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Old 12-12-2018, 09:01 PM
 
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Can anyone who has sent a child to Austin Waldorf share their experiences? My son is going into 9th grade next year and his current private school ends at 8th grade, so we have to choose a good high school for him. I've explored many options, and one that I would like more info on is Austin Waldorf, if anyone could share their experiences with the school.
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Old 12-13-2018, 05:26 PM
 
Location: Downtown Austin
6,027 posts, read 15,060,107 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pretzeltwist View Post
Can anyone who has sent a child to Austin Waldorf share their experiences? My son is going into 9th grade next year and his current private school ends at 8th grade, so we have to choose a good high school for him. I've explored many options, and one that I would like more info on is Austin Waldorf, if anyone could share their experiences with the school.
No doubt you will attend one of the open houses. My info is not current, but both my daughters attended AWS through 8th grade. I then decided against the highschool and instead sent them to Westlake High.

The High School remains very small, which has pros and cons. Some of the Pros may be "deal makers" for some, and some of the Cons may be "deal breakers" for others.

Every "class" (grade level of students) is different with its own set of strengths and weaknesses. Your child's ability to fit in and feel comfortable will be extremely important. One of the "Cons" of small size is that it's essentially one "group". Unlike a 2,500 student high school, there is no other place to "seek your tribe" if you fall out with your peer group, or they are into drugs and you want to get away from that. It's literally just "One Big Group" for better or worse, less than 100 high school students total, about 20, give or take, per grade.

Also there is no escaping a bad teacher. I served on the Board of Trustee for 3 years, and chose not to return what asked to serve another 3 years. During that time, I wondered how it was possible to make some of the bad hiring decisions that were made.

This was back in the early 2000s, and I also just didn't like the way the place was run, nor how decisions were made by the Board (lot's of hand wringing consensus seeking, and "feelings-dominated" mindsets instead of hard, emotionless business-like decision-making).

Maybe it has completely changed since then, but I doubt it as the Waldorf philosophy, again with strong Pros and Cons each way, is that Teachers largely run the school. Some are not qualified to have the amount of power they do in running an organization. But they do, rightfully, have great power over the Pedagogical aspects. The problem is when it seeps into the Fiduciary responsibilities of Financial responsibility and Administrative realities.

All that said, go visit, talk to active parents, it may be absolutely the exactly perfect thing for your child, unbelievably fantastic. Or it could be a "no thanks" once you investigate further.

I'll also say almost every private school has it's own flavor of the criticisms I shared above. No private school is perfect and none can be the best fit for every kid.

Steve
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Old 12-13-2018, 06:48 PM
 
Location: Central Texas
20,059 posts, read 36,844,960 times
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This is sad to hear, Steve. When my daughter attended elementary at Waldorf for a few years before we moved too far to commute (I would have been on the road four hours a day all told, but I thought seriously about it), while it did have some of the problems you mention that are inevitable with a school of its kind, it was great and I found that if I, as a parent, not a Board member, spoke up, sometimes change was possible, and sometimes her teacher (he was wonderful) would acknowledge that while I was trained in various kinds of woo, that did make me competent to call BS when it occurred if I was reasonable about it. When I told my sister and nieces, all teachers, about the "same teacher through 8th grade" concept, they were amazed and delighted - it's apparently a teacher's dream NOT to have to have a student move on just as you're getting to understand their needs and be truly effective. There was not a high school when she attended - that started shortly after she left, so I have nothing current to report.



I would never, however, expect any Waldorf School to be of the hard, emotionless, business-like decision making frame of mind. It's the antithesis of everything that people pay for when they send their kids there. The vice of its virtues, in other words.

Our son, on the other hand, flourished at Kirby Hall in its early days, and at that time it was an excellent college prep school. (When he was a senior, he asked us NOT to send our daughter there because of the parent-driven changes that had occurred over the latter years. And talk about a small class - his graduating class was 12!) It, however, had no problem making hard decisions and enforcing them during the majority of his tenure there until the economy ran into problems and financial pressures caused them to bend their admission standards. As a school, Waldorf would have driven him crazy and vice versa, and Kirby would have done the same for our daughter.

Which reinforces your last statement regarding any school, public or private. This was within the same family - no school is going to be perfect for every child.
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Old 12-14-2018, 04:09 PM
 
Location: Austin
7,153 posts, read 17,165,298 times
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My child didn't have much of a chance there as they do not like spirited children (he was 4). My son was "kicked out" after barely 2 weeks because he was challenging and questioned his teachers. The teacher told me she had nightmares about his demon-behaviors and prayed really hard on what next steps would be... ummm, yeah... c-ya...
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Old 12-14-2018, 09:04 PM
 
Location: Central Texas
20,059 posts, read 36,844,960 times
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Originally Posted by FalconheadWest View Post
My child didn't have much of a chance there as they do not like spirited children (he was 4). My son was "kicked out" after barely 2 weeks because he was challenging and questioned his teachers. The teacher told me she had nightmares about his demon-behaviors and prayed really hard on what next steps would be... ummm, yeah... c-ya...

Wow, it's REALLY changed, then! The children in my daughter's class were intelligent, and definitely spirited. Not misbehaving for the most part (though they did test the parents who blamed misbehavior on allergies rather than parenting), but spirited.



That's too bad. Of course, my daughter had an excellent teacher, too.
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Old 12-15-2018, 09:05 AM
 
Location: Downtown Austin
6,027 posts, read 15,060,107 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FalconheadWest View Post
My child didn't have much of a chance there as they do not like spirited children (he was 4). My son was "kicked out" after barely 2 weeks because he was challenging and questioned his teachers. The teacher told me she had nightmares about his demon-behaviors and prayed really hard on what next steps would be... ummm, yeah... c-ya...
Yes, this depends on the teachers as well. Some are "child whispers", and they all know very good scripts for redirection and calming, but kids who are too hard to handle can be asked to leave (unlike in public school) the school.

My daughter was "suspended" for three days in Kindergarden for "escaping" with two friends from the playground to go see their moms down the street at Yoga. I was really upset. "Suspended?! Seriously??"

That said, I would put my (future) grandkids in Waldorf Kindergarden without hesitation. Also the lower grades as well. Middle, most likely not it would depend. Same with High School, if they rose through the grades and were thriving and ready for the small high school envirnment vs ready to experience a bigger "real" high school (as some would say).

To the OP, definitely go visit the school and make your own assessments with your child. It really could be a great fit despite my cautionary musings.

Steve
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Old 12-15-2018, 06:15 PM
 
Location: Central Texas
20,059 posts, read 36,844,960 times
Reputation: 21837
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Originally Posted by austin-steve View Post
Yes, this depends on the teachers as well. Some are "child whispers", and they all know very good scripts for redirection and calming, but kids who are too hard to handle can be asked to leave (unlike in public school) the school.

My daughter was "suspended" for three days in Kindergarden for "escaping" with two friends from the playground to go see their moms down the street at Yoga. I was really upset. "Suspended?! Seriously??"

That said, I would put my (future) grandkids in Waldorf Kindergarden without hesitation. Also the lower grades as well. Middle, most likely not it would depend. Same with High School, if they rose through the grades and were thriving and ready for the small high school envirnment vs ready to experience a bigger "real" high school (as some would say).

To the OP, definitely go visit the school and make your own assessments with your child. It really could be a great fit despite my cautionary musings.

Steve

When my eldest was at Kirby Hall, there was a group of boys who had a difficult problem dealing with the fact that they were not the smartest kids in school any more. (Kirby started in 4th grade at that point and this was an adjustment for every child who started there because of their admission requirements, but one boy had a much harder time with it than others, plus he had a nouveau riche attitude.) He picked fights with my son (who got the right answer too many times when this kid didn't), did the "let's meet behind the school and duke it out" thing not realizing that my husband had grown up on the wrong side of San Antonio and had taught our son ways to immobilize an attacker without hurting him and wait for the teacher to arrive, etc.



The next year, there was a new headmaster. He called the group of boys into his office and talked to them about the privileges and responsibilities of attending a school like Kirby. Then, as they were leaving, he said to them, "And my eye is going to be on you every minute." They were not, as was Kirby's policy at that time, invited to return the following year when it became clear that they were unable or unwilling to be civilized and that their parents either wouldn't or couldn't make them.



One of the advantages of private school is that they do have the option to ask children who are disruptive to the education of the other students to leave. My sister was a fourth and fifth grade teacher for 30 years in public school, and since they couldn't ask difficult children to leave, they sent them to her - she fell into Steve's category of a "child whisperer". She did say that the biggest problem most often was parents who were convinced it was the school, the teacher, anyone but their child (and by extension, themselves) who was at fault.

Just to be clear, I am not at all saying this was the case with FalconheadWest's son - this is a philosophy of education comment.
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Old Today, 06:58 PM
 
19 posts, read 8,067 times
Reputation: 30
Thanks everyone for the input. I'm a teacher and have gotten to know many schools, so the comments make a lot of sense to me. AWS is not the right kind of high school for my son, apparently.
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