Early Childhood Education
Erica Maclennan, Childcare Manager
- Wynstones Steiner Kindergarten Teacher Training, Wynstones, Gloucester, England
- ECE Certificate, Fraser Valley College, Abbotsford, BC
Erica was born in Montreal, Quebec, the eldest of three girls. During her childhood, she lived in Quebec, California, and the Fraser Valley in British Columbia. When she was thirteen, she gained three step-siblings and a baby sister – and her love for young children was born! She began studying Rudolf Steiner’s philosophy (Anthroposophy) at the age of eighteen and shortly thereafter she began her Kindergarten Teacher Training at the Wynstones Kindergarten in England. She went on to work with Waldorf-inspired childcare in the Fraser Valley and eventually came to the Nelson Waldorf School, where she was hired as a co-teacher for kindergarten. Since that time, Erica she has filled several roles in the school. She has also raised two sons and made journeys to faraway places. In addition to being the Childcare Manager, lead educator, and mentor of the Childcare Centre at the Nelson Waldorf School, Erica is also a mentor/instructor for the West Coast Institute for Waldorf Teacher training in Duncan.
Maria Seeger Kindergarten Teacher, Bluebell
- B.A. (German), London University, London, England
- Waldorf Teacher Training, Stuttgart, Germany
- Classroom and Community Support Worker Diploma, Selkirk College, Castlegar, BC
- R.I.E. Level One, Los Angeles, California
Maria was born in Coventry, England, the youngest of three children. When she finished high school, she spent a year in Germany working in a Camphill village for adults with disabilities. Camphill villages were developed in accordance with Rudolf Steiner’s recommendations for handicapped people and they are often located near Waldorf Schools, which were also directed by Steiner’s work. Maria first discovered Steiner education, or Waldorf as we call it in North America, in England. After graduating from university, Maria spent three years in Camphill Village Botton in North Yorkshire, where she ran the coffee bar and worked in the weavery. Her interest in Waldorf education deepened, and she moved to Stuttgart, Germany to do her Waldorf teacher training. She emigrated to Canada with her husband and young son, and worked in a Camphill village in Ontario. The family then moved to Nelson so that their children, now numbering three, could attend the Nelson Waldorf School. Maria pursued further studies to enable her to be a support worker for adults with special needs. In 2000, she first joined the Kindergarten faculty at the Nelson Waldorf School. Her work allows her to nurture an on-going interest in the healthy development of the young child.
Gilia MacKay, Kindergarten Assistant, Bluebell
Gilia was born and raised in Nelson B.C. She grew up attending the Nelson Waldorf School from kindergarten to grade 8. It was while finishing high school she decided that she wanted to study Anthroposophy though unsure of which route to take. Whether to go into Eurythmy, Biodynamics or Handwork were questions she asked herself while she went off fruit picking in the few summers after graduating from L.V.R. While still pondering which direction she wanted to go, she headed up north working for a catering company for a few years. After becoming homesick for her mountains she moved back to Nelson, began work in the kitchen of the Dam Restaurant and applied to to Rudolf Steiner College. Which lead her back to the lovely Nelson Waldorf School where she is thoroughly enjoying herself.
Yuka Fukada, Kindergarten Teacher, Sunflower
- B.A. (Spanish), Mars Hill University, Mars Hill, N.C.
- B.A. (International Affairs), Ohio University, Athens, OH
- Waldorf Teacher Training, Waldorf Teacher Training Eugene, Eugene, OR
Yuka grew up loving children, flowers and cats in Japan. A visit to a Waldorf School in Hawai’i when her oldest child was an infant touched her heart, and this began her journey into Waldorf Education. She moved to Nelson so that her children could attend NWS and she could work as a Waldorf teacher. Yuka worked in the grade 1 class as a co-teacher and as the teaching assistant. She taught music and recorder in the middle and upper grades and substituted in K-8. She feels blessed to work with the beautiful and loving children of the Sunflower Kindergarten.
Tiffany Underwood, Kindergarten Assistant, Sunflower
- ECE Assistant Diploma, Selkirk College, Castlegar, BC
Tiffany was born in Birmingham England, the youngest in her family, with two brothers. Her family immigrated to Ontario, Canada when she was five years old. She spent much of her childhood in Eastern Canada, with a year of travelling back to England to explore its beauty and visit family. On becoming a parent, she was captivated by the wonder and greatness of the young child, and spent much of her time in self-study raising her family. This was the birthing of not only her remarkable five children, but of her anthroposophic study and interest in Waldorf education. Being at home enabled her to homeschool her older boys before they moved into the nourishing environment of the Nelson Waldorf School community. She recalls the first time she came across the Nelson Waldorf School: she had been hiking and, after wandering the grounds, found herself at the Kinderhouse and declared, “This is where I need to work.” Not long afterwards, she had her practicum placement in the Marigold classroom and then found her perfect home in the Sunflower Kindergarten.
Elizabeth Cunningham, “Sweet Peas”
Elizabeth Cunningham and her husband, composer Doug Jamieson, followed their daughter’s family to the Kootenays four years ago to become actively involved grandparents of young Avalea and Sequoia.
When she is not with her lovely, lively granddaughters, Elizabeth is writing poetry , teaching art classes, singing in choirs, organizing concerts, exploring in the mountains, or taking photographs of Nature, Nelsonites and community events.
She is very happy to be the new teacher for the “Sweet Peas,” Parent/Child programme, a role she thoroughly enjoyed at the Trillium and Halton Waldorf Schools in Ontario for many years where she also taught Kindergarten, grades one-four, and art and music classes.
Elizabeth holds a Master’s degree in Expressive Arts Therapy and Psychology. Her thesis and specialty is in helping families with young children engage creatively and positively with a wide range of challenges.
Class 1 through 8
Tanya Thayer, Class 1 Teacher
- B.A. in Elementary Education (1993) – Central Washington University
- Masters Degree in Education and Curriculum Instructional Systmes and Technology (2000), University of Minnesota
- Waldorf Teaching Training (2007) – Eugene Teacher Training, Eugene, Oregon
Tanya has spent her adult life working as a teacher (since graduating university at age 23). Tanya has worked as a teacher in pre-school through grade 12 in public schools in Guam, Minnesota, and Washington State.
Tanya Thayer has returned to our school as Class One teacher for September 2017. Tanya graduated her first Waldorf class in June 2016 after a wonderful eight year journey. It is a very strengthening experience for our school when a teacher chooses to return for a second cycle of teaching. Tanya brings her rich experience as a class teacher and board member, parent of two children who have attended Nelson Waldorf School and experience on many mandates and committees.
Although Tanya was able to take a year of rest from teaching, she remained extremely involved in the parent realm including volunteering in the Lion King Spring musical. She now has returned to us with great enthusiasm to take up her new task.
Kathryn Loveday, Class 2 Teacher
- Master’s degree in Waldorf Education at Antioch University
- Waldorf Teacher Training, Michael Institute in Portland
Kathryn has been involved in and dedicated to Waldorf education since 1999 when she trained at the Michael Institute and assisted at the Portland Waldorf School in Oregon. She took her first class in 2001 at a Waldorf school in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Her love of travelling and interest in Asian culture also led her to Kathmandu, Nepal to work with Waldorf initiatives there.
She has since taught in Waldorf schools in four countries and has attended workshops and conferences in Canada, the United States, Mexico and India. In Ontario she was a class teacher and Pedagogical Chairperson at the Trillium Waldorf School after having also served on the Board of Trustees. Kathryn completed her Master’s degree in Waldorf Education at Antioch University New England.
Kathryn also studied fashion design in New York City and has experience in performing arts through dance and circus. Her background in the arts influences her creative approach to teaching. Her desire for mountains and an artistic community led her to the Kootenays. She moved with her family from Ontario to Nelson in 2016 to take her current class.
Leah Vivian, Class 3 Teacher
- B.A. (Sociology), Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario
- Diploma of Education, Newcastle, Australia
- Waldorf Teacher Training, West Coast Institute, Vancouver, BC (in progress)
Leah was born and raised in Bowmanville, Ontario where her elementary school years nourished her passion for art, outdoor recreation, and music. She always enjoyed school and knew that her path would take her into education. Her curiosity for the world and the people around her led Leah to pursue a degree in Sociology. Through her work as a literacy coach and math tutor, Leah realized that teaching was the path she was meant to follow and she subsequently earned her teaching diploma. She then became an outdoor Ranger in Whistler, B.C., supporting children through outdoor recreation activities. Leah moved to Nelson in 2013 and loved the strong sense of community she found here. She enjoys living in the mountains and gardening here. When Leah was first introduced to Waldorf Education and the Nelson Waldorf School, she knew immediately that this was the school for which she was searching.
Deborah Wilkins, Class 4 Teacher
- B.A. (Greco-Roman studies), University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario
- LLB, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario
- Waldorf Teacher Training, Rudolf Steiner Centre, Toronto, Ontario
- Healing Education and Remedial Training, Toronto
- Spatial Dynamics Training, New York (in progress)
Deborah was born and raised in the greater Toronto area, the eldest of two children. She loved school from day one and by sixth grade she knew her destiny was to be a teacher. In those early years, a special great aunt taught her to knit and as she grew up, handcrafts became a solace amidst the on-going demands of life. She practiced law for twelve years in Toronto before devoting her energy full-time to fibre arts. She looked for a way to teach handcrafts to children and this introduced her to Waldorf Education. Deborah brings into the classroom her love of fibre arts and her creative passion for teaching children. Deborah comes to the Nelson Waldorf School with ten years of class teaching experience at the Waldorf Academy in Toronto and the Ottawa Waldorf School.
Maggie Hodgson, Class 5 Teacher
- B.A. (Interdisciplinary Studies), University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia
- B.Ed. OISE/University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario
- Professional Development in Waldorf Education, Rudolf Steiner College, Fair Oaks, California
Maggie Hodgson was born in Toronto, Ontario. There she attended alternative schools, which fostered her love of art and music, as well as of progressive politics. Her summers were spent out of the city camping and canoeing with her family, which led to her first job in education as an outdoor leader. For seven summers she worked with youth as a wilderness guide. This instilled a great passion for connecting movement and the natural world to learning. Maggie came across Waldorf Education during her conventional teacher training at U of T. After two years of teaching high school English and mathematics in the Yukon Territory she took a job at Sunrise Waldorf School in Duncan, BC, where she brought a class through Grade Seven and Eight. Maggie then moved with her Harrop raised partner to Nelson, where they proceeded to build a beautiful home and have a beautiful son. Maggie is thrilled to be returning to the Nelson Waldorf School for a second year with this fabulous class.
Linda Mae Findlay, Class 6 Teacher
- B.A. (Drama and Philosophy) & B.Ed., University of Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan, Alberta
- Master of Education (Curriculum Studies), Acadia University, Wolfville, Nova Scotia
- Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Distance Education Technology, Athabasca University, Alberta
- Professional Development for Waldorf Teachers, Rudolf Steiner Centre, Toronto, Ontario
Linda Mae comes from a farming family in Saskatchewan. She was born in Moose Jaw and eventually moved to Swift Current. From the time she was a small child, Linda Mae participated with her family in choirs and church groups. She attended Simon Fraser University, and that is when she fell in love with British Columbia oceans and mountains. She first taught in Merritt, B.C. and then, encouraged by her friends, she relocated in Nova Scotia and pursued her teaching career. It was in Nova Scotia that she first encountered Biodynamic Gardening and Waldorf Education (Biodynamic Gardening, like Waldorf Education, is based on the teachings of Rudolf Steiner). Linda Mae moved to Nelson to be near her daughter and joined the faculty of the Nelson Waldorf School, fulfilling her dream of becoming a Waldorf teacher. She is a member of the United Church choir and recorder ensemble, and instructs Taoist Tai Chi, a discipline she has pursued for over thirty years. Linda Mae teaches the Class of 2020.
April Lavine, Class 7 Teacher
- B.A. Honours (Theatre), York University, Toronto, Ontario
- B. Ed, York University, Toronto, Ontario
- Waldorf Teacher Training, Rudolf Steiner Centre, Toronto, Ontario
April Lavine was born in Toronto, Ontario. She attended Claude Watson School for the Arts, where music, mindfulness, movement and speech gifted April a world of play and discovery. She fostered her love of music and theatre during her years at Claude Watson. Her summers were spent camping in Muskoka, which inspired April to become an outdoor education guide at a camp in the Muskoka region.
While travelling through Australia in 2011, she discovered the joy of playing the ukulele and soon joined a Toronto based company, Ukulele Kids. When April moved to Nelson in the fall of 2013, she became the Ukulele Kids coordinator and facilitator, teaching ukulele throughout the Kootenay region.
When April visited The Nelson Waldorf School in 2014, she instantly felt connected to the community, surrounding nature and Steiner’s teaching philosophy. She could see how creative and inspired students were from learning in such a rich and meaningful way, that she was compelled to become part of the Waldorf community and is so grateful to now be part of NWS. April is looking forward to expanding her abilities as a Waldorf teacher and deepening her connections with such a thriving and connected community.
Debora Oese-Lloyd, Class 8 Co-Teacher
- B.Ed. University of Calgary, Alberta
- M.Ed. (Art Education), University of Calgary, Alberta
- Early Childhood Education Diploma, Calgary, Alberta
- Waldorf Teacher Training, Antioch University, New Hampshire
Debora was born on an eighth generation family farm in Upstate New York. It was an ideal setting to quench her thirst for exploration and constant need for movement. As an adult her desire to understand and embrace this planet led her on adventures around the world: as far away as Norilsk, Siberia as a member of a Waldorf Education Lecture Tour. Her interest in teaching began in high school in New Jersey where she volunteered as a teacher of English to immigrant children. She was attracted to culturally diverse teaching assignments, recreating learning experiences that held personal meaning for her students. Her research for her Master’s degree centered on the Fine Arts as a methodology for learning all subjects. This was the beacon for her to discover Waldorf Education. She has been an Early Years Educator, Class Teacher, Subject Teacher (Visual Arts) and a Pedagogical Administrator. Debora graduated the NWS Class of 2014/15. She is now leading the class of 2018 in their Eighth and Graduating year.
Dave Dando, Class 8 Co-Teacher
- B.Ed(secondary)-Deakin University, Victoria, Australia
- Diploma of Special Education-Monash University, Victoria, Australia
- Masters of Education-Monash University, Victoria,Australia
Dave was born in Melbourne, Victoria and grew up surfing and spearfishing around the beaches of the Mornington Peninsula. An early career as a professional rugby union player led to Canada where he met his wife. They then traveled extensively through Europe as Dave played contracts. He worked for a number of years in the east side of Vancouver teaching in alternate programs using outdoor education and art as teaching tools. A foundation of this practice was his belief in experiential education as an avenue for change. Upon his return to Australia he worked as a program and educational co-ordinator of a large youth detention facility in his home state. This led to a deep exploration of the role of experiential-based education as an intervention tool in detention. During this stint he won state awards for innovative programming and completed his master by thesis in this area. In 2012 Dave and his family moved to Nelson. Dave found Waldorf education in the classified section of the Nelson Star. He has been made to feel extremely welcome by the young people and community of the Nelson Waldorf School. Dave has been a practicing artist for approximately 15 years. He is a skilled woodworker but considers it his second discipline after metalwork in which he works professionally as a sculptor. Dave sees his role as providing an avenue for young people to practice patience and process.
Vanessa Kuran, Movement Education Teacher
- B.A. Leisure & Recreation (Outdoor Education) – University of Victoria, Victoria, BC
- Waldorf High School Teacher Training Certificate – Antioch University, New Hampshire, USA
Vanessa grew up in beautiful British Columbia near an awe-inspiring granite monolith called “The Chief” in Squamish. She is the daughter of a Dutch mother and a Croatian father, and the youngest of five siblings. Vanessa always wanted to be a teacher and began that journey teaching PE, Outdoor Education, and Environmental Education programs in her twenties. Her discovery of Waldorf Education occurred while she was on a week-long hiking trip in the Cathedral Mountains near Keremeos, BC, where she met the Grade Nines from the North Vancouver Waldorf School. While brushing their teeth together by the lake, engaged in rich conversation, Vanessa felt a true alignment with the students and eventually with their teacher. From there she began her journey on the path of Waldorf education. In her spare time Vanessa takes a strong interest in sports and outdoor activity alongside her partner, daughter and their two active dogs.
Vincent Deslauriers, French & Movement Ed. teacher
- B.A.(Multidisciplinary studies), Laval Université, Québec City, PQ
Vincent was born in Quebec City. At an early age he engaged in music, theatre, sports and outside activities. At three years of age, he began travel throughout Canada, the United States and Europe. As an adult, travelling became a passion for him as he visited more than twenty countries spending many months in France, Morocco and India. These adventures gave him the love of poetry and fiction writing that he still nourishes today. He was a journalism high school teacher in Québec and a French teacher in the “Explore” program for four years. For two years he toured Québec with a nomad exhibit, Démocratie en route, met over 25,000 students in over forty schools, gaining much experience in the classrooms. He worked with a youth empowerment organization, was an adviser on social innovation on a ministry council and gave conferences on citizen engagement to raise awareness about the importance of getting involved in the community. He moved to Nelson with his family so his wife could study at the Kutenai Art Therapy Institute. These studies are very important for him, as he considers art a powerful tool for healing and peace making. Vincent teaches French in Classes 1-8, and Movement Education (P.E. and Outdoor Education) to the upper grades.
Karin Weidemann, Eurythmy Teacher
- M.A Sports, Movement Education, and Social Science), University of Augsburg, Augsburg, Germany
- Waldorf Teacher Training, Emerson College, England
- Bothmer Gymnastics training, England
- Eurythmy Teacher Training, School for the Art of Eurythmy, Hanover, Germany
Karin was raised on a farm near Hannover, Germany. After high school, she studied Movement Education and Social Science in Augsburg, Germany. While visiting Canada, she taught Movement Education to students in Grades 5 to 12 in a Waldorf School: this was when she first encountered Waldorf pedagogy and its philosophy. A few weeks later she enrolled in the Waldorf Teacher training course at Emerson College, England. There she discovered her love for Eurythmy, a very specialized movement education involving music. After completing her Waldorf teacher training, she hoped to take the Eurythmy specialized training but destiny chose otherwise. For the next six years, she taught Kindergarten and Movement Education at the Michael Hall, Forest Row and Brighton Steiner schools in England. During this time, she also pursued a 5-year in-service training in Bothmer Gymnastics, and gave birth to her first child. She then moved back to Germany, where she taught Grade One and Movement Education at the Freie Waldorf School in Hannover. Following the birth of her twin daughters, the family moved to the United States for two years. Karin then returned to the family farm in Germany, where she worked as a therapist with children and horses. In 2001, Karin was finally able to do the Eurythmy training at the School for the Art of Eurythmy in Hannover, after which she taught Eurythmy at the Freie Waldorf School in Sorsum, and was part of the Eurythmy stage group in Hannover until she joined the Nelson Waldorf School in 2007. “My family and I are grateful to be here and to have found a place to belong.” Karin teaches Eurythmy.
Kathleen Neudorf, Music Teacher
- Masters of Art (Music), University of Alberta, Calgary, Alberta
Kathleen Neudorf is active in the Nelson community as a conductor, singer, teacher and vocal director. After completing her degree in Music at the University of Alberta, she furthered her studies in England and Ireland. Before moving to BC she sang professionally with Pro Coro Canada both as a soloist and as an ensemble member. She now resides in Nelson, BC where she teaches privately as well as directs the children’s choir, Song Core, the Nelson Choral Society and the Cottonwood chamber choir. Kathleen also works with local elementary schools enhancing music programs. She vocally directed and sang in a number of Nelson productions including Sweeney Todd, Orpheus, and Marriage of Figaro and premiered in the role of Adrianna in Don MacDonald’s opera Khaos. She has performed in concert as a soloist and with duet partner, Noemi Kiss. Recently she joined forces with Noemi Kiss and Allison Girvan and together they sing in Ananta. Kathleen teaches music in Classes 4-8.
Natasha Kraus, Handwork Teacher
- B.A. (Psychology and German), Guelph University, Guelph, Ontario
- Waldorf Teacher Training, Rudolf Steiner Center, Thornhill, Ontario
Natasha Kraus was born in Parry Sound, Ontario. She completed her degree and then worked as a Child Care Worker in Germany and in Toronto. Natasha was first introduced to Waldorf Education by one of her professors. Natasha had always wanted to be a teacher and when she visited the Toronto Waldorf School it was “love at first sight.” Within the year she had enrolled in the first Waldorf Teacher Training Course offered at the Rudolf Steiner Center in Thornhill, Ontario. Natasha then taught in Toronto, Halton and Nelson, graduating several classes before becoming the Handwork Teacher. Natasha’s love of handwork began at an early age when her grandmother taught her to knit. Natasha now shares her passion for all aspects of the handwork curriculum with her students. Natasha lives in Nelson with her partner and two daughters who are both graduates of the Nelson Waldorf School. Natasha teaches Handwork in Classes 1-8.
Donna Switzer, Education Director / Principal
- B.Sc. (Home Economics/Family Studies) University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta
- Waldorf Teacher Certification, Rudolf Steiner College, Sacramento, California
Donna and her husband moved from Edmonton to raise their three daughters in the Kootenays. In their search for the best possible education for their children, Donna and Rob attended a weekend workshop in Creston: it was about Waldorf Education and its underlying Steiner philosophy, and was offered by Franklin Kane, a “Master Teacher” in Waldorf Education. Donna and her husband found themselves so inspired by the depth of the curriculum and the trueness of Rudolf Steiner’s understanding of the human being that they decided to do whatever it took for their children to have a Waldorf education. They returned to Edmonton where Donna apprenticed with Franklin for one school year. A year later they moved to Nelson so that Donna could teach at what was then called the Kootenay Valley School. Subsequently, Donna taught three classes through complete cycles from grades 1-8 at what later became the Nelson Waldorf School. Donna now serves as Education Director, which includes the responsibilities of teacher Mentor.
Diana (Danny) Finley, Student Support / Vice Principal
- B.A. (Psychology) Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario
- B.Ed. (Elementary/Junior High) University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario
- M.A. (Counselling) Gonzaga University, Spokane, Washington
Diana was born into a family of educators in Montreal, Quebec, enjoying a childhood of winters in the city and summers in the eastern townships. She was a teacher in the public schools of BC and NWT when the search for a meaningful education for her own children brought her family to the Nelson Waldorf School and the beautiful environs of Nelson. Her journey at the school began as a parent volunteer and lasted for fifteen years while her children went through the grades. Diana was inspired by teachers working out of a love for the developing child and appreciated the wisdom of a curriculum devoted to bringing the “right thing at the right time”. She joined the Nelson Waldorf School faculty in 2003 and has served in many roles including learning assistance, faculty administration, and coordination of the Social Inclusion Approach. Diana is grateful for working with a diverse community of colleagues and parents, dedicated to preparing young people for the wonders of life.
Keitha Patton, Secretary
Keitha has been the Nelson Waldorf School Secretary for eleven years. Her time with the school as a parent, a Board/Committee member and volunteer began when her daughter, now an alumnus, started Kindergarten. Keitha chose Waldorf Education in appreciation of the philosophy of embracing and respecting life and the holistic approach to imparting knowledge and developing self. Keitha’s career history has been administrative and people-centered, which led her to pursue certification in the ABT (Applied Business Technology) program at Selkirk College, where she was awarded the Lieutenant Governor General’s Medal for outstanding achievement. Keitha also lived in England for 10 years where her two stepsons, daughter-in-law and granddaughter live. She enjoys her fabulous friends, travelling, performing in the Jubilate Deo Handbell Choir and living in Nelson – “The best place in the world”.
Mary Searchfield, Community Development Director
Mary’s bio coming soon.
Lindsay Morris, Business Director
Lindsay’s bio coming soon.