A School that Grew Out of a School Association
On 3 March 1990, the Tartu Free Waldorf School Association was established, with the goal of creating a 12-grade Waldorf school, organizing a school administration, and educating parents in the area of anthroposophy and Waldorf pedagogy.
This was the beginning of an intense period of work, so that the first grade class could enter school that same fall. Rooms and funds were needed, renovations had to be done, furniture bought, and lectures organized about the Waldorf school.
On 1 September 1990, an experimental class based on Waldorf pedagogical principles was opened in Tartu School 14 (today the Arts High School). Led by teacher Sulev Ojap, 22 boys and 12 girls began their school journey. Instruction took place in the Ristikheina kindergarten.
On 20 August 1992, the Tartu Free School was established at the meeting of the parents` general council. Rooms sufficient for three classes had been acquired from the kindergarten, and it was clear that in the next academic year, the school would no longer fit in the building. The executive committee of the Association sought out and considered a range of possibilities for continuing the school. They chose the route of remodelling and renovating the building on Ploomi Street, where there had formerly been a kindergarten.
In the fall of 1992, the Tartu Waldorf Pedagogy Seminar began its work in an unheated, unrenovated building. It was led by Tiiu Bläsi-Käo, an experienced Waldorf teacher from Germany. Tiiu Bläsi-Käo has remained a consultant to Waldorf schools to the present day.
In 1993, at the spring general meeting of parents, the question was raised: should we begin the next academic year as a private school or should we become a municipal school? Up till then the school had consisted of experimental classrooms at the Arts High School. The group`s consensus was that the support of the city was crucial.
On 15 July 1993, the Tartu Free School (a kindergarten with an elementary school) was founded according to the decree of the Municipal Government. With the support of the municipal department of education and donations from Germany, renovations were completed on the first building at the Ploomi Street location.
Over the course of the next years, the legal relations with the Ministry of Education, the municipal department of education, and the school became increasingly complicated. Once again the parents had to face the question: should we continue to hold fast to the status of a city school, or re-designate ourselves as a private school?
On 1 September 1996 the Tartu Free Waldorf School pursued its activities as a private school. The word “free“ in the school’s name referred to the freedom to make decisions and take responsibility for them—and not to „free child-raising“, as many outsiders thought. Because of these misunderstandings, the word „free“ was later dropped.
In the spring of 1998, the first class graduated from the basic school. That spring the Ministry of Education did not grant the school a license for the upper grades, and thus the graduates had to continue their education in other schools in the city.
In May 1999 the Ministry of Education granted the school a high school license.
From February 2000 onward, the school bears the name Tartu Waldorf School (TWG).
In the spring of 2002, the first class graduated from the Tartu Waldorf School: 3 young women and 3 young men. To this day, 12 classes have graduated from Tartu Waldorf School’s basic school, and 8 classes have completed high school.