Lisa Stafford, Kindergarten Teacher
Lisa Stratford was born the middle child of 3, flanked by brothers and raised outside of Denver, Colorado. Some of her favorite earliest memories include golden aspens, towering snowy peaks, fields of blue columbines and cozy nights huddled close to a crackling woodstove. The semi-rural community she grew up in provided opportunities for raising pigs and turkeys, planting and caring for a huge garden, and winter ice-skating and summer tubing on the nearby irrigation ponds and ditches. In 1992, Lisa moved to Alaska and in 1993 began her formal journey in to teaching. Many of her early teaching experiences found her in forests and along the beaches, with children in tow, exploring, discovering and marveling at the mysteries they found along the way. From the Alaska State Parks Junior Ranger program, to Lead Naturalist at the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies to environmental intern at the Campbell Creek Science Center, Lisa found great joy in sharing discoveries of the natural world with children of all ages.
Lisa holds a BA in Biological Sciences, emphasis in Botany from UAA and has been a certified teacher since 2009. She is certified through the West Coast Institute for Studies in Anthroposophy as a Waldorf Early Childhood Educator, and in 2019 completed a 3-year training called Nurturing the Roots, which builds on and deepens the traditional Waldorf Early Childhood training, adding information about working with the children who demand our attention the most.
Lisa’s days are full of the golden sunshine of children’s smiling faces, they teach her how to be present in the moment and how to view the world through eyes filled with joy.
Sarah Glaser, Grade One Teacher
Sarah Glaser was born in Ft. Lewis Washington and moved frequently between stateside and overseas as a child while her father served in the US Army. During her own elementary years, she attended a variety of schools and classrooms across the U.S., Germany, and Japan. After graduating from Dimond High School, she enlisted in the US Air Force and served six years maintaining F-15 avionics systems and managing the deployment program for her squadron. She met her husband, Aaron, while in the Air Force and they have been happily married since 2005.
During her last two years on Active Duty she began taking night classes at UAA working towards a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education; something she had felt drawn to since working as a mentor with struggling students at her last duty station. After the Air Force, Sarah attended UAA full-time and earned her Bachelor degree in Elementary Education in 2012. During that time, she was introduced to Waldorf Education while taking outdoor leadership courses and knew immediately she would pursue a career as a Waldorf teacher.
She feels very fortunate to be working as part of the Winterberry team to help education students’ heads, hearts, and hands!
And…despite what other bio’s may say, she is the reigning champion of the 1st annual guacamole contest.
Corrie Bennett, Grade Two Teacher
Ms. Bennett was born in southern Oregon and grew up in western Washington. After graduating from high school in Mt. Vernon, WA, she headed to Thailand for a year. While in Thailand she worked as an English teacher’s aid in a small town in the northeast. Upon her return to the states, she began working towards her teaching certification.
Ms. Bennett took a break from school to be at home with her two children, Ona and Oliver. When her eldest, Ona, was nearing kindergarten age Ms. Bennett discovered Waldorf education. That following year her family moved to Anchorage, the same year Winterberry Charter school opened. Ona attended kindergarten at Winterberry in that very first year. Since that time, Ms. Bennett’s daughter has graduated from Winterberry and her son will be graduating this year.
Ms. Bennett received her teaching certification, magna cum laude, from Alaska Pacific University in 2011. She is currently teaching first grade after finishing her first loop with the class of 2019.
Tomas Jensen, Grade Three Teacher
Mr. Jensen has had a long and circuitous route to teaching and to Waldorf education. Early in his life, he had planned on being a fireman, or an architect, then a forester, or a biologist. His formative years were spent in a small town in Iowa and then left Iowa far behind to attend college in Minnesota. After graduating from Carleton College in 1999 with a degree in Economics he had the good sense to pursue a voluntary position with AmeriCorp in White Salmon, WA. With a new deep appreciation for mountains, skiing, civic responsibility, and the Northwest, he returned to the Midwest for a graduate degree in Applied Economics, focusing on community development. Just before he finished his program, he took an unplanned, but well-timed, spring ski trip to Alaska. He returned from the trip with a job offer and a reason to move back west. Working in a small firm that travelled around the state, Mr. Jensen learned first-hand the importance of community and the role schools play in that. Wanting a more proactive role affecting the world around him, he set down plans to start a career in education. Before beginning the teaching program at Alaska Pacific University, he and his soon-to-be wife, traveled around the Mediterranean and Norway, volunteering on farms and hiking. In 2013, he completed his teaching degree at APU. He found the Anchorage Waldorf School and a first grade class waiting for a teacher. During his seven years at AWS, he deepened his enjoyment of teaching, learning, and Waldorf education. Along the way, Mr. Jensen and his wife expanded their family to include three energetic children, the oldest ready to start Kindergarten this fall. In his limited free time, he cooks for his family, tries to keep their honeybees in a good mood, and makes sure to finish all his chores so he can go out and play. Mr. Jensen is excited to begin a new chapter and looks forward to meeting new families and continuing his learning here at Winterberry.
Molly Towner, Grade Four Teacher
Ms. Towner grew up in Boulder, Colorado and earned her undergraduate degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Colorado State University. She spent summers teaching outdoor education to children in Colorado and upstate New York. Ms. Towner moved to Alaska "for the summer" after college graduation and has lived here ever since. Her first years in Alaska were spent working summers in Denali Park and winters in Girdwood. Before having children, she spent 8 years in a dry cabin off the grid several miles out of town. While in Girdwood, she worked as a server/bartender in most of the local restaurants, owned and managed Girdwood Travel Service, and worked as a teaching assistant at Girdwood Elementary. Ms. Towner's move into Anchorage to attend graduate school coincided with the opening of Winterberry, and her children both attended Winterberry. She is now a proud parent of a college sophomore and high school senior. She enjoys hiking, traveling, and making music. Ms. Towner is currently teaching 3rd grade with her second group of wonderful Winterberry students.
Jeremy Crawford, Grade Five Teacher
Jeremy Crawford was born and raised in Anchorage, and attended public school (K-12) here. His parents were both teachers, his mother at the elementary level, and his father high school. Mr. Crawford attended the elder Mr. Crawford’s Philosophy class in high school, and learned a good lesson in ethics: having forgotten to complete the final essay of the course, he received a B grade, despite having a definite “in” with the teacher. Steeped in education, Mr. Crawford swore it off forever as a profession (especially Middle School), and left for college in Gunnison, Colorado (BA, Biology). There, influenced by sunny winters and the beauty of cross-country ski racing, he found that he loved his freedom, and found himself a good education in a rather bad school, skied his heart out, and found true love.
He and his wife, Devon, honeymooned on the Alaska Highway then settled into paradise (it really was, for them!): Fairbanks, AK, where Mr. Crawford studied creative writing at UAF (MFA, Creative Writing). He and his wife also learned a thing or two about the cold and the dark (for one thing, you get to see lots of Northern Lights!)
Despite his earlier decision to never go into teaching, it turns out that teaching really is in Mr. Crawford’s blood. Waldorf education in particular was always somewhere in his heart, even though he did not know it. When he was studying to be a teacher, he was always drawn to the ideas that Waldorf education rests upon—he just didn’t realize that there was really a place for him as a teacher! Still, he knew one thing: you can’t teach unless you have students, and you can’t do good in the world unless you try, so he went ahead and got his teaching certificate, hoping to change some of the things that he had learned about in his studies. Slowly, Mr. Crawford and Waldorf education snuck up on one another, until one spring afternoon in 2005, as he was teaching his second graders at Roger’s Park Elementary School, just down the road from here, in walked… Ms. Mall! She was the principal of a brand new school (so new, in fact, that it did not really even exist yet), and she was there to meet him, and see how he taught. And the rest, as they say, is history. Mr. Crawford has taught at Winterberry since the 2005-06 school year, and he is currently teaching the most fantastic group of sixth graders that could ever be dreamed up. He is looking forward to two more fantastic years with this class, and then plans to take up a first grade and go through the amazing journey one more time.
Mr. Crawford and his wife, Devon, have a son, North, who is a student at Winterberry.
Kim Spillane, Grade Six Teacher
Kim Spillane was born and raised in a small town in Southwest Washington State where she lived with her mother, father, and her older and younger brothers. She spent her early years walking the fields between her childhood house and her grandparents’ home, riding ponies, playing in creeks, and helping to tend the family’s French Alpine dairy goat farm. Although Kim loved the small-town setting of her childhood, she dreamed of seeing the world. Kim graduated from Western Washington University with her Bachelor of Education Degree in 1996, and started her teaching career as a substitute teacher and afterschool care coordinator on San Juan Island off the coast of Washington. She then spent three years teaching on the Island of Saipan in Micronesia. Kim decided it was time to move closer to home, but didn’t want to give up her spirit of adventure. She moved to Kodiak Island in 2000 to teach in the Island’s logging camps and villages. There she had the chance to live remotely, surrounded by nature’s beauty, and learn from some of the most rugged and resilient people she’s met. After a few years, Kodiak Schools loaned Kim to the State, giving her the chance to enjoy some time in Fairbanks and mentor teachers new to the profession. She then returned to Kodiak, lived in town, met and married her husband James, finished her M.Ed. with an emphasis in Reading, had two sons, and continued to work and love Alaska’s Emerald Isle. However, during that same time, James’ career began to grow, and it was ready to be transplanted in Anchorage. Since their two sons were very young, they decided to make the move and for Kim to spend time at home raising their boys. As their first son approached school-age, Kim and James began to explore different schooling options for their children, when through friends, they learned about Winterberry’s Hybrid Program. The whole family loved the Hybrid Program and found a deepening appreciation of Waldorf Education. As time went on, and both boys were attending Winterberry, Kim was able to help with the Hybrid Program as a long-term substitute and then served as an aide in several Winterberry classrooms for two years. During that time, Kim attended Antioch University’s Waldorf Teacher Certification Program along with some of her wonderful Winterberry colleagues. The chance to continue working with these colleagues, the dedicated families, and the energetic and creative children of Winterberry fills Kim with excitement, honor, and hope!
Sandy Christenson, Grade Seven Teacher
Sandy Christenson was born in Massachusetts, and has spent her entire life living all over the United States and England. She attended the University of Massachusetts at Amherst where she earned a B.A. in English and a. M.Ed. (Master of Education).
After graduation, Ms. Christenson worked at a small private school for adolescents with emotional disturbances. She then followed her dream of living in Wyoming where she taught high school English in a very small and remote town. She decided to settle there permanently until she met her husband, Craig, who was active duty in the Air Force. Her first move with the military was to Idaho. There, she taught sixth grade. Subsequent military moves brought her to Oklahoma and Texas where she and her husband had their son, Lane, and daughter, Katie. One final military move brought them to Alaska. This great state captured the hearts of the entire family, and Craig retied from the Air Force so they could finally put down roots.
As Lane and Katie both reached school age, Ms. Christenson ventured back into teaching and pursued education to become a Highly Qualified Teacher in elementary education to add to her certifications in middle school and high school language arts. She spent the past two years as a substitute including long-term assignments in fifth grade and kindergarten.
Ms. Christenson was first exposed to Waldorf education four years ago, and upon learning of Winterberry, picked this school as her ideal teaching assignment. She has happily handed over the day-to-day operations of her composting worm business to her husband.
Ms. Christenson, her husband, and their two children currently live with their dogs, cats, horses, guinea pigs, numerous chickens, several fish, and a few million composting worms. Lane currently attends school at Winterberry, and Katie hopes to attend in the near future. When he is not elbow-deep in worms, Dr. Christenson spends his free time mushing and dreams of one day entering the Iditarod. Together, the family enjoys hiking, backpacking, hunting, dip netting, crafting, reading, crafts, and games.
Sarah Cronick, Grade Eight Teacher
Sarah Cronick was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska. After graduating high school she left the nest to live abroad for a year in Switzerland. Immersed in the Swiss culture, she learned German while greatly expanding her world view and perspectives. Upon completing her year abroad, Sarah attended the University of Wyoming, where she received her Bachelors of Arts in International Studies with a minor in German. The seeds of living abroad by now well-sprouted, Sarah spent a semester of her junior year living in Buenos Aires, Argentina, diving into all things city life, which primarily meant eating delicious meals and spending long hours wandering the vibrant city.
The rivers of Colorado called Sarah post-graduation, and it was love at first sight. Sarah spent the better part of the next dozen years in various places in Colorado guiding rivers, teaching yoga, snowboarding, practicing Thai massage and working with elders. Her journeys in the healing arts, coupled with excellent mentorship, deeply influenced her choice to pursue her Masters in Education with Waldorf Certification from Antioch University. Sarah graduated in December of 2018 and is thrilled that her home place of Alaska has called her back to serve the young population here.
When Sarah is not in school, you will likely find her with family and friends, amongst the exquisite wilds of this place we call home.
Gratitude is the vessel that we lift to the gods, that they may fill it with their wonder gifts.