An educator for 16 years fueling my passion through the realm of social enterprise, I founded the Sonne Valley School & Studio, a place to provide the existence of a fully adaptive and inspired Waldorf education for blind and visually impaired children. The impetus for such a project was not only a continued love, respect and deep understanding of special children, but as well a part of the sudden loss of my husband of 22 years, which led me on a search. Mainly, it was a search for love in work and life.  It is through this interweaving that a true sense of self and other take place, where we find our mission in life which involves helping others in some way. This is what Rudolf Steiner conveyed deeply as a life goal; one’s will forces shaping the development of the world in a healthy way. My personal and professional goals and foundation so deeply stimulated by my coursework at Sunbridge Institute, NY, where I earned my M.Ed, a thread in the weaving.  Hence, my eyes alighted on a book that was on a table at the Threefold Community. It was Conversation Amorouse, by Jacques Lusseyran. Fascinating. Which led me to read all of his books. This led me to the work of Sabriye Tenberken and Braille Without Borders. This led me to Eric Weihenmayer. And the little watercolor studio in Russia that teaches watercolor painting to the blind. And the list goes on…

I am continually fascinated with the senses which come into play in the child who has vision loss. It is the whole body which we learn with, and these children have an advantage. That is the bud, the essence of the work in which I am continually striving to develop, through the pedagogical lectures of Rudolf Steiner and the blind community’s needs.

I am a founding board member of We Perceive, Inc, a 501c3 nonprofit organization comprised of parents, teachers, professionals and supporters whose mission is to ensure children with visual impairments are given the opportunity to fully interact and participate in all areas of their environment.

My thoughts on the community of children I serve: “The child without sight is an individual who has been called to develop courage for life. Shouldn’t we embrace that? We must provide more education opportunities and greater access to a world which embraces their presence and unique gifts. This is my life’s work. I am continually inspired by the courage, passion, and unique struggles these children must accept and experience every day.”

I have observed and instructed hundreds of children from early childhood through the grades in public, private, Waldorf, and home-school settings for over 16 years. My work focuses on nurturing a child’s own intuitive intellectual process which naturally unfolds with direction and guidance, resulting in new ideas and efforts brought into the world. I have developed and taught a multitude of curricula over the course of my career as an instructor at The Waldorf School of Philadelphia, the Mountain Laurel Waldorf School in New Paltz, NY, the Torah Academy in Wynnewood, PA, several schools within The School District of Philadelphia, and as co-founder of a Waldorf cooperative homeschool in Doylestown, PA, and through business development and assisting at Alpern Art Studio, PA.  My focus and specialization always stems from a well-developed sense of child observation based on the indications of Rudolf Steiner.

I embrace Kim John Payne’s Social Inclusion process in my work, which supports communication that heals anti-social behavior. I consult with Waldorf schools worldwide. I am always interested in hearing from parents, teachers, and individuals who are interested in this work. I am continually fascinated and inspired by the wonderful teachers and parents who have inspired this work, and who continually reach out to me to ask for this education for the blind community.

Thank You!

Ava Venice - Sonne Valley School pic

Ava Sonnenthal