The State of the School

January 22, 2016 in Inside SWS
 As 2016 gets underway and we approach the midpoint of our academic year, it is an opportune time to take stock of where we’ve come and what lies ahead. Needless to say, it was a very busy fall! We kicked off our 35th anniversary year with energy and enthusiasm – trips, plays, parent education events, concerts, athletic events, faculty workshops and more.  It is a bountiful and rich list of activities that underscores the enduring strength and vibrant health of Seattle Waldorf School.

Certainly the most significant event this year was the merger of SWS and Three Cedars Waldorf School. With combined enrollment of more than 550 students, we are proud and humbled to be the largest Waldorf school in the country.  The responsibility we have to families, faculty and staff on both sides of Lake Washington to offer an exceptional Waldorf education and learning environment looms large, as does the exciting opportunity for creative collaboration and innovation.  We look forward to sharing more as we move forward in the coming months.

A few highlights about the year on the SWS campus:

  • Enrollment is at an all-time high with over 400 students, including five mornings of Parent and Tot classes.
  • After just four months, contributions to the Community Fund are just shy of our goal of $200,000 – up $50,000 from the previous year.
  • Nearly a third of our families receive financial assistance, with a budget of over $1.2M in aid.
  • Six SWS alumni are currently teaching in the school.
  • 50 faculty, staff and trustees attended the NWAIS Fall Educators Conference on diversity and inclusion.
  • The Board, comprised of 16 members that include current and past parents, administrators from area schools, and a former faculty member will grow to 20 with the addition of four trustees from TCWS.
  • Thanks to generous donors we opened “ The Nest,” our new early childhood area that is home to our littlest ones in Parent and Tot classes and to preschool/kindergarten aftercare.
  • Work on our Self-Study in conjunction with our dual accreditation process for NWAIS and ASWNA is well underway, with 20+ workgroups engaged in the reflection and documentation process.

Now to look ahead. Each fall the Head of School develops goals that emerge from the work of the Pedagogical Carrying Group (PCG) and Board committees and guide her and her team’s efforts for the year. The Board reviews these with Tracy, offering feedback and support in a healthy partnership of collaboration.  Key areas of focus for Tracy, framed in the threefold commonwealth context, include:

Cultural/Spiritual Life: Picture of the spirit of the institution, community and individual
  • Begin a dialogue about what diversity means at SWS with the goal of crafting a statement of our commitment to diversity
  • Promote the relevance of our mission through a stronger presence in the community and collaboration with regional Waldorf schools
  • Continue to strengthen teacher/parent connections through parent evenings, parent conferences, festival life, service/volunteer opportunities, and consistent and timely communication
  • Through the self-study process, facilitate increased dialogue across branches and greater awareness of the student experience from EC through the GS and HS
Rights and Agreements: How we meet each other and know what is right
  • In collaboration with the PCG, review the pedagogical leadership structure and develop a succession plan for Director of Pedagogy role in line with best practices
  • In partnership with the Board, develop a succession plan for the Head of School position in line with best practices
  • In partnership with the Board, draft and finalize the strategic plan, including review and feedback from faculty, staff and parents
  • Support the Board in its effort to improve communication and visibility in the community
Economic Life: How we meet the needs of others in a material world
  • Revise the long-term financial plan, including capital maintenance and improvements and budgeting for depreciation.
  • Develop a realistic plan and timeline for raising funds through a capital campaign
  • Work toward development of a master plan for early childhood facilities
  • Continue work on documenting current policies and procedures across all functional areas, including educational programs
We welcome your thoughts, questions and ideas. The Board of Trustees, in partnership with the school’s leadership and entire community, is striving to ensure that the exemplary Waldorf program your children enjoy today continues well into the future. In this 35th year of SWS, we can be proud of the school’s strong foundation and excited about its future. Thank you for your support and commitment to Seattle Waldorf School.


Sharlyn Turner                        Tracy Bennett
Board Chair                              Head of School


Published in the Connection from 1.22.16