School History

Where & When Did Waldorf Education Begin?

The Chicago Waldorf School is part of a worldwide movement of more than 1,000 institutions whose approach to education is founded on the ground-breaking work of Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925). The first Waldorf School opened its doors in 1919 for the children of workers in the Waldorf-Astoria Cigarette Factory in Stuttgart, Germany. The innovative school attracted immediate interest among people seeking a new way of educating children and other Waldorf schools were soon founded. By 1928, the growing movement had spread to North America with the founding of the Rudolf Steiner School in New York City. In the last 40 years the number of Waldorf schools and related Waldorf teacher development institutes has grown exponentially making Waldorf Education one of the fastest growing education movements of this century.[1]

What Are the Unique Characteristics of Waldorf Education?

Waldorf schools offer a child-development centered pedagogical perspective with innovative features in classroom curriculum and the integration of dedicated community involvement that, as a model of education, has grown increasingly attractive to families who are looking for schools that deliver nurturing, creative, rigorous, and inspiring learning. To get a sense of the essential quality of Waldorf education, here is a video below from the Marin Waldorf School that interviews Waldorf teachers, parents, students, alumni and child development experts. These individuals describe in their own words the unique details of Waldorf education that make it essential to the development of core human capacities...

Today, with a full 12-year curriculum and an enrollment of over 350 students, the Chicago Waldorf School is the largest Waldorf School in the Mid-Western states region.


How Did The Chicago Waldorf School Begin?

The Chicago Waldorf School opened in 1974 with a kindergarten class in a rented classroom at the Church of the Three Crosses in Lincoln Park. There were five children and one teacher. Three years later, in 1977, a 1st Grade was added, and the school began to grow at a rate of one grade per year until the first nine-member 8th Grade graduated in 1985. The school remained at eight grades until 1994 when a 9th and 10th Grade were added. The first nine 12th Grade seniors graduated from the school in 1997.

Today, with a full 12-year curriculum and an enrollment of over 350 students, the school is the largest Waldorf School in the Mid-West states region. In terms of growth and stability, it has come a long way from that fledgling kindergarten class started with ambitious vision, strong parental support and little in the way of resources. That independent parent-motivated effort continues today with the school's latest expansion; The Parent-Child program, begun in 1992 to provide education and care for toddlers and their parents, has grown to be a unique and vibrant Waldorf program with full classes and waiting lists for enrollment.

The Chicago Waldorf School is fully accredited by the Association of Waldorf Schools in North America and the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and is recognized by the State of Illinois.
The school is also an active member of the Lake Michigan Association on Independent Schools

[1]Data drawn from Helmut Zander, Anthroposophie in Deutschland, 2 volumes, Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht Verlag, Göttingen 2007, ISBN 9783525554524; Dirk Randall, "Empirische Forschung und Waldorfpädogogik", in H. Paschen (ed.) Erziehungswissenschaftliche Zugänge zur Waldorfpädagogik, 2010 Berlin: Springer 978-3-531-17397-9; "Introduction", Deeper insights in education: the Waldorf approach, Rudolf Steiner Press (December 1983) 978-0880100670. p. vii; L. M. Klasse, Die Waldorfschule und die Grundlagen der Waldorfpädagogik Rudolf Steiners, GRIN Verlag, 2007; Ogletree E J "The Waldorf Schools: An International School System." Headmaster U.S.A., pp8-10 Dec 1979; Heiner Ullrich, Rudolf Steiner, Translated by Janet Duke and Daniel Balestrini, Continuum Library of Educational Thought, v. 11, 2008 ISBN 9780826484192.