Faculty

Early Childhood

 

Preschool/ Kindergarten Teacher | Ms. Jennifer McMillan

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Jennifer has been a Waldorf teacher for the past 12 years in both private and charter Waldorf settings. During this time she has continuously developed her passion for working with children in a holistic manner.

Jennifer completed her Waldorf teacher training and M.Ed. in Early Childhood and Elementary Education at Antioch New England University, and has trained for the past 12 years in Spacial DynamicsTM. Through these trainings Jennifer discovered an enormous passion for bringing the classroom environment alive through movement! For the past seven years she has taught in a Waldorf-inspired charter school in Prescott Arizona, and was honored to present this material to the Arizona State Birth-5 organization as well as to early childhood educators in that county.

“In my classroom we go on daily sensory motor ‘story journeys’ as the children crawl through tunnels, tumble on mats, balance on balance beams and boards, learn to jump-rope, hop on “hoppers”, scoot around on “belly boards” and much more. The integration of the proprioceptive and vestibular system is the key to being able to sit still, listen, focus one’s eyes and attention, remember the shapes of numbers and letters, and so much more.

“Another aspect of the curriculum that I find to be extremely nourishing is the work with the cycle of the year and the changing of the seasons. We gently observe natural processes through practical, real life experiences as well as imaginative stories. In my current classroom we grind wheat each week to make bread, grow and cook vegetables from our garden, make salve out of the calendula that grows abundantly on our campus, and dye silk and cotton with our marigolds and amaranth. It is a joy!”

 

Preschool/ Kindergarten Teacher | Ms. Julie Voss

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"I was born and raised on the edge of a small Kansas town where my early days included running through the prairie grasses, looking for turtles, and playing outside “until the street lights came on.” It was my own early days of fresh air, nourishing routines, and being surrounded by a vessel of warmth that drew me to the tenants of Waldorf education. I see Waldorf methods as both revolutionary and traditional at the same time. Simple traditions of human interaction is revolutionary in our complicated world!

"My husband and I began our own Waldorf path 15 years ago when we participated in a Waldorf parent/child class. I delved into the study of anthroposophy, the festival seasons, and child developmental stages. We spent years attending the class, eventually deciding to homeschool our boys with a Waldorf influence, since there was no Waldorf school near us.

"Eventually we moved to Lawrence, KS so our boys could attend the budding Prairie Moon Waldorf School. The boys and our family thrived here for the following 7 years. After years of volunteering as a parent and supporting the school in many roles, I stepped into teaching in the early childhood program and began my studies at Sunbridge Institute. I will graduate this summer at Sunbridge with my Early Childhood Education Waldorf Teaching Certificate. I am also dual enrolled in a Master’s in Education program at Empire College, SUNY, with expected graduation in 2019."

 

 

Preschool/ Kindergarten Teacher | Ms. Kate Gonzalez

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I am a native Kansan. I grew up on a farm Northeast of Lawrence with my mother and father, two brothers and a variety of animals. I attended the University of Kansas from 1997 to 2002 and received my Bachelor’s Degree in Women’s Studies with a minor in history. I have been working in education since 2013 and have experience in ages ranging from birth to fifth grade. In May of 2017 I completed my Master’s Degree in the Early Childhood Unified program at The University of Kansas with a focus on Special Education. I am working on completing the Lifeways training program with a completion date in June of 2019. I am the mother to two beautiful girls, Sofia and Isabella, and am married to a wonderful partner Rafael who is from Altagracia, Venezuela. I am most passionate about my children, teaching, cooking, reading, enjoying the grand Kansas sky, making and listening to music and photography.

 

Preschool/ Kindergarten Assistant Teacher | Ms. Haley Snyder

Biography and photo to come.

 

Preschool/ Kindergarten Assistant Teacher | Ms. Hannah Grow

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Hannah comes to us from Tulsa, OK, having lived in Tulsa for the last 10 years, raising her young family. In 2012 a friend of hers introduced her to Lifeways and Waldorf education. From there, Hannah has slowly transitioned through from parent-child group participant, to parent-child group leader, to cleaning and subbing in the school, and then after being mentored and completing online training she stepped in as a full time caregiver/cook/program co-director. She held this position for a year-and-a-half. In 2017 Hannah found herself Kansas and at Prairie Moon. 

"In my original schooling, I went to school to be a welder. I love working with my hands, making things, and being engaged in meaningful work. I have spent time traveling, and worked with food for many years. One of my biggest passions lies in the kitchen, where I a huge believer of practicing food as medicine. Nourishing Foods have always been valued by me, but since having children, I have found the importance of nutrition to be beyond personal preference. Cooking whole, holistic meals is a skill that I have come to have through years of trial and error as well as some training through restaurant work. This is a passion and skill that I eagerly pass on to my students and children. I am a mother first, and have been this so fully for the last 10 years, so I find my place very comfortable in early childhood. Teaching young ones to enjoy and engage in the work of the home with joy is an art that I have worked on for many years in my own home. Crafting, story telling, and being outside are things that I hold dear in my own family, so working in a Waldorf EC center has translated and fulfilled so much for me as a mother and teacher.
I am so excited to get the chance to work with your families."

 

Preschool/ Kindergarten Assistant Teacher | Ms. Maya Weil

Biography and photo to come.

 

 

Preschool/Kindergarden Aftercare Teacher | Ms. Gwyn Schmidtberger

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I have finally landed and work with the children, parents and faculty I am meant to be with. 

Waldorf education is something that whispers and waits for the person to hear. My journey started in 2000. While living in NYC a colleague exposed me to the education. Once I had moved to Germany in 2003, I continued to befriend those involved in this kind of schooling.  While in Germany, I realized that Prairie Moon was just being born around 2005. I knew that if I ever did end up back in Kansas, I would be a part of that school.  

I am an educator and have taught in a variety of ways.  

I am wholeheartedly dedicated to Prairie Moon and my love for Waldorf education is unwavering. I am so blessed to work in a school that is committed to Anthroposophy while I look forward to every in-service, actually every weekly faculty meeting as well, for our book study, artistic activity, song and fellowship. I see our school, the only one in Kansas, as the pioneering front for bringing an education of abundance and dedication to the whole child to the heart of our nation—where love for education exists but can be greatly transformed in the now.

 

Preschool/ Kindergarten Support Staff | Mr. Creed Shepard

Biography and photo to come.

 

Grades

1st Grade and Italian World Language Teacher | Ms. Anna Talleur

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"Prairie Moon has proved to be such a nourishing environment to my own child and to myself, and I have great admiration for what the school is bringing to our community. I find the challenges and the learning ahead of me to be exhilarating and I love both my work as the 2017–2018 assistant to Mr. Steinle in the First Grade, and my studies to become a Waldorf teacher through my training at the Silvana Corazza Waldorf School in Italy. 

"I see this work as chance to grow my own knowledge and my own heart in a safe and sacred place, while caring for the hearts and minds of children who truly are the seeds of our future.

"Although I have greatly enjoyed teaching Italian at KU, and learning to homestead on our farm, the work that I have most loved in my life has been raising my own four children. It is a joy to see them go their own ways, find new paths, grow and move out into the world strong and free. 

"As I see how children educated in a beautiful, respectful, and loving school such as Prairie Moon can grow, I know that I  can put my whole heart into this endeavor: the growing of the people of tomorrow."

 

2nd/3rd Grade and Latin World Language Teacher | Mr. Matthew Steinle

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Matthew was born in Lawrence, Kansas, and his childhood was shaped both by the small, intimate culture of the ‘university’ city and the time he spent in the rural towns of Western Kansas, where his father grew up on his family farm. These experiences of a shared history with his family, rooted in Kansas, later played an essential role in Matthew's life as he was confronted with the idea of Place, and what it means to live in a community.

Growing up, he struggled to find myself and through great personal difficulties he had an estranged relationship with school and learning. These difficulties remained with Matthew until he graduated high school. It was not until he began his studies at Kansas that he discovered his passion for learning. At first, he was driven by the fear of failure, but this changed when he encountered ancient philosophy, literature, and poetry woven together in the writings of ancient thinkers. "To put it simply, Greek and Latin sang to me. My studies of classical languages and philosophy opened my eyes and fostered my love for all disciplines in a unified whole."

After completing his B.A. in Philosophy and Classical Languages at Kansas (2012), he earned his M.A. in Classical Studies at Villanova University (2016). After initially accepting an offer for a joint Ph.D. in Philosophy and Classics at Boston University, Matthew made the decision to leave academia. "While I was disheartened with academia, I loved teaching, and I longed to find a school that cared about the education of the whole human person. After spending a year teaching in Washington D.C., I knew that I was out of Place, and I was still searching for a home."

This spring, Matthew made the decision to move back to Lawrence, and rediscover a life that is more in harmony with nature and a local community. "When I made this decision, I searched for teaching opportunities and discovered Prairie Moon. As I read more about the school, Waldorf education, and met the community of teachers, families, and students at Prairie Moon, I knew this was a Place that I could call home. I am humbled and filled with joy at the opportunity to begin a new chapter at Prairie Moon."

 

4th/5th Grade and Filipino World Language Teacher | Mr. Ireneo DeLeon

Ireneo De Leon started teaching after he had graduated from University of San Carlos, Cebu City, in the Philippines where he took up his Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy in 1998. He took up his Master’s Degree in Psychology the following year as he worked at a private school for boys. Realizing that he needed to professionalize his teaching career, he studied education and got his license as a teacher in 2003. He has had experiences as an educator both in the academe and administration for different private schools, including serving as a principal for a number of years, until he discovered Waldorf education in 2006. It was not until 2011 when his relationship to Waldorf education had become deeper when he enrolled his daughter in a Waldorf Kindergarten school in the Philippines. Since then, he started reading and studying what Waldorf can offer to the different families in his home city. To further understand the application of its philosophy, Ireneo underwent training in Gamot Cogon Institute, a center for Waldorf education studies in the Philippines.

Ireneo is currently finishing his Masters in Education with a certificate in Waldorf Education at Antioch University New England in New Hampshire. 

“The greatest thing that I have realized in teaching children is that it is a great privilege to be chosen by my students to guide and nurture them in this world. This privilege is accompanied by a great responsibility to carry on a noble duty, a duty to guide children to discover themselves with freedom. This reminds me to carry with a deep sense of reverence for each child I face.”

 

6th Grade and French World Language Teacher | Ms. Molly Mackinnon

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In her 6th year at Prairie Moon, Molly teaches the 5th grade class and French to all grades students as part of their 2nd World Language block. She also serves on the Middle School committee as well as the Professional Development committee. Her two younger sons, Jasper and Cormac, attend Prairie Moon, while her older son, Henry, keeps Limestone's kitchen going and her daughter Ruby teaches herself how to make shoes in her family's artisan shop, Celestina. Raised in Boulder, Colorado, Molly moved to Lawrence to pursue a Masters in Polish Literature. Once in hand, she moved on to a second Masters in Education.  She has attended the Midwest Waldorf Regional Teacher Preparation course for three years as well as many summer trainings, geared especially toward adolescence and world languages. When she isn't teaching, you can find her in the prairie looking for hawks and things to draw.  

 

7th/8th Grade Teacher | Mr. Bret Schacht

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Since 2006, Bret Schacht has enjoyed teaching the grades students at PMWS. He was inspired by the spiritual world-view and vision of Rudolf Steiner he found in researching biodynamics while working on an organic CSA. All that he wished to learn he found in the Waldorf school curriculum, created out of Steiner’s philosophical principles. One principle states that teachers are to form the curriculum from observing the children in front of us. He found a proclivity and immense joy for this teaching English in South Korea. Upon return to the United States, he earned his Master's in Education and Waldorf Teaching Certificate. Again, he struck out overseas to teach at an internship in Christchurch Waldorf School in New Zealand. This rich experience at a fully developed lower and high school helped him step into a grades position at White Mountain Waldorf School in New Hampshire and then his current position at Prairie Moon Waldorf School.


 

Grades Handwork and 1st Grade Assistant Teacher | Ms. Raven Harper

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A member of PMWS since 2010, Ms. Harper enjoys teaching and learning from the children as she guides them to use their hands to create beautiful work. She received her Bachelor’s of Fine Art in Textile Design from The University of Kansas and completed Prairie Moon Teacher Preparation with Robin Bacchus in the summers of 2012–2014.  She enjoys doing all handwork media and taking walks with her husband and dog. 

"Prairie Moon Waldorf School is a welcoming, rich community where loving, beautiful families come to grow, learn and share. In the years that I have been teaching here I have grown so much in my inner life and I've seen amazing growth in all the children that I have taught. We as teachers really care and really love; we see a need and we want meet it. I am so thankful that I found
this place."

 

Grades Movement Teacher and Admissions Director | Ms. Megan Corcoran 

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A faculty member of PMWS since 2007, Megan Corcoran appreciates Waldorf Education for its beauty, richness, child-centered approach and for the compassionate commitment from the faculty, board and parent communities. Megan grew up in Iowa City, Iowa, and as an undergraduate studied Psychology and Women's Studies at Luther College in Northeast Iowa, spending junior year abroad, at the University of Nottingham in England. After working in social services with children and families in Oregon and in Iowa, she taught English for one year in Daegu, South Korea. Megan earned a dual master's degree in Counseling Psychology and Dance/Movement Therapy from Antioch University in Keene, New Hampshire. She completed four years of the five-year Waldorf Movement Teacher Training, in New York, with Jaimen MacMillan at the Spacial Dynamics Institute and attended portions of the Midwest Waldorf Teacher Preparation Course at PMWS. Megan enjoys the outdoors, time with family and friends, practicing yoga, traveling, and being with her two children who happily attend PMWS. Megan also serves Prairie Moon as Admissions Director and Early Childhood Administrator.

 

Grades Mandarin World Language Teacher | Ms. Aichen Zhang 

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Known for the creative use of various forms of arts and physical activities in her class, Aichen Zhang has been working with Prairie Moon children on Mandarin since 2013. With a deep understanding of the importance of a positive learning environment for students to reach their full potential, Ms. Zhang strives to make her class welcoming, enjoyable, and stimulating. Over the years, she has built a genuine relationship with the students, and her Mandarin class has become one of their favorites.

Ms. Zhang graduated from Beijing University with a degree in Spanish and from University of International Business and Economics in China with a degree in international business. She came to the U.S. with her husband in 2001, and has lived in Alabama and Oklahoma before finding her current
home in Lawrence in 2006. She has two children, and they both have been such a wonderful blessing to her in many ways. Arts have always been at the very special place in Ms. Zhang’s life.
She has been a fervent musician since Kindergarten, was actively engaged in various school choirs and symphonies,
and performed in places such as Beijing Music Concert Hall. Ms. Zhang continues to study piano in her spare time,
and is devoted to integrating her love of music and other forms of arts into her Mandarin curriculum at Prairie Moon.

 

Grades Music Teacher | 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grades Violin Teacher | Ms. Marianne Carter 

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Marianne has enjoyed teaching violin at Prairie Moon Waldorf School since 2016. She believes music education is “instrumental” in improving students’ focus, perseverance, and critical thinking skills. Learning to play music in a group setting creates an important sense of community and working with students to develop confident and competent musicianship is challenging, rewarding, and fun.

A veteran performer, composer, and teacher she has taught strings and voice privately for 30 years at Prairie Music, her studio in Lawrence, KS. and has honed her craft in the Lied.Art.Teach programs (a Lied Center initiative through which she participated in a series of “Arts-Integrated Residencies and Workshops” seminars created by the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts). She has toured for many years with the Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission and the Mid-America Arts Alliance touring programs. She enjoys traveling and believes travel inspires a cultural triangulation that fosters understanding of self and world. Through a research grant from the University of Kansas, where she studied violin, and the "Paretsky Award for Creativity," Marianne traveled to France to study the rich musical traditions of Brittany, the Celtic region of France. Other travels have taken her to Bali, Newfoundland, Morocco, Ireland, North Africa, Mali, and India and have inspired many original compositions. Currently, she performs with her Original World Music group “Voyager” and as "Matty Striker" at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival. As a teaching artist, she presents World Music, American Traditional Music, and Songwriting programs and workshops.

 

Grades Woodwork Teacher | Mr. Brian Langham 

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Biography to come.