Our Vision at Juniper Ridge Community School is to awaken children to the wonder and joy of learning through nature combined with the living arts, academics, and the role these elements play in the development of the whole child. Our school nurtures creativity, individuality, and independent thinking so children have vast opportunity to pursue educational excellence, thus entering their community and the world with confidence, competence and compassion.
Juniper Ridge Community School is a K-8 charter school that engages students with a curriculum that integrates art with the sciences and humanities through practical activity. The curriculum is rooted in the Waldorf tradition and offers a unique learning style new to the Grand Valley. A great body of research suggests that the Waldorf approach, with its distinctive understanding of child development, helps all children, regardless of socio-economic status, to reach remarkable academic and personal success. Waldorf-inspired graduates love to learn and continue to seek knowledge far beyond the last day of school, becoming highly valuable leaders and community members.
Although Waldorf schools have been around for nearly 100 years, they are usually tuition-based and often inaccessible to all but a small tier of students. JRCS believes this outstanding educational model should be available to all children, regardless of finances, which is at the heart of the creation of this outstanding school.
Thoughtful, committed teachers and attentive, involved families join to inspire children to participate in their own education, by cultivating compassion and caring for themselves, each other, and the natural world. Our children emerge from Juniper Ridge as confident, self-reliant individuals who mindfully enrich their own lives, preserve and protect the earth, and productively contribute to broad and diverse communities.
Our Efforts Include:
- Fostering the child’s curiosity and love of learning, integrating the arts with developmentally appropriate academics, strengthening the child’s relationship to the rhythms of the earth, and guiding each student to strengthen his or her intellectual, creative, emotional and spiritual capacities.
- Building a vibrant learning environment, K-6, through the implementation of methods based on Rudolf Steiner’s teachings to elicit wonder, respect and awe, while nurturing long-term, healthy relationships between classmates and the teacher.
- Creating a bridge between family and school through parent participation and cooperation, respectful clear communication, and the establishment of a common understanding of child and human development.
- Engaging and uniting the local community by hosting events, festivals and fundraisers; offering enrichment programs; growing a sustainable garden for the community; and emulating the importance of social responsibility and global awareness.
Basic Information About the Waldorf Teaching Method and the Colorado Charter School Process:
- The first Waldorf School was started in 1919 in Stuttgart, Germany by Rudolf Steiner. He based his school on his understanding of the human being and how we develop from birth to adulthood.
- The specific methods used in Waldorf schools come from the view that the child develops through a number of basic stages from childhood to adulthood. The Waldorf curriculum is specifically designed to work with the child through these stages of development. The Waldorf philosophy views education as an art, so each subject, be it arithmetic, biology or English, is presented in a living way that speaks to the child’s developmental stage.
- Each subject is presented through direct experience and is usually augmented with art, poetry, music, drama and movement. The teacher’s aim is to draw out the children’s inherent capacities by creating an atmosphere in the classroom that fills the children with interest, wonder and enthusiasm.
- Subjects are taught using what is called the morning main lesson. The main lesson is a two-plus hour integrated block. The morning Main Lesson immerses the students in a particular academic subject of the curriculum, over three or four weeks, and each child produces a beautifully written and illustrated Main Lesson book for each subject.
- With the Waldorf method of instruction, the class teacher involves the children in the subject through presentation, storytelling, writing, reading, recitation, dramatic acting, painting, drawing, and movement. The teacher follows a rhythm, day to day, which begins with a review of the previous day’s material, further development of the subject matter and then introduction of new material.
- The class teacher works with each child through a multi-year relationship, where the teacher is able to draw out the child’s strengths and focus more consistently and intensively on the weaker areas.
- Schools using Waldorf methods maintain a high level of academic rigor while preserving the focus on the whole child and the importance of meeting them where they are.
- Additional subjects augment the Main Lessons: a Waldorf-methods school will typically include handwork classes, woodworking and other “practical arts”, music classes, two foreign languages and eurythmy (movement) classes, in addition to physical education and on-going math and English classes.
- Colorado has a charter school program whereby an independent group of parents and administrators may set up a publicly funded charter school which would have a certain degree of independence in terms of setting curriculum and educational philosophy.
- A public Waldorf-methods or Waldorf-inspired charter school typically takes the forms and methods which distinguish independent Waldorf schools and adapts them to the public school environment.
- A public Waldorf-methods or Waldorf-inspired charter school must meet the criteria set by the district and State to operate.