“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 Faculty

Sprouts, Seedlings and Blossom Bridge

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.

Tanya Comerford
Assistant Teacher

Tanya Comerford is thrilled that her Waldorf journey has come full circle and brought her back to Maple Village Waldorf School, where she first…

…began as a new mother in the Parent/Toddler class with her 16-month year old. Enamored by the beauty, warmth, and care she received from this community, she quickly found herself sharing her gifts of food, herbalism, community organizing, and art with this beloved village. She now has returned as the Assistant Teacher to Maple Village’s Parent/Child programs. She can’t seem to get enough of Waldorf. She is currently enrolled in the Foundation Studies program at Waldorf School of Orange County to gain a deeper understanding of Anthroposophy. 
Tanya has been immersed in education, the arts, nature, health, and community development both locally and abroad over the past 30 years. As a doula and educator, she believes that one of the most impactful ways to create a better world is by uplifting and supporting the children born onto this planet and their families. She is developing her Mindfulness and Compassion practices to gain a deeper understanding and connection with herself and others.  
As a Certified Master Gardener, Chef, Nutritionist, Herbalist, Naturalist, Fire Performer, and Doula, you can find her gardening, reading, cooking, camping, traveling, making potions, dancing, and mostly spending time with her 7 ¾ year old and family.
Tanya graduated from UCI cum laude with a double B.A. in Psychology and Social Science with an emphasis in Cultural Anthropology. She served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mauritania and studied abroad in a rural village in the Yucatan and Mexico City. 

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 fifth 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.

Kathy Striegal 
Poppy Preschool Assistant Teacher

Bio coming soon.

Angie Perez
 Lavender Preschool Lead Teacher

Angie Perez was born, raised and educated in Colombia. She earned her BA degree in Social Work. While in college, Angie gained experience…

 …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.

Mars Walker 
Lavender Preschool Assistant Teacher

Mars Walker, born in San Diego, California, has been a guide and nurturer of little folk for most of her life. After stepping into motherhood, Mars…

… found herself intuitively drawn to a gentler and more natural approach to parenting that centered on wellness and care, and she remains grateful to have found a school for her children that feels like an extension of their home. As a life-long learner and researcher, Mars immersed herself in Steiner’s philosophy and studied everything she could access on child development and parent education through books, articles, and practical applications. Mars’ innate gentle energy is something that cannot be taught and consistently provides warmth and comfort to the little ones in her care. Steadfast in dedication to her community as an organizer, birth worker, artist, and social justice parent, Mars is enrolled in the Foundation Studies program at WSOC as she continues her education. Outside of the classroom, when Mars is focused on self-care and restoration, you can find her reading and writing poetry in the early morning, taking care of her homestead (including her chickens) in Garden Grove, playing tennis, or antiquing with good friends. 

Kathleen Rinden
Larkspur Kindergarten Lead Teacher

Kathleen Rinden has been a Waldorf kindergarten teacher for 20 years. It is her passion to bring Waldorf principle and 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.

Aurora Dismukes
Larkspur Kindergarten Assistant Teacher and Morning Care Assistant

Aurora Dismukes is ecstatic to be part of the Waldorf community again as a graduate of Monterey Bay Charter school in…

…Pacific Grove, California. In her Waldorf Education, Aurora built lasting bonds and lifelong friendships, including with her kindergarten teacher who continues to bring her so much inspiration. Aurora grew up in a small town in Monterey County and received her B.A. in Gender Studies from UC Berkeley. She is currently working on her Master’s in Elementary Education through the University of Phoenix. She aspires to one day be a Waldorf kindergarten teacher. Waldorf brought so much magic, joy, and love to Aurora’s childhood and she wishes to give back to the community, and experience that joy again. Over the past year, Aurora has worked in a variety of jobs in education. She has worked as a substitute teacher, a teacher’s aide, and a paraeducator. She completed six months working in a special education preschool classroom. Aurora moved to Long Beach one year ago with her cat, Pashenka, and enjoys going to the beach every day.

Charlotte Guest
Sunflower Kindergarten Lead Teacher

Charlotte Guest will be returning to Maple Village this fall to teach as the Sunflower Kindergarten teacher. She fell in love with Waldorf….

 …education the moment she first stepped into a kindergarten classroom and knew this was the work she was meant to do. She chose to attend Emerson College, a Waldorf training center in England, after high school where she completed a year-long orientation program focused on anthroposophical studies. She then earned her B.A. in Early Childhood Education at Naropa University in Colorado, where she focused her studies on Waldorf Education. After teaching at a Waldorf inspired preschool, Charlotte and her husband relocated to her hometown of Encinitas, California, where she began working at the Sanderling Waldorf School. She worked as a kindergarten assistant and director/lead teacher of both Sanderling’s aftercare program and summer camps for five years. During this time, she had had her eye on Maple Village and when a lead Kindergarten position opened in the fall of 2012 she applied and was over the moon happy to be hired. Since that time she has had two children, completed her Waldorf certification, and has fallen more in love with Maple Village’s community. When she is not teaching, she enjoys spending time with her family, creating obstacle courses and imaginative games and stories with her son, singing songs with her baby girl, reading books, tending the garden with her husband, talking with friends, spending time with her parents, relaxing at the beach and continuing to explore Long Beach

Gehisa Avila
Sunflower Kindergarten Assistant Teacher

Gehisa Avila read about Waldorf Education prior to becoming a mother so when her firstborn was ready to start Parent/Toddler class, she…
… was ecstatic to have found Maple Village.
As her son went on to preschool and kindergarten, Gehisa began volunteering in his classes and attended workshops and talks to better learn about Rudolf Steiner’s philosophy.  She’s worked as EC Aftercare Lead and preschool assistant for the last three years at Maple Village. She is currently enrolled in Foundation Studies at WSOC to continue her education.

 

Germania (G) Egas
Sunflower Kindergarten Assistant Teacher

Germania (G )Egas was born, raised, and educated in Ecuador.  She has always loved children and went to college to study…

… child development. She is passionate about nature and everything about this beautiful planet we call earth. She treasures the ocean; that’s why she moved to this beautiful city, Long Beach. She loves people, has visited many countries and enjoys traveling and meeting different people. While her first language is Spanish, she also speaks English and Portuguese. G loves animals, is a vegetarian, enjoys sports and exercise, and says her family and friends (the family she chooses to have by her side) are the biggest gifts she has. She is a happy and positive person, inspired by her mother. She is looking forward to learning more about this beautiful Waldorf School, working with new colleagues, and meeting the families. 

Elementary School Faculty

Laura Childers
Grade 1 – Joshua Trees   Teacher

Laura Childers was born and raised in Southern California. As a 3rd generation Californian, she has been influenced by the myriad diverse cultures…

… that are present and vibrant in this region. As a young child, she was exposed to the arts; handwork, embroidery, cooking, music, and organic gardening, by her family. Her parents also often brought her and her brother plentiful opportunities to explore nature through camping within a few short hours from where she grew up. All of this fostered a love of and appreciation for other cultures, the natural world, storytelling, music, and working with the hands. Her three sons attended the Waldorf School of Orange County, so when she encountered the rich developmental curriculum, which aligned so much with her own philosophies, she felt at home. Inspired by Waldorf Education, pursued teaching which led her to teach a parent and child class for 2 years, subbing in the Kindergartens and attending the Waldorf Institute of Southern California, where she received her Waldorf certificate with a specialization in Early Childhood in 2006. She began teaching mixed-age Kindergartens at the Journey School for 5 years, followed by two small Waldorf preschool initiatives for 3 years, and then moved to Golden, Colorado in 2013, continuing to teach Kindergarten for 5 more years. While in Colorado, Laura began to continue to pursue educational opportunities for herself and earned a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Leadership & Advocacy at the University of Colorado, Denver. Laura has loved settling back into Southern California life, close to her family and friends, and her beloved mountains, deserts, and the glorious Pacific Ocean just a short car ride away, just like when she was a child. She is very excited to transition from Kindergarten to the grades at this point in her journey, as she would love to extend the work and scope of the Kindergarten curriculum and link her passion for artistic expression to academics.

 

Eloise Gelber
Grade 2 – Manzanita Trees
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 3 – 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 4 – 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.

Cori Ament
Grade 5 – Laurel Trees   Teacher

Cori Amendt is a Multiple Subject Credentialed Teacher, who holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, with a minor in Child Development. 

She studied Waldorf education at Steiner College in Fair Oaks, California. She enjoys spending time in nature with her family (hiking, biking, lounging), reading, writing, and traveling. Learning is a lifelong enjoyment and pursuit for her, particularly in her journey to bilingualism in the Italian language. Her professional career began as a Counselor for young children in crisis. Eventually, this work led her to the classroom, where she felt she could be of bountiful service to the youth in her community. She has been in education for over a decade, in public, private and charter schools. After she met her husband, an Italian national, she went on to teach in Italy at Lycee Francias for 2 years, as the English Department Coordinator and Foreign Language Teacher across the grades (K-8). Upon returning to the US, she found what she considers her truest calling, that of a Waldorf teacher. Under esteemed mentorships, she took a class through grades 1-3 at Ocean Charter School in Culver City before coming to Maple Village as the Laurel Tree teacher three years ago. After taking time to be home with her children, she is eager to return to the Laurel class to continue this meaningful work. 

Cathrine Ji
Grade 5 – Laurel Trees
Support Teacher

Cathrine Ji was born in Seoul, South Korea, and came to the US at the age of 12 when she first learned English. She is the mother of four…

…children, two of whom have attended Maple Village Waldorf School. She has a BA in English with a Summa Cum Laude distinction from UC Irvine and holds a JD from UC Berkeley Law School. Before starting her path in Waldorf education, she taught high school students how to write and to read critically and imaginatively. She finished her Waldorf Teacher Education at Waldorf School of Orange County. She has a deep love of children and maintains ongoing relationships with the kids she has taught from early childhood through the grades. She was a 3rd grade lead teacher at The Hartsbrook Waldorf School in Hadley, Massachusetts and this past year expertly lead the Laurel Tree class. When she is not busy, Cathrine takes dance classes, travels, and writes fiction.

Nicole Soderman
Grades Floater/Assistant

Nicole Soderman comes from a long line of teachers and has worked in childcare almost her entire life. Nicole was a live-in nanny in college…

while studying Linguistics and ran a daycare for nearly eight years. Much of Nicole’s experience lies in working with children and adults with special needs. For the past seven years, Nicole has also been a birth worker and a massage therapist.

Nicole was drawn to Waldorf education because it is similar to the way in which she was raised, having been homeschooled in the Waldorf style and in a media-free home. 
This mother of four kids, two dogs, two cats, and a handful of chickens loves seeing the world through the lens of the child and finds they are constantly teaching her something new.
Nicole can often be found gardening, being out in nature, crafting, and baking. She looks forward to bringing her experiences to Maple Village and learning from all the experienced people by whom she will be surrounded.

Middle School Faculty

Helen Zadourian
Grade 6 – Palm Trees   Teacher

Mrs. Zadourian has a Master’s degree in English Language and Literature and a teaching diploma. She also has 20 years of…

…experience teaching in the private system in Lebanon where she taught elementary, middle, and high school for 10 years and worked another 10 years as a university instructor/coordinator teaching communication skills, business English and humanities courses. She also had the opportunity to teach history which she absolutely loved doing because she is just fascinated by it. She is proficient in four languages; Armenian, Arabic, French, and English. It is through her two daughters, aged 8 and 6, that the universe of Waldorf was revealed to her and she has been mesmerized ever since. Her children attended Waldorf Beirut where she also worked as a teacher training coordinator. Her whole perception of education widened with the spiritual aspects of child development as described by Steiner, and she found the perfect environment that would hold her children in love and reverence. It is now her desire and goal to put her 20 years of experience in the field of education in service of the Steiner/Waldorf philosophy in order to follow what she feels is now her purpose or higher calling in life for both her children and herself.

In her free time, she enjoys painting, reading, and meditating. She also happens to have a degree in Culinary Arts and she is a certified chef. She absolutely loves cooking and baking.

She is looking forward to an amazing year full of adventures with the 6th grade students and their families.

 

Paola Schouten
Grade 7/8 – Willow-Woods Trees Teacher

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.

Specialty Teachers

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!

Patrick York
Woodworking Teacher

Patrick York was born and raised in Long Beach. He is a Multiple Subject Credentialed Teacher, which he earned from Cal State Long Beach…

…and he has a degree in Liberal Studies from Cal State Dominguez Hills. Patrick has worked in education and with children for the last decade; as a teacher, an instructional-aide in a special needs classroom, a tutor, and as a camp counselor at the Alpert JCC. Before he changed paths to pursue education, he worked as an EMT and was on track to become a firefighter.

Patrick enjoys working with his hands and creating items both practical and artistic. He has completed many woodworking projects over the years and continues to hone his craft. He is excited to share his passion for woodworking and creation with the students of Maple Village.

Patrick is new to Waldorf Education, but is eager to learn all that he can. He is under mentorship and guidance from the Maple Village staff, and is studying Waldorf theory. When not at Maple Village Patrick enjoys spending time with his wife, Sé, and daughter, Indigo. He also enjoys camping, drumming, surfing, and playing board games and D&D.

 

Amy Rosenberg (Ms. Cricket)
Gardening Teacher

Amy Rosenberg, otherwise known in the garden as Ms. Cricket, loves encouraging others to build connections with nature. As a curious…

…explorer of the natural world she is an observer, naturalist, artist and educator who likes to help others develop their own sense of wonder and respect for nature and its inhabitants.

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.

Korina Williams
Strings Teacher

Korina Williams started playing the violin at five years old. She studied classical music and later learned to improvise and grew confident…
… playing several genres ranging from fiddle tunes to hip hop. She started teaching private violin, viola, and cello lessons in college and fell in love with sharing her knowledge and joy for music with others. 
Korina earned her bachelor’s degree in Classical Violin Performance from Cal State Long Beach and her Master’s degree in Contemporary Performance and Production from Berklee College of Music. In addition to teaching private and group classes for over a decade, she has performed with several artists including J. Cole, Ariana Grande, Smokey Robinson, and Anderson Paak; played at festivals such as Coachella and the Nublu Jazz Fest; has been seen on television playing for the Academy Awards, the Ellen Show, and Jimmy Kimmel Live; and has performed in 8 different countries and 30 states. All of these experiences have come with many lessons and have drawn Korina back to teaching and guiding her students through the infinite ways to express themselves through music. She aims to show her students that music is not about competing to be better than your peers but expressing the best version of yourself wherever you are today.
When she is not playing music, Korina loves to read, create tea blends, and spend time with her family. She is so excited to join the Maple Village community and connect with the students through music!

 

Francesca Preponis
Chorus 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.

Hiromi Koyanagi
Japanese Teacher

Hiromi Koyanagi was born, raised, and educated in Japan. She has been a Waldorf Language Teacher for 17 years, most recently…

…at the Waldorf School of Pasadena. In Japan, she was a nutrition science teacher for two years and a Japanese teacher for 10 years. She earned a Teacher of Japanese as a Foreign Language Certificate in 1997 and an Elementary Waldorf Education Certificate in 2005.

When Hiromi was seven years old, her grandmother’s uncle, who was an American immigrant, visited her home, and said, “It’s big in America. You should see it.” That inspired her to come to the United States in 2001. While her family and relatives did not have any background in Waldorf education, Hiromi became a Waldorf teacher because she experienced, first-hand as a young child, how important it is for teachers to understand children. After graduating from school, she continued to seek out a teacher training course to find a place where that relationship is taught. In 2003, she arrived at the Waldorf teacher training course in New York.  

She is very grateful to Maple Village Waldorf School for starting the Japanese language program. She is very excited to share the Japanese language and culture through many activities with the children and instill the Japanese soul into their hearts. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, traveling, and spending time with her two grandchildren and a Chihuahua dog.

 

Ciana Lee
Games Teacher & Lead Aftercare 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 they seeks to engage and nurture others to express their freedom and confidence. Spending their high school summers as a camp counselor triggered their passion to guide children and peers to their greatest potential with a sense of fun and imagination. Throughout their education at Ventura Community College they volunteered as an art director with City Corps and facilitated community service engagement for troubled youth. While earning their degree in Art Education from California State University of Long Beach, they gained classroom experience with all ages of students in various Long Beach programs. Ciana is a recent graduate of WISC Teacher Training program and is honored to be back at Maple Village Waldorf School for her seventh year.

Adriana de la Paz
Early Childhood Lead Aftercare Teacher

Adriana de la Paz is a caring, energetic, and passionate teacher who loves spending time with her students. Every day she focuses on…

… nurturing their spirits, souls, and bodies so they can be prepared not only for college but for life. Adriana holds a B.A. in Journalism, a collateral in Psychology, a Montessori Certification, a Diploma in Positive Discipline and is currently pursuing her Waldorf Teacher Accreditation. After working for 12 years in the TV Industry, she left her career to become a full-time mom. When it was time for her children to start school, she ventured in the Education Field since it was always in the back of her mind to eventually become a teacher. For five years now, she’s been in the classroom fulfilling her dream. 

During her free time, when she is not with her students, she enjoys traveling, being outdoors and in contact with nature. She also spends time with her husband raising their daughter and their son, two beautiful kids full of energy and curiosity. Being born and raised in Mexico, she is fully bilingual and goes back to visit her family every chance she gets. 

Adriana feels blessed for the trust to take care of your most precious treasure, your children, because she learns so much from them each time. She also thanks you for giving her the opportunity to help them grow into the amazing human being they’ll become.

Amelia Handly
Grades Recess Teacher and Aftercare Assistant

Amelia Handly graduated from the Waldorf High School of San Diego before furthering her education at Agnes Scott college. She has…

…worn many hats in her professional background, such as, summer camp staff, tutor, stage manager, copywriter, and theatre administrator. She has a passion for theatre and the arts and is excited to bring more creative play to recess and aftercare!

Administration

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
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 & Outreach Coordinator

Kari Rahni started the Parent Toddler program at Maple Village with her first child. Through the years she became interested in learning

…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.

Melissa Militello
Administrative Assistant

Bio coming soon…