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Providing Opportunities for Social and Emotional Learning

Waldorf education develops the whole child. While academic learning is a substantial part of our work, we also devote our time and energy to helping children become empathetic, compassionate members of society.

At Sunrise Waldorf School, the practice of Council is an important part of children’s social and emotional education.

What is Council?

 Council is essentially a sharing circle, in which the participants are invited to share, and listen, with their hearts. It is practiced in classrooms, faculty gatherings, and with parents.

While this type of sharing has been performed in cultures around the world for thousands of years, at Sunrise, we follow a specific methodology developed by the Ojai Foundation. This methodology was developed by Joan Halifax, Jack Zimmerman and Gigi Coyle in collaboration with many other individuals, including First Nations elders.

How Did Council Come to Sunrise?

Council was first practiced at Sunrise in 2006 when Lori Austein, a certified Council trainer and facilitator, was invited to offer Council to Class 5. Over time, teachers in the school began to notice the benefits of Council, and it became an established part of school life.

In 2019, Lori Austein and Joe Provisor, Founding Director of the Council in Schools program, offered Council training to faculty and parents. Lori Austein continues to give faculty advanced training annually. 

What Are the Benefits? 

Council provides rich opportunities for students to share their experiences, feel truly heard, and to learn from others’ perspectives. It teaches them to listen deeply to others. Council is also a valuable tool for conflict resolution when struggles arise in the classroom.

The practice of Council also supports the BC Curriculum’s Core Competencies: Personal and Social, Thinking , and Communication. 

Faculty members also appreciate the Council practice, finding it to be an excellent tool for team building and conflict resolution. 

 Where Can I Learn More?

For more information on Council and the Ojai Foundation, please visit This video describes the impact of Council in schools.

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