The Waldorf School of Baltimore is celebrating 50 years of fulfilling their mission to educate and inspire children to think, feel, and act, with depth, imagination and purpose. We sat down with Brenda Wolf Smith (seen here with her fifth grade class on a recent school camping trip), who will be stepping into the role of Executive Director this summer, to talk about some of her big dreams for this small school.
Q: Congratulation on your new role! You have quite the history with Waldorf: not only an educational leader and class teacher at The Waldorf School of Baltimore, but also a Waldorf graduate, current and alum parent. As a parent, what lead you to choose Waldorf education for your own children?
One of the things that makes Waldorf so wonderful is that it doesn’t tell students what to think by memorizing facts and performing well on tests, but rather how to think, and how to think clearly and independently. Because of this, Waldorf graduates tend to grow into adulthood with the feeling that they can accomplish anything they set their minds to and that nothing, with effort and persistence, is out of reach. As we face an increasingly unknown future, such a gift feels incredibly vital and certainly one which I wished for my children.
Q: What things do you see in the Waldorf School’s immediate future that excites you?
Waldorf has always valued and prioritized time in nature but the pandemic really kicked our grounds utilization into high gear. We now have 5 outdoor classrooms, an exclusively outdoor Forest Kindergarten class, trails, gardens, and a woodland amphitheater for school plays and other performances. When students take their learning outside you can just see the weight of the world roll off their backs. I am excited to continue this momentum and enable even more of our children to spend a significant portion of their day in nature where they learn and mentally refresh simultaneously.
Q: Outside of your time at Waldorf, you also ran a highly successful Baltimore restaurant, the Chameleon Café, for years with your husband. How do you think that experience as owner/operator will influence your new role as Executive Director?
As an owner/operator of The Chameleon, I set the tone with our staff to help make people feel welcome and appreciated. As a staff, we worked together to create positive memories and connections- ones that people still stop me in the street to talk about years later. As ED, some of my goals and challenges are the same for the school as they were for our restaurant- creating a welcoming positive environment where deep connections and learning can continue taking place that can nourish students’ lives. I will get the opportunity to exercise my envisioning and creative problem-solving skills to carve a path into our future.
Q: Baltimore is rich with independent schools, each with its own charm. How would you describe Waldorf’s character?
The Waldorf School of Baltimore is a joyful, welcoming, and striving community where the arts play an integral role in learning. Working with our hands is a vital component as students write and illustrate their own textbooks. We hold the journey of continuous development as the utmost goal, a value passed along to students and made visible as we look back on our fifty-year history of educating and inspiring children in Baltimore.
The Waldorf School of Baltimore educates and inspires children to think, feel, and act with depth, imagination, and purpose. Programs for 18 months through grade eight. Learn more, schedule a tour and inquire for the 2022-23 school year today at www.waldorfschoolofbaltimore.org