Julie Pepe-Phelps, Principal
Julie was born and raised in Anchorage. She attended Inlet View, Central Jr. High and graduated from West High school. Julie’s educational career was originally inspired by her grandmother, Audrey Daut who came to Cordova in 1927 as a young teacher and then went on to become principal of Cordova High School. Julie has an undergraduate degree in Business Management from California State University, Sonoma, a Masters in the Art of Teaching from the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) as well as a Masters of Education in Educational Leadership from UAS. She is currently working on her Masters certificate in Waldorf Education through Antioch University.
Julie and her husband, Greg have owned and operated a construction company for over thirty years while raising four delightful children. After an active volunteer career in her children’s schools, Julie decided to become a teacher’s aide in the Kindergarten class at Winterberry Charter School. From there she went on to become the founding teacher for the Winterberry Hybrid Program and then was hired as Winterberry’s principal.
When not at Winterberry, Julie enjoys spending time with her growing family, cooking, singing, playing guitar, practicing the Fine Art of Grandparenting, beachcombing in Homer, traveling in Europe and visiting relatives in Northern California.
Shana K. Garrels, Business Manager
When then President of WPG, Craig Lyon came out of the interview with Ms. Shana, he said, “She is the one!” Since that day in 2016, Ms. Shana has been the backbone of Winterberry’s Administrative team.
She graduated from Dimond High School. She soon after began a career in optics as an optician while taking college courses in Optical Science. Working both as optician and office manager, Ms. Shana helped her family build a thriving business, Cook Inlet Eyewear. She obtained her American Board of Opticians Certification (ABO) in 2000, and National Contact Lens Examiners Certification (NCLE) in 2003
Ms. Shana continued to study accounting and business while raising her three sons (six month old twins and a three year old boy) and working full time. For her efforts she was the only Alaskan recognized at the 10th Annual Hawaii International Conference on Business in 2009. In 2010 she received her BA in Accounting from the University of Alaska Anchorage.
Ms. Shana is Winterberry’s IT guru, budget magician, purchasing Queen, solo HR department and she does it all with grace, style, confidence and best of all laughter. Holding our school together in so many ways, that is Ms. Shana.
Colleen Morris, Administrative Assistant
Ms. Colleen was not looking for a job when by twist of fate she received a phone call from a Winterberry Parent asking her to apply to be the Administrative Assistant at Winterberry. At the time, she had just received her teaching certification for Hatha Yoga and Kids Yoga and was teaching at a couple of studios in town.
After accepting the job at Winterberry, she found that the principles of yoga and of Waldorf pedagogy are similar. She comes everyday seeing the inner light of each student. Holding children who might need help with stillness or with finding a calm place is one of her strengths. With Ms. Colleen as our front desk, “It is always a Wonderful Day at Winterberry”.
Jennifer Saroyan, Hybrid Program Coordinator
Ms. Jenny was born in Fort Ord, California and raised in Klamath Falls, Oregon. She attended California State University Monterey Bay where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Child Development. She moved to Anchorage in 2011 where she enrolled at University of Alaska Southeast and earned her Master of Arts in Teaching degree. She spent three years teaching in the ASD tier II behavior intervention program, Creating Successful Futures. The last two years she has taught kindergarten at Northwood Elementary, a school that is known for being trauma informed and culturally responsive.
Her family lives in Oregon and California, where she likes to visit as often as she can. She enjoys spending time outdoors and loves anything chocolate peanut butter. This summer, she attended the Art of Teaching and Core Principles training at Sebastopol Charter school where she was introduced to philosophical and pedagogical principles of Waldorf Education from a practical perspective. She is excited to learn more about Waldorf education and honored to be a part of the wonderful Winterberry community.
Alicia Besh Barber
Alicia Besh Barber has a Masters in Waldorf Education from Antioch New England Graduate School and 15 years teaching experience in the lower and upper grades at various Waldorf schools on the East Coast and Winterberry Charter School in Anchorage, Alaska. Ms. Besh Barber’s experiences continue to prepare her for this life-long journey as a Waldorf educator, mentor to teachers, and a mother of two. Ms. Besh Barber was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, where she spent most of her youth in the Chugach Mountains, painting at her remote cabin in the Tordrillo Mountains, and cross-country skiing. Ms. Besh Barber attended the University of Montana, where she received her undergraduate degree in English Literature with an emphasis in poetry. During this time, she also received her Montana State Structure Fire Fighter Certification and worked for Frenchtown Rural Fire Department while going to school. She became a poet by day and fire fighter by night, winning the University of Montana Outstanding Volunteer Service Award. During her senior year of college, Ms. Barber completed a term of study in London, England. Post-graduation, Ms. Besh Barber solo toured on her bicycle up the Alaska-Canada Highway to return to Alaska, where she discovered Waldorf Education at Winterberry Charter School and started work as a Teacher’s Assistant. She became enchanted with the Waldorf pedagogy and how it meets the needs of the whole child: academically, socially and artistically. In addition, she was also thrilled to find a profession that would allow her to share her passion for poetry.
Ms. Besh Barber decided to pack her bags and head to the East Coast to complete her Master’s studies as a Waldorf teacher. With the vision of returning back to Alaska as a Waldorf Teacher, she matriculated at the Antioch New England Graduate School where she received her Master’s in Teaching and Waldorf Education. Shortly after completing her Master’s degree, she accepted a teaching position at Winterberry Charter School. She was determined to grow with her students, learn from her colleagues and play a pivotal role towards ensuring that our new school grew towards the philosophy of Rudolf Steiner. Teaching a group of students through to eighth grade was an adventure and learning experience she looks forward to draw upon in her future teaching career. After she graduated her 8th graders, the following year she looped down to teach First and Second Grade. Teaching First Grade was refreshing and transformative. She gained an empowering perspective of the upper and lower grades; they were unique, wonderful and challenging in different ways. She truly felt clarity and confidence as a Waldorf Teacher because she knew where her students needed to be by the time they reached 8th grade. Ms. Besh Barber had just come from teaching students how to construct a pentagon to students experiencing the pentagon for the first time: a hoya flower opening to unfold the five-pointed star.
Now in her fifteenth year of teaching; Ms. Besh Barber supports and mentor’s teachers at Winterberry. She is a mother of two daughters, her eldest now in Kindergartener at Winterberry and her youngest at a Waldorf Early Childhood school in Anchorage. Ms. Besh Barber has found that there are many parallels between teaching, parenting and firefighting. They both demand stamina, dedication, communication, and compassion for others, building community, continual education and training. She is a committed teacher who will enthusiastically bring energy and inspiration to students so that they acquire a love for learning with bright eyes, determination and constant interest.
Nurse Katrina Seater
Nurse Katrina joined the Winterberry team in 2018 as their school nurse. She was born in Greeley, Colorado, and moved to Ashland Oregon at the age of 7. Throughout her life, she has spent summers commercial fishing with her 3 sisters and mother in Nikiski Alaska, (and continues this family tradition to this day). She obtained a Liberal Arts degree from The Evergreen State College in Olympia Washington, and then migrated to Seattle Washington where she completed her nursing degree at Seattle University. She worked briefly in Seattle with Health Care for the homeless as a TB nurse, and then relocated to Chinle, Arizona to work on the Navajo reservation. In 2000, she accepted a nursing position at Kanakanak Hospital in Dillingham, Alaska. She has lived in Alaska ever since. In 2005, she moved to Anchorage to work as an emergency room nurse at The Alaska Native Medical Center, where she worked for 9 years. After, Nurse Katrina took a year off to spend time with her daughter and their 4 (now 6) alpacas, and completed a 200 hour yoga certification.
Nurse Katrina fell in love with Winterberry the moment she stepped through the doors of the school. Her daughter started Kindergarten when Winterberry planted new roots on Bryn Mawr Court and she immediately felt the warmth and beauty that permeates the halls of this school. She feels so blessed to be a part of the Winterberry community not only as a parent but as a staff member.