Minnesota Waldorf School grew out of a parent-led movement for Waldorf education in the Twin Cities. The Minnesota Waldorf School Association was created in 1979. At that time it organized visits by Waldorf educators and a two-day conference titled “Education Towards Freedom,” which was followed by a larger conference cosponsored by St. Catherine’s College. The first kindergarten program, led by Marianne Schneider, opened in September of 1981 and a move to a larger location still in Minneapolis. Margaret Meyerkort, Rene Querido and Werner Glas supported the school in its growth and development.
The school continued to grow, and by 1986 there were 100 students in five grades and two kindergartens. Land, 24 acres, was purchased for a permanent school site in Inver Grove Heights (to the southeast of the central metro area of the Twin Cities). Plans were made to raise the money to build on the site. However, in the interim, the school needed to rent more space and had trouble finding an appropriate location. In 1987, the school moved to an old wing of an unused public school building in West St. Paul.
This move caused huge upheaval in the parent body, as some parents felt that the distances involved were too great. The new location was 45 minutes by car from the Minneapolis churches that had housed the school until this point. This move split the school community and led to the establishment of the City School (now known as City of Lakes Waldorf School) in Minneapolis. The school lost many students in making this move. Unfortunately, with the reduced community size the money could not be raised to finance the building process. After consideration, the land was sold and the school moved to the classroom wing of Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Roseville (a first-ring suburb north of St. Paul).
The school continued to grow and prosper at the Corpus Christi site, and by fall of 1995, with approximately 120 students, it was clear that a move to a larger space was needed. Again the possibility of building a permanent site was considered. In 1996 the Board formed a Site Committee, and a process of examining possible sites was inaugurated. After eighteen months of committee and parent seeking, no appropriate site had been found, so the Board hired a search consultant firm to assist in the process. In December of 1998 the site of the Hideaway Bar was identified as a possible location for the school. The site, more than eight acres, was five miles from the Corpus Christi site in Maplewood, relatively undeveloped, and close to public park land. A Building Committee and a Capital Committee were formed, and in March of 1999 a purchase agreement for the land was signed.
As money was raised, the building design process moved along quickly. When the site was purchased in July of 1999, we were well into the building design process, had an architect and quickly hired a contractor. Ground was broken in May of 2000, and the school made the move to its permanent site during the first week of January 2001.
As the planning for the land, building and ultimately the move took place, the school grew rapidly. By fall of 2000 enrollment was at 190 students in eight grades and two kindergartens. Five eighth-grade classes had graduated form the Corpus Christi site.
During these years, the upper grades (five through eight) were housed in a temporary building behind the school. Intentions were made to continue to rent the temporary space, until another capital campaign could provide for a more permanent space. In the summer of 2009, the Early Childhood building (fondly referred to as the Kindergarten Cottage) was completed. The upper grades were moved into the school and the first grade, 3 mixed-age kindergartens and a parent-toddler program began in the Early Childhood building.
The second part of this capital campaign provided a woodworking and science room and new office space for administration in the summer of 2010.
Each year brings new growth to Minnesota Waldorf School. In April 2011, the Frolic Fundraiser “Fund-A-Need” brought in enough money to begin the new Garage and Storage building that will house and protect our outdoor equipment, as well as the stage and circus supplies. This new building will also have an attached greenhouse to support our “horticulturiculum” program – the gardening program at MWS.