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Last Updated: 7/22/2024 2:03:26 PM EST

School Overview

Sunrise Waldorf School is in its 38th year in the Cowichan Valley with a mission to educate and inspire students to reach their full potential through a rich and artistic Waldorf curriculum.

Why teach at Sunrise Waldorf School?

Offering pre-K through Grade 8 classes, we have been a full-member AWSNA accredited school since 2003 and are a Group 1 independent school under the BC Ministry of Education. The school enrollment (K-8) is approximately 170, and there are currently 13 full-time faculty and additional part-time faculty and classroom assistants.

Our Mission, Vision and Values

The Waldorf philosophy is based on the belief that each child is a unique and unfolding individual. The goal of Waldorf education is balanced growth of the mental, emotional and moral capabilities in each child. The curriculum emphasizes the value of the individual, reflecting the belief that a healthy society is the result of healthy individuals. The Waldorf approach is three-fold, bringing concepts to life through the use of the hands (doing), the heart (feeling), and the mind (thinking).

Unique Approach

Some aspects of Waldorf education that are different from mainstream approaches are:

  • Academics are de-emphasized in the early school years with kindergarten concentrating on play-based learning and reading delayed until the grades to allow for bilateral integration in the brain to pair phonics with creating mental pictures.
  • During the elementary school years, the students have a class (or “main lesson”) teacher, who stays with the class for a number of consecutive years. Some teachers stay with their class from first to eighth grade, although others concentrate on lower or middle grades.
  • Certain activities which are often considered “frills” at mainstream schools are central at Waldorf schools: art, music, handwork, gardening, and foreign languages, to name a few. “Specialty teachers” provide these lessons to support the main lesson teacher.
  • There are no “textbooks” as such in the first through fifth grades and these are also used infrequently in middle grades as supplementary material.
  • Learning in a Waldorf school is a non-competitive activity. There are no grades given at the elementary level; instead, the teacher writes a narrative evaluation of the student’s learning.
  • The use of electronic media, particularly television, by young children is strongly discouraged in Waldorf schools and computers are not used in the classroom.

The Community

A spiritual dimension in Waldorf education is present in the culture and environment of the school, although no particular religious or spiritual beliefs are prescribed. Parents and teachers of various religious and spiritual perspectives and ethical philosophies are involved in Waldorf education. They do so knowing that Waldorf schools are based on a spiritual view of the human being and of the world.

School Community

Waldorf education is born from “anthroposophy”, a spiritual and mystical philosophy based on the teachings of the 19th-century philosopher and social reformer Rudolf Steiner. Anthroposophy is not taught in the school, and there is not an expectation that teachers will adopt anthroposophy for themselves.

Waldorf schools seek to cultivate positive human values of compassion, reverence for life, respect, cooperation, love of nature, interest in the world, and social conscience, and our school culture and environment, including parents and faculty, tend to reflect that intention.

Our workplace includes teachers invested in their own self-development as well as in the creative work of educating children. The school itself is located in a rural setting on a 7-acre parcel overlooking rolling hills of farmland, forest and a winery next door, with mountains beyond. It is a well-maintained campus in a beautiful and peaceful location.

A day in the life in Waldorf Schools

Waldorf education aims to inspire life-long learning in all students and to enable them to fully develop their unique capacities. Our academically challenging, arts-infused curriculum includes block-style learning in which each morning begins with a two-hour class during which academic subjects are taught.

The subjects taught in the main lesson are studied for blocks of time lasting from three to six or more weeks, allowing teachers to cover the curriculum intensively and economically. In our school environment, stress is minimized by strong relationships, ample artistic and physical activity, and opportunities for joy and discovery. Media and technology are managed very differently than in many other schools: they are introduced in an age-appropriate way and are understood and used as tools rather than ends unto themselves.

Waldorf Schools prioritize experiential learning. Distinct phases of child development guide teachers in the right manner to provide curriculum at different times that concentrates activities in thinking, feeling and willing. Each step of the students’ progress is carefully followed to develop their unique innate capacities.

The Kindergarten and Preschool programs have teachers that provide a nurturing and loving umbrella so that children feel really held in a healthy and harmonious manner. The early years provide strength to the will and inner security in the goodness of the world around them. The children are happy and free in the joyful activities of painting, cooking, playing and gardening. In the grade school years, the class teacher follows the students through the grades, giving continuity and security.

The curriculum speaks to the students’ earnest search for beauty in life. Artistic presentations are provided in the humanities, arts and sciences. Doing, imagination and movement are predominant. Presentations that develop each student’s unique character are the class teacher’s priority. Lessons in painting, handwork, woodwork, modeling, drawing and music fortify the lessons in the humanities and sciences. Students awaken in their feelings and imaginations and develop skills that strengthen their compassion and love for life.

Lifestyle and Recreational Opportunities

The unhurried pace of life, the many quiet, unspoiled spots to enjoy, and the friendly community offer lifestyle advantages distinct from an urban setting. Our school is located in the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island north of Victoria. Cowichan takes its name from Quw’utsun’, an Indigenous word that means The Warm Land. Cowichan is located in Canada’s only maritime Mediterranean climatic zone and is home to the warmest year-round temperatures in the country. More than half of our 85,000 residents live in the municipalities of Duncan, North Cowichan, Ladysmith and Lake Cowichan, with the remaining spread across rural farmland and forests.

A majority of the families at our school have moved to the Cowichan Valley specifically so that their children can attend Sunrise Waldorf School. Besides being attracted to the school itself, the rural lifestyle, mild climate and numerous recreational activities in the area are attractive to families with growing children.

Enjoy outdoor recreation on our lakes, in rivers, forests, and the ocean

Outdoor recreational activities are plentiful in the area with lakes, rivers, forests and ocean providing numerous opportunities for activities such as biking, hiking, fishing, kayaking, sailing, boating, river rafting, whale watching and more. Mountain biking trails and multi-use trails are plentiful, including the Cowichan Valley Trail, an integral part of the Trans Canada Trail. A two-hour drive to Mt. Washington offers winter skiing and mountain biking in the summer.

Enjoy music, theatres, sports, and fine foods

The Cowichan Valley Regional District offers numerous recreational programs, ranging from arts, crafts, music, dance, technology, outdoor recreation, sports, health, nutrition and language studies. The local Chemainus Theatre Festival is a vibrant, professional theatre nestled in the nearby seaside community of Chemainus that features some of the finest productions in Canada. Concerts and music festivals are also abundant, including the Sunfest country music festival, the Island Folk Festival and the 39 Days of July summer festival. The Cowichan Performing Arts Centre also offers music, theatre and film events.

Cowichan also has a burgeoning agritourism scene producing amazing artisanal food and drink from local farms, vineyards, wineries, cideries and distilleries.

The Cowichan Community Centre includes a public library, a full aquatic centre, a 731-seat theatre, a 2,040-seat multipurpose arena (home to the BCHL’s Cowichan Valley Capitals hockey team), a gymnasium, a large multi-purpose room, and the “world’s biggest hockey stick and puck.” The nearby Cowichan Sportsplex is a regional outdoor sports, fitness and recreation park covering over 26 acres. The Cowichan District Hospital is a full-service hospital located in Duncan.

We’re also a short ferry ride from other islands, Vancouver and Seattle where you can enjoy even more amazing activities

Draw for Employees

While Waldorf Education places children at the heart of its pedagogy, Waldorf schools depend on the teacher as a fulcrum for the educational process. The individual who chooses to teach in a Waldorf school brings his or her full self to the development of others, providing mentoring, development, and affection that sustain the students for life.

Teachers who apply to Sunrise Waldorf School are often looking for the opportunity to bring their love of teaching fully alive. Our teachers also cherish the opportunity to develop a long-lasting relationship with their students as they move from grade to grade with their class.

Although we value teachers with Waldorf experience, we also value teachers who have been trained and taught in other systems but have a desire to teach in a Waldorf school. We provide financial support to pursue the three-year Waldorf teacher training program, which can be completed while working.

At our school, Waldorf teacher training is offered over three weeks during school closures. In addition, a strong mentorship program is available to support teachers new to the school. We also offer a warm, supportive environment in which to work. The governance structure at our school includes teachers in decision making about the educational program and other aspects of the school, and there is strong support for teacher freedom to teach in innovative and creative ways.

Salary and Benefits

Our teacher’s salary is based on the level of education and years of experience, ranging from $42,550 to $59,560. Benefits include full tuition remission for children who attend the school, 12 sick days per year during a 168-day school year, support on BC Medical Services Plan payments as well as an extended benefits plan. We also provide teachers with financial support for Waldorf training and other professional development activities.

Why you’ll love it here

What sets our school apart is the kinds of relationships the students develop with their teachers and classmates and the cooperation that the teachers bring to hold each student in the best way possible. Teachers stay with a single class over many years and are supported by a number of specialist teachers. With this approach, the students and teachers come to know each other very well, and teachers can determine the best way of helping individual students. The teacher also becomes like an additional family member for most of the families in his/her class.

How to apply for a career at Sunrise Waldorf

Candidates must be Canadian residents or citizens–no foreign worker applications are accepted. Candidates must also be eligible for BC teacher certification or be able to receive a Letter of Permission to teach in BC.