Why Waldorf...

"Waldorf education places the development of the individual child in the focal point, convinced that the healthy individual is a prerequisite for a healthy society."

~The International Conference on Education of the United Nations Educational & Scientific Cultural Organization

"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire."

~William Butler Yeats

Early Childhood for 2014-15

Vanessa Kohlhaas


Vanessa has worked as an early childhood educator for the last 15 years. She holds a Master's degree in Education, as well as certifications in public school special education and Waldorf early childhood education. In addition to these trainings, she has studied at the Pikler Institute in Budapest, Hungary and Resources for Infant Educators (RIE) in Los Angeles, CA. Vanessa and her husband have three children who attend WIWS; she has found parenting the most humbling and inspiring path of learning.

William Dolde

William grew up in Pittsburgh and Connecticut and received a BA from Yale. In addition to receiving early childhood credentials at the University of Maryland and Waldorf certification at Rudolf Steiner College, William has taken RIE I training in Los Angeles. William has taught workshops for parent & child teachers at Sophia's Hearth in Keene, NH. In addition to teaching kindergarten in Maryland and Monterey, William has taught nursery and parent & child classes at the Waldorf School of Baltimore. He works as a parent coach and curriculum consultant for an adult education institute. He finds work with young children and their families rewarding and just right. His greatest teachers are his sons Liam and Crispin.

Dyanne Harshman


Dyanne was born and raised in the maritime Pacific Northwest. After receiving her B.A. in Psychology from Central Washington University in 1985, she enjoyed a brief hiatus in Tuscon, Arizona where where she married and continued her quest for a child-centered career. She gained useful experience working in home, daycare and preschool settings as well as co-creating summer programs for "at risk readers."

After then earning her Washington State teaching credentials from the University of Washington, she turned homeward to begin her own family.  It was in her search for a school for her own children that Dyanne discovered Waldorf Education. She moved to Whidbey Island with her husband and children in 1995, and has taught at WIWS since 1997. Currently, Dyanne holds an M.S. Ed in Waldorf Early Childhood Education from Sunbridge College, NY.  She serves as adjunct faculty for Sound Circle Center for Anthroposophy in Seattle and is actively involved in the regional Waldorf Early Childhood movement as a regional representative and mentor. Dyanne loves living on this beautiful Island with her family and friends where she enjoys gardening, cooking, singing and playing flute and marimba.

Grades 1-8 for 2014-15

Kristin codda

1st Grade
 Kristin is the second oldest in a family of nine children. She hails from California, where she developed her love of children while tending her many siblings! She met her husband in 19978, before beginning her coursework in Early Childhood Education at American River Colleg in  Sacrament, CA. She taught preschool before their first child was born, and then opened her own preschool, which she operated for eight years before closing the doors to spend more time with her family.

She developed an interest in Waldorf education as she considered options for her own children, and then began working in a Waldorf Kindergarten in California before moving to Whidbey in 2012. Since then, she has served as n Early Childhood aftercare assistant teacher and as an Educational Support teacher in the Grades. She loves helping children in their varying capacities discover their abilities to succeed. Kristin is currently studying Special Education and earning her Washington State teaching certificates in both Elementary Education and Special Education. She has begun her Waldorf training at Rudolf Steiner college. When not at school, Kristin enjoys exploring the natural world and, above all, cherishes time spent with her husband and two children, both students here at WIWS.

Kelly Corson

 Bio Coming Soon

Kris Carlson

3rd Grade
 Kris was raised in British Columbia. His search for meaning and purpose led him to the Alberta College of Art in 1969, and to travel and immersion in the philosophies and culture of India. The evolutionary link he had searched for all his life was revealed when he discovered the work of Rudolf Steiner. It was there that he found a profound and satisfying link between art and education.

Kris is currently in his twelfth year as a Waldorf educator. He also teaches both adults and children in multiple artistic mediums.

Kat Carlson

4th Grade
Katherine (Kat) Carlson was born in a small Kansas community one month after her Brazilian mother arrived in the United States. Raised by a elderly farming couple, her youth was filled with sewing, baking, writing, woodwork and learning the ways of the land and its animals. She thus developed strong interests in science and the arts, and a wonder and reverence for the natural world and all living things.

Kat went on to earn her B.A. in education from Emporia Teachers College and began teaching at the School the of World in Lawrence, Kansas, providing whole-child education to children from over 30 countries. During this time she developed a fascination for anthropology and the multi-dimensional aspects of being human. From there she joined with a few other dedicated families to found the first Waldorf school in Kansas.

Fourteen years after first becoming a teacher, Kat began her Waldorf teacher training at Rudolf Steiner College and became a Grades teacher at Prairie Moon Waldorf School in Lawrence. Now heeding the winds of change, Kat brings her love of teaching to Whidbey Island Waldorf School. She is happy to root herself in the natural beauty of the island and its exceptional community with her husband, Kris, her son, Will and daughter, Cassidy.

Ashley Umlauf

5th Grade

 Ashley was born and raised on a 100-acre homestead staked out by her grandparents. She spent her youth outdoors with her brother Conor and, later, sister Claire. Her immediate and extended family were commercial fishermen; she spent much of her youth and teenage years on salmon vessels and in salmon canneries.

After high school, Ashley travelled for two years throughout the East Coast, Europe and South America before attending college. She then earned her BA in English with an emphasis on writing from the University of Washington in 2000, minoring in journalism. She worked for awhile in the web industry, then worked with at-risk youth in Seattle while exploring the teaching profession. Realizing that her passion and skills were united and ignited in this work, Ashley returned to U.W. and earned her Master's Degree in Education in 2003. She worked in Bellevue and Seattle school districts, teaching English for four years.

After returning to Alaska for a couple of years, Ashley and her husband, Tony, had three children and settled on Whidbey Island, where they discovered our school. Ashley felt an immediate connection to this education of head, heart and hands. She first became an assistant in the Sunflower Kindergarten class, then a Grades substitute both here and in the local public school. Her love of teaching has expanded exponentially in the Waldorf setting.

Ashley brings strong classroom management and artistic skills to her work with this class, and loves bringing drama and play into the classroom. Her three children all attend WIWS.

Cormac McCarthy

6th Grade  

Cormac was born and raised in a small medieval town in County Tipperary, Ireland.  A lifelong traditional Irish musician (Irish tin whistle, black Irish flute, bodhran) and aspiring artist, his first five years of university were arts-driven.  Cormac received his BA degree in graphic design and a Higher Diploma in graphic advertising at Limerick Institute of Technology in Limerick City, Ireland.  But it was not long before he felt the generational pull towards teaching, and resolved to follow in his father’s, grandfather’s, and great-grandfather’s footsteps by becoming a teacher.  Cormac completed a Masters in primary education at Hibernia College, Dublin, and taught for several years at Ballylooby National School, in rural Ireland. 


Cormac has lived in the U.S. since 2007, and has been teaching American children ever since and on Whidbey since 2011, where he lives with his family on a 10-acre farm.  Prior to joining our faculty, Cormac was a substitute teacher at several Catholic schools on the mainland and a classroom teacher at Wellington Day School. Though a relative newcomer to the Waldorf name, Rudolf Steiner’s methods and philosophies permeated Cormac’s teacher education in Ireland.  He is now working on his Waldorf certification. Cormac also holds a Washington State Residency Teaching Certificate. He speaks conversant Irish Gaelic and loves painting, creative writing, examining rocks, and hunting for burls in the forest. His wife is an attorney and a graduate of Stanford Law School.  Their daughter attends WIWS.

Karol White

8th Grade

Karol is from a small town in Texas where she lived for 40 years. Eleven years ago, her husband, Tom, a Coldwell Banker Realtor, and son, Whit, then age 4, moved to Whidbey Island to enroll Whit in the kindergarten of the Waldorf School. Whit graduated from WIWS in 2007. Karol has been teaching for 32 years. She has a deaf education certification, a public school elementary certification, and a Waldorf teaching certification. Her adult son, Rondi Bryson, is a film and television actor and lives in Hollywood. Spiritual study and growth are passionate topics to Karol as she strives to seek her path. As a teacher in the Waldorf school, Karol is able to use her love of storytelling, singing, dancing, drawing, painting, and music on a daily basis. Her goal as a teacher is to present to her students the awe and wonder of the curriculum out of reverence and to help the students to see the highest in each other as they work and play together. "One for all, and all for one!"


Specialty Teachers

Chris Harshman

Strings Teacher

Chris Harshman comes to WIWS with over 23 years' experience with the Seattle Youth Symphony, as past conductor of the SYSO Symphonette Orchestra and current Program Director of the Marrowstone In the City summer camp. In addition, Chris is serving his 14th year as Band Director for the South Whidbey School District, where his ensembles have earned national recognition for their excellence. Chris remains active as a performing musician, as Principal Bassoon for Saratoga Orchestra, a founding member of Island Consort, and playing in the Mweya Marimba Band.

Brian Kenney

Strings Teacher

Brian began playing the violin at the age of five, and since then has put his fiddle to use playing in orchestras, string quartets, chamber ensembles, rock bands, improvisational groups, traditional Irish and Old-time fiddling sessions and more. Since moving to Whidbey Island in January of 2013, he has played with the Saratoga Orchestra, Island Consort and other musical ensembles. He also plays guitar and writes both songs and short instrumental pieces. he worked for several years in a New England violin shop outfitting teachers, school programs and students with instruments and acessories, introducing thousands of children to their first violin, viola or cello. He looks forward to joining the WIWS music program and helping our students in their musical education.

Iliana Lopez Salado

Spanish Teacher

Iliana was born in Mexico City. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Art Restoration from Latin America's most prestigious Art Restoration School. During her studies she was able to travel all over Mexico, discovering the traditions, culture and art of her native country. She has worked for more than 15 years conserving ancient Mayan and Aztec pieces, as well as colonial and post-colonial religious art. She is a specialist in painting techniques. She deeply loves her country, language and traditions. Iliana was most recently the 7th, 8th and 9th grade teacher in Spanish, History, Ethics and Basketry at the Yeccan Waldorf School in Guanajuato, Mexico and is very excited to share and teach Spanish here at Whidbey Island Waldorf School.

Natasha Zimmerman

Middle School Math

Natasha drew up in Colorado and Washington. She studied Elementary Education and Sociology at Gonzaga University and taught in public schools for a few years before entering the Waldorf Teacher Program at Rudolf Steiner College in Sacramento, California.Natasha moved to Whidbey Island in 2000 to teach a First Grade class here at Whidbey Island Waldorf School. She taught that class from 1st through 8th grade, and recently enjoyed celebrating her former students' High School graduation!
After that, she taught First Grade and Handwork here at WIWS before starting a family of her own. She returns this year to teach math skills to our 7th and 8th grade students.

Frances Kenney

Frances grew up in the Midwest in a very musical family. She attended the School for Creative & Performing Arts in Cincinnati, majoring in vocal and instrumental music. She went on to major in oboe performance at Indiana University, during which time she fell in love with working with young children.

Frances took a break from music to explore this work further, which brought her to Waldorf education and, eventually, to Sound Circle Center in Seattle. She earned her certificate in Waldorf Early childhood Education from Sound Circle in 2008. Since then, Frances has re-kindled her interest in music She now plays oboe with the Saratoga chamber Orchestra and teaches music part-time at WIWS. She loves living on Whidbey island with her husband, Nick, and daughters Gabriella and Sonja.

Karen Benson

Movement & Games

Karen grew up in southern California, loving the outdoors and playing teacher with her dolls. She received a B.S. in Wine Production Management from U.C. Davis and worked as an Assistant winemaker from Napa, CA all the way to western Australia. She left winemaking to pursue a public teaching credential at U.C. Santa Cruz in Physics and Chemistry. She also holds teaching credentials in K-8, Biology and Environmental Science.

The birth of ther son, Luc, led her on a quest for an authentic, arts-based education which nurtures the soul--a.k.a. Waldorf Education! Karen studied Waldorf teaching at the Bay Area Center for Waldorf Teacher Training with Dorit Winter for two years, and completed her certification at Sound Circle Center in Seattle, WA.

She is the mother of two energetic children and is currently in Spacial Dynamics training, lead by Jaimen McMillan. Karen serves on the faculty of WIWS as the remedial tutor, specializing in reading and math. She appreciates the focused work of her students, the relaxed pace of the island, its natural beauty, and the warm and supportive community of this Waldorf school.

Cordula Hetland

Extended Day Coordinator
Cordula was born in Hannover, Germany. Both of her parents were Waldorf teachers; her father was a student in the first Waldorf school in Stuttgart, Germany.  He was full of stories about growing up around Rudolf Steiner!  Cordula enjoyed a rural childhood and graduated from Waldorf school in 1980. After receiving Waldorf Teacher training in Kassel, Germany, Cordula moved to Austria, near Vienna, where she worked as a kindergarten teacher for the next 10 years.

She then met and married A Whidbey Islander on his travels abroad. When their son, Lars, was 9 months old, the family left Austria for Whidbey Island. There Cordula fell in love with our beautiful Whidbey Island Waldorf School, where she coordinates our Extended Care program.

Site Created By James F. Roberts IV