A way to meet our school community
Vicky Bunbury – WWS Founding Parent; Whistler Summit Centre Executive Director
Our school is entering it’s 20th year! You were one of the three founding members. Do you think back in 2000 you knew it’d grow to be the size it is today?
Honestly, we didn’t really plan that far ahead. We knew we wanted to offer Waldorf education for more than our children, we wanted to provide a Waldorf education option for Whistler families. In the very early days it was about gathering 10 children so we could hire a teacher and qualify as an independent school with the BC Ministry of Education. After that we would add a class each year and that’s how we became a Pre-k to 8th grade school. The decision to launch a high school came after that. By then we had a lot more experience and expertise in the school. Ali Blancher and Christine Cook (who moved back to the U.K.) were instrumental in bringing the high school into being. The two of them really made that happen on the educational side.
I have portrayed a somewhat unstructured picture of the forming of the school. It was unstructured in that we really couldn’t predict, with something so new, what would happen. But we did a lot of strategic planning way back starting in 2001 and so always balanced form with what was at times quite a fluid environment, growing a school from the ground up. So I guess the answer to your question is no and yes. Obviously when you are planning and looking ahead the numbers show up. But that said, you are so busy in the day to day making it happen and planning for the next year that we didn’t really have time to live in that space.
What is a favorite memory from your days on the ground at WWS?
Okay, that is a really difficult question to answer. There are so many amazing memories. Hiring our first teacher, Janet Goldhammer, who was such a great gift and really set us on our course. I remember the first presentation the class did. It was Michaelmas in 2001 and the children had been with Janet for about 3 weeks. We gathered at Rainbow Park and the class recited a poem that must have been 10 minutes long. I was blown away. They were 7 year-olds – it was incredible. I think that was the moment that I knew we had made the right choice.
When my eldest son was in 6th grade we brought a choral group, Musica Intima, for a performance at Maury Young Theatre and the students sang 2 pieces with them. Now this was the lead class in the school and at that time I think there were only 6 of them. They sang a few pieces with the group and then did a piece on their own. Ms. Reynold’s will remember, she was their teacher at the time and brought so much amazing music to them. It was really incredible. Their voices filled that space and they sounded like angels. That was an amazing experience.
Also, of course when we hired Kyle Kirkegaard as the grade 1 teacher a few years ago. For one of the children, from the first 3 of the home school cohort come back to teach at the school was a pretty profound moment for me. Of course there’s all the building and opening new buildings but for me it always comes back to the children and their experience. I mean that’s why we’re doing all of this.
Your own boys were some of the school’s first students. What are they up to now?
My boys are great! One is at UBC and of course living in Vancouver and the other has just moved to Squamish after a stretch in Vancouver, Banff, and the Kootenays. They are terrific people and I love nothing more than the opportunity to hang out with my adult children.
What are your wishes for WWS for the next 20 years? (Obviously here looking for something about your work with WSC.)
Obviously it is to finally have a permanent, purpose-built school facility where the amazing education that the teachers give to the children can be uplifted to an even higher level. That the teachers have a workplace that allows them to give their energy to their work rather than a work around. And finally, that Waldorf education in Whistler has a space that honours it’s important place in the educational landscape both in Whistler and in the world.
Thank you Vicky!
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Posts from the community and school
January YC Calendar – Come on out to the Youth centre for some fun events like skating & soup, Free tubing at the Whistler Blackcomb Tube Park, Giant JENGA night and much more. There is lots to do, so come get involved and meet new people. Check out the website for more details.
Parenting in Another Culture Program – 2 sessions in January:
Whistler Welcome Centre will be hosting a free two-part workshop as a part of the Parenting in Another Culture program. We’ll be inviting Amanda Walker, a Student Career Facilitator from Capilano University, to talk about the Canadian Post-Secondary System for immigrants and new comers with high school children. It’s a two-part workshop at the Whistler Public Library on:
Thurs. Jan. 23, 6 – 7:30pm – Session 1: Explore career and academic options: distance learning, colleges, trades, university.
Wed. Jan. 29, 6 – 7:30pm – Session 2: How to choose the best option and apply plus vocabulary to help with scholarships, grants and bursaries.
Questions & Answers after the sessions. Join for one session or both. Please email Welcome Whistler for more information or to register ahead.