Michelle Gullage

Michelle Gullage

Michelle Gullage

Farm & Forest Kindergarten

Michelle worked in Outdoor and Wilderness education for more than 10 years, and stumbled upon Waldorf Education in 2008 while searching for a Preschool for her first-born. After becoming a parent volunteer with the Waldorf-inspired Kindergarten Cooperative in Asheville NC, she quickly realized that this was how she had always hoped to teach. She began to study,  participate in workshops, and became a member of the initiative that led to the opening of a school, now over a decade old.

Michelle dreamed of finding a school where her love of Waldorf Education and the outdoors would meet. She is so happy to have found it at OVWS, and looks forward to many years of sharing and creating experiences that assist children in finding the goodness in themselves and the world around them.

In her spare time, Michelle loves to read, drink coffee, listen to bluegrass, and disappear into the woods on bike or foot. She has two children at Orchard Valley, a hard-working husband, and a whole team of dogs, cats, chickens, rabbits and horses!

Karen Vatz

Karen Vatz

Karen Vatz

Administrative Director

Karen has worked in the field of education for more than 20 years. Starting out as a teacher in the Peace Corps, she became fascinated with the process of learning a foreign language. She pursued a PhD in Second Language Acquisition at the University of Maryland, and went on to research how languages are learned and represented in the brain. After a decade of this work, Karen and her family moved to Vermont, where she began teaching in the linguistics department at the University of Vermont. Karen discovered Waldorf education through a parent-child class she took when her oldest daughter was 4 months old, over 10 years ago. She has been involved in Waldorf Schools ever since, and came to Orchard Valley in 2012. She is excited to take on this new role serving the school in the administrative office. Karen finds calm while walking in the woods, hanging out in the barn with her goats, and baking with chocolate. In the late night hours, she enjoys writing her reflections on parenting and racial sensitivity issues.

Todd White

Todd White

Todd White

Chair

My wife and I have deep roots in Vermont and moved here nearly a decade ago to raise our kids surrounded by values and community.   We came to OVWS in grades 2 and 4, and feel blessed every day that our children now learn in a school committed to educating the whole self.  I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute my time, energy and enthusiasm for the school, and suspect that by participating in the Waldorf community and philosophy I may learn as much as my kids.

Joan Kahn

Joan Kahn

Joan Kahn

Vice Chair

I first “discovered” Waldorf education at the age of three – when I began attending a Waldorf school in southern California. I believe that Waldorf schools offer children a sense of wonder and adventure in a safe haven – something that is sorely needed in our times. As a parent of a seventh grader and an OVWS alum, I have been involved with Orchard Valley since its inception. I am excited to be on the OVWS board and want to help our school and community thrive.

Brian Doyle

Brian Doyle

Brian Doyle

Treasurer

My wife and I moved to Montpelier in 2015 with our three young children who are now 8, 4, and 2 years old. I am an eye surgeon in private practice in Montpelier.  Prior to our move, we lived in Hanover, NH and Philadelphia most recently. Our children attended the Upper Valley Waldorf School and the Philadelphia Waldorf School, and in our search for a place to settle down, finding a town in close proximity to a Waldorf School was a top priority. The Waldorf educational philosophy resonates with us both, and we have seen our kids thrive in this educational system. In joining the Board, I hope to help the school to grow, thrive, and continue to offer such an amazing education to our children.  

Rhonda Prensky

Rhonda Prensky

Rhonda Prensky

Secretary

When my son was about 18 months old, I saw a handmade sign inviting parents of young ones to a play group where children could bake bread, engage with handmade playthings, shape beeswax, and play with natural toys in a gentle play space. That was the beginning of our Waldorf experience, which eventually evolved into the creation of a Waldorf-inspired Early Education program in New York. A move to Vermont, motivated almost entirely by an education at Orchard Valley Waldorf School for my son and daughter, brought us to Central Vermont almost six years ago. My partner, Ken, and I live in Montpelier and proudly send our three children to Orchard Valley Waldorf School where they get to experience an education that nurtures their heads, hands and hearts. I can see the value of this education for our children at each developmental stage and I am grateful to have the opportunity to educate my children in this very thoughtful way.  

Joe Astick

Joe Astick

Joe Astick

I believe that schools play one of the most important roles in our society. Strong schools strengthen our communities and our humanity.  As director of an alternative high school, I am passionate about building strong, small learning communities in Central Vermont. My wife and I choose to send our two children, ages 7 and 10, to OVWS because it reflects our personal values, in acknowledging a child’s spirit and personal growth, and supporting the whole child. I hope to give back to OVWS through my professional experience in legal, financial, policy, and strategic planning decisions that impact small schools in rural Vermont.

Madelief Becherer

Madelief Becherer

Madelief Becherer

As a Waldorf School graduate, bringing my oldest daughter Mia to OVWS as a Kindergartener felt like coming home. Mia graduated from OVWS in 2017 and is now at Lake Champlain Waldorf High School. I am also Mama to Rose (6th grader) and Dasha (Kindergartener). My husband, Marcus, and I live with these three girls in Cabot. I have worn many hats at OVWS, the most recent being Chair of the ATA (Accessible to All) Committee. I am very passionate about Waldorf Education being financially accessible to all . This was a founding principle when Waldorf education was started in 1919, it was a philosophy adopted by the families that founded OVWS, and it continues to serve our school community today. I am excited to bring my work with the ATA Committee to the Board, ensuring open channels of communication and working together to maintain and grow a strong, vibrant and diverse Waldorf school in Central Vermont.

 

Andy Hatch

Andy Hatch

Andy Hatch

As the father of six, I have experienced several different school situations for my children: the public school system, home schooling, private boarding school, and Waldorf education. Three of my oldest sons attended the Green Mountain Waldorf School, and my two youngest children currently are enrolled in OVWS. The philosophy behind Waldorf education creates the environment in which my children thrive, and meshes with my own Anthroposophical beliefs. As residents of Heartbeet Lifesharing, a Camphill community, my wife Sara and I feel that supporting OVWS and serving on the board is essential to strengthening the ties between these sister communities, as well as growing and maintaining this local developmentally based Waldorf opportunity for years to come.   

Johanna Polsenberg

Johanna Polsenberg

Johanna Polsenberg

My family’s decision to move from Washington, D.C. to Vermont was significantly influenced by OVWS. Our two sons started in the 3rd and 5th grades in 2017, and they already love OVWS! I have been thrilled to see the creativity, especially in writing, music and art, that has emerged from them already! The boys are half-Australian, and we all lived from 2011-13 in Gabon, Africa, so travel and global cultures have always been, and remain, very important to all of us. However, our move to Vermont was very much about living intentionally in place, and the way the OVWS community has embraced us has deeply fertilized our young roots here! I chose to be a Trustee to make a long-term commitment to this community.

Kathy Clark

Kathy Clark

Kathy Clark

Director of Operations

Born and raised in Central Vermont, Kathy attended Trinity College and UVM, majoring in biology and business administration. She’s worked in a range of educational settings, and also ran a childcare center in her home while raising her daughter. Kathy came to OVWS in July 2004 through her daughter, Mary Kathryn (OVWS class of 2008), working first as a part-time office secretary then moving into full-time work as the Office Manager. She was later named Administrative Coordinator in 2010, and as Director of Operations in 2015. Kathy also manages her husband’s electrical contracting business. Kathy enjoys listening to and creating music, gardening, home renovation projects, and spending time in the natural world hiking, skiing, swimming, canoeing, and camping. During solo time, she can often be found reading a good book.

Cathy Donohue

Cathy Donohue

Cathy Donohue

Communications Coordinator

Cathy and her family came to Orchard Valley in 2011 to participate in the Morning Garden program. Her son is now enrolled in the grades and Cathy has been working for the school since 2012. Cathy’s work has evolved to include print and online pieces as well as marketing for a growing number of OVWS programs and events. Cathy has a B.S. in Magazine Journalism from Syracuse University and an M.S. in Environmental Communications from Antioch. She has worked as a marketing communications manager, magazine editor, and environmental educator, and maintains a freelance writing and editing business. Cathy is excited to be part of the OVWS administrative team in this dynamic point in the school’s history. She enjoys many seasonal sports, travel, and playing games and reading with her boy.

Lindsey Benton

Lindsey Benton

Lindsey Benton

Faculty, Grades

Lindsey received her bachelor’s degree in biology from the State University of New York at Geneseo. After spending time traveling the country as an environmental educator, Mrs. Benton realized her life’s calling was to be a teacher. She was particularly attracted to Waldorf education for its artistic methods, developmentally minded curriculum, and philosophical foundations.  This led her to earn her master’s degree in Waldorf education from Antioch University New England. Drawn by the vibe of central Vermont and the students she would be teaching, Mrs. Benton joined OVWS in April 2012.

Libby Case

Libby Case

Libby Case

Faculty, Grades

Teaching has always been the career of choice for Libby. She holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Ed. and spent ten years directing and teaching for Lesley College in an Environmental Ed. BA and MS program. It was during this time that she first was introduced to Waldorf Education and found its holistic approach to be a match to her ideals about education. When her own children were ready to begin school, Libby and her husband Ben, chose a Waldorf school. After completing a Foundations Studies program, Libby began assisting in the Kindergarten and running a summer program for 4-8 year olds in MA. In 2000 the family settled in Vermont and in 2001 Libby became the lead Kindergarten teacher for the Montpelier Child’s Garden. The next few years were spent administering and teaching, adding a nursery program, and helping facilitate the creation of the Orchard Valley Waldorf School in 2004. In 2010, after 14 years of early childhood education, Libby began her career as a class teacher teaching 1st graders who will become OVWS’s graduating class of 2018.

Cathie Ely

Cathie Ely

Cathie Ely

Director of Enrollment and Outreach

From a young age, Cathie knew she wanted to be a teacher. She never strayed from this goal, remaining in her beloved Green Mountains for teacher training and the start of her career. Cathie first taught 3rd and 4th grade at the Orange Center School and then entered the Peace Corps, serving in Sierra Leone, West Africa, where she met her husband, Ken. Upon returning to the states, Cathie continued teaching public school 4th and 5th grade in Hartland and Quechee, until the birth of her first child, Hannah. Her family moved to the Adirondacks where their second child, Audrey, was born. It was through a parent/child playgroup that Cathie was introduced to Waldorf Education. She appreciated the beauty, love of nature, and the view of the whole child that are the cornerstones of Waldorf pedagogy. From here Cathie entered trainings and became a first grade teacher at Northern Lights School in Wilmington, NY. The discovery of OVWS called Cathie and her family back to Vermont in 2007 when she joined the faculty as a first grade teacher.

Georgeanne Baker

Georgeanne Baker

Georgeanne Baker

Educational Support Teacher

Georgeanne grew up in Waterbury, VT with her parents and three sisters, and credits her grandmother for her creativity and teaching prowess. Each weekend there was always a surprise waiting, such as a sewing, knitting, crocheting, crafting, or cooking lesson, while her father worked the family farm. She loves to sew, record family history with picture and word, paint, and handwork. Georgeanne attended Trinity College and received a bachelors in Elementary Education with a minor in History. She then attended the University of Vermont, receiving her masters in Curriculum Development. She currently holds her license in elementary (K-6) and early education. She lives in Waterbury with her husband Don and her daughter Cecilia a student at UVM majoring in international business. She is honored to be a member of the OVWS community.
 

Dana Cudney

Dana Cudney

Dana Cudney

Faculty, Grades

After initially pursuing music and creative writing in college, Dana completed a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Mathematics and worked for ten years in the computer field. She was inspired to become a teacher by her mother and grandmother, both educators who began teaching in mid-life. While her children were young, she completed a Master’s in Education at Virginia Tech and taught a variety of subjects in public and private schools. Her children led her to Waldorf education which tied together many threads in her life, personally and professionally, and she completed the Waldorf teacher training at Antioch NE in 2005. She has been teaching in Waldorf schools since 2002, including teaching in kindergarten at Upper Valley Waldorf School, teaching combined grades classes at Wellspring Waldorf School, and most recently, taking a class from first through fourth grade at Lake Champlain Waldorf School. Dana has lived in Vermont for 18 years and has two children, both now in their twenties. She enjoys contra dancing, biking, and hiking. At home she enjoys campfires in the backyard, sing a-longs, gardening and cooking.

Laurie Kozar

Laurie Kozar

Laurie Kozar

Faculty, Grades

Laurie Kozar is currently serving Orchard Valley as our combined 2/3 grades classroom teacher. Ms Kozar knows many of her students since working as our After Care Assistant and Lead Teacher, and then as Kindergarten Assistant. Ms. Kozar also served as a long-term substitute in the grades last year, as well as serving students at Saint Johnsbury Academy. She brings more than 10 years of teaching experience to this work. Laurie has worked as an Assistant Librarian in a public school, as well as a visiting artist--bringing the skills of book binding, creative writing, and mindfulness practices to students and adults. She has collaborated with SafeArt and other non-profit organizations to bring the arts to social-awareness programs. Ms. Kozar keeps bees, enjoys growing plants of every kind, and enjoys pruning fruit trees for aesthetics, health, and production. Ms. Kozar is the proud mother of two daughters, both of whom attended Waldorf Schools through 8th Grade.

Svenja Donlon

Svenja Donlon

Svenja Donlon

Faculty, Grades

Svenja was born in Germany to a New Zealand Mother and a German Father. She spent most of her childhood in New Zealand making tree houses in the bush, sandcastles on the beach and cookies in the kitchen, and attending a variety of schools including a Waldorf School. In 2012, she graduated from university in Wellington, New Zealand with a Bachelor of Arts in German and History and a Graduate Diploma of Teaching. After teaching in a New Zealand public school for three years, she was drawn to the artistic, caring, healing education she experienced as a child and undertook a year-long training to become a Waldorf teacher at Taruna Essential College in 2014. Svenja then spent time traveling around New Zealand volunteering on organic farms. It was during this time that she met her Vermonter husband, and ventured across the globe to join him. She enjoyed her time at Orchard Valley Waldorf school in her role as a long-term substitute and later as an assistant in the kindergarten and aftercare teacher, and feels very fortunate to now be guiding an energetic and inspiring group of first graders in their grade school journey. Svenja strives to cultivate a warm, loving and empathetic classroom in which students are both challenged and nurtured. Svenja lives in Greensboro with her husband, young dog, and elderly cat. She loves walking, swimming, baking, sewing, and generally making things beautiful.

Claudia Reinh​ardt

Claudia Reinh​ardt

Claudia Reinhardt

Faculty, Grades

Claudia grew up in a small Bavarian village where she enjoyed a wonderful childhood of roaming the woods. She graduated from pediatric nursing school in Nuremberg, Germany, in 1995 and was drawn to the creativity of the Waldorf philosophy when her now teenage sons were young children. She started teaching at the Waldorf School of Louisville in 2002, first as a German teacher, later also leading the Parent-Child program. Claudia completed her Waldorf teacher training at Rudolf Steiner College in 2007. From 2008 to 2016 Claudia successfully journeyed through grades one to eight with a vibrant class of amazing students at the Richmond Waldorf School in Virginia. Claudia is deeply committed to offering a culturally diverse curriculum and to promoting inclusiveness in the classroom. She loves to read and share stories from around the world. Knitting with heirloom yarns and drinking coffee help her maintain her equilibrium.