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

Rebecca Davis

Parent-Child Morning Garden Lead Teacher, Bluebell Nursery Lead Teacher

Miss Rebecca has been a member of the Pittsburgh Waldorf community since the school opened in 1993, first as a parent, then eventually as a teacher. She has led the Morning Garden Parent-Child program since 2014 and is humbled by the opportunity to welcome new families to Waldorf education. She enjoys taking walks, cooking, baking and tea time, as well as learning languages and traveling the world to keep up with her far-flung children. She lives in Forest Hills with her husband and two cats.

Education
  • Birth to Three Certificate, Sophia's Hearth

  • B.A. in Linguistics and French, University of California at Berkeley

Brigitte Ryan

Rosebud Nursery 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.

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

Laura Phillips

Little Friends Program Coordinator, Apple Blossom Classroom Lead

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

Amanda Kenney

Little Friends Program Coordinator & 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 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

Juli Strang-Tryc

Dandelion Kindergarten Lead Teacher

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

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.

Education
  • Waldorf Early Childhood Certificate, Sunbridge Institute

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

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

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.

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

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

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

Penny Paich-Caraway

Poppy Kindergarten Lead Teacher

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

Early Childhood Assistants

Maribeth Hagley, Little Friends Clover Meadow Assistant

Tobias Foglia, Little Friends Apple Blossom Assistant

Sabine Scheiffarth, Bluebell Nursery and Morning Garden Assistant

Natalie Baverso, Buttercup Kindergarten Assistant

Kim O'Donnell, Sunflower Kindergarten Assistant

Breen Casey, Dandelion Kindergarten Assistant

Jorjanna Smith, Poppy Kindergarten Assistant

 

Grades Faculty

In order of grade for 2020–2021

Megan Frennier

Grade 1

Ms. Frennier has been connected with our community since 2017 when her graduate class at Duquesne University visited our school. We have witnessed and appreciate Ms. Frennier’s warmth and engagement with the students, her clear classroom management command, and her ability to forge authentic relationships. Ms. Frennier 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.Ed., Education, Duquesne University

  • B.A., Psychology, Allegheny College

Paige Wiegman

Grade 2

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 3

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

Grade 4

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 5

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
  • Waldorf Teacher Certification, Sunbridge Institute

  • M.Ed., Language Arts Education, University of Pittsburgh

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

Karin Fast

Grade 6

Born in Boston and raised in Ontario, Ms. Fast has either worked or studied in 6 countries on 4 separate continents. Ms. Fast completed her degree in elementary and special education from Goshen College, teaching in the Goshen and Elkhart public school systems. Introduced to Waldorf education through a WSP parent, since 2014 she has had the honor of working with exceptional colleagues, and the immense privilege to lead the class of 2023.

Education
  • Waldorf Certification, Rudolf Steiner Center Toronto

  • B.A., Elementary and Special Education, Goshen College

Anne Clair Goodman

Grades Faculty Chair; Grade 7

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 loves hiking, the arts, and cheering on her husband’s basketball teams.

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

  • B.A., History, Oberlin College

Brian Wagner

Grade 8

Mr. Wagner has been working as an educator for the past 15 years. The majority of that time has been in the field of special education. He was drawn to Waldorf education the first time he stepped into the building over 8 years ago to tour the Little Friends Program for his two daughters. Since joining the faculty, his passion for Waldorf education has increased, along with his excitement to come in each day and continue the journey with his class. Brian enjoys spending time with his family, riding his bike, reading and making journals.

Education
  • M.Ed., English Education, University of Pittsburgh

  • B.S., Special Education, West Chester University

Grades Assistants

Alex Dolnack, Grade 1 and 2 Assistant

Special Subjects Faculty

Sarah Banach

Handwork Teacher

Ms. Banach 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. Banach 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. Banach. Ms. Banach 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

Jessica Garcés

Spanish Teacher

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

Angela Illar

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.

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

  • Spacial Dynamics Levels I&II Movement Therapy, Spacial Dynamics Institute NY

Bobbi Konefal-Shaer

Handwork Teacher

Mrs. Konefal-Shaer spent 20 years teaching and supervising programs in special education in the Pittsburgh Public Schools. While on a break from teaching to raise her two young daughters, she found a group of like-minded mothers at a playgroup at Waldorf School of Pittsburgh. She began her Waldorf teaching experience leading the playgroup at the school. Later, Mrs. Konefal-Shaer became the director of legal compliance, and in 1998 she began teaching handwork while substituting during another teacher’s sabbatical. She also has been a class teacher for two years, teaching fourth and fifth grades. Her two daughters are alumnae of the school.

Education
  • M.Ed., Education, University of Pittsburgh

  • B.S., Biology, University of Pittsburgh

Denise Pollack

5th–8th Grade Math Teacher

Ms. Denise Pollack brings eighteen 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

Additional Specialty Faculty

Lisa Collier, Handwork Assistant (1–5 Grades)

Irina Shvartsman, Russian
Wrenny Howison, Art
Sam, General Music  
Dr. Brit Trotter, Woodwinds and Instruments Chair    
Christina Chen, Cello        
Kathleen Andrews, Violin
Samantha Nelson, Viola
Julie Stunden, Woodworking

 
 
CONTACT
Admissions

Devon Wood 
Director of Admissions

dwood@waldorfpittsburgh.org

412.441.5792, ext 224

Tuition and Financial Aid

Bob Roberson

Director of Business Operations 

broberson@waldorfpittsburgh.org

412.441.5792, ext 225

Giving

Anne Fowler

Community Outreach and Development Coordinator 

afowler@waldorfpittsburgh.org

412.441.5792, ext 235

CONNECT

201 S. Winebiddle St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15224

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