Meet the Spring River Administration

Carrie Zarka Dooley

Program Director


Carrie has been a leader of the Jacksonville Community’s Organic and Waldorf School movement since 2008. With a background in Holistic Nutrition, and a B.A. in Sociology, Carrie founded Shakti Life Kitchen a local Organic Plant- based food company. She has been a dedicated community service volunteer with Spring River since 2015.


In 2012, Carrie joined the board of The Playgarden and her leadership ensured organic foods to be part of their curriculum. She was a faithful board member for 8 years, advocating for the school to develop outdoor programing and supporting the teaching staff through fundraising and community outreach.  Carrie's commitment to Waldorf Education blossomed as she watched her daughter thrive in this natural and integrated education.  

Carrie’s passion grew further for Waldorf Education while homeschooling her daughter Zophia (now a Seventh grader at Spring River) from grades one through four. She attended Sunbridge Institute to support her homeschooling efforts.  During this journey, she was a part of the group of parents that ignited Spring River School and the Northeast Florida Anthroposophical Study Group, The Sophia Circle.  


Carrie helped create a bond with the Center for Anthroposophy and was an integral force bringing Explorations and other Waldorf workshops to our community.  She has been trained in CPR/First aid with an emphasis on urban wilderness first aid and completed an American Red Cross Lifeguarding course in the summer of 2020. 

Carrie has a teaching certificate in Waldorf Education from Antioch University and is currently working on her Master’s project that focuses on outdoor education. Her knowledge of the Waldorf curriculum allows her to support the College of Teachers who are responsible for hiring and mentoring of teachers, developing programing and overseeing the curriculum.  Carrie is overjoyed to join the Spring River administrative staff to support the whole community of students, teachers and families. 

Michelle Carter

Enrollment Director and Lead Forest School Teacher


Michelle grew up in rural Ohio exploring and playing in the woods that surrounded her childhood home. She has a lifelong passion for the outdoors and exploring nature and gravitated towards more education in science.  Michelle has been both a volunteer and staff member of Spring River since 2016.


Michelle received her Bachelors of Science in both Biology and Chemistry from Wilmington College and Masters of Science in Chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. She is currently a freelance chemist. Since being Introduced to The Playgarden and Waldorf education in 2014, she has been a hard-working member on their Board of Directors, has been a substitute TA for their programs including being a forest TA in 2017.


Michelle has taught a STEM class for Spring River and has been a substitute teacher.  She also volunteers with Duval County Special Olympics Surfing Program as a surf coach.


She has been trained in CPR/First aid with an emphasis on urban wilderness first aid, and completed an American Red Cross Lifeguarding course in the fall of 2018. Over the course for the 2018/2019 school year she completed the Explorations program administered by the Center for Anthroposophy and hosted by The Playgarden/Spring River. In May of 2019 she attended the Reaching Nature Connection Conference held by the Academy of Forest Kindergarten Teachers and School of Integrated Living and is excited to be connecting students with the local environment through place based nature education 

Michelle is also our Lead Forest School Teacher.

Laura Turbay

Administrative Assistant & Spanish Teacher


Laura has devoted her life to serving others in different settings. Growing up in her native Colombia, she learned from her archaeologist Mother to respect culture, to love nature and to foster curiosity.

She initially studied Business and specialized in Finance and Marketing; but in 2018, when she moved from Colombia to Jacksonville, she decided to shift her career and pursue her life-long dream of working in children’s education.  She enrolled in University of West Florida to become a certified Spanish teacher, and she finished her internship at Mill Creek Middle School and worked as a Substitute Teacher in other public and private schools.  

While working in traditional schools, Laura has increasingly realized the importance of instilling more hands-on, nature-based experience in the education of young children. In her search for alternative educational approaches, she fell in love with Spring River and the Waldorf method. 

As a teacher of World Language, she believes children learn the most through experiences they enjoy, filled with culture and stories, music, art and games of all kinds.  A language is something to absorb, and not to memorize. 

Laura is married to Juan and has 2 wonderful children: Pablo (12) and Helena (5). Laura loves to spend time outdoors with her family and her dog Calao, she enjoys biking, hiking, horseback riding and going to the beach.

Meet The Spring River College of Teachers and Faculty

Our teachers are the heart of Spring River, and have been chosen because they are proven educators devoted to an arts-infused, whole-child curriculum that honors the natural world and the developmental phases of childhood.  
Some of our teachers are also homeschooling their own children, or have done so in the past, and can prove to be a helpful resource for families new to homeschooling. Many of our teachers have backgrounds as public school educators who have chosen a new path with a focus on Waldorf and Outdoor Education.  If you are interesting in becoming a teacher or joining the staff of Spring River, please apply through our Employment Opportunities page.

"Where is the book in which the teacher can read about what teaching is?  The children themselves are this book.  We should not learn to teach out of any book other than the one lying open before us and consisting of the children themselves."

- Rudolf Steiner, founder of Waldorf Education

Sierra Humphreys

Kindergarten Class Teacher



Sierra is a Jacksonville Florida native and was one of the first students at The Playgarden, a local Waldorf Kindergarten, twenty years ago. She was brought up homeschooled with Waldorf pedagogy by her mother, who was one of the founding members of the first anthroposophical study groups in our area. Sierra speaks fondly of her childhood and is overjoyed to have the opportunity to share her love of Waldorf education with our community. Sierra has been teaching at Spring River since 2018.

In past years, Sierra taught Music Enrichment and was a co-teacher for Spring River's combined K/1 class. She has previously been a teaching assistant in 1st and 2nd grade, STEM, and Gym/Mindfulness. She has been studying music for nearly 20 years, playing professionally for over 10 years. 


Sierra has a heart for culture, backcountry trekking, music, international relations, animals, insects, plants, fossils, holistic medicine, tree climbing, and healing through nature, music, and art. Sierra spent a semester traveling in India, where she studied wilderness first aid, botany, language, yoga, and white-water rafting. One highlight of her adventure was helping build a greenhouse for the town of Ranikhet. 


Sierra recently completed the Explorations course offered by Antioch University and the Center for Anthroposophy and Waldorf Education Grade One offered by Antioch University and the Center for Anthroposophy.  She has been trained in CPR/First aid with an emphasis on urban wilderness first aid and completed an American Red Cross Lifeguarding course in the fall of 2018.

Elizabeth Zettler

 School Year 2021 - 2022

First Grade Class Teacher

Music Teacher



Elizabeth is incredibly honored and excited to join the Spring River community! For the last few years, while teaching in grades 2 to 4, Elizabeth has taken any opportunity she can to further her understanding of Waldorf teaching practices, learning through her students, trainings, workshops, and personal study. She has been mentored by Dr. Mary Goral, attended trainings through the Alliance for Public Waldorf and Kentahten Institute, and she is currently enrolled in the Explorations course through the Center for Anthroposophy. 


Elizabeth is married to Paul and they recently welcomed a baby, Olive, into their family. Being compassionate animal lovers they also have four cats and a dog, all rescues or former “neighbor cats”. Elizabeth’s hobbies include, going on adventures with her family, spending time with friends, and anything handwork related. 


Before joining Spring River, Elizabeth completed a Bachelor and Masters of Music in Vocal Performance with a focus in operatic singing in both, as well as an MBA. She spent her time after college performing, teaching through her private studio, and working for a music non profit, but eventually decided to make the move into elementary education. After teaching music for kindergarten through 8th grade for many years in “traditional” schools, a frustration with the current education climate lead her to finding and beginning to study Waldorf-inspired teaching and Rudolf Steiner. She has spent the last 5 years teaching with Waldorf influences in her classroom. 

Christina Bell

 School Year 2021 - 2022

Second Grade Class Teacher


Christina moved to Jacksonville in late elementary school and came to love beautiful, humid Florida after growing up riding horses in the hills of North Georgia. She graduated from UNF with her bachelors in English and minor in education. She has always been passionate about education, serving as a middle school youth leader for 10 years, teaching English remotely to elementary aged children in Beijing, China, practicing as a personal trainer, and most recently teaching middle school English in a local public school!


Christina has fallen in love with Waldorf education, learning through her own children's experiences and her desire to incorporate the whole child (head, heart, and hands) in education for each child. 

Jackie Stetson

 School Year 2021-2022

Third Grade Class Teacher


Jackie was introduced and fell in love with Waldorf education while studying psychology and volunteering for a school garden program over 15 years ago.  She is inspired by the Waldorf pedagogy because it focuses on developmentally appropriate learning, while teaching the whole child- head, hands, and heart.  She has been a class teacher at Spring River since 2019.


Jackie holds a degree from the University of Florida with a BS in Psychology and a Minor in Education and was an elementary school teacher for Duval County Public Schools from 2007-2018, working in grades K-6. Some of the highlights of those years was as team leader for Third Grade and considerable work as a "Various Exceptionalities Teacher," meeting the individual needs of students including their IEP goals.  Jackie has a long history of working closely with administrative leadership, and of developing trusting relationships with parents and students.

Jackie completed the Explorations course offered by Antioch University and the Center for Anthroposophy in 2019, and attended Waldorf Teacher training for Literacy, Grades 1-3  in Summer 2019 at the Renewal Courses offered through Antioch University and the Center for Anthroposophy in New Hampshire. Other Waldorf training includes Public Waldorf Teacher training at the AWSNA Annual Conference in 2015 and 2017 at Rudolf Steiner College, and attendance at the Kentahten Institute for Waldorf Education in 2014.  She has been trained in CPR/First aid with an emphasis on urban wilderness first aid and completed an American Red Cross Lifeguarding course in the summer of 2020.


Jackie is married to Mike and has 3 beautiful children.  Her favorite thing to do is spend time with her family outside.  She loves to camp, go to the beach, hike, and enjoys music festivals.  Jackie also enjoys learning about alternative medicine and nutrition, creating things, and practicing yoga. 

Julie Holt

 School Year 2021 -2022

Fourth/Fifth Grade Combined Class Teacher




Julie was first introduced to Waldorf Education when she joined a playgroup 17 years ago with her then 2-year-old son led by Julia Hassler, now Spring River's middle school teacher. 


Julie immediately fell in love with the Waldorf pedagogy and the way that children learn with their hearts, hands, and heads. Julie began homeschooling her son from k - 7th grade following a Waldorf rhythm. In addition to homeschooling her own son, she helped to create Waldorf Homeschool co-ops and handwork workshops. 


Upon returning to work, Homeschooling gave her a foundation to become an early childhood teacher for 4 years from 2016 - 2020. During this time, her love of teaching and of the Waldorf education grew even stronger. 


This past July, Julie and her 12-year-old daughter relocated back to her hometown of Jacksonville, Florida after living in Washington for the past 9 years. While in Washington she started her own farm raising chickens and goats and planting a large vegetable garden. She enjoys knitting, felting, painting, woodworking, and all types of handwork. Julie is very honored and excited to be a teacher at Spring River. Her previous experiences along with her love of the outdoors make teaching at Spring River a perfect fit.

Julia Hassler

School Year 2021-2022

Sixth/Seventh grade Combined Class Teacher


Julia is a trailblazer for Waldorf Education in Jacksonville.  She has worked to bring Waldorf to the beaches community beginning in 1994 when she first learned about this amazing form of education. The creative aspect of Waldorf education, coupled with her love for nature, is a perfect fit for educating homeschooled children. Julia has been a class and handwork teacher at Spring River since 2017.

Julia both participated in and led Waldorf mixed-age programs from 1997 to present day: from being one of the founders of The Playgarden, leading early childhood and parent/child classes, and teaching at various homeschool co-ops including middle school classes in physics and chemistry using a Waldorf curriculum.  Julia also homeschooled her own child from 1st through 8th grade.  Her daughter transitioned into public school beautifully earning A/B honor roll at Fletcher High. 

Julia holds a Bachelor of Arts with a minor in mathematics.  She attended Sunbridge Institute every summer for nearly eight years receiving Waldorf certification for the programs Preparing for Grade 1 through Preparing for Grade 8 which covered all grade specific main lesson subjects as well as watercolor painting, movement, games, singing, form drawing, handwork, and anthroposophical study.  Julie has attended many Waldorf workshops and is a leader in the Spring River community as she continues the journey of Waldorf education for our children. 


Julia completed the Explorations Course offered through Antioch University and the Center for Anthroposophy in 2019 and is currently working toward her Master Degree in Waldorf Education at Antioch University.  She has been trained in CPR/First aid with an emphasis on urban wilderness first aid and completed an American Red Cross Lifeguarding course in the summer of 2020.

Kira Mauro

 School Year 2021 - 2022 

Handwork Teacher


Kira Mauro holds an MA in Linguistics from the University of Arizona. She is a dedicated community gardener and currently serves on the board of the nonprofit Dig Local Network, working with the Beaches-area gardens and farmer’s markets.


Kira has come to love the Waldorf community and educational path after seeing each of her children thrive in the reverent embrace of a philosophy that acknowledges and encourages their whole selves and incorporates the natural environment, art and music into all aspects of the curriculum. Her own handwork journey began at a young age, playing at sewing the discarded fabric scraps given by her grandmother, a professional seamstress. She enjoys fiber and fabric arts of all kinds and of late has focused on embroidery and costume for historic re-creation. She looks forward to sharing the joys of handwork with the families of Spring River.


Kira and her family moved to Atlantic Beach in 2007. She enjoys being outdoors as much as possible and can often be found paddleboarding on the ocean, pitchforking compost in the community garden, or walking the trails in our state parks- sometimes in historic costume! She and her spouse are raising three children, all of whom have participated in Waldorf programs. Her youngest child is now at the Playgarden.

Ashlyn Tiberio

 School Year 2021 - 2022 

Forest School Teacher Assistant


Ashlyn is incredibly excited to be a part of Spring River! She grew up in Western New York, exploring the forests and nature all around her. She is a lover of the arts - was a dancer for most of her childhood and spends a lot of time drawing and painting. She spent her teenage/young adult years traveling all over seeking adventures through hiking, snowboarding, and experiencing different cultures.

She has experience as an elementary school TA before her college years. Through frustration with the public school system, and at 18 years old looking for an inspiring new adventure, she decided to switch gears and move to New York City to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in Fashion Business Management and a minor in Italian Language Studies. During this time she did a semester in Rome, Italy at the American University of Rome. While there, she studied Foreign Business and Italian Culture. She traveled all over Europe and the U.K. experiencing as many cultures as she could. During and after college she gained a lot of experience in the Fashion Industry through internships, part-time and full-time jobs.

Ashlyn recently moved to Jacksonville seeking a fresh, nature-oriented lifestyle for her and her new family! She is passionate about homeschooling and holding space for children to expand their passions, gifts, and imagination. She is inspired by the Waldorf method because it incorporates the whole child. Some other passions of hers are going to the beach, swimming, practicing yoga, reading, cooking, making household products, and natural medicine for her family. Ashlyn is a full-time mom and a TA for the Forest Program.  She embarked on further training through the Eastern Region Association of Forest and Nature Schools.

Helena Acosta

 School Year 2021 - 2022 

Teaching Assistant

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Helena Acosta holds her B.A. in Art History from the University of Los Andes in Venezuela and a Certification in art exhibition Management from Elisava Design School in Barcelona, Spain. She was an Independent art curator for 10 years developing projects around the world in places like New York, Tokyo, Barcelona, Mexico, and Cuba, among others. During this period, and as part of the exhibitions’ programs, she developed art and creativity classes for children and adults. Helena always regarded this educational component as one of the most fulfilling and favorite parts of her job. 


Her love for art, teaching, and traveling bloomed at a very young age. Her mother is an art teacher and her father is an anthropologist. At home, she learned with passion the importance of creativity and curiosity in the exploration of nature and cultures. Helena taught art classes at the University of Jose Maria Vargas and in Private Art Institutes in Caracas, Venezuela, and she has been invited to talk about art and activism at Musashino Art University in Tokyo, Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and Cervantes Institute Tokyo. In 2018, Helena experienced the most amazing gift in her life, she became a mother. From that moment her approach to teaching art took a different and most beautiful pathway, as she started to apply her passion for creation to her daily parenting dynamics. Helena quickly fell in love with the philosophy of Waldorf when she enrolled her daughter at The Playgarden and enthusiastically started to work as a TA at Spring River School bringing to the classroom her love for creativity and discovery, finding magic in everyday objects and nature. She is also the founder of a home-based art studio for children called Jax Little Art.

Sofia Villegas

 School Year 2021 - 2022 

Teaching Assistant

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The love for arts, nature, and children makes Sofia the perfect addition to Spring River School. Her passion for theater, music, and singing led her to study art education, dramatic arts, and contemporary dance. From a very young age, Sofia had the fortune of working in art academies, foundations, and schools as a Drama Teacher and Musical Director. Within her tenure, Sofia has produced plays with more than 200 participating students. More recently, Sofia has also developed her talent for handwork, mainly through crochet, sewing, and macrame. Sofia enjoys offering her fabulous creations in different local markets on weekends.


Sofia moved to Jacksonville after growing up in the beautiful Andes mountain range in Colombia. After arriving in the United States, she had the most beautiful surprise of her life: she was expecting Alegría, her beautiful daughter. From the beginning, she firmly decided to give Alegría the gift of an alternative education, one that was respectful of mind, body, and spirit;  and that was how she found the Waldorf pedagogy. Sofia feels very happy and grateful for being part of the Spring River School family. 

Nicole Newton (Nicky)

 School Year 2021 - 2022 

Teaching Assistant


Nicky discovered Waldorf Education while looking for an alternative education method for her oldest son, Brayden. She was looking for something that would treat him as an individual rather than trying to put him in a box. She fell in love with the head-heart-hands approach and her children love to be outside, so she wanted something that integrated nature and learning, which lead to her discovering Spring River. 

Nicky loves gardening, crafting, hand work, meditation, and photography. Being in nature brings her a sense of calm. Her family recently bought half an acre in Hilliard, FL to give her kids a chance to grow up with a small town feel with space to run and explore. Her family recently purchased chickens and has enjoyed watching them grow along with their other pets, 2 cats and a dog. 

Nicky is married to Brent and has three children, Brayden (11), Dexter(8), and Cambria (5). Nicky and her husband also previously fostered children and loved being able to give them a safe environment before heading home. 

Nicky is not only grateful for her kids to be able to experience Spring River, but also now having the opportunity to work here.