Picture a public school classroom where the walls are painted in soft colors, the lighting is warm, and the air is infused with essential oils. Students are standing or seated at their wooden desks, happily crocheting with cotton yarns. There is a pleasant hum as these students complete their handwork projects with guidance from their teachers. Looking around the room, you see colorful chalkboard illustrations of the arts-integrated, world studies-focused curriculum. Children’s voices echo in song throughout the hallways. Classrooms at Portland Village School combine enriching academics with multi-sensory learning.
Portland Village School (PVS) is a public Waldorf school of choice in the Portland Public School District, serving ~400 students in grades K-8. PVS, in addition to following Common Core State Standards, has the freedom to offer an integrated curriculum rich with literacy, arts, Spanish language, history, and cultural studies. A Waldorf instructional model is developmentally focused and educates the whole child – referred to as the head, heart, and hands.
“I feel proud to be part of a school community where developing truly well-rounded children is not only the goal but its whole-hearted mission”Parent Woody Stratton.
“I moved from Kansas to seek a tuition-free Waldorf-based education for my three children“ noted Kerry Lambertus, a PVS teacher and parent for the last nine years. As a public Charter school, PVS serves children from the entire Metro area and fosters equity and social justice through a weighted lottery, and intentional curriculum content. About the school’s equity lens Dr. J, the Executive Director envisions “Our students will be leaders for equity in our increasingly diverse world.”
Another feature of Waldorf schools is the deep belief in the importance of relationship and community, fostered by looping – whereby a class of students and their main teacher stay together as a cohort for an extended period of time. At PVS, our students loop in the early elementary years for grades 1-4, then at 5-6, and 7-8. 8th grade student Lincoln Wheeler states, “There’s not a lot of conflict in class because we have known each other for so long. We know how to work things out together.”
Our students are supported by daily routines and community building activities designed to strengthen social relationships and deepen restorative justice practice. Morning circles consisting of poetry, songs and movement develop neural connections for students and set the instructional tone for the day. All students participate in weekly Spanish, music, handwork arts, and physical education movement classes. Students have two daily recess periods and participate in weekly “park-walks,” extending physical and creative play opportunities in the local community.
Public Waldorf education guides students to become cultural creators and producers, and to develop within themselves the capacities of clear perception, critical thinking, imagination, creativity, empathy, compassion, determination, and the confidence to take action.