Week 5

Dear Urban Prairie Families,

On this breezy silvery-sky day, cheers to Courage and to Love which is always stronger than fear, as our students reminded us this past Saturday at our festival celebration. So good to see all of you this past weekend. To those who couldn’t make it: Please know that you were missed! Looking forward to connecting next time.

Solar-Bration Backstory. So many of you told me how excited you are to celebrate our Illinois Solar School initiative. Our solar array has a backstory dating back to last fall, with a cast of characters from across our community.

Before we could reach for our vision to become a Solar School, we needed to upgrade our building’s outdated, energy-sucking lighting. With the help of Board member Ravi Parakkat, I applied for and won a $16,000 grant to retrofit the lighting. Then a family in our school gifted us with $4,000 to fund the rest of the $20,000 project. Finally, another parent in our school helped us obtain rebates for higher quality lighting, bringing the total value of the project to $32,000. I extend my thanks to the entire team who got us to Saturday’s Solar-Bration.

Please reach out to me or to Mike Grill (grades 7&3 parent), who is heading our Sustainability Team on behalf of the Board, if you’d like to join or support our sustainability efforts, particularly if you bring the kind of expertise or passion that helped get us to our first array.

Long Weekend & “Test to Stay.” As we look toward the long holiday weekend, please be mindful if you will be traveling with unvaccinated students that your student(s) must either quarantine or avoid quarantining via “Test to Stay” – submitting negative tests for your student(s) on days 1, 3, 5, and 7 following travel to an orange state. We are asking all families please to inform us of their plans via Operoo.

Alumni Corner. I will miss the First Friday coffee this week because myself will be traveling to New York City this weekend, to meet up with my oldest son Michael, who graduated from UPWS in 2017. His high school senior film project “Virtual Learn i ng” (starring Cecelia Cowen, UPWS’18, and Peter Stewart UPWS’20) was selected for the All-American High School Film Festival and will be screening in Times Square. Oh, how far he’s come from the first day of 1st grade.

Meanwhile, Siah Berlatsky UPWS’18 is currently performing the role of Eugene in Citadel Theater’s production of Brighton Beach Memoirs, which will be running through October 13. Tickets are here: https://citadeltheatre.easy-ware-ticketing.com/events.

Can’t wait to showcase more of our alumni – your students included! – in the future.

Read on for news and events.



This Weekly Admin Newsletter includes:

  • Calendar highlights

  • School News

  • Board News

  • Community Connections Update

  • Important Reminders

  • UPWS Admin Contacts


October 6 2nd Grade – Parent/Guardian Meeting via Zoom  7:00 – 8:00 p.m.

October 8 First Friday Coffee – in the grassy patch behind the goat shed

October 11  No School, Indigenous Peoples’ Day

October 13 EC Parent/Guardian Meeting  6:30 p.m.

October 14  Board of Trustees Meeting: State of the School – in person

October 26 Picture Day (except grade 4/5)

Flag Football afterschool program begins

1st UP S.E.E.D. session – 4:30-7:00 pm

October 27 4th / 5th Grade – Picture Day and Parent/Guardian Meeting

School News

Goat Care Volunteers Needed!

We need volunteers to care for our goats morning and evening every day school is not in session. This means we need helpers Saturday, Sunday, and Monday this coming weekend. Helpers will let the goats out of their shed in the morning and put them away in the evening. At each visit the goats will need fresh water, hay, and grain. A visit can be as quick as 15 minutes.

Morning shift: between 6:00 – 8:00am

Evening shift: between 4:00 – 6:00pm

Angie Kiefer will provide in-person training this Friday at pick-up. We will schedule additional training next week in addition to providing written and video instructions.

Sign up for a shift here: https://app.operoo.com/forms/978205/submissions/new. If you have trouble with this link the sign-up can be found in your Operoo “Form Library.” Contact sophie.ba…@urbanprairie.org with any questions.

See below as our Prairie Roots demonstrate goat care:

Urban Prairie SWAG

Are you looking to boost your winter wardrobe with some Urban Prairie Waldorf School gear? Contact kim.g…@urbanprairie.org to order hoodies, t-shirts, canvas tote bags, as well as our 2020-21 UP Family Cookbook and new round bumper magnets.

Lost and Found

Found 10/5/21: Two inhalers and carrying case with Degas Dancer design, found outside near 13th Street Drop Off/Pick Up Line. Can be claimed at the front desk.

Seeking Physics Challenge Judge

Dear Community,

I am looking for one lucky volunteer! The 7th graders will be doing a one-day Team Physics Challenge, and we need one more judge for the panel.

We’re looking for someone who is:

  • Interested in seeing/hearing/experiencing what solutions these young people come up with

  • Available Friday, Oct 22 from 12:30-3:00

  • Vaccinated or will have a negative covid test within 48 hours of the date

  • Is NOT related to any contestant

  • (No physics or science knowledge is required.)

If this is you, wonderful! Send me an email.

Hannah Avellone (she, her, hers)

Class Teacher

Urban Prairie Community S.E.E.D. Seminars

Sign up for our 2nd annual UP S.E.E.D.(Seeking Educational Equity & Diversity) seminar. Founded in 1987 by Peggy McIntosh (author of White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack), the National S.E.E.D. Project is a peer-led development program co-facilitated at UPWS by Rob Welcher and Jenn Zielinski.

Details: 8 monthly 2 1/2 hour-long seminars, exploring race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, religion, sexual identity, abilities, age, etc, and how these factors currently impact their communities.

Limit 15 participants; must commit to attending at least 7 out of the 8 seminars.

Tuesday evenings, 4:30-7:00 pm via zoom (1st and last session in-person),

Oct 26, Nov 30, Jan 4 & 25, Mar 1 & 22, Apr 26, & May 24

Contact Jenn Zielinski at 312-858-4562 or jenn.zi…@urbanprairie.org to RSVP.

Board News

Dear Urban Prairie Community,

With a tamed dragon and fears burned away at the Festival of Courage, we are ready to begin the year’s work. Please join me in welcoming our newest members of our Board of Trustees. Sue Mukherjee, Jeff Smagley, and Ann-Marie Vigano have been elected to initial, one-year terms. Learn more about the rest of the Board here.

Sue Mukherjee MD is a pediatric rehabilitation specialist and the medical director of Rehabilitation Services at Shriners Children’s Hospital of Chicago. She has Marina in grade 6 and Zale in grade 2. Their family transferred to Urban Prairie after homeschooling. Sue is a Canadian, and childhood Irish dancer. She appreciates the Waldorf balanced education for head, hands, and heart (emotional and physical). She has a passion for nature and the environment and is excited to join the school’s Sustainability Steering Group.

Jeff Smagley is a professional fundraiser and the Michigan area director for AIPAC. Previously, Jeff worked in business development for the digital transformation firm WalkMe. He was an intern for a Knesset representative in the Israeli parliament and worked in the canine explosive unit during military service in Israel. Partner to former class teacher Amanda Smagley, Jeff has seen firsthand the unique value of our education and will join the school’s Advancement Committee, supporting the long term success of our school.

Ann-Marie Vigano is a contract attorney, litigator, and certified mediator. She has been a yoga teacher and is parent to Gianmatteo in Grade 7 and Emilio in our early childhood program. The Viganos were a founding family in Hummingbird Garden, and Ann-Marie served as EC class agent in our fundraising efforts in summer 2020 for our Phase 1 Playlot project. Ann-Marie will serve as Board representative on the AWSNA Steering Group, which drives our accreditation process as a Waldorf School. (You can learn about AWSNA / the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America here.)

Interested in learning about Board service? Please reach out to me. Or attend a Board meeting. Our next meeting will be in person on Oct 14, and we’ll have a zoom meeting on Dec

Danila Miranda

President, Board of Trustees

(parent to alumni David and Natalia UPWS’20 and Elena ’23)


Community Connections Corner


Why did the coffee bean keep checking his watch?

Because he was pressed for time!

This Friday morning is our 1st First Friday Coffee! Join us in the grassy patch behind the goat shed for coffee, treats, and togetherness. We’ll be meeting at 8am, right after drop-off.

Thank you to all the volunteers who helped to make the Festival of Courage such a great success! Everything was lovely, including the weather.

Have some time to lend a hand? Urban Prairie has several opportunities throughout the year that could use your help. Community Connections is always building our volunteer team and would love to have you! Please email me at anne.mc…@urbanprairie.org or come to our 1st Friday Coffee on Oct 8th and we can chat.

  • Anne McDonough


Flag Football Afterschool

Enrollment is still open for Flag Football! Led by Movement and Games Instructor Adriana Kondrat. Enroll at Operoo.

When: Tuesdays, Grades 6-8, after school until 4:45pm

Dates: October 26 – December 7

Session Fee: $120

Vaccination Status Updates

Middle school parents: Please update the school on the vaccination status of your child! Email ad…@urbanprairie.org with any vaccination dates occurring after the start of school.

Allergy/Asthma Action Plans

If your child has an Allergy / Asthma Action Plan please check with Kimberl…@urbanprairie.org to ensure that we have the most up to date information and medication. Medication should be sent to school in a ziploc bag labeled with your child’s name. This will stay with the class in their park bag as to be in reach at all times.

Your doctor should have these forms on file, and you can find them here:

Illinois Allergy Action Plan

Illinois Asthma Action Plan