This is a safe place to share your honest opinions of a school, whether good or bad.
Shining Mountain Waldorf School5
Posted February 10, 2015
- a parent
We have two children at Shining Mountain Waldorf School. Our daughter is a junior in the high school and our son is in 8th grade. Both of our children have attended the school since kindergarten. We love the school and the community and it has served our children and our family well. Waldorf education is different and families considering it should make sure they understand what it is and that it aligns with their own values. One of the things we most like about Waldorf is that it strives to teach a child not only who they are but who they are in the world. It teaches and educates the whole person and the result that we see is that Waldorf students are more confident and independent. Shining Mountain is one of the top Waldorf schools in the country and we feel very fortunate to have a school like this here in Boulder.
My family moved to Boulder from the Bay Area so our daughter could attend the 1-5 cycle with a wonderful teacher who was simply the perfect thing for her. Now she's in the 6th grade, with a new teacher who will be with her throughout her middle-school experience of 6-8. I couldn't be more pleased with the experience my daughter has had attending, and I've had as a parent and member of the community. Over the last 6 years I've been deeply moved by the community of parents, by the dedication of the faculty and staff, and by the amazing students I've seen graduate every year. Each year the depth of my commitment to Waldorf education and this school in particular grows, and I can't think of a better place for my daughter to grow into a whole, deep, and competent young woman.
We moved from Dallas to Boulder so our son could attend high school at Shining Mountain Waldorf School. I am a former school administrator and taught education at the university level. The school faculty is excellent and committed to the development of every student. The parents made us feel like we'd returned to our home. We've never regretted becoming part of SMWS. The school leadership is student centered and very responsive to parents. The school is constantly striving to discover new ways to meet the changing needs of students.
We moved from Los Angeles to Boulder to bring our 5th grader and 6th grader to the school because of their stand out middle school and high school. We have now been at the school for two years. It has been the best decision we have ever made. Our youngest daughter who has been a slow reader has in school tutoring and support. The school also an amazing councilor who supports the teachers in dealing with issues. The middle school at Shining Mountain is unique. Traditionally Waldorf School teachers take a child from 1st to 8th grade. Shining Mountain breaks this tradition by having a dedicated middle school team that takes the students from 6th through 8th grade. These are some of the best middle school teachers in all of Waldorf education who have focused their training and experience on this critical age. Our girls are both met with age appropriate academics and an environment that is sensitive to the changes that they are going through physically and socially. I can't imagine a better place for our girls to be. I highly recommend this school to anyone who is looking for a deeper education wrapped in healthy active community life.
I have two children enrolled in Shining Mountain Waldorf School, both in the younger grades. My children come home happy and exhausted every afternoon. I couldn't be happier for them or feel better about the community that has been created around this school, which is in a gorgeous corner of Boulder, right up against the mountains. My girls are eating up the thoughtful, art-infused curriculum, learning life skills, and impressing me with everything they tell me about class. I highly recommend Shining Mountain.
Sending our son to SMWS is by far our greatest regret as parents. Do not be fooled by your tour of the school. It's two years our son wasted learning to knit and draw, all while being bullied to the point it turned physical. The school doesn't have a leader, but yet a group of teachers who oversee the school so if there is a problem, and there are many at SMWS, they are never addressed. Send your child to any other school in Boulder, but no SMWS.
There are a lot of great teachers and faculty but the leadership at the school is terrible and getting worse. New school director and certain staff do not act in alignment with their policies and what they say. We pulled our child after 2.5 years at the school. The school has a sustainability policy that they post online but it is for show only. They don't use healthy materials (even when available) and are more concerned with appearance of the school than the health of the children and learning environment. We have heard from several teachers and staff that they are afraid to question the leadership for fear of retribution. The school is not the "Waldorf, nature environment" that it portrays itself as. At least 5 families left the school in the past 2 years due to unsatisfactory environmental/health conditions. And, even though the school acknowledges they have an attrition problem, they refuse to acknowledge their incongruences between their actions and policies as the root cause. With each family that leaves, they try to keep the circumstances around the exit quiet. This is a school that looks good from the outside but is definitely heading in the wrong direction.
We have two boys in High School and they have flourished at Shining Mountain for 11 years. The High School curriculum is challenging, engaging, and beautifully prepares the students for college. Our HS Senior will be accepted at top colleges with academic scholarships. The HS faculty is of amazing calibre and the ratio of students to teachers is something like 7:1. The whole package is here: challenging and engaging academics in arts, sciences, speaking, writing, movement (eurythmy), community service (critical on college apps), social health (HS students mentor younger students), vocal and instrumental music, drama, and sports teams. HS basketball team will contend for a state tournament bid this year. The athletic program teaches "dual role coaching" which teaches life long values as well as how to compete. We have already realized our dream of having our boys learn to love to learn! Priceless gift that we hope they will pass on to their children.
I have been part of 4 different Waldorf communities over the last 10 years and Shining Mountain is by far the best in terms of organization, resources for children and adult education. Not only do my children feel supported, cared for but as a parent I feel the same way. The curriculum supports each child as they grow into themselves and wake up into the world by using the arts, outdoor play and academics to challenge and inspire learning. The creativity, respect and love of learning is evident in my children and I look forward to seeing how they will help shift and change the world one day. Waldorf students have an opportunity to not only have an outstanding academic education, but a life education and learn who they are in our vast and fast paced society.
When it was time to choose a school for our son, we looked at almost every school in Boulder County. We wanted to find a school that knew how to work with active boys without labels or drugs. It was a big change for us as they asked us to change our son's bedtime, develop more routines, slow down, and stop all screens (TV, video, computer, etc.) His teacher promised us that we would see behavior changes and almost immediately he became calmer, his voice became higher and sweeter, he started singing as he played, and he became more independent. This sweet boy was the same rough boy that only 3 months previously had gotten in trouble for hitting other children in preschool. It was truly a miraculous turn around. Now, in high school, he shakes his advisor's hand every day and his teachers have known him since he was 5 yrs old. The children and the parents agree to a drug free teenage community and I know the families and young adults with whom my child is spending time. I also know that my child will have a good sense of what his gifts and talents are as he exits schools and how he wants to give those to the world.