Russia: In 1990 the beginning was made for what is today the biggest Waldorf School in Russia. The Moscow Waldorf School is even registered as public school number 1060 since 1996. Today the school counts around 400 students and about 35 teachers. The grades reach from 1-11 and the whole school enjoys an exceptional reputation throughout the public and in the Russian Ministry of Education.
In one of the five floors of the school building in Moscow there is a table, starting at one end of the floor and ending at the other. This huge table is packed with culinary specialties as if there would be a wedding ceremony. But no, it is Thanksgiving! And there are a lot of reasons to celebrate. In the Russian public the best reason is probably the nomination of the music teacher, Starodubzev Michail Leonidowitsch, as teacher of the year 2009. Even the Russian TV is present, in order to attend the festivities and to film. In the year 2010 Michael Sluch – teacher of mathematic and director of the school – was nominated as teacher of the year. After that Primeminister Putin visited the school in November 2010 and spoke about the educational problems of Russia.
It is not the first time that Moscow Waldorf School Nr. 1060 experiences the nomination of one of their co-workers as teacher of the year. In fact, the school is famous for it excellent teachers. Looking at the grades of the graduates taking state exams, it becomes clear that a lot of dedication is present at Moscow Waldorf School: the marks are excellent and some of the students even graduate with honours. Due to this fact it does not a surprise that the school has an exceptional public reputation. In order to gain this reputation the school was lucky to benefit of the tireless dedication and commitment of Anatoil Pinskij. He was the principal of the school during a long period and sadly passed away at an early age.
However, the beginning of the Moscow Waldorf School was way more modest. In 1989 the Club Aristotle for children education was formed. At the same time 25 people prepared themselves to be Waldorf teachers. During the first years the young school was located in a building, which rather resembled to a ruin than a school building. Due to rising rent and higher costs the initiative was soon confronted with the question of survival. Should the school be a private institution for the elite and thus only be available for a few students, or should it transform into a public school, knowing what risks such a step would mean to the Waldorf Education impulse.
The decision was made – against the comfortable elite solution and in favour of the risks. Again it was Anatolij Pinskij, who achieved, that the school was allowed unusual freedom, in order to follow the guidelines of Waldorf Education. Even the allowance for Eurhythmy lessons for each school grade was accomplished, which is exceptional for a public school.
All of the success, which has been achieved so far, is not meant to deceive unnoticed the fact that the climate for “non traditional” public schools in Russia has become more and more rough. The low salaries make it difficult from time to time to find new teachers and to keep them at school. And in relation to other Russian public schools, the Moscow Waldorf School is relatively small. However, teachers, parents and students know how much they appreciate the school and they are ready to speak up for it. Another important pillar is the exchange with partner schools in Germany.