40 Years of Waldorf Education in The Heart of Denver
Preparation for the Denver Waldorf School began in 1939 when a small group of spiritual seekers in the Denver area learned about Anthroposophy, committed themselves to it, and started an active working relationship with it that was to continue for decades.
The Christian Community Church fostered, tended and nurtured the birth of the school. In 1971 the Reverend Diethart Jaehnig guided a study on Waldorf education, inviting leading Anthroposophists from around the world. Diethart and the group conducted ongoing workshops, out of which grew a strong desire of the parents to have their children experience the reality of Waldorf education.
Diethart, his wife Ina, and their friend, Joan Condon, began a small preschool. The Jaehnig’s living room became the seed-bed for the early childhood program. On September 29, 1974, the school secured its first home in the Sunday school rooms of a church across the street from a beautiful park. The school outgrew several facilities and finally found a permanent home in 1977, in a dilapidated, drab, old school building where they stayed for twenty-six years.
The teachers during the early years were not only teachers but were also the school’s administrators, janitors, painters, groundskeepers, fundraisers and chauffeurs. The stress of the work brought the differences among the teachers to the surface leading to a polarization of the faculty over the role of Anthroposophy in the school. The struggle resulted in a split-off school being formed.
The remaining teachers looked at combining classes, keeping the mortgage payments current, and the myriad of other aspects of keeping the school alive. Slowly a healthy atmosphere was restored in the building and the school began to heal. To support the renewal of the school, two visiting Eurythmists breathed life back into the school community with wonderful artistic performances and festivals. After two and a half years the other school folded. Over the years the rift began to heal and the school community was able to build trust and find new ways of working together.
In 1990 a group of parents from the third grade class formed the first High School committee, and they were soon joined by other parents and faculty. Meeting monthly for years, this group prepared the way for the opening of The Denver Waldorf High School. This, despite minimal funding, took place in the autumn of 1995.
In the fall of 2003 the school realized its goal of becoming a complete Pre-K through Grade 12 program under one roof with the purchase of the present facility at 940 Fillmore Street. The Denver Waldorf School has always chosen to be an inner-city school. This means cramped quarters and the innovative use of space. Ethnic diversity is one of the school’s priorities and is slowly becoming a reality. Over the years, many local people have joined the school, becoming loyal and dedicated teachers and administrators. The present full-time teachers average more than fifteen years of service to the school; many have been here over twenty years, and some over thirty.
The growing child is the heart of our work. Our school is a community of children, teachers, parents, community leaders, family and friends joined in a celebration of life and education. We educate our students to become free thinking adults who are able to impart purpose and direction to their lives and who will offer new solutions for the problems of our age.
We strive for intellectual freedom, artistic creativity and a sense of social responsibility. Graduates of The Denver Waldorf School carry with them into the world the developed capacities of wonder, gratitude and integrity out of which they are able to serve the larger community with flexible thinking, moral courage and skillful, purposeful work. We are concerned with the transformation of education itself. We consistently explore, train and develop ourselves and share and foster such growth in those around us.
The faculty and staff of The Denver Waldorf School are made up of courageous women and men who serve as a model of partnership and cooperation. We are dedicated to the conscious evolution and development of the whole human being.