Program Overview School on the Rise is an elementary school led by David and Susan Darcy, who are both experienced Waldorf teachers. In addition to an impressive array of academics, the curriculum emphasizes creative activities, physical challenges, and time outdoors. We include physical tasks such as building and gardening, and many of the artistic activities typical of a Waldorf classroom, such as drawing, wet-on-wet watercolor painting, clay modeling, and playing recorders or wooden flutes. David organizes the schedule and arranges for additional teachers as needed to ensure the richness of the curriculum.
The Ages of Our Students For the 2021-22 school year we are enrolling for 1st through 7th grades. Our upcoming 7th grade will continue through 8th grade.
Daily Schedule The days and weeks are structured to provide both consistency and variety. Each day begins with vigorous physical movement, singing and recitation and then the 90 minute "main lesson". The remainder of each day is spent in academic practice periods, artistic classes, and recesses. The teachers work individually with students in the areas of skill development such as math and language arts. David and Susan draw on their Waldorf training and experience to develop main lesson topics that best meet each specific group of students. As is typical in a Waldorf classroom, each student makes books that provide a personal record of their learning process.
Morning Circle and Good-bye Circle are the official opening and closing moments of each day and it is a lovely thing to begin and end each day all together as a school. During the day there are two recesses which give opportunities for the students to eat a snack and a lunch and to engage in free play. Snacks and lunches are brought from home. Each child must bring a water bottle to school.
All students have chores they must complete at the end of the day, based on the needs of the schoolhouse and property. Chores include such activities as sweeping, erasing chalkboards, folding clean hand towels, washing dishes, emptying trash, recycling or compost, wiping down surfaces, and tidying their desks and cubbies.
Visiting the Lessons Covid-19 requirements have changed our ability to welcome visitors into the classrooms. Please contact us for up to date information.Our goal is to warmly welcome any parent onto campus and into the classrooms at any time. If you would like to observe classes or be onsite during recesses or morning circle, please let us know and we will see what we can arrange.
Assessment and Reporting Good communication between parents and teachers is crucial to ensure that each child’s educational needs are being met. Written reports describing a student’s progress and participation in a subject are emailed to parents after each main lesson block and at the end of each semester for the ongoing academic practice/skills subjects. Students are not graded on their work, but we often communicate informally with parents about a child's strengths, struggles, and experiences, and we are happy to schedule times to talk together as needed.
Towards a Healthy Social Life at School Enhancing the social experience of their children is one important reason why parents place their children in group learning activities. Cultivating a healthy social life is very difficult if parents have prejudices based on race, ethnicity, social background, gender identity, etc. We strongly believe that racism and all other prejudicial thoughts, statements, and actions deserve strong condemnation wherever we find them, and we ask that you as a parent only consider placing your child in this program if such prejudices are not a part of your worldview.
We place a lot of emphasis on the quality of students’ interactions and will frequently have conversations with individuals, small groups, or the entire student body to discuss social dynamics we observe or hear about. Social drama can be uncomfortable, and yet sometimes the air must be cleared. We give the children models for how to peacefully resolve differences and hold each other accountable. We encourage each student to speak their truth clearly and respectfully, to listen to others, and to think about appropriate next steps to make the situation right. This kind of social work takes time, patience, courage, and often a sense of humor. Growing into good and helpful people may be hard or uncomfortable work, and helping our friends and classmates be their best selves can also be difficult. We firmly believe these things are worth learning, so we spend time on them.
Being Prepared for Weather and Normal Risks in Nature We believe that normal risks and challenges are good for human development, so students are encouraged to explore all 8 acres of our rugged Texas property. There are natural dangers in the form of flora (e.g. stinging nettle and cacti), fauna (e.g. fire ants and wasps) and geology. Children will climb (and possibly fall from) trees, run and trip, and sometimes get scrapes, cuts, bumps, and bruises in the natural course of healthy play. All of this is part of growing up to be strong and resilient. Common sense, respect for all creatures, and care for one another are actively cultivated, and teachers and first aid kits are always nearby. In cases of emergency, we would call 911.
Students are expected to be outside for large parts of each day, so dressing appropriately for the weather, even if it is cold and/or rainy, is important. They will need gloves, hats, and coats for cold weather, and rain boots and rain jackets so they can play in the rain. They should have a change of clothes at school in case they get wet or muddy. They may bring umbrellas if they want them.
Fire safety is another part of this program, since there will be times when we have fires in the fireplaces in the schoolhouse (we have three!) or outside in the fire pit. Students will learn basic fire safety through helping gather wood, building and extinguishing these fires.
During the 2020-2021 school year, we asked our teachers and our parents to agree to minimize exposure risks in their non-school lives in a common understanding that what we do “out there” would potentially impact every person at school, and whether we would be able to have in-person school at all. We increased the use of outdoor learning; masks and physically distancing were required for indoor activities and at other times when necessary.
Hopefully, none of these restrictions will be necessary during the 2021-22 school year. As an independent school, we have the freedom to choose our policies. Our policies will be based on the scientific consensus, taking our unique size and circumstances into account.
Respectful of Spirit, not Religious We believe that our work includes honoring and cultivating the natural childhood worldview of reverence for life and a desire to experience goodness, truth, and beauty. To this end, we often include songs and poems that use the word "God." However, there is no intention of indoctrinating the students with any specific beliefs. Similarly, one of the important aspects of the curriculum is the study of cultures, which often includes discussions of their religious beliefs. Our goal is to help the students appreciate and be comfortable in a world where they will interact with people from many cultures, some of whom will have very different beliefs from their own.
Technology in Our Lives The role of electronics in a child's life has changed dramatically in the many years that we have been teaching. Now most phones can access games, photographs, websites and videos. Although many aspects of society and technology have changed rapidly over the years, we believe that the nature of childhood is essentially the same as it was thousands of years ago. At a most basic level, children learn best from direct experiences and when they feel safe, rested, fed, and inspired.
We also want to cultivate in the students the stamina needed to persevere in building good habits for learning. These include being able to focus and pay attention, listen and comprehend, imagine and manipulate mental pictures and processes, memorize, stand tall and still, as well as to move with core strength, flexibility and rhythm. To learn, the mind and body must be available and receptive. Research shows that the overuse of technology and screen time erode a child’s ability to function in these critical ways. Of course, there are appropriate uses for the technological tools of our age, but the addictive qualities of video games and other electronic activities underscore the harm that can be done mentally, physically, and socially. We urge parents to be very cautious about allowing children to have significant time with electronics, especially unsupervised time. Students are not allowed to use screens on campus except with special permission from a teacher.
Environmental Responsibility At School on the Rise we are attempting to use natural resources wisely. We have a small solar array installed on the roof and we open windows and doors when the weather is good and leave lights off when rooms are not being actively used to decrease our electrical energy needs. We actively encourage the students to compost food scraps, recycle paper goods, use reusable cups, plates, and utensils, and we try to limit our use of water by asking the students to delay flushing the toilets when they only pee. We encourage parents to consider adding environmentally responsible habits at home to support the students learning them at school. Ideas on ways we can demonstrate increasingly responsible operations are welcome.
Tuition and Fees For information about the cost for students to participate in the program, please see the “Admissions & Tuition" page in the main menu.
Still Have Questions? If you have questions about any aspect of this program, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We Would Love to Have You Visit Soon!
School on the Rise values and supports diversity in its many dimensions, including but not limited to each person’s unique combination of race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical ability, learning style, religious beliefs, political views, perspectives, and life experiences.
By embracing diversity, we expand our understanding of others. By reflecting on our inherent personal biases, we stimulate our own learning and growth. By doing both, we connect with one another and the world. We believe this is healthy and key to moving beyond simple tolerance, building a safe, positive, and nurturing environment that affirms each individual’s sense of belonging, dignity, and significance. [Thanks and Acknowledgment to High Meadow School for borrowing heavily from their Diversity Statement]