Our Faculty and Staff
liz gantner brenna mclachlan

Johanna Welch - Parent-Child & Rainbow Kindergarten

theaJohanna joined the Four Winds Waldorf School in 2013 as the Parent-Child/ Sunrise Garden 2-day Transition teacher and assisted in marketing outreach efforts. As Rainbow Kindergarten teacher, Johanna brings a love for nature, enthusiasm and creativity to her class. Johanna is a student of the Arcturus Rudolf Steiner Education Program, has attended an early childhood summer series course at Sunbridge College and Waldorf Without Walls homeschool teacher training. 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 a chapter leader for Holistic Moms Network for seven years and provided resources to parents and caregivers regarding holistic lifestyle choices while supporting their parenting journey. Johanna has a B.A. in Merchandising Management and Apparel Production Management. Prior to teaching, Johanna’s marketing career spanned twelve years of various marketing communications and public relations work.

Johanna loves playing outdoors with her husband, children and dogs; especially while camping, at the beach or on a road trip! Johanna practices Kundalini yoga and enjoys wet felting, knitting, cooking, singing and reading.

Carlene Mogavero - Oak Tree Kindergarten

carleneAs a founding parent of Four Winds Waldorf School, Carlene has 18 years of Waldorf classroom experience including assisting our very first Waldorf kindergarten. Carlene has taught in Oak Tree Kindergarten 10 years. 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 the glory and peace of nature and the delight of seasonal festivals, she brings joy and creativity to her storytelling and movement work with her class. She intuitively understands of the needs of young children and has raised two of her own Waldorf graduates, now adults. Carlene has served as Faculty Chair, as a member of Leadership Council, and as a member of the Board of Trustees. She is currently serving as Early Childhood Faculty Chair. She loves her job.

Anna Morris - Rainbow Kindergarten Assistant

carlene Anna’s involvement with Four Winds School began when her children started their Waldorf journey in the Early Childhood program in 2003 and as they continued in the Grades program until 2014. During that time, Anna provided private childcare for several Four Winds families for six years, extended care/after school care for one year and worked as an office coordinator for two years. Realizing the benefits of Waldorf education for her own children, this encouraged her to pursue a faculty position in 2010 as an assistant to the Early Childhood program. She loves that she can be involved in a program which delivers a play based education in the most loving way, encourages imagination and creativity, emphasizes importance in nutrition, protects childhood and instills a deep appreciation for the beauty that surrounds the children. She graduated from Illinois Benedictine College where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. Her current position at Four Winds provided a refreshing change in focus after working in the telephony field for twelve years.

Angela Palmquist - Oak Tree Kindergarten Assistant

thea Angela Palmquist is a graduate of the Rudolf Steiner Schule in Basel, Switzerland, which was just the beginning of a lifelong involvement with Waldorf education. After graduating from Nursing School in Hamburg, Germany, she worked for 10 years at Baxter Healthcare in Munich, Germany in the medical research library. In 1993 she moved to the U.S. with her husband Kevin. The Palmquist’s came to Four Winds in 1996. Both of their children are alumni of the school.

Angela joined the faculty in 2003. She began as a Kindergarten Assistant in the 3-day program and is currently the Assistant in the Oaktree Kindergarten 5-day program & the Extended care provider. In addition to working in the Early Childhood, she trains the 5th graders for their Pentahalon. In 2009 she graduated from Spacial Dynamics Training, Level 1 in Mechanicsville, New York. She also attended the Arcturus Rudolf Steiner Teacher Training Program in Chicago part-time from 2005 to 2008. She loves to work and teach the children at FWWS.

Bianca Bevard - 1st grade

Karen Hays - 2nd 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 is currently enrolled at Sunbridge College to earn an Elementary Teacher Education Certificate. 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.

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.

Mari Cooper - 3rd 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, gardening, crafting, and spending time with her family.

Bruce Cooper - 4th grade

bruceBruce Cooper has taught for 17 years as a class teacher and a woodworking teacher. He studied Waldorf Education with two legendary teachers: Rene Querido at Boulder Anthroposophical Institute, and John Miles at Michael Institute. Bruce and his wife Mari (also a class teacher) have 7 children, all of whom have attended or are attending Waldorf Schools. Bruce is also certified to teach grades 9-12, and plans to develop a high school for the Four Winds Community.

Brenna McLachlan - 5th/6th 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.

Liz Gantner - 7th/8th 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.

Liz 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.

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.

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 an 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.

Altin Naska - Dance

McGrathAltin Naska is an internationally known award winning choreographer, dancer, and master teacher, with over two decades of performing experience in Europe and the United States. He was a soloist with Istanbul State Opera and Ballet and Istanbul City Theater in Turkey, also; soloist with Tirana State Opera and Ballet in his native Albania where he graduated from the Albanian Academy of Ballet and studied choreography at the Tirana Institute of Arts.

In Chicago, Mr. Naska has performed and toured nationally and internationally with Thodos Dance Chicago, Mordine & Company to name a few, and has guest in several suburban productions of "Nutcracker" and "Cinderella". He has choreographed for the Dutch National Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet, Thodos Dance Chicago, NoMiLaMad Dance Inc. and The Stars of Dance Chicago Touring Group, where he serves as the Artistic and Touring Director.

Mr. Naska's children attend Four Winds Waldorf School.

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 41 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 Administration 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 offering educational support to students at Four Winds, and also takes individual appointments with children outside the Four Winds community. She is enjoying repeated trips to support the rapidly growing Waldorf movement in China where she mentors teachers and has increasing engagements to teach in the Early Childhood Teacher Training.

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. 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 Education teacher in Chicago Public Schools & continued with Masters Degree studies during that time. She is certified by the State of Illinois as a Special Ed Teacher and Learning Behavior Specialist. Before leaving Chicago Public Schools, Beverly participated in a three year Extra Lesson Training program offered by the Association for a Healing Education. She graduated from this program as a Waldorf School Extra Lesson Teacher and is now working in this area and Educational Support at Four Winds Waldorf School.

Jocelyne Roy - Administrator

Kristie Reeves - Enrollment Director & Marketing Coordinator

McGrathKristie discovered Waldorf Education 27 years ago while working at Glen Brook, a 250 acre farm in New Hampshire offering a variety of Waldorf-based experiential education programs for children and families. She has gone back to Glen Brook to work and visit for many years and has friends from Waldorf and Steiner schools all over the world. Kristie joined Four Winds Waldorf in 2010. She is currently the Enrollment Director and Marketing Coordinator.

Prior to working at Four Winds, she received her BBA from Ohio University with a major in Marketing and Finance. She worked in Marketing and Finance at Transamerica Financial, Household International & Consumers Digest/Your Money magazines.

Her son Charlie is enrolled at Four Winds. Her daughter Hannah, is an alum of Four Winds and is now in high school.

Jenni Contaldo - Office Coordinator

McGrathJenni Contaldo has been has been with Four Winds since the fall of 2013. As the Office Coordinator she wears many hats in the office - managing invoices and payments, student records, billing and payroll, and any other tasks that keep the school running. She studied Anthropology at Northeastern Illinois University.

Jenni and her husband also own Modest Coffee, a specialty coffee roasting business. She has three children at Four Winds and actively volunteers with the school, helping with the Scrip program and Parent Council.