Erica Taylor, 1st Grade Teacher
Erica holds a Masters degree in Waldorf Education from Antioch University New England, where she focused on literacy and outdoor education. Since 2011, Erica has worked in many roles at SWS; she has taught Spanish, handwork and ensemble over the years and assisted in the EC and Grades programs. Erica taught Grade One in the fall of 2015 before the class was combined with Grade Two and she looks forward to now taking a new class through the next 8 years. She enjoys crafting, musical instruments, gardening and spending time in nature. Erica and her husband live in Kittery, Maine with their three children, all of whom enthusiastically attend SWS.
Wendy Drennan, 2nd/3rd Grade Teacher
Wendy grew up in Wisconsin where she was fortunate to attend a small, liberal arts based high school that was on the philosophies of Henry David Thoreau. It was here that her love for, and high expectations of, education were cemented along with an introduction to Waldorf Education during a senior year research project. She began her career working with children during college as the Director of an after school program, a tutor and a poetry workshop facilitator. She attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where she studied Biology and Literature.
After college, Wendy worked in a genetics clinic and discovered, although she was working with the building blocks of human life, a career in the lab was void of human contact, and was not her life’s work. She changed gears to pursue teaching and took a position at a Waldorf school as a kindergarten assistant. During this time she fell in love with Waldorf Education and found the study of Anthroposophy to be a perfect marriage of her earlier two interests, science and art. She went on to complete her Waldorf teacher training at Antioch University where she became certified to teach grades 1-8.
Over the past ten years she has worked at Waldorf schools in Oregon, Wisconsin and Maine, where she has found a wonderful community at The Seacoast Waldorf School and plans to stay forever. She has two children, a 15 year old son and a 2 year old daughter and is married to our wonderful, fourth grade teacher, Mr. Drennan. She enjoys reading, sewing, art and spending time in nature.
Leda Eggold, 4/5 Grade Teacher
Leda was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware. She earned her degree in Fine Arts Design:Photography from the Delaware College of Art & Design; while working at the Wilmington Institute Library. After graduation she moved to California to attend the Waldorf Institute of Southern California in Northridge.
Leda assisted in the grades at the Highland Hall Waldorf School while earning her Waldorf Certificate. She traveled to Germany to teach at the Ganztags Waldorfschule in Duisburg after she completed her Waldorf Teacher Training. In 2010, Leda moved back to California and taught first through third grade atthe Westside Waldorf School in the Pacific Palisades.
She and her wife Lisa have recently moved to New Hampshire from Springfield, IL. In her free time, Leda enjoys reading, biking, hiking, walking along the beach and collecting seashells & stones.
Dennis Drennan, 6/7th Grade Teacher
Dennis attended Anderson University, Anderson, Indiana where he earned a BA in History and Art and Design. After graduation he moved to Deer Isle, Maine where he worked as a journalist for a small, local paper and often substituted in local public schools. Soon after Dennis became an outdoor educator in the White Mountains and North Shore of Massachusetts and began working in special education. It was through these experiences that brought him to Antioch University, in Keene, NH where he pursued a Masters Degree in Integrated Learning and Waldorf Education. Since then, Dennis has been a Waldorf school teacher for 8 years. Dennis has two children, Izariah and Alphea and a beautiful wife, Wendy who teaches first grade and a dog named Maggie. His hobbies and interests include kayaking, art, education, thrift stores and junk shops, food, travel, post and beam construction and being surrounded by family and friends.
SPECIALTY SUBJECT TEACHERS
Señora Ruthie Spiero, Spanish Language Teacher
Ruthie was born in The Netherlands but moved to the Spanish Balearic island of Formentera, off the coast of Valencia, was she was 5 years old. Between the ages of 5 and 8 she moved back and forth between Formentera and Amsterdam, where she attended a Waldorf school and then received the rest of her education in England, at Summerhill School and St. Christopher’s, both boarding schools. Having always been fascinated by language and literature she made them the focus of her A-levels. Her family did live in England for several years but finally settled permanently in Spain when she was 14. In her early twenties she was reunited with her father and half-brothers in Israel and made many trips to that country to visit them. Her Spanish husband Oscar and she moved to the States at the end of 1998 and apart from a short stint on Cape Cod, have lived in New Hampshire ever since. They try to visit their families in Spain as often as they can, especially since their daughter Raquel was born. They live in Portsmouth where she has been teaching the 7th Grade at Temple Israel for the last five years. Ruthie heard about the opportunity to teach at the Seacoast Waldorf School from a friend who is also a parent at the school. She was very excited at the opportunity to teach a language she adores in an environment she loves. Her hobbies are doing agility and other activities with her Border Collie Pip and reading.
Brita Stepe Brand, German Language Teacher
Brita is a Southern California native, but happily became a New England resident after attending college in New Hampshire and falling in love with the region. She has always had a love for the musicality of language and is fluent in Latvian as well as German. After obtaining her BA in German Studies and Environmental Studies from Dartmouth College, she taught in independent schools across New England for several years before going back to school for her MS in Teaching Methodologies. Brita heard about the Seacoast Waldorf School while looking for nature-based playgroups for her son in the Seacoast area and is thrilled to have the opportunity to share her love of language with the children in this community. Brita lives in New Hampshire with her husband and two young sons and spends her free time baking, reading, knitting, and playing the trombone
Elizabeth Chastney, Violin and Strings Lead Teacher
Elizabeth graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a Masters degree in Music Education. As a student at UNH she taught at an after-school violin program as well as completing a year-long internship at Berwick Academy. After graduation, she taught in the Infant/Toddler program at an early learning center in Lee New Hampshire while also running a music program for preschool and kindergarten. She is excited to join the Waldorf team as a strings teacher, a passion she’s pursued throughout her life. She is recently married and lives with her husband in Kittery, Maine. Her interests and hobbies include ultimate frisbee, hiking, cooking, knitting, and reading.
Heather O’Neill, Handwork Teacher
Heather Gale O’Neil has been hired as our Handwork Teacher for the grades. She is a fiber artist and handworker as well as a games teacher. She has taught as a Games and Handwork teacher as well as an aftercare sub and teacher aid at Shepherd Valley Waldorf School in Niwot, CO for two years. Heather received a BA in Anthropology with a focus on Environmental Science and Native American studies at UNH and received her Master of Arts, Environmental Leadership from Naropa University in Boulder, CO. Her daughter Malia will be joining Mr. Drennan’s 6/7th grade class in the fall. Heather is a friendly and compassionate teacher with over thirty years experience working with children and is excited to create a wholesome and loving connection with the students at Seacoast Waldorf School.
Martha A. Coombs, M.A., Sea Star Mixed Age Kindergarten Lead Teacher, Spacial Dynamics(TM), Movement Education Teacher
Martha has been with Seacoast Waldorf School since 2002. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education and a Master of Education in Early Childhood, Special Needs from the University of New Hampshire. She is a 2011 graduate of the Level I, Spacial Dynamics Institute In-Service Training Program (IS9). Spacial Dynamics Institute, Inc. is located in Mechanicville, NY and operates training programs world wide.
Martha’s career includes work with children and adults of all ages in a variety of educational and athletic settings. She has over 30 years of coaching and teaching experience. She also coordinates the Summer Program for Seacoast Waldorf School which offers children’s programming during June and July each summer.
Martha lives in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire with her husband Jeff and two daughters, Drucilla and Isobel.
EARLY CHILDHOOD TEACHERS
Ronja Elliston, Periwinkle Mixed Age Kindergarten Lead Teacher
Ronja Elliston is herself a Waldorf graduate (Hawthorne Valley High School class of 2004).
After high school Ronja worked, traveled extensively, and attended Community College where she earned two certificates in Early Childhood Education. She has a BA from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA where her study of focus was Human Development and Early Childhood Ed. Ronja has received her Level I (birth through age 3) and Level II (4-7yrs) Waldorf Teachers Certification from Sophia’s Hearth Teacher Education Program in Keene, NH.
Ronja has worked as a Kindergarten assistant, playgroup/aftercare teacher, and substitute teacher at the Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School, Hawthorne Valley School, and the Monadnock Waldorf School. She has been at the Seacoast Waldorf School since the Fall of 2014.
Ronja enjoys handwork, fiber arts, felting, and ceramics. She also enjoys gardening and reading.
She currently lives here on the Seacoast with her husband Ty and dog Lily.
Ashley Heffron, Beach Pea Nursery Lead Teacher
We are also happy to announce our new co-teachers for the Sandpiper Nursery. Miss Ashley, the assistant in Sea Stars for the past two years, and Signora Francesca, the assistant in Sandpipers have agreed to join forces in a new concept of co-teaching. Ashley has been with Seacoast Waldorf School since 2004 and holds a Bachelors Degree in English Literature from the University of Massachusetts at Amhearst. Before coming to SWS, Ashley was Head Teacher at the Charles River Creative Arts Program for children ages eight to fifteen for nine years where she taught ceramics, drawing, painting, watercolors and bookmaking. Ashley has many years experience as an early childhood classroom assistant, is a professional artist and a farmer. She lives in Kittery Point with her husband and two sons.
Francesca Brescianini, Sandpiper Nursery Lead Teacher
Francesca is starting her fifth year in the Sandpiper nursery. Originally from Modena, a town in northern Italy, she moved to New Hampshire at the end of August 2010 to be with her husband Martin, a professor of English at UNH. In her “previous” life in Italy, Francesca has been a teacher for 16 years, starting first with young ones, 2 to 6, in private and public schools. In 2004 she moved to public elementary schools (age 6 to 10) as a specialist teacher and her work was mainly to teach English to Italian children. Francesca learned first about Waldorf education many years ago, but it was with the birth of her son James in 2005 that she started wanting to know more about it. She wasn’t able to take James to the Waldorf mixed age kindergarten in her hometown for very practical reasons, but this dream came true at Seacoast Waldorf a few years ago and now James is a growing sixth grader. In her spare time, Francesca is mostly seen with knitting needles on her lap. She also likes walking in the woods, reading picture books and poetry books for children, singing and speaking Italian mostly by herself, just for the sound of it…. She is also starting to sew a bit and would like to quilt at some point.
In the Summer of 2013, Francesca was at Sunbridge, NY to take the course“Introduction to Waldorf Early Childhood Education: An Immersion in the World of the Waldorf Nursery/Kindergarten” and in Summer 2014 she started the Lifeways Early Childhood Certification training in Rockport, Maine, which she completed in the Summer of 2015. In the Fall of 2016 she will start a two year course on Foundation Studies in Anthroposophy run by the Center for Anthroposophy .
Lisa Eggold, Periwinkle Kindergarten Assistant
Lisa Eggold grew up in Illinois and received her BA in Early Childhood Education from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville in 2002. She was the lead preschool teacher at Our Savior’s Lutheran School in Springfield, Illinois from 2002-2014. In 2014 she married her wife, Leda, and became a full time nanny for one family.
Lisa is very happy to become part of the Waldorf community! She intends to obtain her Waldorf teaching credentials and hopes to become a lead early childhood teacher.
Lisa enjoys handwork, making jewelry, reading, being outside, and hiking. She is very excited to explore her new surroundings!
Tiffany Tardif, Sea Star Kindergarten Assistant
Tiffany was born and raised in East Texas and has lived all over the world. She has extensive knowledge in history and travel. She enjoys spending her time outdoors with her daughter, Sophia. Her interests include hiking, rock climbing, skiing, fishing and hunting and all things related to nature.
Tiffany also is an avid philanthropist and firmly believes in helping others. She has worked with Habitat for Humanity numerous times, helped coordinate Veteran Hero projects, done mission work abroad, and helped organize food and clothing drives locally.
She graduated from her class of 400 plus as a Texas Scholar; and went on to attend University of Arkansas where she majored in history and education. She worked as an ESL teacher in both Japan and Greece for a combined time of 6 years. Upon moving back to the United States, she attended Le Cordon Bleu in Cambridge, Ma where she studied culinary arts along with pastry and baking. Recently she has decided to go back to school for her masters in elementary and special education in conjunction with acquiring her Level 1 certification from Sophia’s Hearth.
Jacquie Garrett, Sandpiper Nursery Assistant
Miss Jacquie lives in South Berwick with her Husband Brendon and their 4 boys, a dog and some chickens. Jacquie holds a BFA in Art Education/ Certification from Massachusetts College of Art. She has been in and out of the teaching field for the past 13 years and was introduced to Waldorf education in 2004 when she worked at SWS as an Assistant Kindergarten Teacher before moving to the Pacific Northwest. One of her favorite jobs was teaching Environmental Education and sustainability on Orcas Island and finds most of her artistic inspiration comes from being an observer of nature and forever being in awe of life!
Gina Garafalo-Plachowicz, Lighthouse Teacher
Gina began working with young children as she studied Early Childhood and Special Education at Rivier University in Nashua, New Hampshire. After receiving her Bachelor’s degree she spent several years teaching and caring for children in childcare settings. Before coming to Seacoast Waldorf School Gina taught preschool and worked with families at The LEAP School (Language Enrichment Arts Program) in Lexington, MA for fourteen years. Last year she was the teaching assistant in the Seastar Kindergarten and the Extended Day teacher at Seacoast Waldorf School. Gina now lives in North Berwick with her husband. She enjoys being outdoors, working in the yard, hiking, gardening, cooking and reading.
Kate Hopkins, LightHouse Teacher and Beach Pea Nursery Assistant Teacher
Kate grew up in York, spending her summers as a camp counselor and enjoying the beach. She attended the University of New Hampshire where she earned a Bachelors degree in Family Studies with a young child specialization, followed by a Masters degree in Elementary Education. Prior to coming to Seacoast Waldorf school, Kate taught kindergarten at a public school and preschool in a head start program. Kate joined the Seacoast Waldorf School in 2014 as the Beach Pea nursery assistant. She is thrilled to be teaching lighthouse as well as continuing with the Beach Peas. Kate lives in Eliot with her husband Shawn, daughter Claire, and their cat, Annie. She spends most of her free time knitting, gardening, and enjoying the beautiful seacoast!
Alexandra Krauth, Choral Director
Alex is the choral director in the elementary programs at Seacoast Waldorf School and Brixham Montessori Friends School. Alex received a BA in Music for Elementary Teachers from Keene State College and is a member of the National Association for Music Education and the American Choral Directors’ Association. She has taught music to students of all ages in a variety of settings, including autism programs, adult education classes, and the tutoring program at Keene State. She also offers private lessons in piano, voice, ukulele, music theory, and aural skills from her home studio. Alex has also performed with various local choruses and ensembles, such as Voices from the Heart, Amare Cantare, and the Southern New Hampshire Ukulele Group. In addition to her love of all things music-related, Alex enjoys surfing, kayaking, reading, writing, and studying world languages and cultures. Alex lives in Eliot, Maine with her family.
Deirdre McEachern, M.Phil., School Director
Before becoming Director of the Seacoast Waldorf School, Deirdre served as President of Board of Trustees for the Seacoast Waldorf Association, as well as on the Development and Outreach committees for Seacoast Waldorf School. Deirdre is also an award-winning, Master-Certified Career and Life Coach, Author of “You Only Live Once: Create the Life You Want” and frequent speaker on Waldorf Education.
Deirdre received her master’s degree in mediation and conflict resolution from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. And has served as adjunct professor of sociology at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts. Deirdre has also been certified by The Highlands Group to administer The Highland’s Natural Ability Battery, an innate skills assessment. Deirdre has given presentations, led trainings and delivered workshops for people in the U.S., Europe, Australia, the Philippines and India.
In her free time, Deirdre enjoys creating fun adventures with her two young children, her husband and their golden retriever.
Karen Wiese, Operations Manager
Karen owned and operated a popular restaurant for years in Portsmouth prior to working at Seacoast Waldorf School. She has worked in our aftercare program, was Administrative Assistant for a number of years and Office Manager. She is one of the founding families; her son, Sam attended Tidewater Waldorf School from Kindergarten through 5th grade.
Karen is an avid reader, walker, house fixer-upper and loves to travel when she gets the chance.
Alison Petersen, Enrollment and Outreach Coordinator
Alison is a graduate of the University of Vermont with a degree in Plant and Soil Science. Although this degree is a far cry from enrollment, her many pursuits have brought her to this place.
Melanie Leland, Business Manager
Melanie lives in Dover, NH with her husband and three children. She is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire with a degree in Business Administration and Finance. Melanie has been the Business Manager at Seacoast Waldorf School since 2009. Melanie enjoys gardening, reading and living near the ocean.
Jacqui Boyko, Grant Writer
Jacqui lives in Wells, Maine with her partner and two young sons. She has been a Grant Writer for Seacoast Waldorf School since January of 2015. Jacqui enjoys raising chickens, cooking, studying and enjoying family time.