Oakland’s Community School

Oakland’s Community School

Meet the school that started it all. Dr. Ida Oberman is founder of Community School for Creative Education, the first school to utilize Numi Curricula. She tells us how Community School lives up to its name.


What is the Community School for Creative Education?

Ida, child & art

Oakland’s Community School for Creative Education [Community School] is the first urban, multicultural, equity-focused Waldorf school in the country.  Founded by a Waldorf graduate with a PHD from Stanford, Ida Oberman worked with local organizer Emma Paulino, parent leader Velia Navarro and a group of Oakland parents to respond to the community’s hopes for their children’s education and their needs in building this Waldorf option. Community School was locally owned and grown before it had even opened its doors. This was key.

Upon visiting several times, I can tell that Community School is a very special school. Can you tell us what makes it so unique?  


Community school is among the most diverse schools –ethnically and socio-economically–in Oakland.  It is also distinctive for the high levels of special needs children it serves. As a “community school,” parents are the school’s key partners.  The artistic mission of the school means song and verse and paintings lace the day and the building.

Tell us more about how parents participate in Community School.  

In addition to parents playing a key role in the school’s founding, parents work with teachers and in classrooms throughout the year to support their children’s learning. When you visit a Kindergarten class, you will be met by a parent helping in circle

wateringtime, kneading bread or cutting vegetables for soup–activities that build pre-academic skills and community. In the resource center, parents sit with those from other ethnic backgrounds to learn from each other and identify the common ground they have in the love for their children.

I have witnessed so many touching moments during my visits to Community School. Can you share a recent experience you had with the children that made your heart melt?

A particularly moving experience for us all was the Winter Spiral, where we marked the return of the light with an ancient tradition observed in cultures around the world. The ceremony involves teachers and children walking a spiral path of greens laid on the floor. Each teacher and child carries a candle as they walk the spiral and lights it at the lantern in the center. The child then retraces their steps out of the spiral and places the lit candle on a table that, at the end of the ceremony, displays one lit candle for every child and teacher in the school. Parents accompanied the ceremony by playing live music and guiding the children through the spiral. 

For more information about Community School, go to their website at http://www.communityschoolforcreativeeducation.org/  or call Dr. Ida Oberman at 510-517-0331

winter spiral_lightingWinter Spiral_walking