I love Waldorf education and believe, when implemented with integrity, that it truly serves the child. My experience at this school has shown me that the majority of the faculty and the administration in particular, are not practicing education but are more concerned with serving their own Anthroposophical development. There are many personal agendas being served in administration and within the board that teachers and parents with concerns have no recourse.There are no procedures for solving disagreements or even serious concerns. Even the board of education can not address the academic issues at this school which has plummeted to a C rating due to the irresponsibility of administration. Arizona Department of Education states that charter schools have the freedom to grade as they choose and design classes as they choose.
My concerns are: the children are not being served academically, the classroom environments are chaotic and wrought with behaviour problems, there is no support to resolve issues either with the students, teachers or administrators.
The positive elements are: your child will do many wonderful forms of art, if they are struggling elsewhere, they can pass here with little to no effort particularly in the high school, there is a wonderful gardening program, they can work with animals as well as have a bit of music class. They can have unlimited socializing which seems to be the objective of the school: a laissez-faire, non intervening and high number of IEP student patchwork quilt program.
Desert Marigold school looks beautiful, enchanting and ideal for those seeking a relaxed and nurturing environment. They also give a very persuasive talk about their curriculum. However, spending one day in the classroom environment, looking at the abilities of the children academically, and observing their behaviour will surely convince any parent with common sense that this is the last place to send ones child if there is any desire for even minimal academic learning. Because of this lack of academic instruction there tends to be a large number of behaviourally challenged students as well as low achieving students. Students are not help accountable for work and are still given an A grade, particularly in the high school. The skill level and instruction in the high school is shockingly below grade level. Test scores are of course far below the standard in part because there is no instruction. The bulk of student work is merely drawing and other forms of art. Student fail courses but are passed anyway. Test course do not measure everything of course; one need only look at the majority of student work in any subject to see that the students are failing in education on the whole.
Consider these things before exposing your family. Ask questions and research the way financials are handled. Inquire about policies, grievances, family turn over,accountability and follow through, and anthroposophy. Look at the relationship between the members of the collegium and the operations of administration and board. These people are winging it. No way to run a business especially a school. Many unhappy people have left and the ones who really suffer are the children. The waiting list is long and that is why they can keep doing business this way. Do not be fooled.
Take your time and research waldorf education carefully before you embark on this path. It is very difficult to turn back when things go wrong. From my experience and that of many friends (more than 40+ of 300 who withdrew in one recent year) things will go wrong! There is very little academic learning happening here and safety and bullying are serious issues. Don't let the sweet farm like atmosphere fool you.
regarding the below comment on teacher rollover, our teacher DID roll over. the following teacher didn't rollover but did stay at the school as from what I understand she preferred to work with the high school. the next teacher is considering retiring rather than take an 8 year commitment. so the below person got caught in a down phase. People leave and go teach elsewhere, it happens. And every school has its issues. I am very involved with the school and enjoy the many opportunities to be with my children and share in the rich environment. It is a wonderful community, and we have the best teacher in the world so my experience is a little skewed, I guess.
Check out the link on this school's website(arizonawaldorf.org) for careers and employment. For a tiny school that markets itself as such a warm environment for growth and learning, they are always hiring first grade (for at least the last 4 years) and grades teachers. With only 1 teacher for each grade, they shouldn't need to do this every school year. Why don't teachers loop back to first grade like they're supposed to? Sometimes when something sounds too good to be true, it just is. This school really got my kids off on the wrong foot and created behavior issues that they didn't have before attending DMS. The high teacher turnover and high student turnover speaks to these issues. Yes, it's pretty on the outside with parents clamoring to try it out, but it's full of broken promises and misleading misinformation on the inside. Don't let the administration convince you that their way is the best and only way. There's a great big world out there beyond the dangerously open gates of this school!
Desert Marigold caters to one type of student and family- white, overachievers. My son has been struggling academically and the teacher has not been helpful at offering additional support. We had him tested with a tutoring company and he math skills are far below grade level. We do not recommend you attend this school.
Waldorf education and what it is is readily available on the internet. They are a charter Waldorf school-it's up to the parent to research what Waldorf is, what to expect in a charter vs private school setting, and how it is different than traditional school teaching. In a charter school setting they have to conform to state standards, so it isn't a true Waldorf school but a school that has Waldorf flavoring, so to speak. In a private school setting the anthroposophy roots are more obvious. This school hasn't "hidden" what they are-it's out there already. Parents have to take the time and learn about such a method and how they combine it in a public school setting. Kind of hard to judge a school by only a tour, no attendance, and no research done on a parent's part. We are happy here and have been here since Kinder. Yes admin could use some tweaking...but by and large we are happy here overall because we went in with eyes open and research done.
I went on a school tour because I love the grounds and am looking for an alternative to the public school malaise in Arizona for my child. I enjoyed the tour, the kindergarten looks like tons of fun. The other classrooms are a little dark and dreary. My problem with this school is that I would love to send my child there but upon further research on the Waldorf method I am alarmed that the school wasn't more open about it's spiritual/religious nature. Apparently all of the things that waldorf schools do such as having teachers stay with kids, painting wet on wet, eurythmics all have a basis in this anthroposophy which is not that big of a deal to me except it isn't talked about at all and starts to make me think of the school as a bit cultish. I would prefer that they were up front about all of this stuff rather than hiding it. To me it would be like sending my child to catholic school but the school denying its basis in religion. Maybe they do this because the aren't private and are a charter? Regardless I would appreciate a more up front approach to the philosophy behind the school. Besides that it seems like an ideal early childhood school.
We attended DMS for just over 2 years and found it to be lacking in many areas. My goal for my children is for them to discover what makes them happy and be able to do that. We thought Desert Marigold was the place for this to happen. We were so very wrong. At first we thought the environment was loving and supportive, but my child continued to complain of boredom, teachers not listening, and being picked on daily. It seemed so unlikely at a place like this that I ignored it for too long. By the time I took my issues to administration my child was in emotional distress. At the first sign of conflict the administration decided that adhering to the century-old philosophies created by the founder of Waldorf methodologies was more important than providing an emotionally supportive environment with basic boundaries concerning bullying. The school failed to acknowledge that such things ever happened there. There is a large group of parents continuing to fight this ignorance on campus, but my family has left. My children are now happy and thriving at a public school. My child told me I should tell the other parents how unsafe this school is and there are better places, so I am.