- Create a strong Board of Directors. Our board, which is legally constituted as a non-profit organization, includes parents, both of our main teachers as full, voting members and myself, an educator and "wild card". It took us several years to consolidate a cohesive, productive board and we are now looking to expand it to include other members: educators, fund raisers and community activists in an advisory capacity.
- Invest in your teachers. Waldorf training is both extensive and expensive and, in Oaxaca, no Waldorf-trained teachers were to be found. Fortunately, through collaboration with the Anthroposophic Center in Cuernavaca, Mexico, we are able to send our teachers for training for three weeks every summer for five summers, as well as to periodic weekend workshops in Mexico City over the course of the year. The school pays the cost of the workshops and the teachers contribute by applying for tuition-reduction scholarships offered by the Anthroposophic Center. We are also the only private school in Oaxaca to pay our teachers 12-month salaries, including the summer break.
- Involve your parents. In addition to the parents who serve on the Board of Directors, all Papalotes parents are involved in the school by means of the "tequios" - collective work projects, a long-standing tradition in Oaxacan communities (see our classroom-building picture above). As in the communities, the "tequios" are mandatory; parents who cannot attend are required to make a monetary contribution. Parents are also involved through monthly educational meetings, in which different facets of Waldorf education are discussed.
- Provide alternative tuition arrangements. In order to meet the needs of parents who cannot pay full tuition in a high-need community, Papalotes offers a work-exchange tuition program. Interested parents must make a written proposal of the work they offer in exchange for the tuition reduction, which is then negotiated with the Board. Some examples of work exchange include theater and handcrafts workshops for the students, as well as carpentry and repair work.
- Distinguish what is possible and what is not. Our original goal was to provide fully bilingual Waldorf education in Spanish and English. Over time, however, we realized that it was enough of a challenge to establish a Waldorf curriculum to a multi-age primary group, and that asking our teacher to also be fully bilingual was a step beyond what we were able to accomplish. So we stepped back, including English as a separate subject (taught through an active method called "Total Physical Response").
- Fundraise! Last year, we held our first, successful crowd-funding campaign on the Indiegogo site. We hold several fundraisers over the course of the year, including clown and magic shows, cooking demonstrations and the like. We have also received funding earmarked for teacher training from the Friends of Waldorf Education located in Berlin, Germany.
We welcome you to learn more about Papalotes at our website http://www.papalotes.net or at our email: email@example.com.