Our School Faculty and Administration
Head of School - Kevin McDuff
A long time Waldorf parent, Kevin's family began their journey with Waldorf education in 1988. He first enrolled his daughter in Kindergarten at Highland Hall Waldorf School in California. Like many parents starting out with a first child, he did not know much about Waldorf schools, but over the years could see the clear benefit. By the time his son was to enroll in Preschool (ten years later), Waldorf education had taken his daughter through the grades, and Waldorf education was a priority for his family.
Following his daughter's Grade 12 graduation from Highland Hall, Kevin and his family decided to make a move to a more rural setting. The family chose Vancouver Island and Sunrise Waldorf School. With the surrounding forests and oceans to explore, Kevin could not imagine a better environment for his growing boy.
In 2010, after many years as a parent at SWS, Kevin applied for the Business Administrator's position at our school. Kevin could see the need for direction and leadership at SWS and has served our school as a trusted servant ever since. His varied background in journalism, legal services, and computer technologies has made him an invaluable asset to our administrative team. In 2012, SWS established the position for Head of School. After serving for one year as interim HOS, Kevin was hired permanently for the position. The combination of learning about Anthroposophy and Waldorf education, as well as the experience of having two children in Waldorf Schools for so many years, gives Kevin the experience and perspective to support our parents, staff, and faculty in the best possible way.
Education Director - Rachel Cameron
Office Manager - Lisa Stacey
Reception - Linda Dirksengale
Director of Admissions - Chantey Dayal
Director of Finance - Bernice Granbois
Sun Child Preschool Lead - Lisa Dodd
Lisa Dodd has lived in the Cowichan Valley for nearly 5 years. She loves the forests, rivers and beaches that surround us. Lisa has been an early childhood educator for many years and feels such fulfillment from working with families and children, and she feels very honored to be teaching in the preschool at SWS this year.
Sun Child Preschool Assistant - Marty Smith
Bright Angel Kindergarten - Dorota Ignaszewska
Born in Poland and nourished by rich Polish culture, Dorota grew to love all forms of artistic expression and creativity. After finishing her studies of philosophy in Lublin she spent two years in Cambridge, England earning proficiency in English credential. In Canada she worked as a kindergarten teacher in Yellowknife. After a year of studies at the Waldorf Institute in Spring Valley, Dorota came to Vancouver Island where she worked as a biodynamic farmer, toymaker of Fairywood Toys, Celtic harp performer and substitute teacher at Sunrise Waldorf School. While raising her daughter in the Cowichan Valley, Dorota took the Waldorf teacher training with the West Coast Institute for Studies in Anthroposophy and was engaged to teach music and woodcarving classes with the teacher trainees. She was the first kindergarten teacher at Alta Lake School in Whistler and then went back to Sunrise Waldorf School to work as a class and music teacher. Doroata completed her degree in Education at the University of Victoria and then taught at the Whistler Waldorf School.
Bright Angel Kindergarten Assistant - Natalia Huamali
Shining Star Kindergarten - Mima Djordjevic
Miss Mima was born in Yugoslavia to parents who were both elementary school teachers. She graduated from the Belgrade University of Economics, and was employed at the City planning Institute. She soon realized her heart was really in working with children, so she entered a part time teacher training program. In 1989, when she moved to Vancouver she worked as a nanny, in a children’s group home and as a family services support worker. Ten years later she moved to the Cowichan Valley. In her search for the right education for her children she attended a parent education series and recognized a deep kinship with the strivings and philosophy of Waldorf education. Miss Mima enrolled her children at SWS and completed the Waldorf Early Childhood Teacher Training at the West Coast Institute. Miss Mima worked in the preschool for three years, before moving to Shining Star Kindergarten in 2007. She feels fortunate to have found her life calling where every day her encounters with children, parents and colleagues bring new joys and opportunities for growth. In her free time she enjoys dancing, swimming, outdoors, and spending time with family and friends.
Shining Star Kindergarten - Angela Sheppard
Miss Angela has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Calgary majoring in Women's Studies with a minor in Sociology. She is currently enrolled in her final year of the Waldorf Early Childhood Teacher Training at the West Coast Institute. Angela moved to the Cowichan Valley nine years ago to attend the Parent and Child program at SWS which was the beginning of a life changing journey. She is the mother to two Sunrise Waldorf Students, and is honored and blessed to be a Kindergarten teacher in the Shining Star Kindergarten.
Michaela has a formal university degree in education and teaching from the University of Osnabreuck, Germany, and was a public school teacher in Germany following her training. She has started her Waldorf teacher training with the West Coast Institute in 2017, although she has experience with Waldorf methods through five years of homeschooling her own children using the Waldorf curriculum as well as several years teaching at Sunrise as a substitute teacher.
When moving to the island 12 years ago, Michaela enrolled in the Parent and Child Program at Sunrise and got inspired by Anthroposophy. Over the past twelve years her interest in education has shifted from the conventional education method to a more in depth study of Anthroposophy and the Waldorf approach to teaching. Through homeschooling her children and by being a Substitute Teacher at Sunrise Waldorf School she has had the good fortune of being able to experience firsthand the positive effects this learning method has and how well the curriculum is in tune with what child development requires.
Hans Peter Mothes
Mr. Mothes completed his Waldorf Teacher Training in Germany, with additional training as a foreign language teacher in French and German. In addition, he holds a Bachelor's Degree and a Diploma from the College for Anthroposophic Pedagogy. He has taught at Waldorf Schools in the United States, taking a class to grade eight, as well as a specialty teacher. He has opted to remain offline.
Trisha Sveistrup is happy to be back on the West coast, this time on Vancouver Island! She completed her Bachelor of Arts and Aviation Diploma at the University of Fraser Valley and her Bachelor of Education at the University of Manitoba. During her time at Halton Waldorf School, where she served as both a substitute teacher and a board member, she completed the Foundation Studies Course from the Rudolf Steiner Centre Toronto, as well as two years of Life as Art through Arscura School for Living Art. With her love of learning, she is currently enrolled in the West Coast Institute completing her Waldorf Teacher Training and looks forward to attending the Waldorf Teacher Conferences.
Ms Sveistrup was born and raised on the Prairies. She has traveled and lived in various places around the world, such as South Africa and South Korea. She looks forward to settling into the Cowichan Valley while continuing her love of travelling and experiencing new cultures with her children and husband. She brings her passion and dedication of Waldorf education to SWS.
Ms. Hitch is pleased to be venturing into her ninth year at Sunrise Waldorf School and is delighted to be working with such a warm and supportive community.
Ms. Hitch holds a Bachelors of Education in Elementary Education with specializations in French, ESL and drama and a BFA in Theatre Performance. She has also graduated from the West Coast Institute for Studies in Anthroposophy with her full Waldorf Teacher Certification. As well as teaching elementary school, she has taught high school in Europe, drama to all ages, French and ESL. Originally from Victoria, Ms. Hitch began her Waldorf journey when her own children began their schooling at Washington Waldorf School, and she has been on a continual learning path in this direction ever since. Ms. Hitch has two teenage sons, a partner and two dogs, and enjoys playing music with her family, and spending lots of time outdoors.
Lori Austein -
Bio and photo coming soon...
Joy is a prairie girl who loves living on the Island! She was born and raised in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan and spent about 20 years raising her family in Regina. She received her degree in Education from the University of Regina and upon graduating, she traveled to Japan to teach at private language schools for 3 years. She has also taught in the public schools in Saskatchewan and worked at the University of Regina for 10 years. As a parent of 4 children, she initially became exposed to the Waldorf school philosophy when a Waldorf-inspired school opened up in Regina. She immediately enrolled her children and became enchanted with the curriculum. Her family moved to the Cowichan Valley in order for her children to be educated at SWS.
Bio and photo coming soon...
Handwork - Aurelia Bellavita
Mrs. Bellavita's passion for teaching and creating with colour and texture is a strong thread that has run through her entire life. It hard to say where it began, it has just always been there – It is in her blood so to speak and it was nurtured by very supportive and creative parents and grandparents.
She began knitting when she was six and grew up surrounded by beautiful things handmade by her mother, many of which I eventually learned how to make herself. Mrs Bellavita also spent many hours stitching with her grandmother, a professional teacher of Japanese silk embroidery. Her hands were always busy and Handwork was one of her favorite classes at school.
As she became a teenager, visual art became the focus of her creativity. After graduating from the Vancouver Waldorf School, Mrs. Bellavita enrolled in the Capilano College Fine Arts Program, where she completed her diploma in Visual Arts in 1999.
As soon as she became a mother, she began to create special treasures for her children, and reconnected with her Fiber Arts roots. She discovered needle felting in 2001 and began selling her work soon after. Mrs Bellavita has studied weaving and spinning with local artists and natural plant dyeing with masters from all over the world.
Teaching came as a natural evolution. She ran classes out of her studio for a number of years before being invited to co-teach the Handwork program at the Sunrise Waldorf School in 2010. Finding her true calling, she enrolled in the Applied Arts Teacher Training at the Fiber Craft Studio in New York; a four year program dedicated specifically to teaching Handwork in Waldorf Schools. In 2013, Mrs Bellavita took on the full Sunrise Handwork program, graduating from her Teacher Training in 2015.
Physical Education - Georgia Newsome
Georgia graduated from Kings Langley Waldorf School, in the UK. She completed her training in Spatial Dynamics and Bothmer gymnastics in Germany in 1986. Georgia has taught at Waldorf schools in England, Germany, Canada and the USA, presented at teachers conferences and mentored new teachers. While teaching at the Ringwood Waldorf School in England Georgia also worked as the movement educator and physical therapist at their Camphill Community; setting up and teaching sports and activity programs for children and adults with learning disabilities. Georgia is also an instructor in sea kayaking and river/whitewater kayaking, and fencing.
Strings - Alexis More
Born in Victoria to two music teacher parents, Mrs More never knew if she was born with her love of music, or her immersion in it just grew on her. At a young age she asked to play the violin and has been on her journey with music and string instruments ever since. From her first day tutoring younger students in the school strings program she was hooked. There is nothing more enlivening and important to her than to see a child learn and thrive in music. She completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Music from Uvic and has taught strings classes, orchestras and private lessons for over 19 years. Mrs More is also a professional Viola player with the La Cafamore string quartet as well as various orchestras. Her previous time as the strings teacher at Sunrise Waldorf School was the highlight of her class teaching and after living in Nelson BC for 7 years decided to return to SWS. The energy and life at SWS is always an inspiration to her and she is thrilled to be a part of this community.
Woodwork - Jason Pressman
Maintenance - Greg
Maintenance - Massimo Pintus