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Early Childhood Teachers

Meet our Faculty

Within these biographies are represented the strength of the human spirit as evidenced by the dedication, integrity, and perseverance embodied in our faculty, staff, and board members. Also represented is a love for humanity, with all its diverse cultures and perspectives, and a respect for each individual’s stage of development. Additionally, there lives a reverence for our planet, its biodiversity, and life-sustaining gifts. We invite you to meet us here and we look forward to meeting you soon.

Janelle Anderson (she/her)

Janelle Anderson (she/her)

Willow Wood Pre-K Lead Teacher

I love to take care of young children in a home-like setting that nurtures all their senses in a safe and developmentally appropriate way.

Janelle Anderson (she/her)

Janelle Anderson (she/her)

Willow Wood Pre-K Lead Teacher

Why I work at AWS

Back in 1999, I took a weekend course on Waldorf philosophy and it made sense to me. I teach at a Waldorf school because I love to take care of young children in a home-like setting that nurtures all their senses in a safe and developmentally appropriate way.

What I find most special about AWS

I think the wooded campus and the caring community is most special about AWS.

My life outside of AWS

I have a husband and three children, Isla, Kalista, and Kenyon (all students at AWS). We live in South Wales up on a wooded hill, where we have 2 cats, a turtle and many chickens. We are a family that loves to go on local adventures like: hike new locations, ski, snowshoe, and swim. But, we also enjoy our home days when we stay in our pajamas all day and play board games!

Education & Training

  • Multiple Waldorf education courses and workshops through Sunbridge Institute, Sophia's Hearth, and LifeWays.
  • BS in Early Childhood Development with a minor in Family Studies, Humboldt State University.

Nadine Merrick (she/her)

Nadine Merrick (she/her)

Willow Wood Pre-K Assistant / Lunch Bunch Teacher

“AWS provides children with the space and resources to delve into their imagination, creativity and natural curiosity.”

Nadine Merrick (she/her)

Nadine Merrick (she/her)

Willow Wood Pre-K Assistant / Lunch Bunch Teacher

Why I work at AWS

AWS provides children with the space and resources to delve into their imagination, creativity and natural curiosity. I enjoy being a part of the children’s growth process and helping them develop their physical, cognitive and social abilities. This not only provides a strong foundation for academic learning but also helps them see value in themselves and what they have to offer to society as they grow.

What I find most special about AWS

AWS offers a campus and curriculum like no other. The children can say they hiked through a wooded forest to picnic near a bubbling creek where they eat bread that they baked the day before. The children are involved in a wide variety of everyday activities guided by loving and caring faculty.

My life outside of AWS

I live with my husband and two boys in beautiful East Aurora. I love to travel, eat good food and go for long hikes. In the summer, I travel to California where I am from and in the winter, my family and I love to snowboard.

Education & Training

  • Outdoor Education training, Eastern Region Association of Forest and Nature Schools
  • BA in Communications, Syracuse University
Tara Miller-Kuhn (she/her)

Tara Miller-Kuhn (she/her)

Rose Meadow Pre-K Lead Teacher

I love teaching kindness, compassion and a love of the outdoors!

Tara Miller-Kuhn (she/her)

Tara Miller-Kuhn (she/her)

Rose Meadow Pre-K Lead Teacher

Why I work at AWS

I love the Waldorf School. I love teaching kindness, compassion and a love of the outdoors!

What I find most special about AWS

The most special thing about AWS is working with such great teachers and supportive families.

My life outside of AWS

I have lots of hobbies outside of AWS! I do a lot of reading, yoga, baking, hiking, biking, skiing, canoeing and more! I have a daughter and two sons and enjoy sharing these activities with them and my husband Jim.

Education & Training

  • Master’s Degree of Business Administration
  • Bachelor’s Degree of Humanities
  • Associate’s Degree of Liberal Arts
Dawn Merlette (she/her)

Dawn Merlette (she/her)

Rose Meadow Pre-K Assistant

"Free and imaginative play is what childhood is all about."

Dawn Merlette (she/her)

Dawn Merlette (she/her)

Rose Meadow Pre-K Assistant

Why I work at AWS

Free and imaginative play is what childhood is all about. Children learn best through play, instead of - for example - flash cards. Free dramatic play is the objective of much of the time spent in a Waldorf Early Childhood program.

What I find most special about AWS

Students go outside to play every day, to enjoy the outdoors and the changing seasons.

My life outside of AWS

I live with my husband and three boys. We enjoy swimming, hiking, camping, skiing and curling up by the fireplace. I love watching the different animals and birds in our backyard. In my free time I scrapbook and create my own art.

Education & Training

  • B.S. in Art Education, Buffalo State College


Sarah Franklin (she/her)

Sarah Franklin (she/her)

Oakwood Pre-K / Kindergarten Lead Teacher

“Waldorf education honors the unfolding individuality of every child.”

Sarah Franklin (she/her)

Sarah Franklin (she/her)

Oakwood Pre-K / Kindergarten Lead Teacher

Why I work at AWS

Waldorf education honors the unfolding individuality of every child by providing a rich curriculum that fortifies students on their path of development and graduates young people who are prepared to take their lives in their own hands with courage, clarity, and enthusiasm.

What I find most special about AWS

AWS is a thriving community, founded by visionary people and carried into the future by committed, inspired, hardworking individuals. The campus is blessed to be adjacent to a beautiful park with a full auditorium and gymnasium.

My life outside of AWS

I live with my husband and three children on the ever exciting Cazenovia creek. We enjoy time spent exploring the natural world, reading, cooking, planting, knitting and making music together. I am also a children’s book illustrator.

https://m.barnesandnoble.com/w/high-flight-christo...

Education & Training

  • Masters in Waldorf Education from Sunbridge College
  • BS in early childhood education from SUNY Geneseo
  • Green Meadow Waldorf School graduate
Maggie Flitton (she/her)

Maggie Flitton (she/her)

Oakwood Pre-K / Kindergarten Assistant

"The most special thing about AWS is the love of the outdoors!"

Maggie Flitton (she/her)

Maggie Flitton (she/her)

Oakwood Pre-K / Kindergarten Assistant


Why I work at AWS

I love seeing the children learn and grow!

What I find most special about AWS

The most special thing about AWS is the love of the outdoors.

My life outside of AWS

I have many hobbies! I love to spend time hiking, taking my puppies for walks, reading, and hammocking.

Education & Training

  • AS Social Science
  • Certified Forest and Nature Therapy Guide
Jaime Thompson (she/her)

Jaime Thompson (she/her)

Lilac Pre-K / Kindergarten Lead Teacher

“The authentic moral development provided through the Waldorf curriculum leads to successful, altruistic graduates eager to bring positive changes to our world!”

Jaime Thompson (she/her)

Jaime Thompson (she/her)

Lilac Pre-K / Kindergarten Lead Teacher

Why I work at AWS

I see this work as an opportunity to help make the world a better place. Waldorf students develop the necessary skills and capacities to bring positive and much-needed change to our society. This education is so much deeper than just learning facts for a test!

What I find most special about AWS

The way childhood is honored at AWS stands out. When we allow children to develop at their own pace, we give them the gifts of security and a strong sense of self confidence. Couple that with the authentic moral development provided through the Waldorf curriculum and you have a recipe for successful, altruistic graduates!

My life outside of AWS

My husband and I have two adult children (both AWS graduates) and a current AWS middle schooler. In my free time, I love to bike, hike, garden, and cook!

Education & Training

  • LifeWays Early Childhood Training, Lifeways North America
  • Foundation Studies, Center for Anthroposophy
  • MS in Education: Curriculum and Instruction, SUNY Fredonia
  • BS in Early Childhood Education, SUNY Fredonia
Ashley Smith (she/her)

Ashley Smith (she/her)

Lilac Pre-K / Kindergarten Assistant

"I believe living and working in conscious and intentional communities is the future and AWS is a place to practice being a member of such a community."

Ashley Smith (she/her)

Ashley Smith (she/her)

Lilac Pre-K / Kindergarten Assistant

Why I work at AWS

Above all I value health, excellence, and holistic functionality and I strive for that in anything I do. I realized soon after observing classes at AWS that the environment felt healthy, soothing, and nurturing for both students and teachers. It's a place I feel aligns with my values.

What I find most special about AWS

For me, I especially feel held by the hills that surround the school and I love the home-like setting created by the teachers in the classrooms. To go to school, feel at home, and spend time held by nature is truly a special situation.

My life outside of AWS

I live in a multigenerational home with my mother, husband, and our two children, Pepper and Durin. Our family has created a food forest using permaculture practices and we like to spend time tending our home, growing food, preparing family meals, and enjoying the seasonality of that work. As such, I also enjoy teaching community classes about homesteading practices such as sourdough bread making and other fermentation practices. Art making, reading, and resting fireside are restorative activities for me.

Education & Training

  • BFA from Alfred University with a concentration in sculpture and ceramics
  • NYS certification in k-12 art education
  • M.S.ED from Buffalo State College