Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School, founded in 1973, is one of more than 900 schools throughout the world comprising the Waldorf, or Rudolf Steiner school movement. The movement began in Europe in 1919, and there are now approximately 190 Waldorf schools and developing initiatives in North America.
Waldorf education, grounded in the life work of Rudolf Steiner, nurtures both the innate moral strength of children and facilitates free and individual thinking. In a Waldorf school, teachers recognize the child’s intellectual, physical, emotional, and spiritual capacities. Artistic, cognitive, and practical lessons nurture the potential and uniqueness of each child.
The curriculum of a Waldorf School is designed to meet the developmental stages of the child. Out of their own initiative and sensitivity, the teachers work to shape the subject matter to suit the background, varying academic abilities, and individual qualities of their particular class. Whatever the subject matter of a particular lesson, the teacher’s art is to make it come dramatically and vividly alive. Freedom within the basic curriculum affords both the greatest challenges and the greatest stimuli for the teacher.
Commitment to the principles of Waldorf education means that certain aspects of Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School’s curriculum and atmosphere are very different from those corresponding aspects in other schools. The hallmarks, which affect the daily life of the school, are quickly apparent:
- Teachers, as the ones who have the greatest contact with the children, make the pedagogical decisions of the school.
- A strong connection between parent and teacher is fostered.
- Evaluations of the children are based on many criteria rather than on intellectual abilities alone.
Waldorf education is based on an understanding of human development that addresses the needs of the growing child. Waldorf teachers strive to transform education into an art that educates the whole child – head, heart, and hands. The faculty is interested in the students as individuals, asking questions such as:
- How do we establish within each child his or her own high level of academic excellence?
- How do we call forth enthusiasm for learning and work, a healthy self-awareness, interest and concern for fellow human beings, and a respect for the world?
- How can we help pupils find meaning in their lives?
Waldorf teachers are dedicated to generating an inner enthusiasm for learning within every child that will last a lifetime. The faculty at Hawthorne Valley is no exception!