School mentors Donna Burgess and George Hoffecker

Donna Burgess and George Hoffecker

During the 2004/2005 school year and summer, the founding parents and faculty of Winterberry Charter School were blessed with the opportunity to meet our long-time school mentors George Hoffecker and Donna Burgess. Our first experience with these two wise mentors was through conversations, lectures, and trainings at Rudolf Steiner College. It was during this time that our plans for the opening and operation of Winterberry were solidified .

In the spring of 2007 (year 2 of our existence) our community found ourselves in a bit of a crises. We had accomplished so much in such a short time but had forgotten to take time to deeply connect with each other. Responding to this realization our boards, faculty, and interested community members came together to reconnect, revitalize, and rediscover our shared values. The result of this work can be found in the Spring 2007 Summary, created by our mentors to reflect their observations and our agreements during this time. The following fall, our mentors returned to work with our community and submitted a Fall 2007 Summary after they returned home from their visit.

Through these experiences, our community members, Boards, and Faculty Council have come to love and trust George and Donna. Most years our mentors visit twice. Once in the fall and once in the spring for two weeks. With their help, guidance, and love our community has been able to focus on what matters to us most. We have come to practice our calling, leading the community as a teachers and Board members, with a spirit of trust, a commitment to hard work, and a promise to keep our hearts open to possibility.

The spring of 2013 was Winterberry’s first spring in our new building. George and Donna did not visit that fall since we knew we needed all of our energy to move/settle in to our new home. That spring George and Donna were asked to come to Winterberry and perform a Program Quality Review (PQR) so we could have a complete picture of Winterberry’s current reality and a picture of our possible future growth. The Spring 2013 PQR gave our Faculty Council, Boards, and community much to celebrate. It also provided possible directions for growth. Since the publishing of this report our Faculty Council and Board Members have spent many hours working to unpack and use this information in ways that best serve our children and community.

While working with Winterberry our mentors have shared the following resources with us during staff meetings, in-services, trainings, and informational presentations:

Nonviolent Communication

Appreciative Inquiry

Theory U

To learn more about George and Donna, please visit their website.