Celebrating 60 Years of Waldorf Education in Sacramento

This year, we mark 60 years since Sacramento Waldorf School opened our doors. During this time our work has inspired many new initiatives that now provide Waldorf education throughout our region.

Today, we are proud to be one of five Waldorf schools, plus five Waldorf-inspired charter schools, serving children of all ages in the Sacramento region. Considering that many states have one, maybe two, Waldorf schools, we believe this truth says something important about Sacramento-area parents.

As a community connected by the values inherent in Waldorf education, we collectively appreciate childhood, believe in protecting our children from the pressures and stresses of modern life, while instilling within them the confidence and skills to step into the world and make it better. 

We feel that 60 years is but a beginning of what is possible. We know that if we are to grow in strength and increase the impact and access of Waldorf education in our region, we will do so only through collaboration.

This fall, we happily join hands with our sister schools in advertising together to promote all Waldorf education in our region. 

As we celebrate 60 years, we’d like to share a bit of our origin story – as inspiration for what is possible when passionate people come together to do good and prepare the legacy they will be leaving to future generations.

Here is part of a recent conversation with our founder, Betty Staley, about how Sacramento Waldorf School came to be:

My husband and I moved here in the summer of 1965 to help boost the school. For the first year, I didn’t teach, because I had a baby and a three-year-old. Then I came in and started in the Kindergarten. Later, I became a handwork teacher, then picked up a 5thgrade in the middle of the year. I took the class through to eighth grade and then, in September 1974, I founded the high school with a group of other teachers.

I was born in the Bronx, N.Y., and I attended public schools. I spent 7thto 11thgrades in Hollywood, Florida, then moved back to New York. When my father had a heart attack, there was no money for college. At that time, the City College of New York was free, so I went there.

I had this history professor, Stewart Easton, and we became close friends. He introduced me to Waldorf education. My boyfriend at the time, who became my husband, was enrolled in law school. Through Dr. Easton, we decided we would like to take the Waldorf teacher training. He made it possible.

We didn’t know for 20 years where the money came from to enroll us in teacher training. Turns out, it was a friend of his, and we were so grateful.

Back then, I desperately wanted to travel. In those days, you didn’t just travel. I was a poor girl, and poor girls don’t travel. We went for our Waldorf training in England and spent two years living there, which gave us the opportunity to travel in Europe. It was wonderful.

We returned to the States and settled in Pennsylvania. My husband taught at the Waldorf school near us, and I was a faculty wife and a young mother. 

Sacramento Waldorf School is the longest surviving school in the area. From it, babies were hatched – sometimes deliberately and other times just because of location. There are five schools within an hour of Sacramento. 

I was very involved in bringing Waldorf education into the public, as Waldorf-inspired charter schools. Today, there are 25-30 in California. Public, Waldorf-inspired schools give more people a chance to have a Waldorf education.

Sacramento Waldorf School has become the happy mother. We see children from all the schools come together for the 8thgrade basketball games. It’s a happy situation. Sacramento Waldorf School has become a regional high school in the way that it draws graduates from the K-8 sister schools in the region.

All these kids from small Waldorf schools come together and give honor to the schools they came from. The more that can be done to fuel that regional picture, the better.

We are connected in our commitment to nurturing healthy childhood and preparing our children to not only go to college, but be prepared for life. College is not the end of the journey; it’s a step into your life. 

This is truly education for life.

No one is spared the problems of life. We just need the inner strength to deal with it, and I believe Waldorf education does exactly that.