Why Waldorf?

What does it mean to be a Waldorf School?

Shining Mountain, like all Waldorf schools, is rooted in the methods and philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, Austrian-born scientist, educator, and philosopher. Steiner’s legacy is a monumental body of timeless work that crosses many disciplines, including agriculture, medicine, education, spirituality, human development, and cultural renewal.

A developmental approach

The Waldorf approach recognizes that capacities emerge in students at fairly predictable stages, while also allowing room for individual rates of maturation. This appreciation underlies both the organization of the curriculum and the teaching methods.

Until age six or seven children learn primarily through physical activity, imagination and imitation. A sense of goodness permeates the home-like environment of the PreK/Kindergarten. Toys of natural materials encourage creative engagement in imaginative play. Young children drink in the images of fairy tales and stories, developing their capacity for inner picturing, which becomes the basis for literacy and future critical thinking skills.

In Lower School children learn best when academics are conveyed through painting, drama, music, storytelling and other direct kinesthetic experiences that stir their emotions. A sense of beauty weaves throughout the day, engaging children in their learning.

In Middle School academics continue to be brought through the arts, but the pictorial thinking of the earlier grades now turns toward more abstract thinking. Teaching methods adapt to this change.

In High School themes and methods stimulate higher-level intellectual skills and higher order thinking. This is the time when imagination, carefully cultivated in the early years, is transformed into skills of convergent, divergent, analytic, synthetic, and evaluative thinking.

Guiding principles

Community is at the heart of our school. Together, students, parents, colleagues, and friends strive to create an environment that enriches and inspires the human spirit. We commit to the following:

A Respect for Childhood and Adolescence
We respect the developmental phases of the human being and are committed to a mindful pedagogy that nurtures each student’s natural capacities to discover and grow.

A Healthy Social Life
We strive to work collaboratively with one another in an inclusive and supportive community. To that end, we exhibit compassion, respect and understanding.

Supportive Teacher, Student Relationships
We cultivate meaningful relationships between our teachers and students, creating a supportive and engaging environment throughout the student’s years at Shining Mountain, and beyond.

Inspirational Teaching
We engage dedicated, skilled and artistic teachers who are capable of enlivening education and inspiring each student’s love of learning.

An Engaged Spirit
We inspire our students to discover the vital connection between the spirit of the individual and the spirit in the world, where each individual’s spiritual nature is uniquely recognized and honored, and their private beliefs respected.

Stewardship and Initiative
We cultivate a capacity for moral discernment that inspires personal initiative, social responsibility, environmental stewardship and an active involvement in the world.

An Enriched and Vibrant Community
We engage in authentic experiences with one another, by providing opportunities for personal enrichment, social connections, and meaningful work.

Unique Aspects of the Waldorf Curriculum

Handwork and Practical Arts
The Waldorf curriculum cultivates manual dexterity thereby furthering cognitive development. Handwork and practical arts are integrated at all grade levels – not simply to teach a skill, but to support a student’s unfolding as a well-balanced individual.

Fine and Performing Arts
The Arts permeate all aspects of the Waldorf academic curriculum. Many aesthetic details contribute to the learning environment and experience. The integration of fine and performing arts – painting, sculpting, drawing, singing, instrumental ensembles, drama, and movement, provides a unique educational method. The Arts offer a cognitive experience that stresses observation, discernment, and an education of the senses. They also impart a discipline that teaches patience, flexibility, and concentration.

The movement curriculum recognizes that healthy physical activity lays the foundation for healthy brain development and enhances physical, emotional, ethical, and spiritual capacities. The program is designed to strengthen different abilities at each stage of development. Cooperative games in the early grades yield to competitive sports in Middle and High School.

Global Learning
Beginning in Grade 1, students study both Spanish and German. In Grade 8 they choose one or the other. Through our International Exchange Program, students have the option to study abroad or welcome into their homes students from other countries. Our program emphasizes that we are all part of a global humanity.

Phenomenological Science
All sciences begin with simple nature experiences in the PreK/Kindergarten and advance with the study of acoustics, heat, magnetism and electricity in Middle School to chemistry, biology, botany, zoology and modern physics in High School. The emphasis is on a direct encounter with observable phenomena -“Describe what happened. Evaluate what you have observed. What are the conditions under which the phenomena appear? How does this relate to what you already know?” Then students are asked to think through the experiment and discover the natural law that stands behind and within the phenomena.

Marian Munkvold-Saunders
Interim High School Administrator

Marian was born and raised in Norway, before moving to Houston, Texas in 1998. After graduating high school there, she attended EM Strasbourg Business School in Strasbourg, France, and the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas where she received a BBA and MBA in Finance. After college she moved to Carlsbad, California where she continued working in the business and investment field. Once she became a mom, she and her husband moved to Santa Barbara, California where she stayed home full time, raising two children. In 2010 their young family returned to Texas and settled in Austin. At this time she discovered Waldorf education. Both children have attended Austin Waldorf School since kindergarten, and Marian was actively involved in the parent volunteer community there. In 2017 she joined the administrative staff at the Austin Waldorf School where she worked as Administrative Support and then Office Manager. She and her family are thrilled to call Boulder their new home and to become part of the Shining Mountain Waldorf School community. Marian loves to read, cook, do handwork, travel, and spend time outside with her family skiing, biking, and hiking.

Monica Maldonado

Grade 6 Assistant

Monica Maldonado began their professional teaching career in 2014 after receiving a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from The Master’s University School of Music. Monica has experience in teaching music and art in one-on-one, small group, and public school settings, as well as one year of teaching music, art, and history in the elementary school setting as a student-teacher. Thanks to their teaching experiences, Monica strongly believes that every child can become a musician and artist and that all learners deserve a well-planned, differentiated arts education. They are very excited to be working at Shining Mountain and supporting their class in any way they can. Monica is also passionate about traveling, performing shows with their band and creating abstract mixed media artwork.

Ashley Marsico

Ashley grew up in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago, Illinois and has traveled to many different places all over the world including: Mexico, Portugal, France, UK, Morocco, Spain, and the British Overseas territory of Gibraltar. In 2014, after studying and living abroad for two years in Granada, Spain, she moved back to the city of Chicago where she met her fiance Tom. She first learned about Waldorf education from Tom as he attended the Chicago Waldorf School from PreK-8th grade. In an effort to learn more about this education, she attended a CWS holiday fair where she was immediately inspired, and in 2015 started Waldorf Teacher Training in Chicago. Ashley is a Fiber Artist and has been perfecting her craft since she started to crochet at 7 years old, so when learning that the Waldorf curriculum included crochet, she was hooked! Ashley brings over 7 years of teaching experience including a year as an Early Childhood and Handwork Assistant at CWS, as well as 4 years of administrative experience at CWS working as their High School Office Manager and Registrar & Database Manager. She is very excited to join SMWS and is grateful to take on this new position remotely as Registrar.

Lee Griffith

Class Teacher Grade 6

As an accomplished cellist and music teacher, Lee has broadened his teaching capacities to become a Waldorf middle school class teacher. After completing his music degree at the prestigious University of Cincinnati, College Conservatory of Music, Lee discovered his love of teaching extended beyond cello lessons, and that he was inspired by the art of teaching encompassed in the rich array of subject matter brought through the grades 6-8 journey. Waldorf philosophy and pedagogy, specifically the picture of child development, aligns with his approach to being an educator. Lee has been a class teacher in the grades and a cello teacher at the Cincinnati Waldorf School. He looks forward to continuing his Waldorf teacher certification for the grades school cycle. Lee enjoys reading, traveling, hiking, meaningful conversations, thrifting, rock climbing, teaching private cello lessons and, of course, performing.

Mike Terborg

Athletic & Auxiliary Programming Director

Mike Terborg first served as the SMWS Athletic Program Director from 2006 to 2010 while also coaching the High School Boys Basketball Team. In 2010, Mike moved to Seattle with his wife where he began his career as a Strength Coach and Injury Rehabilitation Specialist, and since 2018, has also been writing educational content for health, fitness, and wellness companies. During his time at Shining Mountain, Mike led an athletic program that fostered a healthy balance of physical, social, emotional, and psychological development. During his first tenure, Mike also served as the 5280 League President for two years, was three-time 5280 League Coach of the Year, and received recognition from the Positive Coaching Alliance for his dedication to teaching life lessons through participation in school sports. While program director, SMWS was also awarded the 5280 League Sportsmanship Award for the 2009-2010 school year. Mike has a B.A. in Global Studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He lives in Gunbarrel with his wife and three children. 

Soni Albright

Admissions Director

Soni Albright has spent the last 10 years working in Waldorf School Admissions, previously at East Bay Waldorf School in Northern California, and currently at City of Lakes Waldorf School in Minneapolis, MN. She has all the while, also been in the classroom, as a Cyber Civics teacher for 6-8th graders. Before that, she spent a decade in a variety of school settings (Public, Montessori, Charter, etc.) as a classroom teacher, and has taught a wide variety of subjects such as visual arts, study skills, social studies, and language arts.