With All Good Wishes...An interview with Departing Grade Two Teacher Svenja Donlon

Interview by Karen Vatz, Administrative Director

Q. What drew you to the U.S. and Orchard Valley?
I had never heard of Vermont before meeting my husband, Seth! When I came to visit Orchard Valley, I had a tour of the campus with Madelief. It was lovely and the campus was beautiful, and Madelief was so nice. We knew we wanted to move to Vermont to be near Seth's family.

Q. Can you share a little about your experience here?
This place has been my life here in Vermont. The faculty have become my family, friends, and community. It's been a big adventure professionally. It was my first time teaching in a Waldorf School--I'd always taught in public schools.

It's beautiful being here and connected to the seasons through all the things that we do, and also learning about Vermont culture--like tapping maple trees. It was something everyone here knows how to do, but I had to go home and Google how to tap a sugar maple!

I've really felt privileged to follow the group of children I have, to form a class and follow them through these years as they grow and learn so much--from before they could write their names to now when they can write a whole lot more! And also to be on the parents' journey as well.

Q. Can you tell us what your plans are after your move back home?
I will be teaching at Te Ra Waldorf School on the Kapiti Coast on the North Island of New Zealand. It's a 10-minute walk to the beach. I'll be reconnecting with friends and family and we are hoping to tap into the organic scene (composting and farming) as well. We'll also be waiting the arrival of a best friend's baby and hopefully be taking long walks on the beach with our dog!

Q. What are you most looking forward to in New Zealand?
Seeing my family, swimming in the ocean, and eating summer fruits.

Q. What will you miss about Vermont, the U.S., and OVWS?
Everything! The children. The people. The seasons. The drama and harshness of the seasons makes people bond together and forge strong communities. Maple syrup...

Q. Is there anything else you would like to share?
A big thank you for welcoming me into the community and having me be a part of it all for this time. Look me up if you are ever in New Zealand or need tips on where to travel!

From parent Angie Barger: “We are so thankful for Svenja's deep appreciation of the aspects of each child and her celebration of the integrity of the human spirit. This has revealed itself through the acceptance and connectivity her second graders show one another as members of the same tribe. She role models a high regard of the human spirit, and the knowledge and belief that each child will always rise to their highest self; on this core belief the children have created a thriving learning community. We will miss you, Svenja ~ thank you for always being your highest self!”

From parent Nancy Bruce: “It is such a gift and a blessing to have had the love, calm, care and skills that Svenja brought to all her students. Ava and Esme thrived under her attentive and nurturing nature. We three will miss her deeply and wish her all the best as she follows the direction of her heart."