A new public Waldorf program affiliated with a Sonoma County charter school will kick off somewhere in Marin this fall, a group of local parents announced last week. The school, sponsored by the Sonoma branch of the Academy of Arts and Sciences, will offer kindergartners through fifth graders a second option for free Waldorf education in Marin and comes in response to the abrupt termination this spring of one of Lagunitas School District’s three specialized programs.
Matt Andrews, a parent who headed up an effort by Waldorf parents to establish a charter at Lagunitas two years ago, said 25 or 30 district parents have already shown interest in the new school, and the group will have a booth at the Fairfax Festival this weekend to entice more. “Whoever wants to participate at this point needs to commit as soon as possible, but the more the merrier,” Mr. Andrews said.
At a parent meeting last week, Lagunitas Waldorf parents were surprised but excited to learn that the new program was getting off the ground so quickly. “At the end of the meeting, there was actually hope, and that hasn’t been around for a while,” Mr. Andrews said. “It’s been a rough couple of months.” He added that the curriculum, still firmly based in Waldorf philosophy, wouldn’t significantly change. Instead, parents will notice the biggest shift in the administration.
“The director of the school will be Waldorf, not someone managing [multiple] programs who is not immersed in the pedagogy,” he said. “The level of immersion in Waldorf culture—that’s the biggest difference that people will notice.”
Lagunitas principal Laura Shain said the charter will not have a financial impact on the district, which was one of the biggest concerns spurred by the 2012 charter petition. She said she wasn’t sure how it would impact the school as a whole—particularly if dozens of students transfer out—but said that no matter what, parents should make the choice they felt best suited their children. “We really want our families to be in the school that they’re happy with,” she said. “We would be concerned if people stayed and were not happy with the program and didn’t have a good transition. That is what would be concerning.”
The charter is still in its nascent stages, seeking a space and teachers before the fall semester begins. The two Waldorf teachers whose jobs were terminated at Lagunitas as a result of the program’s elimination, Vanessa Cudabac and Marlo Kindermann, have been encouraged to apply.