Board of Directors
Jacksonville Educational Community, Inc. (dba Spring River School)
The Board of Directors provides leadership in promoting, supporting, and carrying out the long-term Vision and Mission of the Jacksonville Educational Community/Spring River School while working collaboratively with its faculty, administration, and parents.
The Board is the guardian and protector of the school. Its main task is to oversee the financial stability and legal responsibility of the organization. Comprised of staff, parents and members of our community, the Board of Directors is a group of leaders who are dedicated to Waldorf Education and are able to make critical business decisions pertaining to the governance of the school that enable it to continue to grow and thrive.
We honor our founding parents, committee members, and community supporters: Carrie Ferguson, Korrin Rogers, Bryn Rodenhizer, Brie Sloan, Tamara Vanover, Samantha Orender, Dena Stapleton, and Megan and Andy Hubbuch. We are grateful to the past and current Board of Directors of The Playgarden, Inc. for continued support and our current arrangement of 501(c)3 fiscal sponsorship.
For nearly 20 years, Kathy was the co-owner and Chief Financial Officer of Coastal Maritime, a stevedoring, warehousing and logistics company that operated at the Ports of Jacksonville, Fort Lauderdale, and Savannah. One of the highlights of that time was hosting President George W. Bush, who gave a televised speech about the Columbian Free Trade Agreement from Coastal’s dockside terminal.
Kathy served on The Playgarden's Board of Directors for seven years, five of those as Board President. During her tenure, the organization experienced significant growth and was able to purchase the beautiful beachside property it had been renting for over a decade. Under Kathy's leadership, The Playgarden initiated the first Forest Kindergarten in the southeast, and was proud to host LifeWays Teacher Training on site. Kathy was instrumental in the search and onboarding of the organization's first Executive Director and the creation of Board Committees and structure. She also developed the organization's first strategic plan and scholarship program. Currently, Kathy serves on The Playgarden's Advisory Council.
Kathy is one of the founders of the Sophia Circle, an anthroposophical study group that meets monthly to discuss the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner. She was a member of Antioch University’s Administration and Leadership Cohort for 2019-2020 and completed Explorations workshops through the Center for Anthroposophy. She believes strongly in service to the community and is a certified Guardian Ad Litem (Child Advocate) Volunteer, a member of the Society for Human Resource Management and Non-Profit Center of Northeast Florida. Kathy and her husband Niels, a native of Denmark and retired Merchant Mariner, have three school age children. She continues to be active in her children's schools as a former PTO Chair and Class Parent.
Michelle received her Bachelors of Science in both Biology and Chemistry from Wilmington College and Master’s of Science in Chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. She began her chemistry career developing analytical methods at the FDA, and subsequently conducted and oversaw sample analysis at a contract analytical chemistry laboratory.
Michelle was introduced to The Playgarden and Waldorf education in 2014, and has been an active member on the Board of Directors since. She was secretary on the Board of Directors for four years, then served a two year term as president. Michelle has since focused her time on the governance committee and as the Committee Chair for Spring River School on The Playgarden Board, prior to the organization's separation on July 1, 2021. She continues to serve as Director on the Playgarden Board.
Michelle is a member of the Sophia Circle which is an anthroposophical study group, and completed the Explorations course offered by Antioch University and the Center for Anthroposophy in the spring of 2019. She has volunteered with Duval County Special Olympics Surfing Program as a surf coach for over 5 years. Michelle is currently a freelance chemist, as well as a forest school teacher and Enrollment Director for Spring River School, and serves as the Secretary of the Board of Directors of The Jacksonville Educational Community.
Diversity has marked Juan’s life: born and raised in his mother’s native Colombia, in close contact with his father’s Lebanese roots, Juan has lived and worked in 5 countries across Europe, South America, and North America. Juan’s biggest pride is his family, composed of his wife Laura and their four wonderful children: Martin (19), Lucas (15), Pablo (13), and Helena (5).
Juan holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Engineering. His professional life spans 25 years in which he has held local, regional, and global roles in large multinational corporations, medium national companies, and entrepreneurial ventures in different industries. During this period, Juan worked in Business Strategy, Marketing & Communications, and New Business Development.
In 2018, Juan and his family radically changed their life, moving to Jacksonville to co-found with his brother a Real Estate Venture that offers Residential Property Management Services, Property Development and Renovation, Tenant Improvement, and Commercial Cleaning, and Disinfection Services.
Juan has always felt a strong passion for education. At different points of his career, he has held various teaching positions in Colombia: Math & Trigonometry Teacher (High School), Marketing Professor (University – Undergraduate School), and Corporate Reputation Professor (University – Graduate School).
Juan serves as JEC's Board Treasurer.
Barbara Braathen has resided permanently in Jacksonville FL since 2020 and is happy to participate in the Anthroposophical community here.
A graduate of UCLA, she had a gallery of contemporary art in New York and continues as a collector and private dealer of contemporary art.
Barbara serves as the JEC Anthroposophical Committee Chair.
Carrie Zarka Dooley
Carrie Zarka Dooley is the founder of Shakti Life Kitchen, an organic plant-based food company that has served North east Florida for 13 years. She was part owner of European Street Café for over a decade where she learned the importance of community service and how valuable it is to work in collaboration to meet idealistic goals. The bonds she formed with European Street have secured many donations that support Waldorf education including the garden space that is now Jacksonville Educational Community's "home." Carrie has a B.A. in Sociology, is a certified Plant-based nutritionist from Cornell and holds a certificate in Waldorf Education from Antioch University where she is currently working on her Master’s project in outdoor education.
Being raised in Northeast Florida, and being immersed in the service industry for over 30 years has allowed Carrie to make supportive connections city-wide that supports the mission to further Outdoor Waldorf Education and set the platform for our becoming Biodynamic garden. She is deeply connected to the life of the land and gets her inspiration from that which grows locally. She is a mother to 12-year-old Zophia, a student at Spring River. Carrie was hired as Spring River School’s program director in 2021. She served as volunteer for the Waldorf movement for eight years where she served as Board President to the Playgarden Inc. in 2012-2013, and board member for the following seven years.
Carrie is co-founder of the NE Florida Chapter of the Anthroposophical Society named the Sophia Circle. She facilitates six monthly Anthroposophical book club meetings that allows the members to live into the deep work of studying human wisdom. Her dedication to this study has helped her create a bond with the Center for Anthroposophy, our nation's premiere organization supporting Waldorf teacher training and the growth of Biodynamics.
Lauren Galvin (Dostaler) was born and raised in Neptune Beach and lives in Jacksonville with her husband, Tom, and 3 sons.
Lauren graduated from Florida State University with a degree in English Literature and worked in sales for 10 years before starting her family. Lauren has always been an active member in her community. She served as Vice President of the Board of Directors of The Playgarden for two years. During that time, Lauren served on the Spring River Committee and played a leading role in assisting with the legal separation of the two organizations in July 1, 2021.
Lauren is passionate about building a Waldorf community and providing a Waldorf Education for her children and for all families who want this opportunity. In her spare time, Lauren loves to cook from scratch, garden, sing, craft and read.
Vickey earned her Bachelors Degree in Psychology from Hollins College and her Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Maryland, Baltimore. After over a decade of both program administration and providing direct crisis services to victims of violent crime, Vickey retired to spend more time with her children and husband.
Always wanting to raise their family in a beach community, Vickey and her husband moved to Atlantic Beach and subsequently discovered The Playgarden and the Waldorf approach to education. It was through their deep love of the Waldorf pedagogy that the family embarked on their homeschooling adventure.
Vickey has been homeschooling her children since 2014 and is one of the founding members of Spring River School, volunteering in a variety of capacities since Spring River’s inception.