Waldorf is a beautiful small school. The class sizes are small and the children get a lot of individual attention - they are seen and heard and feel appreciated. When conflicts occur, they are discussed in a promptly manner in a non-shaming way. They are seen as opportunities for learning and developing. The children know and understand each other deeply. And there are so many opportunities for them to build relationships and share common experiences outside of the classroom through PINE trips, farm trips, etc. All of these experiences help build the emotional connection required for a solid community.
There are numerous opportunities for students of different grades to work and play together. Our daughter has a grade 8 buddy, her class often joins the grade 2 class for class excursions and all the children come together for weekly school assemblies. We love that all the kids in the school really look out for each other – it adds to the sense of the school being a safe and welcoming place for all.
The student body is a true community of caring kids and involved parents. The school is about 100 students from grades 1 to 8 so only about 12-15 students per grade. Everyone knows each other and there are no cliques or bullies or anything silly like that. The students form bonds that aren't as common in other schools because there is only 1 class per grade. And many grades have had the same teacher for 3-4 years or even more. So the class almost becomes like an extended family. The older students are also expected to help mentor younger pupils. Grade 8 students volunteer in the Grade 1 classroom and the Grade 7s read to the Grade 2s. And so on and so forth. The lack of technology or cell phones also keeps the kids grounded.
The student body is small and generally tightly knit. Many of the students have been together for as long as they can remember, so they relate to one another and their teacher almost like a family would. There is also a lot of interconnection between the different classes, from K to Grade 8. Students in Grade 8 have 'buddies' in Grade 1 that they work with throughout the year. Same for Grade 7 and Grade 2, etc. I have often noticed and admired the older students looking out for the younger ones. I think the school's culture and practices promote this. The school community gathers regularly for festivals and events, so it often feels like an extended family or a small-town atmosphere, where folks know each other and help each other out. This has been particularly true during the COVID-19 pandemic, where parents were going above and beyond to help one another.
The Waldorf Academy is not a big school and because of that there is a warm family feel. All of the students, regardless of grade get to know and interact with each other. We feel this helps develop good social skills and empathy towards younger children. Because of the whole school interaction, the kids do not feel like they are missing out socially. At the middle school level, there is a mixed grade choir, mixed grade sports teams, and a very popular school Halloween dance. Other mixed grade activities are reading buddies and grade 1 buddies. In both of these, children from the middle school buddy up with the younger students to facilitate learning and community. Another stand out quality of the Waldorf Academy students is there amazing ability to welcome newcomers into the community. When our son got there in grade 6 he was immediately accepted by his classmates like he had been there for years. We witnessed this again as a new student arrived in his later years with the same result.