A member of the Alliance for Public Waldorf Education

Mountain Song Teachers

1st Grade

Eva Manz-Jackson


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2nd Grade

Debbie Ellington

“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge”
Albert Einstein

Debbie earned her degree in Forestry and loaded up her belongings in a truck to seek work in Colorado. She landed a job on a surveying team and surveyed the foothills of the Rockies for Jefferson County. From there she moved on to the Open Space Department where she worked on designing trail systems for newly acquired parks. Despite having found her dream job, she moved to Divide Colorado because of her husband’s job transfer. With an entrepreneurial spirit, she started an interior plantscaping business with accounts in Colorado Springs. After building and growing the business for 11 years, she sold it to a couple who are still in business here in Colorado Springs. As her two boys grew, she decided to sign on as a substitute teacher to contribute to the household income. This is how she discovered her love for teaching and led her to seek licensure with the state. She taught in the Woodland Park District for 8 years. She has worked with children in an after school community service club for seven of those years instilling in them the importance of helping your community. Her love of environmental education led her to directing the environmental YES Club at her school through the Catamount Institute. Seeking alternatives to public education led her to Mountain Song School. She has been a part of the community teaching the second semester of second grade this past year. Debbie believes that school is such an integral part of a child’s life and should be a place that they love to come to each day. She is excited to be a part of the Mountain Song community. She is looking forward to building a wonderful relationship with her future students and families.

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3rd Grade

Nancy Carson

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Alisia McCabe

The eldest of four sisters, Alisia shares life-long experience with children and ongoing learning. Home schooled through sixth grade and then attending both charter and public schools in Colorado Springs, Alisia then moved to Fort Collins to attend Colorado State University.

After graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work, she spent time as a social worker in El Paso and Teller Counties before realizing her passion for teaching. Looking for nontraditional educational methods, she received her Lower Elementary certification at Montessori Education Center of the Rockies. Alisia spent three years as an assistant in a public Montessori classroom working and forming relationships with first, second and third grade students.

She served our community as a long term substitute at Mountain Song Community School while growing in Waldorf methods and pedagogy. She could not feel more excited to take this important journey with her students.

Alisia enjoys being outdoors, running, poetry, eating sushi and just about anything that gives her time with her husband and daughter. She also loves being with children as they make their own discoveries.
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4th Grade

Jennifer Gordillo

Mrs. Gordillo believes in a classroom environment where students are “built up” and can find passion, joy, and ownership in the learning process.  Whether academic, social, or otherwise, Mrs. Gordillo enjoys helping students reach their potential.  One of her favorite things about working at Mountain Song Community School (MSCS) is the support that is available for students as they learn, so that they feel safe and valued as they build roots, grow, and blossom.

Mrs. Gordillo’s education includes a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, additional undergraduate and graduate coursework in Education, specialized training as an employee with Lindamood-Bell in reading, writing, critical thinking skills, and math, and this is her second year teaching at MSCS.  She has also worked as a gymnastics instructor, a manager with Girl Scouts, and has volunteered with the Children’s Literacy Center, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Hurricane Katrina Relief, tutoring in math, playing violin in a community orchestra, and two summer trips to China to help college students with English and to develop service within their communities.

Mrs. Gordillo immediately connected with the Waldorf teaching philosophy because she values her own experiences from childhood that align with Waldorf.  Some of her favorite memories learning outside the classroom include:  planting and reaping vegetables, fruits, and herbs from her family’s garden, practicing and learning to play the violin, having limited television and video game time in the home, being encouraged to use her imagination and explore the outdoors with her friends, and finding rejuvenation outdoors while hiking and camping.  Her formal education in Waldorf began with MSCS staff at the Steiner College in California last summer, and has grown to include trainings with Jamie York and Eugene Schwartz.  She also appreciates the staff development and trainings at MSCS, which integrate a Waldorf-centered approach to learning.  She feels extremely fortunate to be working at MSCS because she believes in the education of the “whole child,” and appreciates how the school community is supportive of this endeavor.

In addition to her wonderful MSCS school community and her amazing students, Mrs. Gordillo loves spending time with her hubby, new baby, and family.  When she has time to herself, you will find her building her skills in music, gardening, sewing, crocheting, speaking Spanish, and staying in touch with friends near and far.

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Shannon Lang

I like to refer to myself as, “Ohio grown.” I was born in Canton, Ohio and lived in the Buckeye State for 25 years before “the mountains of the west” beckoned me to make a pioneering move with my best friend. Growing up, I was actively involved on the YMCA swim team and begged my parents to put me in every art class offered at the public library. Over time, I discovered my desire to be a teacher and eventually “unearthed” my love for the outdoors. I graduated with a B.S. in Elementary Education from Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio. I received some of my most valuable professional development from the summers I spent as a camp counselor at Camp Nuhop, a weekly residential summer camp for children with special needs and as an assistant field-guide at Passages to Recovery, a wilderness therapy program for adults recovering from addiction. Shortly after moving to Colorado, my urge to swim again introduced me to the world of triathlons. I began training for a sprint distance triathlon and five years later I was completing my first full Ironman distance event (140.6 miles!). I began my teaching career with three years as a fourth grade teacher, followed by six years as a third grade teacher, and then three years as a first grade teacher in public education before I discovered Waldorf education. During my eager and enthusiastic research of Waldorf education, it quickly became apparent to me that I am truly a Waldorf teacher at heart. The journey ever since has felt like I’m emerging from the forest into a beautiful meadow of wildflowers and I’m beginning to run, skip and leap my way towards “home.” I have always believed that “learning” occurs through meaningful experiences that are connected to personal relationships built on respect, trust, and love.  I am both honored and ecstatic to be a part of the Mountain Song Community School’s family.

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5th Grade

Gwendolyn Cedeno

“I am not a teacher, but an awakener.” –Robert Frost

From a very early age, I had a love of learning and exploration that was fostered by my parents. My three brothers and I spent much of our time in the outdoors not only exploring nature but also history. My parents found ways to extend what we were learning from the classroom by making exploration, archeology, geography, geology, research, and hands on experiences our everyday family activities. In addition, we learned about and explored the arts. In short, we learned about the world by doing and it was this way of learning that has inspired my teaching methods and philosophy.

I graduated from Carroll College with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education in 2003. The first two years after my graduation I spent substitute teaching while caregiving for my grandfather. After one year teaching in a small district in Montana I became a Department of Defense teacher, teaching the child dependents of active duty Army personnel living on base at Fort Stewart, Georgia because after seeing two of my brothers serve in the military I believed the best thing I could do to support the military would be to provide a quality education to their children. During the decade plus since beginning my career, I have also continued to pursue other opportunities to help struggling students not only tutoring students on my own but working for Sylvan Learning Center. It was while teaching at Fort Stewart that I met my husband.

I come to Mountain Song Community School with 10 years of experience in the classroom as an outside the box teacher. I was born to teach and it is my greatest pleasure to help children to discover their passions, learn how they learn best, explore history and the world around them, and become who they will be. I played viola in a symphony during high school and college and now play violin. I have also learned to play, for my own enjoyment, classical recorder, guitar, and ukulele. It was six years ago that I decided to pursue a childhood dream of learning ballet; it has been a challenge and a reminder to me that not all students find all activities easy to learn but that the journey is still worthwhile. In addition to an avid love of reading, my husband calls me an addict, I also love to write and write poetry and children’s books. I still enjoy some of the handiwork that I have picked up over a lifetime of learning including crochet, sewing, embroidery, cooking, bookbinding, block printing, and origami. I am excited to be taking a step away from the restrictive environment of the average American school setting toward the warmth and excitement of the Waldorf school setting where education is truly student centered and where my outside the box thinking, teaching style, and personality can truly be used as a means of awakening academic, social, and emotional growth and ability.

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Kalysta McClaughry

Kalysta McClaughry has taught and been taught in progressive educational settings throughout her life. She grew up in a small town in Oregon where she attended a public school that excelled in teaching students to love learning, the outdoors, and the arts. After graduating from Oregon State University with a BA in Communications, she worked at a Montessori preschool, then worked as an after- school program assistant director at the Corvallis Waldorf School. These experiences inspired her to seek her Master of Arts in Elementary Education degree at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. Impassioned professors and mentors prepared her for a long and prosperous career in education. In 2011, she taught elementary students on Saint Paul Island, a small Alaskan island in the Bering Sea. This unique and challenging experience has deepened her understanding of culture, student learning, and the importance of community and connection. This will be her third year teaching at Mountain Song Community School, having taught second and third grade with the same students. The blending of Waldorf methods while meeting state expectations has been a challenge and a joy. Her students flourish under her guidance and the classroom functions as a community, unlike any other educational environment she has seen. She can not wait to teach 4th grade a become an even more effective Waldorf Educator.

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6th Grade

Kellie Palmblad

Kellie Palmblad is a Colorado Springs native and local dedicated to making our home and community the place we imagine it can be. This is her third year as an educator. After several years as a teacher’s assistant in elementary education, she taught secondary English in both D20 and D11. She graduated from Colorado College’s MAT program in 2013 and finished her teaching practicum abroad in Auckland, New Zealand. Teaching in New Zealand was an eye-opening experience that inspired Kellie to pursue holistic education. Like many of the schools in NZ, Waldorf education creates the self-management and creativity needed for students to enjoy being life long learners. Kellie is thrilled to join Mountain Song this summer and to lead the 5th grade class in August.

A performing and visual artist as well as an educator, Kellie also maintains a music career in the regional area. Being a performer, recording artists, and active writer over the last thirteen years, she is excited to bring her experience in the arts and her graduate work in creative writing to Mountain Song’s Waldorf inspired classroom. Above all, she is grateful to be a part of the Mountain Song community and to join the wonderfully dedicated staff in this innovative environment.

“The need for imagination, a sense of truth and feeling of responsibility – these are the very forces which are at the nerve of education.” –Steiner

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7th Grade

Lance May

Lance May

Hello Everyone!

I am excited to be joining the staff of Mountain Song Community School this year!

I am a double graduate of UCCS in Anthropology (B.A.) and Education (M.A.).

After many years in the Public Education system both in Colorado and in Washington, I am excited to start a new chapter in the Waldorf Traditions.

An avid musician of 25 years, a woodworker, artist and all around DIY-er, I look forward to using my experience and skills in the educations of our community members.

I’ve always believed in making our classroom a warm and inviting place, full of humor, curiosity, teamwork and intellectual growth where kids WANT to be. It’s safe to say I think this year will be one of the greatest yet!

Mr. May

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8th Grade

James Dean McDonald

Blessedly, I am entering my third year of working with my class and with Mountain Song. Each year—nay, each day—brings the promise of new ways to fall in love with the students, the curriculum, the methods, and the school. I’m lucky to be able to say that there’s nothing else I would rather be doing.
Prior to connecting with Mountain Song, I taught English in Thailand; worked at a democratic free school in Portland, Oregon; and taught native students in multi-grade classrooms on Saint Paul Island, a remote mote of volcanic earth in the Bering Sea. I have a BA in Creative Writing and Literature from Pacific University and an MA in Teaching from Lewis & Clark College. Though I have no children of my own, there are about two dozen children I keep in my heart all day and night.
Over the years, I’ve become a lover of foreign places, traveling to Cambodia, Laos, Belize, Guatemala, Mexico, Bali, Italy, and Croatia. I like to travel slowly. I aim to visit most countries in this life I’ve been given. This will take many decades, I hope. Other activities I enjoy are reading, dining out, going for walks, reading, conversing over coffee, playing ukulele, and reading. I also like to read.
If your child comes to my class, I promise you this: though my actions won’t be unfailingly perfect, my effort and intention will be, and I will always operate from a position of love.


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Elise Basescu

Student Support Coordinator

My heart is filled with joy to become part of the Mountain Song team this year. I grew up in Aurora, while spending the weekends running around the woods in Granby on my family’s land. I have a Bachelors in Health Ed. from Baylor University. Education has always been a passion of mine and I have been able to work with children in many diverse settings. While in college, I taught Outdoor Programs at the YMCA of the Rockies, assisted in the Therapeutic Recreation Department at Denver Children’s Hospital, and lived and worked at an orphanage in Vilnius, Lithuania.

After graduating I moved onto the World Hunger Relief Farm, an organic training farm in Waco, TX. At the farm I learned how to live off the land. I managed the medicinal herb garden, often teaching herb and native plant workshops, as well as assisting in the vegetable CSA, raw goat dairy, grass fed goat and steer pastures, chicken coops, and honey hives. In the afternoons I taught two after school urban gardening programs in the poorest communities in Waco. My Waldorf soul was captured when I got to experience what it meant to live with such simplicity and purpose in those years at the farm.

I left the farm and moved to Chattanooga, TN where I was an AmeriCorps VISTA at a GED® Adult Learning Center. I collaborated with the local farmers market and published a cookbook for their Mobile Food Trailer, a van that carries fresh produce to areas of the city with inadequate access to fresh food. My cookbook contained simple meals that emphasized using local produce in season with southern inspired recipes. I also worked as a birth Doula and on my husband’s CSA farm.

In 2012 we moved to Fort Collins where I spent two years as a Paraprofessional in Special Education, assisting students with a range of learning needs and challenges in grades k-12. This past year I was able to work at Mountain Sage Community School, a k-6 Waldorf Charter school, as the Administrative Assistant and Games teacher. I have realized that Waldorf Education is my true teaching niche and I am thrilled to watch the children entering Kindergarten this fall experience the gift of Waldorf inspired learning.

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Dan Kurschner

Business Manager

A Wisconsin farm boy by heritage, Dan struck out for the Rocky Mountains soon after high school where his heart and sense of adventure were captured.  As a lifelong learner, he entered the teaching field teaching sixth grade in Tampa, FL after receiving his B.S. in Social Studies Education from Maranatha Baptist University in Watertown, Wisconsin. He’s also had the opportunity to work with students of all ages through sports camps and a wilderness backpacking program.

Previously, Dan taught Junior High and High School history for University Schools of Colorado Springs as well as assisting with their outdoor canyoneering program. The idea of having the opportunity to teach in a ‘nontraditional’ Waldorf school is an absolute dream come true. His life experiences include ranching, farming, and a collection of other experiences he’s looking forward to sharing with his students.

He’s an avid trail runner and hiker. So, when he’s not off on an in adventure in the mountains, you may find him volunteering with the Pikes Peak Road Runners.
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Raj Solanki

Administration, Executive Director

If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people.  Chinese Proverb

I grew up right here in Colorado Springs, and I was drawn back to this beautiful city in 2010. While working on my masters degree in teaching in a small town in Iowa, I discovered Waldorf education. My son’s preschool teacher at the time was Waldorf trained. Fortunately, by the time my son was in kindergarten, we lived in a town in Oregon with a Waldorf school. As I watched him blossom, I fell more and more in love with Waldorf education. It gave validation to the child-centered approach I worked to create in my teaching experiences. I’ve had the opportunity to teach elementary, middle school and high school age students. Most recently, I’ve had the opportunity to work with at-risk teens teaching, advising and developing curriculum.

It has been challenging and rewarding working with Mountain Song Community School since the beginning. I’ve learned a great deal helping to form the charter, championing the school with parents, district board members and the state authorizer, serving as vice president of the founding and governing board, and now continuing my service as director. I believe this school and community is set to truly excel as we work together to solidify a vision of child-centered, holistic education at MSCS.

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Jen Toci

School Secretary

Jen Toci comes to MSCS with three years experience working in a charter school as a health aid and office assistant. Previous to that she completed training in basic nursing skills at Centennial Nursing Aide Training and Goodwill. In her earlier career she served as administrative assistant to the VP of marketing in the toy and building industry as well. She has eleven years experience homeschooling her ten children in all twelve grades graduating two from the accredited PA Homeschoolers Program. In her leisure time, Jen enjoys drawing, painting, landscaping, sewing and interior design.

Sarah White

Registrar, School Performance Manager

Sarah is the Registrar/School Performance Manager at Mountain Song Community School.  Prior to work at Mountain Song, she worked for four years as a Military Impact Planner II at the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG) and served as Regional Sustainability Coordinator for the agency.  At PPACG, Sarah worked on the Fort Carson Regional Growth Plan and helped develop the Pikes Peak region’s first long-term sustainability plan – Looking to Our Future: Pikes Peak Region 2030 (PPR 2030).

For over 10 years, Sarah has served the environmental community in the Pikes Peak region.  She’s worked for Sustainable Fort Carson, served on the Board of Directors for Southern Colorado Clean Cities Coalition, and help start two local environmental efforts: the Colorado Springs Conservation Corps and the Peak Alliance for a Sustainable Future.  In 2013, she received a Community Sustainability Champion award from Fort Carson at the annual Colorado Sustainability Conference.

Being a fifth generation native to Colorado Springs and avid nature and history lover, Sarah’s passion is to preserve the natural and cultural resources in the region for her children and future generations to enjoy.  When she is not working at Mountain Song, Sarah enjoys gardening, baking, beekeeping, making art and music, hiking, and playing with her children.

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ElizaBeth Wildemaan

Pedagogical Director

ElizaBeth earned her Bachelors degree in Elementary Education from the University of Missouri – Columbia in 1993.  In 2001, she completed her Waldorf certification at Antioch New England Graduate School, and in 2013, she earned a Masters degree in Organizational Psychology from the University of the Rockies.

ElizaBeth began her Waldorf adventure by taking the lead class at Four Winds Waldorf School outside of Chicago for their seventh and eighth grade years.  She then took a class from grades one through eight at Oakland Steiner School in Rochester Hills, Michigan, and upon their graduation took a fifth grade class.  When her class was combined with another due to low enrollment at the end of sixth grade, she moved to Arizona and spent a year as the Administrator at Mountain Oak School, a Waldorf-methods charter school.  She then taught third grade at Desert Star Community School, another Waldorf-methods charter school.  She is very pleased and excited to join Mountain Song Community School.
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Agriculture Arts

Elise Bowan

Elise’s first memories of gardening took place when she was a young girl. She remembers picking peppers and watering greens with her grandpa in the one acre urban plot he leased to feed his family of 7. She also remembers hiding under her grandma’s rhubarb plants during hide and seek sessions with her cousins. As a mother of 4, she has watched how a garden can bring so much joy to her own children. Experiences and memories like these are what she hopes to cultivate for Mountain Song students.

Elise is a founding board member for MSCS. Elise served as an assistant teacher in a Waldorf- inspired preschool and kindergarten in Telluride. It was here that she came to appreciate the many ways that Waldorf played such an integral role in serving children through simplicity, rhythm, and authentic relationships. It was also here that Elise began growing greens during the extremely short growing season and visiting local farms to learn more about growing food in Colorado. The seed was planted.  For the past 10 years, Elise has been involved with the local food movement and has volunteered at numerous farms across the country. She has served as assistant director of Pikes Peak Urban Gardens and as Lead Gardener for The Aspen Pointe Community Garden, where she designed and implemented a Youth Farmer’s Market training for at risk teens and a horticultural wellness program for Aspen Pointe Clients. She holds a B.A in Sustainable Community Development from Prescott College.  She has also worked as a YES and Water Quality educator for the Catamount Institute.

She looks forward to combining her love of plants and her love of Waldorf education. She is excited to share all the creative ways to use the garden as an outdoor classroom with her students and the greater Mountain Song community. She enjoys yoga, camping, hiking, rafting, cooking, music festivals, and spending time with her family.

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Mountain Song Farm to Fork Schoolyard Wishlist


Jennie Furman

Handwork, Nutrition & Cooking Arts

Jennie Danfors-Furman is our Nutrition and Cooking Arts teacher. She is originally from Sweden, and moved to the United States when she was 24 years old. Jennie has a Masters Degree in Holistic Nutrition, and a Bachelors Degree in Recreation and Corporate Fitness.

Prior to coming to Mountain Song, Jennie worked for Colorado Outward Bound School, and most recently founded Pause To Eat, a nutritional consulting business, where she taught people how to cook simple, fun, nutritious, healthy meals from around the world.

As a teacher, Jennie loves to inspire people, especially when it comes to nutrition, health, wellness and cooking: “I am so excited to have the opportunity to teach kids how to cook and prepare nutritious, delicious and fun foods”. Jennie knows that at times, eating healthy and cooking can seem like another cumbersome chore we have to fit into our busy lives. However, as Jennie says, “when kids are given an opportunity to learn cooking skills along with the positive benefits behind healthy eating, cooking and eating healthy become a welcome and fulfilling part of their lives”. “The pride, self-reliance and confidence kids feel from sharing something they made, are some of the other benefits of learning how to cook.” Jennie also believes that Cooking Arts and Nutrition is an interdisciplinary subject that naturally integrates and supports learning from other subjects such as math, biology, chemistry and geography.

Jennie and her husband Steven have a 14-year old daughter named Annika.

She has a passion for the arts and interior design, and enjoys backcountry skiing, hiking and mountain biking with her family and friends.

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Home School

Shannon Leifer

Shannon Leifer


Hello Mountain Song, my name is Shannon Leifer and I am a homemaker/home school mother of 3 beautiful children.  My husband and I have lived in Colorado for 14 years. In the early years of our marriage we lived in the mountain valley of Vail, CO where I was a licensed Montessori pre-school teacher.  When our children came of school age we decided to keep them home and it was at this time I stepped into a Waldorf kindergarten classroom.  I emerged myself into the Waldorf pedagogy, reading books by Steiner and attending Waldorf At-Home workshops at the Shining Mountain Waldorf School in Boulder, CO and the Rudolf Steiner College in Sacramento, CA.  I also helped organize a small Waldorf co-op where families with young children came together once a week to share circle time, stories, handwork and play. We were fortunate enough to have the Roaring Fork Waldorf School in Carbondale close to share in their festivals and parent-child classes. We moved to Colorado Springs 3 years ago and I continue to home school using Waldorf inspired curriculum.  It has been a true blessing watching my children grow and being able to attend to each of their individual temperaments. Home schooling and Waldorf have become our way of life and as a family we enjoy spending time together escaping into the mountains, hiking, playing games, reading, cooking and sharing life. I am very excited to bring my love and knowledge of the Waldorf pedagogy to the home school enrichment classes and look forward to being a part of the community at Mountain Song.

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Claudia Martin


I am a Colorado native, fortunate to have grown up in the Four Corners area. I received a BA in English from Colorado College, and raised my own family in the mountains near Florissant. A love of living close to nature fueled many important choices of my life:  living and teaching in a remote community in the Costa Rican rain forest for two years right after college; using daily hikes in nature for thirty years as the best therapy for my son who has autism; and teaching for twenty-five years in a small mountain community at Columbine Elementary School and Woodland Park Middle School, where outdoor education was a top priority.  In addition to my beloved Colorado, I’ve lived in upstate NY, Illinois, and Gainesville, Forida where I received an MED in education and taught at the University of FL Lab School.   My life passions include my family and friends, teaching, the arts, travel, history, healthy living, sustainability, learning, nature, and new experiences.  I am now a partially retired teacher, giving me time to volunteer at hospice, work as a sandtray art therapist, pursue a story collecting project, and work as a Home School Enrichment teacher at Mountain Song Community School.

As a teacher, I value facilitating individual children’s growth by honoring their wonderful uniqueness, while simultaneously building a caring classroom community committed to a harmonious whole.  The relationships I have built with my students over the years are some of my most treasured and ongoing friendships; children enrich my life and teach me as much as I do them.  I love the excitement of learning new things, and I try to model and communicate that excitement to my students through hands-on multisensory experiences, storytelling and literature, and the arts.  I am new to specific Waldorf education practices but not to the philosophy behind them, having helped found a Camphill community in Northern Colorado for adults with developmental disabilities.   However, the more I read about Waldorf practices, the more I realize I’ve been a Waldorf teacher all along.  I homeschooled my own daughter for many years in order to meet her unique needs as she grew into the artist and naturalist she is today, so I understand the benefits and challenges of homeschooling.   I look forward to further Waldorf training, collaborating with my colleagues, and working with parents as partners in their children’s education.

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Stacie Koskinen

Lead Teacher - Sunflower Kindergarten

Greetings, beautiful Mountain Song community! I am so grateful for this opportunity to grow with you and your children! It is with great joy that I look forward to each day immersed in the nurturing environment that Waldorf philosophy emanates.

Colorado Springs has been my home since 1988. It is here that I have raised a family of three daughters, ages 22, 19, and 9. I started college in 1993 and have been attending in one form or another ever since. My interests are broad, and I love to learn. As a result, I have a very diverse educational background from computer information systems to chemistry to health and wellness, but my primary emphasis has always remained in teaching, specifically early childhood. I find such joy and enlightenment in how each child embraces his or her world with such totality of emotion and enthusiasm.

Although my path primarily consists of teaching special education preschool through 3 rd grade in a public school setting, I believe all I have experienced and learned has led me to seek a more holistic approach to teaching. As such, learning Waldorf principles has been more of a “coming home” sensation rather than simply learning a new teaching style. It has been a significant and welcomed lifestyle change for me and my family.

Away from school, my interests include spending time with my daughters, working on our 115-year- old cottage in Cheyenne Canyon, practicing yoga, hiking, camping, cooking, and reading. I am also learning to play guitar and learning more about organic gardening.

Thank you for welcoming me into the Mountain Song community!

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Gina Nicoletta-Budler

Lead Teacher - Marigold Kindergarten

I have worked as a teacher in many different arenas.  I have always enjoyed working with children and incorporating art into all that I teach.  I taught preschool for many years in Southern Oregon. Also, K-12 art, Spanish and other subjects in an alternative one room schoolhouse in rural upstate New York. I have taught private art lessons, Waldorf-inspired home school classes as well as most recently running a Waldorf-inspired mixed age Kindergarten and daycare from my home.

My husband and I spent the early part of our marriage traveling and working on numerous organic farms.  Through growing food and caring for animals I made a connection with the cycle of life and  the seasons.  To me Waldorf education is a way of life. By valuing food, dance, music and art as well as academics it offers space for each student to discover his or her own unique gifts and talents.

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Movement Education

Laura Hassell

Movement & Games

I grew up in Colorado spending time exploring our beautiful State through camping, hiking, fishing and hunting. In addition to my love of the outdoors, I also grew up loving sports. As a multi-sport athlete, I gained knowledge and experience in several areas. I have coached and refereed many sports programs over the years and enjoy motivating children and adults to “play with heart.” I went on to play Basketball in college, where I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science and Athletic Training from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado.

I have been with Mountain Song Community School since the doors opened in 2013. Prior to that I worked four years on staff at a private Montessori school.  I deeply embrace child-centered educational methods and am committed to helping the generations grow in wholeness, purpose, and joy.  I am grateful to bring my own experiences in traditional sport and incorporate them through Waldorf teaching methods that utilize the rich cultural gifts of song, dance, and storytelling.

My greatest pleasure (and highest goal) is to bring a game, wrapped in a beautiful story, that speaks to the exact developmental needs of the students, at the right time.  When this happens I watch them grab hold of it with their imagination and play, fully engaged, faces beaming, possessed with joy. It is this moment that causes me to pause and think to myself, can this really be my job?


Mike Harris


I love music and am thrilled with the opportunity to impart that love to the children and young people at Mountain Song Community School. I am deeply grateful for the life I have enjoyed as a professional musician, private piano and voice teacher, private and charter school music teacher, worship leader, choir director, orchestra conductor, dramatic musical producer and organizational consultant. And, I am delighted to bring this experience to Mountain Song Community School and to become its full time Music Teacher. My family and some wonderful music educators instilled in me this lifelong love of music and I look forward to passing that on to another generation of budding young musicians.

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Nutrition/Cooking Arts

Jennie Furman

Handwork, Nutrition & Cooking Arts

Jennie Danfors-Furman is our Nutrition and Cooking Arts teacher. She is originally from Sweden, and moved to the United States when she was 24 years old. Jennie has a Masters Degree in Holistic Nutrition, and a Bachelors Degree in Recreation and Corporate Fitness.

Prior to coming to Mountain Song, Jennie worked for Colorado Outward Bound School, and most recently founded Pause To Eat, a nutritional consulting business, where she taught people how to cook simple, fun, nutritious, healthy meals from around the world.

As a teacher, Jennie loves to inspire people, especially when it comes to nutrition, health, wellness and cooking: “I am so excited to have the opportunity to teach kids how to cook and prepare nutritious, delicious and fun foods”. Jennie knows that at times, eating healthy and cooking can seem like another cumbersome chore we have to fit into our busy lives. However, as Jennie says, “when kids are given an opportunity to learn cooking skills along with the positive benefits behind healthy eating, cooking and eating healthy become a welcome and fulfilling part of their lives”. “The pride, self-reliance and confidence kids feel from sharing something they made, are some of the other benefits of learning how to cook.” Jennie also believes that Cooking Arts and Nutrition is an interdisciplinary subject that naturally integrates and supports learning from other subjects such as math, biology, chemistry and geography.

Jennie and her husband Steven have a 14-year old daughter named Annika.

She has a passion for the arts and interior design, and enjoys backcountry skiing, hiking and mountain biking with her family and friends.

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Special Education

Leslie Conrad

Literacy Support

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Dr. Seuss

I moved to the mountains of Colorado in 1976 after graduating from high school in Texas.  While working in Dillon, I met my husband.  We moved to Ft. Collins, where I went to CSU and received my Bachelor of Science degree.

We lived briefly in Nebraska, but moved back to Colorado in 1988.  I ran a preschool out of my home in Woodland Park for six years while my four children were small.  When my kids entered school, I began teaching in public school.  I have taught preschool, kindergarten, first, second and fourth grades, and the gifted and talented program.  Along the way, I received my Master’s Degree in reading.

When I’m not working, you’ll probably find me reading!  I love to read, and love to teach children the magic of reading.

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Lauren Martinez

Special Education

I am thrilled to be part of the Mountain Song teaching staff this year and I look forward to meeting new colleagues, parents, and students. I grew up in Ohio and attended Ashland University for my bachelor’s degree in Special Education. Since then I have taught in Ohio, Colorado, and New Mexico K-12 Special Education. I am married and my husband, Albert, is also in the field of education. I have two beautiful children, Emma Rose and Matthew, who keep me busy at home when I’m not teaching. Reading is my number one hobby. I also enjoy listening to music and going for walks or hikes outside.

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Tommi Sue Wojnarowski

Special Education

It is a dream come true to be teaching Special Education at Mountain Song. My journey to Special Education started when I graduated from The Classical Academy here in Colorado Springs. I attended the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs for my undergraduate in Geography and Environmental Studies, a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction emphasized in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education (ELL) and second master’s degree in Special Education emphasized in Social Studies. I am the only member of my family that was not born in the south, I am a native to Colorado Springs. I am one of eight children and I love dogs and the Broncos. Thank you for sharing your child!

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World Language

Suzette Garcia Davis


Suzette is a native of Puerto Rico. She grew up in a bilingual home, spending time in both Virginia and Puerto Rico throughout her childhood. Suzette attended college in Chicago, where she met her husband and started a family. Her husband became terminally ill early on in their marriage, leaving her with the beautiful challenge of raising a family on her own. They have four amazing boys, two of who attend Mountain Song Community School. Suzette enjoys mothering her boisterous boys, reading, traveling, and tea.

While the family was stationed with the Army in Germany, Suzette’s eldest son attended a Waldorf-based kindergarten. She loves the nurturing, child-centered, creative environment afforded by a Waldorf education. This early exposure sparked a passion for learning and teaching, leading her to pursue educational opportunities throughout the years. Suzette has experience working in a myriad of learning environments including, a private preschool, homeschool cooperative, summer camp, and adult learning center. She believes in the healing and transformative power of education and strives to facilitate experiences that will foster a lifelong love of learning.

Suzette fulfilled her dream of obtaining a college degree in May of 2013. She graduated from Colorado Christian University with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. She has served in the roles of mentor, counselor, and advisor at various local and international non-profits. During the 2014-15 school year, Suzette became the Spanish substitute teacher at Mountain Song. She loved the privilege and challenge of engaging the children in language and cultural learning. With great hope, excitement, and gratitude, Suzette looks forward to continuing the language-learning journey with your delightful children.

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Angelita Surage

Spanish, World Language

I was fortunate to grow up in the woods, the fields, and near the Atlantic Ocean in southern rural New Jersey.  Living in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico as a guest in Mayan villages, inspired me to pursue teaching. After graduating from Rutgers University with Distinction in History/Political Science, we moved to Colorado where I taught middle school Social Studies, Home Economics and started a French and Spanish Enrichment Program in Manitou Springs. For ten years, I homeschooled my two daughters in the Waldorf tradition and tutored homebound students for Cheyenne Mountain Schools.  I returned to Manitou to teach middle school Spanish and Literacy.  The last seven years I have taught 9-12 Spanish and English where I have tried to infuse the program with cultural creative arts and movement.  We founded and I sponsored an Ecology Club, (WORRRMS) to support single stream recycling, solar garden participation, raised bed growing frames, xeriscape gardens, and re-seeding with native grasses and wildflowers.  We were involved in shaping and writing a Sustainability Plan which we presented at the National Green Schools Conference.  My Master’s in Arts and Teaching from Colorado College in the Arts and Humanities involved landscape and garden design, arts and anthropology.  My honors thesis focused on the presence of Arab/Berber culture in the acequias, agriculture, adobe architecture and foodways of the American Southwest.  I plan to begin a Ph.D. in Sustainability Education at Prescott College in the fall of 2014.  Gifted with two beautiful daughters, Chloe and Sophia, I am married to an adventurer and artist, Michael Houston. I believe a beautiful childhood is a powerful gift and I am thrilled to be included in the launch of Mountain Song Community School.

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