Faculty & Staff

“Mountain Laurel is an inspiring and beautiful school. My two children have been happy there for nearly ten years and are inspired every day. I’m so appreciative to the dedicated faculty who know my children and help them reach their full potential to be who they are meant to be.” ~ Brandi Ascione (parent)

Business Operations and Administrative Offices

Patricia Dewitte-Kuyl

Head Administrator & Enrollment Director

Patricia is a native from Belgium, raised as a francophone in Flanders. She received her B.A. in Oriental Philology and History from the Katholieke Universiteit, Leuven and completed her M.A in Cultural Anthropology at Osaka University, with a full grant from the Japanese Department of Education. She married in Japan and worked as a freelance translator/interpreter in the French, Dutch, Japanese, Chinese and English languages for many years after she moved to America. Patricia has 3 children who took her on the wonderful journey of Waldorf Education at Mountain Laurel Waldorf School.

Patricia serves on the Executive Committee, Care Streams Group, Enrollment Group, Finance Committee, AWSNA Steering Committe, Board of Trustees, Strategic Planning Committee and Administrative Group.

Sue McKenzie

Business & Facilities Director

Bio Coming Soon…

Sue serves on the Administrative Group, Personnel Comittee, Enrollment Group, Finance Committee and Board of Trustees.

Amy Hannes

Development and Marketing Director

With over 25 years experience across the non-profit, corporate and entrepreneurial sectors, Amy has led work in operations, human resources, marketing, communications and fundraising. Amy received a B.A. from Colgate University and a J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law. Before joining Mountain Laurel, Amy was the Chief Operating Officer of At The Well, a women’s wellness organization, where she led operational and financial strategy and planning. Prior to that, she served as the Managing Director of Operations at Hazon, where she oversaw all facets of the $10M environmental organization’s operations. Amy also worked as an attorney at WilmerHale and a mediator with the Boston Law Collaborative, and then spent a few years exercising her right brain as a personal chef in Boston. Amy held her daughter Ruby Blu’s naming ceremony in the Mountain Laurel Community Room in 2015, and has been a committed member of our community ever since.

Amy serves on the Board of Trustees.

Lydia Pidlusky

Office Manager

Since graduating from SUNY New Paltz with a BA in jazz vocal performance, Lydia Pidlusky has worked many years in administration, using her knack for computers and technology. Lydia first came to Mountain Laurel School while in college as a volunteer assistant for the Kindergarten in 1999. Later on, although primarily working in the school office, Lydia has expertly worn multiple hats; teaching chorus, substituting for lead teachers in all grades, assisting in special subjects, in the Kindergarten during afternoon naptime, in facilities management and interior painting, and contributing her singing and clarinet skills to the Community Chorus and Community Orchestra respectively. Lydia has worked in several industries throughout the region, most recently as DJ and Operations Manager at a local independent radio station. Her talents extend to the performing arts as a vocalist, actress, writer and director, performing regularly throughout the region.

Sarah Losee

Receptionist/Administrative Associate

Sarah obtained her BA in Mathematics at Concordia College. She worked many years in the Hotel and Resort industry as a Food & Beverage Manager and Development Manager honing her event coordinating and administrative skills.

Sarah is also a community volunteer at the Christ the King Church in New Paltz, where she works with the children’s ministry and the Director of Music (Chris Losee, who is Mountain Laurel’s percussion teacher) building the children’s music program. Through her role there, Sarah had the opportunity to work with Mark & Steve Bernstein and the MLWS faculty to facilitate some of our beautiful concerts held at the church.

Apart from the many professional skills Sarah is bringing to the position, her warm and joyful personality is a welcoming and helpful first contact with the school when one comes into the school building, or when the children need a band-aid and a kind word.

Early Childhood Faculty

Nancy Hoose

Morning Star Kindergarten Lead Teacher

Since Nancy took the Morning Glory kindergarten under her wing as the lead teacher in March, she has shepherded the class with a deep understanding of the developmental stage of the mixed age children in her care. With the collaboration of her dedicated assistants and her growing love for the children, she was soon committed to continue carrying this class in the new school year, renaming it the Morning Star Kindergarten.

Nancy returned to Mountain Laurel School last year to bring back our beloved Sunflower Garden Parent & Child Program which she so expertly and warmly facilitated in the past.

Nancy received her Early Childhood Teaching Certificate from the Alkion Center, a branch of the Hawthorne Valley Association. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Stockton State College. Nancy has been teaching in Waldorf settings with children aged 18 months – 6 years since 2008. She loves baking, handwork, singing and puppetry. Nancy’s other hobbies include swimming, hiking, yoga and snowboarding/skiing with her family.

Veronica Kent

Starflower Nursery Lead Teacher

Veronica Kent has been working with young children and parents for over 20 years. She first came to Mountain Laurel as the afternoon lead kindergarten teacher in 2009. In addition to running a home program, she has taught at New Amsterdam Waldorf School in NYC and Acorn Waldorf School in Accord, NY. She was trained in early childhood Waldorf pedagogy at Sophia’s Hearth in NH. In her free time, Veronica enjoys playing the harp, singing and practicing yoga.

Veronica serves on the Executive Committee and the AWSNA Steering Committee.

Alexa Mossbrucker

Sunflower Sprouts Lead Teacher and Parent & Child Program Facilitator

Alexa will be leading our growing Sunflower Garden Program, which now consists of the Sunflower Seedlings (Parent & Infant Classes), the Sunflower Garden (Parent & Toddler Classes) and the new Sunflower Sprouts Playgarden which is a bridge program for 2 to 3 year olds who are transitioning in a gentle way to a morning Nursery program without their parents. Alexa’s daughter, Juniper will be joining the 1st grade, and son Miles the 3rd grade.

Affectionately known as Mrs. Moss, Alexa found her calling in Waldorf education six years ago. She was instantly captivated with Rudolf Steiner’s teachings, which led her to self-educate on Waldorf philosophies and reverent homemaking.

Alexa still remembers aspiring to be a mother since she was a little girl and presently as a mother of three children, she feels her guardian angel helping to weave her destiny with love and tender care. This enlightenment has brought her family and herself to the Hudson Valley where there is a thriving Waldorf community.

She recently graduated from the Waldorf teacher training program at the Alkion Center at Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School. Alexa worked as an assistant teacher at Mountaintop Waldorf School before continuing on to Primrose Hill School where she led Parent/Child classes and taught the second grade for a period of time. Mrs. Moss’s interests are anthroposophical studies, simplicity parenting philosophies, reading, sewing, painting, gardening, baking, singing and flute playing, horse-back riding, canoeing, hiking, camping with her family, and doting upon her darling puppy.

Kahlia Pelligra

Mountain Rose Kindergarten Lead Teacher

Kahlia’s experience with Waldorf pedagogy began early on. She attended Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School and graduated from The Berkshire Waldorf High School. She was raised in an anthroposophical family on a small biodynamic farm. Kahlia has been teaching Waldorf inspired nature-based kindergarten for the past seven years. Kahlia received her early childhood certification from LifeWays North America and attended Sunbridge Institute for various Waldorf early childhood trainings. Kahlia is enthusiastic about nurturing kindness and compassion in the children’s social realm and inspiring wonder and love for the natural world around us. 

Her passion for Waldorf education began after graduating from the Berkshire Waldorf High School. That passion has steadily increased through her work as an early childhood educator, and especially since becoming a mother to her toddler son, Wylder. Kahlia is honored to be a part of the Mountain Laurel Waldorf school.

Ariah Linville

Mountain Rose Kindergarten PM Facilitator

Ariah grew up in Santa Cruz, California, where she first fell in love with Waldorf through attending the festivals at her local Waldorf school. For the past decade, she has been basking in the seasons and history of the Hudson Valley. She lived and worked at the Omega Institute for many years and is now pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in English. Ariah revels in the art in all things: she is a potter and a writer. She is also passionate about food and social justice.

Akashlina (Kashi) Ahmed

Starflower Nursery AM Assistant

Akashlina (or Kashi) was born and raised in New York City by Bangladeshi immigrants. She grew up in a very culturally active home and has been involved in Bangladeshi performing arts since childhood as a student and educator of fine art, dance, music and Bangla language. She has worked with children of all ages, but primarily those in early childhood as a teaching assistant and nanny.

With a background in media arts, Kashi went on to receive her bachelor’s degree in psychology from CUNY John Jay College and is currently attending graduate school (remotely) at University at Buffalo for Counseling.

In her free time, Kashi enjoys many outdoor sports and activities, attending concerts, creating art projects in various mediums, and cooking. She, her husband, their cat and dog made their home in New Paltz in the early Spring of 2021. Kashi cherishes her role as assistant Nursery teacher at Mountain Laurel and finds tremendous joy caring for the children.

Daniela Arizmendi

Morning Star Kindergarten AM Assistant and PM Facilitator

Daniela Arizmendi graduated from SUNY New Paltz with a BA in Social Justice Education. This interdisciplinary program, pulling from the arts and social sciences has shaped her holistic approach to education. Expressive arts and child psychology courses taught her the importance of play and somatic learning. Daniela is a caring and passionate educator with over 6 years of childcare and classroom experience who feels deeply committed to providing an inclusive and creative space for embodied learning of the mind, body and spirit. Through her research on Waldorf education, specifically the Nursery / Kindergarten curriculum, Daniela feels deeply aligned with the philosophy and is eager to contribute to Mountain Laurel School’s mission.

Kyrie Berezuk

Mountain Rose Kindergarten PM and Aftercare Facilitator

Raised in the Hudson Valley, Kyrie Berezuk began her school experience as a student in a small Waldorf Nursery/Kindergarten. She then attended Mountain Laurel Waldorf School from 1st through 8th grade, graduating in the class of 2006. As a former competitive figure skater, she quickly discovered her passion for teaching children at her first job as an ice skating coach. Kyrie then went on to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from The New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. After graduating, she moved to Carbondale, Colorado, where she worked for a prominent ceramic artist as a studio and gallery assistant. Kyrie then made her way south, where she lived for a time in the small city of Lake Charles, Louisiana. There she worked as an assistant manager and art instructor at a community art studio, teaching a variety of artistic techniques and mediums to children ages 3 and up. While in Louisiana, she also held multiple positions at a private school, working as a PreK-3 teacher’s assistant, aftercare teacher, and PreK/Kindergarten summer camp counselor.

Kyrie moved back to the Hudson Valley at the end of 2020, where she has spent the last year and a half working as an artist. For many years, she has held onto the idea of one day returning to Mountain Laurel and rejoining the warm and nurturing community she knew as a child. She is very excited that day has arrived!

Amanda Chapin

Morning Star Kindergarten PM Facilitator and Sunflower Sprouts Bridge Program Assistant

Amanda has been working at an outdoor Waldorf kindergarten for the past 3 years. She loves watching the children explore nature and interact with their environment throughout the seasons. Amanda has also worked as a camp counselor with kindergarten age children for the past two summers. Amanda’s own son, who is attending the Mountain Laurelclass of 2031, has been her greatest teacher in life so far. Amanda has been working with children most of her adult life in many different capacities including as a ski instructor and a nurse. Amanda is a licensed nurse-midwife and worked delivering babies for over 10 years. She left her career to be a stay at home mom and found her way to teaching through a Waldorf program that she participated in with her son. She brings her love of all children and nature to her teaching. Amanda is excited to be joining the Mountain Laurel Waldorf Community and the Early Childhood program.

Aurora Gill

Mountain Rose Kindergarten AM Assistant

Aurora Gill graduated from Mountain Laurel in 2019. Her life has been enriched by Waldorf education since she first attended parent-child classes at the Brooklyn Waldorf school, kindergarten at Mountaintop Waldorf school in Woodstock, and Taikura Steiner school in New Zealand. Aurora has loved the kindergarten for as long as she can remember, and feels that her Waldorf education has gifted her with knowledge in music, art, nature, theater, and language. Currently, Aurora is completing her associates degree at SUNY Ulster Community College. She enjoys studying Spanish, playing the guitar, and spending time with her brother and baby sister.

Phoebe Lain

Starflower Nursery AM Assistant and PM Facilitator

Phoebe Lain will be caring for our littlest ones in the afternoon program of Ms. Veronica’s Starflower Nursery.

Phoebe was born and raised in the Hudson Valley on her family’s organic farm. As a young child she attended a Waldorf early childhood program. Both have greatly impacted her life as they cultivated a deep love for the natural world and for working with children. She since has had many years of experience working with children in various educational and nature environments.

Phoebe has a heart and passion for working with children. Most recently Phoebe worked at Acorn Waldorf School as an assistant in the mixed age kindergarten and outdoor adventure.

Phoebe started the Early Childhood Waldorf Teacher training at the Alkion Center in Hawthorne Valley and is grateful to be on this beautiful path.

Grades Faculty

Preston Neel

Grades Block Teacher

Mr. Neel was raised in Macon, GA, and Los Angeles. As a young adult, he lived and worked along the West Coast, in the Southwest and Colorado as a scrimshaw artist, laborer, carpenter, and sailboat crewman. He studied illustration for three years at the Academy of Art in San Francisco and has since worked as a children’s book illustrator and teacher. Mr. Neel came to New Paltz with his family in 2002, graduated from the Waldorf teacher training program at Sunbridge College and has been a grade teacher at Mountain Laurel Waldorf School for 17 years. Mr. Neel considers the diversity of his experience to be his greatest education, settling down, watching his two daughters grow, and cultivating a love of learning in children, has been the most fulfilling and meaningful adventure of all.

John Evans

First Grade Teacher

After graduating the Class of 2015 and the Class of 2023, John will be teaching a new first grade class, the Class of 2032!

Before discovering Waldorf education, John worked as a science teacher in another private school. He majored in biology before completing his Waldorf Teacher training at Sunbridge College. Both of his children attended Mountain Laurel School.

Rebecca Rew

Second Grade Teacher

Rebecca holds a B.S in Conservation Biology from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and is a plant and animal enthusiast with experience in delivering outdoor programming focusing on ecology, phenology, and biodiversity. She is completing her Foundation course in Anthroposophy at the EduCareDo International Education and Research Center.

Rebecca previously worked as a lead teacher at the Waldorf inspired Primrose Hill School, where she worked with students ages 3-12 in an outdoor classroom setting, teaching a variety of nature, farm and garden topics.

Takken Wish

Third Grade Teacher

Takken Wish has 16 years of teaching experience, including work in Turkey, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Poland. He has a Waldorf Teaching Certificate from Antioch University, as well as a BA in English from the University of Kentucky, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Oregon State. Though much of his experience has been teaching children, he’s also taught at Orange County Community College and at the Orange County Jail. He loves writing, reading, traveling, and spending time with his wife and five daughters. Takken graduated his first 8th grade class in 2021.

Takken serves on the Carestreams Group, the AWSNA Steering Committee and is Chair of the College Business Meetings.

Tomoko Matsunaga

Fourth Grade Teacher

After moving from her native country of Japan, Tomoko found her passion for teaching while living with children at Concordia Language Village camp in Minnesota. With a degree in Elementary Education from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN, she became a class teacher at a public school in Anchorage, AK where she taught for four years. During these years, Tomoko discovered Waldorf education and completed her Waldorf grades teacher training at the Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks, CA. Her love of traveling has led her to work with an NGO called Peace Boat, translating and traveling around the world twice, working to promote peace, human rights, and sustainability.

Tomoko serves on the Personnel Committee

Michele Turner

Fifth Grade Teacher

Michele Turner, a native Mainer with a passion for travel, left her seaside home as a young adult to embark on a journey, exploring various parts of the world while pursuing her studies. She received a B.A. in Communication with a concentration in B&W photography in Portland, Maine. In the 1980’s, Michele traveled as a photo documentary artist to Nicaragua and throughout Europe. She continued her work in the states, incorporating her love of nature and the wilderness by climbing the Grand Tetons while documenting NOLS founder Paul Petzolt’s last climb. She was accompanied by her late husband as well as their first child whom she carried on her back. Michele graduated from Antioch University of NE in 1998 with an M.Ed and Waldorf Certification. She has taught preschool through 12th grade in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, St. John USVI and recently in Tanzania. Michele has three adult children and has made her home here in New Paltz, where the mountains and river captivate her imagination. “It is an honor to teach beautiful children in such a wondrous place!”

Michele serves on the Executive Committee.

Ruth Lawson

Sixth Grade Teacher

Ms. Lawson grew up in and around London, UK. She holds a BA in English Literature from Spelthorne College, Ashford, UK. She moved to the US in 1990. She traveled extensively and worked in the film and music industry in New York City for 15 years before moving to Woodstock, NY and discovering Waldorf education when her daughter was a baby.

Ms. Lawson worked at Mountaintop Waldorf School (a mixed-age kindergarten) and did her Waldorf Grades Teacher training at Alkion Center in Ghent, NY. She was the lead teacher of a Waldorf inspired homeschool co-op from 1st through 4th grade in Woodstock, NY from 2012 – 2016. She then returned to Mountaintop Waldorf School for a further 2 years before joining MLWS.

Ruth serves on the Personnel Committee and AWSNA Steering Committee.

Theodor Lundin

Seventh Grade Teacher

Theo has been teaching as a grades teacher in Waldorf Schools for twenty-six years here at Mountain Laurel and at Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School.

Theo serves on the DEIJ Mandate Group and on the Board of Trustees.

Marta Porras

Eighth Grade Teacher

Marta has worked at Mountain Laurel as the Spanish Teacher for over 15 years.

Marta Serves on the Carestreams Group.

Subject Faculty

Steve Bernstein

Chorus and Games Theacher

Steve Bernstein joined Mt. Laurel Waldorf School as a parent in 1999. Steve taught and performed music in various ensembles for 20 years before beginning his Waldorf musical journey by playing guitar and mandolin for the Early Childhood Program and school festivals. He transitioned into the classrooms supporting class teachers in music education and arranging music for plays and other events. In 2003, Steve accepted the directorship of the Mountain Laurel Recorder Ensemble, a performing after school group of 5th – 8th graders. He writes most of his 4-part arrangements for the ensemble and has published his first recorder book with Waldorf Publications. Since 2009, Steve has also been teaching chorus and has been the 4th and 5th grade games teacher since 2015.

Steve serves on the Music Group.

Mark Bernstein

Orchestra and Ensembles Teacher

Mark received his BFA in Music from Ramapo College of NJ and has been performing and teaching music throughout the NYC and Hudson Valley area for over 40 years. He has performed and recorded with such artists as Willie Nelson, The Oakridge Boys, Boots Randolph, Mel Tillis, and Allison Kraus. Playing with the jazz quartet, Avenues, Mark has shared the stage with Grover Washington, the Brecker Brothers, Dave Valentine, Kenny Rankin, and Bela Fleck; he toured nationally for five years with the 10-time Grammy Award winning Jimmy Sturr Orchestra. From 2000 to present Mark has directed the music program at Mountain Laurel Waldorf School. He is proud to say that, of his six children, three attended the Green Meadow Waldorf School in Spring Valley, NY—K through 12—and three are graduates of MLWS!

Mark Serves on the Personnel Committee, Music Group and the Board of Trustees.

Aaron Bernstein

3rd Grade Strings & 4/5th Grade Orchestra

Bio coming soon

Beatrice Chen

Mandarin Chinese Teacher

Beatrice Chen hails from Taiwan and grew up in a family with rich cultural traditions, such as Peking operas and many historical stories brought through singing and acting. She loves playing the Zheng, a 21-string pentatonic ancient Chinese instrument, during her spare time.

Beatrice graduated from National Cheng-Chi University with a B.A in Western Languages and Literature. She attended the Juniper Tree Puppetry & Storytelling Academy, and the Waldorf Institute of Southern California where she performed the Chinese Lullaby “Purple Bamboo Flute” as her Graduation Eurythmy Choreography.

Beatrice also completed the World Language Waldorf Training at Sunbridge College in Spring Valley, NY. She has worked many years as a translator, English and Chinese private instructor, and home schooling teacher. Beatrice is looking forward to deepening her connection with the children through her culture.

Marta Porras

Spanish Teacher

Marta has worked at Mountain Laurel as the Spanish Teacher for over 15 years.

Tricia McCloskey

Sculpture Teacher

Tricia serves on the Carestreams Group.

Paola Tayvah

Discovery Room Teacher

Paola has worked as an educator and administrator within a variety of settings, including Waldorf-inspired  Kindergartens, a Montessori 2 – 7 class, and a  Hebrew middle school. She most recently was an educational support teacher at the Waldorf School of Princeton for 14 years. 

She has additional training in remedial work including language programs: Orton Gillingham, Wilson, Barton, Hochman, Keys to Literacy,  and Framing Your Thoughts as well as math programs: Building Math Minds and Right Start Math. 

MS Ed, Simmons College; B.A  Educational Psychology with a Thesis on the Waldorf Approach and Gifted Education, Skidmore College.  Associate Early Childhood; Center for Montessori Education,  Foundation studies and teacher training, Rudolf Steiner College.

Paola serves on the Care Streams Group.

Michelle Boynton

Handwork Teacher & Math Block Teacher

Michelle is inspired by the interconnections between mathematics, handwork, and human development.

Michelle holds a MEd degree in Curriculum & Instruction from the University of san Diego, a BAE in Architectural Engineering from Pennsylvania State University, a Waldorf High School Teacher Certification in Math & Physics from the Center for Anthroposophy and is currently working towards her handwork teaching certification through the Applied Arts Program at the Fibercraft Studio in Chestnut Ridge, NY.

Her daughter was in the 5th grade at the Waldorf School of San Diego when Michelle was asked to teach in the newly forming high school. She left the green building industry in 2008 to teach full time and has been a Waldorf teacher ever since. Michelle most recently was a middle school math teacher and handwork assistant at the Green Meadow Waldorf School.

Takae Matsuo

Eurhythmy Teacher

Takae Matsuo obtained her eurythmy training from the School of eurythmy in Spring Valley, NY and took a postgraduate Artistic Course at the School of Eurythmy in Spring Valley as well as the University College Eurythmy in Oslo, Norway. She has taught eurythmy and has led eurythmy workshops and collaboration performances in the US, Japan and Taiwan.

Takae believes that one may find one’s inborn splendid true self and joy through eurythmy, which she has witnessed for many years.