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)

Administration

Patricia Dewitte-Kuyl

Office Manager

Patricia Dewitte-Kuyl is a native from Belgium, raised as a francophone in Flanders. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Oriental Philology and History from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, and her Master’s Degree in Cultural Anthropology from Osaka University, Japan. 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. She has 3 children through which she discovered Waldorf education. She has worked for 13 years at Mountain Laurel Waldorf School as a kindergarten assistant, administrative assistant, and office manager.

Patricia serves on the Admin, Enrollment and Eurythmy groups.

Amy DeLeon

Business Manager

Amy DeLeon joined the school as business manager in July 2018 and is happy to be a part of the Mountain Laurel community. 

Amy serves on the Finance group.

Patty Jacobson

Development Director

Patty has been involved in the school for many years as a parent and has served the school as development director since November 2017. Patty is also in her third year of Waldorf teacher training at the Sunbridge Institute. 

Patty serves on the Development and Fundraising groups and is a member of the Board.

Judy Jaeckel

Lead Administrator

Judy has worked at Mountain Laurel since it’s founding and has served as the Lead Administrator for over 20 years. She has a background in administration in the opera and art world before coming to Waldorf education. Her children attended Waldorf Schools, and her late husband, Klaus, was an integral part of the school for many years.

Judy serves the school on the Admin, Communications, Enrollment, Executive Committee, Finance, Site, Strategic Planning and Education Support groups, and is a member of the Board.

Early Childhood Faculty

Nina Barry

Kindergarten Assistant

Nina received her degree in alternative Education from The New School, Eugene Lang, liberal arts college in NYC, where she found a deep love for nature-based, hands-on learning. She studied Waldorf schooling and other alternative approaches. After completing school she moved to Hawthorne Valley Farm where she spent a year as a visiting students intern working with young children. She then completed her foundations at the Alkion Waldorf teacher training program. She has since raised 2 children and focused her time on gardening, sewing, knitting and design work. Nina and her children have been attending the Mountain Laurel parent-child program for the past 3 years. Nina is honored to become the afternoon kindergarten assistant.

Carly Fridlich

Nursery Teacher

Carly grew up in Orange County New York. After graduating from the State University of New York at New Paltz with a Bachelors in Psychology and a Minor of Art, she decided to move to Colorado. Within a few months, Carly began working at a Montessori preschool as a lead teacher. There she found her love for teaching and children. Researching different philosophies of thought on education, she found the Waldorf and Steiner teachings. Carly taught at Front Range Waldorf School in Lakewood, CO for two years, one year as a lead in the nursery and another co-leading a mixed-age kindergarten. Carly completed her Early Childhood Waldorf teacher training at Sunbridge Institute in Chestnut Ridge, NY. Later, Carly began teaching as a lead in the preschool at Mountain Phoenix Community School, a Waldorf inspired charter school in Colorado. After 3 years at MPCS and 9 years in CO, Carly moved back to the Hudson Valley with her husband and 2 children. She began assisting in the kindergarten at Mountain Laurel Waldorf School in 2016. Carly is so excited to be part of a Waldorf community again.

Carly serves on the Personnel and Early Childhood Pedagogical groups. 

Nancy Hoose

Early Childhood Teacher

Nancy Hoose has been teaching in Waldorf settings with children aged birth to 6 years since 2008. Nancy worked under the mentorship of Wendy Weinrich at Mountaintop School in their mixed-age kindergarten in both morning and afternoon programs before leading the school’s first toddler program, The Little Ones. Along with her love of children, she loves baking, handwork, singing, and puppetry. Nancy is certified in Early Childhood having attended the Alkion Center, a branch of the Hawthorne Valley Association with a focus on birth to three years. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Stockton State College. Nancy’s hobbies include swimming, hiking, yoga and snowboarding/skiing with her family. Nancy and her husband Randy’s children are Stella, class of 2018 alumni and Asher enrolled at Mountain Laurel Waldorf School.

Nancy serves on the Early Childhood Pedagogical group. 

Veronica Kent

Parent-Child Teacher and Aftercare Teacher

Veronica Kent has been the afternoon lead kindergarten teacher at MLWS since 2009. She combines her experience as a harpist trained in contemplative musicianship and early childhood music with her ongoing professional studies in Waldorf education to bring a joyful and peaceful atmosphere to the afternoon kindergarten. She believes that music is an important aspect of early childhood education and has studied the music of the mood of the fifth, as indicated by Rudolf Steiner, as well as trained in other contemporary and classical early childhood music ideologies. She tells stories, plays the harp and sings daily for the children in her care, as well as for puppet shows and festivals.

Miss Veronica also leads the MLWS aftercare program, where she combines free-play with structured games and activities to provide a healthy afterschool atmosphere for children spanning the grades. She has two children who have graduated from MLWS and is expecting the newest member of the family to arrive in December.

Veronica serves on the Early Childhood Pedagogical group. 

Laura Klimenchenko

Kindergarten Assistant

Laura grew up in New Jersey. She received her BA in Fine Arts from Montclair University in 1988. She spent the next 5 years painting and exhibiting work in the tri-state area. It is during this time that Laura started going on sabbaticals to have focused time in nature to support her creative expression.

From 1993-2004 Laura lived and offered service at a retreat site in upstate NY where she learned and developed a practice of meditation and yoga. It was there that she met her husband, Vladimir, they have 2 boys, Ilia and Liam. In 2005 Laura and her family moved to the New Paltz area and discovered Waldorf Education which aligned perfectly with their values and what they had envisioned for their children. Laura started teaching art in New Paltz however, she soon realized that her interest in Waldorf Education was growing. In 2013 Laura began the Early Childhood Teacher Training at Sunbridge Institute during which time she also worked at the Acorn School with her mentor. From 2013-2015 Laura assisted in Handwork and Sculpture classes at Mountain Laurel. For the last 2 years, Laura has been working in the Early Childhood Program as the afternoon assistant.

Rosana Workman

Kindergarten Teacher

Born and raised in Brazil, she earned a medical degree there in 1979. She developed an interest in the work of Rudolf Steiner while still in Brazil, which eventually led her to Waldorf Education. She earned a degree in Early Childhood Education from Sunbridge College in 2000. She has worked at Mountain Laurel Waldorf School since 1992, first as a Handwork teacher, then in the Nursery and Kindergarten.

Rosana serves on the Executive Committee, Finance, and Early Childhood Pedagogical groups.

Grades Faculty

John Evans

Fourth Grade Teacher

John joined Mountain Laurel Waldorf School in 2007 as a long-term substitute for third grade. After taking his first class through the 8-year journey he is back for a second round! Before discovering Waldorf Education, John worked as a science teacher in another private school. He majored in biology before completing his teacher training at Sunbridge College. Both of his children attended Mountain Laurel.

Bevin Gill

Seventh Grade Teacher

Bevin has lived in the New Paltz area for five years, after fifteen years of working in New York City in fashion and journalism. She received a Bachelor’s degree at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and after having children, moved with her family to New Zealand to study Steiner Education at Taruna College. She is a certified Waldorf teacher with experience assisting early childhood programs, leading a Waldorf summer camp, and teaching at a farm school. Bevin enjoys impromptu picnics, exploring forests, and writing stories- all of which she gets to share with her class. This is her first cycle as a grades teacher, and she is continually excited to meet each year of change and growth within the students at Mountain Laurel.

Bevin serves on the Three Streams group and the Executive Committee.

Ruth Lawson

First 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.

Rachel Loshak

Third Grade Teacher

Rachel has lived in the U.S. since 1995 after being raised in the U.K.. She holds a BA Honors degree in Creative Arts from Nottingham University, a certificate in Music Therapy from The New School, NYC and a Waldorf Teaching Certificate from Alkion, Ghent NY. Rachel’s previous work experience includes creative arts therapist, art photo retouching, administrating. She has also toured extensively and has composed and recorded six albums as a singer/songwriter/bassist. Rachel has also taught singing and choir to children aged 3-14 years. Rachel joined Mountain Laurel Waldorf School in 2016 as a practicing teacher and a sub until joining as the new first grade teacher in 2017. She is committed to her continued study of the work of Rudolph Steiner and is very happy to be a part of the heartfelt community at the Mountain Laurel.

Rachel serves on the Enrollment group.

Theo Lundin

Second Grade Teacher

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

Theo serves on the Personnel group.

Preston Neel

Fifth Grade 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 12 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.

Preston serves on the Three Streams and Music group and is a member of the Board.

Aram Oarcea

Eighth Grade Teacher

“Mr. Aram” was born and raised in Romania. He came to the US in 1990 to study Anthroposophy and Waldorf education. He graduated from the Waldorf Institute/ Sunbridge College, Spring Valley, NY in 1993.

He has been teaching at Mountain Laurel since 1996 and is the father of three alumni.

Aram serves on the Three Streams group.

Jennifer Rosenstein

Sixth Grade Teacher

Ms. Rosenstein holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English. She completed her Waldorf teacher training certification from Antioch New England Graduate School and has taught classes at the Waldorf School of Baltimore, The Rudolf Steiner School in NYC, and at the Waldorf School of Princeton. In addition to having several years of teaching experience in the grades, she was a founding teacher of the Shining Rivers Waldorf School in St. Louis, Missouri, and is an instructor for Sunbridge Institute in their summer teacher education programs in Spring Valley, NY. A love for animals, music, good writing, and hiking are among her passions in life.

Ms. Rosenstein serves on the Finance and Education Support groups.

Subject Faculty

Steve Bernstein

Chorus, Games and Recorder Ensemble

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 Three Streams and Music groups.

Mark Bernstein

Orchestra and Ensembles

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, Education Support and Music groups.

Richard Ferrono

Games and Circus Arts Teacher

Richard Ferrono has owned and operated a gymnastics school for over 20 years. His areas of study have included Circus Arts (many disciplines), Parkour, and several martial arts. He is currently attending the Spacial Dynamics Institute in New York. His passions include physical arts, playing music, and spending time with his family and friends. 

Donna Jensen

Handwork Teacher

Donna is the mother of two sons, Julian (MLWS class of 2008) and Jarrett (MLWS class of 2010). She is an avid traveler, dancer, gardener, and beach-comber.

Donna was born on Long Island, was an AFS exchange student to Turkey and has lived in Minnesota, NYC, New Hampshire, and Ohio. She moved to New Paltz to attend SUNY, receiving a bachelor of Science in Physics in 1985. Donna worked in business with her former husband at Ireland Corners Tire Center before finding her way to Mountain Laurel. She found her path to Waldorf teaching through her son, Julian. He was enrolled in the Nursery at Mountain Laurel in 1996. Three years later Donna was volunteering in Julian’s first grade handwork class and after that was asked to teach second and third grade Handwork. In addition to teaching lower grades handwork, she was also the afternoon Kindergarten Teacher. Donna attended Sunbridge College, receiving her Applied Arts Certificate in 2007.

Donna is so grateful for all the years (17 and counting) of teaching at Mountain Laurel. Being a part of this community has given her so much joy and fulfillment and offered so much opportunity for personal growth.

Marilyn Liebowitz

Sculpture Teacher

Marilyn has been immersed in art and sculpture since being an art major in high school in NYC. She studied conceptual sculpture with Tony Smith at Hunter College, accepted a full scholarship to the Brooklyn Museum of Art to study oil painting and printmaking. Marilyn went on to the Pratt Institute to get her BFA in Sculpture, Ceramics and art education. She has an NYC Teaching Certification to teach art to K-12, followed by art graduate courses at the Pratt Institute and UMASS at Amherst.

Marilyn then discovered Waldorf education and studied for three years with Michael Howard and Peter Stebbing at the Waldorf Institute and Sculpture College. She also studied for one year with Lucas Zey and then worked and studied with Christian Hitch at the Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland.

Marilyn has served as the sculpture teacher at Mountain Laurel for over twenty years. She also serves on the Executive Committee.

Doreen M. Kirschke

German Teacher

Doreen was born and raised in Leipzig Germany, receiving a Teaching Degree in Health Education, Movement Studies, Sports and Gymnastics from the Bode Schule in Munich, Germany certified through the Sport University Munich. In 1999 she traveled and settled in Warwick NY to learn and perfect her English. There she managed a Health and Gymnastics Facility and opened her own Holistic Health Practice. Through her daughter, she found Mountain Laurel Waldorf School in 2008. Here she has volunteered the past 3 years as German Teacher. After completing the World Language Teacher program at Sunbridge in 2018 Doreen teaches German Classes for 1st through 7th grade.

Marta Porras

Spanish Teacher

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

Marta serves on the Three Streams group.

Paola Tayvah

Discovery Room Teacher

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Paola serves on the Education Support Group.