Our Teachers & Staff

Ms. Wendy Patterson

Lead Kindergarten Teacher

image (1)Wendy was born in England where she lived for 29 years. There, she earned her BSc (Hons) in Environmental Town Planning. After extensive world travel, she settled in the United States with her husband Matt and their son Jadon. Wendy completed her Waldorf Early Childhood Certificate from the West Coast Institute, Vancouver, CA.

She has been working in Waldorf Early Childhood classrooms for nine years. Many of these years she spent fulfilling various roles and bringing a range of capacities to the Kindergarten.  Ms. Wendy will begin her 3rd year teaching in the Dragonfly Kindergarten at Wishing Well.  She loves the outdoors and how it serves the young child’s needs to explore and connect to their natural environment. She has also spent time working with Kim John Payne’s Simplicity Parenting model and she enjoys her ongoing study of positive styles of discipline.

Ms. Stephanie Ferris

Lead Kindergarten 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. Lauren Wheeler

Lead Preschool 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.

Miss Tiffany Laton

Grade One Teacher

Miss Laton

Tiffany was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and she has a soft spot for the Central Coast, as she spent her childhood summers in Pismo Beach. She graduated with Magna Cum Laude from San Francisco State University with a bachelor’s degree in Child Development. She received her 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 her classroom. She is 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 she has experienced an abundance of dynamic teaching styles. 

Tiffany spends her spare time tending to her organic vegetable garden and hiking through the diverse West Coast wilderness. She enjoys 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.

Miss Alexandra Maida

Grade Two Teacher

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Alexandra comes to us from New Orleans, but she is a California Bear in her roots. In 2011, she began her Waldorf journey at Rudolf Steiner College in San Francisco, inspired by her daughter Harmony Rose, who is now a rising 5th grader. After many years of studying the healing arts, Alexandra graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a BA in Community Studies. She then embarked upon her career as a Waldorf Teacher in both Early Childhood and aftercare programs. She completed her training in Waldorf Elementary Education at Sunbridge Institute of New York. 

Most recently, Alexandra has been practicing curative education with a mixed-age classroom with special needs in New Orleans. Additionally, Alexandra has taught after-school STEM classes, to gain more education experience in diverse communities and public schools. Permaculture, music, visual and performing arts are her passions, informing her work with her students. She is thrilled to be a part of Wishing Well School as the Second Grade class teacher!

Mr. Anders Johnson

Grades Three & Four 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 Five & Six 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. Kim Wishon

Grades Seven & Eight Teacher, Early Childhood Director, Founder

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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 and is currently the Pedagogical Director.  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.

Ms. Sophia Longas

Assistant Teacher, Little Acorn Preschool

Sophia LongasSophia grew up on the Central Coast and is bilingual and bicultural as her father is from Spain. She spent time in Spain teaching English to Early Childhood Aged groups and later went on to receive her Bachelor’s Degree in International Studies from Middlebury Institute for International Studies, with a certificate in Conflict Resolution. Feeling inspired to do non-profit work, she started off at CAPSLO in Homeless Services and then later became a Health Educator for 3 years, providing students in two counties with education about reproductive health and healthy relationships. 

After spending some time doing health education at an elementary school, she found that she was inspired to pursue a teaching credential and was excited by the gentle and outdoor based nature that Wishing Well School has to offer. Outside of education, Sophia loves to create art, garden and cook.

Ms. Haley Giles

Assistant Teacher, Dragonfly Kindergarten

Haley GilesHaley was born and raised in the Central Valley, in the small town of Hanford. The Central Coast was always home away from home, where she and her family would escape the heat, looking forward to the cool weather and ocean air. Haley spent a lot of time camping, fishing, boogie boarding and collecting shells down at the beach.

After high school, Haley attended a local junior college, where she earned multiple ECE certificates along with an AA in Early Childhood Education. She has worked in a variety of educational settings, such as center based preschools, childcare centers, private preschools, elementary school after school programs, an aide for special education, and working as an in-home nanny. However, Haley still felt something was missing. Her calling was still out there somewhere.  Confident that she was meant to teach and dedicated to finding the right fit, she applied for the ECE Assistant position at Wishing Well. Haley is excited to be a part of the Wishing Well faculty and community.

Ms. Valen Hurt

Assistant Teacher, Buttercup Kindergarten

Valen Hurt

Valen was born and raised here, on the Central Coast, with a love for spending her free time outside. She has a passion for teaching children and it fills her heart with joy watching them grow. She has been working with children for the past 14 years in a preschool setting. After graduating with her Bachelors in Liberal Studies, she pursued her teaching credential. After some time of student teaching she was unsure if it was the right fit for her, which has led her here. She is very excited to be a part of Wishing Well School and cannot wait to immerse herself in the Waldorf education.

In Valens spare time she loves being outdoors, hiking, running, camping, backpacking, going to the beach, baking, road trips, spending time with her husband, her dog, and her family. She is also a group fitness instructor at a local gym in SLO County. She feels very thankful to live in an area where there is a strong sense of community.

Ms. Damy Lorgé

Early Childhood Aftercare Teacher

Damyone Yvette Lorgé  is our sweet Aftercare teacher for the Early Childhood students. She has been working with preschool- to kindergarten-age children for almost half her life. She is educated in Early Childhood classes, which includes studies in Montessori and Waldorf methods.   Ms. Damy enjoys working with children, finding an ease that often is lost in the adult realm of interaction and relations.  She has lived on the Central Coast for most of her life and comes from a musical and artistic family, where everyone has more than one talent. Her two favorite hobbies are jewelry making and sewing.

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. Kyle Sweasey

Games & Woodworking

Kyle SweaseyKyle was born and raised in San Luis Obispo, exploring the local trails, creeks, and beaches in search of overlooks, swimming holes, and jumping rocks. Attending school at UC San Diego for Literature, with a concentration in Writing, Kyle gained a deeper appreciation for the necessity of outdoor activity amidst the bustle of the paved world. The ocean, the Southwestern deserts, and the mountains, became a haven where tethers to a world of screens and deadlines were left behind. He worked as an outdoor guide and gear rental manager to sustain his weekend excursions. Each summer, Kyle would return home to instruct and then coordinate the Morro Bay Junior Lifeguard Program. It was here that he developed an understanding of the importance of place-based play, the expansion of the comfort zone, and the cultivation of a dynamic relationship with the natural world. It was here as well, that Kyle recognized the infinitely rewarding experience of teaching children and watching them grow into teachers and leaders themselves.

As well as teaching games and woodworking this year at Wishing Well, Kyle will be working on strengthening the local surf community through a Morro Bay-based project called The Surfboard Library.

Mr. Ryan Morris

Orchestra & Math (5th – 8th Grades)

Mr Morris

Ryan Morris is a recent Cal Poly graduate with a bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering. His favorite hobby has always been music, starting with violin in kindergarten and picking up various other instruments throughout his school career. He went to Coastal Grove Charter School, a Waldorf school in Humboldt County, before moving to Los Osos for middle and high school. Ryan has enjoyed overseeing kids’ music workshops at various bluegrass festivals. Ryan believes that the best way to learn anything is to have fun while doing it, and strives to bring that mentality to every class he teaches.

Mr. Michael Walker

Music & Choir

Michael WalkerMichael Walker grew up in San Luis Obispo. At Cuesta College he took his first music course just after graduating from San Luis Obispo High School. After Cuesta, he attended Humboldt State University obtaining a BA in Piano Performance and the University of Oregon, where he graduated with a MA and Ph.D in Music Theory.  After teaching for 3 years at the University of Texas – Pan American, he came back home to the Central Coast and has been teaching at Cuesta College for the last 12 years. During this time, he has continued to be active as a composer, performer, and author. 

He lives in Los Osos with his two children ages 10, and 7. His hobbies include gardening, composing, and drawing comics.

Ms. Makena Barkhuff

Grades Aftercare Assistant & Program Support

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. Sue Arledge

Office Assistant & Yard Supervision

image0Sue was born in Perth, Australia, she made her way to California in her first year of life and has never left. She raised four beautiful children, has eight grandchildren and two great grand babies. Alongside a full career of family, she has worked outside the home in many capacities, ranging from early childhood education, the wellness community, and medical offices.  Sue loves to watch English mystery shows, garden, and spending time with her family when she is not working at her favorite school, Wishing Well.

Ms. Jessica Crawford

Interim Faculty Chair

Jessica CrawfordMs. Crawford joined City of Lakes Waldorf School (CLWS) as a parent in 2002 and a coworker in 2003.  All three of her children are graduates from CLWS.  Jessica holds a Master of Fine Arts in photography from the University of Oregon, and a Bachelor of Art in anthropology from St. Olaf College. Before discovering the wonders of Waldorf education, she taught photography at St. Catherine University, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and Film in the Cities.

Jessica completed her Waldorf grades teaching certification at Rudolf Steiner College in 2015.  At CLWS, she taught Handwork for many years and the Little Sprouts parent-tot class for one year.  She has 10 years of grades teaching experience at CLWS. After taking on two middle school classes, she brought her most recent class from 1st grade through 8th grade graduation (the class of 2021).  She served as a member of the College of Teachers from 2008 to 2020, including three years as College Facilitator.  Jessica also served as a Board member for three years, and on the Teacher Development; Diversity Equity, and Inclusion; and Social Health committees for many years.

Jessica grew up on a hilly and beautiful Minnesota farm with horses, a huge organic garden, and a cold meandering creek. She enjoys knitting, gardening, writing poetry, watercolor painting, photography, hiking, and being among trees. She lives in Minneapolis with her cat and dog, and a rotating array of adult children as they come and go in their busy lives.  Find out why Jessica treasures the imagination her students bring to the classroom by reading this CLWS blog interview from 2013, when her (now graduated) class was in first grade.

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, an alum from the Waldorf School of the Peninsula, are thankful to have been able to educate their three children in various Waldorf programs, 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.