Tesia attended the Brooklyn Waldorf School from 4th grade to 8th grade. After graduating 8th grade in 2015, Tesia went on to attend the Beacon School, a selective college-preparatory public high school in Manhattan.
My mom heard about Brooklyn Waldorf and I came to visit the school when I was in 3rd grade. I was able to go on the class trip to Hawk Circle, a beautiful outdoor education facility in New York’s Catskill mountains. I really enjoyed how nature, the arts-based curriculum and storytelling played such an important part in the education. I was (and still am) an artistic student and I loved how arts were woven into every subject. I also liked the small class size which made the experience family-like.
I loved every moment of it! Our class teacher in 6th 7th and 8th grade helped to make our classroom into a good environment to grow up in. When I look back at my years at Brooklyn Waldorf, I have so many fond memories. My teachers pushed me to always try things that I otherwise might not have been interested in doing. For example, we performed class plays every year as a way to learn more about what we were studying. The experience was always all inclusive. When we studied geometry in math class, the teacher brought in art by having us make 3D models of Platonic Solids. We also spent lots of outdoor time in nature, going to a nearby park nearly everyday which taught us appreciation for the natural world around us.
Furthermore, I loved how as older students, we developed relationships with students in the the younger grades. When we helped first graders learn how to knit, the experience taught me about being a role model. I remember when I was younger, looking up to the students in the older grades. Through the family feeling of Brooklyn Waldorf, I realized how great it can feel to work with other people. Experiences like these have really stuck with me.
Beacon is a very community-oriented school much like Brooklyn Waldorf. Over the years at Waldorf our class grew together, and already in my time at Beacon I feel the same way. I have been able to apply my writing foundations from our main lesson books to both the historical and creative writing work at Beacon, and have enjoyed the elements of art in all my classes.
Making Main Lesson books was a really good way for me to learn. As part of each Main Lesson, our teacher led a lecture where we had to take notes, and based on those notes, we drafted essays which were then corrected. We then had to incorporate those corrections into a final version. The entire process helped me become comfortable with organizing my thoughts onto paper. Now that I’m in high school, I can easily make my own study guides and flush out rough drafts of papers.
We also learned about time management through a regular schedule of assignments. Having time every day during those middle school years to build that skill was important. I also loved the foreign languages at Brooklyn Waldorf, which brought out my interest in communicating with and learning from other cultures. I have continued studying Spanish in high school, and went on an amazing school trip to Peru in February 2017. In the summer, I hope to go to Costa Rica for a language immersion program, and eventually to Cuba as well.
Some of my favorite classes are English, history and chemistry.
In 8th grade, our last class play was “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” in which I played Snoopy. It was a growing experience for everyone in the class because we each had to sing a solo piece. It was nerve racking to sing in front of a large audience, but our director was able to push us all out of our comfort zones. To this day, we still know the songs and can sing them together. The play was more than just learning our lines and the songs. Experiences like this have helped me to become a more confident person, and to trust that unknowns can turn out to be incredible.
I play the viola in the Interschool Orchestras (ISO) of New York. When I started at Brooklyn Waldorf in 4th grade, I played viola. I am very grateful to my orchestra conductor, who helped cultivate my love for the viola over my years there, both in and out of school. I was accepted into LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts as well as Special Music School for viola, but decided upon Beacon which has a very strong contemporary music program. Now with ISO, I have had the opportunity to perform at Symphony Space, the Barclays Center (for a Nets basketball game) and at Carnegie Hall! Music has given me a tool with which I can connect with the people around me, even playing music together with friends in a casual way is great. During those years of orchestra, Waldorf again pushed me to do something which has stuck with me and shaped me into the person I am now.
I also play volleyball outside of school in the Big City Volleyball league. I like to keep up some sort of exercise, but I do not have enough time after school to commit to a team with all my other extracurriculars. I also participate in the Youth Insights Artists program at the Whitney Museum, where every week we either get to observe and discuss current exhibits, or make art with an artist who is showing their artwork at the Whitney. At the end of the semester, we will get to have our art from the program shown in the museum. It’s very exciting!
As a sophomore at Beacon, everyone does community service, and I volunteer with the Hudson Guild, working with 3rd and 4th graders in an after-school program. I help them out with their school work and offer anything else they need. We also play games, host dance classes, and do art projects together. When it’s warm outside, we go to a nearby park. I really love working with younger kids.
I’m not sure exactly where I want to go or what I want to do. Sometimes I think I might be interested in pediatric medicine or marine biology. I loved studying anatomy and physiology, and am fascinated by the human body. My passion for working with kids and Spanish might lead me to pursue some type of Doctors Without Borders pediatric work in Central or South America or Spain …
It can be overwhelming sometimes, but it makes me who I am. I couldn’t stop doing any one of the things I do. I love visual art. I love playing music. I love sports. And, I love community service and working with children. I think it’s great that I was encouraged to pursue many things from the beginning at Brooklyn Waldorf, because now I have the skills to manage all of my interests.
“Good foundation” is the perfect way to put it. At Brooklyn Waldorf, the natural world was woven into our experiences which I appreciated since the city can be a bit isolating sometimes. I love how things inside the school are made from nature. Today, my friends in high school are surprised when I tell them I’ve worked with wool or that I went to a farm, sheared sheep and made it into yarn, or that I learned how to make wooden tools, or fires out in the woods. Experiences like these that I received from Brooklyn Waldorf have been empowering!