DVWS Faculty & Staff
Early Childhood Faculty
Elizabeth Kelly, Parent-Child Teacher, Wonder Garden Teacher, AfterHours Schoolhouse
Elizabeth has been working with children and families for more than 25 years. She grew up in Ann Arbor , MI playing in the woods and doing lots of theater, and has a bachelor’s degree in theater from the University of Michigan. She lived for many years in Chicago, doing theater and raising a family. Her own three children brought her to Waldorf education, and were Waldorf educated from early childhood through high school. She holds a Waldorf teaching certificate from Arcturus Rudolf Steiner Education Program in Chicago, and is certified in early childhood care and teaching by Lifeways. She has taught parent-child classes, special subjects (handwork grades 1-8, and music/lyre to grades 1-2), early childhood and aftercare. In her spare time she enjoys making things (spinning, knitting, sewing, toymaking); reading and learning about human development, history and culture; making and listening to music; hiking and camping; and doing puppetry, storytelling and theater.
Egle Kitopulos, Wonder Garden Assistant Teacher
Born and raised in a small town in Lithuania, Egle moved to the U.S. when she was 19 years old. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and also studied the art of dance, where she gained experience working with and teaching children of various ages. Egle learned about the Waldorf teaching methodology when she was pregnant with her daughter and has recently attended some Waldorf Early Childhood teacher training courses in Lithuania. She loves children and has experience working at an in-home daycare and preschool, which emphasizes nature and free play. Egle also is a yoga and dance instructor and enjoys gardening, crafts and nature.
Donna Brooks, Sunflower Garden Teacher
Donna came to Waldorf education after fourteen years of public school teaching. After having her first child, she was encouraged to join the school in its third year of existence when it was a kindergarten program only. Donna has taught at Da Vinci Waldorf School since fall of 2000. She considers teaching her life’s work and a labor of great love. Donna holds a BA in education and master’s degree in clinical social work. Stemming from her love of Waldorf early childhood education, Donna completed the Lifeways Early Childhood Training in Wisconsin and also trained at Arcturus Rudolf Steiner Program in Chicago. When not teaching, one may find Donna playing guitar and singing. On weekends she shares communion with elderly and incapacitated people in her church community and is active with the church youth group. She enjoys hiking, humor, and quiet times reading.
Dina Fasman, Sunflower Garden Assistant Teacher
A native of Russia, Dina’s love of languages led her to study them in college. She received her bachelor’s degree in English and French, and her master’s degree in English at Voronezh University, Russia. Before joining Da Vinci Waldorf School, Dina gained several years of experience in teaching young children and ESL learners. Dina has completed some training at Arcturus Rudolf Steiner program in Chicago. It is her joy to work with the children in the early childhood program, to see the winks of the children’s eyes, their jaws dropping when the candle is lit, and how they devour a story. Dina is delighted to be present and lovingly care for these little beings as they are engaged and happy, taking up different roles every day during playtime.
Ieva Scoggin, Apple Blossom Garden Teacher
After graduating from the Latvian Academy of Culture with a B.A. in history and completing her Waldorf teacher training from Arcturus Rudolf Steiner Program in Chicago, Ieva began her career as a teacher at Da Vinci Waldorf School in 2006. For many years a lead teacher in the early childhood program, Ieva has also taught parent-child classes, three year and grade school movement education classes. Ieva has served in leadership positions on the faculty and as a board member. Inspired by the wonders of nature, the magic of storytelling, and freedom of movement, Ieva brings joy and love to her work with her class. She intuitively understands of the needs of young children and is raising her own three Waldorf children.
Sarah Westlund, 1st & 2nd Grades Teacher
Sarah is a native of northern Illinois and spent countless hours wandering the prairie and river bottoms near her childhood home. Because of these rich adventures where she was free to explore and dream, Sarah’s adult life after college mirrored the experiences of her childhood: she was free to explore and dream as she designed, built, and maintained gardens for landscape clients throughout the Chicago area. For over ten years, Sarah’s successful landscape company led her to continue to follow her dreams to create a market garden. Sarah grew a rainbow of fruits, veggies, and flowers on one acre, all the while tending her beloved bees. Intermingled with this dear work were the first years of her teaching at Da Vinci Waldorf School. She pursued her teacher training at Arcturus Rudolf Steiner program in Chicago, and taught in the parent-child program, taught movement education in the grades, and worked an early childhood assistant. Sarah was instrumental the very early days of Da Vinci’s Farm program, bringing a new garden plot, chickens, and bees to the property. Sarah is now elated and humbled to be teaching as a class teacher. It is an honor and a blessing to be able to bring her love of life and learning to her students!
Sarah DuRocher, 4th Grade Teacher
Sarah’s journey with Waldorf education began when she was enrolled in the early childhood program at Four Winds Waldorf School as the school was founded, and she attended there throughout grade school. Sarah has many years of experience working with children as both a nanny in the US, and as a preschool teacher in Ghana. She has her bachelor’s degree in religious studies and political science from Augustana College, and is currently enrolled in Milwaukee at the Great Lakes Waldorf Institute and Mount Mary University’s master’s program in education. Sarah is very drawn to the enriching and artistic curriculum of Waldorf education and is especially excited by the opportunities to explore history and culture. Her favorite pastime activities are swimming and relaxing with her cat.
Missy Byrne, 5th & 6th Grades Teacher
Missy was drawn to Waldorf education while searching for an intuitive and nurturing style of learning for her daughter, Maddy. Her journey began at Chicago Waldorf School by attending parent-child classes with her daughter and culminated in six years as an assistant in the Early Childhood program. In May, 2012 she completed her Waldorf Teacher Certification at Arcturus Rudolf Steiner Program in Chicago, IL. She joined the Da Vinci Waldorf School faculty as an EC assistant, and joined the grade school faculty during the 2012-2013 school year. It is her profound pleasure to teach and lead students through their formative years of education. An avid food and wine enthusiast, Missy spent many years as a food service professional at Frontera Grill/Topolobampo in Chicago. She and her associates also enjoyed many summer culinary excursions sampling the fares of various cities and small villages in Mexico.
Chris Ecklund, 7th & 8th Grades Teacher
Chris’ love of teaching began in high school with a Saturday school program that offered lessons to middle school students taught by high schoolers. With a Bachelor’s degree in studio art and an Illinois teaching certificate, Chris has been an educator for ten years teaching art in both public and home school settings before finding her way to Waldorf education. While completing a Master’s degree at the Great Lakes Waldorf Institute in Milwaukee in conjunction with Mount Mary University, she has worked as the chair of the PTO, board member, early childhood faculty member, and grade school substitute at Da Vinci Waldorf School and art instructor at Tamarack Waldorf High School. Chris is passionate about offering opportunities for artistic expression to people of all ages, but especially enjoys working with children as they grow and develop. Her favorite activities include printmaking, sculpture, cooking, gardening, and sharing music with her family.
Edith de Castro, 7th Grade Math Teacher
Edith has been involved with Waldorf education since the fall of 2011, when her family joined the school community, upon her daughter entering Kindergarten in the Early Childhood program at DVWS. With a Master of Arts in Teaching, Edith has worked for nine years in schools in Seattle, Chicago and in the North Shore suburbs of Chicago, teaching in grades first through fourth, mainly in Dual Language Spanish Programs, before coming to DVWS. Edith has worked as a parent volunteer, substitute teacher, Spanish teacher and as an early childhood assistant, during her five years at DVWS. Edith earned her Masters of Arts in Teaching from National Louis University in 1999. She has also attended summer intensives programs at Arcturus Rudolf Steiner Education Program in Chicago and a Waldorf World Language Conference in Portland, Oregon. Her favorite activities are spending time with her family and friends, especially traveling, cooking, reading and exploring the wonders in nature.
Special Subjects Faculty
Elizabeth English, 3rd Grade Class Teacher, Music Program Director
Elizabeth’s life has revolved around the arts, and Waldorf teaching seemed a natural fit for her. Elizabeth has extensive training and experience in dance, flute, voice, piano, acting and the culinary arts. She also has had a lifelong interest in fashion design, with decades of experience in pattern making and as a seamstress, which led to developing both a costume business and her own clothing line. Elizabeth was introduced to Waldorf education by a dear friend who founded Da Vinci (as Water’s Edge School), and was immediately drawn to it. She began teaching music and handwork in 2003, and soon found herself taking a grade school class. Elizabeth completed her Waldorf grade school teacher certification at Sunbridge College in Spring Valley, NY. While there she furthered her knowledge in anthroposophic music, studying instrument making under Manfred Bleffert and flute/recorder training under Pär Ahlbom, creator of Choroi Flutes. Elizabeth has taught music and orchestra for many years, and has also been a class teacher and taught handwork at Da Vinci. She has taught music to adult students at the Arcturus Rudolf Steiner Program in Chicago since 2012, and mentors other Waldorf schools in music. Elizabeth’s passion is in working with children and adults alike and in bringing new music to the world. In her spare time, one may find Elizabeth occasionally cooking a special menu at a local café, singing in a choir, acting or building an instrument.
Lynda Julian, Grades Spanish Teacher
Lynda found her way to Da Vinci Waldorf School in the fall of 2008 and began teaching Spanish in January 2009. With a master’s degree in Spanish from MAT University of Virginia, Lynda brought over 20 years of experience in bilingual, preschool and Spanish teaching and translating in both public and private schools to her position at Da Vinci. In the 2011-2012 school year she became a grades class teacher. Several wonderful years of teaching and studies later, Lynda has returned to her original position as Spanish teacher at Da Vinci. She has great interest in helping develop the Farm-to-Table program at the school with a Dual Language approach. Lynda enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, and fiber arts when she is not at school. She is working towards her final research project to complete her Waldorf teaching certification at the Great Lakes Waldorf Institute in Milwaukee, WI.
Nicole Griffith, Grades Handwork Teacher
A volunteer at first, Nicole was hired to serve as an assistant in the early childhood program in 2004. Soon after, she took on the Handwork teaching position as well, and attended an intensive practical arts training at the West Coast Institute on Vancouver Island, Canada. Having formerly earned a BA in German Language and Literature from the University of Illinois, Nicole’s most cherished educational experiences came while earning a certificate in the Practical Arts at the Fiber Craft Studio in Chestnut Ridge, New York. She completed her training in 2015. Nicole’s experiences with the children and the dedication of a small but determined community make her feel part of something truly special at Da Vinci Waldorf School. Nicole finds balance and enjoyment tending her home and the native gardens around it. Nature has long been a source of replenishment and inspiration for her, which she brings to the classroom through story, color in a skein of plant-dyed yarn, and the circle of the seasons. She is continually grateful for the gift of spending time in the presence of the children. Her favorite moment: when a child first sees that his hands can create something beautiful, useful and new.
Tuly Faden, Farm & Garden Teacher, Movement Teacher, Bookkeeping
Tuly was introduced to Waldorf education while she was pursuing her bachelor’s degree in biodynamic farming at Warmorderhof College in Holland. She was intrigued by it and upon coming to the U.S., she worked as an early childhood assistant for the Chicago Waldorf School from 1983-1985. Having an interest in finance, Tuly worked for nineteen years as a bookkeeper for a synagogue in Evanston. Tuly has experience in beekeeping, biodynamic farming and over six years of experience coaching. She started teaching movement and farming at Da Vinci Waldorf School in 2015. Tuly loves instilling in the children her passion for working with the earth and learning from it, and the relationship that comes from doing that work.
Kristine Fiskum, 1st Grade Morning Lesson and Skills Teacher, Educational Support Teacher, Faculty Chair
Kristine began her time with Da Vinci Waldorf school as a parent in 2001. Her interest in the school grew quickly and soon she worked in administration and served on the board. She began teaching math and substituting in various classes, and soon found her interest in teaching in full bloom. She completed her Waldorf training in Extra Lesson with the Association of a Healing Education in 2008. Kristine brings to her teaching ten years of experience as a photojournalist for the Chicago Tribune, The Associated Press, and other publications. She earned a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin in 1995. All this time looking through the lens has given her a keen ability to observe children play, move, and learn. Helping students overcome learning difficulties, and helping parents understand and support their children brings her tremendous joy. Photography remains a passion for Kristine, as well as writing, cooking, and other arts. She loves a good book, philosophical discussions, and a quiet walk in nature.
Lauren Moretti, Grades Tutor
Lauren came to Da Vinci with more than ten years of experience teaching children from infant to high school age. After graduating with degrees in fine art and psychology, she moved to Taiwan to teach English, where she lived for 6 years. While there, she worked as a kindergarten teacher, became proficient in conversational Mandarin Chinese, and eventually opened her own English classroom. Upon returning to the U.S., she began a wedding stationery design business. Over the years, Lauren has studied a variety of educational alternatives, and finds herself very drawn to Waldorf education. She is thrilled to be on the staff at Da Vinci Waldorf and to begin training to become a teacher in the grades. Lauren loves reading, knitting, animals, working on her fixer-upper, and learning new things.
Christine Grafft, Administrator, 8th Grade Math Teacher
Christine discovered Waldorf education while visiting a Michaelmas celebration in 2004. Since then she has dedicated her energies to the Da Vinci Waldorf School as a volunteer parent and board member and as an employee in the early childhood and grades programs, as well as administration. She has enjoyed serving in all those capacities and is very charmed by children of all ages. Before coming to Da Vinci, Christine worked in a dual-language program in the Chicago Public Schools and as an English teacher in the country of Chile where she lived for a period with her husband. Christine earned a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from University of Illinois in 1996 and master’s in education from Chicago State University in 2002. Her interests include health/fitness/nutrition, animals, travel/foreign language, and other things aplenty! She lives happily with her husband, two daughters, two dogs and cat in nearby Island Lake.
Barbara DuRocher, Enrollment, Administration, 6th Grade Math Teacher
Barbara has been involved in Waldorf education for over twenty years. She was a founding parent at Four Winds Waldorf School in Warrenville, IL and has worked as both an early childhood and a grade school faculty member, office coordinator, enrollment director, and board member. With a Masters degree in Public Administration, Barbara worked in university administration for eight years before finding her way toward Waldorf education. She started teaching in early childhood classes in 1996, taught parent-child classes for 15 years, taught grade school for three years and taught grade skills classes in reading, language arts and mathematics. Barbara loves working with children of all ages, but especially enjoys the parent-child classes and engaging with parents as they progress on their parenting journeys. Barbara completed her Waldorf Teaching Certification at the Great Lakes Waldorf Institute in Milwaukee, and has also trained at Arcturus Rudolf Steiner Program in Chicago, at Sophia’s Hearth Early Childhood Training Center in New Hampshire, and at Sunbridge Institute in New York. Her favorite activities include singing, playing guitar, reading, serving on her local library board, and relaxing with family and friends at a lake in the north woods of Wisconsin.
Brett Haller, Facilities Manager
Brett discovered Waldorf Education while looking for a school for his eldest child, Katie. He knew that Da Vinci Waldorf was the place for his family after walking through the front door. Brett received his Bachelors degree in Ethnic Studies (Art, Religion, Sociology) from Cornell College (Iowa) in 1995, which uses a one-course-at-a-time model. He is amazed at how the block program at Cornell mirrors the morning lesson blocks here at Da Vinci. Brett is also a Lieutenant at the Barrington Countryside Fire Department and a licensed Illinois paramedic. He is thrilled with the opportunity to share his talents and desire to teach with the wonderful children in this community. Brett also serves on the Board of Trustees at Da Vinci. Brett loves the outdoors, and in his spare time you will find him hunting, hiking, and coaching football and baseball.
Elisa Kraus, Marketing & Media Specialist
Elisa came to Da Vinci as a parent-child mom in 2010. After graduating with a degree in computer science, she had moved from her native state of Alabama to Illinois in 1996 to work in the medical software industry. Her professional background includes computer programming, systems analysis, systems design, systems documentation, database design/management, project management and team management. Over the years her technical interests expanded to include Web site and graphic design, which began as a hobby, then grew into a part-time profession as she moved from the work force to being a stay-at-home mom. She began assisting DVWS as a volunteer, this year becoming an official member of our administration team, focused primarily on marketing our school and expanding our social media and Web presence. In addition to being a mom, and her tech-centric interests, Elisa loves photography, cooking, singing, nature, crafting, and learning new things.