1857 Curlew Road, Palm Harbor FL 34683 waldorf@suncoastwaldorf.org 727-786-8311

Suncoast Waldorf

Suncoast Waldorf School opened in 1998 in space rented from the Unitarian Universalists of Clearwater. In 2006 the school purchased a building and tree-shaded property at 1857 Curlew Road in Palm Harbor. Now two classroom buildings house Parent/Child Playgroups, a nursery, two kindergartens and grades one through five.

History

For seven years prior to 1998, parents and teachers held playgroups, public lectures, workshops and festivals, all to educate the public about the little known, at the time, Waldorf education. Suncoast Waldorf Association formed as a non-profit corporation which later received its tax exempt status.

Families from across the United States and from other countries now find their way to Suncoast Waldorf School in their desire to continue Waldorf education for their children which has begun elsewhere. More and more families in the Tampa Bay area are discovering Waldorf education through the school’s website and are recognizing that this is the education they want for their children.

Suncoast Waldorf School, like virtually all Waldorf schools, is self-administered. Teachers and staff meet weekly to make decisions concerning the social, administrative, and educational life of the school. A Board of Trustees assumes fiduciary, policy and legal responsibility for the school.

Vision and Mission

Vision: The vision of Suncoast Waldorf School is to renew civilization through the sphere of education.

Mission: Suncoast Waldorf School is a community of teachers, staff, parents, and friends who honor childhood and value each stage of human development. Our goal is to educate the whole child to meet the world with grace, integrity and initiative through a balanced and comprehensive academic, artistic and practical curriculum.5

Campus and Facilities

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Suncoast Waldorf School’s campus is located on two live oak-shaded acres in Palm Harbor, FL. Our school’s main building houses the parent-child playgroup classes, mixed age kindergartens, grades one and two, administrative offices and our school store – The Gnome’s Nook. A second building on the property houses grades three through five.

Children in our Early Childhood center enjoy their own fenced play area while children in the grades play in our large and open ‘Meadow’ where they are free to explore, run, swing and tree climb.

Suncoast Waldorf School’s campus is centrally located in Pinellas County and is only minutes away from numerous parks, walking trails and some of the state’s most beautiful natural beaches, including Honeymoon Island State Park. Our community comes from throughout the county, St. Petersburg to Tarpon Springs, and some parents travel even greater distances to enable their children to attend the school.


Faculty and Staff
2016 – 2017 School Year

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Connie Manson, Merrily We Meet – Parent Child Program and Grades Music Teacher

004Connie Manson co-teaches one of our mixed age kindergartens as well as teaches music to the first and second grades. Ms. Manson has taught Waldorf kindergarten, nursery, and parent-child programs for over 21 years. Most recently, Connie has served as parent child/nursery teacher and Grades music teacher for Waldorf Sarasota.  Ms. Manson holds a BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and a MSEd in Waldorf Early Childhood Education from Sunbridge College. She is a masterful puppeteer and presents magical puppetry outreach programming in the greater community and parent/teacher puppetry workshops across the nation. In the summers, she teaches Introduction to Waldorf Early Childhood at Sunbridge Institute.


 Kendall Potts, Kindergarten Teacher (Periwinkle)

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Mrs. Potts began her SWS journey in 2002 Serving in various positions including kindergarten assistant, lead teacher, and Director of Early Childhood before stepping into the grades in 2011 to lead a class from first through third grade. Mrs. Potts graduated from the University of South Florida with a BA in Early Childhood Education and has previously taught kindergarten, second and third grades in a public magnet school. Additionally, she is a Certified Simplicity Parenting Facilitator. Kendall is the proud mother of three lovely young ladies: Drew (10), Ryann (16), and Delaney (18), all of whom attend or have attended Suncoast Waldorf School.


Ellen McRobert, Kindergarten Teacher (Morning Glory)

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Ellen McRobert joined the Suncoast Waldorf School in 2013.  She came from Costa Rica where she was teaching in a small Waldorf initiative called Sea Heart School.  She taught and trained local teachers to carry on with the Waldorf Early Childhood curriculum.  It was a small Caribbean town in the Talamanca region of Costa Rica.   The children were international and often processing 2 to 3 different languages.  Teaching was in English, Spanish, and some German.  Scholarships were provided for Indigenous and local children.  Ellen has taught in many different Waldorf Schools in the USA.  She began her training at the Waldorf Institute in Detroit, MI. Her teaching experiences span from the Portland Waldorf School in OR. to the Brooklyn Waldorf School in NYC.  At the Housatonic Valley Waldorf School in Newtown, CT., Ellen taught for three years in the kindergarten then took a first grade class to second grade.

She has recently begun a movement training in Spacial Dynamics where she is studying with a group of 60+ students from all over North America with a master teacher, Jaimen McMillan.  In this training she discovered a student who was in one of her first Waldorf kindergartens.  He is now 21.


 Angela Neff, Nursery Teacher (Marigold)

Angela Neff was born and raised in England. While living in Miami she met her husband Rob. They have two teenage children who have attended Waldorf schools since they were three years old. Angela’s experiences with her own children’s time in Waldorf schools inspired her to become passionately involved in Waldorf education. Angela volunteered in the Honolulu school nursery class. She was then an assistant in the kindergarten at the Linden Waldorf School in Nashville, Tennessee for five years. This will be Angela’s third year working at the Suncoast Waldorf School. She has attended many workshops and conferences regarding Waldorf education. Angela is currently completing her degree in early childhood education and will be starting her Waldorf early childhood training next summer. Angela likes to read, do volunteer work, and travel with her family during the summer.


Anita Rodriguez-McCaffrey, Kindergarten Teacher (Sunflower Garden)

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Anita is originally from Ecuador in South America. After completing her B.S. in Agriculture she moved to California to learn more about Sustainable Agriculture. She worked as an Environmental Educator and Administrator in two well known nonprofit organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area for 8 years. Along the way, she met several people who introduced her to Waldorf education long before her son Mateo was born. She completed the Waldorf Teacher Education, Foundation Studies Program at Rudolf Steiner College in Sacramento California in 2004. Her son inspired her to pursue a career as a Waldorf Teacher. Currently she is enrolled in the Waldorf Teacher Certificate Program with Sophia Institute Online Courses. Last year, she spent the spring months completing her internship, volunteering at Suncoast Waldorf School, and assisting Ms. Connie in the Sunflower  Kindergarten class. Anita looks forward to contributing to the school as her son moves through the grades. In her spare time Anita enjoys walks in nature as well as bike riding, swimming and yoga.


Susan Brown, First Grade Teacher

IMG_4882Susan is a Waldorf Alum, having attended the Chicago Waldorf School from Kindergarten through Grade 7. She holds a BA in Philosophy & English Literature from the University of Wisconsin and a Waldorf Teacher Certification from Rudolf Steiner College in CA. Susan worked as a Waldorf Grades teacher for 10 years and as a Waldorf Parent/Child & Early Childhood Teacher for 5 years. Susan loves cooking, drawing, painting, figure skating, identifying seashells and discussing dense philosophical and Anthroposophical texts. Susan is excited to be joining Suncoast Waldorf School as an assistant in the Morning Glory Kindergarten.


Allison Hill, Second and Third Grade Lead Teacher

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Allison Hill is originally from St. Louis, MO, and arrived with her family in Pinellas County in 2007. After having received her Bachelor’s degree in Theater in 2007 from NSULA, she realized her inspiration to work with children. She has worked with refugee children and families through the Gulf Coast Jewish Family Services for several years. She completed the Pathways Educators program at SPC for English/Language Arts. After several years of experience private tutoring and substitute teaching children of all ages throughout Pinellas County, Allison found her home at SWS in 2011. Allison has completed her Waldorf Certification training and is working her Master’s degree in Waldorf Elementary Education through Antioch University NE. She has a wonderful daughter, who is a proud and joyful graduate of the Suncoast Waldorf School.


Jen Stubbs, Second/Third Grade Lesson Teacher; Educational Support Teacher

Jen Stubbs img_3320-copybegan teaching early childhood classes in 2005 and has been working with children of all ages ever since. After finishing an Honors BA in Anthropology at New College of Florida, she moved overseas and worked in private schools in China and New Zealand. Jen has a passion for working with children with special needs and focused on Curative Education and Extra Lesson work in her Waldorf teacher training. Upon finishing her training in 2013, she took a diverse teaching and care-work role at an Anthroposophical residential community and Waldorf school for children in need of special 24/7 care in Napier, New Zealand. Her professional training and certifications include Behavioral Management; Sign Language, PECS, and Makaton communication systems; and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. Jen has also worked privately with children in need of remedial support and standardized test tutoring. After living abroad for seven years, she returned to her family home in 2015 and joined SWS. Jen enjoys hiking and camping in north Florida, is a committed Zen and yoga student, and is presently studying herbalism.


 Liesil Stein, Fourth Grade Teacher

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Liesil Stein graduated from Duquesne University in 2009 with degrees in Finance and Information Systems Management. After working in the finance world for two years, she finally found her calling to become a Waldorf Teacher. After finishing her Waldorf Graduate Diploma at Taruna College in New Zealand in 2012, she continued her training with a four month apprenticeship at the Kimberton Waldorf School in Pennsylvania. She loves being outdoors, playing and learning and having fun with family and friends.


Monica Daniels, Fifth Grade Teacher

Monica has over 20 years of teaching experience and a deep knowledge of the Waldorf curriculum.  Before joining the Suncoast Waldorf School, she taught at the Charlottesville Waldorf School in Virginia for 4 years. Prior to teaching at CWS, she taught elementary, middle, and high school classes in public and private settings, and has also worked in parent education and engagement. Monica has presented teacher trainings in Haiti and Ecuador, and has mentored fellow educators. She received her Bachelor’s in Science degree in Industrial Management from Georgia Tech and her Master’s Degree in Education from Georgia Southern University. Besides her love for learning, she enjoys hiking, nature, art, Shakespeare, and reading. Also she has a strong heart for service, she can be found working on Habitat for Humanity houses, doing interviews and essay reading for the Georgia Tech scholarship programs, and involved in the ministries of her church.


Jochen Essig –  German
IMG_1066p2Jochen Essig is the Fifth Grade teacher as well as teaches German, woodworking and games.  He is an experienced biology, physical education, and natural phenomena/ woodworking teacher. Jochen had wanted to leave the traditional school environment for some time and a visit to the Freie Waldorfschule in Heidelberg, Germany inspired him to teach in a school where the children are viewed holistically and where there is less emphasis on grading and judging the children. The appreciation of nature at Waldorf schools also impressed him. He is a native speaker of the German language and speaks English fluently.
In Germany Jochen was the first place recipient of the Environment Prize for the Apple Orchard Project for a school in Heidelberg, where he led 120 students and teachers to gather apples and make apple juice as they learned much about the ecological value of apple orchards.Jochen loves spending time with his family, cooking, riding his bicycle and observing nature.


Blanca Rosanno, Spanish, Handwork and Art Teacher

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Blanca Rosanno was born in Colombia, and came to the United States in November of 1990. Her native speaking language is Spanish. She has a degree in Administración Turística from Universidad Los Libertdores in Colombia, and a Bachelors in Psychology from University of South Florida. Blanca have been working with the Suncoast Waldorf School for 2 ½ years. She has attended the Art of Teaching Spanish from Rudolf Steiner College in the summer of 2012, and the Subject Teacher Seminar, at Emerson Waldorf School, during the summer 2013. She loves children and enjoys nature, music, and crafts.


Judyth Pisani, Eurythmy Teacher

Judyth Pisani began her Eurythmy studies in 1975 with Elizabeth Hunter. She continued her studies at Spring Valley, Dornach,Switzerland and Taos, New Mexico. She has taught eurythmy in Europe, Canada and the United States in Waldorf schools, in prisons, in colleges and in universities. Judyth has also worked with street children, actors and dancers. She continues to enrich her practice of the eurythmical art of movement. Judyth presently teaches eurythmy at Suncoast Waldorf School in Palm Harbor, Florida.


Linda Pointer, Music Teacher

Linda Pointer has been involved with teaching music in many forms for her entire working career, as a classroom teacher from early elementary through college, as a music supervisor with Indianapolis Public Schools, and as a private studio teacher. She received the Bachelor of Music Education from Mississippi State University, and the Master and Doctor of Music from Indiana University in Bloomington, IN. With her colleague, art teacher Pat Bolanos, Dr. Pointer planned a curriculum based on Waldorf teachings which was accepted as the foundation for a charter school in Indianapolis. Currently she teaches Humanities and studio piano at St. Petersburg College and continues her private organ and piano studio as well as Eurhythmy accompanying at Suncoast Waldorf school.
Married to Ferdinand Pointer, a piano technician and harpsichord builder, they have two children and three grandchildren. The Pointers love to travel and garden and play with their two cats, Millie and Steinway.


Jim Shallenberger, Violin Teacher

Violinist Jim Shallenberger was born, and spent most of his professional career, in the San Francisco Bay Area. He graduated with honors from UC Berkeley, received his Masters degree from University of Washington (Seattle), and after studies in England, returned to the San Francisco area. There he played professionally ( SF Symphony, Opera and Ballet Orchestras, Kronos String Quartet, studio and film recordings , etc. ) for thirty years. He recently moved to Florida to be near his son and granddaughter, and is delighted to be now teaching violin at the Suncoast Waldorf School.


Barbara Bedingfield, Folk Dancing Teacher and Founder of the School

001Barbara Bedingfield is Founding Director of Suncoast Waldorf School. She worked with the initiative for 7 years before the opening of the school in 1998 and served as the first kindergarten teacher. She took the first grade ready children from grade one to grade four after which she returned to the kindergarten for several years. Through the years she has worked in enrollment and development and has stepped in to teach the grades when needed.  Barbara holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education from the University of Florida and a Master’s in Early Childhood from Antioch University New England where she took her Waldorf training.


Amanda Tipton, Administrator

IMG_4314Amanda Tipton began her Waldorf journey in late 2009 when a friend – who happened to be a Waldorf alum – told her that the Charlottesville Waldorf School was hiring in the front office.  Upon seeing for the first time the naturally beautiful campus, the warm and inviting classrooms, and joyful children playing outside, she knew this is what she had been looking for since student teaching in college.  In less than a year, she was promoted from office assistant to school coordinator and had the majority of responsibilities of a school administrator for 4 years.  Having studied art and philosophy in college, with an emphasis in teaching these subjects, a deep understanding of Steiner’s theories of child development and the Waldorf curriculum’s emphasis on art came very naturally to Amanda, and she longed to be more involved.  The perfect opportunity presented itself when she found that the Ministerio de Educacion de Ecuador was interested in Waldorf education and had held a number of teacher training workshops.  After agreeing to serve as a resource via Skype for a forum of teachers and principals discussing Waldorf pedagogy, she saw there was great interest in starting a Waldorf school in Ibarra, which is her husband’s hometown.   She has since founded Casa Stella Waldorf School, organized 2 Waldorf workshops for teachers and parents, and helped found the Ecuadorian branch of Alliance for Childhood to promote Waldorf education and teacher training in Ecuador.  She is very excited to join the Suncoast Waldorf School community to continue to develop professionally and to support the growth of Waldorf education.


Kelly Ford, Assistant Administrator and Director for Early Childhood

013Kelly embraced the Suncoast Waldorf community when her children joined the kindergarten and playgroup in 2006. Soon after, she began helping in the office, the school store, the kindergarten, and with handwork. Over the years, Kelly has held many roles including Festival Co-chair, Parent Handwork Coordinator, Parent Council Representative, and has served on the Board of Trustees. Kelly holds a bachelor’s degree in Spanish, and Recreation from the University of West Florida, as well as an associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education. She is a native Floridian and enjoys travel, camping, and the outdoors.


Jane (MacCaffrey) Baginski, Admissions Director

Like many of us, Jane (MacCaffrey) Baginski discovered Waldorf education completely by accident. A family of musicians from Berlin was looking for a last-minute host family in Manhattan for their daughter so she could attend the Steiner School. After hearing the teenager’s description of her Main Lesson, Jane was instantly smitten with the synthetical approach to academics and was determined to send her own daughter to a Waldorf school. Jane grew up as a globe-trotting Air Force brat whose wonderful polymathic parents believed strongly in cultural immersion. She attended many types of schools including a British high school and later graduated from Canada’s oldest university. Jane studied music, fine art, and liberal arts and chose philosophy of science and mathematics as major disciplines.

Much of Jane’s professional experience is related to training and technical communications, where she has worked with experts to bring simple solutions to audiences of complicated subjects.

Away from campus, Jane enjoys playing piano and drums, but, most of all, teaching and competing in the world’s most beautiful sport: ballroom dancing.


Phillip Fitzpatrick, Facilities Manager

Philip was born and raised in NYC, and attained a BA in Political Science from Rutgers University in New Jersey.  He went on to attain his Law Degree, and worked in New York, New Jersey, and the US Virgin Islands as a prosecutor.  Philip then switched careers, and has been a real estate developer for the past twenty years, fifteen of them here in Palm Harbor.  He is a skilled craftsman and jack-of-all-trades, and works part time for the Suncoast Waldorf School, while also operating his own healthy vending business.  He and his wife Amarawadee are parents to kindergartner Philip, who is very happily a member of the Sunflower Garden.