Our Teachers & Staff

Ms Lauren Wheeler

Hummingbird’s Nest Preschool; Lead Teacher

Ms Lauren 003Lauren is the lead preschool teacher at Wishing Well School. Raised on the Central Coast, Lauren holds a deep love for the ocean and all things outdoors. After finding a meaningful connection to Wishing Well School for her own children, she became inspired by the daily inner workings of Waldorf Education.

With the spirit and experience of an artist and musician, she is excited to share her love for beauty, song, and nature with all. She currently holds a teaching certificate for Early Childhood Education and is passionate about learning and developing as a teacher through Waldorf pedagogy. She believes in nurturing the child’s whole spirit and is excited and honored to be apart of the children’s growth and learning here at Wishing Well.

Ms. Kimberly Raine

Rose Kindergarten; Lead Teacher

Ms Kimberly RaineKimberly Raine was born in Los Angeles and raised in Orange County by a single mother with her five brothers. In her childhood, she spent hours with her mother gardening, sewing, grinding grains, baking, cooking, preserving fruits and vegetables and lots of crafting. Kimberly found her way to Waldorf through her two sons in 1994. The Waldorf kindergarten was the perfect place for all those skills she learned in childhood.

Kimberly brings a wealth of experience from teaching both kindergarten and the grades and also mentoring colleagues at the Waldorf School of Orange County, Westside Waldorf School, Maple Village Waldorf School, Seeds of Joy, and lastly Monarch Hills at City Farm SLO. 

Kimberly is currently in the Biodynamic Farmer Training living on 10 acres near Lake Nacimiento in Bradley, CA along with her goats, chickens, sheep and new lambs.

Ms. Stephanie Ferris

Buttercup Kindergarten ; Lead Teacher

Miss Stephanie

Stephanie is a trained Waldorf Early Childhood Educator with over 10 years of experience in various Waldorf programs.  Most recently, she was teaching at the Cedarwood Waldorf School in Portland Oregon as the lead Buttercup pre-kindergarten teacher where she taught for 7 years.  In addition, she has completed a three-year Nurturing the Roots therapeutic training, earning a certificate in therapeutic educational support. Before being called to Waldorf education, she took up the art of midwifery and brought many beautiful babies into the world as a doula. She was very active in the birth world, advocating for families, teaching childbirth classes, helping to establish breastfeeding, and settling families into the postpartum nest.  

Stephanie is the mother of two boys, Christian and Colbey, and homeschooled them with the support of the Waldorf homeschooling community in Bellingham, WA.  Now they are grown and are enjoying their adult independence in the Pacific Northwest.  Almost three years ago, her big boy became a father, with the blessing of welcoming baby girl Serenity Juniper into the family. When Stephanie is not enjoying the warmth, love, and magic of the early childhood classroom, she is laughing, hiking, and visiting with her family, spending time with the plant and animal kingdom, and homemaking.  She loves to move her body and spend time with the  people she loves.

Ms. Julia Valentine

Grade One Teacher

Ms ValentineShe is a certified Waldorf Early Childhood educator, outdoor education and Permaculture teacher, with over two decades of experience. Julia has been leading student inquiry for the last 23 years in a variety of settings, including the Waldorf classroom, school garden, and homeschool outdoor education.  She is the mother to three Waldorf educated adult sons; an avid gardener and cook; and a dedicated social and environmental justice activist.  

She began her journey with Waldorf education 24 years ago when looking for a play-based program for her preschool aged son. After enrolling her two oldest boys in their local Waldorf school, she found herself thrust into the classroom and into her calling as a teacher. She spent three years as the lead teacher in Kindergarten and Parent-Tot in Seattle, then moved to Sebastopol where she worked with her mentor and master teacher at Sebastopol Charter School as classroom assistant.  After several years back in the classroom, Julia pivoted and moved to the school garden where she was the lead teacher, program manager, and curriculum developer for two schoolwide gardening and native habitat programs in Sonoma County. 

For the last five years, she has been working with homeschool families in San Luis Obispo County, leading outdoor play-based education, as well as leading groups on adventures into the ‘wild’. Julia believes in the wisdom each child innately holds, and their primary connection to Mother Earth. She enjoys the collaborative nature of place based learning, and strives to connect students to the world around them through work and play. 

Mx. Tiffany Laton

Grade Two Teacher

Miss Laton

Tiffany was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and they have a soft spot for the Central Coast, as they spent their childhood summers in Pismo Beach. They graduated with Magna Cum Laude from San Francisco State University with a bachelor’s degree in Child Development. They received their Waldorf Grades training at Sound Circle Center in Seattle. Tiffany is passionate about multicultural education and spent a semester in Norway learning how to integrate its principles into their classroom. They are an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and aims to create a classroom environment where every child feels seen and heard. Tiffany has spent the last two years observing and participating in a multitude of Waldorf classrooms across the United States, where they have experienced an abundance of dynamic teaching styles. 

Tiffany spends their spare time tending to their organic vegetable garden and hiking through the diverse West Coast wilderness. They enjoy solo backpacking trips through countries around the world and has plans for global summer travels. On the weekend you may spot Tiffany browsing through the farmers market stalls, scoping out vintage clothes in estate sales, or casually singing at open mics.

Mr. Matt Dusek

Grade Three Teacher

Mr DusekMatt has a passion for wild beauty and a reverence for humankind’s interrelationship with nature. This was surely birthed out of his childhood experiences on a small farm with his three brothers in Northern Illinois. 

Matt began his work in Waldorf education after graduating from Prescott College in 2003. His first steps down this path were taken at the Siskiyou School in Ashland, Oregon. He began his career as a games teacher and class assistant and was delighted by the encouragement of many experienced teachers. He went on to receive his Waldorf Teaching Certificate, completing the Masters program in Waldorf education through Antioch University of Keene, New Hampshire in 2008, and has taught as a class teacher ever since. 

It has been his life’s work to help children into themselves by breathing life into the archetypes that are woven throughout the stories and imagery of this curriculum.  Matt has come to joyfully surrender to, and patiently trust, the soulfulness and integrity of Waldorf education.

Mr. Anders Johnson

Grades Four & Five Teacher

Mr. JohnsonBorn and raised on the Central Coast, Anders Johnson has a deep connection with the community and its natural places. As he made his way through his B.S. in Biology at California Lutheran University, he became aware of the vulnerability of the earth’s resources and our responsibility, as humans, to steward them. With hopes of discovering a more responsible and harmonious way of life, he began to educate himself on permaculture and regenerative agriculture. He honed his skills and knowledge both on farms abroad and on his family’s land on the Central Coast. His desire to share his love for plants and gardening led him to a position teaching in the garden at Wishing Well School. This was his gateway into Waldorf Education. As his responsibilities and roles grew, his focus shifted from gardening and agriculture, to holistic and well-rounded education. With support from in-school mentorship, he brought his teaching into the classroom and spent two years teaching second/third grade and third/fourth grade.

This last year, he took a hiatus from teaching and completed his Masters of Education in Sustainability Education. Following his graduation, he embarked on a three month adventure through Ecuador, during which he practiced Spanish, worked on small farms, trekked, surfed, and enjoyed meeting new people. He is thrilled and grateful to return to the community and good work at Wishing Well. This year he will be teaching the third/fourth grade class.

 

Mr. Joshua Wheeler

Grades Six & Seven Teacher

Mr. Wheeler

Having grown up in Morro Bay, Joshua calls his home, on land, the Central Coast of California. Although, he is a local at sea. He has spent his years up and down the coasts of Oregon and California, exploring the vast gifts that the sea has to offer. While living aboard as a child and going to school by dinghy on Catalina Island, he gained a love and passion for nature and for the natural rhythms around him. This nurtured his openness and curiosity about life and all things living in our world. 

Mr. Wheeler is in the process of completing his Waldorf Teacher Certification through Sound Circle Center for Arts and Anthroposophy in Seattle. He is thrilled to be joining Wishing Well as the teacher for the 5th / 6th grade class. Mr. Wheeler’s two children attend Wishing Well School. After seeing them grow in fullness and prosperity, it has sparked within him a wildfire for Waldorf Education.

Ms. Kolea Quincey

Grades Eight Teacher, Faculty Chair

Miss Kolea

Kolea is a California native, born and raised in Venice beach. She has explored the state extensively and spent 2 years as a teenager on the Central Coast, living in Morro Bay and attending Cuesta College. She loved the area and is happy to have returned to teach Wishing Well’s 8th grade and to offer support to the faculty as the Faculty Chair. 

Kolea discovered Waldorf Education in the early 70’s and has devoted her life to class teaching in various schools. Additionally, she has had the opportunity to serve as a Board member, Faculty Chair, School Mentor, founder, Choir Director, and Music Program director in both the private and public sector. She recently graduated an 8th grade class that she had taught since First grade. She enjoyed the 8th grade curriculum and the age group immensely and is excited to teach it again! 

Kolea has three grown children who attended Waldorf Schools. Her daughter, Rose, lives in Australia and Kolea loves to visit. In addition to her love of travel, she is a musician who enjoys playing music with others on her ukulele, mandolin, and piano.

Ms. Blythe Geirg-Berg

Hummingbird’s Nest Preschool;Assistant Teacher

Blythe grew up in Paso Robles, CA, exploring the visual and performing arts throughout her early years. She attended UC Berkeley, earning a Bachelor’s in Comparative Literature with an emphasis on Spanish Literature. Blythe immersed herself in the world of contemporary dance while not in school, working as a professional dancer and training at and performing in some of the premiere dance spaces, eventually touring to LA and NYC. Her love of dance led her on a trip around the world in 2017, where Blythe was able to study dance from top artists in places such as Tel Aviv, Berlin, Vienna, Brussels, and Paris. In the past few years, Blythe‘s artistic focus has turned to music; she enjoys singing and playing her original songs on piano.

Over the past 7 years, Blythe has spent time in family homes, at preschools, in dance studios, and in virtual classrooms with thousands of young learners from all around the world. She has worked as a nanny, an ESL teacher, an Early Intervention Specialist with 0-3 year olds, and a Dance Teacher. Most recently in 2020, she designed and taught her own unique dance curriculum via an online learning platform, teaching over 1200 students. Blythe is certified in the INTELLIDANCE play-based early childhood dance method. She is thrilled to be in-person with learners at Wishing Well and is committed to supporting each child on their unique developmental trajectory.

Ms. Alyssa Burke

Assistant Teacher, Buttercup Kindergarten

Alyssa grew up in Southern California in the town of Laguna Niguel. She comes from a big family tree full of teachers, and has always always been drawn to helping children, and watching them blossom into their unique, beautiful selves. She loves creating silly art, hiking, sunbathing, spending time outside, enjoying the company of loved ones, and noticing the beauty in everything around her. She has worked with children in a variety of environments and feels so grateful for every opportunity to learn with, and from, amazing little humans.

Alyssa moved to San Luis Obispo to complete her undergraduate degree at Cal Poly, studying Psychology and Child Development. She is a practitioner of yoga, and was so grateful to get the opportunity to complete her senior project on the healing and therapeutic benefits of this ancient and sacred practice. She is passionate about learning alternative approaches to healing and learning. She is so excited to begin her time at Wishing Well, and to become part of this wonderful community.

Ms. Mariah-Kate Alviso-Saenz

Early Childhood Aftercare Teacher

Mariah grew up in a small Northern California town, where she developed a love of the natural world and a passion for art. She graduated from Cal Poly SLO in June 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in Child Development. She has worked in a variety of child care settings and had the opportunity to teach preschool for the last two years. She is eager and ready to dive into the Waldorf community.

When she isn’t working with children, she owns and operates a small art business, goes for runs, drinks lots of coffee, and spends time outdoors with good friends.

Ms. Tricia Durham

Kitchen Manager

A native of California, Tricia fell in love with the Central Coast as a young woman. She attended both Cuesta College and Cal Poly.  Living in Idaho, Washington, New Jersey, and Colorado has gifted her with opportunity to meet many wonderful people in beautiful places.  With husband Rob and daughter Fiona, Tricia has made her way back home.  With many years as a Waldorf parent, from Wishing Well’s first years through grade 6 at Shining Mountain Waldorf School in Boulder, Co, she is committed to the rhythm and wonder of Waldorf education.

You can also find Tricia in the kitchen and on the trails.  Her many hobbies include canning, cooking and fermenting and hiking her sweet dog Henry and watching her 16 year old daughter, Fiona play basketball.

Maestra Karina

Spanish Teacher

Maestra KarinaKarina was born and raised at the foot of the Peruvian Andes, where she was immersed in her community’s Andean Cosmovision and their reciprocity with nature and the healing world. Her path was woven by exploring classical music and the visual arts inspired by her grandparents’ musical artistry and storytelling circles.  Fluent in Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese and Catalan, she studied Tourism and Interpreting of Romance Languages at San Agustin National University in Arequipa, Peru. 

After several years of showing her country as a tour conductor, mostly to Europeans, she decided to travel and live in beautiful New Hampshire to experience life in the four seasons. She lived there for six years, moving eventually to California’s Central Coast where she earned a B.A. in Modern Languages and Literature from California Polytechnic State University. Her upbringing in Andean Cosmology, led her to pursue a training in Anthroposophical Therapeutic Speech Formation and Movement in Spain and Switzerland.  As a passionate language teacher and world traveler, she regularly meets with Waldorf and Anthroposophical groups and communities all around Latin America and Europe. Karina loves to share with her students her multicultural background and traveling adventures through storytelling and the rhythms of the world, expressing herself with her Native American flutes and the Paraguayan harp. She is continuously inspired by children, leading her teaching approach with gratitude, altruism and love.

Ms. Kyra Smith

Handwork & Grades Aftercare Coordinator

Miss SmithKyra Smith grew up in the Silicon Valley.  Kyra was part of the first graduating high school class at the Waldorf School of the Peninsula.  She has recently relocated to the central coast and is loving the coastal air. She is currently studying for her California teaching credentials.  Kyra was previously working at the Waldorf School of the Peninsula for the past two years.  She has had a lifelong passion for handwork, even though there are a pair of unfinished socks in her project basket.  In her off time Kyra likes to read, play games, and of course knit and sew. 

Mr. Steven Farmer

Games, Grades Aftercare, and Facilities

Mr FarmerMr Farmer was raised in Oregon, amidst the many wandering rivers and nurturing forests of the Willamette Valley. He became a sponsored and competitive skateboarder at the young age of 13 and started teaching others when he was 16 to help others achieve their goals. In 2010, Mr. Farmer moved to the central coast of California, where he became a national skateboard contest series judge and traveled the country sharing prizes and building community with many different walks of life.

Wanting to reconnect with nature, he then delved into the canyonlands and forests of the Colorado plateau, where he landed a crew lead position at American Conservation Experience. There he guided and led young adults on wild missions to restore balance and build access to some of the Southwest’s premier National Parks and forests. After which, he went along to Green String Institute and taught students to cultivate food and nourish their local community. This brought to him an ever willingness to share what joys lay at our feet by tending to the land, making work fun, and overcoming adversities. Now at Wishing Well School, teaching Games and supervising Aftercare, he brings a caring playfulness to each day and encourages today’s youth to be brave and follow their dreams.

Ms. Lillian Dennis

Math Specialist  (6th – 8th Grades)

Lillian Dennis is a San Luis Obispo native. She graduated from San Luis Obispo high school and earned her BCLAD, multiple subject teaching credential from Cal Poly. Additionally, Lillian holds an Associates degree in Mathematics. She has enjoyed the challenge of teaching a range of subjects to a variety of students across the grades, from the Pacific Valley School in Big Sur to Georgia Brown Elementary in Paso Robles. Lillian is very excited to finally teach close to home at Wishing Well School and explore the foundations of Waldorf Education. Lillian loves being creative by playing her violin, making jewelry, and crafting. Lillian enjoys being active by hiking, dancing, camping, playing basketball and pretty much any other sport that involves activity. 

Ms. Lynne Oliverius

Orchestra (4th – 8th Grades)

Ms. OliveriusLynne began her musical journey at the age of 3 in her hometown of Pekin, Illinois, where she sang in the church cherub choir and the director noted to her mother, “she sings on pitch and knows rhythm.  Please nurture this gift.”  Piano lessons began at age 5, violin in 4th grade, and cello in 6th; singing in choirs and as a soloist has never ended. Lynne was drawn to the Suzuki method of teaching when the Japanese tour group of violinists ages 5-12 performed in Illinois, some of whom were housed with her family.  She was the first undergrad student accepted into a 4 year degree program focusing on Suzuki music education, early childhood, classroom music and performance.  

With a BA from Western Illinois University and a Masters from University of Illinois, as well as studies with Dr. Suzuki in Germany, Lynne was brought full circle in founding and directing 3 music schools in Illinois with enrollments of 300 students and a staff of 8.  She also piloted Kindermusik Village focusing on music for families and babies. After 30 years of teaching in Illinois, Lynne sought a different path and ventured out west with only what her car and heart could hold to see what wonders life held. 

Landing on the Central Coast purely by chance, having no idea what life would become, she has created a home full of joy, happiness, and many students. She performs with her group, Encore Strings, and in area orchestras. Her daughter lives in LA, a harpist, works in sound for film and TV.  Lynne loves her new blissful home in paradise and enjoys reading, sewing, gardening, and sharing this life with her new canine rescue pal Spark. She is very happy to be joining and sharing with the families and staff at Wishing Well School; Lynne looks forward to nurturing our young musicians’ string fingers and hearts.

Mr. Ben Gerstein

Choir & Music Appreciation

Mr GersteinBen was born and raised in Santa Barbara, CA, surrounded by a family passionately engaged with music, arts, and sciences. A trombone player, improviser, composer, visual artist, and teacher, Ben was based in New York City from 1995 to 2020, receiving his Bachelor of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music in 1999, collaborating with many different groups and individuals in the U.S. and abroad over the subsequent two decades.

Moving back to California in early 2020, Ben has continued to teach as well as further study and explore the confluences of nature, art, meditation, and culture through his musical and artistic practices and collaborations. Now living in Baywood Park, Los Osos, Ben is thrilled to connect more deeply with the community through the Waldorf educational environment at Wishing Well School, bringing his love and inspiration for teaching music to children of all ages.

Ms. Laura Cobb

Education & Resource Specialist

Laura was born and raised in Japan, where she grew up navigating two cultures and languages. As a child Laura was surrounded by a family full of teachers, so it was no surprise that she decided to pursue her bachelors in Elementary Education when she moved to Minnesota for college.  Post-graduation she was ready for a new adventure and moved to Yosemite in 2007.  There, she spent six wonderful years teaching outdoor education at Yosemite Institute.  In her free time, Laura enjoyed all that nature had to offer, including rock climbing, backpacking, and playing in the snow.

After leaving Yosemite, Laura delved into the world of Waldorf Education and spent three years working at a Waldorf charter school in Sacramento while earning her Waldorf Teaching Certificate at Rudolf Steiner College.  She moved to the Central Coast in 2017 and was thrilled to find that there was a Waldorf school in Los Osos.  Laura was honored to work as the class teacher for the First & Second Grade class at Wishing Well. In 2018, she and her husband welcomed their daughter Alice (aka Bunny) and Laura decided to take several years away from teaching to stay be home.  Bunny is now a student at Wishing Well in the early childhood program and Laura is thrilled to be a part of the Wishing Well community again!!

Ms. Makena Barkhuff

Office Staff

Makena BarkhuffBorn and raised in San Luis Obispo, Makena grew up romping in the ocean, hiking, camping and spending most of her childhood outdoors. She loves spending time in nature as well as doing her part in living a sustainable lifestyle. When Makena isn’t outside she is reading, writing, and working on handmade jewelry.

Makena has worked with children as a Nanny for the past 4 years and holds teaching and learning with children dear to her heart. She is very excited to be a part of the Wishing Well school and to learn more about Waldorf education methods.

Ms. Liza O’Sullivan

Outreach & Technical Coordinator

Marketing & Outreach CoordinatorLiza grew up in the small town of Davis, CA and graduated from Sacramento Waldorf High School. She holds an Engineering Degree in Construction Management from Chico State and spent 15 years in the construction industry, as a Project Manager running large scale projects.

In 2018, Liza “retired” and spent three years traveling/camping with her husband, two young children and their dog, exploring California and Southern Oregon in search of beauty, community, and a new place to call home. While traveling Liza began studying Leadership Education and Waldorf Homeschool curriculum, web design, and initiated a new small family business. In the Fall of 2020, their family stumbled upon Morro Bay, fell in love and became residents in January of 2021. 

Enthusiastic and passionate about Waldorf education, she is thrilled to join the office team and the school in their mission to grow and to become an AWSNA-accredited organization. In her free time she can usually be found surfing, on the beach running, playing soccer, looking for gems, doing handstands or sitting by the fire with her Ukulele, a cup of tea, and a good book.

Dr. Hilary Soldati

Administrative Director

Miss HilaryA New Hampshire native,  the Central Coast became Hilary’s “heart home” nearly 20 years ago.  Her career life meandered through many chapters, beginning with studies in Cello Performance at New York University.  Ultimately, she completed both her Bachelor’s and her Doctoral Degree in Resource Economics at UC Berkeley; she occasionally lectures for CalPoly’s Economics department.  Her in between chapters were spent traversing the US on four wheels, managing a youth hostel, volunteering with hospice, and starting a family.

Hilary and her husband are thankful for having been able to educate their three children in beautiful and varied Waldorf communities, from Lexington, MA, to the Bay Area to the Central Coast.  Hilary has been actively engaged in each school community, whether as a Class Parent, a volunteer coordinator, office personnel, or as a Board member.  Enthusiastic and passionate about the gifts that Waldorf education has to offer the child, the family, and the greater community, Hilary is thrilled and honored to be part of helping Wishing Well School continue to grow and thrive.

Ms. Kim Wishon

Founder

kim-0010-xl

Kim Wishon was born and raised in Marin County, California.  After receiving a B.A in Spanish with a minor in Special Education from The University of Oregon, she knew she wanted to teach but was discouraged with the public school system.   She found Waldorf education, fell in love and has made it her life’s work.  She completed her Waldorf teacher training in San Francisco through Rudolf Steiner College and then dove into Waldorf teaching. She has taught every grade and every subject (except Eurythmy, which she loves) over her twenty plus years of experience.

After a flood uprooted her family, they made their way to the Central Coast.  She started the school in her home in 2008 with 6 children (two of which were her twins).  After becoming a non-profit 501c3 and building the school by hand and with heart, it sprouted wings. With steady nurturing and the efforts of many beautiful people along the way, it has grown to what it is today, a preschool – 8th grade, full school program following Waldorf principles. Kim has worn all the hats of founding a school.  She loves working with the teachers, students and families to bring the best educational experience to all.  On the side, you can find her coaching Morro Bay High girls soccer, hiking, cycling, loving being with her teenagers, and taking walks along the bay with her little dog Mikey Biggs.  She is thrilled to have brought Waldorf education to the Central Coast and hopes to help Wishing Well to continue to grow and shine in the years ahead.