Three Cedars Waldorf School continues to evolve rapidly, with a new Executive Director at its helm since the spring of 2011, and a renewed team of faculty and staff members. The school is engaged in a joint accreditation process with the Pacific Northwest Association of Independent Schools (PNAIS) and the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA), attesting to its solid programs, faculty, and plans for future developments. Our school has moved beyond the challenges of its early years, and our team of trained and experienced teachers effectively meet the needs of today's children and families with enthusiasm!
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Three Cedars Waldorf School2
Posted April 06, 2015
- a parent
I think its very telling that no one has written a review of Three Cedars in a year. Many of us who left the school in 2014 were stunned by the drastic changes and fled due to safety issues at the school. Those who remain seem to be fighting harder than ever to save the school. I wish them strength and good luck. The board of Three Cedars is very twisted and immoral in its decision making and created a hostile work environment for employees and many parents who noticed their actions. They allowed 1/3 of the faculty and staff to be fired or quit in a 3 month period due to the Executive Director's incompetence. Until better diversity is achieved on the board no true change can happen. It broke my family's heart to leave and the healing is ongoing. I hope the school can find its way back to a safe and magical place for children to learn.
Our journey into Waldorf education is recent and this is our first year at Three Cedars. Day after day, is clearer to us that if the world had more Waldorf schools, it would definitely be a better place to live. Three Cedars embraces students by what they are, respecting their differences in a careful environment set to promote healthy intelectual child development. The knowledge and respect Three Cedars shows for each student, clearly materialized in their curriculum, has no parallel with other experiences we've had in other private schools. They support the "classic" and the "out-of-the-box" types of student, guiding them to channel their curiosity and their inner potential. Three Cedars offers a well rounded education, protects imagination, fosters creativity and promotes nature interaction (my son spends an amazing quality time in the woods) without having to give up a challenging academic content. The teachers are deeply involved and committed to their students, and the staff goes extra miles to make things run smoothly. The principal is competent and dedicated and I hope to see this school community growing and fine tuning its challenges in the years to come.
There is 2 points that I would like to say about how this School is special: - They view children as conscious beings , and not as skilled workforce for an uncertain future. The implications is that every single student will develop a multitude of skills in many directions...but mostly they will have a deeper understanding of who they are and the world surrounding thru music, art and science. The curriculum is presented according to appropriate stage of development, not only cognitive, but emotional and social. - The School is very conveniently located in place with lots of natural space, very close to Wilburton park.
It seemed like an amazing school at first, but Three Cedars declined over the years that my children attended. Specifically the culture changed from a community that sought to include all of the students and welcomed parents on campus and especially at festivals to a closed and cold campus that promoted secretive communication and rumor-mongering among both students and parents. While I enjoyed much of the beautiful artwork produced by my children and some of their classmates, the core curriculula of arithmetic and English were very weak. Some teachers were very good at their subjects and as community leaders but many of those teachers have left the school the past two years or so.
I wanted to believe in Three Cedars. My children were there for over five years. One of my children had learning difficulties and the other was a high achiever. The school could not meet the needs of either one so a change had to be made and it has been a huge improvement for each child. I also want to add that the faculty at Three Cedars seems somewhat secretive in how it operates and it sometimes made me uncomfortable as a parent.
Great School, great teachers, great community! Kids are challenged every day, which makes them more eager to learn, but not constantly stressed out with tests like in pubic school. All different learning styles are addressed, lessons are diversified, and there is lots of time to run and jump in between sit-down lessons. The curriculum includes visual and performing arts, and there are lots of opportunities for hands-on experiences with real world problems and the local community. Excessive use of media is discouraged for developmental reasons. Waldorf education develops body, mind and soul, not just the brain like most public schools strive for. My daughter loves it! Her skills, knowledge and demeanor have improved greatly since changing from public school to Three Cedars in 4th grade. I am just sad we didn't start with it earlier.
Our child attended Three Cedars for several years after we grew disillusioned with public school. While Three Cedars was generally pleasant during our child s younger years, we grew concerned about the level of academic achievement as our child grew into the middle school years. The matter was complicated by the upheaval of having our child s main teacher depart in the midst of the school year and the school s inability to hire a replacement teacher for the remainder of the entire year and the school s decision to bring in a patchwork quilt of temporary block teachers. These events occurred at a critical time in our child s education and set our child (and likely many other members of the class) back. We ultimately felt that Three Cedars was not providing the necessary foundation for higher learning in upper middle school and high school and decided to remove our child. It has been an academic catch-up battle for our child since arriving at the new school.
While I do not subscribe to Anthroposophy, the ideology that guides Waldorf pedagogy, I do feel this school can meet some children better than other private or public schools. The Early Childhood faculty is amazing and a beneficial fit for most children. But there are teacher imposed lifestyle challenges for parents and children in the grades program. Science and mathematics are weak in the grades program. The education is portfolio rather than grade based, and reading is discouraged until age 7. There are a number of children with health challenges at the school and while the school works to meet these children, I have found that it can be difficult for ordinary, healthy children, like my two kids, to thrive in a classroom environment where more children than average are not vaccinated, have profound dietary restrictions, or suffer from a variety or emotional disturbances. The school strives for multiculturalism but is challenged with bullying in the grades owing to it's use of an orthodox boundary-based or behavioral approach to discipline. Team sports are very limited. Currently, it has postponed it's accreditation with AWSNA and NWAIS.
Our 2 children absolutely LOVE going to Three Cedars and are thriving there! Our son entered in 3rd grade and our daughter in 7th. Both were warmly welcomed by teachers, staff and students and quickly formed friendships. Prior to Three Cedars, they often resisted going to school. Now they wish they could go to school every day! They adore their teachers, what they are learning and how they are learning it. Core to Waldorf pedagogy is teaching the whole child and instilling in them a love of learning. We have definitely noticed this with our children, as this love spills into their response to and curiosity about the world around them. Teachers really see and understand who our children are as individuals, which translates into assignments or approaches to assignments that are unique to each child as a way to both encourage their strengths and challenge them to grow. We know that our children are safe at this school and are honored for who they are. We have been impressed with the leadership provided by the Executive Director. Parents are kept apprised of difficult decisions which have been made to ensure stability and a positive future for the school.
Regarding academics, what I really appreciate about this school is that the focus is on teaching children how to learn. Here, they don't memorize facts, rather, they learn how to think, solve problems, collaborate and communicate. I think these are critical skills for not only their careers but for their lives. There is also a focus on other critical life skills, such as persistence and resilience by doing things such as having yearlong handwork projects starting in grade 1. Regarding administration and the health of the school, there has been increased rigor on teacher standards and administrative processes in recent years, which have all added, and continue to add, to the sustainability and well-being of the school and its students. We have been at the school for 5 years I feel really good about both the Waldorf approach and how this school embodies it. I think this school just gets better and better each year and I wholeheartedly recommend it.