Meet The Spring River College of Teachers and Faculty
Our teachers are the heart of Spring River, and have been chosen by the College of Teachers and the Spring River Committee because they are proven educators with a devotion 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 in public school education and have chosen a new path with a focus on Waldorf Education and/or certification. If you are interesting in becoming a teacher or joining the staff of Spring River, please apply through our Employment Opportunities page.
School Year 2021-2022
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.
School Year 2021 - 2022
1st Grade Class 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 4 years teaching with Waldorf influences in her classroom.
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.
School Year 2021-2022
3rd 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. Jackie is a member of the College of Teachers, a group of teachers at the school who are responsible for hiring and mentoring of teachers, developing programing and overseeing the curriculum.
School Year 2021 -2022
4th/5th Grade Combined Class Teacher
Grace is delighted to be joining Spring River for the upcoming school year, and cannot wait to meet the school community. She grew up in the Chicago suburbs, and after several years in Minneapolis, and then New Hampshire, she is excited to call Jacksonville her new home.
This past school year, Grace has been teaching high school english. Before that, she served with City of Lakes AmeriCorps at a middle school in Minneapolis. Throughout her undergraduate career, Grace also worked in outdoor education at overnight summer camps, and frequently volunteered with children in the Minneapolis community.
In 2019, Grace earned her Bachelor degree in English from the University of Minnesota; Currently, she is working towards her Master of Education in Waldorf Education from Antioch University of New England. She also has a Florida teaching certificate for middle and high school English.
A Waldorf alumni herself, Grace is so excited to be joining a Waldorf community here in Jacksonville; Grace has fallen in love with Waldorf education, Jacksonville, and Spring River’s unique outdoor classrooms and culture. She cannot wait for the upcoming school year, and is looking forward to meeting students and families soon!
School Year 2021-2022
6th/7th 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.
Julia is a member of the College of Teachers, a group of teachers at the school who are responsible for hiring and mentoring of teachers, developing programing and overseeing the curriculum.
Carrie Zarka Dooley
School Year 2021-2022
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. She has been involved as a volunteer or staff member of Spring River since 2015.
In 2012, Carrie joined the board of The Playgarden by the Sea, 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 Sixth 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 is a member of the College of Teachers, a group of teachers at the school who are responsible for hiring and mentoring of teachers, developing programing and overseeing the curriculum.
Currently, Carrie is finishing her Master Degree in Waldorf Education at Antioch University and is overjoyed to join the Spring River teaching staff to carry our students on a journey that instills a life-long love of learning in the beautiful outdoors that she feels so connected to.
School Year 2021 - 2022
Forest School Lead Teacher
and Enrollment Director
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
School Year 2021 - 2022
Kindergarten Teacher Assistant
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 is currently finishing her internship at Mill Creek Middle School and working 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.
"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