“Our highest endeavor must be to develop free human beings who are able of themselves to impart purpose and direction to their lives. The need for imagination, a sense of truth, and a feeling of responsibility—these three forces are the very nerve of education.”
— Rudolf Steiner
Faculty and Staff members at Maple Village Waldorf school bring a collective teaching experience of well over 100 years. They are gifted individuals who bring exceptional dedication to Waldorf Education and the freedom in which Steiner intended. They are committed to on-going self-development so as to be the examples to the students and bring engagement and inspiration to each lesson . Their vast experience from around the world allows them to present subjects with a greater panoramic view. They are a flexible group of individuals who work together to support and mentor one another with respect and appreciation.
Parent-Child (Baby and Toddler) Faculty:
Francesca Preponis Lead Teacher
Francesca Preponis feels blessed to serve as lead teacher of Maple Village’s parent/child programs (Parent/Toddler and Baby & Me class) as well…
…as the middle school chorus teacher. Her journey with Waldorf Education began when her first child began attending MVWS’ parent/toddler class, fully immersing herself in the years since in learning all she can about Waldorf. She holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in music and owned and operated a Waldorf-inspired early childhood music enrichment program as well as working as a freelance vocalist and chorus teacher. This is Francesca’s third year as the lead teacher of the Parent/Child programs and fifth year as MVWS’s chorus teacher. When she isn’t teaching Francesca enjoys hiking and camping with her family, traveling, making music, making things with her hands and growing food.
Marisa Togiaso Assistant Teacher
Marisa Togiaso was born and raised in San Diego, California. She has been working with children for over 10 years, offering creative…
…sensory spaces for younger children to explore the world. After her first child was born, Marisa opened her home to lactating parents, offering a comfortable safe place for them to chat about the difficulties that can arise in the breastfeeding relationship, along the spectrum of growth from newborns to full term nurslings. Marisa loved holding space for parents, and even more so enjoyed watching the children who attended these inclusive gatherings, playing and exploring organically. Evolving from a Lactation Educator, she then felt called to join her mentors as an All Birth Doula, or Birth Assistant. She completed an advanced course on Ancient Postpartum healing, and dedicated time focusing her efforts on healing the birth mother and lifting up the whole family, while ensuring all siblings are adjusting well to their new family dynamic. Marisa held baby-sign read-alongs, and taught baby sign language to local parenting groups. Gently guiding her own children during the vital early childhood years, these experiences have prepared Marisa in many ways to fall into the role of Parent Toddler Assistantship. As a full-time Mum, and Parent at Maple Village, Marisa is inspired by the magic and wonder of Waldorf Early Childhood Education. Creating rhythm and simplistic beauty in her home, she has witnessed how this way of life can truly transform families for the better. Marisa believes that growth is infinite and children are the best teachers. She looks forward to further growth and deeper learning in the years to come.
Early Childhood Faculty:
Mele McCabe Poppy Preschool Lead Teacher
Mele McCabe earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Child Development and Family Studies from Cal State University of Long Beach.
Prior to that, she taught high school English in Tonga for six years and taught Tongan language to Peace Corps volunteers for three years. After three years working as assistant preschool teacher at Maple Village, she is now in her fourth year as the lead teacher of the Poppy Preschool class. She has three children and enjoys watching them grow. Her hobbies are reading, landscaping her home, having tea with her friends and neighbors, listening to music, and walking.
…working with kids with behavioral challenges. Currently, she is working toward her Waldorf teacher certification. In her free time she enjoys cooking, a passion discovered while living in Italy for many years. She also likes reading, feeling the wind in her face while she rides her bike, traveling and learning more about different cultures. She also enjoys singing to her cat. By living in different countries she became trilingual, she is fluent in Spanish, Italian and English… and basic Portuguese. Angie started her career at Waldorf as a little after care assistant and playgroup-bridge assistant/lead teacher at Waldorf School Orange County. She fell in love with the Waldorf education the second she first observed a kindergarten class, and knew that being a teacher here was a job with purpose, and a role that would bring her joy every day. Angie has a smile and warm attitude whenever she goes. Lately, she is interested in the art of storytelling and therapeutically approaches for children with sensorial and social challenges. She now lives in Long Beach where she enjoys its diversity and sense of community.
…values everywhere, not just in Waldorf settings. In 2016 she expanded her focus to include parent coaching, consulting, and home visits to support the creation of organized spaces for families and children as well as leading storytelling workshops for parents and teachers. With her background in Child Development and Family and Child Therapy, she has the opportunity to work in a variety of settings including schools, hospitals, family homes, counseling centers, and clinics. Lately, she has felt especially drawn to the art of storytelling and writing. She is delighted to be at Maple Village and to work with the Larkspur Class.
Elaine Black Dandelion Kindergarten Assistant Teacher
Elaine Black is a Long Beach native. She graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a degree in English—Creative Writing in 2014.
She then came to work at Maple Village in the fall of 2014. She was originally hired as a part-time assistant in the Sunflower kindergarten but fate pulled her into the grades as an aide. For the past five years Elaine has served as a one on one for many children in the grades program. She is grateful to have worked alongside and learned from so many talented grades teachers. Elaine has worn many hats during her time at Maple Village and you may have seen her supporting students in various classrooms, on yard duty, tutoring students, and teaching in extended care over the past years. In the Spring of 2018 she completed her foundation studies in the program offered by the Waldorf School of Orange county. In completing this program she has furthered her knowledge of Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy. Elaine is excited and grateful for the opportunity to step into a kindergarten assistant position with the Larkspur class. She looks forward to continuing to grow and learn during her journey at Maple Village.
Elementary School Faculty:
Eloise Gelber Grade 1 – Teacher
Eloise Gelber is a graduate of the Pasadena Waldorf School and Highland Hall High School. She recently completed her teacher training…
…at the Waldorf Institute of Southern California, is finishing her Waldorf Practical Arts Training and has a B.A. in Human Development from Pacific Oaks College. A part of the Waldorf community for more than 25 years, she is excited to make the best use of the opportunity our teachers have- to be part of forming the kind, fulfilling, creative, supportive learning environment that every child deserves.
Between high school and entering teacher training Eloise spent most of her time working in a used book store. It was a little like being inside a novel and every day was an adventure in humanity. It was also a fabulous education in itself- from the daughters of Genghis Khan to the libraries of Timbuktu, the world is an endlessly fascinating place. Because there are few careers that allow one to explore so many interests- folktales and history, geometry and poetry, physics and gardening, painting and writing- she has never really doubted she would end up teaching.
In her spare time, Eloise enjoys reading, painting, travel, photography, and gardening. A Los Angeles native, she loves our seasons (which are real, even though without ice scrapers and antifreeze), and looks forward to sharing that love of place with her students.
Allison Stovall Grade 2 – Redbud Trees Teacher
Allison Stovall began her journey as a teacher began in her hometown of Louisville, Kentucky in theater education.
In wanting to expand her craft, she pursued a Master’s degree in teaching in elementary education. Her friends encouraged her to look into Waldorf Education since her interest was in integrating the arts into teaching. When she attended a showcase for teacher training in Kentucky, she immediately recognized the value and importance of Waldorf Education. As she finished her Master’s program, she began attending Waldorf workshops that eventually led to a teacher training program.
Although she integrated Waldorf Education into her public school classroom, she decided she wanted more freedom within the curriculum so she decided to fully commit to the work of a Waldorf class teacher. She found her first class of spirited children with a vibrant love of learning at the Brooklyn Waldorf School and took them from 1st – 5th grade. From imaginative stories from diverse backgrounds, to active math lessons involving thousands of acorns that were ultimately turned into pancakes, to class plays in three different languages, to constructing an igloo, she has cherished every year for different reasons. While she was sad to leave the Brooklyn Waldorf School after five years, she is ready for the next adventure and looks forward to getting to know and work with all the families of the Redbud class.
Barbara (Bobbie) Gonzales Grade 3 – Sequoia Trees Teacher
Bobbie Gonzales was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She has a BA in Human Development with an emphasis on Child…
…Development and has also received her Waldorf Teaching Certificate from the Waldorf Institute of Southern California. Bobbie has been teaching at the Pasadena Waldorf School for the past fifteen years, is bilingual in Spanish and English and has a true passion for Waldorf Education. She has four daughters, lives in Pico Rivera and loves to read and travel. Her Waldorf journey began nearly 20 years ago with the birth of her first daughter. Bobbie was raised in public schools, and while she enjoyed her school years and thrived academically, instinctually she knew something was missing. In an effort to ensure her children would receive a holistic education. She began to research different educational methods. She was thrilled to find Waldorf education, as this was exactly what she had envisioned. Her first experience with “Waldorf children” confirmed her beliefs. The education she had envisioned for her daughter soon became an education for herself. After many years of school with a focus in law and work experience in accounting, she was approached about the possibility of joining Pasadena Waldorf School under the tutelage of Master Teacher, Sam Glaze. Bobbie worked alongside him for grades 2, 3, and 4. While reading Renewal magazine, she chanced upon an article about the Waldorf School in Guanajuato, Mexico (Colegio Yeccan). The following year Bobbie moved to Mexico, enrolled her daughter at Colegio Yeccan and she became the foreign language teacher for grades 1-8. When circumstances beyond anyone’s control took the first grade teacher back to the States, Bobbie eagerly stepped into the role of interim first grade teacher. Her move to Mexico was always intended to be a one-year experience, and Bobbie returned to the Pasadena Waldorf School. After many years assisting, co-teaching and leading in grades 1 – 5, Bobbie is very excited to take her own class and become a part of our Maple Village community.
Jewel Nicholson Grade 4 – Laurel Trees Teacher
Jewel Nicholson was born and raised in Long Beach, California. She has a BA in Studio Art with an emphasis in photography…
…and is currently enrolled at the Waldorf Institute of Southern California, where she is on a journey to receive her Waldorf Teaching certification. For the past three years, she has served the Maple Village community with her wisdom, love, laughter, and dedication. She has worn many hats, and taken on various roles and is now excitedly taking on the position as the Second Grade Practice Lesson Co-Teacher. As with most of her life experiences, Jewel serendipitously fell into the Waldorf community. Jewel believes that living with a keen sense of self-awareness, and walking through the journey of life with an open heart and a sound mind has the potential to lead you to the most magical and soul-rewarding places. After traveling up and down the coast – living in an old hunting lodge at the top of a mountain in Darby, Montana for a stint, then making her way to the heart of the international district of Seattle, Washington – Jewel found that she was ready to return back to Long Beach to grow roots. She was hoping to water these roots by finding a way to make a living by following her passions, utilizing her natural born gifts, and refining her mind, heart, and hands through mental, soulful, and skillful expansion. As it was written in the soul of Jewel’s journey through this lifetime, she stumbled into the doors of Maple Village as if guided by cosmic wind. Three years later, its pedagogy speaks to her moral compass and wishes for educational reformation even more with the encroachment of her fourth year held warmly by the Maple Village community. Jewel looks forward to amplifying the love and support that we all wish to provide this year’s rising second graders as they walk through this human experience, as well as the future generations and keepers of our Earth.
Basil Hernandez Grade 5 – Palm Trees
Basil Hernandez was part of the first graduating class at the Chicago Waldorf School and went on to get his BA in Biology…
…from California State University of Long Beach. He was an Emergency Medical Technician before realizing his destiny as a Waldorf teacher and completing his Waldorf Teacher Training at The Waldorf Institute of Southern California. Basil did his practicum at Maple Village, and he began his teaching at our school in the Kindergarten.
Middle School Faculty:
Paola Schouten Grade 6 – Willow Trees
Paola Schouten was born, raised and educated in the Netherlands. She was exposed to the Waldorf Festivals since childhood…
…which ignited her interest in Waldorf Education. After High School, she studied at the Vrije Pedagogische Academy (Steiner Teacher Training College) in Zeist, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education. She then moved to the US and began her career as a Waldorf teacher in Pasadena.Over the past 30 years she has contributed to the growth of many schools. She has carried two classes all the way through the grades and finished various classes through eighth grade. Paola likes to travel, camp, hike, read and make jewelry. She plays guitar, writes songs and enjoys singing. She also has a great appreciation for nutrition and cooking.
Ania Kubik Grade 7-8 – Shady Rivers
Ania Kubik is a Waldorf-trained class teacher whose specialties are arts and handwork, and whose special interest is in movement. She…
…holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia and a Waldorf Completion Certificate from the Waldorf Institute of Southern California (WISC) in Northridge, California. Ania has taught grades one through five as a class teacher and grades one through eight as a handwork teacher at the Pasadena Waldorf School, and grades five through twelve as an art specialist at the Waldorf School of Orange County. In addition to class teaching the Shady Trees combined class at Maple Village, she also enjoys contributing to Waldorf teacher education in handwork, drawing, clay modeling and painting at WISC, and clay modeling in the adult education program at the Waldorf School of Orange County. Born and raised in Syracuse, New York, and a former resident of the state of Virginia, she lives in Arcadia with her husband, Bill, and her teenage daughter, Tierra. Ania enjoys sharing the richness of the Waldorf grades curriculum with her class families, self-governance of Maple Village Waldorf School with her colleagues, and participating in the community life of the school.
Ririko Oshiro Handwork Teacher
Ririko Oshiro was born and raised in Okinawa, Japan. She earned her BA in communications at Regis College in Massachusetts…
…and her MA in Asian American Study at San Francisco State University. She recently graduated from the Teacher Training program at Waldorf Institute of Southern California (WISC). While being in the training, she taught Japanese Language to Grade 1 to 5 at Waldorf School of Orange County from 2016 to 2018. She joined Maple Village Waldorf School as a parent in 2010 when her son started kindergarten. A few years later, her daughter joined the kindergarten program. Her study of anthroposophy led her to develop a passion for working with children with the Waldorf curriculum. She is grateful and excited for the continuing journey to teach handwork here at MVWS!
Carol Diven Music Teacher
Music has played a huge role in Carol’s life. She cannot remember a time when she was not actively engaged in lessons…
…practicing, performing, and, in many other ways, enjoying the gift that music is to us. Growing up she was incredibly fortunate to have some amazing music teachers; people who taught her how much music can enliven and enrich the life of a child. Through them she learned how to appreciate the nuances and heights to which music can take us; the joy music can bring, and even the challenges, which, inevitably, made me a stronger and better person. When her daughter was in second grade Carol discovered Waldorf Education and immediately realized that she could be a Waldorf teacher! She received her teaching diploma at Rudolf Steiner College in Sacramento, CA., and for the past thirty years has taught in Waldorf schools in California and Pennsylvania, where she has also mentored other teachers and helped to develop and implement strong and vibrant music programs. As a music teacher it is her goal to bring to all her students the same love of and wonder at music that she experienced growing up. When Carol is not teaching she is blessed to spend time with her family, enjoy sailing with friends, and curling up with a good book.
Jay Hemphill Strings Teacher
Jay Hemphill was born and raised in Long Beach, California. He started playing the cello in the 3rd grade…
…and has been unable to put an instrument down ever since. Growing up, he was inspired by the wonderful music teachers in Long Beach, and he has been very fortunate to teach alongside them in the Long Beach Harmony Project for the past 4 years. As a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, composer, and audio technician, Jay is keenly aware of what it takes to become a well rounded musician. He wants to teach his students how to learn, so they are able to teach themselves anything they want to know!
When he is not involved with music, Jay loves to cook, roast coffee, and come up with new ice cream flavors. He is incredibly excited to be at Maple Village and looks forward to growing with this wonderful community!
Francesca Preponis Chorus & Handwork Teacher
Francesca Preponis feels blessed to serve as lead teacher of Maple Village’s parent/child programs (Parent/Toddler and Baby & Me class)…
…as well as the middle school chorus teacher. Her journey with Waldorf Education began when her first child began attending MVWS’ parent/toddler class, fulling immersing herself in the years since in learning all she can about Waldorf. She holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in music and owned and operated a Waldorf-inspired early childhood music enrichment program. She currently enjoys working as a freelance vocalist and chorus teacher. This is Francesca’s third year as the lead teacher of the Parent/Child programs and fifth year as MVWS’s chorus teacher. When she isn’t teaching Francesca enjoys hiking and camping with her family, traveling, making music, making things with her hands and growing food.
Iris Ortiz Spanish Teacher
Iris Ortiz was born and raised in Argentina. In 1968 she became a school teacher and in 1974 she completed her studies…
…as a professor of Piano and Theory. In 1985 she discovered the Waldorf philosophy and began teaching Spanish at Highland Hall Waldorf school and throughout the Los Angeles County. After doing that for seven years, Iris returned to Argentina and opened a children’s program that focused on music and arts and crafts as well as teaching music at several schools. In 2001 she returned to California and to the Waldorf schools and has since been engaged in using music to teach Spanish to children and adults in various settings, from private classes to public and private schools in Orange County. Iris enjoys reading, crafting and knitting and her passions are her 3 grandchildren.
Ciana Lee Games Teacher
Ciana Lee has actively sought being part of educational and creative environments from the beginning.
As the eldest of five, a dancer, an active musician, visual artist, writer and educator she seeks to engage and nurture others to express their freedom and confidence. Spending her high school summers as a camp counselor triggered her passion to guide children and peers to their greatest potential with a sense of fun and imagination. Throughout her education at Ventura Community College she volunteered as an art director with City Corps and facilitated community service engagement for troubled youth. While earning her degree in Art Education from California State University of Long Beach, she gained classroom experience with all ages of students in various Long Beach programs. Ciana is honored to be back at Maple Village Waldorf School for her fifth year.
Lisa J. McCarthy Dean of Education
Lisa J. McCarthy has been a Waldorf Educator for 25 years. Although she loved being in the classroom, she has found so much joy and…
…fulfillment in her role as Dean for past six years, working with teachers, students, parents, administration, the Board and the community. She has a Masters degree in Literature from the University of Kent at Canterbury England and a BA in Sociology with a minor in Psychology from the University of California, Irvine. She started her Waldorf journey as an Early Childhood Education teacher and then focused on teaching Language Arts in elementary and middle school. Lisa founded Maple Cottage Retreat (Waldorf-inspired parent/toddler class) and taught this program out of her home before co-founding Maple Village Waldorf School. Lisa continues to teach Language Arts to the middle school as well as reading with our elementary students. She is passionate about parent education and continues to lead classes for MVWS families and the community. She also puts great importance on having strong connections with students and will stop everything to help a child through a hard day. Dedicated to the environment, Lisa has been instrumental in several Long Beach schools (including MVWS) receiving the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon award. She loves to run, sing and write and has delighted in raising three boys in a home where they grow food, bake, create art and music, build, tell stories and dream.
Andi Levine Interim Director of Operations
Andi Levine was born and raised in a small town in Pennsylvania and attended Penn State University and the University of Manchester…
…in England. She graduated with a B.A. in Communications from PSU and headed to NYC to work in television. After working on Late Night with David Letterman and a few other productions, Andi made her way to Philadelphia to work on Trading Spaces, A Dating Story, and a slew of other TLC shows. Life led Andi up the east coast to Boston to work in advertising production where she met her now, wife, Carissa, an advertising guru, and wicked awesome human.
After spending a few years in Boston, the couple headed west to Los Angeles to work, play and relish in their new love for avocados, live comedy, and saying things like, “I’m stuck in traffic on the 405.” After a successful career in production, Andi was ready to start a family. When their first daughter was born and the preschool search began, Andi toured a Waldorf school and was immediately drawn to the Whole Child approach. Upon relocating to Long Beach and enrolling in the Parent/Tot program at Maple Village, she quickly realized she had found a group of like-minded parents who were making very conscious choices for their children. She also saw people from all walks of life – there was more diversity in that little class than she saw in her entire childhood. The people, the stories and songs, the warmth drew her in and upon reading more about Steiner and the Waldorf pedagogy, she knew this was the right place for her family.
Over the years, Andi has become quite involved in MVWS, serving as Room Parent, a member of the Fundraising and JEDITR Committees, chairing the Gala Committee numerous times, and most recently as Treasurer on the Board of Trustees. The skills honed in her thirteen years of engaging and directing talent, staying on time and on budget, and problem-solving on the fly have proven useful as she has helped guide the school, including the challenges faced during the pandemic. Now, with two kids enrolled at Maple Village and ready to reenter the workforce, Andi steps into the role of Interim Director of Operations with the tentpole values of empathy, transparency, efficiency, and efficacy.
Dedicated and passionate, Andi brings creative and logistical ideas that make a difference, engages others, and helps find resolution, all while preparing yet another allergy-free snack for her two daughters.
Alice Stevens Registrar & Administrative Coordinator
Alice Stevens, originally from Massachusetts, moved out west in 2005 to attend Pitzer College in Claremont, CA. After graduating from Pitzer…
…in 2009 with her B.A. in Media Studies, Alice learned about Waldorf education and was instantly drawn to it. She immediately jumped into Waldorf teacher training, enrolling at Sunbridge Institute in Spring Valley, NY in June 2010. After her first summer in teacher training, Alice moved to Olympia, WA to work as an aftercare teacher and substitute teacher at Olympia Waldorf School. Drawn by a desire to work at a small, pioneering Waldorf school, Alice then moved back down to southern California and in August 2011 began working at Maple Village Waldorf School as the Administrative Assistant. She completed her certificate in Waldorf Elementary Education at Sunbridge in July 2012, and then returned the following summer for a course in Collaborative Leadership. Alice loves working in administration and is now in her tenth year at Maple Village as Administrative & Enrollment Coordinator.
Kari Rahni Admissions & Development Coordinator
Kari Rahni started the Parent Toddler program at Maple Village with her first child. Through the years she became interested to learn more…
…about the Waldorf philosophy and approach to education and completed the Foundation Studies course at WSOC. She is passionate about Waldorf and Maple Village in particular. From the very beginning, she felt the “heart” of this school and she has brought her various experiences and skills to nearly every volunteer committee to help support that “heart”. One of her biggest volunteer commitments has been Chair/Co-chair for the school’s annual Cultural Harvest Faire. With a Design background, she has worked for major companies as well as start-ups. Working with new companies gave her the chance to be involved in every aspect from concept to production, to marketing and building the brand. After becoming a mother, her design interest shifted to baby needs. She designed and patented a baby carrier and started her first business, bibiJun. As she was introduced to Waldorf and its handwork, she was drawn to needle felting, as it allowed her to reconnect with her artistic side. She teamed up with fellow parent, and now MVWS teacher, Francesca Prepois to created needle felted artwork and started her 2nd business, Mirth Designs. Through her own businesses, she has learned how to brand oneself to attract and keep the perfect customers. She is thrilled to use this knowledge and leverage her design background to attract potential families to Maple Village Waldorf School.
Mia Conolly Administrative Assistant
Mia started her Waldorf journey in the three-day kindergarten at WSOC where she was a student through 9th grade, beofre…
…the travel bug bit her and she went off to Scotland to do a year abroad. She has a BA in psychology from the University of Redlands and a Masters in I/O and Business Psychology from University College London. After graduating and returning stateside, Mia knew that she wanted to start a career within the academic field, and when the opportunity was extended to come to Maple Village she jumped at the chance to return to her “roots”! In her free time, Mia enjoys curling up with a good book, painting, hanging with her two dogs, baking up some delicious treats to cure her sweet tooth, and traveling to new and exciting places. Mia is very excited to be joining such a wonderful community at Maple Village and to be back and actively part of the Waldorf family!