Cairn Hill An Educational Collaborative

Cairn Hill is an after school program that seeks to enrich the education of children in underserved communities

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The trails just outside our doorstep are perfect for daily nature walks


For more information, please contact Evelyne Hebrault

Cairn Hill has had a very eventful year.  We have signed a long-term lease on
a spectacularly situated property that is surrounded by acres of lovely woodlands
and ponds.

We have hired staff, including a director and teacher.

We are delighted to introduce…

Evelyne Hebrault
School Director

Meet Evelyne Hebrault, the new director of Cairn Hill Nature Preschool. Evelyne is originally from Southern France. She is a graduate of the University of Montpellier where she trained to become a special needs educator.

In 2002, she moved to the US with her husband and young daughter, and continued to pursue her educational interests - initially as a volunteer in the public schools, and later as a teacher and director of a Boston area preschool. Through her teaching experiences, Evelyne developed a growing interest in nature and outdoor activities and their impact on the physical and emotional development of children. Evelyne speaks Spanish, as well as French and English and is interested in culture and diversity. She is now very excited to be the director of the Cairn Hill Nature Preschool and to be able to participate in the creation and development of this new Waldorf-inspired nature program.

Tara Nichol
Waldorf/Nature Teacher

Our new Waldorf teacher is Tara Nichol.  Tara is from Seattle, Washington but has Lynn roots, as Lynn is her father’s hometown. Tara received a B.A. in Environmental Education from Western Washington University.  She was inspired by the Waldorf Schools she encountered while teaching outdoor education and decided to pursue training as a Waldorf teacher.  She is currently finishing her M. Ed. at Antioch University New England. Tara has extensive experience working with children with special needs in a Waldorf context.  She also speaks Spanish and was a founding teacher at a small, multilingual Waldorf initiative in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Tara has a passion for the healing power of Waldorf Education and is excited to be a part of Cairn Hill Nature Preschool.

The site is transforming every day, and it is very exciting!

The Cairn Hill team has been hard at work preparing the classrooms and playgrounds for opening day.

You can follow this transformation on our blog:
Check out our Facebook page too!

Visit our preschool website


Stay tuned!


As we shift our focus exclusively to preschool education, Cairn Hill has reflected on our 5 years of providing afterschool enrichment to English language learners in Malden. Through our Arts Innovation Programs, we were able to offer innovative programming within public school settings while learning ourselves how to weave Waldorf teaching practices into more formalized academics. We are gratified to realize that we have touched the lives of over 120 children, providing creative ways of learning that extended and enhanced our students’ academic engagement. We are grateful to the teachers, administrators and funders who have made this possible and look forward to our next chapter of bringing Waldorf inspired education to new communities!

Spring Arts Session

As spring emerged, dedicated teachers Mary Mansur and Patti Mendelson led our K-2 afterschool students in Malden’s Linden STEAM Academy in animal explorations, hands-on learning and rich artistic content. The students heard lovely animal stories enriched by puppet plays of Rabbit Moon, Rooster’s One Man Band and springtime nature tales.

The children learned how to transform simple socks and sand into rabbits, and even sewed on the fluffy tail developing  a sense of creativity and fine motor dexterity.  They developed perseverance transforming thin strands of yarn into thick finger knitted lengths, then coiling them into turtle carapaces. Math and measuring skills were used to discover that 82’ of single strand becomes 22’ of thick braid!

April brought the chance to extend learning outdoors into the garden beds, planting various seeds: lettuce, peas, pumpkins, nasturtium, carrots and even marigolds from last year’s flowers, teaching the cycle of life.  Tending the garden and thinning the seedlings, one student discovered that, “Most of the plant is under the ground!” Watching the explosive heads of allium blossoms emerge brought amazement as did learning that they are related to onions, chives and scallions!

Since our goal is to offer a balance to desk learning, the teachers added opportunities for the children to stretch their limbs and enjoy the warming sun and fresh breezes. Jump roping, Frisbee toss, schoolyard soccer and creating swing ropes rounded out the children’s need for healthy physical activity.

Snack time served as a community builder, time for reflection and springboard for discussion on manners, kindness and fairness as well as problem solving :on how to divide the last of the yummy snacks provided by the teachers, often home baked!

As the school year ended, another garden bed and birdhouse had been added to the schoolyard by teachers at the Linden STEAM Academy. We were delighted to see that our vision of extending the learning outside of the classroom isnto hands-on education had spread. Knowing this, we gratefully transferred  our two garden plots to a second grade teacher at the Linden STEAM Academy who will carry on the school gardening program. Our endeavor will now focus on working with preschoolers in the diverse city of Lynn as we launch our new Cairn Hill Nature Preschool for working families there. THANK YOU MALDEN!

FALL Arts Session continued

Master gardeners, Patti Mendelson and Mary Mansur, introduced Cairn Hill’s Arts Innovation afterschool class to delights of the garden and the worlds of imagination and creativity.

On the grounds of Malden’s Linden STEAM Academy, the k-2nd graders discovered broccoli on the stalk in their own school yard! They learned that flavors of leaves change according to leaf size, which parts of the plant are edible (yes, we can eat those nice orange flowers!) and proudly brought home produce to share. They created compost and learned that it serves as food for the plants. In November, they blanketed the school plots with salt marsh hay to insulate and warm the soil over the winter to protect the hardy plants and bulbs – an early model of environmental protection!

This fall’s Arts Innovation students took pride in their outdoor space. Unhappy with the amount of litter they found, they took it upon themselves to clean it up, unbidden by the teachers.

In the classroom, they extended their academic vocabulary skills through stories brought by master puppeteer, Mary, and enjoyed Patti’s many different craft projects. These offerings: paint, beeswax modeling, weaving, finger knitting, wax leaf dipping and more, fostered their creativity and dexterity while exposing them to different artistic media.

The class members from Brazil, Morocco, India, Columbia and the US socialized over a healthy snack provided by the teachers including salad, vegan brownies, and warm waffles. A daily exercise in mindfulness and gratitude:

“Thank you for the food before us; thank you for the friends beside us.
Thank you for the joy within. Thank you for our snack!”

A cooperative Thanksgiving feast brought international offerings from each child’s home to cap off the fall session – a delightful finale!

SPRING Arts Session

Cairn Hill teachers, Carol Ryan, Uschi Kullmann and Nancy Bell have brought the springtime alive for our after school English language learners.

The children experienced the delight of seeing the bulbs they planted last fall emerge and blossom, then planted seeds, watched, watered and mulched the tender seedlings. In time they tasted, harvested, and shared with their appreciative families.

As the birds outside were building nests, so the teachers taught the children to how to construct a weaving, making brightly colored dream catchers. They showed the children how to explore other artistic media making colorful felted wool snakes, paper flowers, origami butterflies and little birds to take home. The children learned to finger knit and industriously knit long lengths of woolen cables developing dexterity and perseverance at the same time.


Founders and Board Members
The Lion King - a roaring success!

Once again, Cairn Hill is grateful to the Waldorf School of Lexington for sharing their art with the Linden STEAM Academy.

On April 6th, Tara DeNatale's Waldorf eighth graders performed "The Lion King" for Linden STEAM Academy students - a superb show, both familiar and excitingly new in its live presentation. The young actors presented the show brilliantly and creatively, and transported the audience members with them into the African Savanna and beyond!

Many thanks to teacher Tara DeNatale and her class for this terrific outreach exchange between Waldorf School of Lexington and the Malden STEAM Academy.

FALL Arts Session —In the Teachers’ Words

The New England fall has been glorious this year and our creative and enthusiastic Cairn Hill teachers Nancy Bell and Carol Ryan have delighted students with activities focused on the beauty and rhythms of this colorful season. Below, the teachers describe some of the lively experiences the program offered.

Cocktail Reception
We had a picnic snack outside by our gardens today. I brought in two of my hens. The students fed them corn and other vegetables. Nancy told the story of Henny Penny. Read more

Cocktail Reception
Today I brought my great-grandfather’s 100 yr old cider press to school. Carol brought two bushels of apples. We made fresh apple cider with the children.

Our goal was to have the students experience making apple cider, which is a New England fall tradition. The children learned about taking turns, the sequence of operating the press, and then the joys of tasting fresh cider! They had several cups each and enjoyed sharing the extra with their delighted parents at pick-up time. It was a great day.

Cocktail Reception
This afternoon, we stayed indoors and worked on dramatic play and storytelling, due to the cold and rainy weather.

We then sat in a circle and I gave each child a vocabulary card. We chose the cards that involved some sort of gesture, such as “timid” or “boast” or “arrive.”We brainstormed ways to act them out. Then we scrambled the cards and each child got to pick one and hide it from the others. They took turns acting them out and having the others guess the word. They enjoyed this very much. Then they took turns telling two-minute stories.

Family Concert and Barn Dance

Cairn Hill held its third annual fall fundraiser at the historic Scout House in Concord, Massachusetts. Featured performers were Hanneke Cassel and Christopher Lewis, the O’Shea Chaplin Academy of Irish Dance, and the Scottish Fish. We are so grateful for this community of friends who not only shared their musical talents, but also came together to listen and dance in support of Cairn Hill. It was a joyous evening!

Family Concert

Katie Bell and Hanneke Cassel
Katie Bell and Hanneke Cassel

Chaplin Irish Dance
The O’Shea Chaplin Academy of Irish Dance

Family Concert
Barn Dance!

Family Concert
Form the arch and…

Family Concert
swing your partner!

Family Concert
The Scottish Fish

View Slideshow



We are located in Lynn, Massachusetts, a Gateway City with an impressive mixture of ethnicities, income levels and languages. Lynn boasts a rare and majestic expanse of 2,200 acres at Lynn Woods, many ponds and marshlands, and the Atlantic ocean at its feet — the perfect location for a nature preschool.

The Cairn Hill Nature Preschool offers children a comprehensive foundation for school success, with explicit instruction in literacy, math and science.

Arts-integrated Learning

Our developmentally appropriate curriculum features:

  • language arts through storytelling, puppetry, and music, and arts through painting, clay modeling and crafts
  • nature education through nature walks, and rain or shine outdoor exploration and play
  • a hands-on gardening program

Cairn Hill Nature Preschool is a year round program, offering full and partial-day enrollment for working parents, and a tiered tuition scale. We also provide parent support programs.

Ready for Kindergarten!

The children who attend Cairn Hill’s Nature Preschool will arrive in kindergarten with solid academics, minds free to inquire and learn, bodies strong and able to work, hands ready to create, and hearts open to others and to the wonders of nature.These balanced children will be well prepared for kindergarten — and life!

Our Unique Curriculum

Cairn Hill provides quality, holistic learning opportunities to children who would not otherwise have access to them. Our unique “hybridized” curriculum is both inspired by the principles of Waldorf education, and informed by the Common Core State Standards. Because many of the children we serve have recently arrived to the United States and are learning ESL, our curriculum emphasizes vocabulary and language development.

Our programs offer a full exploration of artistic media projects, integrated with stories that incorporate academic vocabulary. Cairn Hill has published a collection of original stories used in our programs called The Art of Word Weaving (pictured to the left).

Children in our programs spend signi cant time outdoors. Research has demonstrated that active outdoor time fosters social-emotional development, autonomy, helps to develop the key learning skill of executive function, and can be therapeutic in addressing attention de cit disorders.

Being outdoors provides a wonderful context for inquiry- based and STEM learning.

Our gardening programs involve children actively in the growing, harvesting and preparation of nutritious meals and supports the development of lifelong healthy eating habits.

Nature-based Education

Nature-based education is promoted by the Natural Start Alliance and the Children and Nature Network which support young children’s connection to nature and environmental awareness. For more information, visit and

Waldorf Education

Waldorf education is an independent school movement with over 120 schools in the US and 1000 worldwide. Through arts-integrated academics for children from preschool through high school that enhances and enriches learning,Waldorf education aims to inspire lifelong learning in all students and to enable them to fully develop their unique capacities. To learn more, visit

Parents Speak

"I’m just really proud of how much my Julian has learned. We really appreciate your dedication and attentiveness to the kids…and a special thank you for making it affordable".

"[My son] has really enjoyed the variety of projects he has participated in. He has had fun while learning – the best kind!"

"The kids enjoy the outdoor activities where they learn a lot about nature and environment. I strongly recommend the program."

Founders and Board Members
Fine weather and breezy, sunny days encouraged the teachers to spend afternoons
outside playing games and enjoying healthy picnic snacks.

After school Arts in Malden FALL Arts Session —In the Teachers’ Words cont.

Tuesday: The afternoon was warm and breezy and the group ran around in a flock chasing a soccer ball, rolling down the hill and enjoying playing in a group.

The students painted paper leaves in autumn hues today. The Stockmar pigments are so very beautiful and the leaves were cut from a special paper that allows the colors to blend. The children painted with delight and each had a packet of leaves to bring home.

Beeswax day. Working in beeswax always requires patience and perseverance, and then once the wax is warm the magic begins.

The children love to jump rope. It’s amazing how quickly they are improving! The first time we did it, the children could barely manage a few times over the rope. Now, they can all do at least 10 jumps and four of the boys did more than 20! They were so happy to see their own progress.

Today we learned a little song about leaves called “Leaves are Falling,” which has a verse about all the colors of the leaves “…yellow, orange, red, brown/tumbling to the ground…” Some learned the words (all the second graders); the rest picked up the melody. We sang as we were painting.

We continue to discuss the rhythm of seasons and how this season is about finishing summer (trees letting go of leaves and harvesting apples, etc. ) and also about preparing for Spring (by planting bulbs). Winter is about rest. These are the rhythms of the earth that we call their attention to again and again.

Conclusion: It’s been a good session with fine weather and happy children!

Purple Flower

After school Arts in Malden

SPRiNG Arts Session I—Lessons in Metamorphisis

During Session I, the children and teachers witnessed the transformation of their own surroundings, and then learned about this magical process through the study of the life cycle of the butterfly.

Immersed at the outset in a historically cold and snowy winter in the Boston area, teachers Nancy Bell and Patty Crotty incorporated the drama of the local weather into several early lessons, and creatively provided opportunities for indoor play through such fun games as “Mr. Fox” and tip-toe relay races :)

As the snows melted and the temperatures warmed, places important to the children: the outdoor playground and the SPRiNG Arts garden plot, began to transform—spring had arrived! Teachers now created lessons related to this wondrous season, including several on butterfly metamorphosis and its place in the natural rhythms of nature. Read more

Lexington Waldorf School presents the musical “Spangola” at the Linden STEAM Academy in Malden

In early April, Lexington Waldorf teacher Helena Niiva’s sixth graders performed an original musical, Going to Spangola, at the Linden STEAM Academy in Malden, MA. Going to Spangola features a spirited and imaginative orphan, Lucy, who entertains her friends with tales of adventures in a magical land—a land that turns out to be real! Based on a poem by Kate Snow, this fantastical play was written by Liz Duffy Adams and delightfully set to music by Waldorf chorus teacher Chris Eastburn.

The Waldorf performers were received with great enthusiasm by the Linden School audience of over 100 fifth graders and their teachers. The audience members were engaged and attentive throughout, leaning forward in their seats to catch every detail, snapping their fingers along with the cast during the jazzier songs and sharing long applause at the finale. Linden School fifth grade teacher, Kathy Cutting warmly thanked the Waldorf troupe for their performance and invited them to “come back any time!” The experience was equally positive for the Waldorf students. According to teacher Helena Niiva, “The children and I were very happy to be able to expand and experience a little beyond our ‘walls’-- this was a very meaningful and motivating community outreach project for us.”

Cairn Hill thanks all who supported this exciting exchange, especially Kathy Cutting of the Linden School, and Helena Niiva, Chris Eastburn, and Stephanie Otto Orvik of the Waldorf school. Special thanks to the Waldorf sixth graders for traveling to a neighboring community and gladly showcasing their talents and Waldorf’s rich arts offerings.


High drama in the land of Spangola!

Taking a bow: Waldorf sixth grade teacher, Helena Niiva, with her class
An appreciative Linden School audience

SPRiNG Arts Session I—Lessons in Metamorphosis

During Session I, the children and teachers witnessed the transformation of their own surroundings and then learned about this magical process through the study of the life cycle of the butterfly.

Immersed at the outset in a historically cold and snowy winter in the Boston area, teachers Nancy Bell and Patty Crotty incorporated the drama of the local weather into several early lessons, and creatively provided opportunities for indoor play through such fun games as “Mr. Fox” and tiptoe relay races :)

As the snows melted and the temperatures warmed, places important to the children: the outdoor playground and the SPRiNG Arts garden plot, began to transform—spring had arrived! Teachers now created lessons related to this wondrous season, including several on butterfly metamorphosis and its place in the natural rhythms of nature.

As teacher Nancy Bell explains: Sometimes what appears as “struggle” to us is actually necessary! I told a story about a man who loved butterflies so much. One day, he came across a chrysalis and waited to see the butterfly hatch. He waited a long, long time. There was a tiny little hole at the end. He could peer through and see the butterfly inside struggling and pushing to come out. Still, it did not come out. The man decided to “help” the butterfly by gently tearing open the cocoon and helping the butterfly out. To his surprise, its wings were all shriveled and could not work. He learned that the butterfly needed to push very hard to get itself out of its cocoon. Making its heart beat very hard in the struggle forces the blood into the wings which extends them and makes them able to fly.

To reinforce the concept that nature has a rhythm and that all things take the time they need, the children played a traditional African stone passing game to the tune of Ghanian song “Obiswana” –for this game to work the students needed to be in rhythm. They then invented a new game: the Chrysalis Game! Students took turns as caterpillars transforming within a cocoon of colorful silk scarves.

Teacher Nancy Bell and students play the Chrysalis Game

Embedded in the butterfly story and games were a number of academic vocabulary words the children learned and practiced: chrysalis, metamorphosis, bloom, develop, cocoon, growth, habitat and nectar.

In an activity new to our program, the **Two-Minute Story,**children took turns telling a story related to caterpillars/butterflies using as many of these vocabulary words as they could. They found this low-key performance opportunity hugely entertaining! This is a fun activity that is at the same time extremely helpful for the language development of English Learners.

SPRiNG Arts art teacher Patty Crotty designed projects to reinforce the meanings of the new vocabulary words, and to extend thematic content by teaching about butterfly habitats and about symmetry in nature, as evidenced in the beautiful patterns of butterfly wings. The children drew butterfly habitats on large pieces of paper, including caterpillars, leaves, twigs and chrysalises in their drawings. They then created splendid butterflies to place in their habitats.

As a culminating activity, the students made chrysalises with twigs and yarn. In Patty’s words:

To go along with a lesson on butterflies and metamorphosis, we made chrysalises by wrapping twigs with yarns and strings of different colors and textures. They were encouraged to mix the colors and keep wrapping until they felt that the chrysalis was complete. The students were able to choose from a wide variety of materials to wrap their twigs in. They used scissors to cut the yarn and string, and kept building on their yarn sculptures until they felt they were a good combination of colors and textures. This activity encouraged the development of hand-eye coordination and an appreciation of color and form. We talked about the role of the chrysalis in the butterfly life cycle, which was presented in the lesson.

Art fun with teacher Patty Crotty

It was a great SPRiNG Arts I session!

After School Arts in Malden 

Cairn Hill will once again offer our Arts Innovation programs at the Linden STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) Academy in Malden. The Linden is distinct among Malden public schools in its STEAM focus. The conversion of the Linden to a STEAM Academy is a relatively recent development, described by principal Richard Bransfield in this way:

The Linden School will become the Linden S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) Academy; a school that will place more of a focus on “hands on” project based learning. As the famous quote goes: “When I hear, I forget. When I see, I remember. When I do, I learn.” We believe that taking a hands-on approach will benefit all the learning styles we have amongst Linden’s diverse population. We also believe that by integrating the arts, and literacy into subject areas like science and social studies; our children will have a more well-rounded knowledge base that will place them ahead of their peers in our quest to produce 21stcentury learners. (July 2, 2012)

The hands-on, arts-integrated approach of the Linden STEAM Academy is wholly compatible with Cairn Hill’s mission, and we are pleased to be involved in this collaboration.

Cairn Hill is pleased to announce…

We have hired two highly qualified teachers for our upcoming SPRiNG Arts programs! Nancy Bell is a professional singer/storyteller and Patty Crotty is an accomplished artist. We welcome them to the Cairn Hill team!

Cocktail Reception and Curriculum Launch

Cairn Hill held its second annual rooftop party in the beautiful back bay area of Boston, Massachusetts to celebrate the publication of our curriculum The Art of Word Weaving. We warmly thank all who came out to support our programs and to enjoy delicious food, great prizes, and the lively Celtic music of the Scottish Fish! Read more

The Scottish Fish with Katie McNally

Co-founder and board member Daniel Bekele with Cairn Hill friend Sam Polyak

Cairn Hill board member Lilly Siu checks for rain… and finds it! The party moves inside—come join us!

View Slideshow

ARTS Innovation—Cairn Hill completed its third after school  offering this Spring at the Linden S.T.E.A.M Academy, an Innovation School in Malden, MA. The school, which  specializes in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math with the addition of  the Arts, invited Cairn Hill to present its new ARTS Innovation curriculum to a group of to K-2nd grade English language learners. Over the 11-week session, students were introduced to a  full array of artistic projects accompanied by lively stories and vocabulary instruction presented using Waldorf teaching methods. Themes of the natural world which complemented their academic content formed the basis of the curriculum. The children were  introduced to the concept of life cycles by building and planting a school garden and their parents were delighted to bring home a bunch of fresh picked greens for supper as the garden matured! They experienced springtime sights and sounds with plenty of nature games and discoveries and a special visit from a mother goat and her four kids!  Teachers Paula Jordan and Carol Ryan introduced them to a Waldorf style learning experience throughout the session.


Cairn Hill will be expanding its offerings for the Linden School community in 2014-5 with its SPRiNG Arts curriculum with plans for another collaborative concert with the students of the Waldorf School of Lexington and a Family Arts Festival for the parent community. 

after school arts after school arts after school arts after school arts after school arts after school arts
after school arts after school arts
after school arts

April 28 Forum —Forum on Waldorf Public Education 


On April 28, 2014 Cairn Hill hosted a public meeting on the future of arts-infused Waldorf education in public schools:  The Intersection of Waldorf Education and the Charter School Movement in the US and Massachusetts. The open forum was held at the Arlington Senior Center in Arlington MA and featured two expert speakers: Rainbow Rosenbloom and Frank DeVito. Mr. Rosenbloom is an expert on the expansion of Waldorf education into the public arena and Vice President for the Alliance for Public Waldorf Education in Sacramento, CA. Mr. DeVito, is an local expert on Massachusetts school reform and President of Fenix Center for Innovative Schools in Lynn, MA. The meeting and discussion were well attended and sparked much interest in bringing  arts-rich Waldorf educational options to more families in Massachusetts. The evening included a showing of the newly released DVD,  Considering Waldorf: Changing Perspectives on Education (also available on vimeo) by Eugene Schwarz, a renowned Waldorf School educator and advocate. Cairn Hill was pleased to offer this opportunity to increase awareness of Waldorf education  and to serve as a catalyst for the expansion the reach of Waldorf ideas into the charter and autonomous school movement. 

Collaborative School Concert

  Cairn Hill Concert

On May 22nd, 2014, Cairn Hill was pleased to offer a collaborative concert featuring the students of Cairn Hill's ARTS Innovation after school program at the Malden Linden STEAM Academy with the 7th and 8th orchestra from the Lexington Waldorf School.  The young K-2 after school students sang their well practiced rendition of "Spring is coming" and were followed by the youth orchestra playing several pieces ranging from Gustave Mahler to Pete Seeger. The concert was attended by a full auditorium of enthusiastic K-6th grade Linden School students whose foot stomping and hand clapping showed their pleasure.  This initial exchange between the two schools was reported in the Malden Observer on June 6, 2014 as an enthusiastic success, hopefully the first of many.

Published in the Malden Observer
June 6, 2014
Arts and Innovation at the Linden STEAM Academy

The ‘A’ in STEAM at the Linden STEAM Academy (LSA) shined brightly this week when students from the Arts Innovation Afterschool Program joined visiting students from the Waldorf School of Lexington (WSL) for a musical performance. Led by their Arts Innovation teachers Paula Jordan and Carol Ryan, a group of LSA’s kindergarten, first and second graders started off the performance with a rendition of “Spring is Coming.” They were followed by WSL’s orchestra, conducted by Leah Bartell, who performed several pieces by Gustav Mahler. Glenn Dickson and the chamber orchestra shared a number of 400 year old dances with the students, and the event closed with the WSL’s chorus singing Pete Seeger and Lee Hays’ “If I Had a Hammer.”

The event was orchestrated by the Linden STEAM Academy’s Sonia Miller, Kathy Cutting, and Cheryl Dressler from Cairn Hill. Cairn Hill is the educational collaborative that brought the Arts Innovation program to the Linden STEAM Academy. The collaborative’s focus is to provide high quality arts-based instruction to children in urban communities using the Waldorf teaching methodology and themes the students learn about in class. The shared vision of learning through creativity has made the program a welcome and popular addition to LSA’s afternoon options.

Despite the difference in today’s music, the decades and centuries that separate the students from the composers seemed to disappear. Feet tapped and hands clapped enthusiastically while the students listened to the performances. Whether it was the strong beat of the 400 year old-chamber music, the quick step of the Romantic-era dances or the harmonies of the rallying American folk-music, students were impressed, and connected to the music created by their peers. As one kindergarten student put it: “It was so fanciful!” All participants hope this will be the first of many endeavors together.

Cairn Hill Concert

Color in Winter, a Doffie event

Color in Winter Doffie Studio Fundraiser EventOn March 2, Cairn Hill hosted a lovely reception and art sale, Color in Winter, at the studio of Dorothy “Doffie” Arnold, a prolific and well known local artist. Her family had graciously offered to donate 80% of the sale of any of her paintings to Cairn Hill. Cairn Hill was invited to participate in this pay-it-forward event along with several other Boston area non-profits whose missions align with Dorothy’s core values. We enjoyed a lovely afternoon of music, wine and delightful treats in the presence of vibrant and colorful artwork while offering our supporters to purchase original artwork ‘for a cause.’ Many thanks to the Arnold family, especially Doffie’s son David, to project administrator Mallika Sundaramurthy, to Anna Giacomo and friends for the fine catering, to John Haibler and the musicians for the terrific musical accompaniment and to our committee, Cheryl Dressler, Caitlin McCoy, Kristen Bray and Margaret Ris and many other friends and supporters.

Cairn Hill supporters are invited to browse Doffie’s site ( Her paintings will continue to be available for on-line purchase or by contacting the project administrator and making an appointment to view her work.


Doffie logo Overview of a special space


Cairn Hill principals: Karen Swyers, Publisher, Caitlin McCoy, Lilly Siu, Cheryl Dressler, Margaret Ris, Jaquelin Harris and Kristin Bray  Rainer Dressler and Margaret Ryding
Cairn hill principals: Karen Swyers, Publisher, Caitlin McCoy, Lilly Siu, Cheryl Dressler, Margaret Ris, Jaquelin Harris and Kristin Bray Rainer Dressler and Margaret Ryding

Sharing a laugh David Arnold and Cheryl Dressler

Taking a music break to share a laugh David Arnold and Cheryl Dressler

Cheryl Dressler, Margaret Ris, Maria Perez engaging with Liz Drury Beautiful spread to rival the artwork

Cheryl Dressler, Margaret Ris, Maria Perez engaging with Liz Drury Beautiful spread to rival the artwork

Alliance Conference

In January, 2014, several of our founders and founding board member, Maria Perez attended a conference entitled "The Social Mission of Public Waldorf Schools and Communities" presented by the Alliance for Public Waldorf Education. They joined another 150 educators from across the United States in Sacramento, CA for the conference and post conference with Eugene Schwarz. While in California, they also met with key Waldorf educators who have spearheaded the public Waldorf school effort onthe West Coast, including Dr. Ida Oberman and Rainbow Rosenbloom. They made a site visit to Dr. Obermans's school, the Community School for Creative Education, in Oakland, CA.

Winter Solstice Spiral at the Community School for Creative Education, Oakland, CA
Winter Solstice Spiral at the Community School for Creative Education, Oakland, CA



September, 2013 Roof-top Fundraiser

On September 15th, we held our first Rooftop Fundraiser in Boston's historic Back Bay hosted by board member, Jaquelin Harris. On a sparkling autumn day, friends and supporters of Cairn Hill gathered to learn about Cairn Hill's pilot year at the Salemwood School in Malden and hear from teachers and board membersabout how Cairn Hill has affected the lives of the the 18 immigrant children weserved during the year. Attendeesmingled to the lilting tones of the fiddling quintet, TheScottish Fish,made up of 9-13 year old delightful musicians,who added level of festivity to the gathering. Loyal supporter Jeff Ask was the luckywinner the raffle prize: a limosine ride in a Tesla electric vehicle. The generosity of supporters that day helped us realize our goal of matching a $7,000 challenge grant offered by an anonymous donor at the Boston Foundation.

Board members Sam Polyak, Daniel Bekele, Jaquelin Harris, Cheryl Dressler and Margaret Ris at the September Cairn Hill Roof-top Fundraiser

Board members Sam Polyak, Daniel Bekele, Jaquelin Harris, Cheryl Dressler and Margaret Ris at the September Cairn Hill Roof-top Fundraiser

The Scottish Fish

The Scottish Fish


Field Trip

In June, 2013, we capped off our pilot year at the Salemwood School with a field trip to Charles Ro Train Store, the world's biggest model train store. This store is located in Malden, only 1 1/2 blocks from the our school site. Rain did not deter- we taught the children to be resourceful and created our own slickers from black plastic bags then huddled under colorful umbrellas to walk to the store. The children had heard stories about the history of Malden - beginning with its Native American heritage through colonial times up to the building of the city, including the rail (orange) line in use today. Singing "I've been working on the railroad" while stomping to its 1-2 beat, we all enjoyed the culminating journey as well as the destination - an analogy of our year together!

Teacher Margaret Ris and children stay dry

Teacher Margaret Ris and children stay dry

Volunteer Shai Dinnar points out something interesting

Volunteer Shai Dinnar points out something interesting



Our curriculum project, The Art of Word Weaving, is now in its final stage of graphic design in the hands of our wonderful graphic artist, Karen Swyers. She will be helping us produce an ebook and a run of print copies of our pilot year curriculum. Karen has graciously volunteered her time to set the text and to develop illustrations for the 10 stories we created using targeted vocabulary chosen for English language learners. We anticipate publication in early 2014. Renewed thanks to our Kickstarter supporters who funded the curriculum project. Stay tuned for publication news!