Dear SFWS Community,
In some ways this letter is one we could not imagine ever writing, and yet the time has come. Our beloved founding Kindergarten teacher, Monique Grund, will be retiring at the end of this school year. What an important transition for the school as well as a new adventure for her! Monique has devoted 35 years to SFWS, contributing with her colleagues to building it into the largest Waldorf school in the U. S. and a leading example of independent Waldorf education. Those 35 years were also dedicated to working with children and parents in her inimitable, profound way.
But 35 years here is not the whole story: this year also concludes Monique’s 57th year of being in the classroom. She was at the start of a Waldorf school in Chatou, France, where she taught before coming here to pioneer Waldorf education in San Francisco at a time when it was relatively new to American culture. How many children's lives has she touched? How many parents has she guided through the mysteries of living with the young child? How many colleagues has she mentored and inspired? And, who can mastermind marionette shows the way she can?
In her modesty, Monique was more concerned about announcing the changes in the early childhood program than with letting everyone know of her next step. We are indeed excited to talk about next year’s teachers, and will do so in another communication. This one, however, is devoted to our fearless founder who has inspired many of us to become better parents and stronger teachers, seekers in education and active participants in personal and social transformation. We know many join us in appreciating the gifts Monique has brought to the school, to furthering Rudolf Steiner's work in the Bay Area, and to her role as an example of life-long learning and deepening.
Monique has steadfastly insisted that there be no big celebration for her, and anyone who knows her, knows how insistent her insistence is! That same focused energy has served her and SFWS well over all these years. So this letter will have to suffice to say more than can be put into any words. We could send her kindergarten to the Smithsonian to be placed next to Julia Child's kitchen; in many ways that would be fitting. But, Monique never wanted a “museum” for ideas, for methods, and certainly not for what she always considered a living, changing, creative space. Monique’s kindergarten is her spiritual home and a sanctuary for so, so many children; it must continue to evolve to meet the needs of the all the children yet to arrive.
As Monique has said over the years, the young child learns through active imitation, and the kindergarten teacher's work is to be worthy of that imitation. In her striving, Monique remains an exemplar for us all. We wish her all the best as she gardens, studies, and continues to nurture and grow in her retirement.
Joan Caldarera and Dagmar Eisele for the College of Teachers