Birdie Armstrong Parent Child & Bridge Program TeacherBirdie Armstrong received her Bachelors of Arts in Sociology in 2011. Shortly after, she was married and became a mother. Birdie devoted the next 10 years to raising her 3 children. She was introduced to Waldorf Education through the Parent Class she attended with her then, 3 and 18 mo old. She fell in love with Waldorf Education and the study of Anthroposophy. When all three children were comfortably attending Great Oak School full time, she began working as a nap time assistant for Kindergarten, then as the Parent-Child assistant and co-teacher. Birdie is attending the Great Lakes Waldorf Institute and is working towards her Masters of Arts in Education for Waldorf Early Childhood. Birdie enjoys swimming with her kids, herbalism, Tea Time, camping, hiking, baking cakes, making bread, cooking, canning, sewing, reading, and doing yoga.
Lindsey Schnell Preschool 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.
Vanessa Williams Kindergarten Teacher - StargardenVanessa Williams has been with Great Oak School for five years. She holds two degrees in Classical music, several certifications in teaching music, has earned her certification in Early Childhood studies from the West Coast Institute for Studies in Anthroposophy and is nearing the completion of her Waldorf Music Teachers Certification through Sunbridge Institute. She loves sharing the daily rhythm and rhythm of the week with her young students, with a big emphasis on music, handwork, developmental movement, and outdoor exploration. Her musical experience is hard at work, accompanying eurythmy classes and instructing general music here at Great Oak School. Vanessa’s personal hobbies include writing and recording folk music for children, hiking and yoga. She resides in Tomball with her family, where she also teaches piano out of her home studio.
Rachel Muehlmann Kindergarten Teacher - Sun GardenRachel grew up in Canada and New England, and has lived in the Houston area for 6 years. A Waldorf student from kindergarten through 12th grade, she loves the Waldorf curriculum and strives to bring some of the wonder, beauty, and goodness of her own kindergarten experience to the classroom today. Rachel holds a Bachelor’s degree in History and an MFA in Creative Writing in Poetry and completed her Waldorf Early Childhood teacher training in the summer of 2022. She lives with her librarian husband and twin sons, and enjoys swimming in large bodies of water, staring into tree canopies, cooking, reading and singing, among so many other things!
Jimmarie Rodriguez First Grade TeacherBio coming soon.
Frances Hernandez Second Grade TeacherFrances was born in Puerto Rico and has always shown a big passion for art. When she was younger, she spent most of her time drawing and painting. She completed a Bachelor of Arts in Latin American History and then began to work as an Art Teacher, where she fell in love with education. While completing her Bachelor’s degree in Early Education, she began her Waldorf training in Cuernavaca, Mexico. In 2018 she moved to California to teach at Live Oak Waldorf School. In 2022, Frances and her family moved to Texas to begin her new teaching journey at Great Oak School. She participates in the Waldorf Learning Support Training and will graduate in 2024.
Josh Petrone Third Grade TeacherBio Coming Soon
Andrea Badot Fourth Grade TeacherAndrea completed her Waldorf grades training through Sound Circle Center in Seattle, Washington in the summer of 2022 and is thrilled to be in her third year as lead teacher at Great Oak. Andrea’s passion for joy-filled, hand’s-on education started with a strong interest in the Montessori Method for her own children and finally with obtaining a certificate in Montessori Lower Elementary Education with the Houston Montessori Center in 2013. She served as Lower Elementary Guide at Kingwood Montessori School for seven years before she discovered Waldorf education and has never looked back. She is excited to apply wisdom from both Rudolf Steiner and Maria Montessori as she moves through the grades Great Oak School. Andrea loves spending time outdoors and took an early interest in nature and portrait photography. Originally from Colorado, she loves to ski, take nature walks, sit around campfires and cook. One of the best gifts she ever received was Julia Child’s modestly titled book “The Way to Cook” as a young bride living in France! She raised two children with her French husband, and has lived in Kingwood, Texas with her family for over 20 years.
Tami Arndt-Beatty Fifth Grade 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.
Hayley Kay Haynes Sixth 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 a Bachelors of Arts in Child and Adolescent Psychology and a Master’s of Education and Waldorf Certification from Antioch University. Hayley enjoys drawing, hand work, obstacle course training, theater, and working with children.
Dawn Coe Seventh 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.
Angela Harris Eighth Grade TeacherAngela was born in Southern California and has since lived in or near five major cities, including San Francisco and New York. Growing up, she enjoyed a bit of an unconventional education and, together with her husband, decided to homeschool their two boys. In 2011, Angela co-founded a learning community for homeschoolers in Northern New Jersey and began teaching a variety of subjects such as world history, literature, and writing. She has contributed articles to online magazines such as Education Revolution (AERO) and The Homeschool Post. Before moving to Texas in 2013, she piloted a course for a fellow homeschool mom and former NASA Goddard rocket scientist which focused on teaching math concepts to young children through play and exploration. In 2015, she became a writing instructor for Brave Writer, LLC. During the 2018 academic year, Angela served Great Oak School as an after-care teacher and then as the Preschool Assistant in the Butterfly Garden before becoming a middle school teacher in the fall of 2019. She earned her Waldorf teaching certificate through Gradalis in 2022. Angela enjoys yoga, theater, and watching her sons and students play baseball and other sports.
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.
Josh Petrone Movement TeacherBio coming soon.
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.
Becky Sykes Gardening and Handwork TeacherBecky Sykes received her Bachelor of Arts degree as a theater major with an emphasis in costume design from Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota and her Waldorf teacher certification from Antioch University New England. She is currently working on a capstone project that will complete her Master’s in Education from Antioch University New England. Becky was introduced to handwork at age six and has continued to learn and develop new skills ever since. Her handwork repertoire includes many styles of embroidery, quilting, clothing and costume design and construction, knitting, crochet, spinning, leatherwork, natural dying, and basket making. At age two Becky started her first garden alongside her dad in Wisconsin. Becky has been gardening and living in Houston for a little over 20 years. She is particularly interested in cultivated and foraged edible plants with a growing interest in dye and medicinal plants. Prior to joining the Great Oak Family Becky worked as a freelance costume designer and for Urban Harvest as a garden instructor and community gardens coordinator before pausing to start a family. Her two children brought her to Great Oak in 2014 when she started volunteering in the gardens. Becky joined the faculty in 2017 as the handwork teacher. Formal garden classes were added to her schedule in 2019. In her free time Becky enjoys puttering around in her own garden, sewing the odd costume for one of her children and taking spontaneous road trips with her husband.
Heather Matthews Strings TeacherHeather grew up in the Houston area and graduated from Klein High School. She and her husband have been married for over 20 years and have 3 children. Mrs. Matthews holds a degree in Music from Pensacola Christian College where she studied violin under 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.
Paul Sommer 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 24 to 18 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.
Marine Kojanyan Eurythmy TeacherBio coming soon.
Didianne Gilman AdministratorBefore joining Great Oak School in 2020, Didianne was a Waldorf grades teacher in Colorado. She taught one class 4th grade through 8th grade and a second class 1st grade through 8th grade. After graduating her second class, Didianne became a Faculty Administrator before her family was relocated to Houston for her husband’s work in late 2019. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and Education and a Waldorf Education Teaching Certificate. Prior to her career in Waldorf Education, Didianne worked in human resources for corporate and start-up high-tech companies. She has lived on the east coast, west coast and in between. She has been been married for 30 years and has three grown children who are still grateful for their Waldorf educations. Her joys include any and all family time, travel (she has been to all 48 contiguous US states and 5 foreign countries), water and mountains in major doses, reading, gardening and just taking in the world in all of its complexities and wonders.
Beth Holden Outreach DirectorBio coming soon.
Zuzana Leckova 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 to VP of Tax in The Royal Bank of Scotland plc. 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 Emma and Kate joined Great Oak School in September 2009, when the school first opened its doors. Zuzana loves traveling, photography, tennis and music.
Toby Rolf Administrative Assistant
Samantha Fox Administrative AssistantSamantha’s family has been part of the Great Oak community since the spring of 2016 when she enrolled her then-2.5 year old daughter in the Parent-Child program, and immediately fell in love with Waldorf education and the people at Great Oak. Sam joined the administrative staff at Great Oak in the fall of 2022. Sam was born in Michigan, but grew up in Virginia, and spent her high school years in Iowa and Minnesota. She holds a BA in History and also studied French, and worked for Delta Airlines as a gate agent and at the Minneapolis headquarters in the Sales Support department. She has also at times worn the hat of bookseller, travel school intern, holistic health coach, and personal trainer. Sam moved to Tomball in 2015 with her husband and daughter to be closer to her parents, and to escape MN winters. In her free time she enjoys doing her nails, reading, yoga and weightlifting, travel, and spending time near any body of water, but especially the ocean. She has a strong relationship with coffee, and a large collection of crystals, special edition books, and nail dip powders.
Kari Provencio – Preschool Assistant
Milexis Torres – Kindergarten Assistant
Melissa Stoke – Preschool Part-Time Assistant
April Stewart – Preschool Part-Time Assistant
April Finn – Kindergarten Assistant
Farrah Godfry – Kindergarten Part-Time Assistant