The importance of storytelling, of the natural rhythms of daily life, of the evolutionary changes in
the child, of art as the necessary underpinning of learning, and of the aesthetic environment as a
whole - all basic to Waldorf education for the past 70 years - are being “discovered” and verified
by researchers unconnected to the Waldorf movement.”
Paul Bayers, Professor, Columbia University Teachers’ College
October 28, 2016
Dear Families and Friends of Aurora Waldorf School,
Our school opened its doors in 1991 with a Kindergarten of 13 students and a First Grade of 12. Today
our enrollment is nearly 190, with students in Parent Toddler class through Grade Eight.
Over the past year, we’ve made some exciting changes. We adopted a middle-school model of specialist
teachers and a modified morning schedule, to better meet the needs of sixth, seventh and eighth graders in
their transition to high school. The variable cycle model of grade teacher rotation was also instituted, to
support teacher retention and provide students with the best teacher for each developmental stage. Our
Kindergarten classes are now a mixed-age group of three- to six-year-olds, following the successful lead
of many other Waldorf schools.
Last year had its challenges. In the past decade, independent school enrollment has declined across the
country, and Aurora Waldorf School has not been immune to this trend. With fewer students enrolled, we
have to find other ways to bridge the gaps and cover our expenses. The Board, working with the faculty
and staff, has made many changes to our operations, restructuring the office, creating more rigorous
financial oversight, and adjusting teacher schedules. We have increased efficiency and decreased costs,
while maintaining the excellent educational standards of the Waldorf model.
In addition, as soon as the community was made aware of our financial difficulties last spring, in
typical fashion, parents, teachers and friends rolled up their sleeves and got to work. Countless
volunteer hours of meetings, hard work by staff and trustees, and the extreme financial generosity
of others helped us weather the storm. But the hard work is not done. We are entering the school
year with a projected deficit, and your continued support is needed.
In an era when high-stakes testing, computerized teaching, and pop culture drive mainstream educational
policies, creating school anxiety and “burnout”, AWS students thrive as their capacities are allowed to
unfold gradually. As a parent of three children enrolled here, I realize how special our school is. In what
other school do the little ones spend their day baking, sewing, hiking and getting delightfully muddy? Where
else do older children receive a classical academic education, while also learning about farming, studying
Norse mythology, performing science experiments, and knitting socks? This school is a gift. And it’s up
to us to make sure it remains for years to come.
One of our graduates, now in her late 20’s, offered the following unsolicited reflections recently, reminding
us why we care so much about AWS:
Waldorf graduates aren’t afraid of many things. By 8th grade, they’ve mastered so many skills, and
they’ve been so thoroughly steeped in the arts, that they are unfazed by most things that
intimidate the average adult. Singing in front of people; drawing or painting or crafting something
out of clay; public speaking or acting; playing sports and really trying at it (this is a hard one for
women in particular, I’ve noticed); knitting something, or just hemming your own pants (hard and
scary for most men!). No Waldorf student was ever permitted to believe he/she couldn’t do
something. Saying “I don’t sing” or “I’m bad at drawing” or “I’m not good at sports” was met with
cheerful but firm disregard. There’s a freedom I feel, and that I observe in my fellow graduates, to
express and to take up space in the world in a way that I don’t always see in others, and I have to
believe it stems from these continuous messages of empowerment from our teachers.
Of all the people I know, [Waldorf graduates] are the most determined to be true to themselves, to
decide what is right for themselves without the influence of societal pressures. Thanks to the
internet, social media, smart phones, etc., the world’s latest trends are being piped directly into our
brains at an ever-increasing rate. The people who resist jumping on the bandwagon, or at least
think hard about it before doing so, are the people I went to school with. They’re not afraid to ask
questions, or more importantly, to stand out and be noticed if they choose to do things differently.
Finally, spending so many hours of my day outdoors is one of the most amazing and RARE gifts this
school gave me. (The contrast between these memories and what I hear now about personalized
iPads in public school classrooms is heartbreaking and downright scary.) I honestly don’t know of
any other school where so much time is spent just being out in the world, whether it’s cross-
country-skiing through the woods, or studying the leaves on trees, or painting the clouds, or
building a shelter by the creek, or just playing tag at recess. Being outside that much, whether
connecting intentionally with the natural world or just running around blowing off steam, felt
deeply right, and it’s one of the things in my life for which I’m most grateful.
We need your help now more than ever. Let us work together to make this school prosperous;
join me in donating to Aurora Waldorf School’s Annual Fund. Any amount is welcome and deeply
appreciated. Your generous contribution can help put Aurora Waldorf School on a strong financial
foundation for generations to come.
Steven Walters, President
Aurora Waldorf School Board of Trustees