Our Faculty

Waldorf School of Pittsburgh is the region’s only school that offers families a fully inter-disciplinary, arts-integrated, progressive education. Our faculty practice teaching as an art, one that nurtures children’s imaginations and is responsive to the developmental phases of the whole human being as it unfolds through the phases of infant, toddler, child, and teenager. In the heart of every Waldorf teacher lives the commitment to help each student reach for his or her highest potential. To maintain that commitment, Waldorf teachers pursue ongoing self-development in order to create lively, memorable lessons that engage and stretch themselves and students in all directions — socially, intellectually, physically, and artistically.

Early Childhood Faculty

Grades Faculty
Special Subjects Faculty

Early Childhood Faculty

Annie Baltzer

Extended Care Director; Rosebud Nursery Lead Teacher

person-20-16.png

Annie began her Waldorf journey as a parent when her daughter joined the Morning Garden class for a season in 2017. Soon after, pathways opened to allow her to join the staff at Waldorf School of Pittsburgh. Prior to her work and parent life at WSP, Annie spent 12 years as a special education and sixth grade science teacher, fostering a love for the outdoors in her students as she explored the forests and streams surrounding the rural middle school at which she taught. Recently Annie completed her Masters in Ecopsychology, furthering her belief in the healing power of nature. She can usually be found with bare feet, traveling and exploring the natural world with her daughter, and tending to their large front yard garden.

Education
  • M.S., Counseling: 
    Concentration in Ecopsychology, Specialization in School Counseling, Prescott College,

  • B.S., Elementary & Special Education, Indiana University of PA

Christina Chirdon-Jones

Sunflower Kindergarten Lead Teacher

IMG_6710_rev.jpg

Miss Christina has been at Waldorf School of Pittsburgh since 2010 when she became a Kindergarten teacher. She first learned of Waldorf education in one of her education classes and was instantly intrigued. When she and her husband moved to Pittsburgh in 2010 she could not believe her luck to have found Waldorf School of Pittsburgh and been given the opportunity to join the faculty. Waldorf education has been a gift both as a teacher and for her daughter who now attends the school. Christina enjoys spending time with her family, baking, reading, and running.

Education
  • Waldorf Early Childhood Certificate, Sunbridge Institute

  • M.A.Teaching, Elementary Education, Mary Bladwin College

  • B.A., Conflict in Human Behavior, Juniata College

Maribeth Hagley

Little Friends Apple Blossom Lead Teacher

IMG_7774_rev.jpg

Coming soon!

Education
  • Coming soon!

Amanda Kenney

Little Friends Program Coordinator; Little Friends Lead Teacher

person-20-16.png

Miss Amanda joined Waldorf School of Pittsburgh in 2012 as a parent. She is the mother of two energetic and outdoor loving children who attend WSP. In 2015, she became the Assistant in the Kindergarten classroom. In 2014 she joined the Little Friends program as a lead teacher and in 2019 she became the Little Friends Coordinator. Before Waldorf, she served as an Art Therapist and Family-Based Therapist supporting communities throughout Allegheny County. Amanda enjoys spending time with her family camping, hiking and picnicking.

Education
  • M.A., Art Therapy, Seton Hill University

  • BFA, Tennessee Technological University

  • LifeWays Trained

Penny Paich-Caraway

Poppy Kindergarten Lead Teacher

person-20-16.png

When Miss Penny was introduced to Waldorf School of Pittsburgh in 1999, she knew she'd found exactly what she'd been searching for. She worked in the After School Program before leaping at the opportunity to become a Kindergarten teacher. WSP has been a huge influence and blessing in her life and in the life of her family: her son graduated 8th grade in May 2020 after being part of the school community since he was just 18 months old! When not teaching, Miss Penny can likely be found knitting, sewing, or dreaming of moving to Ireland.

Education
  • M.Ed., Waldorf Education, Sunbridge Institute

  • B.A., Elementary Education, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Laura Phillips

Little Friends Apple Blossom Classroom Lead Teacher

person-20-16.png

Miss Laura joined Waldorf School of Pittsburgh in 2012 as a Lead Teacher to the Apple Blossoms. From 2012–2019 Laura also served as the Director of the Little Friends Program. She is an artist and educator. She is a life-long Pittsburgher who enjoys gardening, hiking, camping, traveling, and relaxing with friends. She lives in Garfield with her partner and their pit bull, Gloria.

Education
  • M.Ed., Duquesne University

  • B.A., Art History and Studio Art, Duquesne University

  • Lifeways Trained,

  • National S.E.E.D. (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) Trained

Brigitte Ryan

Rosebud Nursery Lead Teacher

IMG_7927_rev.jpg

Brigitte Ryan stepped into the role of Rosebud Lead Teacher in 2020. Brigitte worked with a small initiative Waldorf school in the lower east side of Manhattan before moving to Pittsburgh in 2019. While at New Amsterdam School, she worked as an Aftercare Teacher, the Parent Child Lead Teacher, and a support in the Nursery and Bridge programs. Brigitte still works and collaborates artistically with adults with disabilities at DreamStreet Theatre Company, based in Brooklyn, New York.

Education
  • B.A., Theatre and English, Muhlenberg College

Juli Strang-Tryc

Dandelion Kindergarten Lead Teacher

person-20-16.png

Miss Juli was welcomed as a full time faculty member in the spring of 2013. She began her educational journey in college—while instructing a pitching clinic for young girls, she had the “ah ha!” moment that inspired her to change her life’s path. Seeing the children grow and learn with her each week gave her a deep sense of satisfaction and purpose. Before coming to WSP, Juli worked as a Therapeutic Staff Support, Substitute Teacher, Activities Coordinator, and Varsity softball coach. She currently lives in Munhall with her husband, Ben, and their daughters Lily and Ivy.

Education
  • M.Ed., Waldorf Education, Antioch University (in progress)

  • B.A., Elementary Education, Point Park University

  • B.S., Educational Services, California University of PA

Jill Zihar

Early Childhood Faculty Chair; Buttercup Kindergarten Lead Teacher

person-20-16.png

Miss Jill always knew that she wanted to be a teacher and when she found Waldorf education she knew that the loving, creative, magical environment was where she wanted to teach. In 2002, she started working for Waldorf School of Pittsburgh as the After School Director and the following year became a Kindergarten teacher. From 2007–2012, she taught in a mixed-age Kindergarten at Waldorf School of Philadelphia. In 2012, Jill and her family returned to Pittsburgh where she has taught Nursery and Kindergarten. She finds joy in teaching, reading, cooking, and watching her own children experience Waldorf education as they move through the grades.

Education
  • M.Ed., Waldorf Education, Sunbridge Institute

  • M.A., Literary and Cultural Studies, Carnegie Mellon University

  • B.A., Literature and Elementary Education, Allegheny College

Early Childhood Assistants

Assistants

Sabine Scheiffarth, Bluebell Nursery and Morning Garden Assistant

Kim O'Donnell, Sunflower Kindergarten Assistant

Greer Hughes, Poppy Kindergarten Assistant

Alaia Brown, Rosebud Nursery Assistant; Extended Care Lead Teacher

 

Grades Faculty

In order of grade for 2022–2023

Coming soon

Grade 1

IMG_6869.jpg

Coming soon...

Education
  • to come

Anne Clair Goodman

Grade 2

IMG_6968_rev.jpg

Ms. Goodman joined the Faculty at WSP in 2000 as a class teacher. Having attended Washington Waldorf School from 1st–12th Grades, she is firmly committed to the mission of Waldorf education and loves to watch her students discover the world, as well as working collaboratively with colleagues and parents to support the students of our school. When not at school, Ms. Goodman is active in her synagogue, serves on the Leadership Council of AWSNA, and loves hiking, the arts, and going on adventures of all sorts in Western Pennsylvania and beyond!

Education
  • M.Ed., Waldorf Education, Antioch University

  • B.A., History, Oberlin College

Megan Green

Grade 3

person-20-16.png

Ms. Green has been connected with our community since 2017 when her graduate class at Duquesne University visited our school. We have witnessed and appreciate Ms. Green’s warmth and engagement with the students, her clear classroom management command, and her ability to forge authentic relationships. Ms. Green has worked as a paraprofessional, a musical director, and a substitute teacher in this region. She comes to WSP from an after school program where she served as the director, engaging with children of various ages, managing staff, and supporting parents.

Education
  • M.S. Ed Early Childhood Education, Pre-K through 4th grade, Duquesne University 

  • B.S Psychology, Allegheny College 

Paige Wiegman

Grade 4

IMG_6432_rev.jpg

Ms. Wiegman discovered her passion for teaching as a student at Oberlin College. She earned her M.Ed. in the Integrated Learning Program at Antioch University and taught in public schools in New Hampshire. After returning to Pittsburgh, Paige was a science teacher at the Ellis School and Riverquest. After joining WSP in 2010, she has had the joy and honor of guiding the classes of 2015, 2019, and 2027 as their class teacher.

Education
  • Waldorf Certification, Antioch University

  • M.Ed., Education, Antioch University

  • B.A., Environmental Studies, Oberlin College

Michelle Opdahl

Grade 5

IMG_6514_rev.jpg

Ms. Opdahl first learned of Waldorf School of Pittsburgh during her teacher training program at the University of Pittsburgh. The seed to become a Waldorf teacher was planted. Her skills as an educator were nurtured through six years of teaching in rural Alaska and in Virginia public schools. In 2014, Ms. Opdahl took root as a Waldorf School of Pittsburgh teacher and adventured with a phenomenal group of humans from fifth through eighth grade.

Education
  • Waldorf Certification, Rudolf Steiner Center Toronto

  • M.Ed., University of Pittsburgh

  • B.A.S, Theatre Arts, University of Pittsburgh

Robyn Thomas

Grades Faculty Chair; Grade 6

IMG_7241_rev.jpg

Ms. Thomas began her path of discovery in Waldorf education with the birth of her daughter, twenty years ago. Ms. Thomas taught in public schools throughout Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts before working at Waldorf School of Pittsburgh as the After School Program Director. She became a class teacher in 2001 and has held various positions at the school, including Director of State Licensing, Enrollment and Marketing Assistant, and Morning Garden Assistant.

Education
  • M.Ed., with Waldorf Teacher Certification, Antioch New England

  • B.S., Elementary Education, Armstrong Atlantic State University

Holly King

Grade 6

person-20-16.png

Ms. King began teaching middle school English in 1993 and taught in the private and public sector for 11 years. When Waldorf School of Pittsburgh relocated to her neighborhood, she was inspired and honored to join the faculty. Since then she has led one class through grades 1–8 and has been leading her second class since first grade. In her spare time she enjoys hiking, cooking, and reading.

Education
  • M. Ed. State University of New York at Buffalo

  • B.A., Rochester Institute of Technology

Ang Illar

Athletics Director; Grade 7; Physical Education

person-20-16.png

Ms. Illar began working with the school in 2009. She enjoyed working with many programs while getting to know the school. She began teaching Games and PE in 2012, and directed WSP summer camps for several years. Ms. Illar loves movements of many types. She also enjoys working with WSP alumni. She has a passion for coaching skiing and snowboarding.

Education
  • B.S. Health and Physical Education (Indiana University of PA)

  • Spacial Dynamics Levels I&II

  • Movement Therapy (Spacial Dynamics Institute NY)

Grades Assistants

Ursa Smith, Primary Grades Assistant; 1st–2nd Grade Movement

 
 

Special Subjects Faculty

Kathleen Andrews

Strings Teacher

IMG_7221_rev.jpg

Coming soon!

Education
  • Coming soon!

Olga Brindar

Art Teacher

IMG_7653_rev.jpg

Coming soon!

Education
  • Coming soon!

Jessica Garcés

Spanish Teacher

IMG_7616_rev.jpg

Señora Garcés joins us having moved to Pittsburgh after living in Chile from 2005–2018, where she worked in many capacities for a variety of organizations including at The International School Nido de Águilas. Since moving to Pittsburgh, Señora Garcés has worked as a substitute teacher in various schools. Waldorf School of Pittsburgh is very excited to have  her as a part of our community.

Education
  • M.A., Emerson College

  • B.A., Brandeis University

Sarah Louise

Handwork Teacher

IMG_6573_rev.jpg

Ms. Louise was introduced to Waldorf education through the early childhood program. She taught visual and technical arts in grades 1–12 before coming to Waldorf education. Ms. Louise began assisting in kindergarten and teaching handwork in 2016, and in 2019 assumed the role of Lead Handwork Teacher. The natural world brings inspiration to Ms. Louise. Ms. Louise loves spending time camping, foraging and hiking with her husband and three sons. “Thinking is cosmic knitting” —Steiner

Education
  • M. Ed. State University of New York at Buffalo

  • B.A., Rochester Institute of Technology

Denise Pollack

5th–8th Grade Math Teacher

person-20-16.png

Ms. Denise Pollack brings twenty years of experience teaching at a local independent school to the Middle School as an Upper Grades Teacher. She will work with 6th and 8th Grade students in Language Arts and Math.  

Education
  • M.A., Educational Leadership and Administration, University of Illinois at Chicago

  • B.A., English Language and Literature/Letters, Loyola University of Chicago

Nataliya Porfinenko 

Russian Teacher

IMG_7093_rev.jpg

Coming soon!

Education
  • Coming soon!

Additional Specialty Faculty

Additional Specialty Faculty

Christina Chen, Cello

Lisa Collier, Language Arts (Grades 4 & 7)

Samantha Nelson, Viola

Dawn Penney, Movement (Grades 3 & 4)

Howard Cespedes, 6th–8th Grade Woodwinds    
Julie Stunden, Woodworking

Peggy Yoo, Handwork Assistant (Grades 1–5)

WSP_Logo_2015_redone (1)-02.png