Beating the Monotonous Routine of School: Cincinnati Waldorf School

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Mariemont’s old junior high school is home to Cincinnati Waldorf (CWS), a PreK-8th school that is not your everyday “American school.” Contrary to traditional education, Waldorf education is a hands-on, interdisciplinary approach to standard education. The arts are infused within the teaching and curriculum.

Located at 6743 Chestnut St, Cincinnati, OH, Cincinnati Waldorf is the only Waldorf style school in the tri-state region and has been located in Mariemont since 2013. Students come from as far as Dayton, Kentucky, and Indiana to receive their unique education. About 240 students are enrolled at the school.

Students in grades 1-6 can be found in the morning learning about their desired topic.

Karen Crick, enrollment director and administrator of Cincinnati Waldorf said, “Children learn in lesson blocks for four weeks at a time. For each of the topics they chose, they create their own textbook.”

Students in 7th and 8th grade begin their day with subjects like wood working, choir, orchestra, Spanish, or physical education.These movement classes are used to “just get them to wake up,” said the administrator. A snack usually follows their movement class before their main lesson begins.

A Main Lesson Book done by a 6th grader illustrates the “Creation of Adam.” (PHOTO BY CRICK)

On top of a Bachelor’s Degree, CWS teachers must be trained for an additional three years from Waldorf to receive their certification to teach at the school. Not only do the teachers get certified, but most go to classes during summer break to further educate themselves on the subjects they are going to teach the following year.

The teachers move grades with the students,” said Crick.

Teachers move up with each class because that is how CWS measures student growth in this method. This method of tracking improvement and growth allows for the school to eliminate almost all standardized testing.

The director added, “Since the same teachers stay with the same group of students for so many years, they get to create a really personable connection and get to know the students. They get to know their capacities and how they can push the students harder to grow.”

Not limited to teacher evaluation, the school uses a portfolio method as well. Teachers evaluate students’ work, main lesson books, and participation in class to measure growth.

Class sizes are capped at 25 students per classroom and grade.

The school, located at Mariemont’s old junior high is the only Waldorf schooling system in the trial-state region. (PHOTO BY MANTLE)

Crick said this allows for the attention need for harder classes and the main lesson period because a lead teacher and assistant teacher are present. This also allows students to receive personalized attention during “special subjects like wood working or knitting.”

Students and residents of Mariemont usually see CWS students outside. According to Cincinnati Waldorf’s website, special classes and or education in the real world such as planting a garden, being in nature, or field trips downtown is a strong belief to Waldorf’s education.

The website adds that first through third grade students learn about science outside–developing an intuitive and reverential respect through playing, recess, composting and taking in nature.

After 8th grade, CWS students attend local high schools and do great said Crick. She added, “They are usually at the top of their class wherever they go to school. We hear from teachers that not only are our students prepared academically, but also they are well rounded.”

The school has purchased a small building on the corner of Oak St. where a temporary high school will be located for about two years said the director of enrollment. Their ultimate goal for the future is to find a proper and permanent high school for the expanding school said Crick.

The administrator added, “Waldorf education is a great alternative for families and especially for families who are interested in their kid spending time outdoors and want to receive a very hands on education.”