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Consider joining us in 2024-25 for 6th, 7th, and 8th grade in an all-outdoor setting, perfectly suited to the adventurous and introspective middle years student! 

The Waldorf Middle School curriculum is perfectly attuned to the developing adolescent. We offer a program that honors each student’s experience of their expanding world and their unique exploration of their role in it.

Middle School is a time for each student to take ownership of their identity, learning style, and place in their community. This is accomplished by diving deep into subject matters through various modalities – calculations, map drawing, geometrical drawing, science experiments, projects, composition, art, handwork, and drama.

Thoughtful in-depth morning lesson blocks, spanning three to four weeks at a time, allow for this “diving deep.” 

Courses like Business Math, Geometry, Astronomy, Physics, and Medieval History offer opportunities to analyze, observe, debate, and draw conclusions. Art is part of every class; special subjects like handwork, woodwork, modeling, and world languages build confidence and competence.


And with acres of beautiful forests and beaches steps from the outdoor classroom, the students will experience unstructured and structured time in nature. 


On this page you will find teacher bios for next year, a curriculum guide and links to specific grade overviews, and an application link.

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Explore our grade specific pages:

Meet our 2024-25 Middle School Teachers

Tulsi Dolan
7th/8th Grade

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Tulsi’s love for teaching stems from her childhood, sensing even then that children walk this planet with a healing light that is meant to shine undisturbed.

Tulsi holds a degree in biological anthropology with a focus on ethnobotany. She began her Waldorf Teacher Training with Gradalis out of Colorado. She spent time teaching seventh and eighth grades at Running River Waldorf School in Sedona, AZ, and as a permanent and long-term sub at Potomac Crescent Waldorf School in Alexandria, VA. Tulsi has over 15 years of experience teaching in holistic nature-based schools, such as Montessori, Reggio- Emilia, and Green Schools. She has specialized as a science instructor across grade levels from early childhood through high school! 


Tulsi has spoken on panels at events such as Donna Karen’s “A Healthy Path for Kids,” and the Green School’s National Conference on exploration and the embodied learning experiences of combined play, music, and movement. 


One of the endless aspects of Spring River that Tulsi treasures is the reverence for the ever important homeschooling initiatives that can truly pave the way for the educational revolution our children are calling for! Tulsi understands that parents are our children’s first Teachers, and can’t wait to work in tandem and grow as a family alongside the inspiring families of Spring river! 

Julia Hassler
6th Grade

Julia has been a class teacher at Spring River since 2017 and has taken two groups of students through 8th grade so far. She is loved and respected by our families and the greater community and is known for teaching her students through hands-on activities and field trips for her classes. The creative aspect of Waldorf education and Ms. Julia’s love for nature and adventure bring forth the middle school curriculum uniquely and excitingly.


Julia is a trailblazer for Waldorf Education dating back to 1994, when she led Waldorf mixed-age programs as one of the founders of The Playgarden.  She branched out to teach school-age children at various homeschool co-ops, including middle school classes in physics and chemistry.  Julia also homeschooled one of her daughters 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 and a certificate in the Master of Waldorf Education from Antioch University. She attended Sunbridge Summer Institute for nearly eight years, receiving Waldorf certification for the programs Preparing for Grade 1 through Preparing for Grade 8. These programs covered all grade-specific main lesson subjects: watercolor painting, movement, games, singing, form drawing, handwork, and much more.


Kira Mauro

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.

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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.

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Linda Minke

One of the founders of the Jacksonville Waldorf Initiative, which later became The Playgarden, Inc.,  Linda Minke has been playing and teaching music in the Jacksonville area since 1993.  

Linda started playing viola and then cello in the public school system in Rochester, Michigan, after having studied piano and singing in children's choirs. Linda earned two bachelor's degrees in Music Performance and Music Education from Northern Michigan University. Linda also obtained a Master's Degree in Music Performance, with extra training in Suzuki Pedagogy, from Memphis State University.

Linda is a professional cellist who also plays violin, viola, Celtic harp, piano, ukulele, recorder, melodica, and various drums. She has played assistant principal cello with Memphis Symphony for 10 years, section cello with the Peninsula Music Festival in Wisconsin since 1983, part-time cello with the Jacksonville Symphony since 1993, and with the Bold City Contemporary Ensemble since 2015.


Linda is the cellist with the Magnolia String Quartet which plays mostly at weddings in the Jacksonville area. She has recently joined the local Renaissance group called "RareSong" in which she plays the Celtic harp. She also plays fiddle, harp, and washboard with The Walker Family Band and is a chief facilitator for the Florida Fiddle Fest, held each year in the Jacksonville beaches area since 2012.

Linda believes that everyone has music in them and is dedicated to helping people find the joy that it brings.  

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