Interview with Lani Townsend-Steed
VWS: Tell me about your work and education after graduating from the VWS. (post-secondary schooling, travel, work experience, family, etc.)
LS: Once I left high school, I was awarded a scholarship toward tuition at what was then known as Capilano College. There, I worked toward a biology degree, during which time I met my future husband, Kim. After two years at Cap College, I travelled throughout Southeast Asia with Kim, and we also travelled throughout Europe, where he proposed to me. While travelling, Kim and I researched and educated ourselves about running a business, with plans to start our bike shop when we got home. And we did just that: Steed Cycles has now successfully been in business for the past 15 years. The year we opened our shop, we got married, and I started my Royal Academy of Dance teacher training.
VWS: What kind of work/study are you involved in now?
LS: I am a classical ballet instructor specializing in preparing students for examinations. I have also continued to work for our bike shop from its beginning as a bookkeeper and helping with making decisions about the direction of our business.
VWS: What do you enjoy most about your work?
LS: For the bike shop, I love the wonderful staff we have, the energy and excitement of our customers and the great atmosphere. I love bikes, and it’s a really fun environment. For the dance teaching, I love ballet, and I love teaching children, teens and adults how to dance. I love vicariously sharing in the energy and the joy that the students express while dancing. It’s incredible to watch my students grow from very young children into poised young adults.
VWS: What do you think are your greatest successes in life?
LS: My two beautiful children, my awesome marriage, and I like doing two jobs that are exciting and interesting. I also have lovely, longtime friends – many of whom are now teachers at the school – and I am so grateful to have them in my life.
VWS: How did Waldorf education affect your life and your choice of career?
LS: I have always been creative (my mother is an artist ). It gave me even more permission to go into a creative field. I felt like I was truly supported to choose beyond a mainstream job and pursue a creative lifestyle. That includes both opening a business, i.e., not being afraid to take risks, and the obvious creative endeavour of working in the field of dance. I love that there are many people with whom I attended Waldorf, and now they are bringing their children back to the school, and they are in my life again – my old Waldorf friends, their children, their parents. It’s wonderful to be part of such an extended community of many like-minded people.
VWS: What are your fondest memories of your time at the VWS?
LS: Class trips, like going on our annual hiking trips – the Stein Valley ones were amazing! Also, I feel at home and welcome at my school on a day-to-day basis. It was like the people in my class were almost related to me, like they were my cousins or something, feeling really at home.
Editor’s note: Lani and Kim Steed have two children in the VWS.
Interview by Michelle Gibson, for Development November 2011
The Vancouver Waldorf School provides an experiential, age-appropriate approach to education based on the insights of Rudolf Steiner that inspires students to love learning, to be creative, open-minded, and compassionate. With a curriculum that integrates all academics with the arts and social learning, Waldorf Education develops not only the left and right hemispheres of the brain but the whole human being. A child’s social, emotional, physical and intellectual development is considered equally, supporting a conscious unfolding of the individuality within each student. Waldorf graduates possess capacities for empathy and clear, creative and independent thinking that enables them to carry out a chosen course of action with moral courage and social responsibility.