“Why Waldorf Education for the 21st Century?” by Eugene Schwartz
What is a Waldorf Charter School?
Waldorf education began in Germany at the end of the First World War and is inspired by the educational philosophy of Dr. Rudolf Steiner. The Waldorf curriculum is designed to meet students’ readiness at each age and stage of development and helps nurture a lifelong love of learning. Today more than 900 Waldorf schools exist worldwide. Those outside the United States are predominantly public schools. In the United States, Waldorf education began as a private school movement, with annual tuition in the thousands of dollars.
In addition to being the first public Waldorf school in the United States, Yuba River Charter School was one of the first 100 charter schools authorized by California. Our school embraced a unique mission to usher Waldorf education into the public sector, free of tuition. Our teachers hold both a California teaching credential and a Waldorf training certificate, and half of them also have master’s degrees.
Our school meets both state standards and Waldorf curriculum goals while providing an education open to all students regardless of economic status. Students from YRCS are known for their confidence, academic excellence, social skills, mastery of handwork, and Spanish-language skills. The faculty imparts a curriculum infused with the arts and music. Teachers develop a deep personal awareness and knowledge of each child’s journey.
YRCS: Pioneering Model of U.S. Public Waldorf Education
Yuba River Charter School is widely recognized as the pioneering model for public Waldorf schools in the United States. Many of our leadership and administrative programs have been resourced and replicated by educational organizations endeavoring to establish public Waldorf charters. YRCS was one of the founding schools in establishing the Alliance for Public Waldorf Education (APWE).
In 2002, YRCS received a project grant from the State of California to align the Waldorf curriculum to state standards. Since its completion, this project has been used as a template for many other public Waldorf charter schools throughout the country.
YRCS has also created a unique business model in the founding of the Nevada County Charter Cooperative. This model allows us, despite being a small school, to obtain business services in collaboration with other charter schools. The full range of services accessed includes special education, payroll and accounting, and mandated state reporting assistance, all at a manageable cost.YRCS’s award-winning governance model also serves as an example for other charter schools. The YRCS Charter Council is made up of faculty, administrators, parents, and community members, each with an equal voice. The Charter Council approves all major financial, curricular, and policy decisions.
Our unique approach to special education draws from Waldorf methods to provide peer mentoring, a classroom-based approach, and Student Success Teams, proactively supporting our special needs students.
In 2006, Rudolph Steiner College began offering Waldorf teacher training at YRCS through our Community Learning Center (CLC). This program is open to the public, as well as to teachers seeking Waldorf certification.