The Bulletin

Exploring/Planning for a Future Home

Tuesday, February 2012

One of the primary goals of the Chicago Waldorf School’s Strategic Plan is to dedicate resources and planning to the pursuit of a new campus for the school. The Permanent Campus Committee (PCC) was organized with the task of directing this essential goal for the school from 2011-14.

Mike Rosenthal, CWS parent and board vice president, currently chairs the Permanent Campus Committee. Mike met with us recently to talk about some of the current actions and future planning being undertaken for the school to realize its dream of entering a new building on a campus that holistically engages the community and supports the specialized tenets of Waldorf curriculum.

Here are some of his reflections on the prospect of a new and permanent home for our school:

Q: Can you tell us more about the Permanent Campus Committee and highlight some of its recent activities?

A: The PCC is a terrific group. It’s members have a wide array of skills and talents, representative of the variety of perspectives necessary to take on a task as important as our future campus. The committee members include parents, teachers, administrators and several trustees with literally dozens of years of combined experience in architecture, real estate, education and project management.

When we started out, we quickly realized that the first thing we had to tackle was researching a solid foundation for financial planning for the project, so, at our encouragement CWS conducted a philanthropic market study to assess the community’s readiness to undertake a campaign for a new building. The study gave us a deep insight into the school’s concerns for space as well as the giving capacity of our community.  In addition, and to help us create the vision of an “ideal” school, we worked with the College of Teachers to develop a preliminary high level facilities program for a new permanent campus. With that background, we developed a detailed matrix with 15 criteria by which we will evaluate any potential site for our school. When the opportunity is right and financial resources are in place, this matrix will be a great tool to help us comparatively evaluate and communicate the value of potential future sites.

Q: What are the main characteristics of a “permanent home” for Chicago Waldorf School as envisioned by the PCC, defined in the strategic plan and discussed in the philanthropic market study?

A: The goal of a new campus defined in the Vision Statement set forth in the School’s 2011-2014 Strategic Plan reads:

By 2014, Chicago Waldorf School will have firm plans and resources in place to occupy a permanent Waldorf-inspired campus. Our full classes will reflect the diversity of our city. We will be widely recognized for our challenging, well-rounded curriculum, our master teachers and our artistic, cultural and social contributions to our neighborhood, our city and beyond.

More specifically the permanent campus goal in the Strategic Plan directs us that our new campus will need to “support the pedagogical needs of our students and faculty, represent our values and provide a sustaining home for our community that is welcoming to all.”

Essential to the plan is that the school’s architecture embodies and supports the pedagogy, utilizes new modern space to promote organization and provide resources for classes. It also includes a vision to integrate a green campus with school grounds or proximity to parks and fields as well as a community gathering space that will create positive impressions for visitors and students’ families, and imbues a connection to the local neighborhood. The PCC is holding these goals and priorities at a high level.

Q: Can you describe the value a permanent home would bring to our school, its host neighborhood and local community?

A:   Our new home will be specifically designed to support our unique education. There will be modern, specialized classrooms and physical space that will be the functional and living embodiment of the education. Another high priority is providing a gathering space designed to foster relationships between all members of the community. In our new surroundings we will work to be a positive force in the community and there will remain a continued focus on service, community out-reach and public purpose in our Mission. In addition, from an enrollment perspective, our building will speak to new families demonstrating the Waldorf principles of Excellence in Academics, Expression of Creative Imagination, Respect & Reverence for the World and a welcoming openness to all.

The Permanent Campus Committee meets regularly as a committee of the Board. To learn more about their activities please contact Luke Goodwin at lgoodwin@chicagowaldorf.org