Faculty & Staff
Meet the people who bring our education to life!
Early Childhood Teachers
Michelle Yorn, Parent/Child Class | Ms. Michelle is a Waldorf early childhood educator, mother, yoga teacher and creator of the Presently Pregnant prenatal coaching workshops. Through years of experience and her love of children, she has created soulful and practical tools to provide nourishment during the magical and challenging moments of pregnancy, life with a newborn, the transition into parenthood and the ongoing practice of healthy parenting.
Jennifer Barrientos, Huckleberry Pre-Kindergarten | Ms. Jennifer brings a lifelong connection with Waldorf education to her role at PWS. Born in New Mexico and moving to Hawaii at age three, Jennifer began her educational journey by attending the Malamalama Waldorf School, where her mother was a founding teacher. Later, she attended the Sacramento Waldorf School in California. As an adult, Jennifer pursued her interest and passion for education by completing a Masters equivalent in Waldorf Education at Bellarmine University, as well as her Waldorf Teacher Training at The Kentahten Institute and Rudolf Steiner College. In addition to holding Lead Kindergarten Teacher Positions at both the Sagewood Waldorf School in Bend, OR and the Shining Rivers Waldorf School in St Louis, MO, Jennifer served in many other capacities at these schools, including being on the Board of Trustees, numerous committees and holding the position of Faculty Chair. For the past five years, Jennifer has brought her loving, skillful teaching to the early childhood programs at PWS.
Jenny Nielson, Huckleberry Assistant
Cyndia Ashkar, Lily Kindergarten | Ms. Cyndia, a native Oregonian, first taught in the Clackamas County Head Start Program while working on her Child Development degree. She assisted in the first PWS Kindergarten when it opened in the fall of 1982 and became a lead Kindergarten teacher in 1984. Over the past three decades, Cyndia has been a devoted student of human development and Waldorf early childhood education. She received her diploma in Waldorf Early Childhood Education from Sunbridge College in New York, is a graduate of the Spacial Dynamics Institute and is a PWS alumni parent and grandparent.
Lisa Kimball, Lily Assistant
Emily Palmer, Rose Kindergarten | Emily Palmer has been involved with Waldorf early childhood education for fifteen years. She received her training at the Great Lakes Waldorf Institute and has taken many courses on storytelling, puppetry, and singing. She is also a Lifeways graduate and has run her own preschool and daycare. Before joining the faculty at PWS, Emily taught at Waldorf School of Mendocino County, where she was both a preschool and kindergarten lead teacher. Emily is very interested in the natural world and started the first off-campus nature immersion day as part of the Mendocino Early Childhood program. In her free time, Emily writes children’s stories and verses, paints and has a deep love of gnomes!
Orchid Jones, Rose Assistant
Heidi Leontie, Cricket Care Aftercare
Amanda Leonard, Cricket Care Aftercare Assistant | Amanda Leonard is a 2014 graduate of the Sound Circle Eurythmy Training in Boulder, Colorado, where she worked extensively with pedagogical eurythmy and Waldorf curriculum. She also completed two eurythmy teaching practicums in Waldorf schools in San Francisco and New York, working with children from Kindergarten through high school. She spent two years at the Shepherd Valley Waldorf School in Boulder and has been involved in Camphill Villages in Minnesota and the UK. Amanda currently works with the Portland Eurythmy Group when she is not working with the smallest ones at PWS.
Lower School Teachers
Jill DeSantis, Grade 1 | Jill has been a member of the PWS community since her children began attending Parent Child classes in 2001. She has over 25 years of teaching experience, the majority of which has been in Waldorf education. She began her teaching career as an ESL instructor while working abroad for several years. In 1997, Jill received her Master’s degree in Waldorf education from Antioch University New England. Since that time she has worked in both in public and private schools. For many years she taught math to middle and high school students here at PWS. She has also been a guest and substitute teacher for extended periods while a couple of our teachers were away on family leave. Jill’s most recent classroom experience has been as class teacher for grades 3-8 at Portland Village School.
Bene Foley, Grade 2 | Originally from California, Bene grew up in the sunny agricultural college town of Davis. When she was thirteen, her family moved to the East Coast, where she lived until she graduated from the University of Maryland. She spent most of her childhood believing that she would become a teacher, but never found an educational system that resonated with her. After college, Bene moved back to Northern California, where she started a family. Her first visit to a Waldorf school was when her daughter was three years old. She knew instantly that it was the education she wanted for her children. It also became clear to her that this was how she wanted to teach. The following year, Bene took a job as the first grade teacher at the Waldorf School of Mendocino County. Now in her twelfth year of teaching, Bene has taken one class from 1st through 6th grade and another through 5th. During her years of teaching, Bene took courses in both Waldorf Education and Curative Education. Bene moved to Portland in 2015 to begin with her new class. She is married with three children who are currently reaping the benefits of a Waldorf Education. She enjoys her job more than most people she knows. When not in the classroom, Bene loves to read, cook and take long walks.
Elizabeth Webber, Grade 3 | Elizabeth Webber comes from a family of teachers and carpenters and grew up on a farm and a one-room schoolhouse in rural Pennsylvania. Elizabeth studied painting and textiles at Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia, earned a BA in Sociology at Dickinson College and a teaching certificate at Sierra Nevada College. After years of public school teaching, Elizabeth discovered Waldorf education and anthroposophy. She then completed foundation studies at Micha-el Institute, earned a certificate in Applied Arts/Handwork at the Fiber Craft Studio in New York and a Waldorf teaching certificate at Antioch University New England (M.Ed 2016). Before taking her first class at PWS, Elizabeth taught Humanities, French, Art, Drama and Japanese in public, charter and alternative schools. She also substituted at area Waldorf schools, taught English to international students at PWHS and wrote and edited for LILIPOH Magazine. Outside the classroom, Elizabeth enjoys running, biking, yoga, reading, creating, studying and learning, travel and outdoor adventures with her husband and son.
Alynn Nelson, Grade 4 | Alynn graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a degree in Studio Art and Art History. After college, Alynn moved to Salt Lake City, where, serving as an Ameri-Corps volunteer for a year, she worked with under-served women and teens as an educator and medical assistant for Planned Parenthood. For four years Alynn was an art teacher for a Montessori-influenced preschool and kindergarten. She then completed the three-year Waldorf teacher-training program at the Micha-el Institute, overlapping with coming to PWS in 2007.
Jim Conlon, Grade 5 | Jim has been involved in Waldorf education for thirty years, including completing two cycles of eight years as a class teacher. He studied secondary school science education (Biology) at the University of Vermont and Pomology at Cornell University. He received his Waldorf teacher training at the Waldorf Institute in Detroit, Michigan and studied biodynamic agriculture at Emerson College in England. He also completed the Spacial Dynamics training in 1994. He taught at the Hawthorne Valley School from 1986 to 2004, taking one class through eight years and then teaching movement/PE for grades 2-12 and Geography and Astronomy main lessons in the High School. After moving to Portland, Jim took one class through the grades here at PWS. With his current class, he is on his second cycle here at the school.
Virginia Berg, Grade 6 | Virginia earned a B.A. in German from the University of Oregon and a Waldorf teaching certificate from Waldorf Teacher Education, Eugene, OR. She began at Portland Waldorf School in 1991 and her first class promoted in 2000. She completed the Spacial Dynamics training during that same period. After the birth of two sons, she worked part-time at PWS in many capacities: as a high school humanities teacher, grades evaluator, substitute, Interim College Chair and administrative support. She also participated in the Sound Circle Mentors’ Colloquium. When Virginia is not teaching, knitting on a gorgeous Oregon riverbank after a long hike and swim amid family, friends and/or students constitutes her perfect afternoon.
Nina Churchill, Grade 7 | Nina Churchill grew up in Washington and comes from a family of artists, architects and designers, with art education being central to her family. Nina studied Fine Arts at WSU as a student in the Honors College, receiving her BA in Fine Arts, Summa Cum Laude. Upon graduation, she moved to New York where she earned a M.S. in Communications Design from Pratt Institute with honors. Following graduation, Nina stayed in New York, working professionally in art, graphic design and package design, where part of her work was creating identity systems for large corporations. Six years later, Nina and her husband moved to the Bay Area, where she continued to work in art and design and rekindled her lifelong interest in plants and the natural world. She expanded her work into residential landscape design and received a certificate in Landscape Design from UC Berkeley. During these years, Nina’s two children were born and began their Waldorf educations. Nina began teaching at a Waldorf-inspired school in Marin County as a pre-school assistant. She received her teaching certification from the Bay Area Center for Waldorf Teacher Training in 2005. That year, she and her family relocated to Portland, where she began teaching at our high school, first teaching main lesson in art history and growing to include main lessons in modern art history, architectural history, geology and orientation classes for students new to the high school. Alongside her high school teaching, she taught pedagogical sculpture, middle school art and and assisted in handwork in the lower school. She has just completed an 8-year journey through the grades, and is taking another middle school class in addition to returning to her PWS roots in the High School Nina enjoys creating art, being outdoors, gardening, sewing, reading, walking and especially spending time with her husband and two children.
Nancy Thompson, Grade 8 | Nancy graduated from Washington and Jefferson College in Pennsylvania with a B.A. in sociology. She has been an actor, director, a stunt person, and movement teacher in the elementary grades. Nancy completed her Waldorf teacher training at the Micha-el Institute in 2007. She picked up a 6th Grade class at PWS, and took them through 8th Grade, then began again with a new 1st Grade.
Jeremy Bates, Math Specialist | Jeremy Bates grew up in Utah, where he learned to work hard in school and get along with his five siblings. He studied science and teaching at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah and taught for two years in mainstream schools before accepting a position at a Waldorf Kindergarten in Salt Lake City. He has been teaching at Waldorf schools ever since and completed his Waldorf teacher training at Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks, California. Jeremy comes most recently from Mendocino County, California, where he took a class from third to eighth grade. While there, he developed a passion for teaching mathematics, especially in the middle school. Jeremy enjoys running, hiking, reading, recreational mathematics, woodwork, fishing, general relativity, playing the guitar, and spending time with his family.
Carrie Mass, Eurythmy | Carrie was introduced to Waldorf education when she attended a Waldorf school in California from grades 3 to 8. She then completed the four-year Eurythmy training in Spring Valley, NY in 2002 and spent an additional year doing artistic training, followed by a year of pedagogical training. Carrie has worked with various performing groups and ensembles over the years and currently works and tours with Portland Eurythmy. Carrie began teaching eurythmy in 2005 at the Live Oak Charter School and the Sebastopol Independent Charter in California. Carrie came to PWS in 2008 and enjoys teaching Eurythmy to students in the grades, parents, alumnae and the larger community
Valerie Pufahl, Games & P.E. | Valerie has extensive experience working with children, adolescents and families as a Waldorf movement teacher, wilderness guide, homeschool educator, and summer camp instructor, supporting students through group social dynamics and individual needs. Valerie is a graduate of the Spacial Dynamics Level I Training and is continually exploring physical and athletic skills and challenges. At PWS, Valerie has held many roles over the years, including High School Movement Teacher, Athletic Director, Student Assistance Coordinator, Outdoor Program Coordinator, Health and Wellness Teacher and Farm Practicum Coordinator. She pioneered our high school’s Service Learning Curriculum and Outdoor Program, which she continues to support by leading a few trips each year. Valerie lived on a ranch in Big Sur, California, where she homeschooled children in 1st-4th grade with a Waldorf-inspired curriculum. She has taught circus arts, tumbling and acrobatics at the Seacoast Waldorf School in Southern Maine and at DoJump! Physical Theatre school in Portland. Valerie has paddled 225 miles of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, bike toured the Pacific Coast and led backcountry adventures all over the western United States.
Corey Averill, Strings | Corey was the first high school freshman to win the Oregon State Solo Contest on cello and has studied with such teachers as Stephanie McDougal, Hamilton Cheifetz, and Yo Yo Ma. He played in the National Honors Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. He received a bachelor’s degree in music from PSU in 1993 and taught cello at Clark College in Vancouver, WA from 1991 to 2006. He plays in a variety of orchestras, including Portland Opera, Oregon Ballet Theater, and the Eugene Symphony, and also formed his own music business, Duo con Brio, in 1989. Corey has worked at PWS since 1998, teaching strings, band, orchestra, bell choir, and 11th Grade Music History.
Michelle Averill, Choir & Band | Michelle attended PSU on a full four-year scholarship, and received a bachelor of music degree in vocal performance. She has performed in such works as Saint-Saens’ Christmas Oratoria, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, and Faure’s Requiem. Prior to teaching at PWS, she was assistant choir director in her church, and taught voice privately. Michelle began teaching at PWS in 1999 and currently teaches choir to Grades 5-12 as well as 6th– 8th Grade band.
Victor Garza, Spanish | Maestro Victor studied Business Administration and worked in the movie industry for seven years as a Production Engineer. He then became a language teacher in Oaxaca, Mexico and has worked in many different settings: universities, language schools, art schools, and high schools. He has taught history, dance, art, and languages. He received his Waldorf Teacher Training Certificate in 2008 and has been teaching at PWS since 2004.
Ute Luppertz, German | Ute has a M.A. in Special Education and German from the University of Cologne, with an emphasis on German as a second language and holistic learning. She has many years’ experience teaching and developing programs for children, adolescents and adults learning German as a second language. She has been teaching German at PWS since 1995.
Mariama Loos-Diallo, Handwork (Grades 1-8) | Handwork has been a constant and beloved interest for Mariama since she learned to knit in grade one. After graduating from the pioneering class of the Portland Waldorf High School, Mariama continued her education at Whitman College, where she earned a B.A. with honors in her self-designed major of Post-Colonial Studies. Mariama became the handwork assistant at PWS in 2008 and she began to attend Waldorf conferences and eventually enrolled at Rudolf Steiner College to pursue her interest in Anthroposophy and handwork teacher’s certificate. Mariama continued to assist for five years before becoming lead handwork teacher. A Portland native, Mariama feels strong ties to her Austrian and Senegalese heritage and is proud that her grandparents were tailors, an indigo dyer and a weaver by trade. Her most recent hobby is learning about plant dyes. In addition to handwork, she loves to dance, watch plays (particularly Shakespeare), do home improvement projects, laugh with friends, and practice eurythmy.
Tom Myers, Woodwork | Tom worked as a commercial fisherman, was the vice president of the United Fishermen of Alaska, and was on the board of directors of the SE Alaska Fishermans’ Co-op. He then became foreman of SE Alaska’s largest shipyard until moving back to Portland in 1979 to open a custom woodworking shop. Tom has taught as a woodworking teacher at PWS since 1992. He completed the three-year applied arts course at Sunbridge College and has taken continuing Waldorf education classes through the Micha-el Institute, where he teaches adult woodworking and teacher training classes. He is a founding High School teacher.
Francine Adams, Therapeutic Eurythmy & Remedial Education | Francine obtained her B.S. at Western Oregon State University. She then received her diploma in Waldorf Education from Emerson College in England and a eurythmy diploma from Das Eurythmeum in Stuttgart, Germany. Francine also took coursework to complete her training in pedagogical and therapeutic eurythmy. From 1983 to 1993, Francine taught eurythmy and high school history at Kimberton Waldorf School in Pennsylvania. In 1993, she came to Portland Waldorf School, where she has worked in a variety of roles, including class teacher, eurythmist, college chairperson and high school history teacher, as well as her current position which includes therapeutic eurythmy and remedial support.
Pamela Williams-Gifford, Grasshopper Grove Grades Aftercare | Pamela was trained at Rudolf Steiner College and spent thirteen years as a class teacher at Sierra Waldorf School in Sonora, California. When she moved to Portland, she worked for eight years as a tutor and school liaison at the Kartini Pediatric Clinic. She took a personal sabbatical in 2015 to study and start a private Reiki practice in Sellwood. Her new favorite hobby is creating woodland miniatures, where she enjoys more than a little time immersed in the world of the wee folk.
McKensie Rummel, Grasshopper Grove Assistant | Ms. McKensie attended Live Oak Waldorf School in California from 4th grade to 8th grade and went on to attend high school at Sacramento Waldorf School. She has recently completed her first year of university overseas in England, where she studied Media Production and Communications and explored Europe. She is interested in getting more involved in Waldorf education and hopes that her time at PWS will be a gateway to explore the idea of getting her Waldorf teaching degree.
High School Teachers
Jeremy Bates, Mathematics | Jeremy Bates grew up in Utah, where he learned to work hard in school and get along with his five siblings. He studied science and teaching at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah and taught for two years in mainstream schools before accepting a position at a Waldorf Kindergarten in Salt Lake City. He has been teaching at Waldorf schools ever since and completed his Waldorf teacher training at Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks, California. Jeremy comes most recently from Mendocino County, California, where he took a class from third to eighth grade. While there, he developed a passion for teaching mathematics, especially in the middle school. Jeremy enjoys running, hiking, reading, recreational mathematics, woodwork, fishing, general relativity, playing the guitar, and spending time with his family.
Wade Cavin, Life Sciences & Mathematics | Wade received his Bachelor’s degree in biological science from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois with a focus in physiology and neurosciences in 1979. Since then, Wade has worked in research and applied science, both biological and chemical. Following college, he worked for an environmental consulting company in California overseeing hazardous and radioactive wastes at the University of New Mexico and then at environmental laboratories in New Mexico and Colorado. Wade completed Waldorf teacher training in New Hampshire in the summer of 2002. His independent study includes the understanding of the adolescent and the development of scientific perception according to Goethean principles. As part of his interest in the role of perception in understanding phenomena, he received a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from the University of New Mexico in 2000 and a Master’s in Humanities from Prescott College in 2015. Wade also teaches aspiring Waldorf teachers at the Micha-el Institute in Portland. Wade has been at Portland Waldorf High School since 2000, teaching sciences and math, playing piano for eurythmy classes and coaching tennis.
Jamina Shupack, Mathematics | Jamina graduated from University of Oregon with a degree in Environmental Science and Biology. She comes from a long line of math teachers and envisioned being a math teacher from a very young age. Jamina worked as a tutor in Eugene, which gave her intimate insight into how different people process math concepts. After college, she spent a few years working on small organic farms and teaching in school gardens. Jamina has been enjoying working with the Living Lab to create hands-on real world projects that enliven and enrich our curriculum. When she is not in the classroom, Jamina loves to sew, knit, garden, cook, ferment, hike, and venture off on bike tours.
Sam Wasko, Mathematics & Life Sciences
Ky Brown, Mathematics & Science
Bec Blanchard, Humanities | Bec Blanchard spent her early years in Minnesota, but moved to the Pacific Northwest as a child where she fell in love with mountains. After completing her B.A. at Whitworth University, triple majoring in history, theatre and French, Bec spent a nomadic decade working as a nanny and running half-marathons. In 2010, she moved to Eugene, Oregon by way of San Francisco, in order to pursue a career in teaching. Bec earned her Waldorf Certification for grades 1-8 from Waldorf Teacher Education Eugene and then earned her high school certification from Rudolf Steiner College in their summer program in Sacramento. Bec is currently working on a Masters in Education through Rudolf Steiner College, writing her thesis on transgender and Waldorf pedagogy. Bec divides her time between teaching, stories, and running long distances. There being few things as glorious as an Oregon summer, she will be sure to be found ensconced in the mountains over the summers, keeping company with her books and her running shoes.
Wibke Fretz, Humanities & German | Wibke is a native of Hamburg, Germany. Her experience of growing up in this multicultural city led her to study political science and international relations. She attended Philipps University in Marburg, where she had the opportunity to explore the humanities, study abroad and work for the Goethe Institute in Accra, Ghana. In 1999, she completed her studies with a M.A in Political Science. Wibke moved to the United States to teach German and European History at McPherson College in Kansas, from which she previously received a B.A. in American History in 1996. Here, she discovered her love of teaching and decided to pursue this path by adding a M.A. in Germanic Languages and Literature from the University of Kansas in 2002. With a toddler in tow, her family moved to Oregon in 2003, where her husband worked with the Indian Health Service on the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Reservation and Chemawa Indian School in Salem. In 2010, life-changing events took them to Eugene, where her husband pursued a path in architecture. Here, Wibke reconnected with her bicycling roots by undertaking a cargo bike-building and community agriculture apprenticeship at the Center for Appropriate Transport while teaching German for various institutions. Her family moved to Portland in 2013 and she joined PWHS as a part-time faculty member the following year. Immediately feeling at home, she was mentored by Rebecca Soloway, who led her through Foundation Studies. Wibke now teaches Humanities and German and is currently enrolled in the Center for Anthroposophy’s High School Teacher Training, which she will complete in 2017. Wibke’s family enjoys making things (ask her about their wool mattress endeavor) and when she is not involved in a project, she can be easily spotted riding her cargo bike around town.
Isabel Umanzor-Fleming, Spanish | Isabel has been teaching middle school and high school for more than fifteen years. She is a Spanish native speaker, and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish Teaching from the University of Bio Bio, Chillan in Chile. Since she began teaching, she has been passionate about maximizing individual student performance, inspiring them to enhance their Spanish language development by bringing Hispanic culture to the students through readings, films, music, and theatrical performances.
Meghan Hof, ESL | Meghan Hof has taught ESL in Poland, Venezuela and the United States. Her favorite assignment was creating an English language program for Sherpas at the climbing school at Mount Everest base camp. She recently moved to Portland from Colorado with her family and her two daughters are in the kindergarten at PWS. Meghan is also a professional photographer who loves photographing people and events. In her free time, Meghan loves to hike, ski, travel and explore.
Christopher Zinn, Humanities | Christopher grew up in New York, in a close-knit Italian-American family. He attributes his devotion to poetry to his love for the music of his Italian relatives’ speech. He was educated at Georgetown University and New York University, where he received his Ph.D. in English and American Literature. He taught Humanities and American literature at Reed College, directed Reed’s American Studies program and was Fulbright Senior lecturer in Turkey in 1993-94. In 1997, he was appointed Executive Director of the Oregon Council for the Humanities and continued in that position until 2006. He has taught cultural history at the Oregon College of Art and Craft and he lectures and writes frequently on American literature and culture and leads Delve readers’ seminars for Literary Arts. Christopher also has served on a number of nonprofit boards, including the Federation of State Humanities Councils, the National Advisory Board of Imagining America, and the Friends of Chamber Music. After eight years as a Waldorf parent, Christopher began teaching literature, history, and social studies at PWHS in 2007 and has studied at the Rudolf Steiner Institute, Rudolf Steiner College, and the Center for Anthroposophy. He also serves on the College of Teachers and the PWS Board of Trustees. Christopher has a lifelong love of basketball and music. He persists in playing pickup basketball at any opportunity and likes to stumble along the fretboard of his guitar and ukulele. He occasionally organizes songwriting workshops in the high school and treasures the opportunity to work on creative projects with his students. He is also a devoted cyclist and is grateful to live in one of the most bike-friendly cities in North America. His wife, Nathalia King, is Professor of English and Humanities at Reed College. Their two sons, Gabriel and Sebastian, are PWHS alumni. Gabriel is also a graduate of Reed College, where Sebastian is currently an undergraduate. They live in the same house near the college that Nathalia and Christopher purchased “when we were kids.”
Corey Averill, Orchestra | Corey was the first high school freshman to win the Oregon State Solo Contest on cello and has studied with such teachers as Stephanie McDougal, Hamilton Cheifetz, and Yo Yo Ma. He played in the National Honors Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. He received a bachelor’s degree in music from PSU in 1993 and taught cello at Clark College in Vancouver, WA from 1991 to 2006. He plays in a variety of orchestras, including Portland Opera, Oregon Ballet Theater, and the Eugene Symphony, and also formed his own music business, Duo con Brio, in 1989. Corey has worked at PWS since 1998, teaching strings, band, orchestra, bell choir, and 11th Grade Music History.
Michelle Averill, Choir | Michelle attended PSU on a full four-year scholarship, and received a bachelor of music degree in vocal performance. She has performed in such works as Saint-Saens’ Christmas Oratoria, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, and Faure’s Requiem. Prior to teaching at PWS, she was assistant choir director in her church, and taught voice privately. Michelle began teaching at PWS in 1999 and currently teaches choir to Grades 5-12 as well as 6th– 8th Grade band.
Robbie Laws, Guitar | Robbie Laws is one of the most decorated and in demand blues guitarists in the Pacific Northwest. Having played with guitar legends from Albert Collins to Ronnie Earl, Robbie is an internationally recognized Blues Guitar Master who has thrilled festival and concert audiences for over 15 years with his sheer technical prowess on the guitar, his soulful voice, impressive stage presence and likeable personality. Laws possesses the inherent ability to authentically convey styles such as nineteen forties, jump swing, traditional country blues, Piedmont, Delta, early Texas and Chicago, yet is comfortable playing uptown jazz as well as progressive rock. In addition to his work with Portland Waldorf High School’s music program, Robbie co-owns of ‘Robbie Laws School of Guitar PDX’ with his wife Jerri.
Terrence Tomei, Drumming
Tom Myers, Applied Arts | Tom worked as a commercial fisherman, was the vice president of the United Fishermen of Alaska, and was on the board of directors of the SE Alaska Fishermans’ Co-op. He then became foreman of SE Alaska’s largest shipyard until moving back to Portland in 1979 to open a custom woodworking shop. Tom has taught as a woodworking teacher at PWS since 1992. He completed the three-year applied arts course at Sunbridge College and has taken continuing Waldorf education classes through the Micha-el Institute, where he teaches adult woodworking and teacher training classes. He is a founding High School teacher.
Katherine Pomeroy, Applied Arts | Katherine was born in Philadelphia, moving to the Portland area as a second grader. Katherine studied fine arts at Portland State University with a concentration in drawing, weaving, and ceramics. Later, she continued at Oregon School of Arts and Crafts, where she studied weaving, textile surface design, natural dying and Book Arts and Printmaking. Katherine completed the three-year Applied Arts Program at Sunbridge College in 1998 and she currently serves as a part-time faculty member at Rudolf Steiner College’s Handwork Teacher Training program. Her outside interests include fabric arts, gardening and cooking, bookbinding, printmaking, and playing the piano. Handwork, crafts, and the home arts have been a centering thread running through her life and she enjoys the opportunity to share her many years of practical experience and her love of the activity with the students at PWS. Katherine has taught at PWS since 1994 and her grown sons are both PWS alumni. She lives in Beaverton with her husband and their two dogs.
Nina Churchill, Fine Arts | Nina Churchill grew up in Washington and comes from a family of artists, architects and designers, with art education being central to her family. Nina studied Fine Arts at WSU as a student in the Honors College, receiving her BA in Fine Arts, Summa Cum Laude. Upon graduation, she moved to New York where she earned a M.S. in Communications Design from Pratt Institute with honors. Following graduation, Nina stayed in New York, working professionally in art, graphic design and package design, where part of her work was creating identity systems for large corporations. Six years later, Nina and her husband moved to the Bay Area, where she continued to work in art and design and rekindled her lifelong interest in plants and the natural world. She expanded her work into residential landscape design and received a certificate in Landscape Design from UC Berkeley. During these years, Nina’s two children were born and began their Waldorf educations. Nina began teaching at a Waldorf-inspired school in Marin County as a pre-school assistant. She received her teaching certification from the Bay Area Center for Waldorf Teacher Training in 2005. That year, she and her family relocated to Portland, where she began teaching at our high school, first teaching main lesson in art history and growing to include main lessons in modern art history, architectural history, geology and orientation classes for students new to the high school. Alongside her high school teaching, she taught pedagogical sculpture, middle school art and and assisted in handwork in the lower school. She has just completed an 8-year journey through the grades, and is taking another middle school class in addition to returning to her PWS roots in the High School. Nina enjoys creating art, being outdoors, gardening, sewing, reading, walking and especially spending time with her husband and two children.
Valerie Pufahl, Games & Movement | Valerie has extensive experience working with children, adolescents and families as a Waldorf movement teacher, wilderness guide, homeschool educator, and summer camp instructor, supporting students through group social dynamics and individual needs. Valerie is a graduate of the Spacial Dynamics Level I Training and is continually exploring physical and athletic skills and challenges. At PWS, Valerie has held many roles over the years, including High School Movement Teacher, Athletic Director, Student Assistance Coordinator, Outdoor Program Coordinator, Health and Wellness Teacher and Farm Practicum Coordinator. She pioneered our high school’s Service Learning Curriculum and Outdoor Program, which she continues to support by leading a few trips each year. Valerie lived on a ranch in Big Sur, California, where she homeschooled children in 1st-4th grade with a Waldorf-inspired curriculum. She has taught circus arts, tumbling and acrobatics at the Seacoast Waldorf School in Southern Maine and at DoJump! Physical Theatre school in Portland. Valerie has paddled 225 miles of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, bike toured the Pacific Coast and led backcountry adventures all over the western United States.
Sarah Rem, Eurythmy | Sarah was born and raised in Santa Barbara, California where she attended the Waldorf School of Santa Barbara from Kindergarten-8th grade. She completed her eurythmy training in 2008 at Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks, California. Upon finishing the training, she taught for two years at the Chicago Waldorf School, then joined the Eurythmeum Fairytale Ensemble in Stuttgart, Germany, where she toured and performed eurythmy throughout Europe. Sarah came to Portland Waldorf School in 2011, where she teaches in the High School. Sarah is very happy to be in Portland, where she continues to work artistically and deepen her pedagogical capacities. Taking advantage of the natural beauty the Northwest has to offer, she also enjoys fly fishing, baking and gardening.
Jeanne Rogers, Drama | Jeanne was trained as an actress at the world-renowned Neighborhood Playhouse in NYC, where she studied under legendary acting teacher Sanford Meisner. A professional actress for over 30 years, Jeanne has performed opposite many well-known actors such as Nick Nolte, Don Johnson, Ron Howard, Marion Ross, and Margaret Hamilton. She has guest starred on TV shows such as LOST and Grimmand has been featured in several movies, most recently You May Not Kiss the Bride with Rob Schneider. Jeanne has extensive experience teaching teen’s and children’s drama classes on a regular basis. She was Director of Youth Education in Hawaii at The Academy of Film and Television, taught at the non-profit Free Arts Clinic in Los Angeles, and for 10 years Jeanne was the Drama Teacher at the Honolulu Waldorf High School. Jeanne has also directed many plays including; A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Harvey, Look Homeward Angel, The Crucible, Hamlet, and many others… Since moving to Oregon, she has taught drama for the Northwest Children’s Theatre and Oregon Children’s Theatre. She is thrilled to be working as the Drama Teacher at Portland Waldorf School.
Michael Johnson, Life Skills
Janet Canning, Computer Technology
Jack Hoiland, Outdoor Program Coordinator | Jack was a student at Portland Waldorf School from kindergarten through high school, graduating in 2007. The annual outdoor weeks played a significant role in Jack’s arc as a student and the deep love and admiration for natural spaces that he cultivated in high school influenced his decision to attend Prescott College to major in Adventure Education. It was at Prescott College that Jack experienced swimming down slot-canyon canals, backpacking in the Sonoran Desert, rock climbing the sandstone towers of Utah and skiing the snowy peaks of southern Idaho. It was also there that Jack discovered his love of teaching and the joy of facilitating new outdoor experiences for people. Jack worked as an outdoor educator for many organizations, including Prescott College, The Student Conservation Association, Adventure Treks and Reed College. During all of these experiences, what he has treasured most is the connection to his students and the opportunity to teach them something new about something he loves. Jack’s goal is to continue to run a safe, outrageously fun, challenging and informative program through qualified, inspiring instructors, beautiful spaces, lots of good food and an ethic of care and compassion for each student.
Kelly O’Halogan, Faculty Chair x210
Kelly received a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Oregon. After working in the business field, she attended Emerson College in England, where she completed her Waldorf foundation studies. She followed this with the Waldorf teacher training program at Sunbridge College in New York. Kelly was a class teacher for nineteen years. She first took a class from first through eighth grades at the Waldorf School of Santa Barbara, then taught for three years at the Independent Sebastopol Charter School. In 2005, Kelly moved to Portland and journeyed through grades one through eight again here at PWS. In 2013, Kelly moved from teaching to administrative work by becoming Faculty Chair. Outside school, Kelly and her daughter spend time reading, knitting, walking in Nature, enjoying time with extended family and laughing.
Wendy Rea, Administrative Chair x220
Wendy received a B.S. in Political Science and Economics from the University of Oregon and a M.A. in Public Administration from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Prior to being a stay-at-home mom, she worked in the solid waste, recycling, and commercial composting industry. Wendy’s family joined the PWS community in 2009, when her two daughters began attending the school. Wendy began her volunteer work at PWS on the Finance Committee in 2010, and joined the Board of Trustees in early 2011, where she served as Treasurer from 2011-2012 and President from 2012-2014. She stepped down from her work on the Board to assume the position of Administrative Chair in the spring of 2014.
Annagrace Kaye, Main Office x200
Annagrace was born in Portland but spent her childhood traversing the country as the homeschooled child of an itinerant pipe organ builder and restorer. She fell in love with history and story as her family drove through thirty-eight states and paused at nearly every historical marker and noteworthy building or monument along the way. After high school she spent ten years overseeing people and operations for retail companies like Gap, Nordstrom, and French Quarter Linens, becoming a near-expert in managing busy and changeable sales floors and creating loyal customer relationships. She took an extended break from her career to have her two daughters, now ten and eight, and then began her own business as a birth and post-partum doula and women’s circle and pregnancy class facilitator, going on to co-found Vivid ~ The New Menopause, a beautiful live and virtual community for women entering menopause and beyond. In autumn of 2016 her family joined Portland Waldorf School in Mr. Conlon’s and Ms. Webber’s classes.
Kate McGill, High School Secretary x218
Kate grew up on Long Island, New York and first came to Oregon to attend Reed College. Her resume includes office work, radio broadcasting, community organizing, events coordination, blood donor recruitment, actuarial work, and corporate pension consulting. Kate has had a series of enthusiasms, including a stint as a master gardener. She learned then that preparation of the soil is the basis for healthy growth and development, which is why her son Brian was a student at Portland Waldorf School. Prior to working in the high school, Kate worked at a host of volunteer positions at PWS, including the library, finance, development, scrip committees and three years as parent council chair. Kate lives with her husband Terry and is very proud of their son for growing up to be a college basketball player and a person who talks to his mother.
Mary Beaton, Director of Admissions x207
Connie Vera, High School Admissions Coordinator x221
Connie is a Waldorf alumna who grew up in Southern California. She attended California State University, Northridge, graduating magna cum laude with a BA in Journalism and Public Relations and a Minor in Sociology. For more than 14 years, Connie worked with various PR agencies and non-profit organizations in conjunction with high-profile clients within the entertainment industry in Los Angeles. After the birth of her first child, Connie became the Administrator for the Waldorf Institute of Southern California (WISC), an AWSNA accredited teacher-training program, which opened a door that inspired her to work more deeply in the educational field. During her time at WISC, Connie had two more children and ultimately followed her passion for education. She began working toward her Waldorf teacher certification and subsequently attended the University of Southern California (USC) where she received her MA in Teaching, summa cum laude. In 2015, Connie and her family happily moved to Oregon and immediately fell in love with the Pacific Northwest. Connie is a lifelong learner who never misses a moment to learn more about people and life, giving credit to the blessing of having a Waldorf education. She enjoys working with fiber arts, knitting, cooking, jogging, snowboarding and yoga/meditating; but nothing tops spending quality time with her three lovely children and her best friend, who happens to be her husband.
Meghan Hof, Admissions Assistant x209
Meghan recently moved to Portland from Colorado with her family and her two daughters joined PWS. In addition to her Admissions work, she teaches ESL in the High School, and has taught in Poland, Venezuela and the United States. Her favorite assignment was creating an English language program for Sherpas at the climbing school at Mount Everest base camp.Meghan is also a professional photographer who loves photographing people and events. In her free time, Meghan loves to hike, ski, travel and explore.
Grace Evans, Admissions, Communications & Development Assistant x213
Grace joined the PWS community in 2002, when her family moved to Portland and she entered the seventh grade just weeks before winter break. She graduated 5 ½ years later as a proud member of the PWHS Class of 2008. Grace received her B.A. in Spanish from Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA and moved back to Portland in time to watch her little sister graduate from PWHS in 2013. That fall, she was offered the opportunity to work with the Enrollment Team and she is so happy to be back at PWS. Since then, her work has continued to broaden and deepen, and she is grateful for the opportunity to support so many facets of this school and community. She loves cooking, reading, knitting and crafts of all kinds, and is trying to make up her mind what kind of Waldorf thing she wants to learn next.
Deena Fishbein, Director of Finance x202
Deena received a B.S. from Duke University in Botany and, after dedicating 3 years as a classical flutist and playing in Carnegie Hall, went on to earn a M.B.A. from the UCLA Graduate School of Management in Arts Management. She has worked over 25 years in non-profit organization management with a specialization in finance and held a CPA license for most of that time. Aside from work in non-profits, Deena lived at Wind Spirit Community, an intentional community in Arizona for six years, where she devoted much of her time to growing food, caretaking the landscape, and nurturing interpersonal connections as components of a lifestyle geared to be more in harmony with her surroundings. She is a recent Portland transplant, joyful to be once again around moisture and family.
Crystal Lawrence, Enrollment & Accounting Associate x203
Crystal Lawrence works in the school’s Business Office as the Enrollment and Accounting Associate. Crystal comes to PWS with many years of experience in both Accounting and Human Resources and has a Bachelor’s degree from San Diego State University.
Jourdan Bautista, Accounting Assistant x201
Hailing from the great state of California, Jourdan received his B.S. in Business Administration and Accounting from California State University Hayward in 2009. After a few years of accounting practice and extensive travel, he landed in Portland and joined the PWS Community as our Accounting Associate in the summer of 2016. He enjoys spending time with his partner, playing hacky-sack, and eating pizza.
Shanti McCarter, High School Chair; High School Student Assistance Coordinator x223
Shanti joined PWHS in 2013. Shanti attended the Honolulu Waldorf School from first to eighth grade. The Waldorf high school had not yet opened, so she received her diploma from a private college prep high school, followed by a Bachelors of Art in History from Willamette University. Shanti joined Honolulu Waldorf High School’s Humanities Department in 2001, where she taught and worked in administration for eight years. She now lives in Milwaukie with her husband and teenage son. Shanti is particularly passionate about student leadership and Community Based Education – connecting the curriculum to the people, businesses and the natural environment that surround the school through service, guest speakers, field trips and projects. In her free time, Shanti enjoys hiking, gardening, biking, kayaking and dancing.
Kelly Hogan, Living Laboratory Director x205
Kelly Hogan is the Director of the Living Lab, the Environmental Education Initiative at Portland Waldorf School and she has been a PWS parent since 2005. Kelly is the former director, co-founder and preschool teacher of Mother Earth School, an outdoor immersion urban farm school taught by Waldorf teachers in Portland. She is also former director and co-founder of the Institute of Permaculture Education for Children, a non-profit organization where she continues to host sustainability trainings for teachers of all backgrounds. She received her Waldorf teaching certificate from the Micha-el Institute in Portland, OR and has been teaching since 2005. She has additional training and background in permaculture, Jon Young’s nature connection mentoring, and ancestral living skills. She serves on the Board of Directors at GeerCrest Farm, is a leader in the Portland area Camphill-inspired initiative, supports the Elderberry School of Botanical Medicine with their administration, leads citizen science tracking trips on Mt. Hood, and is trained in Theater of the Oppressed as a means of exploring issues of equity, which she views as the foundation of the sustainability movement.
Nicole Raymond, Athletic Director
Yvonne Cseko, Spring Creek Store Manager x208
Yvonne grew up in Southern California and studied Theatre, Voice and Design at Pierce College. She worked for a Fashion Designer for several years. After her Uncle brought Waldorf education to the family she worked for the Pasadena Waldorf School for several years as the Administrative Secretary. While starting a family she worked for Nickelodeon for many years as an ink and paint artist and color stylist. As her children began school at Highland Hall Waldorf School she offered her services as the Communications Coordinator and then the store manager. Relocating to Portland in 2006 with her husband Robert and two boys, Cameron and Lucas, she again offered her services as school Store Manager. She is a skilled craftsperson with an eye for color and a passion for gardening and cooking. Her two sons are PWHS alumni.
Dionne Kane, Operations Manager x200
Dionne joined our administrative team in 2013 as our receptionist/main office person extraordinaire, but she has been a part of the Portland Waldorf School community since her daughter began Parent/Child classes in 2007. Dionne’s interest in Waldorf education began many years before, when she was teaching meditation and studying esoteric psychology. Her studies led her to an interest in Anthroposophy and she delved into Waldorf Foundational Studies and teacher training. Dionne spends most of her free time working in her garden and making things by hand.
Brendan Eiswerth, Facilities Manager x222
Ian Terrell, Library Manager x219
Ian has been a bibliomaniac all his life. His first job was as a used book seller and he enjoyed that work in many different bookshops all over the country. He has an English degree and a degree in Library and Information Science and has worked in Youth Services, Digital Projects, Medical Research, and Medical History. Waldorf schools have been a great fit for his son and daughter, and the PWS Library is a great fit for him. His wife also suffers from bibliomania and their home library is almost large enough to rival the PWS Library collection. When he’s not in a library or wrestling with his children, Ian tries to support local artists, and will go far out of his way to patronize good Shakespearian theatre.