Diane VanDommelen – Lead Teacher, Pussywillow Kindergarten
Susan Barnes – Lead Teacher, Sunflower Kindergarten
Education –Early Childhood Education Diploma, Michael Institute in Portland
Susan and her family came to the Anchorage Waldorf School through the Parent/Toddler Class when Susan’s eldest daughter was three years old. They fell in love with the Waldorf program and with our community. Susan felt drawn to early childhood education and began as a kindergarten assistant here at AWS. She went on to complete her degree in that field and is now the lead kindergarten teacher. Her eldest daughter, Isabeau, graduated from AWS in 2013 and is now enrolled in West High’s School through the Arts. She has been a violist in the Anchorage Youth Symphony and her youngest, Talya, is also a musician, playing the cello. Both girls were introduced to skiing at AWS and continue to pursue their love of cross-country skiing in Junior Nordic and West High’s Ski Team. Susan and her husband Dean are alum parents in the school community, and have served on Finance, Site, Enrollment, and Long Range Planning Committees. Dean has also happily been the ‘GreenMan’ at many a May Faire and is an enthusiastic member of the ‘WalDads’.
Jenifer Henrich – Lead Teacher, Parent and Child class
Education – Foundation Studies, Center for Anthroposophy; Life Ways Training
My name is Jenifer Diana Henrich and I am the lead teacher for the Parent and Child class here at AWS. Seven years ago I embarked in the adventure of my life. I left my home town of Cali, Colombia, and for the last five years have lived in Anchorage with my only daughter Leyla Angelina (6) who is currently enrolled in first grade at AWS.
I got interested in Waldorf Education while still living in my home town. Back then I attended several talks on Anthroposophy and those became the beginning of my journey around Rudolf Steiner teachings. I have a background in Social Communication and also received training in different massage and healing energy techniques as well floral therapy. Since working with children I have found love, passion, joy and a vocation while experiencing and learning Waldorf Education. I have came upon what I have grown to consider a beautiful path for life.
Brandy Steinhilber – First Grade Teacher
Education - BA Foreign Language Ed, University of Kentucky; Waldorf Certificate, Waldorf Institute of Southern California
Brandy is originally from Kentucky where most of her family still lives. She previously taught at AWS and took a class from 1st through 3rd/4th grades. This is the second year in a row that Brandy will be leading our First Graders on the beginning of their academic journey. She loves to cook and grow flowers and enjoy old British Mystery stories.
Tomas Jensen – Second/Third Grade Teacher
Education – B.A. in Economics, Carleton College; M.S. in Applied Economics, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Teaching Certificate, Alaska Pacific University; Waldorf Teacher-in-training, Michael Institute in Portland
Tomas has had a long and circuitous route to teaching. From the beginning he wanted to be a fireman, or an architect, then a forester, or a biologist. Finally, after college and graduate school, he settled in economics and community development. It was this work that brought him to Alaska in 2006. He believes that a community’s children and its schools should be treated as a precious commodity. He was extremely fortunate to land in AWS in 2013 among the thoughtful and amazing children in his class and is in wonder at the support of the parents who have welcomed him into their lives.
Tomas’ s other interests include biking, skiing, hiking, rebuilding bikes, beekeeping, and vegetable raising.
Shenandoah (Shannon) Herda - Fourth/Fifth Grade Teacher
Mary Schallert – Orchestra & Strings Teacher
Mary has been an active member of the Anchorage music community since 1977. She is the director of Alaska City Folk Arts Camp and an organizer of many music ensembles with a focus in the folk realm. She is the director for the Stellar school choir and teaches Orchestra at Anchorage Waldorf going into her 6th year. She has a very active private studio teaching multiple styles of music including fiddle and violin and has four CD recordings. She is the mother of two sons. Her oldest is a freshman at The University of British Columbia Vancouver and her youngest is a Junior at Polaris K-12. Her husband works for Resource Data Inc.
Svetlana Burton – Russian
Education – Ph.D. in Linguistics (Stavropol State University, Russia); Master’s in English and German (Taganrog Pedagogical University, Russia)
Svetlana’s teaching experience is diverse. In Russia, she was a Professor of English to Russian students. Since moving to Alaska in 2003, she has worked for the University of Alaska Anchorage teaching Russian in the Language Department, as well as English as a second language. In addition, she has taught Russian to young children and adults through the Community Schools program and with the Anchorage Parks and Recreations program. She has also coordinated and taught Russian immersion programs for military personnel here in Alaska.
To complement her teaching experience, she has been working as a professional interpreter and translator providing services to the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, the Nanuuk Commission (Polar Bear Commission), the World Wildlife Federation, the EPA and U.S. Coast Guard.
However Svetlana´s first love has always been teaching. She is excited to be joining Anchorage Waldorf School this year as she enjoys working with children and loves to teach her native Russian. Svetlana brings not only her language, but an understanding of the Russian culture to her teaching at AWS.
She loves to spend her time outside of work with her extended family, her two sons, and her five Pekingese. She likes to go hiking, biking, mushroom-hunting, and skating.
Education - Dip. Ed. (primary) Australian Catholic University (Sydney, Australia); Foundation Studies, Center For Anthroposophy
Matt Unterberger – Movement Education