Are you looking for a challenging and rewarding ‘gap year’ experience between high school and college? Are you taking a break from college? Have you finished your degree and want to gain some rich hands-on experience in education, special needs education, crafts, land work, therapy and community living? Or are you looking for an alternative to a traditional college education – a place to complete your bachelors degree through an experiential course of studies, while gaining a professional qualification in holistic education for special needs?

At Camphill Special School, you can do all of this – and more! Camphill Special School is a dynamic intentional community that includes a diverse and international group of volunteers, interns, students, staff, their families, and children and adolescents with developmental disabilities. The activities of the community revolve around the K-12 Waldorf school program for children with developmental disabilities, the farm-based Transition Program for young adults, the work on the land, in craft workshops and in the extended-family households that make up the heart of the community, as well as the community’s engagement in festivals, the arts and other cultural and spiritual pursuits.

Volunteer and Gap Year Opportunities

Volunteers play an important role in the life and work of the community. Spend a year as a member of one of our house communities, sharing your life with houseparents, other volunteers and interns and, of course, with a group of children or teenagers who will challenge you, engage you and ask you to change and develop every day. You will support the educational program, be it in the classroom or outdoors, on the land, the farm, the garden, in the weavery, woodwork shop, the pottery or one of the other work areas. You will also become part of a close-knit group of peers from all over the world who are going through this experience together and often develop long-lasting friendships that continue to be a significant part of their lives even after they have completed their volunteer service.

Professional Internships

If you have already completed a professional qualification in an area related to the work at Camphill Special School (be it education, psychology, therapy, social work, or a craft, art or agricultural profession), or are in the process of doing so, your participation in the community can take the form of a professional internship. You will be engaged in activities that allow you to deepen and broaden your skills with the support of experienced personal mentors. There are plenty of opportunities to venture into new areas of personal and professional growth that will enhance your skills and insights and may even completely transform your perspective on your own professional practice and career path. If you are prepared to have your assumptions challenged and to stretch beyond your established comfort zone, this is the right internship experience for you.

Earn Your Professional Qualification and Complete Your Degree

Or maybe you are still looking for the right opportunity to complete your bachelor degree, together with a professional qualification that can serve as a foundation for a wide range of future work and lifelong development? Camphill Special School hosts the Curative Education Program of the Camphill School of Curative Education and Social Therapy. This unique college-level program allows students to follow a learning path that combines deep integration into the life and work of the community (much like that of volunteers and interns) with coursework that serves as a space for reflection and study, to distill insight out of the experiences gained through this immersion. While being anchored in the experience of living and working with children and adolescents with developmental disabilities, the Curative Education Program is very much holistic in nature, including rich exploration of the visual and performing arts, the study of the human being and human development, spirituality and contemplative practice, as well as the principles of Waldorf education, holistic special needs education, anthroposophic medicine and therapy, and social life and community building.

The Curative Education Program begins with a first year of Foundation Studies. The first year concludes with a certificate that is recognized as meeting the foundation studies requirements of many Waldorf Teacher Training programs, as well as other professional courses with an anthroposophic orientation. Students who complete the second year and at least one further year of practical experience are eligible to receive a ‘Paraprofessional Certificate’. The Diploma in Anthroposophic Curative Education, which is recognized as a full professional qualification in the field by the International Curative Education and Social Therapy Council, is awarded after four years of practice-integrated studies and an additional six-month internship. The program carries college credit equivalency through a partnership with the University of the State of New York, allowing students to earn most of the credits required for a bachelor degree during the course of their four years of practice-integrated studies.

During a fifth year (concurrently with the final internship), students may then complete the remaining coursework required for the ‘BA in Education with a Competency in Curative Education’ from Prescott College, while either continuing to live and work at Camphill Special School or taking their qualification anywhere else in the world. Participation in the Curative Education Program is fully sponsored by Camphill Special School. The tuition costs of the fifth year BA-completion process are typically also carried, for those willing to commit to an additional year of service after graduation. Thus, not only does the Curative Education Program offer an education that is truly transformative, it also provides an opportunity to come out debt-free, having made your contribution through the work and engagement in the community that is such an essential part of this learning process.

By Jan Christopher Goeschel, Ph.D., Director of Programs
First published in Waldorf Today, vol. IV, issue 14

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