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Colleen O'Connors

Science, Humanities
“I am a hinge. My threefold self bound by the upright bolt of my being. I serve the effortless opening and closing…by bearing the weight of the barrier separating here from there.”

Though I had written poetry regularly since age six, I did not begin to take it seriously until 2009, when I attended a workshop entitled, “Poetry as a Portal to Contemplative Inquiry.” It was then that I realized what I had been doing all these many years – contemplatively inquiring! I hope to advance the culture of contemplative inquiry already present among faculty and students here, be it in the sciences, math or language.

For me, one of the things that is special about High Mowing is the artistic effort that goes into some of the simplest things; announcements at roll call, for example. They could be dry and informational, and some are, but many are acted out or “adorned” in some way; and you find yourself laughing! Then there are the more profound things. Last year, when I saw The Nativity (an annual pageant performed by the students entirely through song and movement) for the first time, my heart stopped! It was so lovely and moving.

I knew I wanted to teach before I left high school, but the guidance counselor at the small regional high school I attended felt strongly that I should not limit myself, so I majored in Biological Sciences with the expectation of continuing on to med school. I needed to work directly with people, of that I was sure. The summer of 1980 took me to Basel, Switzerland for a three month internship in a pharmaceutical research laboratory. (I ended up staying in Switzerland for 25 years!) The threads of my life began to weave into a pattern that summer. I turned twenty-one, encountered Anthroposophy (the guiding principal of Waldorf education) at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland, discovered many new loves—international culture and travel, biodynamic farming, raising a family, cooking, teaching English, math and science, and Waldorf education. Most importantly my sense of wonder took hold.

Which threads from my lessons will weave their way into the patterns of the students' lives? That the coefficients used to fill in the quadratic formula must be whole numbers? That the embryonic tissues which form our heart also form our hands, so that all we do needs to come from the heart if we wish to be true to our beginnings? That sometimes a few words of a poem can capture an image, a mood, a feeling, a thought more successfully than a thesis? I don’t know, nor should I. But I continue to inquire, contemplate…and wonder.

Antioch University – MEd
Waldorf Teacher Training, Dornach Switzerland
University of Rhode Island – BA Biological Science