Threefold Research Fellowship


Joan Jaeckel is a culture watcher with a special focus on societal protection of the spirit of childhood.

At 21, enrolled at the Teacher Training Center at Highland Hall Waldorf School in Los Angeles, and guided by Werner Glas, Rene Querido, Willi Sucher, and Hermann von Baravalle, she welcomed Rudolf Steiner’s unique ways of sensemaking between science and mysticism. Life became interesting.

Within the Waldorf education project she served as a foreign language teacher at Highland Hall, took a break to raise two daughters and freelance as a product designer of toys and furniture, and returned to her core mission for childhood following the birth of a third child with the role of Community Development Coordinator at the school.

Recognizing that her role on behalf of Waldorf education would be its societal dimension, rather than the classroom, she took the two-year “Art of Non-Profit Administration and Community Development” course at Sunbridge College with Chris Schaefer, joined a group of public and Independent school principals led by the Ojai Foundation called New Visions which met weekly to envision the integration of transformational culture into the LA education system, and attended an invitational gathering in Bloomfield, Colorado of the New American Schools Development Corporation (NASDC) to read proposals for “break-the-mold-schools”. That the mold would continue to shape the outcome was assured by the constellation of the NASDC Board which seated 0 educators, 3 former governors, and 18 CEO’s including AT&T, American Stock Exchange, Exxon, and Boeing.

By “mold” was meant incompetent teachers. The cure was to be “bone-crunching” reform. This misty-eyed Waldorfer is seeing the light, you bet’cha. 🙂

Pretty soon, in 1991, the Urban Waldorf Program opens within the Milwaukee Unified School District. The phone is ringing off the hook at the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA). Dozens of people demand the zippo-quicko Waldorf start-up kit. Whoa, says AWSNA and undertakes a deep thoughtstorm. Joan is hired as Director of Development.

Meanwhile AWSNA declines to host public ‘Waldorf’ schools in America on the grounds that they cannot take responsibility for the outcomes of schools over which they would have no control. Makes sense, and/but, what about her mission??

She becomes active with Arline Monks and Betty Staely at Rudolf Steiner College in the formation of what will become the Alliance for Public Waldorf Education, takes up independent projects – consulting producer on a documentary about the experiences of Waldorf teachers in their Waldorf-inspired public schools, The Waldorf Promise. She becomes a regular at Bioneers and LOHAS events. She hosts mission-related events in collaboration with others ‘seeking the same goal’ – e.g. “Strategizing for Educational Change” at State of the World Forum 2000, “Investing In Socially Responsive Education”, and many others including journalistic projects with Green Money Journal and New Dimensions Radio. Always the same theme – reimagine education.

She coordinated the charter writing process for Ocean Charter School, LA’s first Waldorf initiative in the public sector, consulted on the next one, El Rio Community School which opens this fall, and is part of a group with Orland Bishop considering options in South Los Angeles.

Joan became intrigued with the Elderberries Threefold Community project of Dottie Zold and Frank Agrama, and how they were turning theory into action. Under her nose, 11 min drive. She began joining in studies and events. She sees her current role as Threefold Research Fellow with the Circles for the Renewal of Culture as a way to integrate and further both the threefolding project and the protection of childhood project.