Still singing at work after all these years

Ruth Ker has been teaching the Waldorf system in the valley for 30 years. - Krista Siefken
Ruth Ker has been teaching the Waldorf system in the valley for 30 years.
— image credit: Krista Siefken

A day at the office for Ruth Ker includes singing and dancing in a playground surrounded by trees, chirping birds and laughing children.

Ker, of course, is a founding teacher at Sunrise Waldorf, where she teaches kindergarten students at the alternative school.

Many of those kids, in fact, are the children of others she’s taught in her 30 years at Sunrise Waldorf.

Ker worked in mainstream early childhood education for eight years before helping pioneer Waldorf’s south Cowichan elementary school in 1980.

And she’s never looked back.

“I really feel this curriculum meets the needs of children at all stages of development,” she says. “I love working with this curriculum. It allows children to have their childhood, and take the time they need to develop.”

And she sees the results every day, in her students past and present.

“When I see children thriving, when I see that they’re not being pushed, or subdued — it’s a delight, every day. It keeps me young.”

Ker was recently recognized for her three decades of service at Waldorf.

She also serves as a board member for The Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America, and as a co-director of the Westcoast Institute for Studies in Anthroposophy, where she helps train other early childhood teachers.

“I never imagined I would have that experience, and I feel so met, and so rewarded for my service,” Ker said.

She sees the fruits of her labour every day at the school.

“We’re making real strides,” Ker said. “We have a social health group for students, and there’s such harmony on our grounds. The teachers are so gifted artistically, academically, and musically, and when students graduate they have an excellent academic education, but can also do all kinds of artistic things in their lives.”

Most graduates, Ker said, can play at least two instruments, plus paint, draw, carve, knit, crochet and sew.

“It develops their souls,” said Ker of the Waldorf model, “as well as their minds and bodies.”

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