Faculty

Early Childhood

 

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 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 Teacher | Ms. Maya Weil

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"The small moments of epiphany create excitement, joy, and understanding. One of these moments for me, is knowing the power to decide what is beautiful. Actively bringing my attention to that which I personally find beautiful is what has brought me to Prairie Moon Waldorf School.

"My journey started as a young child just like us all. I see, feel, and honor the small humans of the world as I honor my own inner child. We are blossoming in mind, body, and spirit, and all parts need nourishment to thrive as happy, healthy individuals and communities of any age. My values are rooted in the magic and intelligence of life. To me we are all expressions of the divine and deserve to feel this in the hearts and minds of the adults that surround us. I share the utmost respect and awe of small humans that surprise me with wonder spontaneously. I strive to create understanding, patience, and compassion around each child that the jewel in each may have an opportunity to shine; to view the child as intelligent and to give them a stream of unconditional love. This is my intention as a teacher and my spiritual work.

"I was born and raised in Lawrence, Kansas. At a very young age, music, dance, teamwork, and the curiosities of other cultures were deeply instilled. Travel and the desire to experience the world took me as a teen through the British Isles, Germany, France, Italy, India, Bali, Hawaii, and much of the west coast of the United States. I studied at university for one year exploring dance, environmental geology, ceramics, biology, and political science. With too many passions I again took to find my beautiful, my purpose, my experience of the world. I studied Massage Therapy in San Francisco at the National Holistic Institute, and began to nanny small children. I did an Herbalist internship at the Herb Pharm in Williams Oregon. I experienced bringing a spiritual being into the world with my confidence that the Earth is my home and to trust. My son became my next chapter of schooling. What was most important to me was to be with him; to observe him. I made my practice to be present as much as I could. Parenthood is a massive learning process that is delivered, breathed, and lived differently by each child and parent anew. Igniting love, compassion, understanding, and joy are the balms of this time and continue as they, we, all change and grow.

"As in many great tales, the heart shows the traveler that what they were seeking was where it all began, at home. With new perspectives and many treasures of information I return to my birthplace to share and grow new roots and branches. Community, family, and genuine caring for a space, a bit of earth, is at the heart of all the beautiful places and people I have met no matter where we are on this incredible globe.

"Prairie Moon holds me in a community devoted to the values in my heart, and I hold Prairie Moon with my head, heart, and hands." 

 

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 Assistant Teacher | Ms. Haley Snyder

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Haley spent her early childhood in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, before moving to her family’s hometown in Texas. She graduated Wheaton College with a degree in Elementary Education with a focus in Early Childhood, spending her summers working for a foster care shelter in Tulsa. She met her husband while studying abroad in Oxford University, and has three children. When she moved to Omaha, Nebraska, in 2014, she co-founded a Waldorf-inspired cooperative, which grew and flourished under her leadership over the next four years. She led regular field trips to Prairie Moon until 2018, when she joined the PMWS faculty.

“I’ve always been passionate about child development and education theory, but have often been disappointed by how poorly classroom practices reflect what I’d learned. After exploring a variety of curricula across public and private institutions, I’ve found that the Waldorf philosophy most effectively embodies the ideals of holistic development and multi-faceted education. I’m genuinely grateful to serve among the educators and students of Prairie Moon.”

 

Preschool/ Kindergarten Assistant Teacher | Ms. Cecilia Harris

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“I began my journey in early childhood when I became an assistant at my son’s school during his first grade year. I realized that I loved the field and went to school to get my degree in Early Childhood Development. I have taught in many settings, the last four years being at UMKC—Berkley Child and Family Development Center.

“Coming from 14 years in early childhood teaching, I am new to Waldorf Schools. I was drawn to Waldorf Early Childhood/Kindergartens, specifically Prairie Moon, by their practices of gentle rhythms, philosophy of giving children time, and basis of spirituality in humanity and nature. What I saw as simplifying their program to allow for a real presence with the children, resonated with me to be the most natural way to allow the children to grow. As I was researching Waldorf Education, I remember hearing a Waldorf educator state, ‘We have slowed down the pace so that we see no one is rushing.’ I knew, then, that the only way to really apply what I desired in Waldorf ways, was to be immersed within it. I am blessed to be a part of Prairie Moon and to have the opportunity to explore its essence!”

Preschool/Kindergarden Aftercare Assistant Teacher | Ms. Molly Wenger

Photo and biography to come.

 

Grades

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

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"I am the daughter of two visual artists. I grew up thinking that all adults spent their time creating beauty and harmony of colors and shapes and was surprised (and perhaps still am) that many adults do other things.

"When I was ten years old I moved with my mother to Italy, where I was placed in fifth grade in the local Italian public school. Although I spoke no Italian when I first got there, within weeks I understood, then spoke, then read, and finally wrote the language fluently. I completed school in Italy in the public school system.                 

"I promised to attend the University of Kansas for a year, I got married to my husband Massimo, had three babies who changed my whole world and have been my inspiring muses ever since, received a Bachelor’s Degree in Classical Languages and Classical Antiquities and a Master’s Degree in Classical Languages and I have not left Kansas yet. I unschooled my three children, taught Italian at K.U., and moved to a farm where my husband and I taught ourselves animal husbandry, gardening, canning and cheese-making.

"My fourth child came to us six years ago and, amidst the fog of teen-aged angst and college applications of the prior three children, changed the course of our lives again. It was Zoe who brought me to Prairie Moon, and thanks to her experience here I have fallen in love with this school, the people who gravitate towards it and the promise of renewal it bears with it.

 "I am currently in training as a Waldorf teacher through the Scuola Waldorf Silvana Corrazza di Sagrado, in Friuli, Italy.

"I am very grateful to be the first grade teacher for the 2018-2019 school year."

 

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 7th year at Prairie Moon, Molly teaches the 6th grade class. 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 | Ms. Holly Taylor

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Holly Taylor is a board-certified music therapist, and a graduate of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music. She has worked with children and adults of various backgrounds and has worked in many different settings including schools, community centers, hospitals and mental health facilities. Whatever the setting, it is her goal to create opportunities for artistic souls to collaborate and express their jewels of wisdom into the world. Holly is also the music director for Unity of Lawrence, and a singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist for Folk in the Flow, Star Sister Revival and The Soul Thread Legion. She has taught private piano and percussion lessons for several years and is excited to bring the healing essence of music into the Waldorf School setting. She is the mother of two boys, loves traveling, photography, and exploring the music of various cultures.

 

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.

 

Educational Support Staff | Ms. Theresa Lopes 

Photo and biography to come.

Grades Woodwork Teacher | Mr. Brian Langham 

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Biography to come.