Strengthening Inner Confidence for Creative and Intellectual Success and Purpose

At Charlottesville Waldorf School, every child tries a variety of skills, learning them richly and deeply. The result is a blossoming of each individual’s inner confidence: certainty and evidence that they can tackle anything out in the world. It’s a kind of liberal arts education brought to the grade school that ensures both creative and intellectual success.


A group of parents and one pair of grandparents began meeting in the kitchen of a farmhouse about twenty-five miles south of Charlottesville to discuss the possibility of opening a Waldorf school. A small study group ensued, soon attracting other members and forming relationships with Waldorf teachers from the Washington DC area. By the spring of 1982, the study group felt ready to open a school. Although contacts in the wider Waldorf community advised them to wait, this energetic and determined group decided to proceed.

In June the group secured a rental space in a farmhouse at the Crossroads, a settlement in southern Albemarle County, and hired a teacher, Sharifa Oppenheimer, to attend a Waldorf teacher preparation course and prepare to welcome the first kindergarten class in the fall. As Ana Koehne, the founding grandmother, once said, “Generosity of spirit and pocketbook… make Crossroads possible.”


September, the school opened as the Crossroads Waldorf School, with twelve students. Over the next several years, the school worked with two challenges: finding sufficient space for a small but growing number of students and trying to locate experienced Waldorf teachers to embody and develop the Waldorf grade school curriculum. In its earliest years, the school frequently faced the problem of whether to hire anthroposophists who were inexperienced as teachers or to hire experienced teachers with no prior Waldorf training. The latter ultimately proved more successful, in large part because it forced the school to put in place a program of professional development in Waldorf education for its teachers, which eventually evolved into an extensive mentorship program that still serves as the basis for faculty development today.


CWS inhabited a number of spaces in and around Charlottesville: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, and Camp Holiday Trails.


In July, the grade school and two early childhood classes moved to the former Crozet Elementary School in the western Albemarle County village of Crozet. Three early childhood classes continued at St. Paul’s in town. At the same time, the school entered into an informal mentoring relationship with the Baltimore Waldorf School, followed in 1992 by a formal sponsorship for membership in the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA).


In June, CWS graduated its first eighth grade class of ten students.


The founding of the College of Teachers began in October with eleven teaching and administrative faculty members who had formed a long-term commitment to the school and began working with anthroposophy on a daily basis.


In June, after a five-year mentorship process, CWS was accepted as a full member of AWSNA.


Throughout its history, CWS has sought to find a permanent location with the expressed intent of creating buildings that embody the mission of the school. Anticipating that this campus would be located closer to Charlottesville, the faculty and Board of Trustees decided in 2002 to change the name of the school to the Charlottesville Waldorf School. In the spring of 2002, a group of parents, grandparents, and friends purchased a thirteen-acre property on Rio Road just outside the city limits of Charlottesville and gave the land to the school.


In September, the first new building, housing eight classrooms, was completed.


In November, two new buildings opened: the Music and Arts Building, including an office, a classroom, and a library; and the Pavilion, an open-air space for community gatherings.


The Charlottesville Waldorf School celebrated its 30th anniversary!


CWS receives full accreditation by AWSNA and NCPSA (the National Council for Private School Accreditation). Additionally, the school purchased the Little Red House area of our early childhood campus in 2013 and is expanding its parent education calendar, reintroducing the Parent-Child program, opening the Toddler Class for children aged two and three, and increasing the number of specialty subjects offered in the grade school. The school also is seeking to establish strong roots in the Charlottesville area by hosting a number of social and artistic events on campus that are open to the wider community, including painting workshops, a regional high school fair, and an anthroposophical study group. Our campus is also the site of summer programs, year-round classes in Irish music and dance, as well as a variety of wider Charlottesville community activities, some of which are run by outside organizations that rent our campus. In spring 2013, the Board of Trustees created two new administrative positions: administrative chair (replacing the school administrator) and development director. With this increase in support staff, CWS continues its progress toward establishing itself as an institution providing the Charlottesville and Albemarle area with education out of an anthroposophical understanding of the human being.


In June, the school hosted JamFest, a family-friendly music festival intended to be an annual fundraising event.


On September 19, 2019, Waldorf schools around the world will celebrate the Centennial Anniversary of the establishment of the first Waldorf Steiner school. From September 2018 through June 2020, Waldorf communities worldwide will celebrate this occasion through social and environmental impact projects targeted to engage the wider community. These campaigns will highlight human values in education and support initiatives that revitalize society and our relationship with our earth.