The First Public Charter School Guided by the Principles of Waldorf Education in the United States
There are over two hundred charter schools in the state of California. Although each one may be unique in its mission, program and in the challenges it faces, they all have some crucial elements in common. Charter schools address the need for parents to have expanded choices in the kinds of educational experiences available to their children and involvement in the life of the school. These elements, along with the expectation that the innovations provided by charter schools will translate into overall student achievement and represent the threefold principles of the Charter Movement.
Our vision for a charter school using Waldorf-trained teachers began several years ago, due to the active interest of many local parents and teachers. This effort culminated in 1994 with the opening of the Twin Ridges Alternative Charter School. The school served kindergarten through grade two under the auspices of the Twin Ridges Elementary School District.
The first year, the kindergarten was situated in the idyllic setting of the John Woolman School children Center. Grades one and two were in a portable building at the Jacobson Dude Ranch in Nevada City. The first year was ushered in under the existing Home Study Charter of Twin Ridges.
In our second year we added another kindergarten and expanded through grade six. We wrote our own charter and received approval by the State (charter #86). Within a month of the start of school, we found accommodations at 870 Gold Flat Road in Nevada city. Our enrollment was 185 children, with 8 full-time teachers, and a part-time administrator. Our program also included five specialty-subject teachers and an after-school program.
In our third year, 1996-1997, we expanded to grade seven and added a full-time administrator and co-teachers in grades one and two. The student population reached 200 and the specialty program grew to include Spanish, German, Games, Handwork, Woodwork, Eurythmy, Music, Drama and Calligraphy. We developed a comprehensive committee structure, with harmonious and productive work from our parent and Charter Councils. A great moment came with the naming of our school.
In September 1997 we became a complete elementary school, kindergarten through grade eight, with 200 students. We added two portable buildings for our kindergartens, and graduated our first grade eight class in the spring of 1998!
In July 1999, we moved to a facility at the Bitney Springs Center in Grass Valley. Located on a 300-acre park with a mix of firs, pines and cedars, hundred mile views, hiking trails and two ponds, this location was our home for 12 years.
In July 2007 Yuba River Charter School joined with five other charter schools in Nevada County to form a county-wide benefit charter authorized by the Nevada County Office of Education and Nevada County Superintendent of Schools. This collaboration has allowed the schools to purchase business services together and form a JPA for special education purposes. It also allowed YRCS to become a non-profit public benefit corporation which entitles the school to apply for many grants and funding opportunities that benefit only non- profit organizations. In June 2008, YRCS was approved by the State Allocation Board for a grant of $8.5 million to build a new school facility.
In July 2011 we moved to downtown Nevada City into a 1930s school building that formerly housed the Nevada City Elementary School. This is the first actual school building that YRCS has occupied and being a part of the Nevada City community brings new opportunities for the school. We are very excited to be at this location for a few years as we complete the construction of our new school facility on Rough & Ready Hwy in Grass Valley.
Yuba River Charter School endeavors to develop free human beings who, of themselves, are able to impart meaning and direction to their lives. We are a community of teachers and families uniting to inspire a love of life and learning for the whole child to serve the whole world.
Yuba River Charter School, is based on Rudolf Steiner’s developmental model of the child.
We engage the mind, enliven the imagination, and strengthen the will through an education that nurtures the head, heart and hands of the individual.
Our rigorous curriculum meets the California state standards, integrates the arts in everyday life and develops capacities within each student, inspiring life-long learners to reach their highest potential.
This is our school.
A community of teachers and families uniting
to inspire a love of life and learning
for the whole child, for the whole world.