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 2015-16

Natasha Zimmerman

1st Grade

Natasha grew 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. This year she begins another cycle of taking students from First Grade through Eighth!

Kristin codda

2nd 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

3rd Grade


Kelly began her teaching career through her studies of child development.  She has had the privilege of working with a variety of students.  Among the highlights of these experiences, her work with children who had special needs was most formative. She soon realized that all children have special gifts and need opportunities to develop these strengths.  Kelly has a Bachelor’s degree in Child Development from Brigham Young University.  When she married and began a family, she found the Waldorf model of education and pursued her training at Rudolf Steiner College in Sacramento, California.

As a kinesthetic learner, she has since been on a path to further her understanding of Spacial Dynamics through training and integrating the underlying principles of movement and space.  She came to Whidbey Island after teaching second and third graders in western Colorado.  Kelly enjoys singing, walking and hiking, interior design and spending precious time with her three children, all of whom attend WIWS. 

Susan Jones

4th Grade 

Susan hails originally from a northern New Jersey suburb of New York City, She has known from childhood that she wanted to teach children and received her B.S. in Education, cum laude, from New York University.


A sabbatical of Goethean Studies with Dennis Klocek was followed by the gift of becoming class teacher for grades 1 - 8 at the Waldorf School of Santa Cruz. Another sabbatical in English Studies at the Goetheanum led to work at the East Bay Waldorf School, as Pedagogical Administrator and parent-child and nursery teacher. She was then called back to Santa Cruz to take a class from grades 3 - 5, and has now delightedly become  a new resident of Whidbey Island, where, in addition to  preparing for her class, she enjoys walking in nature, cooking, writing, gardening and watercolor painting.

Angela Lindstrom

5th Grade

After working several years as a journalist, artist, and instructor of Native American Studies and English at the University of Cincinnati, Angela found her way to Waldorf education with the birth of her first child. She became certified in Waldorf Early Childhood education and as a Therapeutic Educator, and started several Parent and Child programs in Denver Waldorf schools and at our own WIWS. As her own children grew, Angela then became certified in Waldorf Elementary Education and also holds a M.Ed. She has been a class teacher for over 10 years at WIWS, recently graduating a class in 2014.    


Angela grew up working and playing on a small farm, nestled by rolling hills, a forest and river in southern Ohio. She has traveled extensively in the United States, and lived in France and Switzerland. Her greatest joys come from spending time with her husband, six children and two grandchildren. Angela enjoys expressing herself through art, music, writing and dance. She loves reading, gardening, hiking, and the outdoors. Angela is very active in her Native American culture (Ojibwa and Cherokee) and is the hostess/director of the annual Pacific Northwest Waldorf Schools Potlatch

Ashley Umlauf

6th 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 travelling throughout the East Coast, Europe and South America she earned her B.A. in English with an emphasis on writing from the University of Washington in 2000. 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.

Her love of teaching has expanded exponentially in the Waldorf setting, with this education of head, heart and hands. 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

7th 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.


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.

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, Middle School Math

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.

Joanna Spagnolini


Photo coming soon!   

Señora Jo's first teaching experience was at the Sacramento Waldorf School, where she taught Spanish, Beginning Recorder, Remedial Reading and Mathematics while attending California State University, Sacramento. She then taught K-12 in California public schools for more than 30 years.
After retirement in 2001, she just couldn't stop “cold turkey” and continued to teach on the mission field in Mexicali, Baja California, the Highlands of Peru, at a university in Shandong Province, China, and finally at an international Christian School in Albania.


Now the circle is complete; not back to “square one”, Señora Jo has come home to her first love.

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.

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