The Marr family have been apart of the MWS community for 14 years, beginning in 2008 when their oldest son joined Ms. Eileen’s kindergarten class. They have three children that all went to MWS from Kindergarten through 8th grade. Their oldest son Garrett is a 2017 MWS graduate (Mr. Weick’s class) and just finished his first year at St. Olaf College. Their son Elliott is a 2019 graduate of MWS (Ms. Riehle’s class) and just finished his junior year at Roseville Area High School. Their daughter Adelaide is a 2022 graduate (Mrs. Maier’s class) and will be attending Roseville Area High School this fall.
What brought your family to the Minnesota Waldorf School, and what qualities were you looking for in a school?
Our journey in Waldorf education started when Garrett was three-years old and we sent him to a home-based Waldorf preschool that offered lots of outdoor and creative play, chickens, cooking, healthy snacks and stories told from memory. That was such a wonderful experience that we decided that we had to try to continue with the Waldorf experience. We weren’t sure how we could make it work with tuition, but all of the financial sacrifices that we made were well worth it and the school helped make it possible through financial aid.
We chose the Waldorf education system for several reasons. One of the primary reasons was that we wanted our children to be in an environment where their learning was driven by a sense of curiosity and a love of learning – not by pressure or a fear of not getting a “good grade.” It was also very important to us that our children be in a low/no-media environment as young children. As we learned more about the school, we fell in love with the curriculum and the way Waldorf education teaches children through working with their hands, movement of their bodies, outdoor time and stories told from memory so that children create their own images in their heads.
How were the transitions to high school from MWS? How was your child(ren)’s transition to MWS from another school?
Our two older children have made the transition from MWS to a large public high school and did so without issue. From an academic perspective, they were well prepared in all subjects including math and science. Our sons thrived in high school courses where discussion and class participation were required. Both were able to join the high school orchestra and were able to test into higher level French and math classes because of their MWS education. The social transition was also smooth for our sons. It’s always difficult to change schools and come into a community that is new, however for our sons who were interested in participating in activities and athletics outside of school, the social transition went well.
A question that is often asked is how MWS graduates transitioned to technology and use of a computer in high school. This was also a very minor issue. We did elect to have our children take an online keyboarding class prior to high school (typing.com) to ensure they had correct typing skills. But beyond this, there was no issue or barrier for our sons integrating into use of computers, ipads, etc.
What has been your family’s favorite part of the school and your child’s experience?
It’s impossible for us to name one favorite part of MWS. We love the curriculum and the way that it nurtures creativity; we love how it builds self-confidence in the students. We love how the students are able to learn without feeling worry or anxiety about school. We love having a community of parents that, although didn’t always agree, were intentional and thoughtful about supporting the school, faculty, staff and students.
What would you tell another family considering MWS?
It is hard to believe that this day has come – that our children have all finished with their MWS education. The choice to join the MWS community and commit to sending them to this school was absolutely the best decision for our family. No education is perfect, no community is without its flaws and quirks. However the MWS community has been one where we found dedicated teachers, caring administrators, thoughtful parents, and amazing children. It is a place where young children are allowed to exist as children – playing, pretending, exploring, and creating. It’s a school where classroom and subject teachers are allowed space and freedom to teach their classes and for each of our kids, the experience was unique and life-changing. In the upper grades (5-8) MWS provided a challenging liberal arts education that embraced study of world history, world cultures, math, physics, biology, chemistry and French.