Marcella Edwards

Class 6 Teacher

Class 6 Teacher

Active as a teacher, counsellor, program initiator and strategic consultant for the past 30 years in the fields of education, counselling and community development, I am South African by birth, the twelfth of 14 children, and started out life on a small mixed farm just outside of Cape Town. As a young adult I travelled to Europe in search of answers to the many questions raised by a childhood and adolescence formed within an apartheid driven country. Working most often within cooperative and ecologically oriented rural contexts in Scotland, Wales, England and Switzerland helped hone many practical skills as well as affording the opportunity to travel, see and better understand the art and civilization of Europe.

Returning to South Africa in 1981 I studied French and English literature, linguistics and translation, art and art history at university while doing a foundation course in Fine Arts at a technical college in Johannesburg, and then qualified as a high school teacher at the University of Cape Town. Working with disenfranchised communities, adults and children from the city and rural townships during this time led to the initiation of 3 schools in the Western Cape of SA, answering the need to help bridge the societal divides brought about by apartheid. It was the use of art that emerged as the most effective tool for meeting these challenges, to initiate connection, rebuild trust and help with the healing of trauma. Inspired by the creative interconnectedness of the Waldorf curriculum, first encountered during my thesis study on alternative educational methodologies active in the world, the third school I initiated evolved into the McGregor Waldorf School, (3 times being the charm!). Here, as the lead teacher taking mixed classes from Class One to Seven, I benefitted from the support and lively, skilled, on-going mentorship offered by the teachers at the Institute of Waldorf Teacher Training in Cape Town.

In 1997 I moved with my 3 children to Canada, to take up the Class One at the Nelson Waldorf School, growing with them to Class Five. In 2002 I started on a full time graduate program in Art Therapy and on its completion in 2004, went with my two children, recently graduated from the Nelson Waldorf School, to work with indigenous communities in South America, weaving together these different backgrounds over the next 4 years, to share skills and facilitate healing encounters on practical grounds, as well as within educational and cultural contexts. That is, integrating creative education methodologies through teacher training, and also with hands-on primary health care projects, youth media, child and adult mental health and indigenous cultural agencies in communities on the high Andean plains and the Amazon basin.

On my return in 2008, wanting to know my adopted country more fully, I spent a winter on a horse ranch in Kamloops, and then in Toronto, welcoming my grandchildren born in Nelson in these years, before moving from BC to rural Nova Scotia in 2010. Here, while renovating an old home and establishing a large medicine garden, I facilitated a pilot online, Waldorf-inspired, interdisciplinary high school graduation program under the auspices of the SelfDesign Learning Foundation. This was funded by the BC Ministry of Education as part of their move to adapt the British Columbian educational system to the needs and technology of the 21st Century.

After all this experience it was definitely time for a conscious pause for reflection! The fruits of this reflection were helped to ripen by an opportunity that arose to develop an Art Therapy program for a residential Alcohol and Addictions Rehabilitation Centre in Annapolis County, and also to do some teaching and consulting work with a Waldorf high school initiative in south Nova Scotia.

A decision became clear: to answer a call I was hearing from all the way across Canada, to return to the place where I started out in Canada 21 years ago. To return to the Nelson Waldorf School, to take up a place with my colleagues, family and friends, as the school's new Class Five teacher. And I am happy to be here!