Meet the Faculty
Andrea Fiser – Marigold Garden Nursery (Preschool) Lead
Ms. Andrea has studied Waldorf education and child development for more than twenty years and has taught in Tucson Waldorf School’s Early Childhood program for over ten years. She received her Waldorf early childhood teacher training from Sunbridge College in New York. She is also certified in therapeutic puppetry and storytelling. Ms. Andrea is a talented fiber artist and enhances her nursery classroom with the beautiful felted art and puppets she makes. She is the mother of three children and recently welcomed her first grandson to the world.
Ms. Bettina was born and raised in Germany where she studied pre-school education and training before obtaining her Abitur (university attendance authorization). She later became a licensed physical therapist. These diverse areas of training enable her to address both the critically important intellectual and physical elements of child development (as recognized by Waldorf education founder, Rudolf Steiner and peer Waldorf educators).
Kim Lewis – Sun Garden Nursery Lead and Parent-Child Class Director
Ms. Kim has studied and researched child development extensively in the Waldorf tradition and in other complementary approaches, including those of Emmi Pikler and Magda Gerber (infant specialists). In addition to her Master’s degree in Waldorf Early Childhood Education from Antioch University, she completed the advanced Pikler training in Budapest and is one of about forty Resources for Infant Educarers (RIE) Associates in North America.
Ms. Kim works on the North American ‘Birth-to-Three’ Task Force for Waldorf Education. She guest lectures at Pima College in the Early Childhood program and moderates an online group of hundreds of parents, teachers and child-care providers. She offers workshops at regional conferences and loves to write about the developing child. One of her essays appears in the Waldorf Early Childhood Association’s (WECAN) book, A Warm and Gentle Welcome. Her Master’s Thesis on Steiner architecture for young children is currently being prepared for publication. Ms. Kim has three children and two grandsons. She is so happy to be teaching at the Tucson Waldorf School and frequently tells people that her young students are the luckiest children in Tucson.
Ms. Leila has worked in early childhood education for more than ten years. She considers spending time with children to be one of her favorite things to do. She has attended the following workshops at Rudolf Steiner College: Fundamentals of Kindergarten, Storytelling and Puppetry, Loving Discipline in the Classroom, The Fairy Garden: Gardening in the Kindergarten, Movement and Circle, and Spatial Dynamics. Ms. Leila is a well-known local musician and often offers her music to school events.
Christabelle Merrill - Sun Garden Nursery Assistant
Ms. Christabelle was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona. She is classically trained in both violin and piano. After working for four years as a Veterinary Assistant, she was drawn to Tucson Waldorf School and joined the school as an assistant in the Early Childhood program in 2009. Her musical training and experience working with animals both positively influence her approach to working with young children in the classroom. She continues to play music and collaborates with multiple local musical artists.
Ron Spector – Marigold Garden Nursery Assistant
Mr. Ron joined Tucson Waldorf School in 2010 after having owned, managed and taught Lasting Impressions Learning Center from 1984-2010. He holds an Associate’s Degree in Child Development from Central Arizona College and an Associate of Arts in Graphic Arts from Pima Community College. He also attended the University of Arizona in pursuit of Art Education in 1979. Mr. Ron is a resident up and coming expert in the unique method of Lazure painting seen and experienced in beautiful Waldorf classrooms. In his time at Tucson Waldorf School, Mr. Ron has offered his skills in many capacities and programs: Extended Care for grades 3-8, summer programs, and Early Childhood programs.
Jennifer O’Brien – Red Rose Garden Kindergarten Lead
Ms. Jennifer was born in Montreal and grew up in British Columbia. She moved to Tucson in 1985 to attend the University of Arizona where she received a Master of Science in Geoscience in 1987. She became interested in education with the birth of her own children and began to explore the principles of Waldorf education in earnest in 1990. A founding member of Tucson Waldorf School, Ms. Jennifer assisted Mrs. Braun in the first kindergarten class in 1993. She received her certificate in Waldorf Early Childhood Education from Rudolf Steiner College. Prior to becoming a lead kindergarten teacher at the school in 1997, Ms. Jennifer led playgroups and a part-time home program. Along with her participation at numerous conferences, seminars and trainings in Waldorf Education over the years, Jennifer has also studied voice with Christiaan Boele in the School for Uncovering the Voice (an approach to singing initiated by Mrs. Valborg Werbeck Svardstrom, a Swedish singer who developed this in cooperation with Rudolf Steiner). Ms. Jennifer loves being out in nature, crafting, singing and cooking. With three grown children and a dear husband, she is full of gratitude for the many blessings in her life.
Cynthia Hovland – Grade 1
Ms. Canote grew up in Seattle surrounded by a loving community of musicians and contra dancers. Her summers were spent at multi-generational music and dance camps where her love for music and working with children was fostered. Ms. Canote attended Berea College, a small liberal college in Kentucky, where she majored in Education. During her time at Berea she taught preschool and gymnastics at the College. A class on intentional communities led her to two years of Americorps service at Camphill Special School – the only Waldorf school in North America for children with disabilites – in Pennsylvania. Ms. Canote facilitated various classes including weavery and pottery workshops. Ms. Canote holds a Masters in Education and a Waldorf Teaching Certificate from Antioch University New England. In her free time Ms. Canote enjoys playing fiddle, ukulele, and banjo, reading, cooking, and crafting.
Irene Richardson – Grade 3
Ms. Richardson studied Comparative Religions at Bard College in the beautiful Hudson River Valley of New York before moving on to earn her M.S. in Waldorf Education. Prior to joining the TWS Grades faculty in 2012, she carried a class from first through fourth grade at the Waldorf School of Princeton.
Ms. Richardson was initially drawn to Waldorf education through the rich artistic curriculum and story traditions. However, in her time as a class teacher, she has found that her work is truly sustained by the relationships she builds with the extraordinary children, families, and colleagues in our community. In addition to growing every day through her teaching, Ms. Richardson continues to develop herself through musical and artistic practice, and an ever-deepening love of literature.
Ms. Archer grew up in Indiana but headed to California for college where she got her Bachelor of Arts with distinction in Psychology from Stanford University. During her years at Stanford she trained at Bing Nursery School focusing her studies on early childhood development. After graduating from Stanford, she worked for 10 years in early childhood education in the San Francisco Bay Area. She also trained in illustration and graphic design at the Academy of Art in San Francisco. After doing web design in Portland, Oregon for two years, she returned to teaching by completing her Waldorf Teaching Credential through Rudolf Steiner College in 2000.
Ms. Archer is the teacher who graduated Tucson Waldorf School’s first Grade 8 class (in 2007). She also serves as faculty representative to the board. In her free time she enjoys doing arts and crafts, and contra and swing dancing.
Judy Taylor – Grade 5
Mr. Sussman is a Tucson native and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Arizona. He was first introduced to Waldorf education during his time as an Americorps volunteer at a life sharing community for adults with developmental disabilities in rural New York. After two years of service he pursued a Master’s of Education and Waldorf Teacher Certification at Antioch University New England. He has been working and learning at Tucson Waldorf School since 2010. Mr. Sussman enjoys reading, painting, singing and playing ukulele, clarinet, and guitar.
Mrs. Blazewicz and her family moved to Tucson in 2010 from Massachusetts. Shortly thereafter, she joined Tucson Waldorf School’s faculty. She joined her current class in the spring of 2011 and looks forward to carrying them forward into middle school. Mrs. Blazewicz has a very diverse background and has a degree in chemical engineering. In 1996 when her daughter was born, Michelle left the industry to focus on raising her family. During that time, she discovered and fell in love with Waldorf education through a parent-child class at the Cape Ann Waldorf School. She became a Certified Waldorf Elementary teacher and worked for four years as a class teacher before taking time out to again focus on the family. During her time away, she completed a year-long foundations course in music where she learned to play the lyre. In addition to teaching, Michelle is enrolled in a 3-year part-time program in Waldorf Remedial Education at Rudolf Steiner College, which she finds invaluable to her work as a class teacher. Michelle enjoys family outings, especially if they involve exploring nature or visiting museums, photography and animals.
Elizabeth Kessler – Grade 8
Elizabeth Kessler recently moved to Tucson from New York City. Drawn to the mountains and sunshine, Ms. Kessler already considers Tucson home. After earning a Bachelor of Arts in Classics from New York University, she studied Classical Archaeology at Princeton University where she earned her Master of Arts. She will soon complete her Ph.D. from Princeton. After years of teaching at the university level and working in education in museums, Ms. Kessler found Waldorf education. She is particularly excited about the opportunity to teach a range of subjects that are consistently infused with art. Invigorated by courses at the Rudolph Steiner College in Fair Oaks, Ms. Kessler is looking forward to the year with her Grade 7 students. When not teaching, Ms. Kessler enjoys exploring her new hometown and hiking with her dog.
Linda Braun – Faculty Chair
Mrs. Braun was born in Rock Island, Illinois and grew up in Los Angeles. Mrs. Braun first learned about Anthroposophy and Waldorf education from her first college roommate in 1975. She is a founding member of Tucson Waldorf School and has taught for more than 30 years. Mrs. Braun was the first lead kindergarten teacher of Tucson Waldorf School during its first year of operation in 1993. She received her Waldorf Kindergarten certification in 1994 from Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks, CA and taught kindergarten until 1999. From 2000-2006, she served as the Children’s Education Director of Congregation Chaverim. Mrs. Braun holds a Bachelor of Art in Arts and Literature from Johnston College in Redlands, CA. She also holds an Early Childhood Teaching Certificate from the College of St. Catherine of St. Paul, MN. Linda has two grown children. Mrs. Braun is a master knitter and enjoys cycling and cooking healthy, gourmet food.
Lisa Barnes – Handwork
Ms. Barnes joined one of the first playgroups (with her now grown daughter) in 1993 and has been part of Tucson Waldorf School since. Ms. Barnes holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and is a certified school teacher who taught at T.U.S.D. for five years. When her children were young, she managed an early childhood home program using the principles of Waldorf education. She has worn many hats at Tucson Waldorf School: Kindergarten Assistant, Enrollment Coordinator, and, for the last decade, Specialty Teacher in Handwork. She completed her Waldorf teacher training in Prescott, AZ in 2007. Waldorf education and her study of Anthroposophy have been a ‘homecoming’ for Ms. Barnes. She feels very blessed to have been part of Tucson Waldorf School’s beginning and to now be part of its continual growth.
Geneva Hickey - Spanish
Señorita Hickey, a Tucson native, has worked with children all her life. She has a degree in Hispanic Studies and has traveled all over Latin America. She feels it is a joy to combine her love of Spanish with her love of young people. With a passion for helping students remain in touch with their own strength and creativity, Señorita Hickey feels right at home at Tucson Waldorf School. She is is thrilled to be back in her home town, teaching, growing food, and riding her bike.
Heidi Johnson – Movement Education
Ms. Johnson was born in Connecticut and grew up in Chicago and New York City. She moved to Tucson in 1984 to attend the University of Arizona. In 1996, Heidi began teaching as an assistant in the Early Childhood program at the Tucson Waldorf School while her son attended the kindergarten. In 2000, Heidi started the Movement Education program and began her studies in Spatial Dynamics. Heidi completed her five year in-service training program in Spatial Dynamics, Movement Education, & Movement Therapy in 2004. She holds a certification in Bothmer Gymnastics and has completed a series of trainings in Bal-A-Vis-X. Ms. Johnson is a Zen Shiatsu therapist and is also trained in DIR/Floortime treatment for children with autism and sensory processing disorders. Ms. Johnson made the SENG Honor Roll for her outstanding educational service to gifted children. She is a and studies Movement Therapy in the Spacial Dynamics Graduate Program. Her passions include Chinese Internal Martial Arts, Sabre fencing, Argentine tango, music, photography, outdoors and nature.
Emily Mabry – Gardening
Ms. Emily, who teaches the grades gardening curriculum, was raised in the Southwest by a family of home gardeners. In high school, she lived for a summer in a farming community in rural France and it was there that the seed of future farming was planted. Her love of French also took root; she holds a Master of Arts in French and Francophone Literature. She was first introduced to biodynamic gardening and composting in Portland, OR in 2008 and has been growing food since. Ms. Emily has completed two years of Waldorf Teacher training at Rudolf Steiner College and the Artec Training Center in Prescott, AZ and has worked in Waldorf education for more than a decade in Vermont, Marin County, California, and Tucson, AZ. Ms. Emily and her husband, Farmer Jon, are the owners of River Road Gardens – the biodynamic farm offering CSA shares on Tucson Waldorf School’s River Bend campus.
Sophie Richerd – Extended Care Director
Ms. Sophie comes from France where she studied and completed her doctorate degree in Population Genetics in Paris. She has lived in the U.S. for twenty years now. Ms. Sophie is the Extended Care Director directing a wonderful program for children in Grades 1 and 2. She joined Tucson Waldorf School in 2002 as the Extended Care Assistant after she had enrolled her son and discovered he loved school so much he didn’t want to leave. Ms. Sophie is dedicated to the continual study of Anthroposophy and Waldorf education.