A Country that Brings People Together
(from: Waldorf Education Worldwide, pp. 56-57, Note the Copyright!)
The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg lies between Germany, Belgium and France and likes to call itself the “green heart of Europe” which attracts many tourists. Waldorf Education was made known in Luxembourg through the lectures of Professor Dr Ernst Schuberth of the Mannheim Waldorf Teacher Training Seminar. After one of those lectures in the Casino de Bonnevoie, Raymond di Ronco, one of the 60-strong audience, stood up and declared in a firm voice: “A Waldorf School is possible in Luxembourg!” Another two years went by before the first kindergarten was opened.
The language of Luxembourg unites
Young parents met with some anthroposophists in a working group at Limpertsberg. Most participants in this parents’ initiative knew nothing about the fundamentals of Waldorf Education, so an initiative circle was formed to study it. Preparations were made for a Christmas bazaar to raise funds for the planned Waldorf Kindergarten. It took place in November 1981 at the home of the Reimer family and was a great success. It proved to be a meeting place for people from various countries and walks of life who, while differing in their political views and religious persuasion, all had the welfare of their children at heart. There was something that set this parents’ initiative apart from other Waldorf School foundations, and that was the language of Luxembourg. It was an essential element in the kindergarten and the early classes in the school. In Germany and elsewhere many parents’ initiatives have led to the founding of a Waldorf School. But here there was a shortage of trained Waldorf teachers and all the places at the college for anthroposophical education were full. Fortunately the founding teacher, Raymond di Ronco, had already taken up his studies at the Mannheim Waldorf Teacher Training Seminar in 1981. In September 1981 contact was made with the Waldorf School at Trier, where a parent initiative had led to a kindergarten being founded in 1978 and a school in 1980. Delegates from the initiative circle visited schools in France and Germany, especially the Saarland. The official founding ceremony of the Association for Waldorf Education in Luxembourg took place in November 1982 at Limpertsberg. About 200 persons were present, including Madame Lydie Wurth-Polfer, mayor of the city of Luxembourg and foreign minister at the time. Prior to this the local council had placed some space in a school building at the association’s disposal.
The Waldorf Kindergarten was festively opened in September 1983 by kindergarten teachers Gaby Jacoby and Angelika Regenwetter-Kofler. One year later, accompanied by their class teacher Raymond di Ronco, 18 children, 9 in Class 1 and 9 in Class 2, finally moved into classrooms at Weimerskirch where the Lëtzebuerg Waldorf School had found its first home.
Bureaucracy set aside
The foundation stone for the present school building was laid in 1991. This was made possible by the hard work of many participants, by the good relations some of the teachers had with the relevant ministries and by the fact that the Minister for Buildings at the time acted quickly and unbureaucratically. The land and the building were provided by the state. Thus began a busy life in rooms which had previously housed first the European Court and then Euro Control. Walls were painted and lazured before the festive opening at Easter 1993 at which, once again, many representatives of public life were present. At that point the school had about 200 pupils and 20 teachers.
No shortage of crises
Then came the inevitable crisis, as happens in most Waldorf Schools around the world caused, as so often, mainly by the financial situation brought about by faulty assessment on the part of the teachers as to what their personal needs would be and of the parents as to what contributions they would be prepared to make.
Through strenuous effort on the part of all those involved coupled with professional guidance by Michael Harslem success was finally achieved in giving the school the necessary structures, a modern contractual system (work, contribution and school contracts) and an exemplary salary structure, thereby placing the Lëtzebuerg Waldorf School on a sure footing.
In 2001 the school had 300 pupils (rising) in three kindergarten groups, two playgroups for children under 3, and Classes 1 to 10, as well as afternoon activities such as swimming, craft work, silk painting etc. In Class 10 pupils are prepared for transition to the state system or the Waldorf School at Trier. A new proposition for the middle school was put in place for the 2000/01 school year: at the pilot stage the “afternoon project” is up and running with course offers in sport, recorder playing, Irish dancing and much else.
So far, so good, but what of the future? Work is going ahead to build the upper school with the aim of starting Class 11 in the 2002/03 school year. Since the city of Luxembourg is planning to run a road through the school building, the coming years will require collaboration with the relevant ministries to find a location for a new school which will need to be built. Once this has taken place it is hoped that the Lëtzebuerg Waldorf School will have the full 12 classes totalling about 450 pupils.
KLAUS G. BEESKOW
Klaus G. Beeskow
Since 1997, business manager at the Lëtzebuerg Waldorf School.