This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Desert Marigold School1
Posted December 18, 2014
- a parent
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!
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.
As with any school, there is always room for improvement. We moved to Phoenix because we love AZ. We moved to South mountain, because we loved Desert Marigold school.Our youngest son is in EC preschool. We are familiar with the Waldorf inspired education and do not feel the need to be followers and compete prematurely in testing etc. I feel a lot of parents are overly sensitive to certain issues and need to problem solve themselves and let their children do the same. We have an 18 year old that went through public education and see the problems he now faces due to the "push" to grow up faster and faster. We are pleased with our decision and if you are an "involved" parent then you will be a part of the community that helps "raise the child" .It is not soley the schools job.
After 6 weeks in our neighborhood school we got called off of the wait list at DMS. We are so blessed to be a part of a nurturing community. As with any schools, perfection is not possible. We feel that this school has the students best interest at heart. My child is educated as a whole child. There are arts, eurythmy, Spanish, gardening, handwork, music and plenty of play time. For our family, the thought of traditional schooling that included teaching to the test and encouraging conformity is not what we wanted for our children. I want a self sufficient, caring, confident child that has been taught valuable life skills. A child that can problem solve and find answers without google. An engaged child rather than a child knee deep into a screen of any kind. DMS embraces all of this. Most Waldorf schools are private and can cost as much as $17K per year. We are so lucky to have this type of education for free. Thank you DMS!
Desert Marigold is all we'd hoped for and more... The campus is beautiful, the people, wonderful, and the potential, amazing. Even the things that concerned us initially turned out to be strengths. The kids have one teacher (and one set of classmates) from 1st-8th grade which leads not to insulation but true bonding. They have many different specialty teachers as well and plenty of parent volunteers and staff to set good examples. They learn less from books and more from oral instruction, along with their own note-taking--not strange. This is how we teach in colleges and universities. At Desert Marigold, you can feel like an integral part of a growing community, rather than a cog in a machine. It is a place of true beauty and meaningful learning.