High School Faculty and Staff

The Faculty of SMWS serves the school in many ways and is dedicated to bringing the children a living experience of Waldorf education. The faculty meets every Thursday after school as sections (Kindergarten, Lower School, and High School) and then together for common study, broadening their understanding of current educational challenges and practices, and for developing a greater perception of children and their needs.

Shining Mountain faculty members are also active in the administrative and committee life of the school. Faculty committees and pedagogical sections of the Governance Council meet weekly and include: Athletics, Early Childhood, Lower School, Middle School, High School and Subject class sections, Educational Support Circle, Social Health Group, Community Relations, Festivals, Parent Enrichment, Hiring, Personnel and Teacher Support.

paula-blum-2014Paula Blum, Middle and High School German Teacher
Paula teaches German in grades 6-8, and levels I – IV German in the high school.She will also co- -teach the 10th grade Poetics morning lesson block. She holds a Master of Arts in German from the University of Auckland, New Zealand. The Goethe-Institut San Francisco has designated her as a teacher trainer for German in the 13 Western states. She was Department Chair of Languages at Pakuranga College in Auckland, New Zealand and Department Chair of ESOL at the Harker School in San Jose, CA. Before coming to teach at SMWS, Paula was developing ESOL curriculum for Intercambio de Comunidades, a Boulder non-profit. Paula loves to read, garden, ski, dance and travel.

Version 2Emily Anne Bowman, Strings Teacher
Emily Anne Bowman enjoys working with young musicians! Ms. Bowman is artistic director of the Greater Boulder Youth Orchestras, conducts the GBYO Philharmonic, and teaches viola, violin and fiddle with Boulder Suzuki Strings. Ms. Bowman has been recognized by the Colorado chapter of the American String Teachers Association with the “Exemplary Teacher Award” four times. In addition to her active teaching schedule, Ms. Bowman is principal violist with the Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado. Ms. Bowman also performs with the Free Range String Quartet, the Eldorado String Quartet and joins folk americana group The Bowmans whenever she can. Ms. Bowman received her formal classical training from the New World School of the Arts and the University of Colorado College of Music. Ms. Bowman graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Viola Performance and received the Gabor Ormai Viola Award. In addition to making music Ms. Bowman delights in eating, being outdoors and spending time with her husband.

joan-bremnerJoan Bremner, Middle and High School Art and Architecture Teacher

Joan teaches art and architecture classes at Shining Mountain Waldorf high school.  In addition she is the 12th grade class coordinator, which involves coordinating the the events for senior year. She grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio and has lived in Colorado for 25 years. Joan has a B.S. from Miami University in Housing and Interior Design and a five year Bachelor of Architecture Degree from Kent State University. In 1985, she studied architecture in Florence, Italy under ‘Super Studio Architects’. Joan has practiced and studied architecture in various forms during the past 25 years. She has taught at SMWS in the middle school and/or high school since 2004. She completed her Waldorf Training in Art/Art History at the Center for Anthroposophy in NH, in 2013. 

nita-davanzoNita Davanzo, HS Theater Director and Teacher
Nita Davanzo, an SMWS alum herself, joyfully returns to Shining Mountain as guest teacher and Theater Director in the High School. After her thirteen years at SMWS, Nita spent her undergraduate years majoring in Theater at Barnard College in NYC, with her junior year spent at a dramatic academy in London. After graduating magna cum laude, Nita took to the west coast to pursue acting and music (violin and singing), and it was during this time that she fell into teaching – and fell in love with it. Prompted and inspired by this “teaching bug”, Nita returned to graduate school at Naropa University where she attained her MFA in Contemporary Performance, and has been teaching and directing ever since. After years spent teaching at Highland Hall Waldorf High School in Northridge, Nita and her husband moved just a bit north to sunny Santa Barbara where they currently reside. When not directing plays at SMWS, Nita works with young adults in high school and college as a writing coach and a college / gap year counselor. An avid runner since her high school days, Nita still spends her free time romping on trails with her dog, painting, riding motorcycles with her beloved husband and traveling, camping and spending time outside whenever possible. 


carma-feigalCarma Feigal, Chorus Teacher
Carma is excited to bring her passion and love of singing to the students and adults at SMWS.  She is teaching choir classes to grades 4-8 as well as directing the All High School Choir, the HS A Cappella choir and the SMWS Faculty & Staff choir.  Carma was born and raised in Minnesota and she has enjoyed living in Colorado since 1986. She has a BA in Vocal Music Performance and Business Administration from Concordia College in Moorhead MN and completed her Waldorf Teaching Certificate for Early Childhood at the Rudolf Steiner College. In 1997 Carma helped to found the Front Range Waldorf Preschool/Kindergarten in Lakewood, CO and taught there as an assistant teacher. She also taught Kindergarten and directed the 5th through 8th grade choirs at Shepherd Valley Waldorf School.

Teaching music and directing choirs have always been a passion and interest of Carma’s.  She studied choral conducting in college under a world renowned choir director, Paul J Christiansen and spent three years singing in his Concordia College Concert Choir. Carma has spent her entire adult life directing choirs and leading singing in addition to her professional career path as a Waldorf Kindergarten teacher.   

Carma and her husband, Mark, have two sons who attended and graduated from SMWS, Raymond (2013) and Luke (2016). Spending time with her husband and sons, teaching, laughing, and singing are among her favorite things to do.

bridgetgallagherBridget Gallagher, High School Receptionist and Administrative Assistant
Bridget Gallagher is our High School Receptionist/Administrative Assistant. She (wo) mans our front desk and constantly interfaces with students, parents and faculty striving daily to create joyful harmony and order in our high school’s daily rhythm.  Born and raised in central New York State, Bridget earned a B.A. in English Writing Arts from SUNY Oswego. Her passions are art, literature, and theatre. She and her husband, Stephen Smith, have two Shining Mountain graduates, Rory (Class of 2004) and Patrick (Class of 2010). Rory graduated from Metro State University of Denver in May 2012 with a BFA in Printmaking and Patrick graduated from NYU in May 2014 with a BA in Music Business.

Pam Hayoun, Accompanist

Bio coming soon.

Leigh Ann Hill, High School Administrator

Bio coming soon.

Nick Hilliard, High School Math Teacher
Nick Hilliard grew up roaming the rolling hills and oak-hickory forests just west of St. Louis, Missouri. His parents were, and still are, deeply involved in education and they planted the seed that grew the same passion in him. Nick graduated from the University of Missouri – St. Louis in 2004, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. He began teaching the next fall at an urban public high school in St. Louis, and has been in the classroom ever since. As a science teacher, Nick was disturbed that his students often lacked the mathematics skills necessary to understand the science concepts. He began teaching mathematics and while doing so discovered a love for math that had not been present in him as a high school and college student.  Nick moved to Boulder in 2006 to be closer to the activities and landscapes he loves. He is an avid skier, runner, and climber, and he tries to squeeze in a yoga class whenever he can. Nick is excited to be a part of the Shining Mountain faculty and community and is looking forward to the school year.

stephanie-hindesStephanie Hindes, High School Educational Resource Director
Stephanie brings many years of experience teaching and supporting students in Waldorf Schools, public schools, and in private settings as well. She holds a Master of Education in Reading and a Master of Science in Special Education. Stephanie’s role will be to help our students succeed in reaching their academic goals as well as working closely with their parents and teachers to ensure that ILPs (Individual Learning Plans) are followed.  Stephanie is also an Associate Educational Therapist and holds teaching credentials in California for working with students with special needs.  In her spare time, she enjoys camping and hiking with her husband and three boys.

Julie_irwin-2015Julie Irwin, High School Spanish Teacher
Julie grew up spending lots of time outdoors in between Philadelphia and New Hampshire. She attended Skidmore College in upstate New York where she majored in Spanish literature and Latin American Studies. Living in Chile and traveling throughout South America during and after college solidified her zest for travel, different cultures, and the Spanish language.  She is passionate about using a hands-on, interactive approach with her students. She most recently taught High School Spanish for four years at Sandia Preparatory School in Albuquerque, NM. She and her husband have two young sons who she is raising bilingually. She loves hiking, playing card and board games, skiing, fixing up their old house in Lyons, and spending time with her family. Julie is thrilled to be part the Shining Mountain community! 

grant-larsonGrant Larson, Band Teacher
An active recitalist and proponent of new music, saxophonist Grant Larson has premiered works for saxophone by Paul Hanson, Philip Wharton, Chiayu Hsu, Steven Makala, and John Drumheller at regional and national conventions. He is the soprano saxophonist with the Chautauqua Saxophone Quartet and has performed with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra, the Chippewa Valley Symphony Orchestra, and the Fargo/Moorhead Symphony Orchestra. Grant currently serves as the Saxophone Practicing Artist at Denver School of the Arts, and wind ensemble conductor for the Colorado Youth Symphony Orchestras.

Equally comfortable in both classical and jazz settings, Grant has performed on stage with notable artists such as Maria Schneider, Kurt Elling, Mulgrew Miller, Art Lande, Brad Goode, Johannes Weidenmueller, Peter Erskin, Ray Charles, Ignacio Berroa, and “Slammin” Sammy K. He has released two jazz albums of original compositions under the Dazzle Recordings label (Denver, CO). Grant holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Saxophone Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Colorado at Boulder; a Master of Music from the University of Colorado; and a Bachelor of Music from Concordia College. Previously, he served on the faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Concordia College, and the Boulder Arts Academy. For more information, please visit www.grantblarson.com.

Joanna Lynden, Accompanist

Bio coming soon.

LawrenceMatthewsLawrence Matthews, High School Math and Science Teacher
Lawrence comes to Shining Mountain from Michigan, where he took two classes through 8th grade at the Rudolf Steiner School of Ann Arbor.  He is excited to have the opportunity to work with high school students.  Lawrence has a B.S. in Chemistry from Stanford University, and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Washington; he worked in research labs in Stockholm and San Diego, then taught Biochemistry at the University of Michigan for six years before becoming a Waldorf teacher.  He did his teacher training through the Waldorf Institute of Southeastern Michigan, and has since also taught future teachers there.  As a class teacher, Lawrence enjoyed coaching middle school basketball, writing plays, and leading students on wilderness adventures.  His love of nature was kindled growing up hiking the deserts and mountains of Arizona.

MatthewMessner-2015Matthew Messner, High School Math and Science Teacher
While working as a research computer scientist for his alma mater (Cognitive Science, Carnegie Mellon University, 1997), Matthew suddenly found himself called to teach.  The call came by telephone.  A local community college asked if he would be willing to create an object-oriented programming course for adults.  He was, and their good company convinced Matthew to devote himself fully to teaching.   From there his path led to summer camps, a progressive pre-school in New York, an experiential boarding school in North Carolina, a Friends school in Virginia, and a Waldorf school off the coast of Maine.  Though each undertaking brought its blessings, it was through Waldorf education (Math and Physical Sciences, Center for Anthroposophy, 2009) he found what he most longed for.  Beyond this, Matthew is a theatrical lighting designer, has completed a Sivananda Yoga training (Kerala, India), and is a pupil of Sound Circle Eurythmy.  He joined the Shining Mountain faculty in 2012.


susanne-mitchellSusanne Mitchell, Fine Arts Teacher
Susanne was born in 1973 and spent the first years of her life in a Camphill community in New York. Her parents were both Waldorf teachers and she attended Waldorf Schools from K – 12th grade. Susanne discovered her love for art at an early age and after high school attended California College of the Arts where she earned a BFA in painting and drawing. In 2007, she earned an MFA in printmaking from the University of Colorado at Boulder and has since served as an Adjunct Professor at Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, as a Lecturer at the University of Colorado at Boulder and as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Metropolitan State University of Denver. In addition to teaching Susanne maintains an active studio practice and exhibits her artwork internationally. Through marriage and motherhood, she was united with a Malawian family in 1995 and her artistic practice is inspired by her experience traversing continents and cultures between Africa and the United States. Susanne believes that, in preparing students to tackle the challenges of our future, it is vital to employ a pedagogy that develops creative and imaginative thinking capacities and she is excited to contribute to the high school program at Shining Mountain.


Thyria Ogletree, Eurythmy Teacher 
 Thyria joined the SMWS faculty in 1998.  She received a diploma from the Boulder Eurythmy Program, directed by Helga Michaels and a Pedagogical Eurythmy Certificate sponsored through AWSNA.  She is the proud parent of two adult children, Nyal and Kyra.  Thyria’s other interests include:  cooking, the farm to table movement, literature, and movement of all kinds including dance, volleyball and basketball.

Rachel Ramsey, High School Humanities Teacher

Bio coming soon.

michelle-segalMichelle Segal, Accompanist
Michelle was passionate about music during high school and college.  She studied at Tanglewood Music School and was offered a full scholarship to attend a music college program.  Instead, Michelle chose to attend Barnard College in New York City, where she could receive a liberal arts degree and study music.  In college, she was awarded the Dolan Music Prize and studied piano with Richard Shirk, who was on the faculty of Mannes and adjunct faculty at Manhattan School of Music. After college, she attended law school and had a rewarding career as a prosecutor of child abuse and neglect cases.  When her children started lessons in piano, trumpet and violin, Michelle’s passion for playing music was rekindled.  Michelle also plays fiddle with tango and bluegrass jams in Boulder, and has competed in Texas Style Fiddle Contests, the last of which she placed third and won a cash prize.

KathleenStarrKathleen Starr, Music Director Grades 3–12
Kathleen, SMWS Music Director, has taught cello and orchestra at Shining Mountain since 2001, and has also taught the high school History Through Music class since 2004. Kathleen grew up in a family of musicians and played piano and cello as a child, going on to earn her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from Indiana University and the University of Massachusetts. She has played professionally in chamber groups and orchestras and has taught at schools in Massachusetts, Tennessee, and Colorado. In addition to her work at SMW, Kathleen teaches privately and with the Boulder Suzuki Strings program. Her son Joseph Lessard graduated from SMWHS in 2003. A reluctant musician throughout his school years, Joe now plays fiddle and sings in three bands. Kathleen enjoys music-making, reading, hiking and attending Joe’s bluegrass shows around Colorado.

Jamie York, Middle School and High School Math Teacher
Jamie York grew up in Connecticut and Maine. After studying computer science, teaching at a boarding school, running a tennis camp, traveling, and serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal, he settled in Boulder in 1993, and shortly thereafter started teaching middle school and high school math at SMWS. He has been there ever since, except for a brief hiatus at a Waldorf school in Holland. Jamie is also the author of a series of books titled, Making Math Meaningful. Jamie consults at Waldorf schools, teaches math workshops across North America, and in the summer, he serves on the faculty at the Center of Anthroposophy (in Wilton, NH) as part of their Waldorf High School Teacher Education Program. In his spare time he most loves camping, skiing, and studying math, history, and philosophy. Jamie and his wife Karen have two children: Arie and Shanti.