A member of the Alliance for Public Waldorf Education

Mountain Song Teachers

1st Grade

Ellie Arzate

Class Teacher, Faculty

Bio forthcoming

 

Sarah Feldman

Class Teacher, Faculty

Amy Siebert

Class Teacher, Faculty

2nd Grade

Joan Donati

Class Teacher, Faculty

Kathrine Smith

Class Teacher, 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.

 

 

3rd Grade

Eva Manz-Jackson

Class Teacher, Faculty

Bio forthcoming

 

4th Grade

Debbie Ellington

Class Teacher, 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.

 

Shannon Lang

Class Teacher, 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.

 

5th Grade

Nancy Carson

Class Teacher, Faculty

Alisia McCabe

Class Teacher, 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.

7th Grade

Nathaniel Dolce

Class Teacher, Faculty

Mr. Nathaniel Dolce is joining us as the new Redwood 7th Grade teacher. Mr. Dolce has been with Mountain Song for a year already as a teaching assistant, and he demonstrates strength, resiliency, rigor, leadership, and the ability to form strong encouraging relationships to students and families. He holds a B.A. in history, and he is currently finishing his teaching licensure program at UCCS. We are delighted with the gifts, presence, and academic rigor he brings to the class as a middle school teacher.

Jesse Rochette

Class Teacher, Faculty

Regina Splees

Class Teacher, Faculty

Administration

Sarah Kreger

Director of School Performance, Executive Leadership Team

Sarah has worked with Mountain Song since its beginning starting in May 2013.  Being a part of the initial development of the school and helping the school grow these past years remain to be her proudest professional and personal accomplishments.

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 her work at Mountain Song, she served 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 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.

 

 

Dan Kurschner

Director of Operations, Executive Leadership Team

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.

Teresa M. Woods, Ph.D.

Executive Leadership Team, 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.

 

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.

 

Agriculture Arts

Adam Wright

Agriculture Arts

Mr. Wright is a remarkably well-rounded professional who synthesizes his deep love for teaching with his passion for sustainable agriculture, writing, and the arts. He earned a BA with Highest Honors in Journalism and Dramatic Art (a double major) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and two master’s degrees from Iowa State University – an MFA in Creative Writing and Environment, and an MS in Sustainable Agriculture. As an elementary school gardening teacher in North Carolina, Mr. Wright developed a successful program of arts-based garden projects, coordinating with teachers to create cross-disciplinary curricula and integrated projects. Since then, he has worked on more than two dozen farms throughout the world, employing organic, sustainable, and biodynamic practices, and has developed and delivered numerous educational workshops and culinary classes in diverse settings.
He incorporates theater and storytelling in teaching and has studied with master storytellers in Great Britain, among other places. His articles on sustainable agriculture and culinary arts are published in numerous print and online platforms, and he was named a Julia Child Foundation Food Writing fellow in 2015. He has also written and produced an interactive children’s play with an accompanying curriculum plan about food and agriculture. At Iowa State University, he served as an instructor in Speech, Composition, and Creative Writing courses. Throughout his various teaching capacities, Mr. Wright has consistently forged innovative educational approaches. In addition, he has worked in policy arenas, including with the USDA and a government organization in New Zealand.

Handwork

Brandy Robinson

Faculty, 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.

 

Home School

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.

 

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.

 

Kindergarten

Jennifer Grimmett

Faculty, Kindergarten, Lead Teacher - Daffodil Kindergarten

Bio forthcoming

 

 

Gina Nicoletta-Budler

Faculty, 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.

 

Stacie Warren

Faculty, 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!

 

Music

Deanna Bray

Faculty, 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

Faculty, 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.

 

Special Education

Leslie Conrad

Faculty, Interventionist, 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.

 

Lauren Martinez

Faculty, Special Education

SPED Coordinator

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.

 

Angela Strickler

Faculty, Special Education

I am so thankful for the opportunity to serve at Mountain Song! It is a joy to be surrounded by fellow teachers that share a genuine care and love for children. I grew up in a family of teachers, so I guess you can say, “It’s in my blood.” I have been working my way west; born in New Jersey, moved to Illinois (where I received my degree in Special Education at Illinois State University) and then on to Colorado. I moved here in 1996, and since nature is my playground, I am peacefully settled. Colorado is my home with my husband of 22 years, and three beautiful daughters that are my joy.

After teaching Special Education for 4 years, I became a founding teacher at a local charter school and taught mostly 2nd grade for 13 years (total) with an 8 year break to be home with my girls and homeschool a bit, all the while learning and growing in my passion for helping those with special needs. I had the opportunity to serve adults with cognitive disabilities and spent countless hours researching methods for helping struggling learners. My philosophy is summed up in a quote from Helen Keller as she grew older. She said, “I cannot stop to grow old while there is so much work to do, and so many children to help.” My heart has always been for the struggling learner and I am thankful to have this opportunity at Mountain Song. Your child is valuable to me!

Nicole Svenson

Faculty, Interventionist, Special Education

Hello!  I am so excited to be a part of the Mountain Song Community School community!  My name is Nicole Svenson and I am the Math & Reading Interventionist for Grades 4-8.  I would like to tell you a little bit about myself.  I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education in 1993 from Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois.  The following year, I earned my Master’s Degree in Elementary Education in Reading from Illinois State University in Normal, Illinois.  I have been both a Title I Reading Teacher and a classroom teacher.  This is my sixteenth year of teaching.  I took a couple of years off from teaching to be a stay-at-home mother to my two daughters.  My family and I moved to Colorado from Illinois about five years ago and we love it here!  In my free time, I love to spend time with my family (we LOVE the Dollar Theatre), crocheting, reading, cooking and baking gluten free food, as well as doing home improvement projects.  I look forward to meeting you all!

World Language

Maria Webb

Spanish, World Language

My name is María G. Webb.  I am from North of Mexico.  I came to USA 25 years ago.  I graduate from Texas A&M International University (TAMIU), with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Language and Literature,  I continued studying abroad in Granada, Spain to get my Master in Spanish,  I am in the educational field since 19 years ago, teaching students of all ages (K-University).  I am a born writer.  I wrote more than 200 poems and short stories, some of them had been publish in “La Carta” magazine of TAMIU. I also wrote some articles in Suite101.net. I love the arts and all different style of expressions, reason why I participate in recitals and plays at TAMIU.  When I was a kid I want to be an actress but circumstances did not give me the chance to do that.  Still I had that in mind, and I accomplish that goal in my adult stage by being part of a movie “Milagro Movie” where my character was the antagonist. I moved to Colorado 5 years ago.  I was working as a Spanish teacher in Pueblo with students K-8.  I am extremely excited to work in Mountain Song School.  The Waldorf philosophy is a fantastic method to stimulate the imagination and creativity of the students.

 
María G. Webb
Spanish Teacher 1-5
Mountain Song Community School
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