Filtering by Author: Charis Calender-Suemnick

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 .

Shelter Gallery from our 3rd Grade Class

The 3rd grade social studies curriculum explores shelters from around the world. This block offers the unique opportunity for students to learn about the richness of different cultures and paints the pictures of people who live in different lands/types of homes. Please enjoy this spectacular gallery, from yurts and igloos to grass huts and houses on stilts. 

Posted on February 12, 2015 .

“Scarf Bombing” Initiative Planned for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2015

Inspired by local Detroit “scarf bomber”, Barbara Green, Detroit Waldorf School staff, parents, and children will be busy this holiday season knitting hats and scarfs for the needy. “Scarf bombing” is a national movement where people knit scarfs and place them locally in areas that have a high homeless population. Items typically are tied to public fences or statues and include a note stating, “If you are cold this winter, please take me.” Items will be collected on Friday, January 9th and placed around the city of Detroit on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

“Volunteering on MLK, Jr. Day is a tradition at Detroit Waldorf School,” states Julia Baryo, Handwork teacher for grades 1-8. “It is vital for our students to experience the importance of helping those in need.” The school invites Detroit community members to participate as well. Please deliver your hand-knit or crocheted scarfs to the school office by Friday, January 9th from 8am-4pm. For more information, please call 313-822-0300.

Posted on December 19, 2014 .

Children Need to Play

Waldorf Early Childhood Programs across the world allow ample time and space for joyful creative play and naturally building a child's imagination. Mary Milkovie, PreK Lead Teacher at Detroit Waldorf School for over 25 years, was recently published in the Grosse Pointe News on the importance of play in early childhood. 

Click on the picture below for the full story

Posted on December 11, 2014 .

8th Grade Class Builds Low-Voltage Battery at Pewabic

In addition to creating a water filtration system, the 8th grade students also created clay vessels, which served as different cells to create a circuit for a low-voltage battery.  The 8th grade will continue to work with Pewabic in the winter and spring learning the chemistry of color and glaze development and the history of Raku and Pit firing.

Posted on November 17, 2014 .

Alumni Spotlight: Gabe Angelini-Knoll

Gabe Angelini-Knoll graduated from Detroit Waldorf in 2003 moving on to high school at University of Detroit Jesuit. In 2007, he "headed west " to Kalamazoo College to pursue his undergraduate studies in Psychology and Mathematics, co-lead his school's chapter of Amnesty International and studied abroad in Ecuador. For the past three and a half years he has been studying Mathematics at Wayne State University. Completing his Master's degree after two years he is now almost halfway through his Phd program in Algebraic Topology. An international academic, he recently spoke at a workshop in Mexico on the paper "Nilpotence and stable homotopy theory II" written by Mike Hopkins and Jeffrey Smith.

Posted on November 4, 2014 .

Co-Founder Amelia Wilhelm, Age 91, to Lead Students in Walk-A-Thon on Friday, October 17th

91-year-old Amelia Wilhelm of Bloomfield Hills is preparing to walk with Detroit Waldorf School students during the school’s annual Walk-A-Thon on Belle Isle on October 17th to demonstrate her support for the school.  Detroit Waldorf School is the independent school in Detroit’s historic Indian Village neighborhood that she and her husband, Rudolf, founded 48 years ago. Her commitment to walk is a testament to her lifelong dedication to the school that she was instrumental in shaping. She is an inspiration to the students and a beloved matriarch of the school community, serving on the board of trustees from the school’s beginning to the present day. The school asks for tax-deductible donations toward Amelia Wilhelm's Walk-A-Thon goal.

This annual event raises money in support of the school’s mission to make a Waldorf education accessible to Metro Detroit families.  Secure online donations may be made at

Founded in 1966, the Detroit Waldorf School is part of the international Waldorf School movement, which comprises over 1,000 schools in more than 60 countries. The Waldorf education model integrates comprehensive, age-appropriate academics with rich artistic experiences and practical work designed to challenge the mind and fire the imagination. DWS is housed in a stately historic structure built in 1913. Situated on four acres of beautifully landscaped grounds, the school provides a warm and inviting environment that nurtures growth, learning, and creativity by focusing on each student’s intellectual, physical, and emotional development. DWS offers enrollment in pre-K through eighth grade. Its interdisciplinary curriculum emphasizes analytical, creative, and critical thinking, and cultivates children’s inherent curiosity and love of learning. The Detroit Waldorf School is located at 2555 Burns St., Detroit, MI 48214, just three miles east of downtown Detroit. For more information, call 313-822-0300 or visit

Posted on October 16, 2014 .