Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School Main Office Administrator
Marla Silverstein has an eclectic array of talents and interests—photography, agriculture, floral design, event producing, and teaching to name a few—all of which she draws from as Main Office Administrator. Her quest to learn more about the noble art of agriculture started the journey that led her to Hawthorne Valley, and to a community that she is excited to be a part of.
Marla grew up in Nyack, NY, with artistic parents who encouraged her to pursue her talents. She went to public schools and loved attending the Fall Fair at Green Meadow Waldorf School every year.
After graduating from the School of Visual Arts in New York City with a degree in photography, Marla worked as a freelance photographer in the fashion industry. Around that time, she became interested in learning about farming, so she joined the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) program and flew to Israel.
Marla’s first placement was at an urban school, but she wanted to experience more of the land. To that end, she continued on to Kibbutz Harduf in Lower Galilee.
“It was my first introduction to biodynamics,” she said. “I was there less than two months but it opened my eyes to the beautiful way they treat the land.” When she returned to the US, Marla worked as an event planner and got her farming fix by helping at a flower farm in the mornings. That connection introduced her to her partner Jesse Tolz, a biodynamic farmer. Their love of farming brought them to Columbia County where Jesse started a farm in 2015.
Marla was familiar with Hawthorne Valley and the Camphill communities in Columbia County, so when an advertisement for Main Office Administrator at Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School went up in 2018, she enthusiastically applied. It seemed like the perfect match for her diverse skill set, her love of farming, and her interests in Waldorf education and Anthroposophy.
“I love nature, and to work in a place where it’s valued and revered—and to be at a farm every day—it’s wonderful,” she said.
In her role, Marla serves as a liaison for parents, teachers, and students, compiles and creates the weekly newsletter, and handles administration for many aspects of the school. She keeps in touch with her inner artist, photographing school events and classroom activities to share with the parent body and community through the newsletter.
“The teachers have been so welcoming and have offered me a window into the special dynamics of their classrooms,” Marla said. “I think people often feel the magic of Waldorf education but they don’t always see it, so it’s been quite wonderful to have the opportunity to share that with the community.”
Marla looks forward to becoming more connected with the community, learning from the amazing faculty and staff, and watching the children grow each year. With the help of the handwork teachers, she is discovering the joys of knitting, and she takes every opportunity to walk around the farm and learn more about the rhythms of the whole valley.