Desert Marigold School belongs to the worldwide movement of Waldorf Schools. Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian educator, philosopher and scientist (1861-1925), established the first school in Stuttgart, Germany. After World War I, Emil Molt, manager of the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory in Stuttgart, wanted to provide a school for the workers’ children. He hoped it might develop human beings who were able to respond to the complexities of modern life and help renew cultural and social ideals. Steiner responded to Molt’s request in 1919 with what came to be called the first “Waldorf School.”
Steiner brought a practical educational approach grounded in knowledge of human development and psychology, which sought to achieve an integration of academic and artistic disciplines. The aim was to foster the healthy, balanced development of the capacities of thinking, feeling and willing which would enable the growing human being to acquire a sense of inner freedom and social responsibility. Since that time, Waldorf schools have grown steadily, at present there are over 700 elementary and secondary schools and countless kindergartens teaching students throughout the world.
Since 1994, Desert Marigold School (DMS) has served students and families in the metro Phoenix area by working to bring alive the deep principles underlying Waldorf Education. First as a developing member of the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA) and now as a member of the Alliance for Public Waldorf Education (APWE), DMS has grown from a tiny kindergarten initiative into a thriving K – 12 school. Throughout our entire history, DMS has also been a key member of the Arizona Council for Waldorf Education (ACWE), a trailblazing organization that models collaboration and mutual support between private and public endeavors. Here are some brief highlights in the unique history of DMS:
1994 – DMS opens in central Phoenix as a private mixed-age kindergarten
1996 – Families raise money to purchase a 5 acre campus on 28th Street with the help of our lender RSF Social Finance
1997 – The pioneer first grade class begins with six students
2001 – DMS completes construction of the first permitted commercial straw-bale structure in Phoenix
2002 – DMS transitions to operating as a public charter school while still offering private pre-k and parent/child classes
2005 – First 8th grade graduation; the DMS campus expands to 10 acres
2009 – The high school begins
2010 – The campus expands to 12 acres and the building on the new parcel is remodeled to accommodate high school classrooms and Eurythmy/music/community gathering space
2011 – DMS begins hosting college interns from the ASU School of Sustainability and Prescott College
2013 – The Class of 2013 – the first senior class – graduates on May 25
2016 – DMS celebrates 21 years of learning
Currently, DMS is the only comprehensive K – 12 Public Waldorf School in the United States, with a dedicated and experienced staff of nearly 90 serving over 350 students. We celebrate the diversity of our amazing community, so rich in different cultural, family and faith traditions, and so generous in its support of our beloved school.