A member of the Alliance for Public Waldorf Education

Mountain Song Teachers

1st Grade

Ellie Arzate

Faculty

Bio forthcoming

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Jennifer Gordillo

Faculty

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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Tiffany Maniates

1st grade assistant, Faculty

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2nd Grade

Kathrine Smith

Faculty

I grew up in a small Kansas town. I am the oldest of four children – a younger brother and two younger sisters, which put me in the unique position of learning how to care for small human beings from a very young age. Those years of being a big sister helped me learn patience, forced me to develop a sense of humor, and taught me empathy.

My parents introduced me early to stories and books. My father made up outrageous tales, while my mother would read and re-read picture books until I’m certain she could recite them verbatim  Much of my childhood was spent in the local library where I enjoyed many an hour searching for the best books, devouring stories, and daydreaming about the adventures I had just experienced. That love of stories and literature has remained with me my entire life, and I feel so fortunate to be able to share that passion with my students. 
 
I have been married for more than 20 years to Jason, who works in legal publishing. We have two children, Madeline and Claire, along with a lazy tabby cat named Hazel. In my free time I am a voracious reader, enjoy crocheting, daydreaming, and spending time with my family.

 

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3rd Grade

Eva Manz-Jackson

Faculty

Bio forthcoming

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4th Grade

Debbie Ellington

Faculty

“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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Shannon Lang

Faculty

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

Nancy Carson

Faculty

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Alisia McCabe

Faculty

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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6th Grade

Kaycee Cook

Faculty

First, I would like to say how very excited I am to be teaching at Mountain Song Community School.  All of my research has led me to believe that I have found a school which aligns with my belief system in guiding young minds and spirits through their early education.  I only wish that I had made this discovery earlier in life.

I was born in Michigan but spent my earliest years in Yokohama, Japan where my father was a Lt. Colonel in the Army.  My time there definitively shaped my personality and belief system. I hope to return one day.

I was four years old when we returned to the States, speaking better Japanese than English.  My father then worked as a rocket scientist, which may partly explain my lifelong passion for science.  My father died a year after our return stateside, and my mother moved our family to Brevard County, Florida, where the new Space Program was developing.  I thought of my father each time I watched a launch and knew how proud he would have been.

Two years after our move, my mother married a widowed commercial fisherman with twins a year younger than I was.  I always consider myself fortunate to have grown up on the still wild East Coast of Florida, running barefoot, camping and fishing with my four siblings on the beautiful Indian River Lagoon.  This is where I developed my passion for the life aquatic.

In college, I majored in Limnology, the study of inland aquatic ecosystems.  I then married and had three wonderful sons. I enjoyed being a stay-at-home mom, which allowed me the time to volunteer as a zoo docent and scout leader.  I later returned to the University of Central Florida to earn a BS degree in Elementary Education. I absolutely loved being a teacher and knew I had found my calling.  My passion for science led me to join a county cadre of teachers who developed science curricula and trained other teachers in hands-on, minds-on activities to foster a love of all things science in children.  I also loved presenting at the state science conferences, running my school science fair and judging and running the county science fairs.

Disillusioned with the high-stakes testing and overuse of technology in the classroom, I retired from teaching in Florida, and moved to Colorado Springs where two of my three sons and two of my three grandchildren live.  I never dreamed I would miss teaching as much as I have this past year, and I am thrilled to have discovered Mountain Song and to be teaching children again.

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Jason Murphy

Faculty

Jason Murphy has been a teacher for over twelve years, five of which were spent teaching in Waldorf schools. Jason grew up in rural apple and grape producing region of Sonoma in Northern California, where he first heard of Waldorf education. Jason then independently encountered Rudolf Steiner’s work while stationed in Germany and this inspired him to consider being a teacher. Jason’s love of math education was rekindled by Steiner’s lectures on how mathematics strengthens the soul and helps the mind look past surface level appearances towards what is invisible. He graduated Sonoma State University with his degree in mathematics and a teaching credential. He was certified as a Waldorf teacher through the Bay Area Center for Waldorf Training. He left a position at Marin Community College to be a founding member of California’s first charter Waldorf High School, Credo High. He also worked at the Waldorf School of the Peninsula, teaching both middle and high school blocks, as well as mathematics track classes. In 2016, Jason moved to Colorado to be closer to family. In his spare time, he plays guitar for a traditional Irish band, writes, kayaks and puzzles over math riddles.

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7th Grade

Jesse Rochette

Faculty

8th Grade

Dan Cordova

Faculty

Dan Cordova is a born and raised Colorado native whose ancestral roots tie him to the region’s red rocks and towering mountains. The Chicano poet, artist and game master has spent the past several years in education utilizing his diverse skills and passions to connect his students to a purposeful, meaningful education experience. Dan enjoys sharing his voice at open mics and on karaoke nights, finding his way through the many wild spaces of Colorado and playing table-top games with his closest friends.

 

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Administration

Mike Harris

Community Development Coordinator, Music

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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Dan Kurschner

Administration, Director of Operations

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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Teresa M. Woods, Ph.D.

Administration, Principal

Dr. Woods joins the Executive Leadership Team at Mountain Song with extensive experience in, and a love for, both Waldorf education and public education. She earned her B.A. in environmental education from Prescott College in Arizona, and her Waldorf certification at Emerson College in England. She taught in private Waldorf schools in Oregon, New Hampshire, and New York, as well as teaching in the Waldorf training program at what is now Antioch University New England. In 2003, she pursued graduate school, leaving New York for her childhood hometown of Manhattan, Kansas (known as “The Little Apple”). At Kansas State University, she earned her Master’s in biology, with her plant ecology research receiving award recognition from the Botanical Society of America and Sigma Xi. She then earned her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction focusing on science education, also at K-State. Later, she joined Fort Hays State University, designing and instructing science methods courses for elementary teachers, and gained recognition by both students and colleagues for outstanding teaching. Her research has been presented and published in national and international forums, allowing her to cultivate a wide network of diverse professionals whom she greatly values. During her time in higher education, she received a number of grants and coordinated several programs that partnered public school districts and teachers with scientists, that fostered alternative teacher licensure pathways, and that provided rigorous professional development training for in-service teachers. She worked closely with the Kansas State Department of Education for years and is a recognized trainer for the Next Generation Science Standards, which Colorado recently adopted. In 2011, she married her wonderful husband in Estes Park, and they have made many sojourns to the Rocky Mountains, which they are now delighted to call home. Dr. Woods always knew she would return to Waldorf education, as she believes “it is the best pedagogy around.” She also is committed to making Waldorf approaches available for all students through public schools. Mountain Song, representing these same ideals, pulls strongly on her heart, and she is proud to be pouring her energies into the school and community.

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Donald Samson

Pedagogical Director

Donald Samson has taught both children and adults for over thirty years.  He has been teaching the Waldorf curriculum since 1989.  He was a grades class teacher for nineteen years.  Following that, he taught history, geography and literature in high school.  Donald has mentored fellow teachers for many years, and spent the last four years serving as the curriculum director at Juniper Ridge Community School in Grand Junction.  Donald is very proud to join Mountain Song Community School to support the teachers and help guide the faculty in using the Waldorf curriculum.  When he can steal time out of a week, he writes fantasy novels for young readers that the whole family can enjoy.  His fantasy chronicle, The Star Trilogy, was inspired from stories he originally told in his class.

 

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Sarah White

Administration, Director of School Performance

In her new role as the Director of School Performance, Sarah serves the school in coordinating, scheduling, and administering assessments, oversees enrollment and the school’s data systems, and submits data reports to the state. 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 with her finance, and playing with her children.

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Email Sarah »

Agriculture Arts

Elise Bowan

Faculty

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 Recently participated in the Rocky Mountain GRAIN School and seed trials, the National Biodynamic Association Conference, Rocky Mountain Seed School, among other local professional development.

Entering her 4th year in this role, she has developed a dynamic curriculum that aligns with the traditional Waldorf pedagogy and harnesses the magic and beauty of the outdoor classroom, while encouraging skills such as community building, conscious communication, and problem solving. 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

Front Office

Rachel Johnson

Administrative Assistant

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Kate Pettey

Administrative Assistant

Kate grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area before the dotcom boom, when freeways only had four lanes and some of them were still free of traffic. She received her B.A. in English from the University of California at Santa Barbara and spent her undergraduate summers working for a Boys and Girls Club camp as a counselor, a hike leader, the head lifeguard, and the assistant director of the summer program. Kate earned her master’s degree in Teaching English as a Second/Foreign Language (MA-TESL/TEFL) from the University of Northern Arizona and spent years living overseas teaching English in the Czech Republic, Japan, Singapore, Puerto Rico, and the United Arab Emirates. In 2003, Kate packed up her traveling shoes and moved to Colorado to start a family and to enjoy the wide open spaces, fresh air, and stellar quality of life this great state has to offer. Kate first began working in the Mountain Song office during April of 2014. Though she still gets the itchy feet now and then and always misses the excitement and wonder of living in a foreign country, Kate has found that the vibrant culture of Mountain Song and the wide variety of people, personalities, and experiences that present themselves while working in the front office are surprisingly reminiscent of her overseas life.

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Handwork

Brandy Robinson

Handwork Teacher

Ms. Robinson finds great joy in her work with children and continues a passionately filled journey teaching and inspiring students of all ages. She is dedicated to educating the child through reverence, beauty, and creativity through the practical arts. Ms. Robinson is ever in awe with the capacity children hold for learning and how they express their experiences through creative endeavors.

Ms. Robinson holds a background in visual and fiber arts and continues her education through the Waldorf-Steiner lens as well as traditional college and self education. She particularly enjoys the Humanities, History, World Geography and is cultivating a connection to the maths.
Having held positions on educational boards in both the private and public sectors as well having five years of classroom teaching experience, Ms. Robinson holds a great appreciation and compassion for the diversity brought together through the parents and teachers as a living partnership for the intensional education of the child.

When not teaching, one might see Ms. Robinson on her bicycle enjoying the early morning air, hiking, tending her chickens, or enjoying a great cup of coffee. A little known fact: Ms. Robinson is Gnome Maker and six of the seven continents are homes to her magical creations.

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Home School

Shannon Leifer

Shannon Leifer

Homeschool

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.

Email Shannon

Claudia Martin

Homeschool

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.

Email Claudia »

Kindergarten

Jennifer Grimmett

Kindergarten, Lead Teacher - Daffodil Kindergarten

Bio forthcoming

Email Jennifer

 

Gina Nicoletta-Budler

Lead Teacher - Marigold Kindergarten

Gina is always happy to welcome new families to Mountain Song and has been with the school since it opened its doors in 2013.

In the early part of her marriage to her husband Michael; she traveled the country working on numerous organic farms where she learned how to grow food, care for animals and live in community.

Gina is a trained art teacher for students K-12 and is currently enrolled in the Nurturing the Roots program which focuses on therapeutic work with young children.

When not in the classroom Gina enjoys time with her family, hiking, gardening and soaking up the Colorado sunshine.

Email Gina

Stacie Warren

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!

Email Stacie

Kindergarten Assistant

Shana McCarty-Ebler

Kindergarten Assistant

My name is Shana McCarty-Ebler and I am delighted to be working with the first grade children and our lovely classroom teacher Katherine Smith.  I have worked with young children in many different settings and have my Certification in Primary Montessori Education, but feel especially fortunate to have come to Mountain Song Community School for both my 5th grade son and myself as I truly love all that I have learned about the Waldorf way.

My husband Tom and I have a 10 year old boy, Cedric and a 26 year old son named Seamus who lives in Denver.  We also have 2 dogs, 2 cats and a fish and keep happily busy gardening, canning, making things with our hands and practicing Yoga and meditation.  I love to read and sew and crochet and am enjoying learning to knit along with the first graders.

Email Shana

 

Laura Rocca

Assistant Teacher - Sunflower Kindergarten

Email Laura

 

Movement Education

Laura Hassell

Faculty, 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 played 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.

Last year,  I had the pleasure of utilizing many years of management experience gained in the health care arena by serving as part of the interim administrative team.  I’m back now doing what I love as the Games and Movement Teacher.

Music

Deanna Bray

Music

Deanna Bray grew up in Saskatchewan, Canada – “the land of living skies.” Her love for music and for children led her to attain a BMus and BEd with a concentration on elementary music from the University of Saskatchewan. Soon after graduation, her adventurous spirit beckoned her to explore other parts of North America. With her newfound skills in hand, she taught music to children in Mexico for four years and, after that, in San Diego. She recently moved to Colorado Springs to begin a new adventure with her husband and two children. Teaching music at a Waldorf charter school is her ideal music position, and she is so excited to begin this journey with Mountain Song.

Mike Harris

Community Development Coordinator, Music

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.

Email Mike

Nutrition/Cooking Arts

Jennie Furman

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.

Email Jennie

Special Education

Elise Basescu

Remedial Teacher

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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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

Faculty, 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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Grian McFadden

Librarian, Teacher Support Specialist

I’m so happy to be a member of the staff and community of Mountain Song. I have an extensive background in all levels of education, including working at the Boulder Waldorf Kindergarten and teaching Early Childhood Education classes at the Delta Montrose Technical College. I have been a grandparent volunteer, substitute teacher, education assistant, and now a SPED Para/Librarian at MSCS. I love working with our student in both the classroom and the library.  The children here are very special and very dear to me, as are their families and the school staff–the nicest group of people I’ve ever had the privilege of working with.

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Tommi Sue Wojnarowski

Faculty, 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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Student Support

Chimene Phillips

Student Support Coordinator

Chimene is a Colorado transplant that traded skyscrapers for mountains. Having grown up in the Midwest, she experienced life in both the rural and urban settings. A few of her favorites include exploring the Great Lakes, cross-country skiing and visiting abundant art galleries and museums in Milwaukee and Chicago.

Naturally gravitating towards all things art, Chimene received her BA from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in Fine Art, concentrating on Art Education and instructing K-12 students. Later, she discovered Montessori, and obtained her elementary AMI certification through the Montessori Institute of Milwaukee. In addition, she earned her Masters in Education at Loyola College in Baltimore, Maryland.

Chimene feels privileged to have taught first, second and third graders at Montessori schools in Wisconsin and Illinois for 12 years. Holding an interest for nontraditional educational methodologies, she was thrilled to discover Mountain Song Community School shortly after her move to Colorado Springs. She started as a substitute teacher, becoming acquainted with students of all ages as well as the Waldorf curriculum and pedagogy. Chimene is a strong believer in the development of the whole child, and has maintained her philosophy of cultivating the individual potential of her students throughout her years teaching. This year, she is grateful for the opportunity to provide support to students and staff as the Student Support Coordinator within Mountain Song’s Three Streams Program.

Outside of school, Chimene enjoys all that Colorado has to offer with her husband, particularly hiking, biking and camping. She also loves to see live music and travel as much as she can.

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World Language

Oralia Venzor

Spanish

Oralia is a native Spanish speaker of northern Mexico. She grew up in Colorado Springs and has always lived in both countries. She graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs. After graduating from college Oralia traveled extensively throughout the United States, Mexico and Central America studying native art and culture. She has been an ancestral dance performing artist for over seventeen years. She has facilitated workshops and participated in cultural festivals internationally.  Oralia is member of the story telling dance troupe Azteca Art Colorado based out of Denver. Throughout the years she has collaborated with them teaching students of all ages and ethnic backgrounds cultural awareness and self-expression through the use of art, music and dance.

While traveling, Oralia discovered the Yucatan Peninsula and has made this part of the country her seasonal home for over twenty years. There she has been actively involved in various communities with the preservation of the Mayan traditions and culture. Oralia moved back to Colorado Springs with her son Quetzal four years ago. She has worked as an elementary school tutor in District 11 for the last three years. She has been trained in the Orton-Gillingham multi-sensory reading method. She is currentlly a Spanish Interpreter for Globelink.

Oralia has been a parent volunteer at Mountain Song for two years. She strongly believes in the Waldorf philosophy of teaching the whole child and inspiring a love for learning within each student, through the use of the arts. Oralia is eager and excited to share her knowledge, experience and the richness of the Spanish language with the students at Mountain Song.

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