To honor and educate the whole child by equally engaging body, mind, emotion & spirit


Spirit of the Lake Community School envisions a beautiful, forever home in Duluth that offers a full Waldorf curriculum, is informed by a place- and land-based focus, and provides students with authentic experiences to learn from and connect with nature. The three-fold governance of faculty, board and administration creates and sustains a healthy, inclusive, warm, balanced, strong and compassionate culture. Our unique learning experience, combined with a receptive school culture, attracts and expands a full and diverse student body. (Updated 2017)

View the 2017-2018 Annual Report

Spirit of the Lake Community School 2017-2018 Annual Report


The vision for Spirit of the Lake Community School (SLCS) began in 2010 with a book study group. A small gathering of engaged parents was searching for an educational model that honored the whole child, used a compassionate approach to enliven children's natural joy in learning and brought a curriculum deeply informed by child development. The Waldorf educational approach resonated with these parents and was adopted as the inspiration for the curriculum for the future school.   

In 2012, these same parents hired faculty, formed a board and opened the doors of SLCS at the former Howard Gnesen Elementary School. While the site provided large, sunny classrooms and an ideal outdoor play area for the children, the long drive proved to be a barrier for many parents. The Grades is now located in the Chester Bowl neighborhood and our Early Childhood programs are based at Kenwood Lutheran Church. 

In 2019, SLCS purchased its own home in the Lakeside/Lester Park community. 

who we are

Our community includes faculty, students, parents, staff, volunteers and community partners. We value meeting each other in a way that honors the unique gifts of each individual and that allows each person to find his or her way to contribute to the school community. In this way, we hope to be a positive influence on the larger culture. By working cooperatively -- with each person taking responsibility for contributing the needed work, wealth and wisdom -- we create a vibrant, sustainable school community that meets the needs of students and families.

The Early Childhood program provides a beautiful, warm, home-like environment for children ages three through six. The teacher brings baking, handwork, painting and gardening experiences to the children that are grounded in the seasons of the year. The classroom furniture and toys are made of natural materials and are open-ended for maximum creative use. The children's imagination is nurtured through artful telling of carefully selected stories and by encouraging free play - both indoors and out. Foundational skills for academic success embedded in the program include sequencing, sensory integration, hand-eye coordination and exposure to a rich vocabulary. The overall environment and the carefully selected activities nurture the child's sense of awe and wonder. 

Grades' students at SLCS engage in hands-on, integrated learning incorporating all of their senses, including rhythmic physical activities, recitation of verses and songs, annual theatrical performances, painting, drawing and daily music instruction, as well as handwork skills such as sculpting, knitting, felting, weaving and woodworking. The traditional academic subjects of reading, writing, mathematics and the sciences are taught in a lively and engaging manner, and Spanish language and culture lessons are a regular part of the week.  


Our school philosophy is guided by the works of Rudolf Steiner and his model of Waldorf education. Our curriculum is based on Steiner’s unique humanitarian views and lessons are purposefully crafted with an understanding of human development that addresses the needs of the growing child in an imaginative way. The foundation of our Early Childhood programs is based on play, movement and oral learning. As children progress through The Grades, the curriculum becomes increasingly academically stimulating and challenging. At the core of all teachings, rigorous education is infused with creativity that stimulates critical thinking, develops emotional intelligence and inspires artistic expression. Our interdisciplinary curriculum is rich in humanities and sciences and integrated with art, handwork, music and movement. We utilize natural learning materials and hands-on projects to deepen the discovery process while making connections to the Earth and our community.

we support our students in their mastery to:

  • Think creatively and logically

  • Communicate clearly through written and spoken language

  • Communicate in more than one language

  • Understand the scientific process and the various scientific disciplines

  • Observe phenomena; gather, organize, analyze and synthesize perceptions

  • Analyze issues from multiple perspectives

  • Know and appreciate world history and culture

  • Concentrate, focus and follow a complex task through to completion

  • Respect and understand differing cultural viewpoints

  • Work and play cooperatively

  • Demonstrate responsibility, compassion, conscientiousness & social justice

  • Live with a deep respect for the environment

  • Develop self-motivation and passion for life-long learning