Sacramento Waldorf School

Meet Our Teachers

alford-puriPuri Alford – Spanish

(Joined SWS 2016)

Contact Puri:

Marion Downey – Movement and Physical Education
Marion attended Pharmacy School in Germany. After coming to the United States, she completed Foundation Year and Goethean Studies Programs, Rudolf Steiner College; in addition, she holds a Eurythmy Diploma, Goetheanum, Dornach; Therapeutic Eurythmy Diploma, Goetheanum, Dornach. During her Waldorf training, Marion established the Kindergarten summer camp at the San Francisco Waldorf School and supervised it for seven years. She then taught Eurythmy at Cedar Springs Waldorf School and Live Oak Waldorf School before coming to SWS. Marion teaches seventh through twelfth grades. (Joined SWS 2001)

Contact Marion: or (916) 860-2535 ext. 3570

Erdman, BobBob 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. (Joined SWS 2014)

Contact Bob: or (916) 860-2535 ext. 3552

finn-romero-johnnyJohnny Finn-Romero – Visual Arts

BA in Art Studio, California State University, Sacramento, with a focus on three-dimensional art using ceramics, wood, and metal; Teacher Training Certificate from Rudolf Steiner College. Awards include Student Art Exhibit Certificate, Exceptional Achievement Certificate, Torrance Craftsmen Guild Scholarship. Johnny shows locally and throughout California, including recently with the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission. Some of his work is on permanent display at American River College, in the Financial Aid Office. Johnny came to SWS with 20 years of experience in studio creation and design. He has successfully taught elementary age to adult students in a multitude of settings. Johnny teaches fifth through twelfth grades at SWS. (Joined SWS 1999)

Contact Johnny: or (916) 860-2535 ext. 3565

ghoirso-bethBeth Ghiorso – Humanities and Librarian
BA in History and American Literature, California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo; California Teaching Credential in Social Studies and English Literature, Point Loma Nazarene College; California Multiple Subject Teaching Credential; coursework at Rudolf Steiner College. Beth was a student at SWS until her family moved away after seventh grade. She taught in public elementary and middle schools for eight years before returning to SWS as a class teacher. She graduated her eighth grade class in June 2004 and then began teaching in the high school. (Joined SWS 1999)

Contact Beth: or (916) 860-2523

gruhn-christineChristine Gruhn – Math, Science and Computer 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. (Joined SWS 2000)

Contact Christine: or (916) 860-2535 ext. 3559

hiatt-melissaMelissa 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. (Joined SWS 2011)

Contact Melissa:

hirssig-sherrySherry 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. (Joined SWS 1992)

Contact Sherry: or (916) 860-2535 ext. 3553

hessler-jacobJacob Hosler – Math, Science and Computer Science

BA in Music History and Theory, Oberlin College; MA in Music History, UC Berkeley; Coursework at Rutgers University; Coursework at Rudolf Steiner College. Since he was a child, Jacob has combined a passion for music with an 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 assists in the lower school strings program, plays cello and bass with the high school orchestra, and teaches high school math. He also co-teaches the music history block in the high school with his wife, Dunja Popovic. Jacob’s interests include hiking, going to the opera, watching silent films, and origami. (Joined SWS 2012)

Contact Jacob:

cropped-logo.pngMartin Iseri – Math

MA, UC Berkeley; BA, UC Davis; Teaching credential, CSU Sacramento; Waldorf teaching certificate, Rudolf Steiner College, Coursework at Stanford University Language Center in Tokyo. He taught high school in the San Juan Unified School District and the grades at Davis Waldorf School, Cedar Springs Waldorf School and Camellia Waldorf School.  He was born in Sacramento and lived in Tokyo for ten years, where he was married. He moved to Fair Oaks in 1997.   All three of his children–two sons and a daughter–are graduates of the Sacramento Waldorf School High School. He is an active soccer referee for high school and youth leagues with over twenty-five years experience and recently became a girls’ lacrosse umpire, as well. (Joined SWS 2016)

Contact Martin:

Liva Laswell – Humanities

BA (cum laude) in Literature and Creative Writing, University of California, Santa Barbara; Foundation Studies, Center for Anthroposophy, NH; SWS Class of ’07. Liva spends her summers in New Hampshire, where she is completing her Waldorf High School Teaching Certificate in Humanities at the Center for Anthroposophy. Following graduation from UC Santa Barbara, she taught high school English in Austria with the Fulbright Program before returning to the US to follow her destiny in Waldorf education. At High Mowing School she worked in residential life, sports coaching, & admissions, and was lucky to team teach several main lessons with master teachers, along with teaching middle school English at a neighboring Waldorf lower school. Before coming to SWS, Liva was the high school Humanities teacher at Haleakala Waldorf School on Maui. Liva is thrilled to be “home” in the place that inspired her to become a Waldorf teacher, and looks forward to many years of inspiring adolescents to love literature and history. She enjoys running, knitting, speaking German, writing, baking, and traveling. (Joined SWS 2015)

Contact Liva: or (916) 860-2535 ext. 2503

martin-susannahSusannah Martin – German
BA, MA, and PhD in German Language and Literature with a Designated Emphasis in Second Language Acquisition, University of California, Davis; Waldorf High School Teaching Certificate, Rudolf Steiner College. (Joined SWS 2004)

Contact Susannah: or (916) 860-2535 ext. 3577

millard-johnJohn Millard – Math, Science and Computer 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: or (916) 860-2535 ext. 3556

morkner-brown-douglasDoug Morkner-Brown – Math, Science and Computer Science; 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. (Joined SWS 2004)

Contact Doug:

Nakayama, JimJames 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:

Katy Passie – Visual Arts and Gardening

(Joined SWS 2003)

Contact Katy:

Payne, Stephen
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.

(Joined SWS 2001)

Contact Steve: or (916) 342-7416

petering-johnJohn 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. (Joined SWS 2001)

Contact John: or (916) 860-2535 ext. 3569

Popovic, DunjaDunja 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). (Joined SWS 2012)

Contact Dunja:

schoen-peterPeter Schoen – Movement and Physical Education

BA, University of Massachusetts; Sculpture Training, Emerson College in England; Spatial Dynamics Certificate, Spatial Dynamics Institute. Peter coached volleyball and taught Art, Practical Arts, Earth Science, and Architecture for 12 years at the Hawthorne Valley School in upstate New York. He also, taught Movement and Physical Education as well as some Middle School Science blocks for 10 years at Monadnock Waldorf School in Keene, NH. He has also taught Woodwork and Clay Modeling at the Camellia Waldorf School in Sacramento. Peter has worked with 1st through 12th graders, and enjoys working with children of all ages. Peter loves to back country ski, mountain bike, play tennis, work with his hands, be outdoors, and have fun. He spent several years wilderness packing, skiing, and climbing in the Rocky Mountains while in his 20s. (Joined SWS XX)

Contact Peter:

Sigerson, SaxonSaxon Sigerson – Guest Faculty in Architecture
BArch, University of Southern California; Member, American Institute of Architects. Saxon is a registered architect operating a one-person firm in Fair Oaks. Sigerson Architects has a wide ranging mix of commercial and residential projects in the greater Sacramento area. After two-and-a-half years in college, Saxon left to work in construction as a carpenter and ultimately became a superintendent. Returning to college at the University of Southern California in 1983, Saxon pursued a degree in architecture, and had an opportunity to study with Syracuse University in Florence, Italy. He writes a monthly published column exploring his passion for architecture and often works as a mentor to students in the community interested in architecture. Saxon teaches the architecture block to SWS seniors, and his three sons are SWS alumni.

smith-deanDean Smith – Math, Science and Computer Science

BS in Mathematics and Computer Science, California State University Hayward/East Bay; graduate coursework in Computer Science, Stanford University; Coursework at Rudolf Steiner College. Dean was a software engineer at Hewlett Packard for thirteen years prior to becoming involved with Waldorf education. He has been the Co-Administrator and middle school math teacher at Live Oak Waldorf School, and currently serves as the SWS IT Manager along with teaching computer science and skills and math. Dean has two delightful children who are SWS students, and lives in Granite Bay with his family and two Rhodesian Ridgebacks. In his spare time, Dean enjoys swimming and spending time with his family. (Joined SWS 2014)

Contact Dean: or (916) 860-2505

stark-deanDean 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 Coach of the Year awards in baseball and basketball. 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 540 basketball games as an SWS coach, more than any other Boys Varsity Coach in the history of the C.I.F. Sac-Joaquin Section. (Joined SWS 1984)

Contact Dean: or (916) 860-2527

sullivan-andrewAndrew 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. (Joined SWS 1996)

Contact Andrew: or (916) 860-2535 ext. 3561

Megan Sullivan – Social Emotional Learning and Healthsullivan-megan

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. (Joined SWS 2006)

Contact Megan: or (916) 860-2536

Sutter, NathanNathan Sutter – Performing Arts
BMus in Composition, Oberlin Conservatory of Music; Certified Suzuki Violin Teacher. Nathan graduated from Interlochen Arts Academy with a major in violin performance and composition. At Oberlin he received the Herbert Elwell Memorial Prize in Composition and was a featured artist at the 2003 Midwest Composers Symposium. Nathan has taught at Cedar Springs Waldorf School and at Rudolf Steiner college. (Joined SWS 2007)

Contact Nathan: or (916) 860-2535 ext. 3545

tabacot-isabel_sqIsabelle 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. (Joined SWS 2005)

Contact Isabelle:

Teresa-ThormanTeresa Thorman – Visual Arts
BS in Political Science, Loyola Marymount University, CA; California Teaching Credential, Dominguez Hills, CA ; Waldorf Teacher Training, Rudolf Steiner College. Teresa’s teaching career began at a public middle school in Lennox, CA in 1991. Her journey through many years of education has included public school teaching for Tahoe Truckee Unified School District, homeschool mentoring in Waldorf methods, and being a Class Teacher at Live Oak Waldorf School in Applegate, CA. As a Waldorf class teacher, Teresa discovered her passion for art and has pursued an education in painting through many workshops and classes. In her spare time she is either involved with her family activities or she is investigating the nuances of color in a variety of mediums including charcoal, watercolor and acrylics. (Joined SWS 2015)

Contact Teresa:

Winfield, Jonathan

Jonathan Winfield – Math, Science and Computer Science; 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. (Joined SWS 2004)

Contact Jonathan: or (916) 860-2535 ext. 3580


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. (Joined SWS 2003)

Contact Sarah: or (916) 860-2535 ext. 3574