What Does Diversity Look Like at EBWS?
We strive towards creating a school community where everyone feels welcomed. Sometimes diversity is obvious, sometimes it’s not. We currently have families who are Catholic, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Atheist, Hindu, Pagan, Agnostic and Buddhist. We have single moms, single dads, married families, blended families and queer families. We have adopted children, biological children, and sperm-donated children. We are a community of blue-collar workers, financial professionals, musicians, health professionals, artists, educators and other diverse individuals with a plethora of abilities and disabilities. Over 50% of us identify as other than caucasian. Some 19 languages are spoken in our homes, and we hail from over 20 different nations around the world.
Our curriculum encompasses a vast array of cultural and religious studies: Jewish Bible stories, Norse Mythology, Native American history and legend, ancient civilizations (Egypt, Persia, India, Africa, China, Latin America, etc…), Roman & Greek history, and modern American and California history. At the appropriate age, we study revolutions, world change and Civil Rights.
We are constantly working towards ensuring that our campus is an inclusive one and have trainings for both our staff and our community. We are proud to be members of POCIS (People of Color in Independent Schools), which supports accessibility and the academic achievement of students and families of color in Bay Area schools. We also continue to have a goal of financial diversity, and we offer as much financial aid as possible while still maintaining the economic viability of our school.
And perhaps most importantly, we welcome your presence and contribution towards making our campus and community even more diverse.
Why do grades teachers stay with their class for 8 years?
As in the days of the “little red schoolhouse,” the class teacher stays with the children for consecutive years, ideally from 1st through 8th grade. This continuity allows for more effective teaching and learning as teachers come to know their students and their families very well. Over the years they are together, the teacher can work with the child and his/her parents to find the best ways to develop both their strengths and weaknesses into a well-balanced whole. A great sense of community is created and the teacher becomes like an additional family member for most of the families in his/her class.
Are you a religious school?
At EBWS, we consider ourselves multi-sectarian and are “spiritual” in the broadest sense of the word. While not “religious,” Waldorf education see students as intellectual, physical, emotional and spiritual in nature. We are not affiliated with any particular religion and welcome families from a diverse array of religious backgrounds. We honor the religious and cultural traditions of these faiths and celebrate seasonal festivals within our classes and as a school. Even people who are not “religious” have found comfort with this approach.
Why do children not start 1st grade until they are over 6 years old?
In Waldorf education, we believe that early childhood is an important time where children need time to develop their bodies and inner capacities. Starting school at 6.5. or 7 is common in many areas of the world and despite current practices in the US, this summary by Cambridge University demonstrates the many benefits of waiting to begin formal education until children are truly ready.
How is it for new students to adjust to EBWS?
New students respond enthusiastically to our school and community. Our faculty is experienced in transitioning students from traditional school backgrounds, and close communication with the parents and teachers is a key part of the transition.
How are students assessed?
While rigorous, learning is not competitive at EBWS, and instruction is brought in an developmentally-appropriate way. Students do not receive letter grades or take traditional tests until Middle School (when they are required for High School admissions). Instead, assessment is “formative” based on careful observation with an ongoing qualitative focus on what needs to be developed. Each teacher produces a comprehensive qualitative review for each child that is shared with the parents. This is in contrast to most schools where assessment is based on averages and is “summative”(typically grades and testing). The personal attention children receive at EBWS translates into true evaluation that is far more comprehensive and useful than letter grades and “teaching to the test.”
What about Media and Technology usage?
While people often hear that Waldorf schools don’t allow technology, there is more to it than that.
Waldorf education is based on a developmental approach to determining what children need at various phases of their education. Across the board, Waldorf educators believe children need to directly interact with other children and adults — face to face. They need to interact with their environment and nature. They need to interact with the world of ideas, work with their hands, and participate in the arts, music, movement, and practical activities.
In this way they will develop healthy, robust bodies and well-integrated brains, social and emotional skills, confidence in their abilities, and strong executive function capabilities.
While it may seem counter-cultural, in many ways, this is the “secret sauce” of Waldorf education. Waldorf schools carefully structure the children’s environment so that wonder and imagination can thrive.
We have a no-media policy from infancy through 3rd Grade. Media may be introduced in a limited way — in both quality and quantity — thereafter.
There is a time and place for technology and Waldorf students have demonstrated that they have the skills to use media and technology when they are developmentally able.
There are many studies that support limiting media and technology for children and also question the benefits of using technology in the classroom. We’ll be happy to share those with you if this is of interest.
How do Waldorf students fare in later education?
Our students attend a wide array of high schools and colleges that reflect the diversity of their interests. In general, feedback on Waldorf students in higher education suggests that our students are able to take command of their education, show interest and engagement in their material and a confidence in the classroom. Because our students have been taught how to think, not just what to think, they are prepared to succeed in any academic course of their choosing after graduating from EBWS.
How do kids get to school each day?
Our school has an active carpooling community that allows our families living all around the East Bay to save time and energy by not commuting to school every single day. By carpooling, parents share the load, save energy, get to use the carpool lane, and what’s more, get to know other families in their area, while their children get to know kids in other grades.
Do you offer extended care?
To meet the needs of our families, we offer “aftercare” for all students from Prek-Grade 8.
Aftercare for the PreK runs until 4:00pm, and for grades K-8 until 5:30 pm.
What do the children eat at school?
While children bring their own lunches to school at EBWS, there is a strong culture of good food and healthy eating at our school. This reflects both our location in northern California — a veritable garden enabling us to eat local, organic, wholesome foods — and our grounding in anthroposophical thought, where we recognize that eating whole, organic or biodynamic foods is important to our students’ health and well-being. In early childhood, the children are grinding oats that they then eat, making stone soup, and eating a different grain each day. In 3rd grade, they are cooking for the whole school. If food is important to you, you should come and visit us.
Are there after-school activities?
We offer an array of enrichment classes for our students with new schedules issued each fall and spring. In 6th-8th grade, students are welcome to join any of the co-ed sports teams, such as basketball or volleyball, which compete against other local independent and Waldorf schools in the Bay Area.