As many parents are aware, we were still filling positions after school ended in June. We formally announced the updates to the parent body in each grade, but we wanted everyone to be aware of our new faculty members and some internal faculty changes.
Our incoming 1st grade, teacher is Amanda Poll. Ms. Poll was referred and highly recommended by Chicago Waldorf School where she worked has their primary substitute teacher for the last two years. She holds a BS in Early Childhood Development from Ohio State University where she was part of the NCAA National Champion Women’s Rowing team. She also holds a MS of Child Development and Education from Oxford University in England and MS in Elementary Education from Northwestern. Ms. Poll spent the past year at Ogden International School as a Student Teacher in 2nd grade. Ultimately, her time teaching at Chicago Waldorf School and seeing how the curriculum is aligned with child development led her to pursue a career as a Waldorf teacher.
During our time with Ms. Poll, it became clear that she is passionate about the Waldorf educational philosophy and believes in its potential to shape children’s lives. She appreciates how the integration of movement, music, the arts and the outdoors into the curriculum creates a holistic education experience that not only fosters academic growth but emotional and spiritual growth as well.
Our incoming 4th grade teacher is Megan Cather. Ms. Cather has taught for the last 10 years as a Bilingual Class teacher at Chicago Public Schools and comes highly recommended. She holds a BA in Spanish and Writing / Communication from Maryville College in Tennessee and a MS in Education from Northern Illinois University. Ms. Cather is a fellow at the Institute for Teaching Science Excellence. She has also pursued continuing education on how to differentiate and deliver curriculum to a wide range of learners especially with regard to mathematics.
Ms. Cather first learned about Waldorf education in the early days of her teacher preparation. Attracted to the Waldorf philosophy because it takes into account the needs of the whole child, she has continued to read about Waldorf pedagogy throughout the years. She has been waiting for an opportunity like this and is excited to make the move to Urban Prairie now. A guitar player, she is especially eager to integrate her love for music, storytelling, and the visual arts into her teaching.
Ms. Hartz will be our 5th grade teacher. The last two years she has played a very important role for the school as Pedagogical Director, and while we will miss her on the Administrative team, she will be an outstanding leader for the class.
Other Faculty Updates
Ms. Ingold will join Ms. Johns in the 2nd grade classroom as a co-teacher and is beginning courses for her Waldorf degree. Ms. Ingold has been a true team player over the last four years and stepped into every classroom, led aftercare, after school programs and been the face of our office. She will be missed in this role but we are thrilled to have her in the classroom.
Our new Administrative Assistant is Sophie Huckabay. Sophie is a former Chicago Waldorf School student and graduated with a BA from Kalamazoo College. Sophie is joining us from SmithBucklin where she worked as a Coordinator overseeing events, volunteer coordination, data base management, and much more.
After an amazing eight years as class teacher and graduating the first class for Urban Prairie, Ms. Kiefer is handing over 8th grade Main Lesson teaching to Ms. Merchant. This change will allow her time to usher in a new 8th grade curriculum initiative, Expedition Learning, and she will continue to teach some 8th grade skills classes. This change will also allow us to put her experience and knowledge to use throughout the grades in a variety of ways, such as working with gardening in 3rd grade, form drawing in 1st grade, and mentoring new faculty.
As mentioned above, Ms. Merchant will lead the 8th grade class in their final year, giving her the opportunity to teach a class that she feels very passionate about and lend her expertise in practical arts. With this, her Social Inclusion and Three Streams of Student Support work will be taken up more fully by committees that involve all faculty and allow us to better utilize the skill sets of the group.
As mentioned in an e-mail this spring, Ms. Miller will be transitioning to a Handwork teacher and Ms. Baba will join us as our Eurythmy teacher.
Please join us in congratulating our new and current faculty members on their exciting opportunities as we continue to grow Urban Prairie.