Faculty and Staff
Michael Frosch, School Director
Michael has more than twenty years of experience successfully leading and managing Steiner-based educational organizations, specifically Ruskin Mill College, Ruskin Mill Trust, Sunfield School, and St Christopher’s School in the UK, and nine years of experience as a Science Teacher at the Vancouver Waldorf School. He earned a BS in Biology from Simon Fraser University, Vancouver Canada, and holds an MBA from Bath University.
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John Darby, Director of Admissions and Enrollment
Send an email to John.
Amy Flaum, Administrator
Amy has worked at Hawthorne Valley for 13 years, previously in the Admissions and Development Offices. She also is the girls’ volleyball coach. Amy earned a B.S. in Elementary Education from Springfield College, and is a Hawthorne Valley alum. In her off time she enjoys children’s literature, gardening, and playing volleyball.
To send Amy an email, click here.
Taylor Race, Athletics Director, High School Physical Education teacher, High School Administrator
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Emily Thorington, Main Office Receptionist
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Early Childhood Faculty
Andree T. Ward, Parent-Child Teacher
Andree participates in the annual WECAN conferences in Spring Valley, NY, and has also attended several international conferences in Dornach, Switzerland. She has gained further professional development by attending conferences which focus on specific topics, such as puppetry and birth-to-three. She has attended Association of Waldorf Schools of North American (AWSNA) conferences as the delegate for HVS. She is a member of WECAN, the Anthroposophical Society, First Class, and Pedagogical Section. Andree has been a core member of the Alkion Center since its inception and teaches in the two year Foundation Studies program and the annual Summer Intensive. She directs the courses in the Early Childhood Specialization of the Waldorf Teacher Training Program.
To send Andree an email, click here
Walli Zay, Peach Blossom Nursery Teacher, Kindergarten Playgroup Teacher, Aftercare Teacher and Summer Camp Coordinator
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Katie Demers, Peach Blossom Nursery Assistant and Grade One Playgroup Teacher
Katie graduated with a BFA in Musical Theatre from The Hartt School of Music. She has been studying dance, acting, and voice since she was 7 years old and has performed in many plays and musicals throughout her life. Katie has also collaborated with many musicians and bands as well.
Although she had been around Waldorf Education her whole life, it was the birth of her son that led her to Anthroposophy. After attending baby classes and parent toddler classes with her son in Waldorf settings, she felt drawn to becoming a teacher in Waldorf Early Childhood. She began teaching in the Peach Blossom room 7 years ago when her son began kindergarten in the Rose room. In that time, Katie began the Alkion program and is in the process of completing the three year program with a Certification in Waldorf Early Childhood.
Katie study’s Herbal Medicine and enjoys making salves, tinctures, and medicinal teas and medicine for her family and friends. In her free time she enjoys seeing live music, being outdoors, birding, skiing, camping, and hiking up mountains.
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Nancy Disbrow, Rose Kindergarten Teacher
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Dorothea Davis, Rose Kindergarten Assistant
Janene Ping, Morning Star Kindergarten Teacher and Kindergarten Chair
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Erica Freed, Morning Star Kindergarten Assistant
Erica began her time at Hawthorne Valley apprenticing on the farm through the North American Bio dynamic Association Apprenticeship Program. She studied Literature and Sustainable Agriculture at Green Mountain College, then traveled and worked in both bio dynamic agriculture and education throughout the Northeast. Before college, Erica worked as a teacher’s assistant in a children’s hospital and as a camp counselor at an outdoor Quaker camp. Her interests include poetry, gardening, foraging and crafting, and animal husbandry.
To send Erica an email, click here
Lower School Class Teachers
Marie Conroe, Grade One Class Teacher
Marie has been involved in education and community building work since 2009, including working in schools and Camphill communities, teaching English and music abroad, tutoring, and organizing community events and workshops. Just prior to joining Hawthorne Valley School, Marie worked in the Kindergarten at Marin Waldorf School in Northern California.
Cara Stone, Grade Two Class Teacher
She is a lifelong student of Anthroposophy and has been active in Waldorf Education for over 25 years. She has taught in various Waldorf school settings for 10 years and will carry her Waldorf Teacher Certification training through to the end in 2017.
Cara has also worked in the healing arts as a massage therapist and energy bodywork therapist since 2000. She loves to travel, meditate, be in nature, spend time with her family, and do many artistic activities including, knitting, painting, sewing, acting, singing, and leading an ongoing Circle for the women of the community.
To reach Cara by email, click here
Meaghan McKenna, Grade Three Class Teacher
Meaghan holds a Bachelor’s degree in the Social Sciences from Harvard University where she graduated cum laude. She also holds a Master’s degree in Education from Antioch University. Meaghan has extensive experience teaching at the Early Childhood level. Her Waldorf teaching experience outside of Hawthorne Valley includes three years at Morning Meadow Waldorf School. Meaghan moved into teaching in the grades in 2013. When not teaching, she enjoys visiting the beach, handwork, poetry, drawing, yoga, meditation and spending time with her three children.
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Andrew Sansone, Grade Four Class Teacher
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Karin Almquist, Grade Five Class Teacher
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Trina Lacey, Grade Six Class Teacher
Trina received her B.A. degree from Sarah Lawrence College, where she studied Creative Writing and Humanities. She holds a Master of Arts in Education from the City College of New York, and will complete final requirements for her Waldorf Teacher Certification in 2018. Trina comes to Hawthorne Valley from The Rudolf Steiner School of Ann Arbor, where she taught high school English and worked in the nursery and kindergarten. She completed the New York City Teaching Fellowship in 2010, and taught at the middle school level for five years in NYC and then Detroit.
Trina’s teaching career began in 2004 with therapeutic farm-based education; she trained in therapeutic settings for several years. She has served as an academic advisor, residential counselor, and house parent for early adolescents and teenagers. Trina has also worked as a published curriculum author in the area of Language Arts, and as a developmental editor for spiritual writers. When she is not teaching, Trina loves to sing, kayak, hike, write fiction, practice yoga, and study the healing and contemplative arts.
Kelly Weimer, Grade Seven Class Teacher
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Kevin Kilb, Grade Eight Class Teacher
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Stuart Summer, EARTH Program Teacher
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Lisa Damian, EARTH Program Teacher
Emily Kozakiewicz, EARTH Program Teacher and Gardener
High School Faculty
John Cronin, Science, Math, and Woodworking Teacher
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Susan Ambrose, Spanish Teacher, International Student Coordinator, and English as a Second Language (ESL) Teacher
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Candace Christiansen, Chemistry, Math, Lab Skills, and Practical Arts Teacher
Simon Frishkoff, High School Chair, Science and Music Teacher
Simon is the high school’s chairperson and biology teacher, and assists in the music program throughout the lower and high school. He completed the Waldorf Teacher Training course with a Science track at the Center for Anthroposophy in 2009. His prior education includes a B.A. in Theater from Oberlin College and a Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University. Simon has taught the sciences (primarily Biolo-gy) and math, physical education, and music at Hawthorne Valley School in both the lower and high schools. Previ-ously he guest taught at the Lake Champlain Waldorf School and Burlington College. He was a naturopathic physi-cian in Vermont for seven years. Simon’s interests include natural medicine, music, writing and performing.
To reach Simon by email, click here
Jennifer Kenyon, Language Arts and History Teacher
Brett LaFave, Math Teacher
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Abe Madey, Science, Math and Metalworking Teacher
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Eric G. Müller, English and Drama Teacher
Currently he teaches English and Drama in the High School. The blocks he teaches include Eschenbach’s Parzival, Goethe’s Faust, Homer’s The Odyssey, History through Music, and Comedy and Tragedy. He is a founding member of the Alkion Center, and the director of the education department. Over the years he has served as both faculty and college (council) chair, and sat on numerous committees, such as the Teacher Development Committee, which holds a special interest for him. He has written two novels as well as a collection of poetry. To learn more about Eric’s work, please visit his website [http://www.ericgmuller.com].
To reach Eric by email, click here
James Thompson, English Teacher
James completed coursework for his BA in Psychology & English and his MA in English at the University at Albany. His academic interests include positive affect, sustainability, and stewardship. James primarily teaches mid-day English classes at HVS with an emphasis on the development of critical and creative thinking.
David Anderson, 10th and 12th Grade Play Director
David was an English Teacher at Weimar Waldorf School in Germany and has taught various courses in England and Ireland. He spent three years acting, writing, and teaching at Shakespeare Alive! in Massachusetts. In addition to directing plays at Hawthorne Valley, Mr. Anderson is a director, actor, and workshop leader at Walking the Dog Theater. His other significant interests include poetry, performing, and hiking.
To reach David by email, click here
Diane Barnes, Grades Three, Four and Five Music Teacher, and Grades Four and Five String Ensemble
Diane Barnes graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music with a degree in Music Education/Voice; from Rudolf Steiner College (foundation year and teacher training year, and Extra Lesson training); and from the Raphael School for Singing and Singing Therapy out of the Uncovering the Voice impulse brought by Frau Werbeck-Svardstrom. She attended many singing conferences in Eckwalden, Germany and worked with master voice teacher Jurgen Schriefer. She also studied the lyre for many years.
Diane was a Waldorf class teacher for 6 years and taught music to grades 1 – 8 in Waldorf schools for 26 years. For the past 4 years and continuing she is doing music/therapeutic singing work and Extra Lesson work with students at the Housatonic Valley Waldorf School, teaches a block of music through the grades for the Alkion teacher training program, and is completing a year of teaching music for Lifeways training. She is well-versed in music through the grades and the Mood of the Fifth and recognizes the importance of bringing the new instruments into the music work. Diane also gives freelance concerts with singing and with the lyre, and has soloed and sung with the Hudson Valley Choral Society. She gives private lessons in singing and in lyre locally, and she offers therapeutic singing to those in need.
Jong-Won Choi, Eurythmy Teacher
Jong-Won completed the Eurythmy Training Program at the Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks, CA, receiving a eurythmy diploma recognized by the Goetheanum. In addition to that, she completed TETNA (the Therapeutic Eurythmy Training in North America) in Copake, NY. She also completed the Foundation Year Program at the Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks, CA. She received her M.A. in Education and her B.A. from Seoul National University in Seoul, Korea. She is a member of the Anthroposophical Society in America, the Eurythmy Association of North America, and the Association for Therapeutic Eurythmy in North America. Her hobbies and interests include reading, handwork, cooking and baking.
To reach Jong-Won by email, click here
Nathaniel Drake, Student Teacher, Lower School
Maria Jimena Concha, Spanish Teacher
Kara Desiderio, School Nurse
Kara serves as the school’s nurse. Originally from Columbia County, she holds a B.A. in Ethnomusicology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a B.S. in Nursing from New York University. Kara has been a long time community healthcare advocate working for innovative harm reduction efforts in California and New York. Most recently she led a statewide transgender health program in California and worked in the Emergency Room at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. In addition to being a Registered Nurse, she is a certified sex educator, herbalist, and is passionate about school based healthcare. She strives to inspire young people to take care of their bodies and make healthy choices as they grow. Kara loves traveling, swimming holes, and snuggling her tiny dog, Lionel.
To reach Kara by email, click here
Cecelia Elinson, Early Childhood Place-based Resource Teacher
Cecelia began teaching at Hawthorne Valley in 1987. In the past, she has served as a Cobbler’s Assistant, a dairy farmhand, and as an organic garden assistant in Israel tending to orchards, beehives, and gardens. She studied Botany and Meteorology at Cabrillo Junior College, has received her Certification in Waldorf Education at Highland Hall and also studied the Classics at Wayne State University.
To reach Cecelia by email, click here
Mike Haley, Lower School Games Teacher
Claudia Knab-Vispo, High School Adjunct
Claudia earned her PhD in Land Resources from University of Wisconsin-Madison, and her Diplome Arbeit from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen, in Munich Germany. Claudia one of the founders of Hawthorne Valley’s Farmscape Ecology Program, and is the field botanist there. After working on enthnobotany in Venezuela, she returned to look at the plants of farm fields (ethnobotany of a sort) and wilder places in and around Columbia County. Much of her recent work has involved following-up on Rogers McVaugh’s flora of Columbia County. The fieldwork for that publication was done in the 1930s and, with the help of Rogers’ unpublished fieldnotes, Claudia has been returning to his sampling sites in order to update our botanical knowledge of the County.
To reach Claudia by email, click here
Nancy Lundy, Middle School and High School Chorus Teacher
A former Hawthorne Valley parent, Nancy Lundy has worked with the MS chorus girls for the past two years while also leading sectional rehearsals with the HS. She prepared the soloists in HVS’s last 6 Winter Concerts of Handel’s Messiah. She has been a professional opera singer for the past 23 years. Her career has taken her around the globe as a soloist with some of the world’s most prestigious opera companies and orchestras including La Scala, NY City Opera, Houston Grand, Netherlands Opera, Montreal Symphony at Carnegie Hall, and Philadelphia Orchestra. She has a Masters of Music degree from Eastman School of Music and was a fellow at The Juilliard Opera Center.
To reach Nancy by email, click here
Kristin Madey-Pilgrim, Lower School German Teacher
Martina Angela Müller, Arts Teacher
Always searching for the spiritual in art, Martina is a visual artist practicing in a number of different fields. Apart from numerous exhibits of her work in galleries and various area venues, she has been internationally published as a children’s book illustrator, and has taught painting, drawing and sculpture at adult education centers and at the middle and high school level. The main body of her work is abstract painting, fueled by the ongoing question into the nature and expression of color. Born and raised in Germany, she studied art at Emerson College in England, at Ruhruniversität Bochum, and at the Institute for Waldorf Pedagogy in Witten Annen, Germany. In her mid-twenties she moved to Eugene Oregon, where she was artist-in-residence at the Lane County Council of the Arts, and cofounder of the Waldorf Teacher Education Program where she was head of the art department for several years. In upstate New York she was cofounder of Gallery 345, an experimental Arts Collective in Hudson, NY whose mission it was to engage the viewers in dialogue and activities. She is currently working as a freelance artist and teaches at the Alkion Center for Adult Education, of which she is a cofounder, and at Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School. She and her husband Eric Müller have three grown sons and live in Ghent, NY, where she maintains her art studio.
To reach Martina by email, click here
Bonnie Nordoff, Piano Accompanist
Sylvia Nordoff, Lower School Eurthmy Teacher
Caroline O’Neill, Handwork Teacher
Caroline has taught all lower school grade levels, and also serves as manager for the school store Turose Craft & Gift Shop. She received her certification for Handwork at Sunbridge College and a Bachelor’s of Science in Urban and Environmental Planning from Worcester PolyTech. She has both attended and taught at Handwork conferences. Caroline’s hobbies include hiking, canoeing, traveling, craftwork and natural dyeing.
To reach Caroline by email, click here
Sara Parrilli, Middle and High School Arts Teacher
Sara Parrilli is an alumna of the Green Meadow Waldorf School in Spring Valley, NY. She graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC, with a BA cum laude in Fashion Design, Specialization Knitwear. She spent a college semester abroad at Nottingham Trent University in the UK, where she expanded her knowledge of both manually-operated and computerized knitting machines. Prior to joining Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School, Sara completed two years of anthroposophical painting training at the Free Columbia Art Course in Philmont, NY. She is currently in the final stages of completing her Waldorf Teacher Training at the Alkion Center. When she is not teaching, Sara works as an artist, pursuing her many creative interests. She is often found painting, drawing, sewing, gardening, hiking, dancing and experimenting in the kitchen. Examples of her artwork can be found on her website at saraparrilli.com.
Michael Pewtherer, Practical Arts Teacher
Mike studied Adventure Education at Prescott College, Biology at SUNY Columbia-Greene and received a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies with a Minor in Wilderness Education from SUNY Empire State. He has received Waldorf teacher training at Alkion Center. He taught the Naturalist Program at Hartsbrook. His is a director at Woodland Ways, a Wilderness First Responder and author. His interests include SCUBA and free diving, hunting & tracking.
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Marianne Rannenberg, Reading Specialist
Marianne brings over 25 years of teaching experience in a variety of settings to her work at Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School. With a strong background in humanistic, student-centered education (Ecole d’Humanité, Switzerland) and early music and music education (Schola Cantorum, Musik Akademie, Basel, Switzerland), as well as a degree in developmental reading (MS, University at Albany; NY State certification K-12), she brings a creative, individualized approach to her work. Her long-standing involvement with Waldorf education since 1980, together with her strong interest in learning differences help her to integrate a holistic vision of each child with instruction that is carefully tailored to address specific needs. Marianne currently teaches both in her home in Harlemville and at Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School.
To reach Marianne by email, click here
Gretchen Rueckheim, Grade Four and Five String Ensemble and Middle School Orchestra
Gretchen Rueckheim is a versatile musician, with training and experience in choral, keyboard, and instrumental music. She studied music education at SUC Fredonia and performance at Michigan State University.
While a student at Fredonia, she performed professionally with the Erie Philharmonic Orchestra in Erie, Pa. At Michigan State she toured with the Wind Ensemble, Symphony Band, and Symphony Orchestra.
The past several years, Gretchen has conducted the Hudson Valley Choral Society in performances of many major and minor choral works.
Gretchen teaches keyboard and instrumental music at Little Falls School of Music in Kinderhook, and has a band instrument repair business.
Helen Suter, High School Sculpture Teacher, Middle School Block Printing Teacher, and Mosaic Teacher
Helen has lived in Switzerland, Peru, and South Africa, where she attended the German School and made her first acquaintance with Anthroposophy. She received a B.A. with honors in Fine Arts at the University of Cape Town’s Michaelis School of Fine Arts. She went on to earn an Advanced Diploma and M.F.A. in Sculpture, both summa cum laude, while teaching History of Art Seminars and Foundation Year Sculpture at Michaelis.
Her work includes large-scale welded and assembled steel and mixed-media constructions, as well as textile and installation works. Her art has been exhibited internationally in more than 80 gallery and museum shows, including the Cape Town Biennial, the Newark Museum and the Norman Rockwell Museum grounds.To see some of her work, visit her website.
She attended the Alkion Center at Hawthorne Valley and received a certificate in Foundation Studies. Taking up teaching in the Waldorf school environment and sharing her passion for art with her students, is a hugely rewarding and inspiring experience for Helen.
To reach Helen by email, click here
Conrad Vispo, High School Adjunct Teacher
Conrad earned his PhD in Wildlife Ecology from the University of Wisconsin, an MS in Wildlife Ecology from Indiana State University, and a BS Wildlife Ecology from Cornell. Conrad is currently adjunct faculty at the Cornell University Dept. of Horticulture. Before returning to Columbia County, where he grew up, Conrad conducted ecological research on a variety of organisms, including mammals, birds and fish in a variety of places, including the woods of northern Wisconsin and tropical Venezuela. His recent focus is on agroecology – investigating the questions of what habitats can farmland provide for native species and, in turn, what can those native species provide to farming? Conrad’s passion is understanding historical and modern patterns of animal (including human) ecology on the land. Conrad is a founding member of Hawthorne Valley’s Farmscape Ecology Program.
To reach Conrad by email, click here