East Bay Waldorf School
When Herman von Baravalle, mathematician and student of Rudolf Steiner, visited and taught in Northern California in the late 1960s, he urged that a Waldorf school be established in our area. A small group of friends and parents studied and worked together and opened a short-lived kindergarten in 1969, near Mills College.
In 1980, an enlarged group prepared and opened a kindergarten in the Julia Morgan Center in Berkeley. A class was added each year toward the full complement of eight grades. The school moved to Emeryville in 1984 and remained there for 12 years. The first eighth grade was completed in 1991. When the Emeryville site was reclaimed by the school district, East Bay Waldorf School bought the 10.9-acre Hillview School site in El Sobrante in June of 1996.
Throughout the summer of 1996, parents, teachers, students, alumni, friends and contractors worked to revive and beautify the facility for the opening of school in September. A two-year collaboration between the East Bay Waldorf School and Vital Systems (a group of Waldorf graduates committed to practicing and researching ecologically-responsible building techniques) resulted in the Strawbale Building which houses gardening and woodworking classes. Part of what makes a community strong is the act of building something of value together.
In the spring of 1999, after years of study and research by parents and teachers, the school decided to open a ninth grade in September 2000. This led to the purchase and renovation of five portable buildings, the core of the high school complex. (Unfortunately in 2008, the High School had to be closed due to the economic recession.)
A Young Child Program began in 1998 for Parents and Toddlers and expanded to include Parent and Infant classes in 2000. The High School graduated its first senior class in the spring of 2004. An Early Kindergarten program for children between 3.5 and 4.75 years began in the fall of 2004.
Our school is currently thriving! It is blossoming out of the economic recession with its beautiful campus, laughing and playing students, dedicated teachers, and hardworking staff.
Waldorf education is the largest and fastest growing nonsectarian educational movement in the world, recently spreading to Eastern Europe, Russia, Japan, Africa, India and South America, with over 900 schools worldwide.
The first Waldorf School opened in Germany in 1919 just after World War I ended. Rudolf Steiner, Austrian scientist, philosopher and educator, was asked to create a school for the workers' children at the Waldorf-Astoria factory which would educate human beings able to create a just and peaceful society. It was a school in which art, music and handicrafts were as important as reading, writing and arithmetic; in which each day included activities for the hands, body and heart as well as for the head.
The teacher and class remain together for grades one through eight. Thinking capacities are fully cultivated in the adolescent though a strong moral and spiritual element. And the core of the curriculum is administered by the people most intimately connected with the educational needs of the children: their teachers.