FACULTY and STAFF BIOGRAPHIES 2013-2014
CHILDCARE CENTRE TEACHERS
Lauren Commeford: Morning Star Garden Teacher
Lauren Commeford is proud to be the lead teacher in the morning star garden room. As a graduate of Dalhousie University with a BA in Acting, and the University of Toronto with an MA in Child Study and Education, she is thrilled to be working in a Waldorf environment where she can take her perspective of whole child learning to great heights. After many years of working in the public and independent school system throughout Toronto she is grateful to find a community that has embraced her from the get-go.
Sarah Griffiths: Toddler Assistant
Sarah has always had a passion for working with children and helping them grow and develop into themselves. She has spent time working in Jamaica at an orphanage and a school for special needs children. Upon her return she again started working with children, managing an art and drama camp for a number of years. After completing a year at Ryerson and working towards a Social Work degree, Sarah’s other love – travel, took her to England where she lived for over two years working and exploring Europe. When she returned to Canada and still wanting to explore the world, she worked for seven years as a travel agent and continued to travel. After the birth of her son she decided not to return to work and to take some time to discover her purpose. Her path lead her to Waldorf and Anthroposophy where she immediately felt she was home. She began volunteering in the CCC in the spring of 2012 and was offered a position with the support team. She has completed the Foundation Studies in Anthroposophy Downtown Program through the Rudolph Steiner Centre and is currently studying Shamanism at Horse Spirit Connections. Sarah is overjoyed to be working at the CCC and amongst such wonderful, supportive and knowledgeable co-workers.
Lisa Gibson: Preschool Teacher
Lisa is our lead preschool teacher in Woodland Garden. Lisa has worked at Waldorf Academy since 1997 as a nursery assistant teacher and a kindergarten assistant teacher. She also directed the junior nursery program, an afternoon program for the lower grade school, co-taught in the parent and tot program on Saturdays, and ran a number of day camps offered at WA. Lisa has her RECE (Registered Early Childhood Educator) and has attended numerous conferences and workshops on early childhood Waldorf pedagogy over the years. Lisa also has her certificate in Foundation Studies. Prior to teaching, she attained a diploma in the fashion apparel industry in which she worked for thirteen years. Lisa shares her warmth, calm presence and skills with children and parents alike.
Jessica Paton – Preschool Fairy Garden Teacher
Jessica Paton is in every way grateful to be the lead teacher in Fairy Garden preschool room. As a former graduate of Ryerson University and Fanshawe College, she holds a Bachelor of Arts in Child and Family Studies and an ECE diploma. Aside from her teaching life, she has a true passion for music, writing, playing various instruments and singing, all of which stems from childhood. She has been a part of a Toronto-based band called hue (along with her brother and three friends) for the past 2 years. Her knowledge and natural talent in music are something she feels so special to be able to bring to work daily, inspiring children through song, dance and rhythm. Waldorf has becoming such a warm part of her, to teach and be among this philosophy just feels right. She has never felt so welcomed and nurtured as a Waldorf CCC staff member. She has completed the Foundation Studies in Anthroposophy Downtown Program through the Rudolph Steiner Centre, and plans to further her studies in Waldorf.
Yey Eun Hwang: Preschool Teacher
Yey Eun graduated from Queen’s University with an honours BSc in Kinesiology, focusing on community-based health promotion. After graduation, she moved to Toronto. Her love for taking care of children led her to Waldorf Academy where she started volunteering at the Child Care Centre. In the spring of 2011, she began working as a supply teacher and in the following summer she became an assistant teacher. Starting fall of 2013, Yey Eun became the sky garden lead teacher. She completed Waldorf Foundation Studies in 2012 and will complete the LifeWays Early Childhood Certification Program in 2013.
Sarah Pansino: Preschool Assistant
Sarah is new to the Childcare Centre team but comes with a long history of dedication to the Waldorf school movement. Sarah has been passionate about Waldorf pedagogy since starting her journey in early childhood education in 2007. Since then she has worked as a preschool teacher and a daycare co-ordinator at a community childcare centre in the Gulf Islands, BC. She is dedicated to supporting the child and family during the wondrous time that is early childhood. During her early childhood teacher training she completed her practical work at the Nelson Waldorf School in BC, volunteered at The Dunedin Waldorf school in New Zealand, and assisted with the opening of a Steiner-inspired Childcare facility in Tauranga, New Zealand. Sarah holds a Diploma in ECE, infant and toddler development, and environmental studies and enjoys bringing the children’s attention to the flora and fauna in our urban playground. She is currently completing the Foundation Studies in Anthroposophy (Rudolf Steiner Centre) and a certificate in working with children with special needs. Sarah is inspired by wonderful memories of her experience as a young child at the Toronto Waldorf School.
Bernadette Juico: Preschool Assistant
Bernadette Juico came to Waldorf Academy with 17 years’ experience working in Childcare and as a lead kindergarten teacher. She has a strong passion to educate young children and help them blossom into well rounded and responsible individuals. She is a registered early childhood educator and holds a Bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Bernadette has five grown children and seven grandchildren of her own. She brings great warmth, experience and love to the fairy garden preschool room. She is greatly inspired by the Waldorf approach to early childhood and is very happy to be part of the Childcare staff.
Veronica Cox began working at Waldorf Academy in 2011 as a volunteer. She is ECE trained from St Lucia and is very happy to be part of the Waldorf Academy Childcare Staff. Veronica brings many years of experience as both a mother and childcare teacher to her role as Morning Star Toddler teacher assistant. Veronica completed her Waldorf Foundations Studies at the Rudolf Steiner Centre in 2013. She feels truly at home with the toddlers and brings a great level of warmth, calm and security to the children. She considers herself very blessed to have found the Waldorf approach to early learning.
Charlotte Koen-Butt: Childcare Assistant
Charlotte has been working at the childcare centre as a supply, volunteer and support staff since 2011. She is a Waldorf Academy Graduate and is currently enrolled in the Foundations in Anthroposophy course at the Rudolf Steiner Centre. Having a natural gift for providing a safe, secure, rich and warm environment for young children, Ms Charlotte will formalize her training by entering the Waldorf Birth to Three training at the Rudolf Steiner Centre. Ms Charlotte is also a gifted singer and has filled the childcare with the sound of her beautiful voice. She has very enthusiastically taken on her role and is happy to be part of the Childcare Staff.
EARLY CHILDHOOD TEACHERS
The Early Childhood teacher is the model for the child in meaningful movements, in purposeful use of language and in the cultivation of beauty. The Waldorf Early Childhood Teacher is a specially trained individual who, through rhythm, repetition and reverence, is able to create a wholesome environment that nurtures the physical, emotional, social and spiritual development of each child.
Janet Brock: Kindergarten Teacher
Janet Brock has a B.A. from Brock University and has worked in a variety of capacities with young children. She has been a drama workshop facilitator for young adults, taught a summer arts program and worked extensively with children in theatre groups. In 1996 she completed her Waldorf teacher training program with the Rudolf Steiner Centre in Thornhill and since then has worked with the Lakeshore Waldorf kindergarten as a kindergarten assistant and the Willow School as a lead kindergarten teacher. She worked for several years at WA as a substitute teacher, kindergarten teacher and class teacher. Janet left for a few years to start her own family. Last year Janet was the lead teacher in Woodland Garden. This school year Janet will be the joining the grade school’s early childhood team as the teacher of Star Garden.
Aili Searson: Star Garden Assistant
Aili Searson joined us last year in the Rainbow Garden Nursery as assistant to Diana Miklos. This year she will be working in the Star Garden kindergarten class. Aili is a graduate of the Rudolf Steiner Centre where she received a certificate in Early Childhood Education and completed her Foundation Studies. As the daughter of Waldorf teachers and a former Waldorf student herself, Aili has a natural connection with the Waldorf community and a keen interest in Anthroposophy. She is passionate about working with young children and is thrilled to be starting her vocation with us. In her spare time, Aili loves to read and spend time with her daughter. She is also an accomplished rider and enjoys experiencing the wonders of nature from the back of a horse.
Bozena Ciepielewski: Kindergarten Teacher
Bozena has been with the school since 1998. She will continue to lead the Sun Garden after serving as the lead playschool teacher and grade one teacher assistant as well as the teacher development manager for Waldorf Academy from 2005-2007. After several years of kindergarten teaching, Bozena took time to stay home when her daughter arrived and taught our parent and child program for three years. She rejoined the school in September 2003 as a kindergarten assistant teacher and was lead teacher of sun garden kindergarten in 2004. She has extensive experience teaching young children at WA, the London Waldorf School and the Toronto Waldorf School. She holds an E.C.E. certification from both her native Poland and from Fanshawe College in London, Ontario (1996). She also has her Waldorf teacher training certificate from the Rudolf Steiner Centre in Toronto. Bozena brings a beautiful voice and firm presence with her experience and education in child development.
Diana Miklos: Rainbow Garden Nursery Teacher
Diana Miklos has taught at Waldorf Academy since September 1987. She served for many years as the chair of early childhood section and also as the school’s representative for Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America (WECAN). Diana designed and directed the original after school program for WA as part of the Oxford School of Art, Music and Theatre. Familiar with Rudolf Steiner’s teachings and philosophy, Diana completed her Waldorf training while working at WA. She participated in numerous Waldorf courses, workshops and conferences in Canada, USA and Europe. Recently Diana attended the International Early Childhood Conference in Dornach, Switzerland, where she took the intensive workshop on therapeutic (healing) story writing. Diana is also the artistic director and founder of Theatre as a Metaphor in Toronto. Diana trained in theatre at the School of Performing Arts in Bucharest, Romania, and graduated from Ryerson University/Theatre School in 1987. In 1988 Diana joined Angel Wing Puppet Theatre and helped design and present Waldorf puppet shows at many public libraries in Toronto. Diana’s warmth and great eye for beauty create a truly welcoming experience for young children.
Joyce Ojapalo: Rainbow Garden Assistant, Handwork Teacher
Joyce came to Canada with an electrical engineering background to work in the project management team of an elevator installation in Montreal. She moved to Ontario and learned about Waldorf Education while raising her three sons. She explored the philosophy by taking several courses and eventually Foundations at the Rudolf Steiner Centre. Joyce continued on to Waldorf Teacher Education in 2008. She was a supply teacher at various Waldorf schools for daycare age up to grade eight and was also the after-care teacher at the Halton Waldorf School. Yearning for a deeper understanding of the puzzle of the child, she is currently participating in healing education and remedial teaching as well as the part-time Waldorf ECE course at the Rudolf Steiner Centre.
GRADE SCHOOL TEACHERS
Children learn best if they love their teacher. When children enter Grade 1 in the Waldorf School, they meet the person, who ideally, will teach them the core curriculum for the next eight years. The relationship between teacher and child is constantly evolving and deepening, and provides a continuity often lacking today. Mutual trust and confidence allows the development of an authority that is not arbitrary and to which children respond without aggression or resentment. In this way, parents and teachers can work together over long periods of time, orchestrating their efforts to meet the changing needs of the child.
Katherine Fulford: Grade 1 Teacher
Katherine was introduced to Waldorf education in 2001 while attending the University of Guelph for international development and child studies. She fell in love with the Waldorf philosophy and movement and entered the foundation studies program at the Rudolf Steiner Centre in Toronto. Katherine then participated in numerous eurythmy workshops, homeschooling conferences and anthroposophical study groups. She explored Waldorf schools and Camphill communities in North America and Europe. In 2005, Katherine completed the Waldorf teacher education program at the Rudolf Steiner Centre. The following winter, Katherine joined Waldorf Academy as a kindergarten assistant in the stargarden kindergarten. During her time as a kindergarten assistant, Katherine became the lead teacher for the Saturday parent and child program, and the lead teacher for the EC summer camp program. In 2009, Katherine became the lead kindergarten teacher for stargarden kindergarten. Katherine was a member of the biodynamic community garden in Thornhill and has participated in the international English conference and international early childhood conference in Dornach Switzerland. Katherine continues to deepen her understanding of Waldorf education and child development. She has recently completed the therapeutic remedial training program at the Rudolf Steiner Centre.
Erika Starzynski: Grade 2 Teacher
Born and raised in Toronto, Erika did her undergraduate studies at Soka University of America, a small liberal arts school in Southern California. During her senior year she followed her instincts to become a teacher and she found her way to Grandparent’s day at the Orange County Waldorf school. After this visit she knew she had found her place. Erika then moved to Keene, New Hampshire for a Master’s program in Elementary/Waldorf education. Erika has been a class teacher at the Honolulu Waldorf School for the past five years. She joins our community with her husband Andrew and 1.5 year old Eoin.
D’Arcy Colby: Grade 3 Teacher
D’Arcy has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance from York University. Enchanted by vivid childhood recollections of the Toronto Waldorf School with its contemplative beauty, and needing a change in focus, she decided to become a Waldorf Teacher. She attained her Waldorf Teachers Certificate at the Rudolf Steiner Centre in Thornhill before moving to Vancouver where she earned a Bachelor of Education from the University of British Columbia and taught for six years at the Vancouver Waldorf School. In 2007 she moved back to Ontario and taught for three years at the Toronto Waldorf School. D’Arcy is a certified yoga teacher in the Ashtanga tradition. She has specialized in teaching games, movement and music in the lower grades.
Robyn Stevan: Grade 4 Teacher
Robyn came to Waldorf education in 1999 when her daughter was two years old and she has never looked back! Over the past years, she has attended numerous conferences, lectures, and intensives, Waldorf-homeschooled her daughter through grade three, run a Waldorf-inspired home daycare, parent and tot program and Waldorf-inspired summer camps. More recently, Robyn was one of the founding teachers of Equinox Holistic Alternative school, a TDSB school in the east end of Toronto, where she worked for three years as a primary teacher. She received her B.Ed. from York University in the Equity and Diversity Program and a B.A. from the University of Toronto in English and Art History. Before becoming a teacher, Robyn was a professional actor for almost 20 years in theatre, film and television. She is a founding member of Soulpepper Theatre Company and became involved in the education department with the Artists-in-the-Schools programs. She has two children, one who recently graduated from the Waldorf Academy, and the other still in the grade school. Robyn is thrilled to part of the Waldorf Academy faculty.
Paula Rosa: Grade 5 Teacher
Paula joined the school in 1996 as an assistant kindergarten teacher and since January, 2001 has been a class teacher in the grade school. In addition, Paula has taken an active coaching role in the middle school volleyball and basketball sports program. Paula earned her B.A. in 1984 from the University of Toronto in History and Linguistics. In 1996 she added a Bachelor of Education in primary education from the University of Toronto. Paula graduated her first grade eight class in 2008, of which many students had been with her since kindergarten. With a love of music and a gift for inspiring healthy physical activity, Paula creates a wonderful educational experience for children. Paula is also the curriculum manager.
Karanvir Singh: Grade 6 Teacher
Karanvir graduated from the Waldorf teacher training program at the Rudolf Steiner Centre in 2008 at which time he joined the school as the grade one class assistant. In November of 2007 Karanvir received his Bachelor of Fine Art at the OCAD University in Toronto, Ontario. Karanvir grew up in India on his grandparents’ farm and moved to Canada in 1988 with his parents. Growing up in Mississauga he developed a great interest in visual arts, education and sports. In his early education he was part of a student core group selected to act as substitutes for high school teachers. He also coached hockey for six years with children ranging from four to twelve years old and is an avid hockey and soccer player. In 2009 Karanvir started class teaching with the grade six class, graduating them from middle school in 2012 at the end of grade eight. In 2010 he also started teaching the middle school art programme. Karanvir now teaches grade six, the class of 2016.
Lesley Moffitt: Grade 7/8 Teacher
Lesley holds a diploma in social work and a certificate in crisis intervention. In this capacity she has worked primarily in therapeutic settings with children. Lesley designed and implemented the biodynamic gardening program at the Toronto Waldorf School over a three-year period and has worked with all the grades. She has studied the grade one to twelve biodynamic gardening program at Sunbridge College in Spring Valley, NY, based on Steiner’s pedagogical principles and was a member of the Toronto Waldorf School therapeutic circle. Lesley assisted in the grade three class in 2008 and was the grade one assistant in 2009. She also assisted Deborah Marks in the grade two class, and Ena Bruce in her grade one class. Lesley is an artist and mother of three.
Sheila Anderson-Massé: French and English Teacher
Sheila Anderson-Massé received her Honours B.A. after studying English, philosophy, and film at the University of Toronto. In Paris, France, she continued her studies in comparative literature. In 1992, she completed her Bachelor of Education at OISE and became a high school teacher of English and French. Sheila joined WA first as a parent in 1995. In 1997, she traveled back to France with her family where she became very involved with Waldorf education. Upon her return to Toronto in 2002, Sheila taught in the French public school board, but she soon joined Waldorf Academy as a middle school French and English teacher, and she has also been a class teacher. Sheila currently sits on the managers’ circle as teacher development manager.
Clara Hilts: Music Teacher
Clara Hilts has already hit her stride as a relative newcomer to the position of music specialist. A choir director and music instructor, she has jumped in with both feet teaching music to grades 1 through 8. Clara is a composer by trade, finishing her degree at Wilfrid Laurier under the instruction of Glenn Buhr and studying choral techniques and conducting with Lee Willingham. Before joining Waldorf Academy, Clara was the choir director for the community choir “For the Love of Singing”, an instructor at the Peterborough Academy of Performing Arts, a music camp director and commissioned composer and performer. Though just one-year new to Waldorf and Toronto, Clara has quickly become a valuable member of our community.
Yasmeen Mamdani: Therapeutic/Remedial Teacher
Yasmeen has a B.A. from the University of British Columbia and a B.Ed. from Queen’s University. She is a graduate of the Waldorf teacher training education program at the Rudolf Steiner Centre, Toronto. Yasmeen began her Waldorf teaching career at the Toronto Waldorf School in 2000. In 2010 she completed the HEART training and since then she have developing a private remedial practice in Richmond Hill. Yasmeen joined the therapeutic remedial team on a part time basis to work primarily with middle school children, and is also our student assessment manager.
Ryan McCombe: Athletic Director, Choir and Eurythmy Accompanist, GV Coordinator
A talented musician, coach, and event organizer, Ryan has been at Waldorf Academy for ten years! With a great sense of humour and a gift for inspiring children, Ryan plays a significant role in community music and has helped to transform extracurricular sports at Waldorf Academy. He is also the Eurythmy accompanist. Ryan also cares for and organizes our German volunteers, ensuring they have a wonderful experience at our school.
Shelly Shen: Chinese Teacher
Yun came from China two years ago. She stepped on this beautiful Waldorf journey most because of her 8-year-old daughter who is now studyingat TWS. She would like everyone to call her Shelly. Shelly majored in public health at university. After graduation she worked as a specialist in infectious diseases, researching for and advising the local government. Her work was well regarded; however, she felt that there was something more waiting to be done. A turning point came in 2008, when she chanced upon Waldorf education in the process of finding a suitable nursery for her daughter. Shelly read and attended a variety of workshops on Waldorf education, art, biography, and Eurythmy. She found in Waldorf education and anthroposophy what she had been searching for all along. In this process of discovery she developed a deep love for children as well as a passion to engage in this Waldorf educational practice. Shelly decided to become a Waldorf teacher. She moved to Canada with all her family. She has experience working with adults about health educating, and as an assistant, working with children in Shanghai Waldorf Kindergarten on festival preparation and storytelling. Shelly has completed her Foundation Studies at RSCT and graduated from teacher training program this year. She has now well prepared to be a Waldorf teacher in Waldorf Academy as a Chinese teacher.
Andrew Starzynski: Math Specialist and IT Support
Andrew Starzynski grew up steeped in Waldorf education as the son of two Waldorf teachers, and as a student at the Chicago Waldorf School, which he attended through high school. Andrew went on to attend Beloit College, graduating in 2001 with a double major in mathematics and philosophy, and a minor in computer science. He taught part-time at the Chicago Waldorf School before spending two years in the computer industry. In 2004, his love of math led him to graduate school where he acquired his master’s degree in applied mathematics. His enthusiasm for Waldorf education prompted his return to the Chicago Waldorf School where he taught for three years. In 2008, Andrew completed his Waldorf teacher training under the tutelage of Jamie York. He spent the past four years in Hawaii where he taught math at the Honolulu Waldorf School.
Shi Ching Yu: Chinese and Therapeutic/Remedial Teacher
Shi-Ching has her B.A. in Psychology from National Taiwan University, M.A. in Educational Psychology and Ph.D in Curriculum and Instruction from University of Wisconsin-Madison. She first heard about Waldorf education in 1994 at an ECE conference and over the years eagerly studied Waldorf education and attended Waldorf education workshops. In 2003 she finished her Foundation studies in Taiwan and graduated from the Waldorf teacher education program at the Rudolf Steiner Centre in 2008. Bringing over fourteen years of experience in education as an Associate Professor in Taiwan, Shi-Ching began to work as a nursery assistant and taught Chinese at Waldorf Academy in 2008. In 2010, she completed the HEART (the Healing Education and Remedial Training) program and since then she has done with remedial work with students from kindergarten to grade eight. Shi-Ching has also been holding workshops and giving lectures to parents and teachers when she returns to Taiwan. Shi-Ching is the mother of two teenagers and brings much passion, warmth, and creativity to her position.
Lucia Amaral: Childcare Supervisor
Lucia has been Childcare Centre Supervisor at Waldorf Academy in Toronto since 2010. Prior to this Lucia worked as a pre-school teacher and kindergarten assistant for 16 years and, for part of that time, as an assistant supervisor. She holds her ECE diploma and has completed two years at Ryerson towards her B.A. in Early Childhood Education. Lucia lives in Toronto with her two sons. Lucia has a lifelong love for learning and has recently completed “The Child in The First Three Years” course offered at Sophia’s Hearth in Keene, New Hampshire. She continues to aspire to grow in knowledge of the Waldorf curriculum and philosophy which has become an increasingly integral part of her life.
Jennifer Deathe: Admissions Manager
Jennifer Deathe joined the school in March 2009. She has worked in film as an assistant director since 1992 and holds a B.A. in English and Political Science from Trinity College, University of Toronto. She has traveled extensively, taught at Tokyo Pacific Business School, was part of Youth To Everest, a campaign to clean up used oxygen tanks left at Everest basecamp and provide solar heating to tourist lodges and HOST, an organization for Refugees. She was co-chair of the Community Council, on various task groups, and co-organizer of the Conference on Play. Her younger sisters are graduates from London Waldorf School and her two children attend the school.
Dean Husseini : Facilitator
Dean Husseini brings a decade of commitment to Waldorf education to his work as Facilitator at Waldorf Academy. He completed his Master’s degree in Holistic Education from the University of Toronto (2003), as well as Foundation Studies (2002) and Waldorf teacher training (2003) at the Rudolf Steiner Centre in Toronto. He then taught at the Chicago Waldorf School for five years, specializing in grades six through eight and serving on the school’s faculty leadership body, the college of teachers. Dean joined the faculty of Waldorf Academy in 2008, teaching one class from grades 1 to 4 and serving as curriculum manager and member of the Board of Trustees. As facilitator, he brings his knowledge of and deep respect for the Waldorf curriculum, his dedication to the school community, and a determination to deliver a strategic vision for Waldorf Academy’s future.
Angelo Zaccheo: Business Operations Manager
Angelo Zaccheo, B. Comm. (Hons), joined the school in January 2011. He comes to the school with over forty years of senior financial corporate experience. His recent experience includes four years as Director of Finance and Operations at a tier 1 independent school. Angelo enjoys his weekends at his house up north and can be found playing tennis or curling in the early morning or after work. He is involved as a volunteer at Bridgepoint Hospital and is very happy and comfortable working in our school environment.