Swallowtail Waldorf School and Farm

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Swallowtail meets the needs of the whole child, while instilling a lifelong love of learning.

An education at Swallowtail includes rigorous academics, exceptional art and music, foreign language, and life training. Swallowtail prepares students for success in future academic and social endeavors. Swallowtail is unique with its 26-acre farm campus, which is part of the curriculum at all ages. The farm is a peaceful place where students do meaningful work and where our vibrant community gathers several times a year for enriching traditions.

Swallowtail Waldorf School's main campus is located in Cornelius, Oregon, just 30 minutes away from Downtown Portland. The Farm campus is located in nearby Hillsboro. Swallowtail School educates students from Preschool through Grade Eight.

The Swallowtail Story

Swallowtail Waldorf School & Farm began formally in 1995 as an independent private school in a log cabin in Gales Creek, and had just 7 children. The school was conceived and founded by Lauren Sheehan, a musician and educator with a specialty in environmental and arts education. Ms. Sheehan, with a Masters in Education from Leslie University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and supplementary Waldorf training, had run two other small schools in Maine and Forest Grove and worked in numerous schools and programs along the way. She hired an assistant teacher, Ingrid Zahl-Thomas, to help that first year, and Ms. Ingrid is still with the school, currently leading her third class through the Grades.

An involved, informed and supportive parent community was also a part of Swallowtail from the beginning.  The school had a healthy festival life and offered many participatory work trades for parents. Teachers shared student performances and invited parents to help in the classroom when appropriate. This vibrant contribution from the parents and community helped shape the school and create the warm, supportive and creative ethos that permeates the school today. 

After outgrowing its cabin location, Swallowtail moved to an old, one-room school house near the town of Banks and then, experiencing steady growth, moved to the Hillsboro Friends Church in 2000.  In 2004, Swallowtail purchased a 26-acre parcel of rural land in Hillsboro with the intention of building a small school designed to immerse students in the natural world.  Ms. Sheehan left the school about a year later, and the acreage has become Swallowtail Farm, supporting the original vision of Ms. Sheehan as an outdoor education campus. There, students experience regular, sustained immersion into a natural space and develop a life-long reverence for the natural world. 

In 2004, Swallowtail purchased a 26-acre parcel of farmland in Hillsboro, which currently supports the original vision of Ms. Sheehan as an environmental education campus. There, students experience regular, sustained immersion into a natural space and develop a life-long reverence for the natural world.

In 2012, the school joined the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA). A year later, the affiliation and pedagogy was confirmed and the word 'Waldorf’ was added to the school name, becoming Swallowtail Waldorf School & Farm.

In 2016, Swallowtail purchased its own building in Cornelius, which currently serves more than 160 students from throughout Washington and Multnomah Counties.

Mission Statement:

Artistically educating the whole child. Inspiring gratitude and reverence for humanity, nature, and lifelong learning.

Core Values:

  • Bringing a balance of academic, artistic, and practical activities
  • Instilling confidence and self-reliance
  • Presenting appreciation for truth and beauty
  • Imparting clear thinking with a compassionate heart
  • Developing the capacity to work creatively with life's challenges
  • Fostering a sense of social and environmental responsibility
  • Providing a vibrant school community of caring teachers, staff, parents, and children

Vision:

  • To be a dynamic school serving Parent-Child through Grade 8 in a small independent setting
  • To be a Waldorf Farm School based on the teachings of Rudolf Steiner
  • To work responsibly with the land as stewards
  • To reach out and serve the greater surrounding community

Swallowtail School is a non-profit, self-administered school with a dedicated Faculty, Administration, and Board of Trustees. The school is a member of the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America. It joins a global community of more than 1,200 Waldorf schools that have made a commitment toward progressive education and social renewal.