How This Charter School Applies the Holistic Waldorf Education Model

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Students gardening at Journey School, a Waldorf education public charter school in California

Until recently, the Waldorf education model existed primarily in expensive private schools, but with the advent of public charter schools the model spread into the public sector. Today roughly 40 Waldorf charter schools serve public school students across in the United States.

Journey School, located in Aliso Viejo, California, perfectly demonstrates how the Waldorf education model helps all children succeed. Like many charter schools, Journey School opened as a result of a parent-driven push to create an alternative for the families in the community. Nearly 20 years later, this high-performing charter school offers parents a public education alternative for their children.

In 2013, the federal government awarded the school the prestigious Green Ribbon Award. The award requires schools to demonstrate excellence in reducing environmental impact and costs, improving the health and wellness of schools, students, and staff, and providing effective environmental and sustainability education.

Students playing at Journey School, a Waldorf education public charter school in California

Gavin Keller, the current executive director, spoke with the National Alliance about what makes his school a success. As a former teacher, he noted that teaching social emotional literacy may seem like a distraction from traditional material, but pays off when it comes to student achievement. He finds that classrooms see less disruptions, while students feel safer, more empowered, and achieve greater focus when teachers use a holistic approach to education.

Like private schools using the Waldorf education model, Journey School emphasizes the arts. Students follow the traditional Waldorf path by learning music and a variety of hands-on skills from weaving, knitting, and crocheting to woodwork.

Students playing at Journey School, a Waldorf education public charter school in California

They also follow the Waldorf “looping” method, whereby teachers follow the students across multiple years. Keller noted that students and teachers benefit from this approach because teachers develop close relationships with students and do not need to waste time each year getting to know one another.

Learn more about Journey School’s accomplishments.


Jamison White is the manager of data & research at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.


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February 6, 2019 - 10:42am
Li Ming

Are there any Waldorf schools in Boston?

February 6, 2019 - 10:42am
Zetian Li

My parents send my little brother to a Waldorf private school. I wish we had had a free public version near us.

February 6, 2019 - 11:05am
Mingzhang Shen

In China many teachers looping with students. Very good for students. Like very much.

May 29, 2020 - 10:52am
Debra Ross

Waldorf school in Calgary is the BEST. Such awesome, caring teachers. Great teaching strategies. My grandson loves it and feels very comfortable being there.