In Spring 2011, at a public park in Atlantic Beach, a group of parents who shared a passion for the ideas embodied in Waldorf education discussed the possibility of opening a Waldorf-inspired public charter school. Joined by local preschool teachers, including Lynn Coalson and Adana Whyte, as well as other educators, this group was inspired to create an arts-based, whole-child public elementary school in the Jacksonville community.
After a summer of meetings with the district personnel and long hours working on the application and gathering community support, this cadre of community members applied for public charter school status in August 2012. In December 2012, our application for Seaside Community Charter School was approved. Also in December, we applied for a two-year federal Charter Start-up Grant for $350,000, which allowed us to furnish the school with the high quality instructional materials associated with public Waldorf schools.
Trisha Bowles, Karen Cummo, Julie Karman, Kai Ferguson, Kara Meintassis, Korrin Rogers, Vanessa Silverman, and Alicia Slater formed the Founding Board in 2012. Ron Harnek joined the board in 2014, replacing the past treasurer.
In Spring of 2013, families and community stakeholders jumped in and began tackling the huge challenge of opening a school. To get the word out, the group, along with the Glawe Brothers from Artistic Creations, Inc., created a beautiful exhibit for the inaugural One Spark, bringing in hundreds of visitors to their display at the Everbank Building in downtown Jacksonville.
By August of 2013, SCCS had a principal, an office manager, teachers, and families who believed in the possibilities of a child-centered educational model. We opened our doors with 90 children in grades K-2 in August 2013 at the beautiful Rhoda L. Martin Cultural Heritage Center, housed in the first public school for African American children at the Beaches.
To spend our inaugural year in a building so sacred and representative of a seminal time in our country's history was an unforgettable experience for the children and teachers. We are grateful to Lillie Sullivan and the Board of the Jacksonville Beach Elementary Preservation Fund, Inc. for trusting us with the stewardship of their beloved schoolhouse.
In August 2014, after a huge fundraising effort by families and a lot of hard work by volunteers, some of whom worked at the site daily, we moved to our current location in Atlantic Beach, Florida.
In 2015, we added a preschool (ages 3, 4 & VPK) to the school and in 2016, we grew our first class of 5th graders.
In June 2017, we were approved for our second school in Duval County, a K-8 Charter, Seaside Charter K-8, located at 8727 San Jose Blvd.
In Spring 2018, Seaside Community Charter School was accredited by AdvancedEd.
In Fall 2018, Seaside Community Charter School - Beaches will be moving to a permanent campus off Mayport Rd.
Seaside Charter Schools are the only public, tuition-free elementary schools inspired by public Waldorf principles in the Southeast. We would not exist without the generosity and pioneering spirit of our founding and current faculty, administration, parents, students and community volunteers, who believe that learning can be challenging and still joyful, and that high quality public education is a cornerstone of our democracy.