors Waldorf Early Childhood teachers. Her two sons are graduates of the Detroit Waldorf School. Dzvinka is also the author and illustrator of the award-winning book Little Angel's Journey

She is happy to return to Detroit Waldorf School as a Kindergarten teacher for the 2015-16 school year! 

Posted on June 16, 2015 .

May Day 2015

The following photo gallery was provided by Cassie Laymon, mother of a DWS 4th grader. You may recognize her always with camera in hand at our festival celebrations each year. Thank you Cassie for sharing your beautiful work!

Posted on May 21, 2015 .

8th Grade at Ocelot Print Shop

The eighth grade extended their art studies by visiting Ocelot Print Shop, an artists' collective and community screen printing shop. Former DWS parent, Kinga Kemp immersed the 8th grade in the entire screen printing process from creating their own design to the final products of t-shirts and posters!

Posted on May 14, 2015 .

Chemistry in action at Pewabic Pottery

Last month the 8th graders experimented with different earth oxides during their Chemistry block. They observed the effects of different combinations under extreme heat in a kiln to produce various glazes. 

Here is an entry from one the the 8th graders journal:

When we visited Pewabic for our glazing class, we first learned and talked a little bit about glazes. The basic makeup of a glaze is made from chemical elements such as copper, brass and iron. We learned to mix our own glazes, being very precise with our measurements and wearing face masks to keep the dust out of our lungs. We experimented with different components and how they changed in the firing. We looked at our finished and fired tiles from the recipes we made. Some of the ingredients added were Rutile and Cobalt. After being fired, my tile was more textured, plain and white. We also discussed glaze flaws. Two such flaws are crazing and pitting. Crazing is when the glaze looks like it is cracked. Pitting is when a glaze traps gases that are being let off, which then leaves holes in the glaze.  I really liked the way crazing affected some of the pieces, giving them more of a textured look. Through these classes, I found the endless possibilities of glazes very interesting.

Posted on April 16, 2015 .

Waldorf Language Arts Curriculum Builds Love of Reading and Writing

DWS third grader recently wrote his own story by hand during his free time. The Waldorf Language Arts curriculum cultivates a love of reading and a strong imagination through storytelling. Henry's favorite book is "The Hobbit" and he also enjoys illustrating his stories as well. Please enjoy his story, "The Mouse and the Apple Fairy." 

There was once an old mouse who lived in an old oak tree. Every year or so, he would take a stroll into the big wood. As he walked, he thought about where he should go. As he strolled thinking, he hummed a little tune:

"Oh fairy of the apple tree, Why don’t you come to me?"

"Fairy of the apple tree, I’d sure like to meet thee!"

Then, all of a sudden, he ran into a big tree! It was an apple tree! The mouse looked up at the giant apple tree and its ripe, ripe-looking apples. “Wow,” said the mouse. “If only I could eat that apple.”

“If you want that tender apple, you must do all I ask – and I ask you to do a tricky task!” said a voice.

  “Who’s there?” asked the mouse.

  “The fairy of the apple tree! Don’t you remember calling me?” said a little girl no bigger than the mouse.

  “If you’re a fairy,” said the mouse, “then I wish I had that apple.”

  “I cannot do what you ask until you finish my tricky task,” said the fairy.

  “What’s this task of yours?” asked the mouse.

 “Find a king dodo bird. When you do, get his herd.” The fairy disappeared.

  “Find a king dodo bird?” said the mouse. “How will I find a king dodo bird?” He walked on. He soon came to a valley and in that valley, he saw (not believing his eyes) a herd of dodo birds! In the middle of the flock stood the king dodo bird. “Holy hopper!” cried the mouse. “I can’t believe my luck!”

He hopped across the valley until he reached the crowd. He ran under the birds until he reached the heart of the flock. “King Dodo Bird,” squeaked the mouse. “I’m here to round up your herd!”

  “Vhat!?” cried the king dodo bird. “You daaarrre!?” screamed the king dodo bird. “SIEZE HIM!” cried the king. But the mouse was too fast and he ran out of the valley and into the woods.

  “Man,” said the mouse. “That was such a good, warm welcome!”

He turned back and went to the flock again, this time with a plan. He took a berry and stuck it to a leaf, stuck the berry to his back and ran to the group of dodo birds.

  “Ve showed that mouuuuse!” said the king. “He von’t come baaack forrrr a looong time.”

Then a leaf ran to the flock with a vine trailing behind it. “Vhat the –“ cried the king. The leaf ran around the birds’ legs. “Oh nooooo!” said the king. All around, birds were falling down. They were all rounded up.

  “The task is done. I can go to the apple fairy and get an apple!” The mouse dragged the long vine behind him. When he got to the tree, he called out, “Hey, apple fairy! I did your task!”

A girl came running. “How goody-good-good! You did my task and now I’ll give you what you ask.”

And so the fairy got her task done, the dodos got their freedom, and the mouse got his apple.


Posted on March 5, 2015 .