The successful functioning of Winterberry depends on the cooperative efforts of three vital groups: the Winterberry Charter Council, Winterberry Faculty Council and the Winterberry Parent Guild.
Winterberry Charter Council (WCC)
The WCC is a representative body that currently has eleven elected members: seven are parents, two are teachers, one is a teacher or staff member, and one is a community member. All parents, faculty, and staff of Winterberry may vote on WCC membership. Elections occur every February.
The WCC is responsible for the governance of the school: making sure we are operating in accordance with our charter and are being fiscally responsible with our public funds. The WCC is also responsible for hiring an Administrator who manages the daytoday operation of the school. The WCC operates on a consensus model.
The WCC meets on the 3rd Thursday of every month at 6:00 p.m. at Winterberry. Changes to the regular meeting schedule or the addition of any special sessions will be posted on the calendar at winterberrycharterschool.com. The agenda for each meeting is posted at the main entrance of the school 48 hours in advance of the meeting. The past agendas and minutes are available on the school website listed above.
Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend! There is time allotted at every regular meeting for Community Comments,” so please feel free to come to any meeting.
Winterberry Faculty Council (FCC)
All Winterberry teachers are members of the Faculty Council. Members are not elected, but they participate in school governance as part of their duties. The FC’s serves as expert guides on pedagogy and Waldorf methodology in the school’s governance, rather than as community representatives. The FC meetings are part of faculty workloads and may involve confidential information, thus, the meetings are not generally open to the public. However, written testimony, suggestions, and other input can be submitted to any class teacher for discussion by the Faculty Council.
Collectively, the Faculty Council is responsible for pedagogical issues and decisions. This collaboration among the faculty on school governance allows the faculty to apply their expertise to schoolwide issues and helps ensure that Winterberry’s decisionmaking process truly supports Waldorf inspired education. The Faculty Council leads the school festivals to ensure that these events meet their educational purposes.
Winterberry Parent Guild (WPG)
The WPG is a representative parent body made up of one member per class (9), a faculty member, and six officers. Each class also elects an alternate with full voting rights to fill in when the primary representative is not available. In addition, one elected parent member is appointed by the WPG as the WPG/WCC liaison who is a voting member of both bodies.
The WPG is primarily focused on raising funds for the school and dispersing those funds equitably in support of enhancing Waldorf inspired education. The WPG is established as a 501c3 nonprofit. The most important and expensive funding so far is Waldorf teacher trainings for all of our teachers. The WPG also supported afterschool programs, teaching materials, and educational field trip expenses. In order to raise funds and to encourage community participation, the WPG organizes the Annual Giving Campaign, Harvest Dance, Enchanted Village, Winter Fair, HeadHeartHands Auction, and other fundraising and community building events. Finally, it is the WPG who holds the lease with the owner of our new building, and thus, it is the landlord for Winterberry Charter School.
The WPG meetings are at 6:00 p.m. at the school on the first Thursday of every month and everyone in the school community is encouraged to attend as often as possible. Agendas are posted online and in the school foyer in advance of the meetings. Past agendas and minutes are available the school website listed above.
Many people assume that a consensus means a unanimous agreement in which all the individuals involved get their way. As practiced at most Waldorf communities, including Winterberry, consensus is not just an end result but a specific process for arriving at decisions. It involves working together to make decisions that reflect the values of the group.
The “Consensus at Winterberry” document outlines the goals and principles of the consensus process used by our school. This document was developed from an administrative workshop Ms. Mall attended at the Rudolf Steiner College during the summer of 2010 where the participants studied and practiced the process of consensus. Since the fall of 2010 the faculty and the WCC have used this process in their decision making at all times. The WPG uses it at threebody meetings, and also strives for consensus as a group. The first major decisions we made as a community
using this process led to the eventual construction of our new building.
Consensus at Winterberry
Assume goodwill from all involved...
Create for yourself a new, indomitable perception of faithfulness. What is usually called faithfulness passes so quickly. Let this be your faithfulness:
You will experience moments.... fleeting moments.... with the other person. The human being will appear to you then as if filled, irradiated with the archetype of his spirit.
And then there may be.... indeed will be.... other moments, long periods of time, when human beings are darkened. But you will learn to say to yourself at such times: "The Spirit makes me strong. I remember the archetype. I saw it once. No illusion, no deception shall rob me of it."
Always struggle for the image that you saw. This struggle is faithfulness. Striving thus for faithfulness, we shall be close to one another, as if endowed with the protective powers of angels.
Consensus Process in action...
Unity, not unanimity...
Ask yourself, “Is the spirit of the action moving in the direction of the shared values?”
Discernment...Standing Behind the Principle vs. Personal Preference
Ask yourself, “Is having my strategy adopted important for the nature of this particular decision or is this more about steering the decision in a direction that is closer to my own personal preference?” Clearly identify if this about principle or preference before adding to the discussion.
Stand Aside / Step Aside...
Typically happens when a person realizes they are too attached to personal preference and are only holding the group process back. Once a person stands or steps aside he or she is agreeing to let the group move forward without them. In doing so they agree not to undermine group decisions. The aforementioned behaviors uphold the integrity of the body and its agreements.
Blocking (secular term) or Standing in the Way (Quaker term)...
This technique should rarely be used and has been estimated that a person who uses consensus consistently in their everyday life should use this no more than six times in a lifetime! In terms of an organization, it should only be used when a particular decision would lead to a probable disaster for the group as a whole. It should only be used to ensure the survival of the group or if the proposed action can be shown to conflict with group’s shared values. The blocker bears responsibility to group and process to identify a valid reason for blocking and should provide evidence to support the decision to block.
Tools for Consensus Making...
Rule of Three...
If the group is going to make a major policy decision it should be brought to no less than three meetings. When there are time concerns special meetings can be called, but the format should be:
Mtg 1: Introduction of the issue and dialogue (2030 minutes): Prior documentation should be provided to committee/board/group members. From here the issue gets sent to committee with the mandate to create/bring a proposal. This should be sent out to members prior to the second meeting.
Mtg 2: Full discussion of the proposal by the group (6090 minutes): Send all recommendations back to committee for revisions after input. Once revisions are finished the new proposal should be sent out to group prior to the third and final meeting.
Mtg 3: Final discussion and decision (45 minutes)
Define the Role of the Mandate Team or Committee...
This can be anything the group wants it to be. One example is making clear that maximum representation of stakeholder input be solicited prior to a recommendation being made. Another is that the proposal be objective and principle based.
While time consuming to create, this is a total time saver in the life of a group’s meeting time. At least one paragraph should be offered for every item to be discussed at the meeting. Each item on the agenda should have a sponsor who provides the history and documentation of the proposed issue. Good practice says no sponsor/no documentation equals no consideration by the group.
The agenda should be sent out in a timely fashion and adequate time should be allowed for the topics at hand. A group should have a calendar of the year and its
yearly goals should drive agenda topics when possible. There should be a good energy flow to the meetings and breaks or moments of silence should be taken when necessary.
Minutes should not be a playbyplay representation of the meeting. The minute taker should strive to capture the key points and identify the “Minute of Decision” or the motion/unity of the group.