Mari Shintani, Grade 1 – “When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.” ― Rumi. These words eloquently express Mari Shintani’s love and joy for teaching. As our Grade One Class Teacher, she brings the richness of her over 20 years of experience as an educator and her multi-cultural world view. Mari Shintani was born in Japan, raised in the Republic of Panama, and also called home Guyana, Indonesia, and Hawai’i. Shortly after her Bachelor of Science and graduate studies of Horticulture Technology and Marine Option program at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Ms. Shintani’s focus turned towards the understanding of education as a bridge into the future. This fueled her to obtain her Montessori Early Childhood International certification through the London Montessori Centre and her Waldorf Elementary Teacher Certification at the Honolulu Waldorf School’s training center. Ms. Shintani joyfully received her first First Grade Class in 2002 and is excited to welcome her third First Grade class the fall of 2021. While teaching the grades at the Honolulu Waldorf School, Ms. Shintani developed the school’s first Spanish curriculum program and helped launch the program by teaching Spanish to grades 1 and 2. Ms. Shintani is also a certified life coach, health coach, and a CranioSacral Therapy practitioner.
Cheryl MacAller, Grade 2 – Ms. MacAller has held lead Kindergarten positions at the Singing Winds Waldorf School and at Avalon, Chicago. Prior to her studies at the Arcturus Rudolf Steiner Education Program, Ms. MacAller worked as a main class teacher of 26 Kindergarteners in the Chicago Public School System following the completion of her K-8 Teaching Certification at the Dominican University, and is a graduate in Anthropology from UC Santa Barbara (Magna Cum Laude). Ms. MacAller has been a member of our early childhood faculty since the fall of 2008.
Stephanie Kern, Grade 3
Paul Helfrich, Grade 4 – Dr. Paul Helfrich returns as a Class Teacher for the 2021–2022 school year having graduated the Westside Class of 2020 after eight years. An educator with close to forty years of experience at K-8 schools and university, Paul holds a Doctoral of Musical Arts degree in music composition (1986), a Masters degree in Developmental Psychology (2007), and a Masters degree in Waldorf Teacher Education (2013). He also taught informal science education at The Franklin Institute Science Museum in Philadelphia, PA, where he developed major exhibits, educational programs, and led a national testbed in distance learning with six science museums/K-8 schools (1987–1997). Paul has enjoyed working with children since his teens as a camp counselor. He began his study of Rudolf Steiner’s work (Anthroposophy) in 2009 and became a member of the First Class of the School of Spiritual Science (2012). We are thrilled to have Mr. Helfrich leading our Grade 4 class this fall.
Jessica Breakey, Grade 5/6 – Ms. Jessica Breakey holds a Post-Graduate Diploma in Education and a BA in Social Science from the University of Cape Town. She completed her Certificate in Steiner/Waldorf Education in 1990 and began her teaching career at the Constantia Waldorf School, Cape Town, South Africa. In the Fall of 2001, the Greenwich Steiner School in London offered her the position of class teacher and Faculty Chairperson; she held both positions for six years. Ms. Breakey came to WWS in September 2008 and took on our then First Grade with the commitment to guide these children through Grade 8. Ms. Breakey's 8th grade class graduated in June 2016! We are delighted to have her back to teach another class.
Lynne Newton, Grade 7 – Mrs. Newton holds a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies from Western Governors University, a Clear California Teaching Credential and her Waldorf Teacher Certification from Summerfield Waldorf School. In addition, Lynne has completed the Remedial Course at Rudolf Steiner College and has experience in administering individual Extra-Lesson Assessments and has been coordinating a Care Team and educational support program at the Mendocino Waldorf School. Mrs. Newton has been a grades 1–8 class teacher for 20 years at the Waldorf School of Mendocino and brings with her over 30 years of Waldorf experience in many capacities including outreach, Faculty mentor, Waldorf teacher training, Faculty chair, College chair, and Board president. Mrs. Newton joined WWS in 2015.
Belinda James, Grade 8 – Ms. Belinda served at WWS as a teacher in the EC from 1997–2004 and has served at the Bristol Steiner School, England, as Class Teacher from 2004–2013. She returned to WWS in 2014. Ms. Belinda earned her Waldorf Teaching Certification from Rudolf Steiner College (Early Childhood Education) and at Emerson Teacher Training, Forest Row, Sussex, England (Class Teacher). Ms. Belinda is credited with not only having the ability to connect to her students through her strong understanding of the pedagogy and understanding of child development but for her ability to listen to and honor her students on a deep and heartfelt level.
SPECIAL SUBJECT TEACHERS
Eric Deutsch, Games Teacher
Katia Lewin Jablonski, Handwork Teacher – Ms. Katia holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music from Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, a Bachelor’s in Classical Guitar Performance and a Bachelor of Science in Recording Arts from Indiana University. She is in the process of completing her Waldorf Practical Arts Training at the Waldorf Institute of Southern California and has received extensive private training in the practical arts.
Takako Kamura, Grades 1–8 Educational Support Teacher – Ms. Kamura holds a Bachelor's Degree in Education from Tokyo Gakugei University, Tokyo, Japan as well as having completed the three year Camphill Curative Education Program in Aberdeen, Scotland, and the Remedial Education Course at Rudolf Steiner College. For the past thirteen years, Ms. Kamura has served as the Educational Support Teacher at the Santa Cruz Waldorf School where she gained considerable experience in working with both classes and individual students.
Helen Yap, Mandarin Teacher – Education is Helen Yap's passion as she strives to help all students achieve their potential. Mrs. Yap loves teaching Mandarin and culture, and contributed to her former district in receiving a CA Golden Bell Award. Being a life-long learner and having a Growth Mindset is important to Mrs. Yap. She received a B.A. from the University of Michigan, and M.A. in Education from California Lutheran University. In education leadership, Mrs. Yap has served as an international conference presenter in Mandarin, Social Studies curriculum coordinator, and a co-founder of a preschool for the children living in poverty in Manila, Philippines. She believes that together we can create a purposeful learning culture!
EARLY CHILDHOOD TEACHERS
Andrea Danneker – Ms. Andrea is a skilled veteran early childhood teacher with a history of working with children at both public and Waldorf schools for the past 23 years as both a teacher and a special needs caseworker. Most recently she comes from Highland Hall Waldorf School where she spent the last 6 years as a Lead Kindergarten Teacher, EC Center Faculty Chair and Director. She looks forward to developing and nurturing relationships with our WWS families, working collaboratively to foster a thriving, inclusive school community.
Inés Van Gelderen – Ms. Ines grew up in Buenos Aires where she earned a teacher’s degree, and afterwards turned her attention to a two year Music-therapy intensive program. She moved to Los Angeles 30 years ago, where she earned Waldorf Early Childhood and Foreign Language degrees from the Waldorf Institute of Southern California. More recently, she earned a Nature-based Teacher Certification from the Eastern Region Association of Forest and Nature Schools. Ms. Ines also completed a three-year professional course in the Therapeutic Approach to Waldorf Early Childhood Education at Denver Anthroposophic Studies Program: Nurturing the roots. During her first 10 years in Los Angeles, Ms. Ines was the Spanish Teacher at Highland Hall Waldorf School. At that time she decided to start a family. She turned her attention to teaching Early Childhood and has spent the last 20 wonderful years at Westside Waldorf School. Growing up in a different country and culture awakened in her the responsibility of sharing with her community the seeds of respect, diversity, inclusion, and equity. In her own words, "Spanish culture is a big part of who I am, and I bring it to my students during festivals, circles, and language."
Chiara Issa – Ms. Chiara received her Bachelor’s Degree in Art History from Bard College, with a minor in Vocal Jazz. She holds a certificate in Major Gifts Fundraising from NYU, a certificate in Classical Voice from Juilliard Extension and completed her Meisner training with William Esper in NY. Ms. Chiara attended Rudolf Steiner College, where she completed her Early Childhood Waldorf teacher training and was a member of their last graduating class. She began teaching Parent-Child classes and assisting in the Early Childhood in August 2016 and has been teaching Kindergarten since the fall of 2018. She has been a WWS Parent for seven years and is honored to be a part of the school community as both a teacher and a parent. Ms. Chiara also loves to sing, dance, bake, and rollerskate.
Anjelica Lelan – Ms. Angelica began her Waldorf journey at our school as a Westside Waldorf kindergarten parent, many years ago. In 2012, she returned to Westside to work alongside Ms. Ines; and in 2013, she began teaching as a Lead Kindergarten teacher at Highland Hall Waldorf School. An Early Childhood educator with over 10 years of Waldorf early childhood experience, she also holds a Master's degree in Film, Television and Digital Media from UCLA.
Gergana Minkova – Ms. Gergana joined the early childhood faculty at the Westside Waldorf School in 2003. She brought with her an M.A. in Elementary and Preschool Education from the Sofia University in Bulgaria, with special emphasis in Audiology and Speech Therapy, in addition to a two-year study of the Tao Buddhist Tradition at the New Bulgarian University in Sofia, Bulgaria. Following her transition to America, Ms. Gergana completed a three-year training in Waldorf Community Counseling at the Antioch University in New England. Ms. Gergana holds a certification of Early Childhood Teacher Education from the Waldorf Institute of Southern California. In addition, she completed a three-year professional deepening course in the Therapeutic Approach to Waldorf Early Childhood Education at Denver Anthroposophic Studies Program: "Nurturing the Roots".
EARLY CHILDHOOD ASSISTANT TEACHERS
AFTERCARE AT MCCOMB CAMPUS
Bettina Prang, Early Childhood
Fidelina Delgado, Early Childhood Aftercare Assistant
Brenna Johnston-Kosher, Grades
AFTERCARE AT WECC CAMPUS
Ana Muñoz, Early Childhood