Mission, Values, and Philosophy
SunRidge School Vision & Mission
The vision for students and the school community that supports them is to create a safe and caring educational environment where parents, teachers, staff, children, and the land we share come together to nurture each student’s intellectual, artistic, emotional, social, and physical development.
Students will graduate with a love of learning well-prepared to pursue further academic and personal goals, and motivated to make positive contributions to the world.
We progress toward our vision for our students and our school community by:
- Striving to meet the educational needs of each child at every stage of his or her growth through a curriculum based on the core principles of Public Waldorf Education.
- Supporting our students in developing capacities for independent and creative thinking, self-confidence, self-directed learning, and social and environmental responsibility, and in affirming individual and cultural diversity.
- Governing our school based on the principles of participation, collaboration, cooperation, and open communication, accountability, respect for individuality and diversity, and a shared responsibility toward the life of the community.
- Attracting and supporting excellent teachers and staff.
- Cultivating and encouraging parent and school participation through education, community, and contribution.
Values, Principles, and Methods
We will accomplish our vision and mission by:
- Building our educational program on a foundation of methods, curriculum, and values inspired by the best practices of Waldorf education;
- Incorporating, to the fullest extent possible, multicultural perspectives and experiences into school curricula, activities, and festivals.
- Including, to the fullest extent possible, lessons, activities, and experiences that develop the capacity and the desire to be socially and environmentally responsible, and to contribute to the healthy life of the community, both within and outside of the school.
- Encouraging parents’ active involvement and partnership in all aspects of the school, including governance, volunteering, community building, fundraising, and evaluation of the educational program;
- Governing and operating our school on the principles of collaboration, open and caring communication, accountability, respect for individuality and diversity, and a shared responsibility towards the healthy life of the community.
- Hiring teachers and staff who enthusiastically embrace our mission, methods, and values, and who have the skills and personal qualities needed to actively assist our school to fulfill its charter with a high standard of excellence.
- Providing ongoing education, support, and training for teachers and staff so that they continue to develop and expand their capacities to help fulfill the mission of the school and enrich our educational community.
- Conducting ongoing evaluations of how well we are fulfilling our mission, values, principles, and methods, with the goal of building and maintaining a high standard of excellence in all aspects of our school’s operations and programs.
Our Educational Philosophy
SunRidge Charter School is a parent-initiated school of the Twin Hills Union School District that was created to bring the best of Waldorf methods and philosophy to public sector. Embracing Waldorf curriculum and methods, SunRidge is guided by the Core Principles of Public Waldorf Education, and addresses the whole child, framing rigorous academics in an artistic, creative and multi-sensory curriculum. Our method follows a developmental model that respects the nature of children and how they best learn. A play-based, half-day Kindergarten resists the current cultural trend for “more-sooner-faster,” allowing young children to enjoy the wonder childhood through imaginative play.
In the grades, the SunRidge curriculum covers an exceptional range. Core subjects taught in three- to four-week-long Main Lesson blocks, immersing the students in language arts, math, science, geography and history. Concepts are interwoven throughout the curriculum and are taught though oral presentations, writing, reading, recitation, drama, painting, drawing and movement. This multi-dimensional approach engages students in a powerful and concentrated experience and promotes active listening, memory, imagination and vocabulary. Enrichment subjects, most taught by specialty teachers, include Spanish, singing, flute and recorder, violin, painting, drawing, modeling, knitting, sewing, woodworking, drama and movement.
Learning to Think
Perhaps the most valuable aspect of a Waldorf-methods education is that it teaches students how to think. Imaginative play, emphasized in the Kindergarten, develops imaginative thinking as a child matures into the grades. The capacity for imaginative thinking enables students to perceive events with clarity, to comprehend complex situations fully, and then to envision creative solutions for life’s challenges. In SunRidge’s capacity-building curriculum, academic mastery is achieved through immersion in experiential learning. By building a playhouse, third graders first imagine their construction, then learn measuring, reinforce math skills, and master practical building abilities in order to bring their playhouse into form. A fifth grader studying ancient Greece will compete in an Olympic pentathlon and might play the role of Pythagoras his annual class play. Reading is taught on a foundation of rich oral literacy that begins Kindergarten and continues to develop as children progress through the grades. In addition to academic mastery and artistic development, learning how to learn is a primary goal for SunRidge students.
Learning to Care
The arts are integrated throughout the SunRidge curriculum in order to access and develop the emotional intelligence of our students. Artistic activities such as painting, drawing, drama, singing and instrumental music are used in combination with core academic standards to enrich the learning experience. Through the arts, we teach to a child’s heart as well as her head, facilitating the development of compassion, responsibility and stewardship.
Overcoming challenges though common artistic effort builds individual self-esteem, builds the feeling of class community and inspires in students the confidence to meet life’s challenges with creativity and imagination. An orchestral performance or a class play requires enormous teamwork among teachers and students. By working together consciously throughout the curriculum, students develop a capacity for emotional involvement that is both sensitive and resilient. They become caring individuals committed to one another and to the greater good.
Learning to Create
Children drawing, painting, knitting, playing flutes or violin, carving wooden utensils, reciting poetry and rehearsing plays are common sights at SunRidge. While one might think their purpose is to train students to be accomplished artists, the real intention is quite different: all these activities are exercises for the will. To express the typical movements of an animal in wood or cloth or clay, to knit a pair of socks, to master a violin piece—these activities are experienced as a challenge to both the child’s courage and his patience.
There is no better way of training the will than to practice again and again something one finds difficult. Children need tasks that give them pleasure and satisfaction in overcoming difficulty, and the arts are a central area for this opportunity. The SunRidge curriculum nurtures students’ capacity for resolute determination so that they have the will, the ability and the confidence to turn their hopes and dreams into reality.
Waldorf Methods Education
Waldorf methods emerged from a pedagogical model of the child that stresses the developmental stages of childhood. At the heart of the philosophy is the conviction that education is an art. Whether the subject is arithmetic, history or physics, the presentation must be alive, must speak to the child's world, through direct experience, and is often filled with art, music, movement and imagination. The goal is to teach children in a safe, protective and naturally beautiful environment using methods that fill them with delight, wonder and enthusiasm.
Our teachers engage the whole child through a multi-year relationship, addressing children not solely as beings of intellect (head), but physical (hands) and emotional beings (heart) as well. SunRidge has developed a powerful educational vision that incorporates Waldorf education methods and embraces the developmental model of the unfolding child. This education, built on a strong academic foundation, also brings forth creative imagination, critical thinking, self-confidence, and a sense of delight, wonder and respect for nature and humanity.