Our Teachers & Staff

Ms. Kim Wishon

Founder, Early Childhood Director, & Pedagogical Director

kim-0010-xlKim Wishon teaches our combined 5th and 6th grade class. She has a B.A. in Spanish and Special Education from the University of Oregon and has a Waldorf teacher certificate from the Rudolf Steiner College. Over the past 18 years Kim has worked as a Waldorf teacher in a preschool, teaching 1st and 2nd grade Spanish, class teaching 5th-8th grade, as well as combined grades classes.  She founded Wishing Well School in 2008, which started as a small preschool program out of her home.

Mr. Christopher Villavicencio

Grades Six & Seven Teacher

CSV PhotoChristopher was raised in Santa Barbara, where he graduated from UCSB with a B.A. in Religious Studies and a minor in Anthropology. He completed his teacher preparation program through the University of West Florida, and holds certification in Elementary Education and English. With experience as both an educator and administrator, Christopher actively promotes inquiry-based learning, community involvement, and school growth and development.  

He enjoys sharing his passion for world languages, music, food, and cultures in class, and by doing so, creates novel opportunities for students to grow in their international-mindedness. In his free time, Mr. Villavicencio – or simply “Mr. V” – enjoys being outdoors on a bicycle, rock-climbing, kayaking, or training for his next long-distance run. He regularly volunteers and seeks ways to contribute to the local community. After teaching and living in different countries around the world for the past 11 years, Christopher is happy to have returned to California and to be a part of the Wishing Well family.

Ms. Marissa Kempe

Grades Four & Five Teacher

Bio photo Marissa Kempe

A Utah native, Miss Kempe grew up in Chile and Argentina.  There, she attended international school during 2nd-5th grade, where her closest friends were from all over the world. Miss Kempe ran cross-country through the foothills of the Andes Mountains, she learned to speak Spanish and to play the recorder. In Rosario, Argentina, she was homeschooled for 5th-7th grade and enjoyed the company of many pets, including a cat, a bunny, turtles, and a howler monkey. Her family returned to Utah for 8th grade, where she completed the rest of her schooling. 

Miss Kempe has a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education. She taught 5th and 6th grade in Utah for ten years, where she enjoyed teaching math, reading, drama, and choir club. She has happily relocated to the Central Coast with her cat, Zuri. When she is not working, she recharges in nature. Miss Kempe loves hiking and running on the beach, dance, art, and music. She also enjoys singing, photography, and is currently learning to surf and play the ukulele. Her intention is to live everyday with laughter and gratitude. Miss Kempe believes whole-heartedly in a holistic approach to education and is very excited to share her love for learning and nature with her students at Wishing Well.

Miss Melanie Mihaljevich

Grades Second & Third Teacher

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Melanie graduated from Loyola Marymount University with an undergraduate degree in Political Science and Dance; she holds a graduate degree in Elementary Education. She spent the last ten years living in Los Angeles, where she began her teaching journey. Melanie has spent time in the lower elementary grades, as well as fifth grade and middle school. She has an inherent affinity for the arts and humanities, spending her free time cultivating her true passions: painting, dance, photography, and exploring the natural world. 

Melanie’s classroom projects and various community service efforts have interwoven her commitment to help bring attention to homelessness and access to resources in California. In graduate school, Melanie fell in love with the child-centered approach to teaching, focusing her research on methods of creating intrinsic motivation in the classroom. She deeply believes that all children possess an innate curiosity that, when properly nurtured, can lead to the highest level of learning and discovery.

Miss Alexandra Maida

Grades One 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 joining Wishing Well School as the First Grade class teacher!

Ms. Wendy Patterson

Early Childhood 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 seven years. Many of these years she spent fulfilling various roles and bringing a range of capacities to the Kindergarten.  Most recently, Wendy led the Parent/Child Class at the Haleakala Waldorf School, Maui, HI. 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. Coral Anderson

Kindergarten Assistant Teacher

IMG_1063Coral comes to the Waldorf tradition through the journey of education, art, mothering her own three children, storytelling, and song. Raised in Santa Barbara and nourished by the rich sensory world of the seashore, Coral continued to pursue beauty by immersing herself in the study of Literature among the green spaces of Massachusetts, Oregon, and our own Central Coast. Coral holds Associate and Baccalaureate degrees in Arts and Letters, and a Master’s of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. Coral’s creative work includes fiction, poetry, prose editing, and indulging in the expansive craft of oral storytelling, finding meaning in the complex movement of human experience. 

The landscape of education has been her primary interest: Coral taught composition and rhetoric as an adjunct professor, and spent many years tutoring students in Composition and Writing, from kindergarten to University level. The last two years allowed her fertile ground for growing as a lead teacher in a primarily outdoor early childhood program.  Through the art of teaching, Coral has been able to weave her love of herbalism, yoga, storytelling, and reverence for the humming life embedded within the spiritual and natural world into the daily rhythms of breathing and being with young children. Coral considers such meaningful work with children to be the greatest honor.

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.

Ms. Maria Harkleroad

Assistant Preschool Teacher

MariaMaria grew up in the UK and made the Central Coast her home 15 years ago. She has worked with children for the past 20 years in various settings, starting with supporting and translating for hard of hearing children in a mainstream school, teaching in a daycare, running an after school club, and supporting children in special education in elementary and high schools. She graduated from UCSC in 2014 with a degree in psychology with a focus on developmental psychology. It is Maria’s passion to help children feel confident within their own abilities and to strive to meet their full potential. Wishing Well has been a true gift to Maria as she witnesses her two children bloom and flourish here.

Ms. Damy Lorgé

Early Childhood Aftercare Teacher

Ms Damy 005Damyone 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

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Maestra Karina was born and raised in Peru. She studied Tourism and “Traducción e interpretación de idiomas romances” at the Universidad Nacional de San Agustín.  She earned a B.A. in Modern Languages and Literature from California Polytechnic State University. Classical Music and Visual Arts have been part of her upbringing since childhood as she enjoys singing, playing her Native American flutes, the guitar and the Paraguayan harp.

She is a passionate language teacher with a deep connection to Anthroposophy and Waldorf education.  She recently graduated from the Anthroposophical Therapeutic Speech Formation program in Spain.  Fluent in Spanish, French, Italian, Catalan and Portuguese, she loves to share her her multicultural upbringing and traveling adventures through storytelling and music. She is continuously inspired by children, leading her teaching approach with altruism, enjoyment, and love.  Living life with gratitude and reciprocity brings wholeness and creativity to her life. She finds fulfillment in nurturing her herbs and organic vegetable garden with passions for cooking from the heart and exploring the world.

Mr. Joshua Wheeler

Games, Woodworking, and Grades Aftercare

IMG_4991Joshua 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. 

Joshua attended Cuesta College and has his AS in Bio-Chemistry; he is currently working towards a BS in Social Sciences. He is attaining his Waldorf Teacher Certification through Sound Circle Center, in Seattle. He is thrilled to be joining Wishing Well as the Games, Woodworking, and Aftercare teacher this year. Both his children attend Wishing Well School. After seeing them grow in fullness and prosperity, it has sparked within him a wildfire for Waldorf Education.

Ms. Kyra Smith

Handwork

IMG_5563Kyra 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. 

Ms. Sally Dalke

Strings & Music Teacher

IMG_0665 (2)Violinist Sally Dalke is a California native and is thrilled to be a resident of San Luis Obispo county. She received her BA in Music Performance and Theory from San Jose State University. During her time in the Bay Area she was a member of the Opera San Jose Orchestra, San Francisco Opera Center Orchestra, American Musical Theater Orchestra, Santa Cruz County Symphony and many others. Sally has over 25 years of string education and music appreciation experience including teaching positions with public school districts and after school music education programs. She continues to teach privately and now performs with the San Luis Obispo Symphony, Orchestra Novo and the Santa Maria Philharmonic.

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.

Dr. Hilary Soldati

Administrative Director

A New Hampshire native, Hilary found the Central Coast nearly 20 years ago.  Her career life has meandered through many chapters, beginning with studies in Cello Performance at New York University.  She completed both her Bachelor’s and her Doctoral Degree in Resource Economics at UC Berkeley.  Hilary lectures for the Economics Department at California Polytechnic University. In between, Hilary spent time 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.