The Camphill School History – 2010s

The 2010s are part of our recent history, so it is hard to think about defining moments of that decade in our biography. Many of the current structures, staff members, and students we know today were here during those years. But I dare to say that the 2010s were the last few years of the traditional Camphill Special Schools.
On December 9, 2014, we celebrated our first 50 years! It was a big celebration with the entire community. A pageant was presented, and a time capsule was buried under the bell tower.

In July 2015, our beloved founder, Ursel Pietzner, passed away at the age of 88. The following school year represents the very first time in over 50 years that our new volunteers did not meet any of our founders.
In September of that same year, we celebrated a significant accomplishment for our school. After years of fundraising and a long construction period, the Meadowsweet building was open and running, welcoming our little ones into our Early Childhood program.
I remember a lot of conversations during that time about who we are as a community. Where are we going now, and what is needed of us? Those conversations are still happening today, but one of the changes that came out of it was the official change in our name. In 2018, we officially became The Camphill School, and the President of our Board, Jennifer Nielsen, wrote:

We realize that we are in a new time where perceived segregated settings and “special schools” are not what people want, nor are they what they need. People with intellectual and
developmental disabilities should not be apart from their community, but a part of it. Our
students are valued participants in all aspects of our community, both on-campus and off.
Changing our name reflects society’s and our priorities.
While we have taken the word “Special” out of our name, we are no less special. We still
maintain our founding principles and mission. We continue to strive to be a school and
community where students make progress in their emotional, educational, and physical
development among people who know, understand, and care for them.

I believe that this moment was the initial step in structural and cultural changes that happened over the next few years and are still happening today. Changes are necessary to stay up-to-date with the world that surronds us, but it is a scary process to go through. Even though the school is changing, we continue to try our very best to stay true to the Camphill essence, as created by Dr. Karl König and brought to life by Ursel, and so many other extraordinary individuals since 1963.

This letter from Lainey Moseley, a Camphill School parent, written in 2010, talks a little bit about this essence that we strive to maintain. Love and purpose are at the core of what we do and hopefully you can still see that underlying all the changes the school went through over the last ten years.

When Leta turned 8, we discovered Camphill Special School and we were invited into a world that we never thought possible for our little girl.  It was a place that embraced all that Leta offered. It was not easy sending Leta away to school.  We had so many questions about the quality of her care and if she would be given the love she received at home. But the truth is, Leta thrives at Camphill because her life is simpler, healthier, less frenetic, more predictable, and more attuned to Leta’s needs. Time marches on at Leta’s pace at Camphill. It is unhurried and manageable. And Leta has fun.  She goes for long walks, enjoys lots of music ,dance and art.  But she also has learned to be a responsible member of a community.  She is given jobs to do, like mucking out the horse stalls or setting the dinner table every night. Whether it is a big or small job, Leta has learned to take pride in her work.  At home, she is babied and indulged;  at school, she is forced to find her purpose.  And finally, Leta is loved…no, I mean, she is really loved at Camphill.  And what more could a parent want for their child. She has found her special place in the world where she is loved and able to create meaning every single day.  I often feel that my other kids would benefit from a life structured more like the life that Leta now has at Camphill.  They love spending time running around the school; visiting the newborn pigs or feeding the horses a carrot. 
There is an energy that surrounds the place, that my other kids really respond to.  We may not talk about it, but it is there. A few years ago I re-read one of my favorite books by W. Somerset Maughn.  “The Painted Veil” — In it there is one quote, that was lost on me when I read it in my twenties. “Remember that it is nothing to do your duty. That is demanded of you and is no more meritorious than to wash your hands when they are dirty.   The only thing that counts is the love of duty; when love and duty are one, then grace is in you and you will enjoy a happiness which passes all understanding.”