Our Faculty and Staff
liz gantner barbara durocher bruce cooper carlene mogavero maryla sikora nanci elfbrenna mclachlanmari cooper
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Johanna Welch Parent/Child & 2-day Transition

theaJohanna has joined the Four Winds Waldorf School faculty as the Parent-Child and Early Childhood 2-Day Transition Sunrise Garden teacher. She concurrently assists the school with its marketing outreach efforts. Johanna is a student of the Arcturus Rudolf Steiner Education Program. She taught an Early Childhood and First Grade Waldorf homeschool program to her two children who now attend Four Winds Waldorf School. Johanna has been involved with the Holistic Moms Network for seven years. As a chapter leader, she provided resources to parents and caregivers regarding holistic lifestyle choices while supporting their parenting journey. Johanna’s marketing career spans twelve years of marketing communications and public relations work with various industries including agriculture, wireless communications and consumer electronics.
Johanna loves playing outdoors with her husband, children and dogs; especially while camping or at the beach. Johanna practices Kundalini yoga and enjoys knitting, cooking and reading.

 

Maryla Sikora - Early Childhood

marylaMaryla Sikora has served as lead teacher in one of our five-day Early Childhood classrooms since 1999 and has assisted in other early childhood Waldorf programs since 1993. Maryla studied Economics at the University of Nicolas Copernicus in Poland for two years and earned her undergraduate degree from The University of Illinois at Chicago in Communication Design. She has taken foundation courses at Arcturus Teacher Training and at the Rudolph Steiner College, and earned her Early Childhood Teacher Certification in 2002 from Sunbridge College, Spring Valley, N.Y. Maryla has served on our schools's Leadership Council and as Early Childhood Faculty Chair.

 

Carlene Mogavero - Oak Tree Kindergarten

carleneA founding parent of Four Winds School, Carlene has served in many teaching and supporting roles since our beginning in 1994 and took on her first early childhood class at Four Winds in 2005. Carlene completed her Waldorf Early Childhood Training Certification at the West Coast Institute in Vancouver, Canada and her foundation year at the Arcturus Rudolf Steiner Education Program in Chicago. Inspired by nature seasonal festivals, she brings joy and creativity to her storytelling and movement work with her class. Carlene has a keen interest in brain development and early childhood therapeutic methods including infant reflex integration. She intuitively understands of the needs of young children. She has served as Early Childhood Faculty Chair and Faculty Chair and on the Board of Trustees. She loves her job.

 

Mari Cooper - 1st Grade

mari Mari Cooper came to Waldorf teaching because of her love for the arts, history, and world cultures. In college, she majored in Religious Studies, with a concentration in Anthropology. She received her B.A. in Religious Studies from DePaul University. After college, Mari pursued a career in natural healing and became a certified massage therapist. Shortly after the birth of her first child, she discovered Waldorf education. A few years following the birth of her second child, Mari began her training at Arcturus Rudolf Steiner Teacher Training Program. In 2003, she became a certified Waldorf teacher and began teaching, first as an Early Childhood teacher and later as a Grades teacher. Mari joined Four Winds Waldorf School for the 2009-2010 school year where she began with the third grade. In her spare time Mary enjoys playing music, crafting, and spending time with her family.


Bruce Cooper - 2nd Grade

bruceBruce Cooper has taught at Waldorf Schools in Colorado, Minnesota and Illinois since 1998. Ten years as a grades teacher and two years teaching woodwork and high school history. A 20-year student of Anthroposophy, Bruce studied with Rene Querido at Boulder Anthroposophical Institute and also at Arcturus teacher training. Currently he is continuing his studies at Four Winds. Bruce has a degree in Fine Arts from the University of Colorado and has interests in folk music and experimental film making. He is married with five children and two stepchildren, all of whom have either graduated from or are attending a Waldorf School.


Barbara DuRocher - 3rd Grade

barbaraBarbara DuRocher has been involved at Four Winds since its inception in 1994 as a parent, board member, faculty member, office coordinator and enrollment director. With a Masters degree in Public Administration, she worked in university administration for eight years before finding her way toward Waldorf Education. As a faculty member at Four Winds, she started teaching in Early Childhood classes in 1996, and then taught Parent-Child classes for 14 years, while simultaneously performing other functions for the school. Barbara is now teaching in the elementary school—2nd Grade—with her class that was formed in 2011-2012. She has trained at Arcturus Rudolf Steiner Education Program in Chicago and at Sophia’s Hearth Early Childhood Training Center in New Hampshire. Barbara is currently working on her Waldorf Grades Certification at the Great Lakes Waldorf Institute through Mount Mary College in Milwaukee.


Brenna McLachlan - 4th Grade

brenna Brenna McLachlan joined the Four Winds Waldorf School faculty as the first grade teacher in the 2010-2011 school year. She assisted Naomi Studebaker in the Sunrise Garden preschool kindergarten class during the 2007-2008 school year. In May, 2010 Brenna completed her Waldorf Teacher Certification from Arcturus Rudolf Steiner Program in Chicago, IL. She has demonstrated her confidence and comfort in front of students through a wide range of student-teacher opportunities teaching Physics and Language Arts. Before teaching, Brenna received a degree in massage therapy and worked as a massage therapist for eight years. She is the mother of four, all currently enrolled students at Four Winds Waldorf School.


Karen Hays - 5th Grade

HaysKaren Hays earned a Bachelor of Science from Rutgers University, a secondary teaching certificate from Elmhurst College and a Waldorf Early Childhood Therapeutic Educator certificate from Gradalis Institute. She has over 20 years experience as a Waldorf educator and is a co founding teacher of Four Winds School.

She joined the faculty in 1995 and has taught after care, parent/ child, sunrise garden, three-day kindergarten, music grades 1 - 8, and conducted choirs grades 4 - 8. She served as the first president of the board and was faculty chair for two years.

She is an Institute of Integrative Nutrition certified health coach and an American Association of Drugless Practitioners certified holistic health practitioner. In addition she is a DONA trained labor support and postpartum doula.

Her three children all graduated from Four Winds Waldorf School and are thriving in their various endeavors. She enjoys playing recorders with The Early Music Society in Oak Park and singing in choirs in her free time.


Liz Gantner - 6th Grade

gantnerLiz discovered Waldorf Education while visiting the May Fair at Chicago Waldorf School. After graduating from Southern Illinois University with a B.A. in education and attending Arcturus Teaching Training, she began her career as a teacher in 1988 and journeyed with her first class from 1st through 8th grade in Chicago. Throughout the years she attended training in Spring Valley, New York, Waterville, Maine, and Rudolf Steiner College in California. Upon moving to the western suburbs, she continued her career by taking yet another class from first through eighth at Four Winds. She spent a year teaching at a Waldorf Charter school on the Big Island of Hawaii where she was involved in setting up a mentoring and professional development program and as an instructor for the Kula Makua Teacher Training Institute out of Oahu.

Elizabeth loves everything to do with teaching and is particularly inspired by the gifts the children bring to her by way of excellent conversations, a zest for life and an interest in the world around them. This gives her great hope for the future!

She loves nature, walking in the woods, reading and swimming.


Chris Olsen - 7th Grade

OlsenChris Olsen attended Elmhurst college, and graduated in 1998 with a BA in History. He has worked at Fermilab as an accelerator operator since 2000. His many and varied interests provide the basis for his teaching. They include blacksmithing, 19th century photography, archery, juggling, and many others. His looks forward to every day he spends teaching.


Honna Austin - Orchestra and Strings

honna Honna Austin joined our faculty in the spring of 2008 as our Orchestra Director at Four Winds. She received her Bachelors Degree from Northern Illinois University in Violin Performance and Painting. While at Northern, Honna studied under Mathias Tacke and Shmuel Ashkenasi from the world-renowned Vermeer Quartet. She went on to receive her Masters Degree in Fine Arts in Printmaking from Cornell University and her Teaching Certificate in Suzuki Pedagogy from Ithaca College under Stanford Reuning. Honna has played with many various orchestras throughout the Chicagoland area as well as toured internationally. She is currently a member of the Fox Valley Orchestra. She holds a full studio of private students and for over seventeen years has taught privately.

 

Nicole Virgil - Chorus & Music

VirgilNicole Virgil was born and raised in Stamford, CT. Her early love of music was fostered by her father, a concert pianist and choral director, who taught her piano and music theory throughout her childhood. She studied the oboe in New York City, and moved on to Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan for high school. She continued to study the oboe and orchestral music through high school until she changed her instrument to voice. She attended the Cleveland Institute of Music as a vocal performance major, and finished her studies with Robert Todd Duncan (the original Porgy, in Gershwin's Porgy & Bess) in Washington, D.C. while picking up a degree in Italian Vocal Literature.

Moving to Chicago, she started two entrepreneurial ventures. The first, "That Can't Be Opera!", was a one-woman opera review designed to educate and entertain at the same time. "That Can't Be Opera" was eventually combined with her second venture - soap making - when she began marketing her soaps at "Soap Opera" parties where she would sing Puccini and sell soap.

 

Olivia Spadlowski - Spanish

SpadlowskiOlivia Spadlowski joined Four Winds School in 2013 and currently teaches Spanish in grades one through eight. Olivia is a heritage speaker with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish from Elmhurst College. She graduated Magna Cum Laude and has had several academic essays published. Olivia has a passion for the Spanish language and Hispanic/Latin American culture. During her studies, she had a focus on Spanish Literature, art, and Mexican culture. Olivia has participated in a Spanish Language Teaching seminar at the Rudolf Steiner College in Sacramento, California.


Thea Olsen - Handwork

OlsenThea started at Four Winds School in January of 1999 as and Early Childhood assistant. She added Handwork at the beginning of the following school year. After a three year hiatus wherein she mothered little Louisa and created lots of handwork of her own, she returned in the fall of 2005. Thea has a BA in Early Childhood Education from Elmhurst College. She is passionate about handwork so sharing it with grades one through eight is a wonderful and fulfilling experience.

 

Victor Page - Games

victor pageVictor Page has been a member of the parent community at Four Winds since 2002 and joined the faculty as Games Teacher in 2005. He brings a love of the outdoors and a passion for physical activity to all his classes. Whether chaperoning field trips or preparing for the Pentathlon, he demonstrates enthusiasm and dedication. He is certified as a personal trainer by the National Academy of Sports Medicine and has been a group exercise instructor for more than 20 years. Victor studied Education and Psychology at Metropolitan State in his hometown of Denver, Colorado. He and his wife have three children, all of whom have attended Four Winds and continue to join in community activities.

 

Naomi Studebaker - Educational Support

naomiNaomi’s discovery of Rudolf Steiner’s work so soon after graduating from Miami University in Ohio with a degree in Secondary Education was a life changing event. Her 36 years in the Waldorf movement has included teaching a grade school class and Early Childhood work. During her 12 year EC home program, both the Four Winds School Initiative and the Singing Winds School Initiative grew out of cooperative efforts between herself and her parent body. Naomi was active in Admin. and leadership positions in all settings, including founding years board work at Chicago Waldorf School. While at Esperanza, Naomi earned her Masters in Education with Special Education certification. Naomi is working with Janet Oliver to become a HANDLE practitioner, working with sensory motor reflex integration. Since graduating her Four Winds grade school class in 2007, Naomi has returned to early childhood work with an interest in supporting new parents with the ideas of Waldorf Education at the very beginning of their parenting path. Naomi is currently teaching parent/child classes at Four Winds, as well as taking individual appointments. She is also preparing to teach in the new Arcturus EC Teacher Training program, as well as mentoring the rapidly growing Waldorf EC movement in China.

 

Beverly McGrath - Educational Support

McGrathBeverly McGrath joined Four winds as an Educational Support Teacher in September 2012 and has taught in both Waldorf and public school systems. She spent one year immersed in the Anthroposophical Foundation Studies at the Waldorf Institute of Mercy College in Detroit followed by another year at the Center for Social Development at Emerson College in the U.K. This program in Advisory Counseling and Curative Communities included a practicum placement in a U.K. counseling agency for emotionally impaired adolescents. Returning to the U.S. , Beverly taught at the Urban Waldorf School in Milwaukee and completed her Waldorf education classroom teacher training. She was a special ed teacher in Chicago Public Schools and obtained her masters in Clinical Psychology from National Louis University. She is certified by the State of Illinois as a Special Ed Teacher and Learning Behavior Specialist.