Lunar New Year


Lunar New Year

On Wednesday, February 6, New Amsterdam School’s first, second, and third graders celebrated the Lunar New Year and the beginning of the Chinese Year of the Earth Pig . Dressed in traditional Chinese qipao dresses and changshans, the students gathered to sing songs, create drawings to fold into red envelopes for one another, and chop carrots, scallions, onions, and potatoes for Chinese New Year soup (the long noodles of which represent long life and good luck). After enjoying their homemade soup, the second and third graders toured each classroom performing a spirited rendition of “Gong Xi, Gong Xi", the traditional Chinese New Year song that celebrates the blessings of a new season. The performance culminated in drumming and a lion dance, which in Chinese folk legend leads to good luck and prosperity for all.

Millions of people across China, Korea, Vietnam, Japan and other countries around the world celebrate the Lunar New Year, including many families and teachers in our school community, and the ancient custom dates back at least 3,400 years. The date of Chinese New Year changes every year, though it always falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice. Throughout history, the lunar calendar has helped strengthen our connection with the earth and facilitate agriculture, letting us know when to till the soil and sow the seeds, and the Chinese New Year historically marked the start of preparations for a new growing season.

You may have heard your child mention the ancient tale of Nian, the mythical red dragon at the origin of this celebration. According to legend, the beginning of Chinese New Year started with the fight against Nian, who had the body of a bull and the head of a lion.  He was said to be a ferocious animal that lived in the mountains and hunted for a living. Towards the end of winter when there was nothing to eat, Nian would come on the first day of New Year to the villages to eat livestock, crops, and even villagers, especially children. To protect themselves, the villagers would put food in front of their doors at the beginning of every year. It was believed that after Nian ate the food they prepared, he wouldn’t attack any more people.

The villagers would live in terror over the Winter, but over time they learned that the ferocious Nian was afraid of three things: the color red, fire, and noise.  So when the New Year was about to come, the villagers would hang red lanterns and scrolls in windows and doors and light firecrackers to frighten him away. From then on, Nian never came to the village again.  According to legend, Nian was eventually captured by Hongjun Laozu, an ancient Taoist monk, and Nian became Hongjun Laozu's mount. After Nian was captured, everyone joyfully celebrated, and the rituals were passed down from generation to generation. The custom of celebrating Chinese New Year with firecrackers, noise, and the color red has persisted to this day. We are grateful to be able to learn and experience some of these traditions here with our school community.

A special thanks to Meng (mother of Everest) and Wei (mother of Audrey) for so beautifully decorating our school, and Wendy (mother of Lily), Justine (mother of Sylvan and Alaia), and Astrid (mother of Chloe) for helping out with the festivities. Happy New Year of the Earth Pig!

Welcome Ms. Tara


Introducing Ms. Tara, who joined our Willow class a few weeks ago as the early childhood assistant teacher.

Ms. Tara Monaghan was born and raised in Manhattan in Murray Hill. An alumni of the Rudolf Steiner School, Tara discovered her interest in the arts early on through the encouragement of her school’s creative Waldorf curriculum. She went on to study art and earn a BFA from Maine College of Art and an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan (the only all-studio MFA program in the US).

After the birth of her daughter Una, Tara shifted her career path from the commercial photo industry to early childhood education. In Waldorf education Tara found her strength and commitment. She has been an early childhood teacher for 4 years and is on track to receive her Master of Education in Early Childhood Education from SUNY and Waldorf certification from Sunbridge Institute in 2020. 

She and her nine-year-old daughter enjoy cooking and exploring the outdoors together. Food is an essential part of their daily life, wellbeing, and heritage, and they often spend time in the kitchen learning new recipes and ingredients. They enjoy visits to Maine, the Finger Lakes, Lake Placid, the Hudson Valley, and the Far Rockaway’s, where they spend time with family and friends hiking, kayaking, fishing, and exploring history.

March Parent Evenings

Juniper, Willow, & Maple
NEW DATE: Wednesday, March 13

Louise deForest will join all three early childhood lead teachers on the topic of "Setting Boundaries."

Grades 1, 2, & 3
Wednesday, March 20


Coffee Friday
Friday, Feb. 8

Good coffee. Good conversation. Downstairs after drop-off.

NO SCHOOL - Professional Development Day
Monday, Feb. 11

Parent/Faculty Talent Show
Thursday, Feb. 14

Winter Recess (SCHOOL CLOSED)
Monday, Feb. 18 - Friday, Feb. 22

"Uncovering the Voice" Workshop
Tuesday, Feb. 26

“uncovering the voice”

Singing Workshop

Tuesday, February 26

3:45 - 6:30pm

For singers and non-singers alike! Christiaan Boele is a world-renowned teacher in the Werbeck method of developing the voice. He will be teaching a private workshop for our school community on Feb. 26th. Pre-registration is requested. Workshop cost is $30 per person. Please join us in welcoming him and taking advantage of this rare opportunity to develop a deeper connection to your children and students by discovering the innate potential of your voice.

“Through uncovering, or unveiling, our voices, we can learn to connect more fully to that which wants to speak through our voices: to our deeper, inner ideals and impulses which we are looking for in our lives.”

Sign up at the front desk!

Cleaning Up

We are happy to announce that all classrooms of our school are back to working order after last week’s flood. While there is still repair work to be done on floors and ceilings, we’ve been working hand-in-hand with a remedial company to dehumidify, moisture-test, and sanitize with eco-friendly antibacterials to restore and maintain the ecosystem of our school.

Thank you Catherine and Kevin Kossi (parents of Henrik) for so generously overseeing all clean-up efforts and volunteering your time.

Kim John Payne


“The Overwhelm of Boys”

A Lecture at New Amsterdam School

Save the Date:

Thursday, March 21 at 7pm


Did you know that your Amazon purchases could be raising funds for our school? Shop through Amazon Smile to easily help our school:

1. Go to

2. Choose New Amsterdam School as your selected charity

3. Shop as normal and a percentage of what you spend is automatically donated to our school! 

Belle Savransky