Turning Points

Grade 5 Pentathlon and Faculty Changes for the 2021–22 School Year

Dear WSP Families,


At this time of year, we have many events that signal the culmination of the school year including our fifth grade’s Pentathlon. Yesterday, fifth grade students and families gathered at Schenley Oval to demonstrate their skills of truth (speed and distance) as well as grace and beauty in javelin, discuss, broad jump, the 50-meter dash, and the 800-meter run. Students competed together but against themselves to achieve their personal best in all events. It was a wonderful celebration of their ability to rise to the challenges before them with independence, strength, and balance.


The Pentathlon marks a major turning point in the child of 11 or 12. As one teacher has shared:

“Childhood is the period in life when we “build” our chariot (our body). Adolescence is the time when we take the driver’s seat for the first time. The Pentathlon is a celebration of childhood, and of the body, the chariot.”


This is also a time when we look ahead to the 2021–2022 school year. As noted in last week’s newsletter, we celebrate Mrs. Konefal-Shaer’s 25 years of teaching at the Waldorf School of Pittsburgh as she moves into retirement this summer. If you did not have a chance to read the article last week, you may find it here.


We also celebrate the many gifts the WSP community has received from the following teachers who are moving on to new adventures next year. We celebrate each of them and wish them the very best as they continue their lives’ paths.


Natalie Baverso has worked in the early childhood program for six years and is becoming a nanny of newborn twins.


Jorjanna Smith has worked in the Kindergarten for two years. This summer she will work at Hartsbrook Waldorf School in Hadley, Massachusetts and plans to move to Philadelphia in the fall.


Brigette Ryan taught the Rosebud Nursery class this year. Next year, Brigitte will dedicate more time to her work with Developing the Self, Developing the World. While plans are not yet fully formed, Brigette intends to remain connected with WSP in the future.


Dr. Brittany Trotter is moving to California to continue her work as a flutist and in academia. Under Dr. Trotter’s guidance, our woodwinds program has grown and flourished over the past three years.


Karin Fast is moving to Goshen, Indiana to be with her family and to teach third grade. As the class teacher for the Class of 2023, Ms. Fast has brought love, continuity, and artistry to her class. Her next group of students are lucky to have her, and we look forward to seeing her when she returns to Pittsburgh for visits.


Brian Wagner will graduate the Class of 2021 and transition out of WSP with his class, which he has lovingly held since Grade 1. Mr. Wagner has been a member of the WSP community for over 12 years, bringing humor and steadiness to his students and colleagues. Mr. Wagner has an open invitation to return for recess basketball games whenever he is in the neighborhood!


We are excited to welcome two new teachers to our full-faculty next year:


Melissa Killian (she/her) has been connected with our community since the fall of 2019 when she worked in our Extended Care Program. Ms. Killian has been a lead teacher at the Fox Chapel Presbyterian Church Preschool for the past ten years while also tutoring at area learning centers. Ms. Killian holds a Bachelor of Arts from LaRoche University and in her non-teaching times enjoys creative writing, something for which she has won awards!


Dade Clarke (they/them) has been connected with our community since 2017 when they assisted Miss Pegin in the Rosebud Nursery. Dade’s journey as an educator demonstrates their vast abilities and interests as they have successfully taught young children, middle school, high school, and college level classes. Dade holds a Master’s Degree in History and Jewish Studies from the University of Pittsburgh and a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from Columbia University.


As we near the end of the school year, we rejoice in our students’ abilities to learn so much this year despite the numerous and, at times, seemingly impossible challenges. We feel deep appreciation and gratitude for the tireless work of our faculty and administration and the support of our families. We are inspired for what the future holds.


All the best,

Kirsten Christopherson-Clark

Head of School