High School Faculty

At Sacramento Waldorf High School, education always takes place within the context of relationship, whether it is in the classroom, in the lab, on the playing field, on the working farm, in the studio, on stage, or in any of our many campus venues. The smaller size of our school allows students to develop meaningful relationships with both peers and teachers.  Young people are challenged to consider the ethical components of their studies in life and in our school community.

Joined SWS 2017

Andrew May

What Andrew loves most about teaching is how organically learning grows and develops throughout life when guided with intention and meaning. A Humanities teacher in grades 9-12, Andrew enjoys teaching at a Waldorf school because he is able to continuously learn and grow through his work with students and colleagues. “Early in my life, I realized how amazingly transformative and exciting it can be to help someone learn something they did not previously know. To this day, that feeling remains central in my work to help others become who they are meant to be.”

Andrew holds a BA and single-subject teaching credential in English Education from California State University, Sacramento. Andrew is currently an MEd candidate in Antioch University New England's transdisciplinary healing education program.

He obtained a Waldorf High School Teaching Certificate from 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.

Before joining Sacramento Waldorf School, Andrew taught Humanities 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.

A Citrus Heights resident, Andrew lives with his family and enjoys reading, writing, cooking, hiking, and being run ragged by his young children.

Contact Andrew: amay@sacwaldorf.org

Joined SWS 1996

Andrew Sullivan

A 1986 graduate of Sacramento Waldorf School, Andrew holds a BA in English and Anthropology from University of Notre Dame and an MA in English from California State University, Sacramento. He completed coursework at Rudolf Steiner College.

Andrew teaches humanities and has coached soccer at Sacramento Waldorf School. 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 Sacramento Waldorf School.

Contact Andrew: asullivan@sacwaldorf.org

Joined SWS 2020

Casey Sugie

Casey is a 2002 SWS alumni. After she graduated from SWS she focused her energy on dance performance and ceramics. Later she attended Mills College in Oakland where she graduated with a B.S. in chemistry and then went on to Graduate school at UC Davis where she obtained an M.S. in Chemistry.

During her undergraduate studies she worked as a high school math and science tutor, and during her graduate studies worked as a teaching assistant for college chemistry. Both of these experiences gave her a passion for teaching and guided her to pursue a career in teaching.

Her life is rich in the arts and the sciences and she sees the two as an intertwined pair that deepen knowledge and creativity. Casey spends her free time making pottery, gardening, and raising chickens and pigs.

Contact Casey:  csugie@sacwaldorf.org

Joined SWS 2000

Math and Science
Christine Gruhn

Christine believes students come with a desire to learn and engage with the material, and they are a joy to teach. She loves teaching from the phenomena, which awakens and nurtures curiosity, while the curriculum strengthens developing intellects and social consciousness. She says, “Waldorf students are not afraid to care. Young adults are far more capable than they give themselves credit for. They deserve to be challenged by teachers who care about them as individuals, and who are passionate about their subjects.”

Currently, Christine teaches algebra 2, biology, speech and debate, and healthy cooking in the high school. She holds a BS in Botany from University of California, Davis, an MS in Plant Pathology from University of Georgia, and a PhD in Mycology from Virginia Tech. She completed coursework at Rudolf Steiner College.

Previously, Christine taught two classes grades six through eight at Davis Waldorf School. She also 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.

A Davis resident, Christine enjoys identifying mushrooms, hiking and backpacking with her pediatrician-husband and two Waldorf-educated sons, raising chickens, organic gardening, vegetarian cooking and canning, and learning to play the fiddle. She is excited to be adviser to the Sacramento Waldorf School chapter of the National Forensics League, a speech and debate society.

Contact Christine: cgruhn@sacwaldorf.org

Joined SWS 1984

Movement and Physical Education
Dean Stark

Since joining Sacramento Waldorf School in 1984, Dean has helped build the sports program into a successful and important part of school life. As a coach, he has amassed 16 league championships in basketball over his 33 years, and 8 conference titles in 16 years leading the baseball team. His 616 victories in Varsity Boys Basketball are the second most all-time in California Interscholastic Federation Sac-Joaquin Section history.

With a BA in Physical Education from Union Institute and University, Dean 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 also produced a video, High School Basketball: The Seven Defensive Principles of Building a Championship Team.

He holds an AA in General Education from American River College and a Certificate in Spatial Dynamics from the Spatial Dynamics Institute and is a Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Massage Therapist.

Contact Dean: dstark@sacwaldorf.org

Joined SWS 2004

Visual Arts
Doug Morkner-Brown

A teacher of 8th grade algebra and high school art, Doug began his teacher training in 1997 and has taught in public and homeschool communities. At Sierra Waldorf School, he carried a class from fourth grade through graduation and then came to Sacramento Waldorf School. He also leads the Sacramento Waldorf School mountain biking team.

Doug appreciates the profound ability of students and teachers alike to thrive in a Waldorf school, as it is founded in respect for the profound journey that life presents. He believes teaching requires a good sense of humor and a solid sense of organization, matched with the enthusiasm to push students lovingly into the unknown.

With a BA in Humanities from California State University, Chico and a Diploma in Literary Studies from University of Wales, Doug completed his Waldorf Teacher Training Certificate through the Waldorf Teacher Education in Eugene, Oregon.

A Sacramento resident, he lives with his wife, Christina, and their three amazing children, Skylar, Tenaya and Rowan. His interests include carpentry, cycling, painting, gardening, cooking, and most things practical and DIY. Reflecting on the disappointment he felt during his own childhood schooling, Doug has always wanted to redeem and help recreate what education can and should be.

Contact Doug:  dmorknerbrown@sacwaldorf.org

Joined SWS 2016

Practical Arts, Humanities, Science Olympiad
Dr. Whyt Pugh

Contact Dr. Pugh:  wpugh@sacwaldorf.org

Sacramento Waldorf School Humanities Teacher - Dunja Popovic
Joined SWS 2012

Dunja Popovic

Dunja loves helping students discover who they are and what is precious and important to them in this world. She chooses to teach in a Waldorf school because she wants to educate the whole human being and believes the study of humanities should not be about gaining particular skills but rather, about exploring our values and what it means to be human.

With a BA in History and Literature from Harvard University and an M.A. and PhD in Russian Literature from Princeton University, Dunja obtained her Waldorf High School Teaching Certificate  and Foundations in Anthroposophy and the Arts from Rudolf Steiner College. Before becoming a Waldorf teacher, she 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.

A Carmichael resident, Dunja is married to faculty member Jacob Hosler; their two daughters attend Sacramento Waldorf School. Dunja’s interests include foreign languages, travel, knitting, and pondering.

Contact Dunja: dpopovic@sacwaldorf.org

Joined SWS 2005

Isabelle Tabacot

Isabelle believes in empowering students to think for themselves. She loves sharing her passion for history and the lively exchange of ideas that occurs in the classroom. She teaches 9th grade Revolutions, 10th grade U.S. History and Ancient History, 11th grade Rome and Middle Ages, and 12th grade Government.

With a BA in Education from Union Institute & University, Isabelle is completing graduate coursework in American History from Adams State University and holds a Waldorf Teacher Education Diploma from Rudolf Steiner College.

A Waldorf educator for more than 20 years, Isabelle graduated the class of 2018 from 8th grade. She teaches in various teacher education programs at Rudolf Steiner College, in the Bay Area, and in Montrèal.

A Fair Oaks resident, Isabelle is passionate about history and enjoys writing, running, and traveling – especially to Iceland. She appreciates how Waldorf education has provided her with the freedom to respond flexibly to the students she teaches and to innovate in the classroom.

Contact Isabelle:  itabacot@sacwaldorf.org

Joined SWS 2012

Math and Performing Arts
Jacob Hosler

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 from University of California, Berkeley, 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.

With a BA in Music History and Theory from Oberlin College, Jacob teaches high school math, directs the high school orchestra, and co-teaches music history with his wife, Dunja Popovic.

His outside interests include hiking, opera, silent films, and origami. His two daughters are current Sacramento Waldorf School students.

Contact Jacob:  jhosler@sacwaldorf.org

Joined SWS 2018

Math and Science; Movement and Physical Education
John Dreyer

John has been and continues to be an advocate for supplementary and continued education through the world of open online courses. His interests are broad and plenty, but his heart strongly gravitates toward 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.

With a BS in Exercise Biology from University of California, Davis, John spends his free time playing basketball and baseball, long distance running, and pursuing 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.

Contact John: jdreyer@sacwaldorf.org

Joined SWS 2001

Visual Arts, Math, Science and Computer Science
John Petering

John has taught in Waldorf high schools for more than 20 years, specializing in Visual Arts, Math, Science and Computer Science. He teaches in Waldorf schools to empower future generations of creative change-makers through spirit, heart, and hands. His teaching philosophy begins with “That’s a very good question; let’s find out.” He utilizes Waldorf’s deeply enriching curriculum to help students think creatively, value authentic feelings, and take initiative.

He holds a BS in Unified Science from Wayne State University; an MS in Civil and Environmental Engineering from University of Cincinnati; and a Diploma of Waldorf Education from Waldorf Institute of Mercy College. Before joining Sacramento Waldorf School, John taught at Detroit Waldorf School and Shining Mountain Waldorf High School, where he helped pioneer their high schools. He also was a guest faculty member at Rudolf Steiner College.

Earlier in his career, John worked in biotechnology and medical clinical research. He has actively helped develop the phenomena-based aspects of Waldorf science teaching and contributed to several Waldorf science books. Outside of work, John enjoys back-country exploration, particularly stream ecology and water quality, and flow-form (rhythmic water flow) studies. A Fair Oaks resident, he is married to fellow Sacramento Waldorf School staffer Betsy Petering and is the father of four Waldorf alumni.

Contact John: jpetering@sacwaldorf.org

Joined SWS 2004

Math and Performing Arts
Jonathan Winfield

Father of two Sacramento Waldorf School alumni, Jonathan performed all over England in some of the finest concert halls, as a member of Dulwich College Madrigal Group and choir. He has studied piano since the age of 9. After college at London University, where he earned a BS in Math and Philosophy, he became a professional pianist, working in many areas until musical theatre captured his attention in 1992.

Since then, he has served as Musical Director for more than 40 musicals. 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 in 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 married to fellow faculty member, Sarah Winfield, and they live in Fair Oaks.

Contact Jonathan: jwinfield@sacwaldorf.org

Joined SWS 2018

Marcella Livi

Teaching is not simply a profession to Marcella; it is an art. She loves that her profession is never static, and always evolving. She was drawn to Waldorf education out of a desire to find a connection between student and teacher, and a way to encourage the unique gifts of every student. “I love being in constant dialogue with my students as it sparks new ideas within us.”

Marcella teaches German in grades 9 through 12. She holds a BA in Philosophy, an MA and PhD in German Language and Literature with a Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory and special interest in Feminist Theory, all from the University of California, Davis. She has taught German and French at various Universities and Community Colleges. Marcella was born in Italy, and is a native German and Italian speaker from a small town called Northeim (near Göttingen) in Lower Saxony, Germany.

She lives in Sacramento with her husband. Marcella likes to travel and enjoys all sorts of outdoor activities including running and hiking. She is also a certified yoga teacher, and practices whenever possible.

Contact Marcella: mlivi@sacwaldorf.org

Joined SWS 2006

Social Emotional Learning and Health
Megan Sullivan

Megan has taught grades K-12 as a Class Teacher and a specialist in Australia and the United States. She also has administration experience in a start-up Waldorf High School, and extensive experience as a guest teacher, presenter, and lecturer in the field of Sex Education and Social Emotional Learning.

Megan completed Waldorf Teacher Training at Chrysalis Steiner School in Australia. She also completed coursework at Rudolf Steiner College. Megan began her Waldorf teaching career in 1994 at Casuarina Steiner School in Australia.

Megan is married and has two daughters. She loves to read, take walks, garden, and visit Australia.

Contact Megan: msullivan@sacwaldorf.org

Joined SWS 2011

Melissa Hiatt

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. 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 eldest daughter (who graduated from Sacramento Waldorf School in 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. Melissa was a class teacher at Davis Waldorf School, before coming to Sacramento Waldorf School in 2011.

With a BS in Environmental Design and Comparative Literature from University of California, Davis, Melissa immersed in Foundation Studies at Rudolf Steiner College. Her love for the ocean and cypress trees is mitigated slightly by the giant oaks that surround her house near the American River. She enjoys laughing out loud, cooking, and eating.

Contact Melissa:  mhiatt@sacwaldorf.org

Nina Madsen Sacramento Waldorf School HS Physics Teacher
Joined SWS 2020

Nina Vice

Nina’s passion for teaching stems from her love of learning new things, and that passion is continuously strengthened by inspiring others to learn. She enjoys challenging her students to discover the world around them through phenomena-based interactions. She believes that curiosity about the world is an important tool for fostering learning not only in science, but also outside of the science classroom.

She has a Bachelor of Science in Physics from the University of the Pacific and a Preliminary Single Subject Teaching Credential in the subject of Physics from California State University, Sacramento. She has an extreme passion for the sciences and math and is excited to share that passion with others.

She lives in Roseville with her husband, cat, and two Australian Shepherd puppies. Her hobbies include, hiking, mountain biking, and snowboarding.

Contact Nina: nvice@sacwaldorf.org

Joined SWS 2003

Performing Arts
Sarah Winfield

Through the transformational modality of drama, Sarah encourages and enables students to see beyond what they thought they could do, to make brave, bold choices, and to push themselves outside their comfort zones. She teaches 9th grade Intro to Drama, 10th grade Greek Drama, 11th grade Shakespeare and 12th grade Senior Play.

With a BA in Speech & Drama from Georgia State University and a postgraduate course in acting from Drama Studio London, Sarah completed coursework at Rudolf Steiner College. She teaches at Sacramento Waldorf School because she has the flexibility to create her own drama curriculum and tweak it constantly to best meet student needs.

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 there. 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.

Married to fellow faculty member Jonathan Winfield and the mother of two Sacramento Waldorf School graduates, Sarah enjoys gardening, singing, Celtic music, and creating stories for children.

Contact Sarah: swinfield@sacwaldorf.org

Joined SWS 2018

Woodworking, Block Printing, and Clay/Pottery
Shane Pugh

Contact Shane:  spugh@sacwaldorf.org

Joined SWS 2019

Visual Arts
Shara Vilagi

Contact Shara: svilagi@sacwaldorf.org

Joined SWS 1992

Humanities and Visual Arts
Sherry Hirssig

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. She has coached basketball for more than 20 years, more than half of those years at Sacramento Waldorf School. She has sponsored the Classes of 1995, 2000, 2002, 2006, and 2016.

Sherry holds a BS in English Education, Art Education, and Coaching from the University of Wisconsin; and has Teaching Credentials in Art (K–12), English (7–12), and Coaching in the State of Wisconsin. She earned a Waldorf High School Teaching Diploma from Rudolf Steiner College.

Contact Sherry: shirssig@sacwaldorf.org

Joined SWS 2019

Simona Moti

Simona teaches 11th grade U.S. History, Parzival and Modern Novel, and 12th grade Architecture, Cultural Studies, and Civics. She was inspired to become a teacher by the belief that education is one of the most important things humans can engage in, both as mentors and as disciples. She chooses to teach in a Waldorf school because she wants to work in an educational environment that strives to meet the full potential and dignity of human beings.

She holds a BA in English, an MA in British and American Studies, both from the University of Timisoara, Romania, and a Ph.D. in German Studies with an emphasis in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Irvine. Before joining Sacramento Waldorf School, she taught language and cultural studies at various Universities in the U.S.

She lives in Fair Oaks with her husband and their daughter, a current Sacramento Waldorf School student. She enjoys traveling, skiing, and playing with dogs.

Contact Simona:  smoti@sacwaldorf.org

Joined SWS 2001

Stephen Payne

Farmer Steve, as he is known, came to Sacramento Waldorf School in 2001 and runs the campus’ 3.5-acre working farm, including its gardening curriculum. With 10 years of experience in organic farming and five years of experience as a market garden business owner, Stephen holds a BS in Business Marketing from Central Connecticut State University.

Contact Steve: spayne@sacwaldorf.org or (916) 342-7416

Victor Gutierrez Cuellar Sacramento Waldorf High School Spanish Teacher
Joined SWS 2020

Victor Gutierrez Cuellar

Victor was born and raised in Mexico, he is fluent in English and Spanish, and has a passion for world languages and cultures. Victor graduated from UC Davis, where he studied International Relations specializing in global environmental and human health and a focus in Latin America. He also studied oceanography and was a resident of the Bodega Marine Laboratory in Bodega Bay, CA where he researched global ocean acidification. After graduation, he worked with a nonprofit organization as an outdoor science teacher. He then worked at Aspire Public Schools as a TK-5 STEM teacher. With a passion for education and a love for learning, Victor is excited to join the Sacramento Waldorf High School as the new Spanish teacher.

Contact Victor at:  vgutierrez@sacwaldorf.org

Joined SWS 2019

Visual Arts
Yumiko East

Yumiko worked in the design industry in Japan after obtaining degrees in both Fashion and Space/Interior Design from Kuwasawa Design School in Tokyo.

In 1991 she moved to Fair Oaks with her daughter, Nagisa (SWS class of 2003), to attend Rudolf Steiner College where she completed the Goethean Studies Program, Foundation Studies Program, and the Biodynamic Gardening Apprenticeship Training Program.

She pursued her visual arts studies further with Professor Fred Dalkey at Sacramento City College, the “Illuminism” watercolor painting training in Santa Rosa, and at the Rudolf Steiner Malschule in Switzerland.

Yumiko has taught adults, children, and autistic youth through workshops and private groups, and is a published illustrator for children’s books, the annual Japanese and U.S. Biodynamic Planting Calendars.

During her free time she enjoys working with plants, painting, spending time with her four grandchildren, and preparing Japanese cuisine.

Contact Yumiko:  yeast@sacwaldorf.org