Head, Heart & Hands: An Interview with The Waldorf School of San Diego’s Pedagogical Director

Written by Andrew Holets

April 16, 2021

The following is an excerpt from SDVoyager‘s November 2020 interview with Clare Knauss.

Clare, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
The Waldorf School of San Diego began in 1981 with an enthusiastic group of children and parents. In 1999, the school acquired a permanent site on a hilltop in Oak Park, enrolling students in Nursery, Kindergarten and the Elementary Grades. With the purchase of a second campus nearby, the High School opened in 2008 (making us the only Waldorf high school in San Diego County) and since then, the school has been providing a rich curriculum of the sciences, arts, humanities, and mathematics from Grade 1 to Grade 12. We are proud of the quality of our students, creative and independent thinkers with a zest for life and love of hands on learning. We have a lot to offer San Diego and would like to grow.

During this COVID-19 Pandemic, we adapted well and have re-opened with every class in person, taught outdoors, whilst offering online offerings or a home school option for families who wish to stay home, and continue to welcome families with CDC recommendations, precautions and safety protocols in place while maintaining a wonderful, creative learning environment. For newly interested families, we now offer Waldorf 101 online question & answer sessions and have rolling admissions. This has been especially appealing to parents looking for a safe and supportive in-school option and less reliant on screen time.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Quite beautifully, the Waldorf curriculum and the community are terrific at welcoming change, and we adapt well and always provide a great education so our children can grow. Years ago, our greatest struggle was to initially find a permanent site that suited our needs as a growing school. The site had to be central for parents to reach us from all areas of San Diego. Fortunately, we achieved this and now have two amazing campuses in the heart of City Heights on beautiful natural landscapes. Our challenge now is to build onto and transform our current layout to expand classrooms and facilities. We value aesthetics and would like our classrooms and buildings to reflect the unique aspects of Waldorf Education.

We’d love to hear more about the organization.
Many familiar with Waldorf Schools emphasize that a focus on relationships, the arts, the imagination and nature educates the whole child: the head, the heart and the hands. Waldorf curriculum progresses in accordance with child development, awakening students to the joy of knowledge, strengthening their sense of responsibility, and empowering them to move towards the future with courage and conviction. The pace, priorities, and practices of our rich curriculum, Early Childhood through High School, grow out of this foundation. The Waldorf School’s aim is to graduate a diverse group of young people distinguished by the scope of their minds as well as the depth and integrity of their character. We strive to have our student population inclusive of the diversity within the greater San Diego community.

We strive to welcome a community of students, parents, and teachers committed to social inclusiveness and environmental stewardship principles. We support and guide every student toward higher learning through a curriculum that integrates science, mathematics, humanities, and the arts.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
In the immediate, we plan to continue serving students with on-campus, in-person instruction in our outdoor classrooms, with homeschool and distance learning options available. For the future, we have a master plan, which has been approved by the city. We want to build new Waldorf classrooms and we are developing endowments and scholarships to ensure our school’s commitment to sustainability, equity, inclusion and diversity, and welcome more students into our Waldorf community.

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