Sacramento Waldorf School

Meet Our Teachers

Sacramento Waldorf School High School teacher

(Joined SWS 2018)

Sadie Bills – Visual Arts

BA in Visual Arts and Creative Writing, Sarah Lawrence College. SWS alumna class of 2011. After graduating from college, Sadie moved to Providence, RI where she realized her dedication to and passion for teaching art. She has worked with non-profits, such as the Providence Children’s Museum and Providence City Arts for Youth, to increase arts programming in underserved public schools. As a visual artist, her work combines process-based mediums such as printmaking, textiles, and book arts. Conceptually, her work aims to accentuate the conversation over craft vs. art. Sadie recently completed a six-week intensive in weaving at the Rhode Island School of Design. She is excited to bring her experiences and knowledge of art to SWS as the high school veil painting and screen printing teacher.

Contact Sadie:

Joined SWS 2018

John Dreyer – Math and Science; Movement and Physical Education

BS in Exercise Biology, UC Davis.  John has been and continues to be an advocate for both supplementary and continued education through the world of massive open online courses.  His interests are broad and plenty, but his heart strongly gravitates towards math and science.  John also cultivates an active interest in world travel, cultures and languages, as he continues to refine his Japanese and Spanish language skills.  Outside the world of academia, John enjoys basketball, baseball, long distance running, art, hiking, and camping (with a special emphasis on America’s National Parks)  He moved to Sacramento with his lovely wife and is enjoying every minute of raising a puppy for the first time.

Contact John:

(Joined SWS 2014)

Bob Erdman – Math and Science

BA in Zoology, University of Washington; DVM in Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University.  Bob began his teaching career in 2000.  Besides teaching, his passions are gardening, cooking, hiking, and watching the Washington Huskies play college football. Go Dawgs!  Bob has been married to the “most beautiful woman in the world” (Deanna) and has three lovely children and one adorable granddaughter.  He is excited to be a part of the Waldorf family.

Contact Bob:

(Joined SWS 2000)

Christine Gruhn – Math and Science

BS in Botany, UC Davis; MS in Plant Pathology, University of Georgia; PhD in Biology (Mycology), Virginia Tech; Coursework at Rudolf Steiner College. Christine has taught two classes grades six through eight at the Davis Waldorf School. In addition, she has taught at the University of the Pacific and at Nazareth College in Rochester, New York, where she designed and taught the college’s first service learning course in the sciences and did research on soil fungi in organic farms. Besides teaching, her passions are identifying mushrooms, hiking and backpacking with her husband and two Waldorf-educated sons, raising chickens, organic gardening, vegetarian cooking and canning, and learning to play the fiddle. Christine is excited to be adviser to the SWS chapter of the National Forensics League, a speech and debate society.

Contact Christine:


(Joined SWS 2011)

Melissa Hiatt – Humanities

BS in Environmental Design, minor in comparative literature, University of California, Davis; Foundation Studies, Rudolf Steiner College. Melissa’s career began as an exhibition designer for museums in California and New Mexico and evolved into curatorial writing for art catalogues and books. In addition, she has been published as an art writer and critic in magazines and newspapers. She found Waldorf education at the Santa Fe Waldorf School where she and her oldest daughter (SWS class of 2015) attended a parent-child class. When her family moved to Denver, they purchased a house two blocks from the magic that was Denver Waldorf School and she was hired as a substitute teacher. Since then Melissa has been a class teacher at Davis Waldorf School, and arrived at SWS in 2011. Her love for the ocean and cypress trees is mitigated slightly by the giant oaks that surround her house near the American River. Laughing out loud, cooking, and eating remain favorites.

Contact Melissa:


(Joined SWS 1992)

Sherry Hirssig – Humanities; Visual Arts

BS in English Education, Art Education, and Coaching, University of Wisconsin; State of Wisconsin Teaching Credentials in Art (K – 12), English (7 – 12), and Coaching; Waldorf High School Teaching Diploma, Rudolf Steiner College. Sherry taught English and Art for four years in Hudson, Wisconsin before moving to Tokyo, Japan for three years to teach high school Literature and Art at The American School in Japan. She has coached basketball for over twenty years, more than half at SWS. She has sponsored the Classes of 1995, 2000, 2002, 2006, and 2016.

Contact Sherry:


(Joined SWS 2012)

Jacob Hosler – Math and Performing Arts

BA in Music History and Theory, Oberlin College; MA in Music History, UC Berkeley. Since he was a child, Jacob has combined a passion for music with a strong interest in math and science. He started his college career as a double major in physics and cello performance, only to later switch to music history as his primary focus. After earning his master’s degree in music history, Jacob did extensive coursework in upper-level mathematics and computer science at Rutgers University in New Jersey. He has also taken classes in math pedagogy at Rudolf Steiner College. At SWS, Jacob teaches high school math, directs the high-school orchestra, and co-teaches music history with his wife, Dunja Popovic. Jacob’s interests include hiking, going to the opera, watching silent films, and origami. He has two daughters who are current SWS students.

Contact Jacob:

(Joined SWS 2018)

Marcella Livi – German

BA in Philosophy, MA and PhD in German Language and Literature with a Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory and special interest in Feminist Theory, University of California, Davis. Marcella is a native German speaker from a small town called Northeim (near Göttingen) in Lower Saxony, Germany.

Contact Marcella:

Andrew May – Humanities Teacher, Sacramento Waldorf School

(Joined SWS 2017)

Andrew May – Humanities

BA and single-subject teaching credential in English Education, California State University, Sacramento; Waldorf High School Teaching Certificate, Rudolf Steiner College. As a student teacher at a Waldorf-methods high school, Andrew fell in love with Waldorf education and decided to become a Waldorf teacher. Prior to SWS, Andrew taught in the Humanities Department at Waldorf School of the Peninsula in the Bay Area. In addition to teaching high school, he has taught English as a Foreign Language to adults in Busan, South Korea. Besides teaching, he loves reading, writing, cooking, hiking, and being run ragged by his young children.

Contact Andrew:


(Joined SWS 2012)

John Millard – Math and Science

BS in Physics, UC Davis. John developed a passion for teaching as a martial arts instructor and a planetarium presenter in Santa Barbara, CA.  He is passionate about communicating the beauty of science and particularly interested in increasing the public understanding of science.  Additionally, he enjoys exercise, cooking, and hiking. (Joined SWS 2012)

Contact John:

Sacramento Waldorf School teacher- Spanish

Joined SWS 2016

Purificación Montijano – Spanish

BA Spanish, Sacramento State University (1999), minor in  Bilingual Multicultural Education, MA Spanish (2005) with a Thesis Project about Spain. Mrs. Alford has taught all grade levels throughout her teaching career (kindergarten through college). She has traveled extensively throughout the United States, Central America, and Europe, and she has also served as a tour planner and guide throughout Spain.

Mrs. Alford has participated in several week-long service trips with groups of high school students; twice to South Dakota, working with the Lakota Native American community, and in San Francisco working with Habitat for Humanity in the Tenderloin District. She loves the outdoors, and living in our region with all the opportunities for hiking, biking, and camping. Mrs. Alford is passionate about inspiring young minds to discover the world through the lens of the Spanish language and Hispanic cultures.

Contact Puri:


(Joined SWS 2004)

Doug Morkner-Brown – Visual Arts

BA in Humanities, California State University Chico; Diploma in Literary Studies, University of Wales, UK; Waldorf Teaching Certificate, Waldorf Teacher Education Eugene, OR. Doug began his teacher training in 1997 after several years teaching in both the public and homeschool communities. He carried a class from fourth grade through graduation at the Sierra Waldorf School and then took a class from first through graduation here at Sacramento Waldorf School. He has many interests including carpentry, cycling, painting, gardening, cooking, and most things practical and DIY.

Contact Doug:

James Nakayama – Percussion, Jazz

James Nakayama – Performing Arts

B.Mus. degree in Percussion Performance, California State University, Sacramento under the guidance of Ronald Holloway. Currently the Percussion Class Instructor and High School Jazz Band Director at Sacramento Waldorf School, as well as the Percussion Repair Technician for the Sacramento City Unified School District. Jim has many professional and community performance experiences, having performed with the Sacramento Symphony, Sacramento Philharmonic, the Sacramento Ballet, Magic Circle Theater Company, Garbeau’s Dinner Theater, Fair Oaks Theater, Runaway Stage Productions, River City Theater Company, Woodland Opera House, Sacramento Theatre Company, and B Street Theater.  He retired from the position of Principal Percussionist and Timpanist with the Camellia Symphony Orchestra, and has also worked with the Symphony of the Redwoods (Ft. Bragg, California), North State Symphony (Chico, California), Auburn Symphony, and various other chamber groups from Monterey to Reno, Nevada. He has performed under the baton of Eugene Corporon (North Texas State), ““Doc”” Severinson, Carter Nice, Eric Kunzel (Cincinnati Pops), and Frederick Fennell.   He has been fortunate enough to work with some of our greatest entertainers such as Regis Philbin, Susan Lucci, Johnny Mathis, The Temptations, Mary Wilson and the New Supremes, Steve Houghton, Don Rickles, Donna Summer, Connie Francis, and the late, great Ray Charles. Also, Jim was selected by Sacramento composer Gregg Coffin to participate in two West Coast premieres:  “Five Course Love” in May 2005 at Sacramento Theatre Company and “rightnexttome” in January 2008 at the B Street Theatre.

Jim has also worked with public school and private students, and teaches out of his private home studio.  He has taught Marching Band Drum Lines for high schools in the Sacramento and Vacaville areas.  He also frequently helps out with area Middle School Percussion sections and Middle School Band Directors to improve performance techniques in their Percussion sections.  Jim is also available through in-home lessons. Jim is a talented and accomplished musician, and brings a fresh perspective to every performance, classroom and lesson.   He and his wife, Jennifer, currently live in Antelope, California.

Contact James:

Stephen Payne, Farm teacher at Sacramento Waldorf School

(Joined SWS 2001)

Stephen Payne – Gardening

BS in Business Marketing, Central Connecticut State University. Stephen has ten years of experience in organic farming and five years of experience as a market garden business owner. He came to SWS in 2001 as our farmer and gardening teacher.

Contact Steve: or (916) 342-7416


(Joined SWS 2001)

John Petering – Visual Arts; Math, Science and Computer Science

BS in Unified Science, Wayne State University; MS Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Cincinnati; Diploma of Waldorf Education, Waldorf Institute of Mercy College. John has taught in Waldorf high schools for over 20 years. Before coming to SWS he was a Natural Sciences specialist at the Detroit Waldorf High School, Detroit, MI (1976-1985) and the Shining Mountain Waldorf High School, Boulder CO (1991-2001). In between helping start these two Waldorf high schools, John worked in biotechnology and medical clinical research. John has been active in developing the phenomena-based aspects of Waldorf science teaching and helped produce several books on Waldorf science. He is a guest faculty member of Rudolf Steiner College. His outside interests include environmental exploration, particularly stream ecology and water quality, and flow-form (rhythmic water flow) studies.

Contact John:

Dunja Popovic – Humanities teacher, Sacramento Waldorf School

(Joined SWS 2012)

Dunja Popovic – Humanities

BA in History and Literature, Harvard University; M.A. and PhD in Russian Literature, Princeton University; Waldorf High School Teaching Certificate, Rudolf Steiner College. Before becoming a Waldorf teacher, Dunja worked as an academic researcher and taught language and literature at the college level. She also served as a leader for freshman-orientation backpacking trips. Dunja’s interests include foreign languages, travel, knitting, and pondering things. She is married and has two SWS-attending daughters (and a cat).

Contact Dunja:


(Joined SWS 1984)

Dean Stark – Movement and Physical Education

BA in Physical Education, Union Institute & University; AA in General Education, American River College; Certificate in Spatial Dynamics, Spatial Dynamics Institute; Certified Personal Trainer; Certified Massage Therapist. Dean has received numerous CVCL Coach of the Year awards in baseball and basketball. He was selected as the 2017 CIF Sac Joaquin Section, and overall State Model Coach Award winner. Dean also was the recipient of the 2016-17 California State Boys Basketball Coach of the Year. He is the author of Coaching Team Sports in a Waldorf School and A Waldorf Approach to Coaching Team Sports. He has also produced a video, High School Basketball: The Seven Defensive Principles of Building a Championship Team. Dean has won over 590 basketball games as a SWS coach, more than any other Boys Varsity Coach in the history of the C.I.F. Sac-Joaquin Section.

Contact Dean:


(Joined SWS 1996)

Andrew Sullivan – Humanities

BA in English and Anthropology, University of Notre Dame; MA in English, California State University Sacramento; Coursework at Rudolf Steiner College; SWS Class of ’86. Andrew has taught courses in the humanities and coached soccer at SWS. Besides teaching, he counts poetry, epistemology, interventionist art, and making tortilla soup as major interests. In 2004, Poet’s Corner Press published his first chapbook of poems, Islands of Earshot. In 2006, he founded the Waste And Vice Elimination Squad, a rapid response garbage mitigation collective or community service club at SWS.

Contact Andrew:


(Joined SWS 2006)

Megan Sullivan – Social Emotional Learning and Health

Waldorf Teaching Certificate, Chrysalis Steiner School, Australia; Coursework at Rudolf Steiner College; Coursework in Psychology at American River College. Megan began her Waldorf teaching career in 1994 at Casuarina Steiner School, Australia.  She has taught grades K-12 both as a class teacher and a specialist in Australia and the US. She has administration experience in a start-up Waldorf High School and has extensive experience as a guest teacher, presenter, and lecturer in the fields of Sex Education and Social Emotional Learning.  Megan is married and has two daughters who are SWS students. She loves to read, take walks, garden, and visit Australia.

Contact Megan:


(Joined SWS 2005)

Isabelle Tabacot – Humanities

BA in Education, Union Institute & University; Waldorf Teacher Education Diploma, Rudolf Steiner College; currently working to complete an MA in American History, Adams State University. Isabelle has been a Waldorf educator for over 20 years, most recently graduating the SWS class of 2018 from 8th grade. She teaches in various teacher education programs at Rudolf Steiner College, in the Bay Area, and in Montrèal, Canada. Isabelle is passionate about history but also deeply enjoys writing, running, and traveling – especially to Iceland.

Contact Isabelle:

Jonathan Winfield – Math and Performing Arts - Sacramento Waldorf School

(Joined SWS 2004)

Jonathan Winfield – Math and Performing Arts

BS (Hons) in Math and Philosophy, London University. As a member of Dulwich College Madrigal Group and choir for seven years, Jonathan performed regularly all over England in some of the finest concert halls in the country. Jonathan has also studied piano since he was nine years old. After college, he became a professional pianist, working in many areas until musical theatre captured his attention in 1992; he has been Musical Director for over 40 musicals since then. In 1999, Jonathan began working with school choirs. He is a member of the Performing Rights Society of Great Britain and his compositions have been featured on BBC Radio and London’s West End. He also holds a certification in counseling and was a volunteer counselor for a victim support organization in London. He is the father of an SWS alumna and a current SWS student.

Contact Jonathan:


(Joined SWS 2003)

Sarah Winfield – Performing Arts

BA (magna cum laude) in Drama and Speech, Minor in Art, Georgia State University; Honors post-graduate course in Acting, Drama Studio London; Coursework at Rudolf Steiner College. Sarah was a member of the resident acting company, Atlanta’s Academy Theatre, for five years. She also taught acting, characterization and improvisation and ran the summer children’s acting workshop. In London she did work on the stage (West End), TV (BBC), and voice-over. She also worked for Passe-Partout, a theatre-in-education company, in both an acting and administrative capacity. Sarah enjoys gardening, singing, Celtic music, and creating stories for children. Member: National Honor Society, Actors’ Equity, British Actors’ Equity. One of her daughters is an SWS alumna and another is a current student.

Contact Sarah: