IN MEMORY OF MARCELLE MACPHERSON
12th March 1936 to 18th February 2015
“The first word that comes to mind when thinking about Marcelle is devotion. In all she did her whole heart and soul was engaged”. This memory was written by Diana Reynolds who was a kindergarten teacher at Kings Langley when Marcelle founded and pioneered the independent St Albans kindergarten in the Fleetville community centre, Hertfordshire in 1981, and which is still thriving today. The following history and tributes to Marcelle were written by many who knew her, including more from Diana Reynolds, and Zanna Millicheap, who has carried the St Albans kindergarten since Marcelle retired. Many were included in the programme at her funeral:
St Albans was a lone outpost of Steiner Education, the then ‘New School’ (now Rudolf Steiner School Kings Langley) being 8 miles away. Marcelle was a valuable member of the College of Teachers, and an active parent as her five children moved through the school. I know how grateful she was to have been able to fulfil her dream and bring her family to Kings Langley, and later to become a Kindergarten teacher. After retiring she continued contributing to Steiner Education as an early childhood advisor with the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship. She also lectured widely and visited Japan to help set up a Kindergarten there. Her strength was in her warmth and caring qualities, her ability to listen, and in her understanding and compassion. She was steadfast and above all persevering. After a long battle with cancer Marcelle died at home surrounded by her family. She knew how to love, and will be dearly remembered by her colleagues and friends, her family and twelve grandchildren”.
“Marcelle was the impetus and driving force behind the creation of the St Albans Steiner kindergarten in 1981. Through her gentle determination, she helped to bring the kindergarten to life, from an idea, into its physical form and with its spiritual values”. “Marcelle laid down strong and healthy roots, which run through and affect all that we do. She was determined that the kindergarten would be community-based, multi-cultural, affordable and inclusive to all. She was committed to the concept that the kindergarten should be part of the local community”. “Marcelle was always willing to learn and grow as a person in many aspects of life but especially with regard to Anthroposophy. This she brought to the kindergarten in her being and it permeated through all that she did”. “Marcelle had the ability to paint pictures with her words which gave a unique quality to them. Not only for the children at story time but for adults as well”.
“Marcelle had a motherly nature and her love and enjoyment of children naturally drew them to her. She would carry the child in her heart; this was seen by all at kindergarten. She had endless patience and an ability to enter into the children’s world. She introduced so many people to Anthroposophy, and the wonders of Steiner education. She was able to open up a world that so many people were not aware of or knew about”. “She planted a little spiritual seed in people who came towards her – and many did from all walks of life, with her nurturing, compassionate warmth, generosity, and humour”. “Marcelle became the confidant for many. She accepted all and never made judgements. She touched so many people’s lives and hearts”. “Marcelle inspired us all – and gave us a gentle quiet confidence in the face of challenges.
She said of her work with children “Kindergarten provides a brief interlude before children go their separate ways. During this time they can dream a little longer, and experience the joys of creative play enhanced by the natural things around them”. Marcelle believed that this was an all-important preparation for a life in which each human being strives for something higher. She said, “The spirit in man is striving to find the spirit in the universe, which in time unites us all”.
For my own part, I remember Marcelle visiting our budding Rosebridge kindergarten in Cambridge, where her wonderful talk to our community helped give us the inspiration to grow the kindergarten which developed into the Cambridge Steiner School.
Founder kindergarten teacher at Cambridge Steiner School, now Early Childhood Executive Officer for the SWSF.
Extracts quoted from ‘The Kindergarten in the Community’, by Marcelle Macphearson, in Child and Man: Education as an Art, Journal for Waldorf Education. (July 1991), Vol 25 No2.