About West Coast Institute

The West Coast Institute for Studies in Anthroposophy is a Waldorf teacher training institute in British Columbia, Canada. The Institute provides programs and courses for individuals who wish to learn more about Anthroposophy, as expounded by Rudolf Steiner and others, and about Waldorf Education which has been developed out of the insights of Anthroposophy.

The Institute is registered as a Charitable Society under the Societies Act of British Columbia, Canada.

The purposes of the Society are:

  • To serve the world out of an anthroposophical understanding, specifically with Waldorf Teacher Training and other adult educational activities.
  • To offer personal as well as community development in social, artistic, and academic realms including research and publication.
  • To offer consulting and/or advisory services to other anthroposophical and related institutions within the intentions of the Society.

History of the West Coast Institute for Studies in Anthroposophy

The West Coast Institute for Studies in Anthroposophy was founded in 1995 and was incorporated under the Society Act in British Columbia in 1998. As a teacher training institute, it is a full member of WECAN and was an Associate Member of the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA) until 2023. Our programs are also registered with the Private Training Institute Branch of the Ministry of Education of British Columbia (PTIB).

The West Coast Institute is located in British Columbia and has been offering programs in Waldorf Early Childhood educator training since 1996. This training program began when Dorothy Olsen and Marjorie Thatcher were on the Board of WECAN, and it was recognized that an ECE training should begin in Western Canada. In the 1980s, Foundation Studies were offered in Vancouver by local faculty, some of whom were available to teach basic studies in the Early Childhood program as well. We were fortunate to have an outline of course material available from Rudolf Steiner College, Sacramento. Thus our ECE program in its earlier years was similar in content and format to the one offered by RS College, Sacramento. Our program has been expanded and updated over the years. In 1999, Dorothy and Marjorie invited Ruth Ker to join their team first as a faculty member, then as a member of the carrying team and then as a Co-Director. Ruth, a WECAN Board member and the WECAN Teacher Education Coordinator, brought influences from other innovative trainings in North America  Over time, we have updated our offerings further as we worked with the WECAN Shared Principles and the recommended course content. We have graduated twelve classes of students and offered over 25 summer intensives.

Dorothy Olsen and Marjorie Thatcher, the co- founders of the Waldorf Early Childhood Educator program, had both taught in ECE training programs offered in other Institutes; Dorothy at the Rudolf Steiner Center in Toronto and Marjorie at RS College in Sacramento. Dorothy was able to take on the task of preparing documents in order to ensure that all records and communications were adequate until Sarnia Guiton joined us as Administrator. When Dorothy Olsen retired in 2012, Ruth Ker replaced Dorothy as a Program Co-Director. Since 2015, with the retirement of Marjorie Thatcher as a Co-Director, Ruth Ker was the sole ECE Program Director. Ruth was joined by Debbie Laurin, a previous WCI faculty member and mentor, in 2020 and Debbie has gradually taken on the role of Early Childhood Program Co-Director. Debbie and Ruth applied for WECAN endorsement of a new WCI Birth to Three program in 2020 and students now have WECAN, AWSNA, and IASWECE approval for the full birth to seven training.

For a few years, the WCI Board had considered a program for Waldorf grades teachers; the number of schools was growing in British Columbia and going to Sacramento or San Francisco was not financially friendly to the Canadian pocketbook. In 2008, the West Coast Institute began its first cycle for a Grades Teacher Training Program. At this time Colin Price, a Waldorf educator for over 30 years who had also served as an AWSNA delegate and had started some training courses at the Kelowna Waldorf School, structured a four-year, part- time Grades training program. Colin began the Program as Program Director for the first summer session. When Colin had to withdraw because of his wife’s illness, Chris Bennett joined us in the fall of 2008. Chris had just left Kula Makua Institute in Hawaii and already had over 35 years of teaching in Waldorf schools, from Grades 1 – 12, as well as adult education. Chris continued his duties through the February session (2009) before personal circumstances prevented his continuing.

After February of 2009, Sarnia Guiton served as Acting Program Director for over a year. In July 2010, Lisa Masterson joined us as Program Director, with Colin and Sarnia as advisors for that session, and then continued until Spring, 2022.

The four-year program had an intake every other year and graduated four cycles. Due to the increasing demand for teachers, in 2015 it was reformatted into a three year program. Since then there has been a new intake every year until the program closed in 2023.

The West Coast Institute is now under the oversight of the PTIB (Private Training Institutions Branch), a branch of the British Columbia Ministry of Education.

Currently WCI offers training to approximately 22  early childhood students in the 2023-2025 program and is helping at least 15 other EC graduates to complete their training and fieldwork component from previous years. When the Institute offered only the Waldorf ECE classes, they were held in the Steiner Center in North Vancouver in the fall and winter months, then at the Sunrise Waldorf School in Duncan, on Vancouver Island, in the summer. Over the years several venues have been utilized, from 2009-2012 we were able to use both classrooms and dormitories at the Shawnigan Lake School on Vancouver Island and the 2015 summer session was held at Queen Margaret’s School in Duncan. For the last four years, we have fostered and created a collaborative relationship with the new administrative teams of both the Vancouver Waldorf School (fall and winter sessions) and the Sunrise Waldorf School, Vancouver Island (summer sessions). Our students find that the summer days in the agriculturally and culturally rich Cowichan Valley offer an idyllic balance to the many hours of class work they have completed throughout the year in their various schools. The students have  also expressed  appreciation for  the city atmosphere of North Vancouver as being well-suited to the fall and winter sessions. Several teachers of both the Duncan and North Vancouver Waldorf schools and some previous students are now also WCI faculty members.

Our student population comes from all over the North American continent and often, many of our students come from the US. Complementary to this, although our core faculty are more localized in the Pacific Northwest, we have visiting faculty who also come from many different provinces and states.

Program Directors work closely with each other and in collaboration with administration and, wherever possible, arrange schedules and classes so that some faculty can teach more than one course during a training session. WCI accepts auditors to many of its classes and hosts guest presenters from all over North America for summer intensives.

Currently the West Coast Institute offers a two-year, part time Waldorf Early Childhood Educator Training (Birth to Seven option), with a fourteen-month, part time Waldorf Early Childhood Educator Training (Birth to Three option) and differing Courses each summer.

The Waldorf Programs offered by the West Coast Institute for Studies in Anthroposophy are recognized by WECAN and AWSNA.

The West Coast Institute (WCI) is registered with the British Columbia Ministry of Advanced Education, Private Training Institutes Branch (PTIB).

Our certificates are accepted by the BC Ministry of Education, Independent Schools Branch (ISB); the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA); the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America (WECAN) and the International Association for Steiner/Waldorf Early Childhood Education (IASWECE).

Land Acknowledgement

The West Coast Institute acknowledges that we live and gather on the traditional unceded territory of the Ktunaxa, Syilx (Okanagan), Sinixt Peoples, Coast Salish Peoples, the Quw’utsun (Cowichan) Tribes, the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

West Coast Institute is committed to establishing and maintaining an inclusive learning environment to welcome, celebrate, and understand differences. Integral to social justice, WCI embraces Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as a pathway to address existing implicit and explicit biases. It is an ongoing process of personal growth and respect for the dignity and individuality of each person. Anti-bias work is essential to create a healthy social life based on the insights of Rudolf Steiner and current research. We understand that a truly humanized education founded on the individuality of each person and the universal spirit living within every human being is integral to healing and for lives filled with purpose and meaning.

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West Coast Institute for Studies in Anthroposophy

Email: info(at)westcoastinstitute.org
Tel: 604-740-0539