For twenty-five years, various groups of parents in this area attempted to start a Waldorf school. It was not until the early 1990’s that a group of seven were able to bring all the necessary elements together.
This group consisted of parents and teachers who all wanted to bring the beauty of a Waldorf school to the Seacoast area. Some had relatives who had attended Waldorf schools or were Waldorf teachers, others had children in the Waldorf-inspired pre-school that was housed in our first site on Beech Road and saw the value in this type of education.
After nearly ten years of study, in 1998 the Seacoast Waldorf Association became a legal entity.With much hard work and tireless dedication, the Association opened Tidewater School in 1999. In the spring of 1999, Doug Kinney, a wonderful benefactor, purchased the former site and leased it to Tidewater School for $1 a year. Originally, the building had been a hen house and eventually a garden center. When Mr.Kinney bought it, half of the first floor housed the Waldorf-inspired pre-school. The other half contained a coffee-roasting company and several artists’ studios.
Over the next several year the school became Tidewater Waldorf School when it became a member of AWSNA (Association of Waldorf Schools of North America), and WECAN (Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America). Both organizations exist to support the work of Waldorf Schools in North America.
In July of 2011, Doug Kinney again gave the school a generous gift — the deed to the land on Beech Road. Now owning our property we were able to successfully bid on a much larger facility and campus located at the Country Day Care building on Route 236 when it came up for auction in December 2012. In February of 2013 we closed on the new building and opened the doors of our new 10,000 square foot facility and 5 acre campus on September 10, 2013 under our new, more inclusive name of Seacoast Waldorf School.
Now, two years later, we have doubled our enrollment and continue to grow by leaps and bounds. So much so that we are quickly outgrowing our new, larger building! We are currently in the planning stages for a construction project in 2016 to add more classroom space as well as a community hall/auditorium. For more information contact school Director, Deirdre McEachern.
Rudolf Steiner and the Founding of Waldorf Education
The first Waldorf school was established in Germany in 1919, inspired by the vision and leadership of Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925). To help address the social and economic chaos following World War I, Steiner developed a mode of learning that would promote peace and harmony, one which developed all human faculties-physical, emotional, intellectual, moral and spiritual.
At the request of its owner, Steiner established a school in Stuttgart’s Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory for the children of factory workers. That school and more that 800 others since have striven to follow Steiner’s injunction:
Receive the children in reverence, Educate them in love, Let them go forth in freedom.
Waldorf Schools, sometimes called Steiner Schools, form the fastest growing group of independent, nonsectarian schools in the world. There is no centralized administrative structure governing all Waldorf schools; each is autonomous. Yet all Waldorf schools share the basic pedagogy and curriculum developed by Steiner.
Please read the article on Waldorf education on the front page of the New York Times on Sunday, October 23 “A Silicon Valley School That Doesn’t Compute.”
Rudolf Steiner’s philosophy is known as Anthroposophy or “the wisdom of the human being” (from the Greek anthros = human being and sophia = wisdom). Through his writing and lectures, Steiner conveyed a vast body of knowledge. He is increasingly recognized as a seminal thinker of the 20th century. His insights have been applied in communities around the world in a wide range of practical and cultural endeavors. These include curative education for children and adults with special needs, biodynamic agriculture (similar to organic gardening), Anthroposophical medicine, new art forms, care for the elderly, etc.
Although Waldorf teachers study Anthroposophy and strive to apply its insights to their teachings, they do not teach it to their students in any way. Neither is religion taught in Waldorf schools. The historic festivals of Christianity and of other cultural and religious traditions as well are observed during the school year in the context of the universal human quest for life’s meaning. Our school’s interest in spiritual matters is aimed at awakening the child’s natural reverence for the wonder and beauty of life. We recognize and honor the diverse faiths of all our families.
Waldorf schools are non-sectarian and non-denominational. They educate all children regardless of their cultural or religious backgrounds. The pedagogical method is comprehensive and, as part of its task, seeks to bring about recognition and understanding of all the world’s cultures and religions. Waldorf schools are not part of any church. They espouse no particular religious doctrine but are based on a belief that there is a spiritual dimension to the human being and to all of life. Waldorf families come from a broad spectrum of religious traditions and interests.