Women's Journal

Daniela Sarbu Founded The Waldo International School While Creating An Educational Legacy In The Process

Daniela Sarbu Founded The Waldo International School
Photo: Unsplash.com

The Waldo International School stands as a beacon of academic excellence and innovation in its hometown of Jersey City, New Jersey. Founded by a woman with a deep commitment to education in 2011, to say the school has flourished under the leadership of its visionary founder, Daniela Elena Sarbu would be an understatement. Originally starting as a modest preschool, the institution has expanded into a comprehensive educational facility that serves hundreds of families, reflecting Sarbu’s unwavering commitment to high-quality education.

The inception of The Waldo School is deeply rooted in Sarbu’s personal experiences as a parent. Faced with limited satisfactory educational options for her son after returning to work, Sarbu was inspired to create an institution that would meet her high expectations. “I researched and visited the only available schools and didn’t feel their current curriculums were competitive enough,” she recounts. This realization drove her to establish a school that would not only meet but exceed the educational needs of her community.

From its very first day, The Waldo School operated at full capacity, a clear indicator of the demand for its innovative approach. Despite continuous expansion into new buildings and the addition of new grades each year, the school has remained a privately-owned entity, steadfast in its commitment to maintaining high standards and a unique identity. Today, The Waldo School spans multiple campuses and plays a vital role in Jersey City’s educational landscape.

The Waldo School’s success can be attributed to its rigorous and comprehensive educational approach. The institution offers a variety of programs to suit different needs, including a Morning Program (8:30 am-12:30 pm) for preschoolers, a Full Day Program (8:30 am-3:30 pm), and an Extended Day option (7:30 am-6:00 pm). Tuition ranges from $1,800 to $2,800 per month, reflecting the extensive array of services and activities provided.

Beyond regular school hours, The Waldo School offers an impressive range of extracurricular activities. “We provide sports clubs like fencing, basketball, soccer, and cheerleading, as well as STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) and academic clubs including fashion, musical theater, public speaking, math, logic, robotics, art, and science,” Sarbu explains. Notably, the school features a swimming club with a saltwater pool, accessible to all enrolled students as young as three. These activities range in cost from $25 to $65 per class, depending on the chosen activity.

What sets The Waldo School apart is its emphasis on small class sizes and individualized learning plans. “There is no one-size-fits-all in education,” Sarbu emphasizes. The school’s philosophy revolves around recognizing and nurturing the unique needs and strengths of each student. This personalized approach is feasible due to the small class sizes, with a teacher-to-student ratio not exceeding 1 to 12-14 in older grades.

The school’s curriculum is enriched with a diverse range of subjects from an early age. “We include informational technology, drama and public speaking, and Spanish in our curriculum for children as young as Kindergarten, and music and art for children as young as PreK3,” Sarbu notes. This extensive exposure ensures that students are well-rounded, confident, and prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

A cornerstone of The Waldo School’s curriculum is its International Baccalaureate (IB) program. “The IB is a prestigious program based out of Geneva, Switzerland, offering education that focuses on developing students who respect and care for others and understand global commonalities and differences,” Sarbu explains. The school is fully accredited for the Primary Years Programme (PYP) for children aged three years to fifth grade and is working towards accreditation for the Middle Years Programme (MYP) for grades six through eight.

The IB curriculum encourages students to think critically about real-world problems and develop character alongside academic excellence. This dual focus prepares students to be caring, knowledgeable, and principled individuals capable of making meaningful contributions to their communities. The program’s international recognition also facilitates smooth transitions for students relocating globally, ensuring continuity in their education.

The Waldo School’s community is as diverse as Jersey City itself, with students hailing from all over the world. “Jersey City is home to parents working for the UN, financial companies, and various international firms,” Sarbu points out. The school celebrates this diversity, creating an inclusive environment where every student is known and valued.

Looking forward to 2024, The Waldo School has ambitious plans for further expansion. The school is set to open a new 10,000 square feet facility, which will include a larger gym to support its growing sports teams. “We’re in the process of having our second IB program, the MYP, accredited,” Sarbu shares. Additionally, the school is enhancing its technology offerings, with sixth graders and above having informational technology classes twice a week.

The integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into the curriculum is another forward-thinking initiative at The Waldo School. Sarbu emphasizes the importance of teaching students about the ethical and effective use of AI. “We believe in developing a culture of honesty, trust, fairness, respect, and responsibility,” she says. The school has implemented a policy on AI usage to ensure that students understand its limitations and potential biases. This approach aims to develop critical thinking skills and prepare students for a future where AI plays a significant role.

Foreign language education is a fundamental aspect of The Waldo School’s curriculum. “We believe that learning a foreign language should start early and be conducted at least twice a week,” Sarbu asserts. The school offers Spanish as part of its core curriculum and provides language clubs in the afternoon for students interested in languages such as Mandarin, French, and Japanese. These programs not only enhance linguistic skills but also foster cultural awareness and global citizenship.

Sarbu’s vision for The Waldo School extends beyond academic excellence to creating a nurturing community that values each individual. “We foster a familial atmosphere where every individual is cherished and supported,” she emphasizes. Regular school events, parent-teacher meetings, and community projects strengthen these bonds, making The Waldo School feel like a family home.

With its commitment to innovation, personalized education, and a global perspective, The Waldo School is well-positioned for continued success. As it expands and adapts to the evolving educational landscape, it remains true to its founding principles of excellence and community.


Published by: Khy Talara

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