Lower School Facultyadmin2020-08-17T09:14:58-08:00
Lower School Faculty
Don Basmajian, Class Eight
Don has been a Waldorf teacher since 1977. He received his Waldorf teacher training at Adelphi University, an M.A. in Education and has completed the five-year Spatial Dynamics training. He has led five classes from grades one through eight at Summerfield, and one class from grades five through eight. He also teaches Spatial Dynamics in the Lower School, P.E. in the High School, organizes the fifth grade Greek Olympiad at Summerfield and, with his wife Sieglinde, directs Circus Waldissima. He is also the founder and director of the Waldorf Teacher Training course at Summerfield. Don has four children—his oldest daughter graduated from Summerfield’s first twelfth grade class, while his son graduated from Summerfield in 2014.
Phone: (707) 575-7194 Ext: 301
Christie Bentley, Class One
Originally from the suburbs of Philadelphia, Christie grew up in love with the coast of New England, spending ample time sailing on the Atlantic Ocean and on the cool pebbled beaches of Maine. Christie graduated from Colgate University in upstate New York with degrees in French and Film Studies, before migrating West to find her true calling. Recognizing the need for a healing and spiritual education of future generations, Christie began studies at the Bay Area Center for Waldorf Teacher Training, from which she has recently graduated. During her time in teacher training, Christie assisted in Kindergarten at Heartwood Educational Collaborative before spending two years at the Marin Waldorf School, where she continued work in Kindergarten and also assisted in First Grade while leading upper grades handwork classes. While teaching a practicum block with Tricia Walker’s class this past winter, Christie fell in love with Summerfield. She is thrilled and grateful to be able to start her own journey with her First Grade class this Fall. When not teaching, Christie can typically be found in reverence of the sea and the redwoods in the beautiful Russian River Valley.
Phone: (707) 575-7194
David French, Class Three
Phone: (707) 575-7194 Ext: 131
Kibby MacKinnon, Class Five
Kibby grew up in Gainesville, Florida and had the good fortune to attend two years of high school in London, England. She graduated from New College of Florida with a BA in Humanities and moved out to Seattle to pursue her love of theater. There she worked in many aspects of the performing arts world including non-profit development, marketing and administration, and was Executive Director of Seattle Fringe Theatre Festival for many years. She met her husband Adam at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland. They soon moved to Australia with their new-born son Theo so Kibby could attend the Victoria College of the Arts at the University of Melbourne where she earned a Graduate Diploma in New Performance Making. After that, they moved back to Seattle and lived in cohousing and other intentional communities, and through their search for the right school for their children, found Waldorf Education in 2006. Kibby received her Waldorf Grades Teacher Training at Sound Circle Center, Seattle, during which time she was a Games Teacher at Madrona School on Bainbridge Island, WA, for three years. Kibby and Adam have two sons, Theo and Willsy.
Phone: (707) 575-7194 Ext: 348
Saskia Pothof, Farm Classroom
Saskia was born and raised in the Netherlands. After she completed her Masters Degree in Child Psychology, she worked for eight years in long-term foster care. An encounter with a dolphin in Spain sparked her interest in research on communication with wild dolphins, and in the following years she swam in many oceans with different species of dolphins. In 1993 Saskia moved to the United States to live with her husband and was glad to discover the flourishing Waldorf community in this area. Saskia completed the Waldorf teacher training at the Center for Educational Renewal in the spring of 2002, and became our first grade teacher at Summerfield in the fall of that year. Saskia served as a class teacher at Summerfield for sixteen years, and after graduating her second class in June 2018, she now shares her love for art, singing, and teaching as a specialty teacher in the grades in Lower School, and in Teacher Training. Her daughter, Dawn, graduated from Summerfield High School in 2012.
Phone: (707) 575-7194 Ext: 304
Jennifer Sparks, Class Two
Jennifer is pleased to begin her work at the Summerfield Waldorf School this year. Jennifer brings over 20 years as an educator to this first grade class. She grew up surrounded by nature and farm life, raising sheep and vegetables in Santa Cruz, California. Jennifer completed her BA in Geography and Environmental studies at U.C. Santa Barbara, and found a passion for teaching as a naturalist for the city of Santa Barbara at their summer Nature Camp. Jennifer completed her Waldorf Teacher Training at the Waldorf Institute of Southern California, in both Early Childhood and Grades Teaching. She taught in Santa Cruz, South Lake Tahoe, San Diego and has spent the last 11 years teaching at the Waldorf School of Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky. In Louisville, Jennifer taught kindergarten and grades one through five. She also served as athletic director, coached girls basketball and taught movement. She completed her five-year Certification in Spacial Dynamics July of 2019. Jennifer is a lifelong athlete, performer, and artist, and enjoys sharing crafts, gardening, games, and cooking with children. She loves also spending time with her family: Noah (19) and Holly (15) and her husband Shane. In her free time, you will find Jennifer with her daughter riding horses, playing basketball with her son, or walking in the woods with her husband and her dog Leo.
Phone: (707) 575-7194 Ext: 311
Laura Sternik, Class Four
Laura was born in Colorado, but spent much of her childhood growing up in hotels in Austria and Lebanon. At eighteen she moved to London to study Art and stayed there for seven years exploring many different artistic and esoteric subjects through the many alternative schools popping up in the seventies. It was only when her three children reached school age that she decided that none of the public schools in her area (Marin) were satisfactory, and she came across the Waldorf school. It was love at first sight, and soon she was involved in helping at the school. Serendipitously, during a move up to Seattle, she was asked to teach German at their Waldorf school, and a whole new path unfolded for her. She started her Steiner teacher training there and then completed it back in England. Laura was a class teacher at the Brighton Steiner School and Michael Hall Steiner School for 12 years before returning to the States to be closer to her family. Every year of teaching brings a renewed joy and wonder at how marvelously well the curriculum in our schools meets the children’s needs. She is also constantly amazed by how much there is still to learn and how happy that makes her.
Phone: (707) 575-7194 Ext: 308
Andrea Vander Pluym, Class Seven
Andrea Vander Pluym received her Waldorf teacher certification at the Bay Area Center for Waldorf Teacher Training, and graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, with a B.A. in English literature and a concentration in creative writing. Andrea is the founding board president of Berkeley Rose Waldorf School, where she served in its administration and held several teaching positions, including class teacher for grades one through four. Her teaching experience prior to that includes teaching fine arts/crafts, special needs education, and afternoon programs in several Los Angeles institutions (early childhood through sixth grade). She is also a seasoned writer and editor, with over 20 years of experience. Andrea is the author of three published books for young adults, including Respect, which was recognized in a White House ceremony and brought to President Obama’s oldest daughter’s school. Andrea lives in Bodega with her teenage son, Bastien Brace. In her spare time, she supports a budding biodynamic farm on the property, and adventuring close and far from home.
Phone: (707) 575-7194 Ext: 305
Patricia Walker, Class Six
Tricia holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education, a Supplemental Art Credential and a K – 12th Grade Teaching Credential in both California and Washington. She holds a Waldorf Teaching Credential from The Center For Educational Renewal as well. After teaching kindergarten, first, second and sixth grade in the public elementary schools, she realized she wanted to teach children in a new way. She searched out Waldorf Education, went through a four year training, and began teaching in Waldorf schools in 1999. She took her first class at the Seattle Waldorf School. Later she taught at The Waldorf School of Mendocino County and in 2007 took a class at Summerfield. She graduated a class of 33 students in 2015 and is now in her second eight year cycle. Tricia has two sons who graduated from Summerfield and are pursuing their college degrees in Computer Science and Nursing. When her children were very young she opened a Waldorf-inspired preschool in her home and enjoyed introducing parents to Waldorf education. She still enjoys educating others about Waldorf education and taught in The Center for Educational Renewal teaching program. Tricia works with practicum students every year so she can pass on her love of teaching and children. Her other passions are playing piano, guitar and ukulele. She enjoys watercolor painting and her final project for the Waldorf credential program was on the study of color based on Goethe’s and Steiner’s color theory. She ran a half marathon in spring of 2011 and hopes to do that again some day.
Phone: (707) 575-7194 Ext: 307
Skeydrit Bähr, LS/HS Eurythmy & PE
Phone: (707) 575-7194 Ext: 151
Sierra Bannister, LS/HS Arts
Sierra is a Summerfield alumna and was a student of the very first graduating eighth grade class in 1983. Sierra feels fortunate to have always found an avenue to express her love of color, line and form through a variety of employment and freelance work; color consulting, lazuring and wall murals as well as window display, calligraphy signage and illustration. Sierra has taught in the High School art department at SWSF since 1997 and since 2009 has also been teaching LS Practical Arts in clay, woodwork, stone carving, pastel and set design. Sierra is a graduate of the Center for Educational Renewal and has three children: three recent graduates.
Sieglinde Basmajian, ECE/LS Eurythmy & Circus
Angie Brown, LS/HS Practical Arts
Barbara Kobabe, LS Practical Arts & Handwork
Barb joined the Summerfield Community as a parent in 2003. She began volunteering on the farm with the farm guild the following year. In 2006, she began assisting in lower school handwork classes, and over the years has assisted, volunteered and taught in lower school and high school handwork classes. Barb completed her Waldorf Teacher Training with the Center for Educational Renewal in 2012. Barb loves sharing her life long passion of all things handwork with the students.
Dan Kranstover, ECE/LS/HS Farming & Practical Arts
‘Farmer Dan’ received a B.A. in English and Russian Literature and an M.A. in Theology. He completed his biodynamic farm apprenticeship with Walter Rudert on Tablehurst Farm at Emerson College in England, followed by a year’s work at Four Winds Organic Farm in Goshen, CT, and with John Paul Cortens on Roxbury Biodynamic CSA Farm in New York. He also began a gardening program at the Ashwood Waldorf School in West Rockport, ME. In 2002, Dan completed the Waldorf Teacher Training course through the Center for Educational Renewal at Summerfield, and has been a teacher at Summerfield for the past 20 years.
Ben Mew, LS/HS Math & Science
Ben graduated from Oberlin College with a BA in Biology and Environmental Studies in 2009. He has since lived and worked on small farms and in farm-based education settings, studying community, sustainability, agriculture, nature, and the art of teaching. After two seasons (2012-13) of working as a farm apprentice at Summerfield, Ben is very excited to be a part of the Summerfield community again!
Phone: (707) 575-7194 Ext: 111
Ronnie Sands, Middle School Practical Arts, HS Farming & Gardening
Ronni has been a farming and gardening teacher at Summerfield Waldorf School and Farm since 1993. She studied for two years at the Waldorf Institute of Detroit and completed a two-summer apprenticeship in biodynamic gardening with Alan York and Hilmar Moore. She also received a B.A. in Theatre Arts. She has worked with handicapped adults on a dairy farm, helped run a five-acre organic market garden and worked part-time as a landscaper. She taught kindergarten in the Portland Waldorf School for five years. She teaches High School gardening, herbal studies, cooking, basket weaving and permaculture.
Phone: (707) 575-7194 Ext: 149
Michel Sellors, LS Specialty Teacher
Isabel Vallejo, LS/HS Spanish
Isabel was born and raised in a small village in Valladolid, Spain. She received her Masters degree in Law at the University of Valladolid, then worked with the Spanish Tax Agency for more than ten years in Barcelona, Madrid, Toledo and Athens. She moved to the USA twelve years ago following her husband, with whom she has two children. She taught Spanish as a substitute at Sonoma Academy before joining the Summerfield faculty.
Isabel Wundsam, LS/HS Music, Art,& German Instructor
Isabel has been teaching for 42 years—having taught piano privately and in a music school in Germany. She studied piano with Udo Falkner and Chamber music at the Conservatory of Music in NRW, Germany. She has a degree in Visual Communication. In 1990 Isabel moved to the US. Since then she has taught music, art and German, and has worked at Summerfield since 1998 and studied under several master teachers to become a better Waldorf teacher. “Some of my most important teachers are the students whom I teach and learn with.” Since 2005, Isabel has been studying the recorder flute with performer Frances Blaker in the East Bay and performs around the Bay Area and in Southern California.