A.M. Winn to Open Waldorf Inspired Kindergarten This Year

e-Connections Post A.M. Winn Public Waldorf

A.M. Winn Elementary School Principal Michael Kast bends down on one knee to loosely knot a yard of silky fabric around the neck of Tyler Reynolds, 6.

Instantly, Tyler is transformed. No longer just an ordinary kindergartener, he is now a superhero, with the cape to prove it. He runs out the open door of the freshly painted classroom into a small play area, where he leaps – in a single bound – atop a tree stump.

Tyler’s transformation isn’t the only one planned at A.M. Winn.

With the opening of a new Waldorf-inspired kindergarten this fall, the A.M. Winn community intends to bring a decidedly different educational model to the school, one based on SCUSD’s successful Alice Birney Waldorf-Inspired K-8 School.

“This is a vibrant program with proven results,” says parent Karen Reynolds, mother of Tyler and his brother, Julian, 8. “I’m excited about it.”

Reynolds served on A.M. Winn’s Design Team, a group of parents, teachers, administrators, staff and community members charged last spring with envisioning the best possible program – a “dream school” – for the Rosemont-area campus.

After researching several programs, and touring area schools, the team opted to convert A.M. Winn to a Waldorf-inspired school, beginning with kindergarten this fall. The plan is to add other Waldorf-inspired grade levels, including a seventh and eighth grade, as the program expands.

Reynolds says she was sold on the program after visiting Alice Birney, which was expanded to a new location two years to accommodate parent demand but still has a waiting list. “It seemed like a more caring, fulfilling environment,” Reynolds says. “It also had a lot of the elements we’re losing these days, including art, music and the learning of a second language.”

Waldorf-inspired schools are places where imagination, creativity and critical thinking skills necessary for college and careers are fostered in a supportive “whole child” environment. Developed in Germany in the early 1900s, the Waldorf education model is used in 60 countries. There are 44 Waldorf-inspired public schools in the United States. SCUSD opened the country’s first public Waldorf-inspired high school, George Washington Carver School of Arts and Sciences in Rosemont, in 2008.

SCUSD’s Waldorf-inspired schools take a complete approach to learning — “head, heart and hands” — and address each child as an individual with innate talents and abilities. Research shows that students in Waldorf-inspired programs have higher standardized test scores from fourth grade on. Ninety-four percent of students who graduate from Waldorf schools go on to attend college; 88 percent graduate from college.

A.M. Winn parent Barbara Hokamp grew up in Germany and attended a Montessori school. She said she wants to give her daughter Amy Mawacke, 9, a chance to experience a similarly innovative school that gives children the room to use their imagination and curiosity. “I know it works,” she says, “and I love the freedom built into the concept.”