Delta County School District #50 is reviewing an application for a charter school in the North Fork area that would embrace the Waldorf method, an educational model that is already being used successfully with kindergarten and homeschool families through the Blossom Valley co-op.
Paonia was actually home to one of the first Waldorf schools in Colorado.
Lamborn Valley School, which began in 1973, was recognized through the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America. With the departure of Thesa Callinicos in 1984, the Waldorf designation was dropped and Lamborn was operated as an alternative school. Now Callinicos is back. She has joined forces with other supporters, like lead coordinator Cassandra Shenk, to put together the proposal for a charter school.
The Blossom Valley Charter School anticipates 61 students in grades preschool through eighth grade beginning in the fall of 2014.
The detailed charter application has been reviewed by the District Accountability Committee and will be the focus of a community meeting Monday, Dec. 2, at 6:30 p.m. at the Delta Montrose Energy Tech Campus, 218 4th Street in Paonia. School board members will meet with the applicants at a work session the morning of Monday, Dec. 9, and make a final decision at the Dec. 12 board meeting. The Delta County school board has sole chartering authority.
According to the application, "Waldorf education is one of the fastest-growing educational movements in the world. Waldorf education uses methods that integrate story, movement and art, and is carefully attuned to the child's development."
According to the application, standards-based curriculum is delivered using innovative and proven Waldorf-inspired methods. The curriculum integrates oral tradition, visual and performing arts, foreign languages and movement into the teaching of English/language arts, mathematics, social studies and science.
In addition to classroom-based learning, Blossom Valley Charter School will provide learning opportunities for farming and gardening, artisan skill development (such as woodworking), outdoor play and games. Two potential locations for the school have been identified in the Paonia area.
The school's mission, which cites an "unhurried, arts-based approach," has led some people to conclude Waldorf is not high achieving academically. That is a misconception, Shenk says. Yes, kindergarten is play-based, and Colorado academic standards may be addressed at grade levels that will occasionally differ from those in the state framework. But the Waldorf curriculum pushes kids academically in a different way, Shenk said. Primary students may score lower than average on standardized tests, but they soon catch up and pass their counterparts in traditional schools.
According to the applicants, there are three public Waldorf-inspired schools on the Front Range and one in Grand Junction.
In response to "Why Waldorf, Why Here?" they cite the North Fork Valley's recognition as a Creative District.
"The North Fork Valley is the ideal home for a Waldorf-inspired school because of the commitment of this community to arts and nature-based education, family involvement, practical arts and sustainable, simple living. Delta County is home to many outstanding public schools but there are no schools offering the arts-rich, hands-on curriculum sought after by a number of families and students and aligned with community values."
The Blossom Valley co-op is comprised of home-school families who embrace the Waldorf philosophy and have joined together to pool their resources. While they will form the foundation for enrollment in the charter school, Shenk said a quarter of the "intend to enroll" students plan to move to the area to enroll in the Waldorf school, including families from New York and Utah.
"Waldorf is pretty well known around the world, so when people find out there is a Waldorf school it can inform their choice to move," Shenk said. "One of our board members moved around the world just to keep her son in a Waldorf school. People get very committed to it."
Because Blossom Valley Charter School will serve families who are willing to move here and those already homeschooling their kids, Shenk believes the charter school will have minimal impact on enrollment in the North Fork's traditional schools and the Vision Charter Academy.
"We have great schools and families are being well served by them," she said. "That won't change when we open."blog comments powered by Disqus