Why Waldorf...

"Waldorf education places the development of the individual child in the focal point, convinced that the healthy individual is a prerequisite for a healthy society."

~The International Conference on Education of the United Nations Educational & Scientific Cultural Organization

"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire."

~William Butler Yeats

Early Childhood for 2017-18

Vanessa Kohlhaas // Gina Mammano Vander Kam & Celeen Woodbury, Teaching Assistants .


Vanessa has worked as an early childhood educator for the last 15 years. She holds a Master's degree in Education, as well as certifications in public school special education and Waldorf early childhood education. In addition to these trainings, she has studied at the Pikler Institute in Budapest, Hungary and Resources for Infant Educators (RIE) in Los Angeles, CA. Vanessa and her husband have three children who attend WIWS; she has found parenting the most humbling and inspiring path of learning.

Gina comes to Whidbey Island Waldorf School with a long history of educating children, from working as a credentialed teacher for more than a decade in public schools, to working as a Waldorf Kindergarten teacher in the California charter school movement. She is also a certificated spiritual director, poet and author of the recently released SkyLight Paths Publishing book Camino Divina - Walking the Divine Way: A Book of Moving Meditations with Likely Unlikely Saints, as well as an upcoming children's book to be released by Pelican Publishing. She has worked at WIWS in a number of capacities since 2011 including the Sunflower Kindergarten class teacher assistant, early childhood long-term and daily sub, and in the EC After Care program. She is endlessly proud of her three grown children, loves enjoying the countless wonders of the people and opportunities of Whidbey Island, and takes great delight in making music with her husband, Rick Vander Kam in their various acoustic and electric iterations. Among her favorite things about working at WIWS is the chance to experience the wonder in children's eyes as she weaves and unfolds songs and stories in their presence, and the privilege of holding their hands as they walk through the forest weaving their own.

Celeen Woodbury has a long career working with children and families.
She began working with children in Jaurez, Mexico where she ran a feeding program for street children. She later worked at a child abuse prevention agency in Colorado and received an Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education. She moved with her family to Whidbey Island so her children could attend Whidbey Island Waldorf School. Both of her children attended the school from kindergarten through 8th grade and Celeen worked as an early childhood assistant teacher whenever possible during those years. Celeen and Vanessa have worked together with young children at various times for the past ten years both at WIWS and in home programs. They are excited to be together again in the Butterfly classroom. Celeen is also a gifted massage therapist and a Shematrix guide. We will now have three teachers and 12 children each day with space available for 2 more children/ day once the other new Butterfly children are settled into the class. This new arrangement will allow for more ease and flexibility in meeting the individual needs of the Butterfly children and welcome more families into our school.

William Dolde // Carol Johnsen Teaching Assistant

William grew up in Pittsburgh and Connecticut and received a BA from Yale. In addition to receiving early childhood credentials at the University of Maryland and Waldorf certification at Rudolf Steiner College, William has taken RIE I training in Los Angeles. William has taught workshops for parent & child teachers at Sophia's Hearth in Keene, NH. In addition to teaching kindergarten in Maryland and Monterey, William has taught nursery and parent & child classes at the Waldorf School of Baltimore. He works as a parent coach and curriculum consultant for an adult education institute. He finds work with young children and their families rewarding and just right. His greatest teachers are his sons Liam and Crispin.

Carol Lynn Johnsen studied Waldorf teacher training in San Francisco, remedial education at Steiner College, and film/fine arts at SF Art Institute. She enjoys tending to children in nature, sometimes while doing crafts. This brings perspective, joy, and challenge. She especially appreciates head teacher William's initiative to go barefoot.

Dyanne Harshman // Vanessa Rochon-Tierney Teaching Assistant.


Dyanne was born and raised in the maritime Pacific Northwest. After receiving her B.A. in Psychology from Central Washington University in 1985, she enjoyed a brief hiatus in Tuscon, Arizona where where she married and continued her quest for a child-centered career. She gained useful experience working in home, daycare and preschool settings as well as co-creating summer programs for "at risk readers."

After then earning her Washington State teaching credentials from the University of Washington, she turned homeward to begin her own family.  It was in her search for a school for her own children that Dyanne discovered Waldorf Education. She moved to Whidbey Island with her husband and children in 1995, and has taught at WIWS since 1997. Currently, Dyanne holds an M.S. Ed in Waldorf Early Childhood Education from Sunbridge College, NY.  She serves as adjunct faculty for Sound Circle Center for Anthroposophy in Seattle and is actively involved in the regional Waldorf Early Childhood movement as a regional representative and mentor. Dyanne loves living on this beautiful Island with her family and friends where she enjoys gardening, cooking, singing and playing flute and marimba.

Vanessa grew up in the Pacific Northwest, spending her summers on Whidbey Island with her grandparents and extended family. She has been a Waldorf parent since 2004 and recognized that her passion for Waldorf Education coupled with her love of children would make for a great career choice! Vanessa is in her final year of Waldorf Teacher training at Sound Circle Center for Arts and Anthroposophy in Seattle and she studies Early Childhood Education at Ashford University.

Vanessa is the mother of four boys and enjoys caring for children of all ages. She worked previously at the Waldorf School in Bellingham both in the classroom and in administration and facilities. Vanessa brings much enthusiasm for Waldorf Education, a love of the outdoors, joy and a willingness to learn and grow.

In addition to her Waldorf pursuits, Vanessa is a certified Holistic Health Coach, a Yoga teacher, and a Healing practitioner.

Grades 1-8 for 2017-18

Natasha Zimmerman// Alea Robertson Teaching Assistant

1st & 2nd Grade

Natasha grew up in Colorado and Washington. She studied Elementary Education and Sociology at Gonzaga University and taught in public schools for a few years before entering the Waldorf Teacher Program at Rudolf Steiner College in Sacramento, California. Natasha moved to Whidbey Island in 2000 to teach a First Grade class here at Whidbey Island Waldorf School. She taught that class from 1st through 8th grade, and recently enjoyed celebrating her former students' High School graduation!

After that, she taught First Grade and Handwork here at WIWS before starting a family of her own. This year she begins another cycle of taking students from First Grade through Eighth!

Alea spent her childhood playing in the woods and on the beaches of Whidbey Island. After graduating from the University of Puget Sound with a BA in Fine Art in 2011 she sought adventure. Alea found what she was searching for in the world of Environmental Education Tall Ships. During the three years of sailing Alea realized the passion she had for educating.
Since settling back on land with her husband Zach, Alea has searched for and found a worthy purpose in teaching at the WIWS.  She has been involved in WIWS through many facets as assistant in the Sunflower Class, middle school block class teacher, substitute teaching, para-educating, and co-designing/co-running the Spring and Summer at Chinook Camps of 2016. During the summer of 2016 she began the enriching experience of her Waldorf Grades Teacher training at the West Coast Institute in Canada.
Alea is so happy to be a part of creating and running the spring and summer camps because they align with her belief that every child deserves to learn through experience, creativity, and being outside!

Kristin Codda

3rd & 4th Grade
 Kristin is the second oldest in a family of nine children. She hails from California, where she developed her love of children while tending her many siblings! She met her husband in 1998, before beginning her coursework in Early Childhood Education at American River College in  Sacramento, CA. She taught preschool before their first child was born, and then opened her own preschool, which she operated for eight years before closing the doors to spend more time with her family.

She developed an interest in Waldorf education as she considered options for her own children, and then began working in a Waldorf Kindergarten in California before moving to Whidbey in 2012. Since then, she has served as an Early Childhood aftercare assistant teacher and as an Educational Support teacher in the Grades. She loves helping children in their varying capacities discover their abilities to succeed. Kristin is currently studying Special Education and earning her Washington State teaching certificates in both Elementary Education and Special Education. She is also completing her Waldorf training at the West Coast Institute in Vancouver, BC. When not at school, Kristin enjoys exploring the natural world and, above all, cherishes time spent with her husband and two children, both students here at WIWS.

Angela Lindstrom

5th & 6th Grade

  After working several years as a journalist, artist and instructor of Native American Studies and English at the University of Cincinnati, Angela found her way to Waldorf education with the birth of her first child. She became certified in Waldorf Early Education and as a Therapeutic Educator, and started several Parent and Child programs in Denver Waldorf Schools and at our own WIWS. As her own children grew, Angela then became certified in Waldorf Elementary Education and also holds an M.Ed. She has been a class teacher for over 12 years at WIWS, graduating a class in 2014.
Angela grew up working and playing on a small farm, nestled by rolling hills, a forest and a river in southern Ohio. She has traveled extensively in the United States and lived in France and Switzerland. Her greatest joys come from spending time with her husband, six children and two grandchildren. Angela enjoys expressing herself through art, music, writing and dance. She loves reading, gardening, hiking and the outdoors. Angela is very active in her Native American culture (Ojibwa and Cherokee) and is the hostess/director of the annual Pacific Northwest Waldorf Schools Potlatch.

7th Grade

Coming soon!

Ashley Umlauf

8th Grade

Ashley was born and raised on a 100-acre homestead staked out by her grandparents. She spent her youth outdoors with her brother Conor and, later, sister Claire. Her immediate and extended family were commercial fishermen; she spent much of her youth and teenage years on salmon vessels and in salmon canneries.

After travelling throughout the East Coast, Europe and South America she earned her B.A. in English with an emphasis on writing from the University of Washington in 2000. She worked for awhile in the web industry, then worked with at-risk youth in Seattle while exploring the teaching profession. Realizing that her passion and skills were united and ignited in this work, Ashley returned to U.W. and earned her Master's Degree in Education in 2003. She worked in Bellevue and Seattle school districts, teaching English for four years.

Her love of teaching has expanded exponentially in the Waldorf setting, with this education of head, heart and hands. Ashley brings strong classroom management and artistic skills to her work with this class, and loves bringing drama and play into the classroom. Her three children all attend WIWS.

Specialty Teachers

Sally Boyd

MIddle School Math Teacher

Tommi Morgan
Middle School Block Teacher
Tommi Morgan taught at WIWS as a grades teacher between 1997 and 2007. She took a class through grades 1-8 that graduated in 2007. Since then, she has traveled far and wide teaching main lesson blocks, mentoring teachers, and stepping in as a long-term substitute to help schools through times of transition. Not only is she a teacher of children, Mrs. Morgan is on the Faculty at Sound Circle Teacher Training and has helped to establish strong foundations for the interest and growth of Waldorf Education in China.

Brian Kenney

Strings Teacher

Brian began playing the violin at the age of five, and since then has put his fiddle to use playing in orchestras, string quartets, chamber ensembles, rock bands, improvisational groups, traditional Irish and Old-time fiddling sessions and more. Since moving to Whidbey Island in January of 2013, he has played with the Saratoga Orchestra, Island Consort and other musical ensembles. He also plays guitar and writes both songs and short instrumental pieces. he worked for several years in a New England violin shop outfitting teachers, school programs and students with instruments and acessories, introducing thousands of children to their first violin, viola or cello. He looks forward to joining the WIWS music program and helping our students in their musical education.

Frances Kenney

Frances grew up in the Midwest in a very musical family. She attended the School for Creative & Performing Arts in Cincinnati, majoring in vocal and instrumental music. She went on to major in oboe performance at Indiana University, during which time she fell in love with working with young children.

Frances took a break from music to explore this work further, which brought her to Waldorf education and, eventually, to Sound Circle Center in Seattle. She earned her certificate in Waldorf Early childhood Education from Sound Circle in 2008. Since then, Frances has re-kindled her interest in music She now plays oboe with the Saratoga chamber Orchestra and teaches music part-time at WIWS. She loves living on Whidbey island with her husband, Nick, and daughters Gabriella and Sonja.

Karen Benson

Movement & Games

Karen grew up in southern California, loving the outdoors and playing teacher with her dolls. She received a B.S. in Wine Production Management from U.C. Davis and worked as an Assistant winemaker from Napa, CA all the way to western Australia. She left winemaking to pursue a public teaching credential at U.C. Santa Cruz in Physics and Chemistry. She also holds teaching credentials in K-8, Biology and Environmental Science.

The birth of her son, Luc, led her on a quest for an authentic, arts-based education which nurtures the soul--a.k.a. Waldorf Education! Karen studied Waldorf teaching at the Bay Area Center for Waldorf Teacher Training with Dorit Winter for two years, and completed her certification at Sound Circle Center in Seattle, WA.
She is the mother of a WIWS graduate and a second child currently enjoying her final year at WIWS. Karen has completed the five year Spacial Dynamics Training and currently teaches Movement and Games for grades 1-8.

Adam Fawcett
Guest Middle School Games Teacher
Adam received his Waldorf teacher certificate from Sound Circle Center in 2006.
He has a background in mechanical and environmental engineering, and also spent several years in the Far East, studying and practicing Eastern movement, meditation, and healing arts, including chi-gong, yoga, and shiatsu. 
He is a well-known local fitness trainer, and owner of a gym and fitness company in Langley.
Adam enjoys teaching movement here, both for what he gets to bring to the students, and for what he learns through observing the developing child from the Waldorf Education perspective.

Susanne Schnippering


Susanne was born into a German family and raised in South America. She spent her childhood attending German private schools, and became fluent in three languages from childhood onward. Her family travelled extensively and lived in Colombia, Venezuela, Chile, Canada and Germany for various lengths of time all before the age of 18, at which time she independently moved to Toronto, Canada to finish High School and attended the University of Toronto to receive a double BA in Modern Languages and Literature: German and Spanish and a Certificate in Travel and Tourism from the Canadian Travel School.

Susanne married in Canada and had two children, they are both in their 20’s now. In 1997 the Schnippering family was transferred from Toronto to New England, where they stayed until October 2016, 19 years. During the time in New England, Susanne became certified as an Early Childhood Montessori teacher and she taught as an EC teacher at two schools over a span of 8 years. Curious and ever wanting to expand on her learning she continued with further training and completed (2013) full certification in Montessori Lower and Upper Elementary teaching. During her tenure at one school over a span of 16 years, she taught Spanish for 6 years to 160 students ages 3 through 14 and was also a classroom teacher in Lower and Upper Elementary classrooms. She also organized and led two field trips to Costa Rica for 10- 14 yr old students over the past 4 years.

In October 2016 her husband Roland was once again offered a chance to relocate to the beautiful Pacific Northwest and they landed on Whidbey Island. The mutually exciting opportunity presented itself for Susanne to join the WIWS as a Spanish teacher. Susanne is eager to share her knowledge of language and culture with children of all ages.

Susanne loves to travel, cook, hike, read, kayak, garden and photography.

Cordula Hetland // Gina Mammano Vander Kam T.A.

Extended Day Teacher
Cordula was born in Hannover, Germany. Both of her parents were Waldorf teachers; her father was a student in the first Waldorf school in Stuttgart, Germany.  He was full of stories about growing up around Rudolf Steiner!  Cordula enjoyed a rural childhood and graduated from Waldorf school in 1980. After receiving Waldorf Teacher training in Kassel, Germany, Cordula moved to Austria, near Vienna, where she worked as a kindergarten teacher for the next 10 years.

She then met and married A Whidbey Islander on his travels abroad. When their son, Lars, was 9 months old, the family left Austria for Whidbey Island. There Cordula fell in love with our beautiful Whidbey Island Waldorf School, where she coordinates our Extended Care program.

See Bio above under Nursery.

Site Created By James F. Roberts IV