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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

Christina Chirdon-Jones

Sunflower Kindergarten Lead Teacher

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.

  • 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

Miss Maribeth joined the staff at the Waldorf School of Pittsburgh in 2018 at the Yellow House in the Little Friends program. When she isn't at school you can find her in the East End of Pittsburgh running, walking her dog, having coffee with friends, biking, or gardening. Spending time with her family is very important. They explore the region regularly whether on foot or bike.

  • B.A. Elementary Education; minor in Early Childhood Education, Bethel University. St. Paul, MN

Amanda Kenney

Little Friends Director; Little Friends Lead Teacher

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 Director. 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.

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

  • BFA, Tennessee Technological University

  • LifeWays Trained

Breen Lisi

Daisy Kindergarten Lead Teacher

Coming soon!

  • coming soon

Laura Phillips

Rosebud Nursery Lead Teacher; Morning Garden Transitional Lead Teacher

Miss Laura joined Waldorf School of Pittsburgh in 2012 as a Lead Teacher to the Little Friends Apple Blossoms. From 2012–2019 Laura 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 family.

  • 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

Morning Garden Infant, Toddler and Weekly Lead Teacher

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.

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

  • Sophia's Hearth Birth to Three Trained

Jill Zihar

Early Childhood Faculty Chair; Buttercup Kindergarten Lead Teacher

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.

  • 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

Elfriede Bonatti, Volunteer EC Floate

Andrea Danielson, Morning Garden Assistant

Ayden Hanser, Buttercup Kindergarten Assistant

Kim O'Donnell, Sunflower Kindergarten Assistant
Roxanne Williams,
Daisy Kindergarten Assistant

Early Childhood Faculty

Grades Faculty

In order of grade for the 2023–2024 school year.

Nadiv Brog

Grade 1

Coming soon...

  • to come

Ikhlasah Woodburn

Grade 2

Coming soon...

  • to come

Anne Clair Goodman

Grade 3

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!

  • M.Ed., Waldorf Education, Antioch University

  • B.A., History, Oberlin College

Tobias Foglia

Grade 3

Coming soon...

  • to come

Megan Green

Grade 4

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.

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

  • B.S Psychology, Allegheny College 

Paige Wiegman

Grade 5

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.

  • Waldorf Certification, Antioch University

  • M.Ed., Education, Antioch University

  • B.A., Environmental Studies, Oberlin College

Lisa Collier

Grade 5

After living in the Middle East for three years and looking to relocate back to Pittsburgh, a neighbor recommended the Waldorf school for her then six- and 3.5-year-old children. We value the play-based, curious driven, and whole-child nurturing environment! Lisa has substitute taught, assisted in the handwork class, and now teaches Language Arts for the fifth and eighth grades. Along the way, she has learned more about dyslexia and the science behind reading instruction.

  • Center for Effective Reading Instruction Certification, International Dyslexia Association

  • B.S. Secondary Education, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

Michelle Opdahl

Grade 6

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.

  • Waldorf Certification, Rudolf Steiner Center Toronto

  • M.A.T., University of Pittsburgh

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

Robyn Thomas

Grades Faculty Chair; Grade 7

Ms. Thomas began her path of discovery in Waldorf education with the birth of her daughter, twenty years ago. She taught in public schools throughout Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts before working at Waldorf School of Pittsburgh as the After School Program Director in 2000. The following year she inherited her first class and has since held various positions at the school, including Director of State Licensing, Enrollment and Marketing Assistant, Morning Garden Assistant and Class Teacher. In addition, Ms. Thomas currently serves as the Grades Faculty Chair.

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

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

Holly King

Grade 8

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.

  • Waldorf Certification, Sunbridge Institute

  • M.Ed., Education, University of Pittsburgh

  • B.S. Ed, Elementary Education, West Chester University

  • SEED Training, National SEED Project

Ang Illar

Athletic Director; Movement Teacher

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.

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

  • Spacial Dynamics Levels I&II

  • Movement Therapy (Spacial Dynamics Institute NY)

Grades Assistants

Greer Hughes, Primary Grades Assistant; 1st–2nd Grade Movement

Grades Faculty Anchor

Special Subjects Faculty

Kathleen Andrews

Strings Teacher

Kathleen Andrews joined the faculty of the Waldorf School of Pittsburgh in 2017 as the violin teacher for grades 3–5. Her love for the students, faculty, and community at WSP drew her to increase her time at school, and she now teaches all string instrument classes for grades 3–8. Ms. Andrews is an active performer, and proudly serves as the concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Philharmonic. In her free time, Ms. Andrews enjoys gardening, baking and hiking with her family.

  • M.A., Emerson College

  • B.A., Brandeis University

  • M.Mus., Performance with an emphasis in pedagogy, The Hartt School

  • Long-term Suzuki teacher training, Violin Books 1-8, The Hartt School

  • B. Mus., Performance, Eastern Michigan University

Jessica Garcés

Spanish Teacher

Señora Garcés has been the Spanish Grades 1–8 teacher since 2018 and full-time faculty member since 2019. As faculty, she currently chairs the Subject Class Group and the Organization Committee. Prior to becoming a classroom teacher, Señora Garcés earned a M.A. in Global Communications and Marketing and worked in an administrative role of a private school in Santiago, Chile. Her passion to become a multilingual world traveler has led her on many global adventures including a study abroad year of high school in Copenhagen, Denmark, a year of college in Santiago, Chile, and Portuguese studies for three months in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Her love of the city and culture of Santiago, Chile led to 15 years of living and working abroad there, before moving to Pittsburgh in 2018 with her husband and daughter. In her free time she loves caring for her pets and perfecting gluten-free cooking projects for her family.

  • M.A., Emerson College

  • B.A., Brandeis University

Sarah Louise

Handwork Teacher

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

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

  • B.A., Rochester Institute of Technology

Denise Pollack

5th–8th Grade Math Teacher

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.  

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

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

Julia Slaton

Director of Enrichment Programs

Julia was introduced to Waldorf Education at Highland Hall in California.  She had just finished her B.A, and went on to be a Nap Teacher and After School Care Facilitator there for a school year. After much deliberation Julia moved from California to West Virginia, and decided to pursue her newfound passion for Waldorf Education by earning her Master's from Great Lakes Waldorf University. Julia loves singing, spending time with her friends, and cooking meals for her family. She can't fathom how lucky she is to be starting at WSP, and is excited for her future with this wonderful school and community. 

  • M.Ed. Waldorf Education, Great Lakes Waldorf University Wisconsin (In Progress) 2026

  • B.A Major in Child and Adolescent Development (Focus in Early Childhood); Minor in Family Studies, 2021

Additional Specialty Faculty

Alberto Almarza, Middle School Art Teacher

Stephanie Bochiccio, Reading Specialist

Janet Byrnes, Speech Therapist

Howard Cespedes, 6th–8th Grade Woodwinds

Lisa Collier, Language Arts (Grades 5 & 8)

Greer Hughes, Movement (Grades 1–2)

Nataliya Porfinenko, Russian  
Julie Stunden, Woodworking

Peggy Yoo, Handwork Assistant

Special Subjects Anchor
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