Early Childhood Teachers and Assistants
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.
Director of Childcare Licensing
Mary Beth Fifer, Fairy Blossom Parent/Child teacher, Rainbow Garden, Aftercare and Camp Director
Mary Beth has been teaching in one capacity or another since 1982 and feels very blessed to have found her calling in life. She was born in Queens, NY, and spent most of her life on the South Shore of Long Island. Mary Beth graduated from SUNY Stony Brook with a BA in Early Childhood Education and has her Waldorf Early Childhood Teaching Certificate from Sunbridge College. She met her husband Walter in high school. They have three wonderful children, a daughter-in-law and twin grandsons and two granddaughters. Jason, Amy, Colin, Aidan, Sloan and Taylor live in Pennsylvania. Ali graduated from SMWS in 2004 and Zachary in 2010 and both live in Boulder. Mary Beth loves all sorts of handwork and has a small Waldorf toy business, Beth’s Babies and Things. You can find Mary Beth in the kindergarten yard or in the Fairy Blossom room.
Kindergarten Lead Teachers
Chérie Flandrick, Red Rose Kindergarten Teacher
Chérie grew up on the Mississippi river in Minneapolis, MN, in a big family. In 1983, she received her B.A. in Sociology and Spanish, and in 1988, her M.A. in Counseling Psychology. For many years she worked as a Psychologist until she fell in love with her oldest daughter’s Waldorf preschool and decided to become a Waldorf Kindergarten teacher. Chérie attended Rudolph Steiner College in California and graduated in 2003.
With much love and delight she has taught in Waldorf schools in Minnesota, California, Ireland and Colorado. Chérie has been the Red Rose teacher since 2007. She has 3 daughters that have attended Waldorf schools since preschool.
Kristan Stephens, Lark Song Kindergarten Teacher
Kristan Stephens was raised in Ohio and grew up playing along the banks of a lively creek with her siblings. She has always had a love of literature and language and earned her undergraduate degree in English in college where she also met her husband Taylor. They moved to San Francisco, California after college, and then again to Phoenix, Arizona where their two daughters (Remi & Adalie) were born. It was shortly after the birth of her first daughter that Kristan discovered her passion for Waldorf education.
While in Phoenix, Kristan completed a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Arizona State University and also her LifeWays and Simplicity Parenting Coach Certification. Kristan is in her last year of WECAN Waldorf early childhood teacher training at the Sunbridge Institute in New York.
In addition to working at Desert Marigold Waldorf School in Phoenix, she also opened and directed a private home school program for three years, serving children ages 1 to 6. Always longing to return to the mountains, Kristan and her family moved to Colorado one year ago so their daughter Remi could attend Shining Mountain and enjoy the beauty and adventure of the Rocky Mountains. Kristan worked as a lead teacher at Boulder Waldorf Kindergarten last year and has enjoyed volunteering as a parent at Shining Mountain, leading last year’s Winter Faire. Kristan takes interest in many things and especially enjoys reading, felting, hiking, and spending time with her family.
Rachel Laws, White Dove Kindergarten Teacher
Rachel Laws attended the Austin Waldorf School from kindergarten through Grade 8 and has fond memories of that time, from baking bread to performing Shakespeare. She joins our community with an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas where she also minored in German. Following college, Rachel attended Rudolph Steiner College where she completed the two-year full-time training to become a Waldorf teacher.
She comes to SMWS as an experienced Waldorf teacher, having taught kindergarten for 8 years at the Waldorf School of the Roaring Fork in Carbondale, Colorado, as well as having taught first and second grade at Upper Valley Waldorf School in Quechee, New Hampshire. She is excited to be building upon her personal Waldorf experience as a student, as well as her professional Waldorf teaching experience to bring to SMWS.
Rainbow Garden and Aftercare
Dana Larson Sher, Lead Rainbow Garden and Aftercare Teacher
Dana grew up in Williamsville, NY, a small town outside of Buffalo. She worked at the U.N. for several years, giving tours in English, Swedish and Spanish. During that time she received a Masters degree in Teaching from Teachers College, Columbia University. After teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages for several years, she worked for a number of non-profits before heading to nursing school after having children. She graduated from Columbia University School of Nursing in 1998 and worked as an R.N.; for 10 years in Med/Surg, Labor & Delivery, Post-Partum, as a school nurse, and in Hospice and Long-Term Care. In 2007 she became Mrs. Fifer’s assistant in Rainbow Garden, while still working part-time as a nurse. She worked as an assistant with Miss Cherie in Red Rose Kindergarten for two years and with Mrs. Feigal in White Dove Kindergarten for five years. After graduating from Waldorf Teacher Training at Rudolf Steiner College in July of 2015 she became the lead Angel Garden teacher at Boulder Waldorf Kindergarten, where she worked until beginning this position at Shining Mountain Waldorf School. She is the mother of two Shining Mountain graduates, Ariel (2010) and Eli (2014) and is so happy to be back at SMWS.
Julie Voss, Assistant for Rainbow Garden and Aftercare
Ms. Julie was born and raised on the edge of a small Kansas town where her early days included running through the prairie grasses, looking for turtles, and playing outside “until the street lights came on.” After obtaining her Bachelor of Science in Journalism degree from the University of Kansas she lived in various states before returning to Lawrence so her two boys could attend Prairie Moon Waldorf School. After years of volunteering as a parent and supporting the school in many roles, she stepped into teaching in the early childhood program and began her studies at Sunbridge Institute in Chestnut Ridge, NY. She plans to graduate in 2018 with her Early Childhood Waldorf Teaching Certificate as well as a Master’s in Education from Empire College – SUNY.
Julie and her husband Mark, along with their two boys and two dogs moved to Boulder this summer so her oldest boy could begin his Waldorf high school experience at Shining Mountain.
Kai Miller, Rainbow Garden Teacher
Kai was born in New York and moved to Colorado in 2001. She began working with children in the Boulder community as a childcare provider. Then Kai found her way to a Waldorf kindergarten and spent three years as an assistant teacher. She then went on to become a lead teacher for three years with Applesong in Lyons, Colorado.
Academically, Kai holds an M.A in Environmental Education from Prescott College and has completed her Early Childhood Waldorf Teacher training at Rudolf Steiner College (2013). She also earned her Director Qualification in 2013. Kai launched a coaching practice in 2015 while she left teaching to become a mother. Her daughter, Eden, is now 14 months old. Her spiritual striving has led her to become a yoga teacher and to focus on her own personal development as a human being through meditation. Kai believes it is her responsibility to be worthy of imitation and create an atmosphere in the classroom full of love, joy and warmth.
Joe Koller, Red Rose Kindergarten Assistant Joe Koller has been involved with Waldorf pre-schools and kindergartens since the turn of the century—first as a parent, and later as an assistant. “Papa Joe” has been an assistant to his wife Cherie Flandrick in the Shining Mountain kindergarten since 2008. He has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and became a Colorado certified Early Childhood Teacher in 2011. He also has numerous years of restaurant and baking experience and especially enjoys sharing his cooking and baking skills with the children.
Sara Fernald, White Dove Kindergarten Assistant and Rainbow Garden Teacher
Sara grew up in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, where she gained a great appreciation for the beauty of the outdoors. She always loved working with children and knew she wanted to be a teacher from an early age. Sara studied elementary education in Vermont, but reading “School as a Journey”, by Torin Finser, convinced her that Waldorf education is much more aligned with what children really need. This led her to study to be an early childhood teacher at Rudolf Steiner College. Following graduation, she worked at Sophia’s Hearth
Family Center in Keene, New Hampshire, for almost five years, before moving to Boulder in January. Sara enjoys being outside in nature, especially hiking, spending time with friends and family, and doing crafts. She looks forward to working with the children and families at Shining Mountain.
Sherry Lewis-Ramirez, Lark Song Kindergarten Assistant
Sherry Lewis-Ramirez was first drawn to Waldorf education when visiting a Winter Faire at the Austin Waldorf School in 2008 with her husband, an AWS alumnus, Benjamin Ramirez. She found the Waldorf school there to be healing and inviting. She began to learn more about Waldorf education when she was expecting her first child in the same year. Prior to her interest in Waldorf education and having children she graduated from Southwestern University. She went through a one year Hatha Yoga Teacher Training program and taught classes at her home yoga studio, including children’s yoga. In May of 2015, she completed a Waldorf teaching training program in the grades and early childhood in Austin, Texas and worked as a lower grades assistant at the AWS for the past two years, assisting in kindergarten through 6th grades and substituting in kindergarten through high school. Sherry moved to Lyons in August of 2017 and is enjoying making her home in Colorado and joining the Shining Mountain community with her family; her husband, Ben, son, Banyan and daughter, Lily. In her free time, she loves to spend time with her family exploring nature, seeing family-friendly live music, baking and knitting.