March 2019

Madagascar School Founder Kathy Lucking Receives Canada's Meritorious Service Medal

On Feb. 14th, 2019 in Ottawa, Canada’s Governor General Julie Payette presented RSCT grad and South Shore Waldorf School teacher, Kathy Lucking, with a Meritorious Service Decoration (Civil Division) for her work with the Madagascar School Project. See official photo above.

In addition to her work with the Madagascar school (described below), Kathy Lucking is currently the Grade 2 teacher at the South Shore Waldorf School in Nova Scotia. Kathy graduated from the RSCT Part-Time Teacher Education program in July of 2016.

About the Madagascar School Project

Then-director of the RSCT, Warren Cohen, wrote about Kathy’s work with the Madagascar School Project already in January of 2016. From Warren’s report: 

“The Madagascar School Project was founded in 2007 by Kathy Lucking who was working/volunteering in an orphanage in Madagascar. She wanted to help children break free from the crushing cycle of poverty and malnutrition that have plagued over two thirds of this country. She decided to found a school there, Sekoly Tenaquip and has worked tenaciously ever since directing this school as well as securing funding and resources for it.

The school serves an impoverished population, many of whom cannot afford the minimal school fees let alone feed their children during the “Hungry Season”. Now in its 7th year Sekoly Tenaquip has over 550 children enrolled from 18 surrounding villages. Many walk for over an hour to get to school each day and count on the school lunch as their only meal of the day. The school has 32 teachers from KG to Grade 12 and was founded initially on the traditional French school model which involves a rigid routine of drilling and testing in all subject areas as is common throughout Madagascar.

Kathy a retired Ontario school teacher envisions the possibility of converting the school into a Waldorf school, the first in Madagascar. She enrolled in RSCT Professional development for Waldorf Teachers part-time program as a school director. She has also travelled far and wide in Canada seeing and teaching in Waldorf schools as part of this program. Step by step she is working to convert Sekoly Tenaquip into a Waldorf school to help this unique community creatively find solutions for its future.

Kathy will be graduating from the Steiner Centre this July (of 2016). She is working with others, including her mentor Warren Lee Cohen, to sensitively bring the ideals of Waldorf pedagogy to this Malagasy community. She introduces new ideas and then listens carefully to what finds resonance within the faculty so that they can grow into leadership in practically applying these ideas to their school. It is a process that requires complete metamorphosis: letting go of old colonial forms so that they can step into nascent Waldorf ideals. These can only take root if the teachers and families see the potential of education in a whole new light. Education can be a pathway to getting a good job and can also re-enliven the whole culture of their community creating many new pathways to prosperity.

Already the art of storytelling is taking root and bringing with it depth and joy for students and teachers alike. The teachers are learning to teach through stories, to engage the children’s imaginations and thus to inspire them to learn. Storytelling also gives ample opportunities to weave together a number of subjects in a way that helps the students learn more effectively. Building living pictures is central to Waldorf pedagogy and will help engage students so that they can make positive changes in their lives, families, country and culture. Big changes are needed to break this cycle of poverty and oppression and it will take many creative people to start the tide of change….” Read the whole report here.

Followup on the Project

Warren visited the school personally in 2016 and published a further update on the Madagascar school in December of that year. Here’s the link to that report.

Here is the link for the Madagascar School Project itself. The project is still very much in need of ongoing financial support. Last year the South Shore Waldorf School contributed 5% of its annual giving campaign in support of the Madagascar School Project.

What this Medal Means

“This honor recognizes great Canadians for exceptional deeds accomplished over a limited period of time that bring honour to our country. They honour achievements in both civil and military divisions, 

The Meritorious Service Decorations (Civil Division) were established to recognize remarkable contributions in many different fields of endeavour, from advocacy initiatives and health care services, to research and humanitarian efforts.

Past recipients have tackled poverty in their community, improved educational opportunities for children in Canada and abroad, or raised awareness of important causes and issues. They inspire us and make us proud.” — from the Governor General’s website.

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