History & Mission
Mission, Diversity Statement & History
The Ithaca Waldorf School strives to develop free human beings by awakening in the students clarity of thought, warmth of heart, and strength of purpose.
The academic, artistic, and practical lessons respect childhood, encourage healthy growth, and engage students in the living world.
The work of Rudolf Steiner provides a cohesive philosophy which guides the teachers, shapes the curriculum, and enriches our community.
The healthy social life is found
When, in the mirror of each human soul,
The whole community is living,
And when, in the community,
Each human soul finds its reflection.
The Ithaca Waldorf School welcomes a diverse community which includes a range of nationalities, gender and social identities, socioeconomic backgrounds, racial identifications, family structures, belief systems and religions, ages, abilities, languages, and political affiliations. By forming an inclusive and supportive school community, we strive to create an educationally and morally healthy social life.
Adopted by Full Faculty, August 31, 2015
Ithaca Waldorf School’s Media and Screen Time Philosophy and Guidelines
The Ithaca Waldorf School endeavors to provide students with the capacity to engage in the world through their own imagination, thoughts and deeds. Our curriculum and pedagogical methods are designed to allow children’s capacities to unfold in a developmentally appropriate sequence. The qualities of receptivity and wonder that are cultivated in the children allow media images to affect our children in significant ways. We ask students and their families to participate actively and creatively in their education. One of the most important ways parents can do this is by honoring, and following to the best of their ability, our philosophy regarding students’ exposure to media. When needed, our teachers will request conversation about this issue, and encourage parents to reduce or alter their child’s use of media if that exposure is undermining his or her education or the education of others. Eliminating or restricting media and screen time for children is important for the following reasons:
• Electronic media limits the child’s capacity to create pictures that aren’t simply variations of electronic media images, a skill that is basic to class work in Waldorf schools.
• The visual and auditory images received from media are so powerful that they overwhelm the child’s memory of images that the teacher has presented during the day.
• In some children passive entertainment can lead to a deadening of the will. An inner passivity is engendered and with it a lessening of the capacity to overcome personal boredom. Thus the children have a more difficult time appreciating subtleties of perception and self-expression.
• Screen time and electronic media can result in challenges such as: short attention spans, distractibility, the need to be entertained, attention-getting behavior, inability to listen, weakened eye muscles and compromised vision which hamper reading.
The Ithaca Waldorf School’s Guidelines for Early Childhood
We request that the daily experience of the young child not include exposure to electronic media and technology, including computers and cell phones and other hand-held devices/screens. We understand that this may be difficult to honor without fail. Nevertheless, we ask that parents affirm their commitment to expose their young child to media and screen time as little as possible, in order to support the work and goals of our education in the early years. Teachers are happy to assist with transitions toward a media-free environment, and welcome conversations with parents. If a teacher has concerns about a child’s experience of media or screen time, the parent(s) should expect, and be willing to engage in, a sincere conversation about the topic. A media-free childhood is a true gift, and one that our school values highly.
Ithaca Waldorf School is a Full Member of WECAN
The mission of the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America is to foster a new cultural impulse for the work with the young child from pre-birth to age seven. Based on an anthroposophical understanding of human development, WECAN is committed to protecting and nurturing childhood as a foundation for renewing human culture.
An Important Letter from AWSNA - February 1, 2017
Under the pressure of the current political landscape, and the recent U.S. immigration bans, we wanted to once again reach out to our members to express the importance of considering the safety and well-being of your students and community members. We recommend that you ensure the protection of all information on your students and families, regardless of immigration status, and that all policies related to privacy and the release of personal data are consistently applied and lawful.
We acknowledge the importance of visa standards, yet we are very concerned about the potential implications of this new executive order. If you have questions regarding your organization’s rights, please seek the advice of an experienced immigration attorney.
Additionally, schools and institutes should consider their practices related to the admission of undocumented families and their rights and privileges as members of your school communities. For example, take a look at your diversity statements. We’ve noted one statement on the Ohio State’s website that reads as follows: “We admit students without regard to race, religion, national origin or immigration status, and undocumented students are entitled to all of the rights and privileges of other students at Ohio State.”
AWSNA remains engaged in public policy matters, particularly those that have potential implications on our school communities. We are committed to working on legislative issues with elected officials and the independent school movement. With that in mind we would like you to know that NAIS has produced several articles and legal memos that you may find helpful. We’ve attached “Legal Advisory: Executive Order Limiting Entry into the U.S.” to this email. We hope it will answer some of your questions. Additionally, if you are an NAIS member you may access a copy of “The Trump Administration and Independent Schools” by logging into the NAIS website. If you are not a member of NAIS, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, identify yourself as an administrator at an AWSNA member school, and they will send you a copy. Further information on this topic and other federal legislative actions are being monitored and we will update you as new developments arise.
Finally, as we usher in this era of uncertainty we want to affirm AWSNA’s deep commitment to inclusion and the value and importance that members from diverse communities bring to the fulfillment of our mission. Please join us in honoring our obligation to create an environment that values diverse opinions and is welcoming to all students and families.
We encourage you to stand firm on the fundamental values of tolerance, respect, charity, and understanding. And to consider how we, as individual schools and institutes, through our collective commitment, may seek opportunities to advocate for the protection of childhood, stand against hateful language, become leaders of justice and equality, and be pillars in our communities by listening with compassion and communicating with authenticity. Healing will happen community by community and Waldorf schools can do more than build bridges: they can be a seed for societal renewal.
Beverly Amico, Melanie Reiser and Stephanie Rynas
The Ithaca Waldorf School has been providing Waldorf education to the Finger Lakes region of New York for over 40 years and has been bringing together families, teachers, alumni, and supporters of Waldorf education to create a joyful and inspiring community experience.
The combination of teacher commitment and collaboration, an active parent body, and a curriculum that awakens a love of learning in our children, creates a unique environment in which to work and celebrate together while welcoming the greater Ithaca area to join us.
Waldorf education took root in Ithaca over 30 years ago. Various Waldorf initiatives grew into the Waldorf School of the Finger Lakes, which was established in 1982 and served over 180 students at its height. When the WSoFL closed in 1999 with assets, the board of trustees began a search for farmland on the outskirts of Ithaca in anticipation of building a new school. In 2004, the board purchased 100 acres just south of Ithaca College. Soon afterward, the Ithaca Waldorf School was established and housed in a rental property while plans to construct a building on the school’s land commenced. In 2008, the Ithaca Waldorf School was accredited by the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWNSA) as a Developing Waldorf School. IWS currently offers programs for ages 20 months through sixth grade and has plans to grow the number of early childhood classrooms and the grades. This summer we will expand our lovely building to include a community space, an additional classroom and a meeting room!