Saturday, May 12, 2012

Shining Mountain Waldorf School Reviews by Parents
Posted February 03, 2015
- a parent
Sending our son to SMWS is by far our greatest regret as parents. Do not be fooled by your tour of the school. It's two years our son wasted learning to knit and draw, all while being bullied to the point it turned physical. The school doesn't have a leader, but yet a group of teachers who oversee the school so if there is a problem, and there are many at SMWS, they are never addressed. Send your child to any other school in Boulder, but no SMWS.

Posted January 27, 2015
- a parent
There are a lot of great teachers and faculty but the leadership at the school is terrible and getting worse. New school director and certain staff do not act in alignment with their policies and what they say. We pulled our child after 2.5 years at the school. The school has a sustainability policy that they post online but it is for show only. They don't use healthy materials (even when available) and are more concerned with appearance of the school than the health of the children and learning environment. We have heard from several teachers and staff that they are afraid to question the leadership for fear of retribution. The school is not the "Waldorf, nature environment" that it portrays itself as. At least 5 families left the school in the past 2 years due to unsatisfactory environmental/health conditions. And, even though the school acknowledges they have an attrition problem, they refuse to acknowledge their incongruences between their actions and policies as the root cause. With each family that leaves, they try to keep the circumstances around the exit quiet. This is a school that looks good from the outside but is definitely heading in the wrong direction.
Let's be honest here folks - Waldorf schools are for rich people. The Waldorf concept assumes the kids already get exposure to plenty of attention, learning opportunities, and everything they need at home. School is just for "enrichment" and the Waldorf name will look good on the Ivy League college application. Parents that can afford to spend $15K year on elementary school will certainly pony up whatever is needed to send the kids to college later on, where they will actually start to learn real skills. 

I honestly knew little about Waldorf or Shining Mtn. until I met kids who went there (via my young son) and started attending some events at the school. I had to write this response to the other reviews here about the "academics" . . . I have seen little evidence of anything that could be called "academics" at this school, up until the 3rd grade (which is the age of the kids I know there).  Art and singing songs and oddball symbolism about dragons and knights and other such things are plentiful, however.

My son could read in kindergarten, easily. The kids I know who go to Shining Mountain are older(!) and still cannot read. At age 7. Their math skills in 3rd grade seem to be on par with my son in kindergarten or 1st grade, also. What Waldorf kids do get good at is reciting songs, sculpting with wax, knitting, and playing outside. They seem to go on a lot of hikes at school. Public schools could learn a thing or two from the physical exercise standpoint, but that's one of the few things I see that Waldorf gets right.

Believe me, my Waldorf friends have tried to explain it all to me, and to recruit me. That's the other off-putting element, which is how much this mindset resembles a cult. The cultish aspect is pretty distasteful to me and is the main reason (besides expense, of course) that turns me off. When I saw how little the older kids had developed compared to my son, I was pretty shocked. I found little in the Waldorf "philosophy" that was very convincing or has much of a scientific basis. More like wishful thinking, and nice-sounding platitudes.

But if you're even contemplating this school, you are probably wealthy enough, and fringe-culture enough, to not care what I think. You might not actually care that your kids will go to school to learn how to knit and play the ukulele.
We should have known when we enrolled our son and there was rumor of numerous families leaving the school in the higher grades that there was obviously a problem with the school.

First, there is no one in charge, which leaves issues unaddressed.  The faculty is the only means of addressing any issues.  There is a severe bullying problem at this school and after getting to know the parents, it seems to be a problem at numerous Waldorf schools.  We had countless group class meetings to address all the problems occurring between the groups of girls, and the groups of boys not getting along due to bullying.  Absolutely nothing was ever done, and there was never a consequence for the child who was bullying the other children.  The classes are so small that you would think it would be beneficial to the children, but it limits them socially.

The reason the children love it is because they basically play all day and are not challenged academically in the least.  If you enroll your child in this school be prepared to keep them there because it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for them to catch up with the children in the public school system.  My son was behind on every subject when we left SMWS, but due to tutors and hard work he was able to finally catch up and is now thriving in the Boulder public school system.  He is now an ADL leader and 360 leader at MMS, has numerous friends, and is extremely happy.

I can't begin to tell you all the reasons why you should avoid this particular Waldorf school.  We are friends with two other families, who moved to Boulder just for this school, and now their children are also in the Boulder public school system.  There is another local family that sent their son there, and he was teased and bullied to the point he made it one year then entered the BVSD public school system.  I have kept in touch with them, and their son is also thriving and much happier now, but experienced depression while at SMWS.

This school is an embarrassment to the education system and should have it's doors closed!

To this day, my son says, he wishes he could have the two years back that he wasted at SMWS in Boulder.  He is currently 13, and even as a child, recognizes the problems at SMWS.  Sending him to SMWS has been my biggest regret as a parent, but my husband and I were so impressed with the school during the tour that we thought we were making the right decision at the time.

Again, please do not be taken in by the tour of this school only to regret wasting your child's time, emotional needs, and your money at SMWS.

So we enrolled my son in this school. Because we had heard so many great things about it. My son had a very difficult time adjusting to a new school. The teacher that my son had Mrs Pam Rosenthal. Turned out to be very unsupportive of my son. I felt like the school was very discriminative of my son. I also felt not welcomed by any parents. I payed all this extra money for eurethmey classes and extra counseling for my son and my family. So my son can enroll for the next year. Just to find out they did not want my 9 year old son to come back to there school. The teacher gave me the feeling that they did not want to take the time to work with my son. It was very disappointing. I was truly in disbelief how the teacher Pam would isolate my son because she did not like him. Because he had some challenges. Please parents do your homework. This is a bad school.

My child has gone to this school for four years. In those four years, there have been times of inspiration and magic. However, the teachers AND administration have proved incompetent in dealing with issues of bullying. At least five families that I know have left due to inaction. Things are usually swept under the rug and not made public. Only recently have they began dealing with this insidious issue, but change is slow at this school.  —Submitted by a parent
Posted October 14, 2005
This school has been a big disappointment, mostly because the teachers are awful (very lazy and incompetent). I can only recommend that this school be shut down.  —Submitted by a parent

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You may ask, "where are all the 5=Star reviews?" Well, the problem with those reviews is that many tend not to be too honest. I have included 4-star reviews that appear honest. Often, gushing reviews are placed by teachers and administrators - as some comments here indicate. "This school educates the whole child!!!" - 5 stars - by Anonymous... I say baloney! Notice, many of the reviewers have been misled by Waldorf and are still buying the PR, even after having been disappointed. Feel free to comment but understand the intent of this blog. Comments are no longer moderated.