Meet our Faculty & Staff

Swallowtail's faculty and staff are inspired, talented, and devoted educators with a firm belief in the sanctity of childhood. They are tireless advocates for an education that honors the natural world, the arts, and the strengthening of spirit that is possible through a curriculum working with the developmental stages of youth. Every adult called to work at Swallowtail has a unique story of their own; be they musician, athlete, artist, or healer— all bring the wisdom of their lives into the classroom. Swallowtail's strength resides with the people who shape her community.

Early Childhood Teachers

SACHA ETZEL
BUTTERFLY KINDERGARTEN TEACHER

Sacha.jpg

Ms. Sacha was introduced to Waldorf Education in 1989 by her sister. Her early years in Waldorf education were at her home in Canby, where she ran a Waldorf-inspired, Oregon Licensed Daycare serving infants-to-12-year-olds. She went on to get her 2-year Waldorf Teacher Certificate in Eugene. Over the last two decades, Sacha has taught Waldorf Kindergarten, Parent-Child classes, practicum students, mentored teachers, run summer camp, taught Grades 1-8 Sunday school and raised 4 of her own amazing children. In addition to her deep roots in Waldorf Education, Sacha is also a professionally trained florist. She holds a Bachelor's in Organizational Management and a Master's in Executive Leadership.

EDDIE ARELLANO
BUTTERFLY KINDERGARTEN ASSISTANT

 

TRACI JO PARTIN
DRAGONFLY KINDERGARTEN TEACHER

 

KENDYL VAN DYKE
CATERPILLAR PRESCHOOL TEACHER

SHANNON HALLBERG
PRESCHOOL ASSISTANT

Grades Teachers

At Swallowtail Waldorf School & Farm, the Grades teachers traditionally stay with their students for their entire journey from Grade 1 through Grade 8.

RICH AGUILO
GRADE 1

BIO COMING SOON...

DAVID ZIMMERMAN
GRADE 2

David Zimmerman was born and raised in the redwood forests, oak woodlands, and sprawling suburbs of Northern California. Early on, he established a deep connection with nature, spending much of his time camping and exploring with his family. His interest in botany, women and gender studies, cooking, and farming led him to a variety of professional experiences where he finally discovered his calling toward education. His interest in education is broad and varied and he has experience in public, Montessori, and Waldorf education and is eager to bring this breadth of experience into his work at Swallowtail.

ERIN GILL
GRADE 3

BIO COMING SOON...

 

 

CIERRA MARZULLO
GRADE 4

Cierra.jpg

Ms. Cierra is on her second journey through Waldorf Education. Her first journey was as a child, on the Island of Hawaii, where she grew up in the jungle. The sun powered her house, and the rain provided water. One of her childhood chores was to cut down the banana trees with a machete when the bananas began to ripen. She attended Malamalama Waldorf School, where she discovered a thirst for knowledge. Her class teacher was from Hungary, and she taught Cierra the value of hard work. Cierra has an undergraduate degree in Journalism from the University of Oregon and completed her Waldorf teacher training at the Rudolf Steiner College in Sacramento. Her extra curricular activities included tree climbing and circus arts.

INGRID ZAHL-THOMAS
GRADE 5

Ms. Ingrid was one of the first teachers at Swallowtail when it formed in 1995. At the time, she was looking for a school for her own young children. Recognizing the power of the three-fold approach to child development (head, heart, hands), Ingrid felt a strong calling towards Waldorf education and began her teacher training. She worked in the classroom while completing her Waldorf pedagogy studies.

Ingrid is witnessing the lasting impacts of an enriching curriculum that builds in alignment with child development, as her former students enter college striving for a life of purpose that contributes to, and enhances, the society of which they are part. Ingrid is presently joining her second class on their journey through the grades. She is also an accomplished painter whose works have appeared in galleries throughout Oregon.

ANNETTE JOHNSON
GRADE 6 CO-TEACHER

Ms. Annette is originally from New Zealand. She has taught for 20 years, from Grades 1-12 in both public and private schools. Annette discovered Waldorf education through her own children’s educational experience and felt inspired to study the teachings of Rudolf Steiner and become a Waldorf teacher. Her experience as a Waldorf teacher has inspired her love of art and painting and the desire to experiment with different artistic techniques.

 

 

 

NANCY THOMPSON
GRADE 6 CO-TEACHER

BIO COMING SOON...

KELLY MARQUIS
GRADE 7

Ms. Kelly is an avid world traveler who discovered Waldorf education while living in Ecuador (after already having lived in Spain, Costa Rica and Honduras). She was working on a permaculture installation and conservation reserve project when she met Waldorf graduates and was impressed with the way they flowed through the world with creativity and grace. Inspired, Kelly received her Waldorf training at the Micha-el Institute in Portland. Kelly is passionate about working the Farm campus into her curriculum whenever possible.

 

 

NANCY PEIRCE
GRADE 8

Ms. Nancy began teaching in a very rural school district as she was raising her children on an isolated homestead in California. She discovered Waldorf education and moved to Portland in 1992 to become a class teacher at the Portland Waldorf School. Her children loved being in a city and in a house with electricity for the first time, while she fell in love with being a Waldorf class teacher. After graduating her third-eighth grade class from Portland Waldorf School in 2014, she was delighted to take on a middle school class here at Swallowtail.

 

 

Specialty Teachers

MARCELA STEADHAM
SPANISH

00165.jpg

Marcela Steadham grew up in Santiago, Chile and in France. She spent a great deal of her childhood skiing the mountains of South America and windsurfing in the ocean.

Marcela was first introduced to Waldorf Education in 1992, when her children attended a school in Bellingham, WA. At that time, she became extremely interested in and began a deep study of Waldorf philosophy. Marcela began teaching language at her children's school and has taught ever since. Her background is in architecture and design, but she feels teachin is her true calling and passion.

 

SANDY BALDRIGE
ADVANCED MATH

00150.jpg

Ms. Sandy’s first encounter with Waldorf education was while searching for a preschool for her oldest child. She loved the simplicity and rhythm of the Waldorf Early Childhood classrooms and the homey feeling that put the children at ease. Her love of the curriculum and the gentle unfolding of learning it supports, led her to seek out teaching opportunities. During the past 20 years, she has taught middle school math, eighth grade main lesson blocks, handwork, and parent-child classes. Sandy also substitutes in grades K-8. All three of her children attended Swallowtail.

Ms. Sandy is on sabbatical for the 2018-19 school year.

 

 

SADIE LIFTON
HANDWORK

Sadie.jpg

Ms. Sadie is a local Waldorf graduate. She attended Portland Waldorf School from age 3 through high school and went on to study Fine Arts & Native American Studies at The Evergreen State College in Washington. Sadie received her Handwork training at the Fiber Crafts Studio at Threfold Educational Center in Spring Valley, New York. Before joining the Swallowtail faculty in 2016, Sadie worked at PWS as the Handwork Assistant. She also developed the PWS Aftercare and summer programs.

 

 

RITA KAWECKI
EURYTHMY

Rita.jpg

Miss Rita Kawecki is the Eurythmist at Swallowtail School, teaching preschool and kindergarten through eighth grade. She has a variety of experience in agriculture and practical arts,and fell in love with Eurythmy as a medium to work with the divine element in life, through art. She graduated from the American Eurythmy School in 2016, joined a traveling performing troupe, and began teaching pedagogical Eurythmy in Salt Lake City, Utah, before moving to Portland.

 

Administration & Staff

CHER LEVENDOSKY
ADMINISTRATOR

Ms. Cher came to Swallowtail School as the Administrator in 2013, after a rich and varied career in Waldorf Education.

Cher is a native Californian who attended the University of California, Santa Barbara, splitting her studies between Early Childhood Education and Philosophy, earning a Bachelor's Degree in Liberal Studies. As Cher was working toward a public school teaching certificate, she discovered Waldorf Education at Summerfield Waldorf School and Farm. Once her own children began attending Summerfield, she simultaneously pursued her Waldorf training at Rudolf Steiner College and assistant taught kindergarten. When her training was complete, she spent 12 years as Lead Kindergarten teacher at Summerfield. Cher served as administrator for more than six years, strengthened by the Waldorf School Administration and Community Development Course at Sunbridge College.

Cher then moved on to consult at Nelson Waldorf School in Nelson, BC, and returned to teaching Kindergarten at the nearby Sandpoint, Idaho Waldorf School. When her grown children relocated to Portland, Cher and her husband Ric moved to the area where Cher worked as High School Chair at Portland Waldorf School.

BRENDA MCCOY
ENROLLMENT COORDINATOR

Brenda started at Swallowtail in 2010 as a very active parent volunteer. She joined the administrative team in 2013 as the Enrollment and Outreach Coordinator. During her time at Swallowtail, Brenda has overseen tremendous growth - from approximately 70 students to 170 as of 2016.

Brenda holds a Bachelor's of Science in Biology from Portland State University and a Master's of Science in Environmental Education from Southern Oregon University. Brenda enjoys travel, baking, dancing, gardening, crafts, hiking, meditation, and playing board games.

 

MICHALINA MARKOWITZ
FINANCE MANAGER

Michalina joined Swallowtail as a parent in January of 2014 and started as the Finance Manager in December of that year. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Operations Management and a Master's Certificate in Accounting. Michalina has a wide range of experience in Finance, Accounting, and Auditing.

 

 

 

EMILY SAXTON
DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR

Emily was born a third-generation Oregonian who grew up in Bellingham, Washington. Her childhood included a lot of family explorations to the coast and the islands by foot, ferry, and bike. She launched her first major fundraising campaign in seventh grade to transfer to a small private school. When she reached her goal (and persuaded her parents to make a generous ongoing contribution), it was a drastic and wonderful change from her previous educational institution.

Emily has a BA in History and an MA in Public Administration. Her enthusiasm for writing, community engagement, and school choice led her to positions in school fundraising. Before joining Swallowtail in 2016, she worked in fundraising at charter schools in Portland. In addition to working, she enjoys bike riding, reading, camping and exploration, gardening, and going on family adventures with her daughter and her wife.

ANNA RUBY
MARKETING & EVENTS, OFFICE MANAGER

00162.jpg

Anna joined the Swallowtail administrative team in January 2015. Before staying home with her two daughters, Anna worked for 10 years as a journalist for television and print. She discovered Waldorf education through her oldest daughter's Waldorf-inspired preschool in Beaverton, OR.

 

 

 

KATIE CANDEAUX
OFFICE ASSISTANT

BIO COMING SOON...

NOAH MARQUIS
FARM STEWARD

00158.jpg

Noah (or "Farmer Noah", as the children know him) is Swallowtail's Farm Steward. He manages all aspects of the Farm property including animals, gardens, and the buildings.

 

 

 

PETE PETERSON
FACILITIES MANAGER

BIO COMING SOON...

Extended Care

Swallowtail Extended Care staff care for the children in the mornings and after school. They lead children in games, songs, snacks, free play and outdoor play.

KIM THORVALDSON
EXTENDED CARE LEAD

KATIE VIREDAY
EXTENDED CARE ASSISTANT

ALYSSA VANDERVELDEN
RESTING STARS LEAD