About West Coast Institute
The West Coast Institute for Studies in Anthroposophy is a 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 an Associate Member of the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America (AWSNA). 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 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 who were available to teach basic studies in the Early Childhood program. We were fortunate to have an outline of course material available from Rudolf Steiner College. Thus our ECE program was similar in content and format to the one offered by RS College in their earlier years. Our program has been expanded and updated over the years as we have worked with the WECAN Shared Principles and the recommended course content. We have graduated eleven classes of students.
Dorothy Olsen and Marjorie Thatcher, the co- founders of the 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. When Dorothy Olsen retired, Ruth Ker, who has been teaching for us since 1999, replaced Dorothy as a Program Co-Director. Since 2015, with the retirement of Marjorie Thatcher as a Co-Director, Ruth Ker is now the sole ECE Program Director.
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, was the first Program Director. With the help of Chris Bennett who had just left Kula Makua Institute in Hawaii, a four year part time training was structured. Chris already had over 25 years of teaching in Waldorf schools, from Grades 1 – 12 as well as adult education. In 2010 Lisa Masterson joined Colin as a Co-Director; within the next year, due to his wife’s illness, Colin withdrew and Lisa continued as the sole Director for the Grades Program.
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; Cycle 9 will begin in July of 2019.
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, enabling its graduates to obtain a School Restricted Teaching Certificate that is valid for teaching in any Waldorf School in British Columbia.
Currently WCI offers training to approximately 60 students in the two programs. When the Institute offered only the 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 (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 and they have expressed that the city atmosphere of North Vancouver is more suited to the fall and winter sessions. Several teachers of both schools are now also WCI faculty members.
As our student population spans the Pacific Northwest (and further) many of our students are from the US. Complementary to this, we have faculty who also come from many different provinces and states.
Both Program Directors work in collaboration and, wherever possible, arrange schedules and classes so that some faculty can teach in both program during a training session. Although each program is distinct, it is recognized that they form part of a whole interwoven organization.
During these past years the School of Nature (an international initiative concerned with reconnecting the human being with the World of Nature) has also hosted events under the sponsorship of the West Coast Institute.
Both Waldorf Programs offered by the West Coast Institute for Studies in Anthroposophy are recognized by WECAN and AWSNA.