This situation highlights many of the things that we must improve as humanity, but also reaffirms much of the good work we have done.
The Mayan Solar New Year, Waqxaquí Toj, was celebrated with a Mayan Ceremony, where every student delivered an offering according to their very own Nahual. All the teachers and students were part of this celebration in which the teachers guided a small but very significative ceremony. When the ceremony ended, everyone enjoyed the local tradition […]
January the seventeenth was a special day for everyone at Escuela Caracol, it was the day when we welcomed for the first time all the new families of our community.
The spark in the eyes of every parent as they were imagining their happy children being holistically nurtured in our gardens and classrooms was priceless.
We welcome you all to our community, to our school, to our home, lets become a family and grow together.
Here we are presenting you a traditional Waldorf tale, recounted exactly the way it is told in the classroom to our kindergarten students. We hope you enjoy it.
Escuela Caracol keeps a symbiotic relationship with its community, this supportive network has made many of the current achievements possible.
In August of 2018, Hellen Dorff came along with her husband and daughters to visit our school. They brought a huge box of delicious fruit for our students and spent a few minutes walking the gardens and chatting with some of the school’s staff and teachers.
A connection was naturally built; Hellen, a Waldorf teacher back in Germany, felt identified with Escuela Caracol’s mission. Soon after the visit, Hellen sent the link to an article she published at a local newspaper where she mentioned her experience in Escuela Caracol. A few weeks later, she organized a fundraiser with her community on behalf of Escuela Caracol, they gathered enough funds to donate a whole set of classroom chairs and desks to be used in our new building.
During November’s last week, a representative of Hellen came to San Marcos la Laguna. He was Max Hesse, Hellen’s cousin and owner of the workshop where the donated desks and chairs were constructed. On that beautiful morning, Max came along with his family to deliver a wonderful and priceless donation, desks and chairs to be used in our new classroom.
Families, like the Dorff’s, are one of the main pillars of our community, and thanks to kind donations like this, Escuela Caracol can continue nurturing heads, hearts, and hands of Mayan children from the western region of Lake Atitlan within an environment of dignity, love, and respect.
If you, like Hellen and her family, are interested in becoming part of our community and support Escuela Caracol, follow the link below and donate now.
Escuela Caracol´s Development Director Neah Bay Douglas has been a supporter of the Waldorf movement for more than ten years beginning with the enrollment in parent-child classes (at Chicago Waldorf school) with her oldest son Jackson who is now 13. Recently her experience culminated in the founding and directing of a Waldorf-methods charter school in Colorado. She joined the Caracol community this past June and works most of the year from the United States but travels to San Marcos intermittently. Currently she is spending three weeks here with her two children, Jackson (13) and Artic (10). See more from their recent explorations in Guatemala on their travel blog: http://acordeoro.wordpress.com/
Neah, what job did you have before coming to Escuela Caracol?
I have worked in nonprofit leadership for many years with a focus on serving children at risk. Most recently I founded and directed a school in the United States (Colorado), a K-8 Waldorf-methods public charter school called Mountain Song Community School.
Why did you choose to work for Escuela Caracol?
Waldorf education is a powerful social movement that facilitates the development of communities fully in areas of the intellect, the heart and the body. It engenders from a full capacity the ability to authentically know and respect oneself and others. Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf education, said that “love is the greatest power of knowledge” and true education is formed through this power. The intention at Escuela Caracol comes from love and compassion. This is felt fully from the staff who have come from all over the world and are working together with local people who are both indigenous Maya and non-indigenous. Creative expression, practical work, the natural environment and social harmony are part of each day at Caracol. Also, there is an honest intention to celebrate and honor the traditional Maya culture while recognizing ways to integrate and emerge together as a new culture. It is a place of renewal, a place of beauty and a genuine representation of Waldorf education. There was also a lovely synchronicity in this opportunity for me because before I was born my father, who was a professor for a Native American college in the United States, spent a summer teaching an indigenous native american tribe, the Makah. This was in Neah Bay, Washington and that is where my name is from.
Can you share some of the highlights of your work on Escuela Caracol?
When I am able to work in San Marcos at the school there is a continuous expression of joy that is felt in abundance. The melody of the children’s laughter and singing drifts continuously through the buildings and gardens, and the beauty of each child is seen in their smiles, their art and handwork. A cherished moment that I will always remember is when Andrea, the grade 2-3 teacher was showing examples of her students’ main lesson books during a staff meeting. Her pride and love were fully expressed as she turned the pages of these beautiful hand-made books of language arts and mathematics. There was one particular student who had made extreme progress with his academics and emotional wellbeing. As everyone looked at his accomplishments it felt like the whole staff had one giant heart beating in perfect rhythm. The success of this student can largely be attributed to Andrea’s care and intention and to that of the entire staff. My experiences with all of the staff confirm their deep love and commitment to this wonderful school.
You have a lot of experience in Waldorf education. How do you think this pedagogy would benefit the community and Guatemala?
The pedagogy provides and maintains a pulse for regeneration and Escuela Caracol can be a model for Guatemala, a country still recovering from a 36 yearlong civil war. This comprehensive educational community can serve as a model of how to remove the residue of conflict, build intercultural solidarity and empower people to move out of a cycle of poverty. Three fundamental principles of Waldorf education provide strength for this community: freedom, equality and solidarity.
How do you imagine Escuela Caracol in the future?
I imagine Escuela Caracol flourishing and continuing to engage many students in multiple capacities preparing them for great opportunities in their lives. I see a thriving school that is fully enrolled and has equal representation of girl and boy students. I would also like to see the efforts of the school widening out through Guatemala through the offering of teacher training to many Guatemalan educators. And lastly I am hoping for ways to engage in social-impact initiatives that will put the needs and challenges of the community at its center and benefit not only the school but the whole Lake Atitlán region economically.
Last week we had the honor of welcoming a group of high school students from the Emerson Waldorf School, located in North Carolina. A group of 17 students came accompanied by three group leaders and volunteered all week, sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm with the whole community of Escuela Caracol.
In addition to teaching daily workshops on juggling, clay modeling, and charcoal drawings, the visiting students taught our students to make their own balls and stilts. The students from Emerson donated many useful materials so that our students can continue with the dynamic practices that began during this visit.
To the delight of all at Escuela Caracol the Emerson students also made a garden of culinary plants for use in our kitchen, built a wall cane area in Kindergarten and repaired and painted the walls of three classrooms.
On their last day they offered a small show for our parents and extended educational community to share the results of their visit. Emerson Waldof School students showed they are experts (some of them are geniuses!) in such diverse areas as chiaroscuro drawing, writing stories, illustration, juggling, singing, skipping (one of the students competes nationally in the United States)… and our children of Escuela Caracol also showed they acquired knowledge and skills from this week. In addition, Kim, the teacher who accompanied this great group, explained in perfect Spanish all the advantages that these activities offer the children and the reasons why these activities are part of the Waldorf pedagogy. Valuable lessons such as overcoming fear through facing it, how knowledge and coordination are acquired through games, and most importantly that we all carry within us everything we need to successfully develop our gifts and natural abilities.
The students and Emerson Waldorf School served as models for our school. They are the representation of the true potential that every human being harbors within himself/herself and that Waldorf education encourages them creatively by promoting their full development. Students, through this rewarding week, learned that they carry a gem inside of them and our educational community will do everything possible to make it shine. Thank you very, very much to each and everyone for your visit, we are immensely grateful for your efforts and dedication. See you next year!