At the Montgomery Township Committee meeting on July 18, several representatives from the Waldorf School of Princeton gave a presentation about the school and its proposed plans to add buildings to its campus located at 1062 Cherry Hill Road in Montgomery.
School administrator Nancy Lemmo gave a brief history of the Waldorf School and what it entailed, including its initiation, property and unique features.
The school was constructed in Montgomery 29 years ago, and was originally known as the Windy Hill Farm. It sits on several acres of farmland, which include the original farmhouse that has been turned into administration offices and early childhood classes and is now known as The Golden House, two barns that have been turned into a classroom and a storage facility known as the English and Dutch barns, and a tractor shed that was recently renovated as the school’s eighth classroom.
The property also includes tennis and basketball courts, a school garden, a sheep and goats pen, and various other plots of land used for different reasons.
Lemmo explained how the Waldorf School is trying to make its space and property more informally available to the township and its residents, and mentioned a number of areas at the school that residents currently use.
“A lot of our neighbors’ children, when they learn how to bike ride, come and twiddle around in our parking lot,” she said. “In the winter, they sled; the parking lot created a giant hill, so on the end of the parking lot is a man-made sledding hill, which serves all of the children in the neighborhood. On the right of that, there are some swings, and adults and children use those swings. Farther down in the field, we have tennis courts and pathways, some of which to belong to Green Acres and some of which belong to us.”
Movement and Games and Fine Art teacher Peter Sheen explained more about the school, being a graduate himself, and detailed how the students at Waldorf School currently have no gym and rent space at the Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton.
Committee member Richard Smith suggested that they look at one of Montgomery’s five schools to rent gym space from instead of in Princeton to keep it more localized, which all of the representatives agreed to pursue and look into.
After Sheen explained more about his personal experience and some of the unique aspects of the school’s fully integrated curriculum, Board of Trustees member Mark Hornung detailed the future plans for the school.
“Many of our plans that resulted in the master plan file that we did last year are related to additional spaces that we would like to have in the coming 10 years to support the special subjects because, currently, the special subjects are either held in the open or a teacher will bring a cart to the classrooms,” Hornung said.
Hornung further explained that the two barns – Dutch and English – on the property are exclusively being used for storage, which they would like to transform into useable classrooms support their needs for more space, as well as the maintenance and upkeep of the historic barns.
“We do need the cooperation and approval of the township to make changes to those structures, and we hope that you can work with us on that to preserve those structures,” he said.
Aside from altering the two barns, Hornung also detailed how they’d like to make additions to other buildings on campus. These additions include another classroom and tutoring space to the grade school buildings, another classroom to The Golden House, and a new structure – the Rotunda – in place of the transformation of the barns (if they aren’t able to be refurbished) or as an additional area for learning and entertainment.
Since the master plan for these additions was submitted to the township committee one and a half years ago, Hornung explained how the Waldorf School put together a task force to look at the possibility of developing a Waldorf High School in neighboring areas or adjacent properties, which is in its very early stages of conceptualization.
“The Waldorf curriculum internationally is an early childhood through 12th grade curriculum,” he said. “So, we would like to offer that opportunity for early childhood through 12th for the students at our school and in this area as well.”
Overall, the committee members were receptive to the idea of the additions to the Waldorf School, and are looking to help the representatives with the process.
Mayor Ed Trzaska suggested they work closely with the directors of Montgomery’s Planning and Zoning Boards to thoroughly inform them of their plans so they can provide assistance instead of making the process more difficult.
“Working with our Planning and Zoning professionals ahead of time is one of the best ways to ensure a smooth process,” he said.