When you walk into a classroom in the Rudolph Steiner School of Ann Arbor, what you notice is that the walls are paneled and the windows trimmed, with wood. That makes the classroom feel less like a government institution, and more like a home. Art and beauty are at the center of the curriculum, whether it is the woodworking, clay sculpture or paintings that they produce. My daughter is now in 7th grade, and has been here since Kindergarten, and we plan to stay all the way through the end of High School. Its an amazing experience that produces well rounded young adults. What else could we ask for?
Rather than spending a few weeks learning skills such as clay sculpture or German, they spend YEARS doing these things, slowly building up, with patience and repetition, solid bases of knowledge and skills, making sure that everyone improves. Some at different rates than others, of course.
I couldn't be more pleased with Steiner. We've got a 3rd grader and a preschooler and we've been there for 4 years. I find the environment to be very open and accepting. My daughter's learning style is not only accepted but encouraged, helping her to fit into her classroom community as well as encouraging her individuality. I love how all subjects are taught with a similar emphasis so that everything from language and math to art and music are treated with equal respect.
I adore the early childhood program. The way they manage to achieve a daily rhythm is gentle and nurturing.
I was worried that the school would be too dogmatic for me but on the whole I've found the environment to be welcoming and accepting of all of our values. [We were not even shunned for having a tv! ;) ]
I believe that the Rudolph Steiner philosophy is amazing, and I have no prior experience with the lower school (Which as far as I know could be absolutely phenomenal) but the high school caters to a very specific type of student. If you do not fit into that specific demographic you are gradually pushed away, whether it be intentional or unintentional. Many of the students and some of the teachers are quite judgmental and there is a great amount of favoritism going on as well. The staff also generally handles situations very poorly. As far as the education /curriculum goes, it's fairly good and there are quite a few dedicated teachers. It's certainly worth checking out, but I suggest really doing your research and visiting before investing your time and money into this school.
The Waldorf curriculum is amazing and really meets a child developmentally. In this school most of the teachers are really dedicated and work hard to create a beautiful learning environment. Great community and parent involvement. The most disappointing aspect of this school, is the way they communicate with parents in difficult situations. There are many parents who have felt frustrated by the way in which things get communicated and have finally left the school.
I was shocked to discover that not all the teachers have a teaching degree. Can you imagine? I know people can be very intelligent without a college degree but when it comes to teaching I really expect a certain level of college education. Especially when I am being asked to pay thousands of dollars each year in tuition. I also noted a morale problem among the employees, issues with the early education department, and rumblings about the head of school's leadership and human resources abilities. Some people are certainly very qualified and the philosophy great if everyone were operating by it. I hope it can find the right leadership to bring everyone together in an organized fashion to truly live the philosophy they use to get people to sign a contract. Some of the administration do not act in a manner consistent with the marketing. They are just too divided and it can be noticed by anyone spending even a little time on the campuses. Recently they seem to have lost key employees for various reasons and the turnover is alarming. This is a sign that things at the top are not running correctly. The board should take notice and the teachers should take back some control.