Lindsey Schnell Preschool Teacher & Parent-Child TeacherLindsey joined Great Oak School as an assistant for the Rose Garden in 2015 and began her Waldorf Teacher Training at Pleaides Initiative in Austin the same year. She grew up in the West Texas town of Midland where she worked in the oil and gas industry. Lindsey has four children ranging from 17 to 4. She has been involved in community theatre as an actor, director and stage hand. She is also a runner, a vegetarian, a recent convert to trough gardening, and a live music fan.
Tami Arndt-Beatty Kindergarten TeacherTami was born and raised in the small Northern California coastal village of Point Reyes Station. As a young adult she was employed as a nanny in Hawaii where she discovered Waldorf education. This discovery lead her to pursue a study in anthroposophy on the islands and ultimately to return to California to enroll in the Bay Area Waldorf Teacher Training. Tami graduated in 2002 and started her family in West Marin. Over the course of her teaching career, Tami has taught as an assistant and lead teacher in a home preschool using Waldorf principles, was an assistant at Marin Waldorf School for four years and eventually created and opened her own home-based preschool inspired by Waldorf education once her two sons were born. In January 2015 Tami moved to the Houston area with her husband and three children. Tami taught as a Lead Kindergarten Teacher at Bayou Village School in Houston for two years. Tami is an active runner, enjoys crafts and creative work and is devoted to her family.
Helen Brinkel Kindergarten TeacherHelen was born in The Netherlands near Den Haag. After getting married, she lived in Switzerland in the French-speaking city of Neuchatel and then moved to the United States. Helen speaks four languages: Dutch, French, German, and English. Helen has an Early Childhood degree and Elementary degree from Maria Regina College in The Hague, The Netherlands and a Master’s degree in Waldorf Early Childhood Education from Sunbridge College in New York. Helen is a co-founder of Great Oak School and has also served on the Board of Directors of Great Oak School since the school’s inception until April 2017. Helen is a talented handwork artist and has an ongoing interest in art, music, theater, and cooking.
Hayley Kay Haynes First Grade TeacherHayley joined Great Oak School in the Spring of 2014 as a child shadow in the 1st and 2nd grade classes. Since then she has worked 2 years as an early childhood assistant and approximately 2 years as an assistant for 1st through 6th grade. She has led a 1st grade play and a 6 grade play. She has also taught movement, handwork, and substituted in every grade level throughout the years. Hayley has her Bachelors of Arts in Child and Adolescent Psychology and has started her Master’s of Education and Waldorf Certification in the summer of 2018. Hayley enjoys drawing, hand work, obstacle course training, theater, and working with children.
Dawn Coe Second Grade TeacherDawn received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Texas and her Waldorf teacher certification and Master’s in Education from Rudolf Steiner College in California. For her Master’s Capstone project, Dawn created a math curriculum based on origami for grades one through eight. Dawn feels that her greatest accomplishment has been in the homeschool education of her five daughters that spanned two and a half decades. Having tested Waldorf methods in her own home laboratory, Dawn became convinced early on that it is the education of the future. The top two items on Dawn’s bucket list are living long enough to celebrate her 80th wedding anniversary and assisting the birth of an accredited Waldorf school in the Houston area. Dawn also created and currently teaches a series of adult education classes to help parents learn more about the philosophy behind Waldorf education. Dawn’s favorite artistic media are fiber arts, sandcastling, origami and photomontage; and she recharges by gardening, dancing with her husband, and hacking up stacks of magazines to feed her photomontage habit.
Jamie Neal Christoffersen Third Grade TeacherJamie grew up in rural Appalachia in Lee County, Virginia. At the age of nineteen, Jamie joined the United States Air Force and served nine years as a surveillance aviation instuctor/evaluator. While serving full time, Jamie earned her B.S. at Southern Nazarene University and M.A. at the University of Oklahoma. After moving to Texas in 2011, Jamie became a Texas board certified teacher, and worked in Conroe ISD as a dually certified teacher, both in Early Childhood and Special Education. In 2015-2016, Jamie served as an administrator at Great Oak School as the Licensing and Enrollment Director. Currently enrolled at Antioch University, Jamie is in pursuance of a Master’s of Education and Waldorf certificate. Her interests are: smiling, art, nature, and writing.
Angela Maar Fourth Grade TeacherAngela grew up in Austria, where she graduated from a business school. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Keene State College in Sociology and French. She is currently pursuing her Master’s of Education and Waldorf certification at Antioch University. She has worked as a Key Account Manager for three industrial valve companies dealing with companies in the chemical, pulp and paper, water and waste water, as well as the oil & gas industry throughout Europe. Together with her husband Wolfgang and their two sons, she moved to Texas in 2008. Angela taught German in diverse settings before joining Great Oak School in spring of 2016 as the German teacher and becoming a lead teacher in 2017. She joined the Great Oak School’s Board of Trustees in 2017. Angela’s hobbies include bikram yoga, weight lifting, reading, cooking, skiing, snowboarding, running, and writing.
Laura Gabelsberg Fifth Grade TeacherLaura received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston as well as her Texas teaching certificate. She completed her Waldorf Elementary Education Certification at Antioch University in the summer of 2011. Laura has taught in both public and private elementary schools since 1995. She is the co-founder and former board member of two private schools in Texas; most recently, our own Great Oak School. Laura has also taught grades 1-4 at the Tuscon Waldorf School in Tuscon, Arizona. In her free time, she enjoys sewing, poetry, writing, guitar, hiking, and camping.
Becky Stemper Sixth Grade TeacherBecky grew up in Richmond, Virginia. She double majored in French and Russian at James Madison University in Virginia. She received a B.S. from the University of Alaska and a M.Sc. from the University of Toronto – both in Geology. She was an assistant Waldorf kindergarten teacher for 2 years in New Orleans. She completed Waldorf teacher training (2005) and Remedial Education (2011) at Rudolf Steiner College. Presently, she is in her fifth and last year of Spacial Dynamics training. She loves gardening and observing nature. Her interests are: languages, music, traveling, hiking, the natural world, handwork and children.
Tara Roth Seventh Grade TeacherTara grew up on the East Coast and received her B.S. in Geology and Anthropology from Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. After working as a geologist for 6 years she completed Masters’ work in Structural Geology from Arizona State University while simultaneously working as a resource geologist in the southwest. Tara discovered Waldorf after moving to Houston in 2008 and searching for a like-minded community. She was very active in the Great Oak parent community for 7 years, teaching hands-on workshops and supporting the school in any way she could. She began teaching math and science blocks for the Middle School in the Spring of 2018. Tara just completed her first summer at Antioch College New England where she is studying to receive her M.Ed. in Waldorf Education and a Waldorf Teaching Certificate. Her hobbies are anything involving the use of her hands, including gardening, cooking, fermenting all the things, woodwork, eco-printing and natural dyeing, fiber arts, jewelry making, bookbinding and leatherwork.
Rowena Murdoch Seventh Grade Block Teacher & Language Arts TeacherRowena received her Bachelor’s degree from Northern Illinois University in 2000 where she studied English. After moving to Texas, she became certified to teach in public schools and taught 7thgrade language arts at Cook elementary for three years. She then taught grades 6-12 Teen Leadership and English at the Cypress Fairbanks Alternative Learning Center for five years. After the birth of her youngest child, she began teaching English to a local home-school group. As a mother of three children, Rowena is passionate about holistic education and thrilled to be a part of the Waldorf community. Rowena enjoys traveling, spending time in the mountains, hands on projects, cooking vegetarian, gardening and poetry.
Becky Blanton Handwork TeacherBecky was born and raised in rural west-central Wisconsin in a small farming community. Her love of all things handmade started at an early age when she participated in 4-H learning many skills including hardanger embroidery, pattern drafting and clothing construction. She received a BA in Costume Design from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN. Becky has worked in the costume shops of The Guthrie and The Children’s Theatre Company of Minneapolis, MN, and the Houston Grand Opera. She has a permaculture design certificate from Urban Harvest (Houston), and as the community gardens coordinator for Urban Harvest, taught gardening classes for adults and children in addition to providing support for over 100 community gardens in the Houston area. She and her husband, JR, have two children Jack and Cecelia. Her family joined the Great Oak community in the Fall of 2014, when her son Jack enrolled, and Becky became an enthusiastic garden volunteer. Becky’s interests include gardening, cooking, handwork, music, reading, and spending time with her family.
Dana Fleming German TeacherA German teacher since 1987, Dana pours a great deal of energy into every type of lesson. She thrives on the versatility and flexibility teachers must demonstrate at a young school. She enjoys teaching adults as well as children, offering classes and workshops. Dana joined Great Oak School’s Faculty in Fall 2012, and served for 6 years on the Great Oak School’s Board of Directors. She has taken two wonderful groups of children from first through fifth grade as a Waldorf class teacher. Dana is married to a theoretical physicist who cooks like a chef and invents astonishing things. Education: B.A., University of California, San Diego and M.A., M. Phil., and ABD, German Literature, Yale University, New Haven, CT. Dana completed her Waldorf Class Teacher Training at Sunbridge College while earning her Foundation Studies Certificate in Austin.
Marine Kojanyan Eurythmy TeacherMarine has a BS in Chemistry and MS in Biology from Yerevan State University, Armenia. She has a Certified Diploma and also Advanced Level in Artistic Eurythmy from Eurythmeum School, Stuttgart, Germany. She performed artistic eurythmy in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, England, Scotland and Poland. Marine became a Eurythmy Teacher at Great Oak School in 2013. She is also a dance teacher and choreographer in The Russian Musical Theater for Children in Houston, TX and an art teacher at the Russian Sunday School in Houston, TX. Marine’s interests include dance, music, art, literature, design, traveling, plants and swimming.
Heather Matthews Strings TeacherHeather grew up in the Houston area and graduated from Klein High School. She and her husband have been married for 19 years and have 3 children ranging from 7 to 15 years old. Mrs. Matthews holds a degree in Music from Pensacola Christian College where she studied violin with Dr. Alberto Jaffé. She has been playing professionally and teaching strings classes and private lessons since 1994. Over the years, she has been hired to play in concert halls, recording studios, musical theater orchestras, weddings, and other special events. She has taught strings in both public and private schools as well as college pedagogy courses. Many of her students have received music scholarships. Mrs. Matthews enjoys being involved in her church where she plays violin and piano and sings in the choir. She also plays violin with the Symphony North of Houston.
Hilda Rueda Spanish Teacher & Art TeacherHilda is a native Spanish speaker and teacher, born in Columbia, who has taught the language abroad in public and private school settings. Hilda is a talented artist who possesses a deep love for connection and learning. She joined Great Oak School in Spring 2016.
Paul Sommer Strings Orchestra TeacherPaul is the founder and director of Instruments of Praise bands and orchestras. Since 1993, he has directed over 100 home-school and private school bands and orchestras in the Greater Houston area. His professional life includes teaching, performing, speaking and conducting at various churches and schools. He has a B.B.A. from Baruch College in New York City. Throughout the years, his bands and orchestras and students have been recognized for their musical excellence and individual achievements and have received numerous awards. Paul has four children ranging from ages 18 to 24 who still play their string and/or brass instruments along with him in a local orchestra. Along with his passion for music, he enjoys the beautiful outdoors while fishing, kayaking, hiking and biking.
Angela Wofford Movement Teacher
Zuzana Leckova Enrollment & Finance DirectorZuzana has a BBA in Accounting from Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY, MBA in Managerial Accounting from Pace University, New York, NY and MS in Taxation from Fordham University, New York, NY. She is a CPA in the state of New York. Zuzana’s accounting and tax experience ranges from Big Four Accounting Firm, VP of Tax in The Royal Bank of Scotland plc to most recently working for a local CPA firm. She has served on the Board of Directors of Great Oak School as the Treasurer from January 2010 until becoming a full time staff member at Great Oak School in November 2014. Zuzana joined the board back in September 2016. Zuzana’s two daughters joined Great Oak School in September 2009, when the school first opened its doors. Zuzana loves photography, traveling, tennis, skiing and music.
Britney Maxwell Shirk AdministratorBritney holds a Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology from the University of Oklahoma and a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy from Akron University. She also works part-time as a child and family counselor. Britney and her three children found Great Oak School in 2012. They fell in love with the community and have been happily connected ever since that time. In free time, Britney enjoys yoga, her artistic endeavors, cooking, traveling and the outdoors. Britney is grateful for the opportunity to connect children, families and teachers together at Great Oak School.
Toby Rolf Administrative Assistant
Teacher Assistants & Before and Aftercare Teachers