Vanessa French - Rosebud


I’ve lived in Mendocino County for 30 years after moving from Greece when I was 2!  As a child, I had a brief experience with WSMC and fell in love with its education philosophy and community.  I knew before my son was even an apple in my eye that I wanted him to go to school here at WSMC.  I began working at WSMC in 2008 as a specialty teacher and aftercare coordinator.  I had planned to open an in-home daycare but the universe had something else in store for me: my dream job at WSMC.  I have been lucky enough to teach games, movement, clay sculpture, beeswax, creative play, and rest & story.  When my son, Wyatt, was born, I left for 3 years, but returned in 2013 as a specialty teacher and aftercare coordinator when he was ready to start preschool.  For the last couple of years, I’ve had the privilege of working as an assistant in the classroom which has furthered my interest in beginning my Waldorf Teacher training.  I’m starting this summer through a program in British Columbia.  I’m so blessed, grateful, and proud to be a part of this school education as a teacher and parent.  As my learning grows so does my love for this education and lifestyle.  In my free time, I enjoy going on family adventures, spending time in nature, organic gardening, making art, and having time with my amazingly wonderful son who is so full of surprises.


Debra McCarthy—Red Rose Kindergarten

I have been teaching at WSMC for sixteen years, and I was an assistant even before that time. I began my Waldorf journey when my young daughter was beginning kindergarten. We went to visit the school and immediately fell in love with it, not knowing anything about Waldorf Education. As you can imagine, it has been quite a journey for me and is always continuing to be so. The job and my life are intertwined, and I dearly believe that this is the best education for children. It's not an easy path to become a Waldorf teacher, or parent; I know I am always striving to do better.
There are so many favorite days in kindergarten, that I could not name just one.  I thoroughly love any time the children are experiencing the beautiful world of nature or a magical moment when their imagination carries them into building a spaceship or a fairy house, to the excitement when they bring me a flower, or a worm, or a stone, and are so filled with wonder at their discovery. After they leave kindergarten, they might remember the day they got to make their own pizza, or the puppet show they performed before leaving the kindergarten to go on to first grade.
Personally, I enjoy being in nature, swimming, and hiking. I like working in my garden and canning the summer bounty when I have time. I have a wonderful family to share life with, and I am very fulfilled and appreciate my good fortune.


Amy Stocker—White Rose Kindergarten

I grew up in Mendocino County.  After obtaining a BA in Liberal Studies at California State University, Chico, I followed my dream of teaching children by obtaining a California State Teaching Credential in 2005.  The magic and brilliance of Waldorf Education was first introduced to me when I was a student in a Waldorf Kindergarten.  After teaching in various preschools in California, Arizona, and Oregon, I made my way back home to The Waldorf School of Mendocino County (WSMC).  In 2007, I began teaching at WSMC as a kindergarten teacher while simultaneously completing my Waldorf teacher training at Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks, California.  After taking six years away from WSMC to be at home with my two young daughters, I rejoined the WSMC Faculty in 2015 and had the pleasure of teaching my small friends in the Primrose Classroom.


Inge Schaefer—1st and 2nd Grade Teacher

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I have been involved with Waldorf education for the past eight years.  It sometimes takes a seasoned tracker to find the start of a trace.  How did I find my way here?  Was it the long ago mention of the Steiner school just down the road from where I lived in Germany as an exchange student—“Oh, you have to sign your children up even before they are born!”  Or was it years later criss-crossing Sonoma County as a bike tour guide with a fellow guide, whose parents were both Waldorf teachers—“I helped make that sign at the entrance!”  Regardless, it was with the birth of my two sons that the path was clear beneath my feet.  It brought the need and desire to serve them as best I could in their development as whole human beings (a work that is still in progress).  I have since embraced the philosophy of Steiner and taken on the work of understanding its relation to child development.  I home-schooled my sons using the Waldorf curriculum and worked with groups of home-schooled children to bring the curriculum to them.  To strengthen my understanding, I have been involved with the Center of Educational Renewal for the past four years.  Along the way, I have also worked as an archaeologist, biked cross country, sung German songs with my Dad as he played accordion, and learned to knit from my expert mother.


Joy Evans—3rd and 4th Grade Teacher

When I began looking deeply at Waldorf classrooms as a place for my daughter, I realized it was where I belonged as well.  I have a background in Theater that includes performing and teaching at all levels, from Kindergarten through Junior College.  My interest in the mystery of being human lead me to become a Licensed Acupuncturist.  I bring my experience as an actor, a director, a teacher, and a healer to my teaching.  I was drawn to theater and Chinese Medicine because they encompass the whole human being: the physical, the emotional, the communal, and the spiritual aspects.  As a Waldorf Teacher, I get to bring my love for the human being and all her potential to the classroom everyday.  I live in Leggett with my husband and daughter.  In my personal life, I enjoy spending time in nature, camping, swimming in the river, and playing with my daughter Sage and our pets, Biscuit the dog, two cats, one rabbit, and nine chickens.


Kelly Austin—5th and 6th Grade Teacher

I have been teaching at this wonderful school for nineteen years.  I knew I was destined to work with children and families. I was eleven when I had my first babysitting job and fourteen when I got my first paycheck from the YMCA as camp counselor and swim instructor.  When I had children of my own, other parents and I began to ask, “What capacities and qualities do we want our children to have when they are eighteen years old?”  We met, studied, made lists, and after one year came up with a plan.  Our choice of curriculum was Waldorf because we could see that it would provide what we wanted for our children.  Thus, I began my Waldorf Teacher Training at the Center for Educational Renewal.  I started with my first class in 4th grade, and they graduated from 8th grade in 2001; at the same time, I graduated from my teacher training program.  I then began an eight year journey with my next class, which graduated in 2010.  I stayed in the upper grades and graduated the 8th grade classes of 2011 and 2012.  I began again with a new 1st grade in 2012.  In 2015 our class, in our 4th year, was joined by the 3rd grade class.  Now I am on a new exciting journey with the current 4th and 5th graders.  We are moving together through the grades and will continue on until they are ready to graduate in 2020 and 2021. I am blessed to have a job that I love.  Outside of school I spend every moment possible with my husband, my three children, and my three grandchildren.  I enjoy reading, working puzzles, gardening, hiking, and birding.

Sara Stevens - Red Rose Kindergarten Assistant

I grew up in Marin County with a large family.  After high school, I attended Humboldt State where I studied English and Literature.  Once I finished, I traveled around the western states until finally settling in Mendocino where I met Ruby's dad.  Shortly after Ruby was born, I went back to school at Mendocino College where I started working towards my early childhood certificate.  I love working with the children in the rhythmic and thoughtful environment we create at this Waldorf School and I am very grateful to have Debra as an inspiring mentor.  I hope to expand my understanding of anthroposophy and take classes in the future to build a strong foundation on which to grow.  In my free time, I enjoy working in the garden, seeing live music, camping/hiking and adventuring to the countless beautiful bodies of water in our area. I also love to cook and share food with friends and family. 

Elizabeth Blecha - Rosebud Assistant

Bio coming soon


Carissa Chiniaeff - Gardening and Kindercare

This year I am teaching Gardening and running our Kindercare Program.  I started as Ms. Eliza's assistant in the Rosebud classroom. I enjoy my work with these wee little beings as they are wise beyond words. In the short amount of time I was with them, I have learned so much about becoming a human in this world and how we as evolved beings are here to support their growth. I'm learning how to manifest patience, imagination and my own sense of self.
I am thankful these lessons come to me through the Waldorf Educational program. Though I am not trained specifically in Waldorf, I am looking forward to gaining more skills in these specific ways. I have taught specialty classes with the grades at this school which was a rare opportunity and such a blessing but I am so happy to be working with the littles.  Starting at the beginning feels like I am building a strong foundation.
When I am not at school I spend most of my time with my daughter Zoe who is in Red Rose Kindergarten this year. I also make sure to spend plenty of time growing cut flowers for market, cooking, spending time with friends and cultivating quiet moments.
I look forward to the many days ahead filling my time with the joys of guiding the little ones, laughing, learning and growing.

Maestra Thaxter - Spanish


I grew up in Lima, Peru and I have taken care of children continuously since I was 6 years old.  Before encountering Waldorf, I worked in public and private preschools and studied sculpture and clothing construction (I have been knitting since I was 6 or 7).  I studied Waldorf Education in Lima, Peru at the I.S.P. Schiller-Goethe, where nearly all the instructors were visiting professors from Europe.  This was an excellent, full-time, five-year program.  I met my husband there when he was teaching marionette construction and performance.  I taught Waldorf first grade for one year, but I left it because our own two children still needed my full attention.  In 2013, we moved to Ukiah, and I have been teaching Spanish at WSMC ever since.  In my free time, I love to paint, sculpt, and dance.


John Cunnan - Woodwork

I have been a wood craftsman since 1972 when I taught woodcraft to the apprentices of Allan Chadwick.  I founded the Round Valley Wood Wrights in 1979 and ran the wood shop for the Covelo Garden Project while it was active.  I took 4th place in a national competition to create a Peace Garden as a symbol of what America really stands for, living in harmony with all of life.  I enjoy teaching wood work to developing children with the hope of promoting their love of wood and nature.  In my free time, I make natural wood furniture for my side business, Wildwood Crafts.

Strings - Karen Zimmerman

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I was born and raised in Los Angeles and my first memory is about music.  My mother played piano for the church choir and she took me to a rehearsal as I was only 4 and not in school yet. My being came alive with what I heard.  When I was older, I decided to play bass much to my parents chagrin at the size of the thing, but they were rewarded when I graduated from the Juilliard School in New York with a bachelor's degree.  I went on to gain my master's degree also.  I now play with the Santa Rosa Symphony and am also the music librarian.  What I love about it is that I never have a boring day.

I am looking forward to working at WSMC as I love to teach young people how to play in an ensemble.  It is a coming together as a whole to create something extraordinary.

Shannon Lappin - Roots and Shoots


I spent my childhood on Cobb Mountain in Lake County.  At the age of 10 I became an Auntie and from that moment I have loved caring for young children.  I did a lot of babysitting in my teenage years but it wasn't until I was in my early 20's that I considered making it my profession.  I began working toward a degree in Early Childhood Education and Child Development while working as a preschool teacher living in Colorado Springs.  I later moved back to California and continued working in child care once I was settled.  One year I was invited to join friends who were attending the May Faire at The Waldorf School of Mendocino County and I immediately fell in love with our school.  I felt such a strong desire to be a part of it that two weeks later I found myself moving to Mendocino County to teach in Rosebud.  That was in 2004.  As I taught in Rosebud and studied at Rudolf Steiner College I felt more and more at home. I am so grateful to have found Waldorf education and our beautiful school.  Last year I made the decision to move from teaching full time at the school to providing care part time in my home.  I am happy to continue to be involved in our school as a parent and to offer Roots and Shoots to the parents of very young children of our community.

Office Staff

 From Left to Right:   Stephen Cowan , Business Manager;  Rain Tenaqiya , Enrollment and Outreach Coordinator;  Spring Senerchia , Administrator;  Lorelei Garcia , Office Coordinator and Registrar

From Left to Right:  Stephen Cowan, Business Manager; Rain Tenaqiya, Enrollment and Outreach Coordinator; Spring Senerchia, Administrator; Lorelei Garcia, Office Coordinator and Registrar

Stephen Cowan - Business Manager

I was introduced to Waldorf when my daughter began attending preschool here at the age of 3, and she has fallen in love with her new school, friends, and teachers.  I was excited to become a member of the staff and join my daughter at Waldorf as the business manager.  I graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in finance, owned a record store for many years in the Los Angeles area, and more recently have been tending a growing family while doing construction work at our ranch.   The Waldorf curriculum, experience, and peaceful education has proven to be a perfect fit for all of our family.

Rain Tenaqiya - Enrollment and Outreach Coordinator

I grew up in the Portland area, graduating from Western Washington University with a degree in terrestrial ecology and a passion for creating sustainable culture.  I’ve lived in various intentional communities along the West Coast and owned a permaculture design business in Santa Cruz.  I moved to Ukiah in 2004 to create a permaculture demonstration homestead and education center, building a strawbale/cob house and planting lots of fruit and nut trees.  I started teaching a sustainable farming class at Mendocino College in 2014 and joined the WSMC office staff in 2016.  I have enjoyed learning about and promoting the numerous similar values and strategies of Waldorf education and permaculture design- both share a wholistic approach and aim to create a peaceful, democratic society.  I hope that my work at this school contributes to such an outcome.

Spring Senerchia - Administrator

I was born and raised in Mendocino County; my childhood was spent outdoors and with books.  I graduated from Mountain Meadow Waldorf School (now WSMC) in 1992.  Since then I have lived in a Zen Monastary, Guatemala, Santa Cruz, New Mexico and Willits.  I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Culture, Ecology and Sustainable Community.  I have worked for an Intentional Community, in classrooms, offices and commercial kitchens of all sorts, as a Natural Builder and as a mother.  In my work I am passionate about supporting individuals towards working effectively within larger organizations that operate out of reverence for the spiritual nature of life, and whose goals are social health and renewal.  At WSMC, my daughter, Sylvana (Class 5) daily astounds me with her talents and beauty and my son, Salvio (Class 1), constantly on the cusp of so many discoveries, astounds me with his spontaneous joy.  Working here brings together almost all of my passions and deeply held convictions in a way that is deeply satisfying.  I am thrilled to work with fantastic colleagues in service to the children of our future.
I most like to be in wild places and with my family.
My best friends are farmers and spiritual seekers.
Cooking and serving excellent food to my friends and family is a great love of mine. 

Lorelei Garcia - Office coordinator and registrar

After growing up in El Paso, TX, serving in the US Air Force overseas for 6 years, and working at The Bridge School in the Bay Area, I found myself moving further north in California to live among the farming and redwood tree backdrops.  What I found was so much more; it was home.  I have a degree in Communications from the University of Maryland, and a Masters of Education degree, in Curriculum and Instruction from Notre Dame de Namur University.  My work here at The Waldorf School of Mendocino County has been the most fulfilling of any work I've ever done.  I have learned so much about how Waldorf Education affects the developing child and have fallen in love with its traditions, close family community, compassion for human beings, and gentle approach to teaching children how to learn instead of what to learn. I couldn't ask for a better group of colleagues and school community.  My spare time is spent sewing, learning to knit, exploring my creativity, reading, playing with my dogs, gardening, or just relaxing with my love.