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Bright Water School

Private | K-8 | 174 students


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Living in Seattle

Situated in an inner city neighborhood. The median home value is $390,000. The average monthly rent for a 2 bedroom apartment is $1,010.

Source: Sperling's Best Places
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4 stars

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22 reviews of this school

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Posted April 25, 2013

Beautiful and clean classrooms, caring and happy teachers. A wonderful and safe place for kids to struggle, fail and succeed!
—Submitted by a parent

Posted March 28, 2013

We have had mixed experiences with BWS. For K and pre-K this is a great environment, but if your child needs academic challenges at an early age, they are not going to get it here. We took my son out after the school insisted he attend a third year of Kindergarten even though it was clear he was bored. Our daughter, has been happy and enriched in her early grade experience, although it has become obvious that her reading and math skills have not been adequately developed. Teacher quality and effectiveness is highly variable. Most, if not all, teachers have no formal child development or education background other than Waldorf training. The administrative staff is the primary challenge. They are non-cummunicative, borderline hostile and ineffective in dealing with parent concerns, as well as the teachers. There have been several waves of student departures over the last few years due to unhappy parents and kids with learning disabilities that went undiagnosed for years. The school is now struggling with student retention. If you are willing to fully embrace the Waldorf way and can look past the staff issues, then check out BWS.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted February 21, 2013

What a wonderful school! It s calm, it s rhythmic, it s beautiful. It s full of stories and thought. Little children are allowed, encouraged to spend time at play and a lot of that time outdoors, exploring in nature. Grade school children continue this emphasis on movement and the outdoors, while beginning their academic journey, adding in math, reading (first and second graders are allowed time for the magic of reading to happen naturally and with joy), writing, and science skills through imagination, creativity, critical thinking and problem solving. In addition, children learn Spanish, Japanese, how to knit and do other creative handwork and woodwork, play the flute, paint, sing. They get to pick a stringed instrument in grade four. Once in middle school, the academic learning is wonderfully challenging with algebra, physics, geology, geography, human physiology, ancient cultures and more. I have a second grader and a sixth grader, and my children wake up every morning excited to go to school. We are deeply grateful for what this school gives our children and our family!
—Submitted by a parent

Posted January 27, 2013

I had to pull my child out of this school due to poor academics. Your child's education will only be as good as the main teacher they will have. (students have the same teacher for most of their subjects for eight years). My child attended for two years. Almost half of the parents in her class ended up pulling their child from the school as well because they were not happy with their child's progress. I think the school has great intentions and care about each student but it is a young school and has a way to go.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted March 18, 2012

Bright Water is a Waldorf school. If you already are familiar with Waldorf teachings, then that may be all the info you need. I didn't fully understand the educational philosophy, & the result was 3 years of elementary school misery for my bright little person. But 1st: the 3 stars given here are a compromise. The kindergarten deserves 5 stars, and lasts 3 years, ages 4-6. It is gentle, nurturing, & It is a place where your child (if you comply w rules of NO TV, NO video games, NO computer on in any common room of your home while the child is present) will learn a larger vocab. than public school kids, develop as an independent thinker, & gain a greater attention span than most. (Jane Healy: Failure to Communicate). After K, grab your child and run. Beveled windows & beautiful rooms mean nothing if all your child does is copy off of the board. The goal is for 1st graders to be able to write perfectly on unlined paper. As a teacher, I was ill when I found this out. 3 years, & I didn't know!! BW teachers aren't required to have WA state teaching certs, only "Steiner School". It's like the Amish; if it existed after Steiner, they won't use the ideas. Be careful here.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted September 18, 2011

We feel so lucky to have gotten into Bright Water. Our child is thriving and is excited to go to school every day. What a gift to her and to us! Waldorf certainly isn't for every child or every family but if you trust in the education and you have a great teacher the way we do, the education unfolds before your eyes...children flourish! Our child comes home every day eager to tell us about her day and to share something new she has learned. We feel so grateful to have found Waldorf Education and Bright Water!
—Submitted by a parent

Posted August 12, 2011

Bright Water provides the kind of education that produces the future citizens our country needs. Children grasp foundational educational concepts and 'learn how to learn' as well as become skilled at basic facts, like multiplication tables. They learn to respectively engage in productive cooperation and productive conflict with their peers. They play team sports according to traditional rules and creatively explore movement through dance, drama, circus arts and outdoor adventures. Students study Spanish, Japanese, music and art EVERY YEAR from first grade to eight grade. They read and write and do math every day. And yes, they even learn to knit. As a Waldorf school, Bright Water is not the right placec for every child or every parent. Ultimately, each of us as parents must choose the right school for our kids. My daughter is happy, thriving, and a better human being because of Bright Water. That's the best gift I can give her and the world.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted August 10, 2011

Our child attended BWS for two years and our experience did not meet the theological or pedagogical foundation of a Waldorf education let alone a basic education. The school has struggled to maintain teachers and approaches any special needs assessment with a para-professional possessing enough knowledge to be damaging and in fact was for our child. The administration's interest and full support was for the school and at no time could we find an internal advocate for our child. Today, our child has been diagnosed with dyslexia and is beginning a public school education two years behind following an education at BWS. While capable of knitting and playing the flute, today is unable to read or write. This is not a school with growing pains - it is not a school - it is an institution of incompetence. Before you send your child - investigate the level of educational certification of its instructors and the credentials of its "specialists."
—Submitted by a parent

Posted May 11, 2011

Our family's experience at BWS has been amazing, but I can easily imagine another family's disappointment--this is not a school that will work for everyone. We've been here 8 years and have watched our child blossom--socially, academically, spiritually. We've also watched the school struggle in many areas. But we stay because our child is thriving, and because we view the school's struggles as a sign of growth and commitment to providing an excellent Waldorf education.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted April 15, 2011

We did not have a positive experience with BWS. We were attracted to the strong artistic aspect of the education but quickly were disillusioned. The administration does not communicate or work well with parents, and we never felt welcomed by the administration. The teacher was very persuasive in convincing us of the importance of delaying academics, which put our child at a significant disadvantage. The teacher also was very cold towards the new mothers in the parent group. It appeared to us that the philosophy encouraged the teacher child bond and discounted the importance of the parent child relationship. Children were left to "work problems out on their own". If you are really interested in Waldorf we suggest looking elsewhere.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted January 6, 2011

We've been at Bright Water since 2004 and have seen the education unfold. Young children are taught a solid foundation for learning and for citizenship in the classroom and school community. As the curriculum unfolds, students are exposed to a creative, integrated education that really fosters a desire to learn in addition to teaching fundamentals. The students we have seen graduate from BWS's eighth grade are, on the whole, confident and resourceful. They are going to good high schools, both private and public, and are doing well. Their teachers seem impressed that they are adept at figuring out concepts, not just at rote learning. That, in my opinion, is a valuable skill to carry through life.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted December 19, 2010

Our two children are happy and balanced here. With all teachers aligned in their philosophy and practices, it is so different from other schools where teacher quality, goals and philosophy can vary greatly. I've heard Waldorf education described as education from the inside out; this rings true in our experience. No part of either of my children's development is being overlooked. All is being addressed at the proper time.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted December 18, 2010

Our children have attended Bright Water School for four years. This school has warm, dedicated and talented teachers. A unique aspect to Waldorf education is that the student has the same teacher for their main lesson from first through eighth grade. In addition to the main teacher there are subject teachers. The school has a wonderful integrated arts curriculum with music, painting, woodworking and handwork crafts. They also learn Spanish and Japanese starting in first grade. Our children can't wait to get to school and they don't want to leave when we come to pick them up.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted December 17, 2010

We sort of stumbled on this school and I am so glad we did -- our son has almost completed the pre-school and kindergarten years and will be starting first grade next year. We continue to learn and grow along with him, and have found a wonderful community of talented, warm-hearted families and friends at our school. It's a bit of a drive from where we live, but this place is such a jewel -- everything is done (or at least attempted!) with mindfulness, elegance, and a sense of deep concern for the health, welfare, and humanity of each student and family. The sense of true exploration of the curriculum that we have to look forward to as our son works his way through the whole depth of human history, science, culture and art in elementary and middle school has me so excited! Perhaps this would be true at any Waldorf school, I don't know . . . I just feel fortunate to have found this place.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted October 26, 2010

I can't say enough about how choosing Bright Water School and Waldorf education for my children has expanded my view of what education, parenting, childhood, and community are about -- all for the better. My kids are thriving there.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted December 15, 2009

Our son has attended since kindergarten and it's been a great experience for him (and us). The school is very strong on fundamental learning while going much farther than most schools to foster creativity. We also love all the teachers there.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted October 12, 2009

Brightwater is a new school. I believe under 10 years old. I really liked the teachers and families. However, the academics are not strong at the school. Lots of parents felt the need to tutor their children to supplement. I pulled my kid out because I did not want her to fall more behind.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted September 22, 2009

We are new to Bright Water, however we have been warmly welcomed and have been given plenty of opportunity to become more involved, which is refreshing. Our daughter is thrilled to be in the kindergarten and is eager to return to school daily. Her only complaint she says, 'I like my new school but the only thing is I cannot go every day.' Weekends are not the same as being at Bright Water during the week! We are all already very comfortable with the community at Bright Water.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted August 18, 2009

We approach our 4th year here w/a 2nd child entering the Early Childhood program this year. I am very encouraged at the flexibility of the administration in assisting our family with tuition, and in turn feel that we have many opportunities to help return the favor through volunteerism and participation on a wide variety of school events and committees. Even having been part of the school for three years already, we find that our family is still learning what it means to be part of Waldorf education. That being said, it's a lifelong learning process - for all. We're continually enthralled with the variety of offerings that touch all subject matter, bringing beauty and new interest to old hat topics. I am nervous and confident at the same time that our upcoming 1st grader will find a good match in instructor, as they keep them for 8 years, ideally.
—Submitted by a parent

Posted July 10, 2009

Bright Water faithfully cultivates the core Waldorf value of head, heart, and hand. Our babysitter graduated from Bright Water and whenever we came back from a night out our girls had had wonderfully creative and artistic evenings. Our oldest daughter is very academic and would have gone into the public gifted elementary school, but we felt Bright Water's Kindergarten curriculum would help balance her as a person. A wonderful decision - at 6 she was filling her days with knitting, sewing, and playing imaginatively with her sister as well as reading (though they don't actively promote reading in Kindergarten). The TV never comes on in our house and our 5 & 7 year olds don't know the word 'bored'. School governance and administration has matured and now seems quite effective. While one class has had ridiculous number of teachers, admin & faculty clearly prioritize teaching quality. A wonderful vibrant community.
—Submitted by a parent

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The Community Rating is the school’s average rating from its community members (e.g., parents, students, and school staff). The highest possible rating is five stars; the lowest is one star.

We currently do not have any test score information for this school. Unlike public schools, private schools are not always required to report data about their schools or not required to take the same tests as public schools. Many private schools take different standardized tests; however, that information is often made available only to families of enrolled students. We strive to acquire additional private school data whenever available.

Student ethnicity

Ethnicity This school State average
White 87% 60%
Asian or Asian/Pacific Islander 7% 7%
Hispanic 5% 20%
American Indian/Alaska Native 1% 2%
Black 0% 5%
Hawaiian Native/Pacific Islander 0% 1%
Two or more races 0% 6%
Source: NCES, 2011-2012

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  • Computer lab
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School basics

School Leader's name
  • Ann Stukenberg
  • Coed
  • Nonsectarian
  • NAIS
Fax number
  • (206) 322-7893


Instructional and/or curriculum models used

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  • Waldorf


School facilities
  • Computer lab
  • Library
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1501 10th Avenue East
Seattle, WA 98102
Website: Click here
Phone: (206) 624-6176


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