Our Teachers

Our Teachers

Our school is unique in that the children are the messengers here, thus we work from the bottom up, rather than the top down, and in a very collaborative manner, so the teachers come together to discuss both overall principles, as well as day to day logistics of running the school.  The result is a fluid, thoughtful process where everyone has input, based on their own experience in the classrooms with their students, and an empathetic approach for each child in our care.

Specialty Teachers:

Lisa Bohn – Ukulele

Jessica Bromby – French, Nature Studies, Gardening, Cultural Connections

Jamie Busch – Conscious Business Development

Miriam Cornell – Mindfulness/Early Childhood Assistant

Jonathan Cunningham – Qi Gong

Skye Grunwald – Early Childhood Assistant

Stephanie Lallo – Cooking

Nadja Marks-Shafton – Learning to See/Drawing

Suzanne McMillan – Substitute Teacher, Mentor

Stefanie Mienhardt – Grades Substitute

Liz Pascoe-Broome – Drama, Early Childhood and Grades Substitute

Shawn Robbins – Grades Assistant, Grades Substitute, Aftercare

Kalin Wilson – Early Childhood Assistant, Grades Substitute Teacher

Class Teachers:

Shivani Lash – Little Clamshells Parent/Child Circle; Seahorse Nursery

Shivani Lash joins our faculty with a well of experience and diversity in early childhood classrooms. She has been a midwife, teacher and a mother for over twenty years, serving communities of families and children from conception to kindergarten and beyond. Shivani has training in a variety of pedagogies including Waldorf, Montessori, Reggio Emilia, the Nurtured Heart Approach and the Art of Mentoring. She finds delight in children’s delight and has a passion for honoring each child as a unique and shining light in this world. She enjoys skipping rope, baking, singing, playing, and listening deeply to what children have to say. She strives to model respect and gratitude for our natural world, kindness for all beings and peace that grows from within. Shivani sees the time we share with children while they are young as incredibly sacred and holding of immeasurable potential to contribute to our community and world.

Birte Hoag – Sandpiper VPK, Starfish Kindergarten

Originally from Germany where she was an accomplished RN, Birte has been a member of our community for over 10 years. She fell in love with the magic and depth Waldorf education, and once both of her children became of school age, she began assisting Ms. Laura, first in the Nursery and then in the Kindergarten. Now a lead teacher for the past 5 years, Birte has received Waldorf training from Sunbridge Institute, completed her NECC, and is our lead VPK and mixed age Kindergarten teacher.  Birte is also a certified Kindergarten teacher. Warm, caring, and gentle with the children, Birte is the perfect person to be a child’s first school teacher. She believes strongly in fostering a healthy rhthym in the life of the child – daily, weekly, and over the year in the festival life in our school and community. Birte enjoys fiber arts and spending time in nature in her free time.

Laura Barrett – 1st/2nd Grade; Sandpiper VPK Administration

Laura has been a teacher in our community for the past 9 years, including Parent/Child classes, Nursery, Kindergarten, and Aftercare. Prior to this, she taught at Mt. Laurel Waldorf School, in New York and the Housatonic Waldorf School, in Connecticut in various positions in both early childhood and grades classes.  Laura earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, as well as a certificate from Sunbridge Institute in Waldorf Early Childhood.  Her training also includes the Waldorf 1st and 2nd grade intensives. She also holds a Florida State Staff Credential, Director’s Credential and a VPK Director Credential. She enjoys crafting, travel, and nature.

Geoff Pierce – 3rd/4th Grade Teacher; Games

Geoff has a B.A. in English Literature and Philosophy, an M.A. in English Literature, and yet another M.A. in Teaching Arts. He is often found immersing himself in classical fiction, sociology, psychology, philosophy, history, and modern political theory. Always up for an adventure, Geoff is an avid outdoorsman, frequently hiking, biking and camping in his free time.  He enjoys playing the guitar as well. Geoff is passionate about learning and puts in great effort to create opportunities that are both engaging and challenging for his students.

Jon Stevens – 4/5th Grade teacher

Jon received his bachelor’s degree in psychology, followed by a master’s degree in education.  He has been teaching children for over a dozen years, beginning in upstate New York and now in our community in Sarasota.  Assisting children in uncovering and continuously consulting their own deep wisdom is what education is all about for Jon. In addition to Anthroposophy, Jon draws on teachings from many cultures to help children grow presence and bring compassion to their approach to learning and being in community.  

Erin Melia – 7/8th Grade teacher; Administration

Erin received her bachelor’s degree in Biology from Penn State University, then began her career as a chemist.  During her tenure in a windowless laboratory she longed for a career outdoors in nature, guiding young people to discover their personal truths.  After pursuing a master’s degree with a focus in education, she found her passion in developmentally appropriate, nature immersion, whole child education, and creating community through her work at Mangrove School of Sarasota. Erin strongly believes in the impact of exploration and revelation to foster a deep, meaningful, learning experience for her students.  Her own path of self-development has included Son-Rise, HANDLE, Active Listening, and Waldorf Grades Trainings.