This is the only private school I have ever known the inner workings of, but I am horrified at the dysfunction among the faculty and the staff. I find that this inevitably influences the children both in the classroom and outside of it. What is being modelled for them is not healthy. These are immature and underdeveloped adults who do not have a strong sense of themselves. Not only are students here being insufficiently served academically, they are being disserved because of a lack of healthy adult examples of mature social interaction, honesty, cooperation or even receptivity to parental concerns. Looking ahead, be sure to ask about the success rate of their graduates who, time and again, are dropping out of college before even the end of their first year. Ask what colleges are accepting these students. You won't find any big names here--for Waldorf schools in general, maybe, but for PWS specifically, it just isn't happening. I would strongly advise looking elsewhere. I found the nearby Micha-el school to have a far greater sense of integrity on the whole.
This school has the best of intentions; however, PWS lacks considerable talent with their teachers. My child submitted her math homework and got it wrong - as did one other boy. My daughter kept reworking the problem again and again and still came up with the same answer. The teacher began working with her and then realized that she had been teaching the problem incorrectly all along. One might applaud the teacher for honesty but the fact is she was teaching it wrong! Only my child and the other little boy got it correct. I pay too much money for this kind of ineptitude. Math is secondary in this school when our country seriously is falling behind global education standards. I fear that my child will have few opportunities and will not be able to attend a quality university (one that's beyond the obscure liberal arts colleges that typically result in few job opportunities). PWS doesnt test and deadlines are merely guidelines which is counter to 'real world standards. Education prepares children for life and this school does nothing of the sort. I am sure there are good Waldorf schools but this is definitely not one of them.
There are some wonderful things about the education but.... huge problems in the administration and too many sub- standard teachers. The social issues and bullying at the school are heart breaking. Classroom management is more often than not outdated and ineffectual in lower school. The culture in the high school often breeds disinterest and lots of pot smoking. NOT a math and science school by any stretch. Unfortunately "crony-ism" has set in and those in control think it's all good when it is very stale, dysfunction and not a very inspiring place for many. I would recommend the kindergarten program. If you are lucky to get a well trained, professional grades teacher (few and far between), it can be a good place for a while. I think one of the big problems is there is really no apparent supervision of the teachers. They can kind of do what they want. Thus, there is a huge lack of professionalism both inside and outside of the classroom. If your high school student is HIGHLY motivated they can do well. But if they need more structure and a little push to do their best....they won't get it here. They just leave them alone and dismiss it all to "developmental appropriateness."
GREAT DISAPPOINTMENT. Portland Waldorf School can no longer make decisions based on what is best for its students. It has become a slave to its mortgage and makes decisions not based on healthy Waldorf pedagogy, but on the whims of the parents who pay its bills. I agree with one of the reviews below. The brick fortress is quite impressive in pictures, but behind closed doors, tired, unqualified, uneducated teachers use shame and humiliation to "discipline" students. For years now, the school has been running an anti-bullying, social inclusion campaign while its very own teachers and administrators lead by the example of shame, blame, and overt bullying. We were actually receiving free tuition and we opted to take our children to a healthy environment. This is nothing but one, big dysfunctional family unwilling to consider its weaknesses and provide children a happy, healthy learning environment. If you consider nothing else, just look around inside and ask yourself whether people seem to be joyful there. It is an environment of the living dead--not a place where children can be children and learn to like to learn.