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

JESSICA PORTO
BUTTERFLY KINDERGARTEN TEACHER

Ms. Jessica is the lead teacher in Swallowtail’s Butterfly Kindergarten classroom. She has a BA in Psychology and worked with special needs children before joining Swallowtail as a classroom assistant in 2001. Jessica felt drawn to Waldorf education because of the close, nurturing relationship shared by students and teachers. She has been a lead teacher in the Grades and in the Kindergarten, taught parent-child classes and offered Waldorf-inspired childcare in her own home when her own children were very young.

 

 

ANDIE BALDWIN
BUTTERFLY KINDERGARTEN ASSISTANT

Ms. Andie is the assistant teacher in the Butterfly Kindergarten. She is a 2009 graduate of Portland State University with a BA in Arts and Letters. Andie was introduced to Waldorf education while working as a nanny for a local family. She was especially drawn to the Early Childhood program where hushed voices, handwork, imaginative play and a nurturing atmosphere set the perfect stage for young minds, bodies and souls to flourish. Andie is also an accomplished basket weaver and teaches weaving classes at Swallowtail and elsewhere in the Portland area.

 

 

SACHA ETZEL
DAISY BLOSSOM KINDERGARTEN TEACHER

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.

ANITA SILVA
DAISY BLOSSOM KINDERGARTEN ASSISTANT

HEATHER GANNON
SUNFLOWER PRESCHOOL TEACHER

Ms. Heather discovered Waldorf Education while looking for the best ways to raise and educate her own children. She was born in New York and raised and educated in Boston. Her introduction to Waldorf Education was when she enrolled her oldest son, Joey, in the Cape Ann Waldorf School in 1998 as a preschooler. In 2000, she moved to Eugene, Oregon with her three children to begin Waldorf teacher training. She spent three years teaching at the Corvallis Waldorf School, both in Early Childhood and Grade 4. Heather holds a Waldorf Teaching Certificate for Early Childhood and Grades.

 

 

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.

AREHN MCCARTY
GRADE 1

LUKAS SCHNEIDER
GRADE 2

Mr. Lukas is a Waldorf alum who hails from Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School in Upstate New York. He grew up on a 400-acre biodynamic farm and spent a significant amount of his childhood outdoors. After finishing college in 2010, Lukas moved to Portland where he spent four years as a drummer in the local music scene. He felt a pull back to education and attended the Micha-El Institute for Waldorf teacher training in Portland. Lukas is excited about the potential for placed-based learning that the Swallowtail farm campus holds.

 

 

CIERRA MARZULLO
GRADE 3

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 4

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 5

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 5

KELLY MARQUIS
GRADE 6

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
GRADES 7/8

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

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

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.

 

 

SADIE LIFTON
HANDWORK

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

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.

She has two sons who have both attended Swallowtail. In her free time, she enjoys watching her boys play football.

 

 

EMILY SAXTON
DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR

Emily holds a Bachelor's degree in History and a Master's in Public Administration. Her interest in writing, excitement around community engagement, and passion for school choice led her to positions in school fundraising. Emily worked at two charter schools in Portland before joining Swallowtail in 2016.

ANNA RUBY
OFFICE MANAGER

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.

 

 

 

 

NOAH MARQUIS
FARM STEWARD

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.

Noah grew up on family farms in Michigan and on the whitewater rivers of Colorado. Noah has a varied and adventurous background that includes a river expedition explorer, logging more than 75,000 miles on 260 rivers in 12 different countries. During that time, he also explored agrarian cultures and landscapes, inspiring Noah to become a better steward of the land. He learned about Rudolf Steiner's Biodynamic method of agriculture while working on a sustainable research farm in New Zealand.

Noah lives on the Swallowtail Farm with his family. They spend their days growing, preparing and preserving their food, looking after animals, and playing about.

KRIS PORTO
FACILITIES MANAGER

Mr. Kris is a Waldorf teacher who is taking on dual roles at Swallowtail School. Part of his time is spent as Facilities Manager, fixing and enhancing the building that Swallowtail purchased and moved into in July of 2015. He also is substituting as Music Teacher during the 2017-18 school year.