Kindergarten and Early Childhood Faculty
Education: Early Childhood Associate Degree, Rudolf Steiner College: A.D. Nursing, Kansas City, KS Community College. Attended several conferences at Waldorf teacher-education institutes with anthroposophical physicians and Waldorf early childhood educators.
Professional Experience: Over 30 years working with the young child, PRWS Early Childhood Educator and Parent/Child Educator; owner/administrator/early childhood caregiver of Wisconsin-licensed children’s daycare center; Waldorf Early childhood educator- Kansas Waldorf school initiatives; prenatal childbirth and breastfeeding educator; Registered Nurse–Kansas, Missouri and Wisconsin; psychiatry, oncology, midwifery and eldercare.
The shining joy of young children at play in the Waldorf kindergarten is testament to their gratitude for life in this wondrous universe. My understanding of our spiritual heritage gives me strength to cultivate and practice in myself the reverence and gratitude which supports the child’s belief that our world is good. I wholeheartedly share with parents the responsibility of guiding children into our school, community and world.
Marinella Pro – Kindergarten Teacher
Education: BS-Business Administration University of Torino, Italy, Associate of Arts – Child Care and Development, WWTC-La Crosse, WI. Foundation Studies Courses in Anthroposophy and the Arts, Viroqua: Sophia Institute Summer Intensive, The First Seven Years, La Crosse, WI; Juniper Tree School of Story and Puppetry Art, Faire Oaks, CA; Simplicity Parent Group Leader Certification, Madison, WI.
Professional Experience: Kindergarten Lead Teacher, Three Rivers Waldorf School, La Crosse, WI; Preschool Lead Teacher, Mary Mother of the Church, La Crosse; Substitute Kindergarten Lead Teacher Montessori Children’s House and Pleasant Ridge Waldorf School, Viroqua, WI.
Martha Buche – Parent-Child Program Coordinator
Education: Sophia’s Hearth Family Center, Keene, NH – The Child in the First Three Years Week one -Early Childhood Teacher Credential Course; Bachelor of Arts, Studio Art, Art Education and Art History minors, Lawrence University, Appleton, WI, Masters of Education, Early Childhood, Boston University, (Overseas) Wiesbaden, Germany
Professional Experience: Parent-Child Program Teacher, Pleasant Ridge Waldorf School Viroqua, WI; Homeschool Educator-7th Grade LIVE Education Waldorf Curriculum; Enrollment Coordinator, Three Rivers Waldorf School Parent Infant and Parent-Child teacher and Administration Assistant, Three Rivers Waldorf School. The First Seven Years – weeklong workshops; Sophia Institute, Language Arts for Early Childhood – 2-day intensive Three Rivers Waldorf School, The Twelve Senses- The Work in the Early Childhood: the Four Lower Senses Early Childhood Conference, Pleasant Ridge Waldorf School, Viroqua; Cradle to College-Stages of Parent Development, How Our Children’s Development Impacts Our Own Three Rivers Waldorf School.
Adjunct Kindergarten Faculty & Assistants
Lori Dehlin, Violet Kindergarten Assistant
Mandy Palen, Violet Kindergarten Assistant
Cathy Brummer, Cherry Blossom Kindergarten Assistant
Lisa Geary, Cherry Blossom Kindergarten Assistant
Lower Grades 1-4 Faculty
Education: Bachelor of Music, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL. (1998-2001), Waldorf Teacher Certification (to be completed in 2016), Great Lakes Waldorf Institute, Milwaukee, WI. (2008-present), Art of Teaching grade 4, grade 5, grade 6, grade 7, and grade 8 Rudolf Steiner College, Fair Oaks, CA (2010-2014).
Professional Experience: Class Teacher, PRWS (Class of 2015); Kindergarten Assistant, Pre-kindergarten assistant, Tamarack Waldorf School, Milwaukee, WI; Singer and actor (Milwaukee Symphony Chorus, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Soulstice Theatre); Worked in bicycle retail for 15 years in sales, buying, and corporate office.
Cinna Derocher – Class Two Teacher
Education: Rudolf Steiner College, Fair Oaks, CA; Grades Teacher diploma and Essentials of a Waldorf Kindergarten, Arcturus Rudolf Steiner Educational Program, Chicago, IL; Foundation Year, Mesa Community College, AZ English studies.
Professional Experience: Kindergarten Assistant and Aftercare Teacher at Four Winds Waldorf School, Warrenville, IL; Private Tutor, Kindergarten Teacher, International Montessori Academy; Classroom Assistant, Lakeside Montessori School; Grades 2 Practicum at San Francisco Waldorf School; Grade 5 Practicum at Sacramento Waldorf School.
Aaron Schmidt – Class Three Teacher
Education: B.A. in Liberal Studies, Concentration in Elementary Education & Earth Science, Cal State Northridge, CA; Class Teacher Certificate, Waldorf Institute of Southern California.
Professional Experience: Grades 1-8 Class Teacher, Pleasant Ridge Waldorf School in Viroqua; 7th and 8th grade Class Teacher, Substitute Teacher/Coordinator, Sports Coach at Highland Hall Waldorf School, Northridge, CA; Combat Engineer, US Army.
Amy Morse – Class Four Teacher
Education: B.S. Secondary English; WI Licensure 300, minor in Creative Writing UW-La Crosse; 35 credits towards MA in Language and Literature from Winona State University, Winona, MN
Class Teacher, Grades 2-6 Three Rivers Waldorf School, La Crosse, WI; Long-term Substitute Grade Seven, La Crescent Middle School; Student Teacher Grades 9-12, Logan High School, La Crosse,WI.
Upper Grades 5-8 Faculty
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Theatre: Technical/Scenic Design and a Master’s in Education-Professional Development, both from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.
Professional Waldorf-specific training: Foundation Study at the Sophia Institute in Viroqua, WI; Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks, CA for grade specific intensives; Waldorf teacher training certification, Great Lakes Waldorf Institute, Milwaukee, WI; numerous conferences offered in the Midwest.
Professional Experience: In 2004 Christina began teaching full time at Three Rivers as the First Grade Teacher. She graduated her first class in May of 2012. She has found that starting again with first graders is exciting and rewarding. She is looking forward to the journey through the grades with this wonderful group of children.
Christina was first introduced to Waldorf education while studying at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. She began by substitute teaching in the Kindergartens, Grades, and Afterschool Care program at Three Rivers Waldorf School in La Crosse, WI.
Betty Link – Class Six Teacher
Education: B.S. from UW-Madison in Speech and Language Pathology and Audiology, minor in French; Masters from UW-Milwaukee in Communication Disorders; Certificate of Studies at the Sorbonne, Paris and Universite de Reims, France; Waldorf Teacher Training certificate from UW-Milwaukee, 1992.
Professional Experience: Twelve years experience as a speech therapist; Waldorf teacher, Prairie Hill Waldorf School, Pewaukee, WI, graduating two classes from grades one through eight (Class of 2001 and 2010); Attended many grade level intensives at various Waldorf Training Institutes, early AWSNA mentor training meetings and did mentoring and evaluation for our school; Representative to AWSNA for several years; Faculty chair, member on various committees and presenter on various topics at parent and teacher Waldorf conferences.
The term ”head, heart and hands” may seem like a cliche, but I am a great believer in the power of three-fold lessons that develop the thinking, feeling and willing capacities in the children. More so now than ever, our young people need to experience and celebrate all the goodness and beauty in the world, which will help them develop a foundational sense of self so they can then care for each other. I strive daily to nurture and sustain in myself a sense of awe, wonder and reverence for life’s gifts so I can model joy and passion for the young child.
Jenny Allan – Class Seven Teacher
Education: Great Lakes Waldorf Institute, Milwaukee, WI – Waldorf Teacher Certification; Layton School of Art, MIAD, MATC, Carroll College, WCTC
Professional Experience: Grade 2 Long-Term Substitute, Pleasant Ridge Waldorf School, Substitute teacher, Prairie Hill Waldorf School; Drawing classes at Christian Academy grades 3-8, Milwaukee, WI; Mural projects in Mexico, Manila, Namibia; Pre-school Program Development for AIDS victims in Malawi, Art classes in Delafield, WI and inner city youth program in Milwaukee, WI. Free lance artist.
A desire for wisdom led me to Rudolf Steiner; a concern for children in today’s culture led me to the Waldorf pedagogy; and a love for children led me to teach. What inspires me is the unique beauty and vast potential of each and every child. The world I want to help create is one that nurtures the beauty within each one, inspires a life long love of learning, brings understanding, lights the imagination, questions the impossible, appreciates the incredible, loves and respects life in all its forms. To fulfill the privilege of encouraging these children to explore not only this world, but the best of themselves in it and their responsibilities to both, is the reverent task at hand.
Ronald Schirmer – Class Eight Teacher
Education: B.A. Religious Studies, emphasis in Buddhism & Consciousness studies, University of California, Santa Barbara. Classic Animation, Santa Barbara City College, S.B. CA. Printmaking, Harold Washington College, Chicago IL. Waldorf Teacher Certificate, Arcturus Teacher Training, Chicago IL.
Professional Experience: Early Childhood Assistant, Chicago Waldorf School. Substitute Teacher, Chicago Public Schools.
Our heritage as human beings is vast and rich: our stories, traditions, skills, arts and crafts. It has been a concern of mine that in modern times, with the rapid acceleration of our technology and consequent changing of our culture, we are forgetting and distancing ourselves from this heritage that we have earned over thousands of years. Along with that, the brief and precious era of childhood is being compromised amidst this rush to keep up and stay ahead. In Waldorf education, I have found a sanctuary for this time of childhood and this heritage of humankind. By allowing time to learn handwork, to paint, sing and play music; to hear stories everyday and have multiple opportunities to move and play alongside academic learning; we are providing these children an experience that is comprehensive of what we as humans have gathered together in order to bring ourselves to where we are today. I am grateful to have this opportunity to work with this curriculum and grow with my students.
Education: Novalis Institute 2002 Biography Course, University of Wisconsin – Stout 1986-1989, Degree Bachelor of Fine Arts, Fachhochschule Hildesheim, Germany 1988-1989 Graphic Design International Exchange
Professional Experience: Geri Thompson Shonka Design 1993 – Present, Carleton College 1993-2004, Girl Scout Council of Greater Minneapolis, 1980-1993, University of Minnesota 1989-1990, University of Wisconsin-Stout, 1986-1988, American Institute of Graphic Artist (AIGA) Board Member 1994-1996 Co-chair, Design Explorers Committee, Assisting in the development of a national art program for disadvantaged children, Co-chair Design Camp Conference
Lerie Alstad Van Ells – Physical Education
Education: Ten-year study in Spatial Dynamics for Physical Education in Waldorf Schools with Jaimen McMillan.
Professional Experience: Physical Education Teacher at Pleasant Ridge Waldorf School since 1982. Physical Education teacher at Youth Initiative High School for 15 years. PRWS Teachers Aid in 1981. Adult Educator in Spatial Dynamics.
I am ultimately drawn to Waldorf teaching because I believe in keeping alive the spirit that lives in childhood. To observe children in freedom of thought, movement and deed, gives the example of what is so precious to keep alive as the child moves into adulthood. My goal in teaching has been to create for every child an inner joy in movement and physical education.
I love to bicycle, swim, rollerblade, hike, cross-country ski, snow shoe, ice skate, carve icons on wood and garden.
Monika Sutherland – Music Teacher
Education: B.A. Music, Indiana University (Cello Performance); M.A. Music, Northwestern University (Cello Performance); Waldorf Music Teacher Certification at Sunbridge College; In depth study and collaboration with master Waldorf music teachers from around the world including Par Ahlbom, Manfred Bleffert, Fabian Lochner, Jana Hawley, Elisabeth Kokenbacker, and Eleanor Winship.
Professional Experience: A Waldorf music teacher since 1999, first at Four Winds Waldorf School in the Chicago area and since 2005 director of music at Pleasant Ridge Waldorf School. Presenter/facilitator at 2015 Waldorf Music Teacher Conference in Louisville, KY. Member of the teaching staff of the Great Lakes Waldorf Teacher Training in Milwaukee, WI. Mentor and Consultant for a number of Waldorf schools in the US and Canada. Faculty Chair, member of numerous committees, attendee at many Waldorf conferences and workshops.
Pre-Waldorf teaching: Cello Teacher at Goucher College in Baltimore, MD and Western Springs School of Talent Education in Chicago. Performing experience includes Assistant Principal Celllist of the Yamagata Symphony Orchestra in Japan, Civic Orchestra in Chicago, La Crosse Symphony Orchestra, La Crosse Chamber Orchestra and The Fine Arts Chamber Music Series in Viroqua.
In teaching music in the Waldorf setting, I strive to engage the will of the students with quality musical experiences held by a healthy structure with emphasis on skill building, listening, working in the feeling realm, and most of all, joyful music making.
Kate Bergan – Spanish Teacher, Classes 1-8
Education: B.A. in Spanish, History, History of Culture, University of WI-Madison; Certificate of
Environmental Studies, UW-Madison; semester abroad at Spanish American Institute of International Education, Seville, Spain; training courses in “World Languages for Grades 1, 2 & 3and “World Languages for Grades 4, 5, & 6,” June 2012 & 2013 at the Center for Anthroposophy, Wilton, NH.
Professional Experience: Substitute Spanish teacher, Youth Initiative High School, Viroqua, WI; Spanish teacher, Padua Franciscan High School, Cleveland, OH; junior high and high school English and Spanish teacher, Atlanta, MO school district; ESL/SSL teacher in grades 1-8, InterAmerican School, Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic.
Joshua Ecklund – Eurythmy Teacher and Faculty Chair
Education: Graduate of the American Eurythmy School, California, 2 years eurythmy training at West Midlands Eurythmy School, Stourbridge, UK and Graduate of Youth Initiative High School, Viroqua.
Professional Experience: Eurythmy Teacher for kindergarten through eighth grade and co-teacher for Gardening at Highland Hall Waldorf School, Teacher of eurythmy for kindergarten through eighth grade at Three Rivers Waldorf School.
Davina Hemmer – Eurythmy Teacher
Education: Master of Arts from Freie Hochschule, Eurythemeum Stuttgart, Germany. Lifelong experience of Waldorf education and anthroposophical lifestyle through parents, school and study of Waldorf education. Personal studies of education, social and organizational skills.
Professional Experience: Eurythmy Teacher at Hiberniaschule in Herne Germany. Member of Thoreau College core team.
Courtney Maatouk, Aftercare Program Director
Professional Experience: Co-lead and Substitute Teacher at Gentle Lambs Childcare Center in Onalaska
Susana Ruder, Enrichment Program Director
Erica Hill Pfeiffer – Garden Program Coordinator
Education: Bachelor of Science Natural Resources (major: horticulture) and Certificate of Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1999. Master of Arts Curriculum and Instruction, University of Colorado at Denver, 2006. Currently holds a Wisconsin Department of Instruction certification for secondary science teaching and a Wisconsin Master Naturalist certification.
Professional Experience: College of Lake County, IL, Horticulture Instructor, 2011-2012; Prairie Crossing Learning Farm at Liberty Prairie Foundation, Farm Educator & Program Director, 2008-2012; YMCA of Greater Seattle – Alternative High School Program, Science Teacher, 2006-2008; Denver Botanic Gardens, Horticulturist, 2001-2005; Americorps National Civilian Community Corps, 1999-2000.
Sandy Loucks, Substitute Teacher for Grades 1 & 6
Mary Weiland, 4th Grade Violin Teacher
Education: BFA-Theatre Performance from the University of Minnesota-Duluth, and MS-Education
in Waldorf Administration and Community Development from Sunbridge College, Spring Valley, NY. Waldorf Teacher Certification from Arcturus Rudolf Steiner Education Program, Chicago, IL. Foundation Course of Anthroposophical Studies at Emerson College, UK.
Professional Experience: Administrative Chair, PRWS since 2013. Administrator, Four Winds Waldorf School, Warrenville, IL; Class teacher for grades 1 – 3, Four Winds Waldorf School, Warrenville, IL ; Eighth grade community service program Coordinator, Rudolf Steiner School of Ann Arbor, MI; Faculty member, Arcturus Rudolf Steiner Education Program in Chicago; and High School Coordinator at the Chicago Waldorf School. National Membership Secretary for the Anthroposophical Society in America, International performer with Moving Word Theatre, LTD. Member of the Pedagogical Section of the School for Spiritual Science and the Central Regional Council of the Anthroposophical Society.
Mary Christenson – Development Director
Education: BS in Social and Economic Development from the UW – Green Bay, graduate work in International Development and Education from the University of Pittsburgh. Certificate training in Waldorf Administration and Community Development from Sunbridge College in Spring Valley, NY. Additional trainings have been in Calling the Circle and Reiki.
Professional Experience: Fund development and administration positions at Pleasant Ridge Waldorf School beginning in 1994. Regional Coordinator of Development and Administrative Network of AWSNA (DANA) from 2000-2010. Delegate for AWSNA, providing support for neighboring schools and as a conference presenter. Advisor to the Mid-States Shared Gifting Group of the Rudolf Steiner Foundation and member of the Anthroposophical Society in America.
Cynthia Olmstead – Development Coordinator
Education: 25 years of nonprofit development/fundraising/communications workshops, seminars and trainings. B.S. Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, M.S. Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Ph.D. University of Florida at Gainesville.
Professional Experience: Development Coordinator at PRWS: 2004-2016. Executive Director, Mississippi Valley Conservancy, La Crosse, WI: 1998-2004; Science Director, The Nature Conservancy, Peoria, IL: 1993-1998; Science Coordinator, The Nature Conservancy, Gainesville, FL: 1992.
Jordan Brudos – Admissions & Enrollment Coordinator
Education: Bachelor of Science in Nursing UW-Madison, BS-Biology UW-Platteville, Registered Nurse and CPR certified.
Professional Experience: Business Owner: Cutie Patootie in LaCrosse, WI; RN at Bland Clinic, Westby; Family Birthplace, LaCrosse, WI; Family Care Suites, Madison,WI.
Nan Marshall, Secretary
Marc LeMaire, Custodian
Kitchen Crew: L to R, Sol Jansen (kitchen helper) and Trever Datch (kitchen helper) and Julie Turino (Cook) (far right below)