Faculty / Staff
Lead Teacher Grade 1,
Waldorf Teaching Certificate, Antioch University Northeast, 2014
Elementary Education Florida Teaching Certificate, 2009
MA in Counseling, University of Northern Colorado, 1992
Secondary Science Teaching Certificate, UNC at Greensboro, 1986
BA in Earth Studies, Appalachian State University, 1982
Ms. Foster has been committed to Waldorf education since her inspirational first encounter with it at the Charlottesville Waldorf School. She is particularly drawn to the experiential learning inherent in the Waldorf curriculum. She has been a teacher in both public and private schools in Alachua County, with experiences at Oak Hall and Metcalf Elementary. She began as an assistant at Heart Pine in 2011. Her commitment was deep, and she entered Waldorf teacher training that year, and has been working at Heart Pine ever since, now beginning her fifth year as a lead class teacher. She remains committed to the principle of experiential learning, and has incorporated it into her classroom though movement, art and music.
Roxanne grew up near Cleveland, Ohio and moved to North Carolina in high school. She first learned about Rudolf Steiner in the context of his work in agriculture and bio-dynamic farming in her undergraduate Earth Studies program. After reading Steiner’s book “Agriculture,” she helped transform a piece of the North Carolina mountains into a biodynamic farm using hand tools, and a mule plow.
Prior to becoming a teacher, Roxanne spent several years working with developmentally challenged adults in Boulder, Colorado, and worked with children and adults at the end-of-life in Hospice care in Lexington, KY, and in Gainesville. Roxanne has traveled extensively nationally and internationally and loves to read, paint, bike, and garden. She has two children, Jack and Bridget.
Training in Waldorf Education, 2015
Bachelor of Fine Arts, Portland State University, 2011
Bachelor of Arts, Portland State University, 2011
Associate Degree, University of Las Vegas Nevada, 2002
With a background and education in the fine arts, Ms. Akel is passionate about art and creativity. She believes that everyone has unique qualities that should be encouraged and supported. The Waldorf philosophy and methods put into practice in Heart Pine classrooms dovetailed with her interests, and she has dedicated herself toward a career in Waldorf teaching.
Her hobbies include cooking, gardening, reading, making photographs, hiking, and traveling to experience different cultures. She spent half of her childhood in Turkey, and is fluent in Turkish. She visits her family in Turkey every year and looks forward to visiting other countries as her schedule allows.
Aftercare Coordinator/Substitute Teacher, Noor Alexander
Noor Alexander is our new After-care Teacher at Heart Pine and is pursuing a career change to become an Elementary School Educator. He is interested in alternative education models as well as pioneering elementary education reform. He brings a diverse educational background, holding Bachelor’s in Religious Studies from Emory University, a Master’s in Psychological Studies (Integral Counseling) from the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), and a Master’s in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge abroad. In addition, as a spiritualist, Noor’s own spiritual understandings and values align well with those of Steiner, and thus he is harmonized with much of the philosophy and theories of Waldorf education, which are coming naturally to him. He is interested to learn much more about Waldorf education through experience, immersion, and personal learning by serving at Heart Pine. In his work, Noor applies a power-sharing cooperative model, peer mediation using Non-violent Communication, and restorative circles, among other unique approaches. Noor is intentional about providing a safe space for students and a rich experience in after-care, promoting play, creativity, fun, and variety.
Handwork Teacher & Faculty Chair,
Born in Greenwood Mississippi, she grew up in Texas and the US Virgin Islands where she roamed the hills and enjoyed the salt sea beaches. When she returned, with her family, to the states, she entered ninth grade in a junior high in Dallas, TX and then graduated high school in Wichita, KS. Her first college experience was at Wichita State but she finished her BA after her son was born. She has also lived in Northern California, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Missouri and for the past 13 years has been a Floridian.
Beth Hartwell comes to the Heart Pine Waldorf School from many years of teaching in several Waldorf Schools. She took the Waldorf Teacher Training at Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks, California and taught in northern California for 12 years. She completed her BA in Art Education at University of Central Oklahoma and worked toward an Elementary teaching credential at University of California, Sacramento. She enjoys the arts of drawing, ceramics, drama and singing and loves teaching Handwork with the children here at Heart Pine. Currently, she is serving our school as Faculty Chair.
Shayna Stringer has worked with a wide variety of students. From preschool to high school, she provides support, care and compassionate communication to those she works with. Her background in psychology and sociology from the University of Florida has led her to work with children to understand the greater needs of each individual within the community, and how we can work together for a common purpose. Shayna is currently working as our substitute teacher, and also provides tutoring services for math and other subjects.
Lead Teacher Grade 2-3,
Wanda Kay Hagen
Waldorf Continuing Education, Sunbridge Institute, NY; ME; VT; MA; OR, 2000-present
Waldorf Foundation Studies, Suncoast Waldorf School, 2009
Elementary Education Florida State Teaching Certification, 1999
Bachelor of Art (summa cum laude), St. Leo University 1999
Associates Degree with honors from Santa Fe 1978
Wanda began her teaching career at the former Waldorf School of Gainesville in 1991, where she taught first grade and then a combined first/second grade. When that school closed, Wanda was asked by several families to become a home school teacher using the Waldorf curriculum. At Tall Pines Home School, she taught several sets of siblings over the years, kindergarten through 10th grade.
Wanda then spent some time teaching in both public schools and private schools, including Expressions Learning Academy and Trilogy as a middle-school language arts teacher, as well as a teacher of enrichment classes, including perspective drawing, gardening, watercolor, recorder, and puppetry for middle and high school.
For nearly two decades, the Florida Museum of Natural History has hired Ms. Hagan as a summer camp teacher in a wide range of topics such as, kitchen chemistry, migration, swamp life, squids, reptiles, and insects. She was again asked to be the homeschool teacher for a small group of families and soon that class quickly grew to 18 students and in 2011 became Heart Pine, a Waldorf-inspired private school.
Wanda, from Colorado, grew up on her family’s farm on the short grass prairie. There she spent as much time as possible outside, developing a great love for the natural world. After graduating from high school, her travels took her to Tennessee, North Carolina and Florida, where she met her soul mate, James Santangelo. They settled in the Melrose area and their son, Sequoia, was born in 1984.
Wanda enjoys travels with her husband, gardening and just being out in the natural world. She has a particular affinity for protecting wildlife, which is well-known and beloved by the children in her class.
Assistant Teacher Grade 2-3,
Bachelor of Arts, Hamilton Holt at Rollins College. Double Major in Psychology and Environmental and Growth Management Studies, 2002.
Teacher Training in Waldorf Education, Portland, Oregon, 2006.
Ms. Melendy was introduced to Waldorf Education in 2004 and felt a deep resonance to all of Rudolf Steiner’s work. She began Waldorf Teacher Training in 2006 and hopes to continue her studies with a Master’s in Waldorf Education in the summer of 2018. In 2012, she started a Waldorf Inspired Program out of her home for 3 and 4 year olds.
Her background is vast and includes Community Planning, Transportation Planning, opening an Organic Teahouse and Café, owning a Yoga Studio for 8 years and Montessori Teacher Assistant. For the last 13 years, Ms. Melendy has studied yoga, meditation, mindfulness, conscious communication and energy healing, and offers Yoga Teacher Trainings, Young Girls Rites of Passage Circles and Women’s Circles.
Amber grew up in Illinois and enjoys long walks in nature, gardening and learning about biodynamics, dancing, singing, crafting, art and playing with her beautiful daughter, Willow. She just moved to Gainesville to join the Heart Pine Waldorf Team and is incredibly grateful to be a part of this community of the Heart.
Lead Teacher Grade 4-5,
Bachelor of Fine Arts, Art History, w/ minor in African-American Studies, (magna cum laude) Virginia Commonwealth University, 2001
Bachelor of Fine Arts, Sculpture and Extended Media, w/ minor in Crafts, (magna cum laude) Virginia Commonwealth University, 2001
MA/PhD student in African and Caribbean Art History, (current) University of Florida
Mr. Frech has a longstanding interest in the works of Rudolf Steiner, having first been exposed to his far-reaching ideas and practices as an undergraduate, particularly Biodynamics, as outlined in his seminal work, Agriculture. It must be noted as well that he has benefitted immeasurably over the years from a close personal relationship with his beloved friends, a well-practiced biodynamic farmer and certified Waldorf teacher respectively. Using Waldorf philosophies as a guiding principle, Mr. Frech, has been teaching Art at both the elementary and middle school levels for the last four years, first at One Room School House and later at Expressions Learning Arts Academy. In addition to being a committed educator, wholly invested in the teachings of Waldorf Education, he is an established artist in his own right, and equally dedicated to a multi-disciplinary approach that places great emphasis on the demonstration and application of many various and necessary life skills.
Born the youngest of four children in Norfolk, VA, Mr. Frech grew up in the coastal city of Virginia Beach, intimately connected with the ocean and surrounding natural world. He later moved to the urban capital of Richmond, VA, in order to attend Virginia Commonwealth University, in ultimate pursuit of a fine arts degree in Sculpture. While attending VCU, he discovered a passion for rigorous academic study, particularly the history and culture of Africa, and thus acquired a simultaneous degree in Art History, prompted by several study abroad experiences, first in Senegal, West Africa and later in Barbados, West Indies. Mr. Frech has since become the assistant program director for the latter program, recurrently leading and teaching students abroad for the past sixteen years. Doubtless it is this combination of multi-faceted artistic and intellectual interests that eventually prompted his move to Gainesville, in order to attend the University of Florida, in terminal pursuit of a Ph.D. in Art History with a specialization in African and Caribbean art.
Music Teacher, Jacob Lawson
The multi-talented Mr. Lawson teaches strings to students in Class 3 through Class 7. As a music producer, composer and violinist, Lawson has worked in most aspects of the music business: produced CDs for international recording artists, composed music, played jazz, rock and classical violin in live venues and on recordings, and has taught violinists of all skill levels.
Administrator/Admissions Coordinator - Tamara Bish
Assistant Administrator - Nicole Goff
Administrator/Admissions Coordinator - Tamara Bish