It’s a Gift…to be Simple

Chickadees enjoying their crackling campfire

Recently, I was thinking fondly about our school gatherings and how we traditionally end our assemblies with the song Simple Gifts. It’s a great American folk song of Shaker origin that has been widely sung in concert halls, schools, colleges, churches, folk clubs and even at three different Presidential Inaugurations in Washington. D.C. It made me wonder why there is so much beauty in simplicity and why we are so attracted by it. When something is stripped down to it’s essence it allows us to focus on what is necessary and what is true. We spend a lot of time in our busy lives maintaining our material possessions, working long hours, rushing, scheduling and juggling commitments and lengthy to-do lists. We are often swept along by social expectations and social media. Our mental climate has become one that is constantly bombarded by input. All of this can feel pretty complicated and overwhelming.  Simplicity is the antidote  because it lets us focus on what’s most important to us while letting go of the rest. I am always amazed when I go camping how everything I actually need is in my tent….food, a warm sleeping bag, my clothes, shelter and the people I love…or how staring into a crackling fire is endlessly satisfying. It really is ‘a gift to come down where we ought to be….and find ourselves in the place just right’.

-Becky Brownlie (Enrollment & Outreach)

Play is Good For You!

Feeling free

Cats do it, dogs do it, squirrels do it, even octopuses do it…and so do we…play!  Besides improving health, lowering stress and just being plain fun, researchers now believe that play is hardwired deep in our brains and that it has a fundamental role in how we learn and socialize. Play acts to build pro-social brains, social brains that know how to interact with others in positive ways. According to Sergio Pellis, at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, lots of free play in childhood results in significant changes in the prefrontal cortex that help wire up the brain’s executive control center, which has a critical role in regulating emotions, making plans and solving problems. In other words, play is what prepares a young brain for life, love and even schoolwork. What’s more, countries where they actually have more recess tend to have higher academic performance than countries where recess is less. So, ‘go outside and play’ has never sounded better!

-Becky Brownlie (Enrollment & Outreach)

The Promise of Youth

 Our children are the rock on which our future will be built, our greatest asset as a nation. They will be the leaders of our country, the creators of our national wealth who care for and protect our people.  -Nelson Mandela

WHWS Third Graders cleaning & felting wool together

In honor of International Youth Day last Wednesday which seeks to highlight ways that youth engage and enrich society at local, national and global levels, I wanted to reflect on the wisdom of the Waldorf curriculum. At its core it upholds the premise that each child is born unique with special gifts to offer the world. In beauty and in a belief of goodness, children engage with the honesty and truth inherent in nature, with the humanity in each other, and with learning through curiosity and creativity. Children are encouraged to find joy, and self confidence in many ways: through movement (skipping, jumping, balancing, throwing), by making (knitting, stitching, crocheting,  carving, baking, building, painting- if they can make it, they do!), through performance (assemblies, plays, concerts, presentations), through music (flutes, strings, band instruments, singing, choir, drumming). These are just a few of the ways the students learn that they ‘can’. Children that love nature, each other, believe the world is good and know that they can make a difference grow into adults that feel the same way. Nothing can be more important than this. 

-Becky Brownlie (Enrollment & Outreach)

Finding Rhythm

“Everything has rhythm. Everything dances.” ~ Maya Angelou

A quiet moment at Whatcom Falls.

In this time of COVID, where everything seems so upended, I have been thinking a lot about the grounding qualities of rhythm for our children and for ourselves. The grace of universal rhythms is expressed in the changing of the seasons, the phases of the moon, the ebb and flow of the tides, the earth’s rotation, and the beat of your very own heart. There is a lot of research to show that when we create a rhythm in our day for ourselves and our family we help remove a degree of stress. Creating a framework of predictable moments (waking, a contemplative cup of coffee or walk in the woods, sleeping, eating, bathing- at the same time etc.) engages the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) and gives our sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) a break. I’m sure all of us can agree that with all the unpredictability, uncertainty, and stress in the world today, we have been spending a lot of time in sympathetic nervous system land!  Although everyone copes with stress differently, I invite all of us to be inspired to have a routine or rhythm that can help us and our family maintain a sense of normalcy and focus through tough times.

-Becky Brownlie (Enrollment & Outreach)

Finding Community

Sweet moments together during the 2019-20 school year at Whatcom Hills

Yesterday was International Friendship Day which made me think of how important connection is, especially during these strange and challenging times. Things that we took for granted like going out to dinner with a friend,  hugging an aging parent, having a birthday party, or attending a school festival or special event all take on a new significance now.  Although we must all distance for health and safety it is more important than ever to stay connected. We at Whatcom Hills  hope that you are able to find creative ways to reach out to those you love. Send a text or call someone you haven’t connected with for awhile, write an old fashioned letter and send via snail mail to a parent or grandparent, leave flowers on the doorstep of a neighbor, or bake together with friends over zoom. Remember through all of this to be a friend to yourself. Take good care by eating well, getting enough sleep, being kind to yourself and letting go of normal (whatever ‘normal’ is). We will get though this together! 

- Becky Brownlie (Enrollment & Outreach)

Welcome to Our New Website

When our school closed in March due to COVID-19 and we realized that our website would become much more critical with outreach, we decided to create a new site with the help of Alumnus, Dougal Brownlie (aka my son…who I co-opted!) In the past, our WHWS website was graciously created and maintained by parent, James Vierra with the help of Tom Cahill and others, and for that we have been infinitely grateful. We knew that we would need to update information daily and add a lot of new content (eg visual tours etc.) that we could do from the office without inconveniencing James. We hope that you enjoy it!

PS: if you are an Alumni, we would love to hear what you’ve been doing here.

-Becky Brownlie (Enrollment & Outreach)

WHWS 8th Grade Class of 2020 Graduation

On Saturday June 13, 2020 Whatcom Hills Waldorf School had 14 eighth grade graduates take part in an unconventional ceremony. It was a heartfelt day in which students and their families took part in a car parade to celebrate their final day as students, and their first as alumni of Whatcom Hills. Wishing them every success and congratulations to all!


  • Olga Mellor


  • Elias Anderson
  • Forest Bracht
  • Gus Chionis
  • Lucy Donald
  • Nevhye Egging
  • Elinor Hall
  • Pearl Hoats
  • River Mariott
  • Stella Marshall
  • Abigail Ormsby
  • Nathan Picco
  • Jakob Renner
  • Marlena Schroeder Giese
  • Elodie Vierra