Megan Corcoran, 1st-2nd grade teacher
Megan Corcoran, an Iowa City native, brings over 15 years of direct experience working with children and families. Her interests in dance and movement, human development, the parent-child relationship and Waldorf education have taken her to work and study in a wide variety of settings as both a teacher and counselor across the United States, South Korea and England.
In 2006, she earned a dual master’s degree in dance/movement therapy and counseling psychology from Antioch University in Keene, New Hampshire. She has completed four years of Waldorf Movement Education training at the Spacial Dynamics Institute in Mechanicville, New York; as well as being trained as a Stott Pilates instructor.
In 2006, she and her husband, Bret Schacht, moved from New Hampshire to work at Prairie Moon Waldorf School in Lawrence, Kansas. While in Lawrence, Megan has worked as a swim and dance instructor, summer camp director, led local expressive arts groups, and for seven years, has been the movement teacher at Prairie Moon.
Megan is the very happy mother of two wonderful children, Caden (5) and Mia (1). Together with her family, she enjoys hiking, swimming, dancing and traveling. Megan is excited and honored to be joining Prairie Moon’s 1st and 2nd graders as their class teacher!
Bret Schacht, 3rd-4th grade teacher
Bret Schacht was born and raised in Nebraska. He earned his masters degree in Education and Waldorf certification by attending Antioch New England Graduate School in Keene, NH. After a practicum at Christchurch Steiner School in New Zealand, Mr. Schacht taught second grade at White Mountain Waldorf School in North Conway, NH before returning to the midwest to teach at Prairie Moon Waldorf School in 2006. Mr. Schacht has taken one class from 1st-2nd grade through 5th-6th grade, at Prairie Moon and is now on his second loop through the grades with his current class.
Molly Mackinnon, 5th-6th grade teacher
Raised in Boulder, Colorado, Ms. Mackinnon is a student of languages and literatures along with teaching pedagogy. She recently received her MEd from the University of Kansas in TESOL, which accompanies her MA in Polish literature and language and BA in anthropology. She has been teaching French at the University of Kansas while finishing her degree and pursued a year of Arabic language and culture during this time as well. In 2011, Ms. Mackinnon began her formal training in Waldorf education with Prairie Moon’s own Waldorf teacher preparation course.
While licensed to teach French, English and English Language Arts in public schools, she is heavily drawn toward the Waldorf philosophy of education. It most closely mirrors her upbringing in the 1970’s near Boulder as well as her and her husband, Jason’s, own philosophies on child rearing.
Ms. Mackinnon lives in a bucolic rural setting south of Lawrence where she practices biodynamic farming, cheese making and raises free range bees, chickens, ducks and children (not always in that order).
EARLY CHILDHOOD TEACHERS
Monika Eichler, LMSW, MEd,
Lead Teacher, Sunflower Garden Mixed-age Kindergarten
Early Childhood Enrollment Coordinator
Monika received her bachelors in psychology and moved into a doctoral clinical program at Western Michigan University. Thereafter, her heart longed for a more holistic approach to the helping profession and found herself at home in social work. After receiving her Master’s Degree at KU she began to work for the School of Social Welfare at KU, where she conducted research on mental health settings for 16 years. In the meantime, Monika discovered Waldorf education in the late 90’s and when talk of a school in Lawrence began, she quickly joined forces with others to make a Waldorf school in Kansas a reality. Since 2001, Monika has been either on the board or a faculty member of Prairie Moon. In fact, she was so curious about Waldorf education that she decided it was time for her to receive her early childhood teacher degree in Waldorf education from Sunbridge College. Since the opening of the school, Monika has been the early childhood enrollment coordinator. In 2006-2007, Monika taught the Sunflower classroom for one year, after which time she had her second child. Since 2004, Monika has been leading playgroups, and the parent-child class, now called Sweet Peas Garden. In the Fall 2014, Monika returned full-time to Prairie Moon as the lead teacher in the Sunflower Garden.
Ms. Gwyn Schmidtberger, Assistant Teacher, Sunflower Garden Mixed-age Kindergarten
Born and raised on the western plains of KS, Ms. Gwyn Schmidtberger has worked with children continuously for over 20 years in both the USA and Germany and completed the certification for the Lifeways Childcare and Human Development Training in March 2010. A native of Hays, Ms. Gwyn led a home-based daycare, Cottownwood Star, for two years from 2009-11 while her daughter was preschool-aged until her family grew with a new little boy. 2013 brought a huge shift for Ms. Gwyn and her family with the acceptance of the Prairie Moon After Care Teacher position, a move to Lawrence, KS, and yet another little one on the way this year. She holds English and Art History degrees from FHSU and KU. In her life before mother, Ms. Gwyn lived in a variety of places including Dusseldorf, Germany, where she created a private summer language camp and taught English in a number of kindergartens for over 4 yrs. In New York City, she led an empowerment and leadership program for an after-school elementary school. She also toured with a musical group, Up With People, worked as a nanny in San Francisco and Germany, and walked a portion (200 miles) of the Camino, a medieval pilgrim walk in Spain.
Ms. Gwyn aspires to support and expand the philosophy of Waldorf and Rudolf Steiner that Prairie Moon is pioneering here on the plains that stems from an old tradition-–combining education and exploration with love as well as a strong commitment to our future, starting where it should begin, with children.
Melisa Hall-Aquitania, Lead Teacher, Meadowlark Garden Mixed-age Kindergarten
Melisa joined Prairie Moon in 2012 to lead the Daisy nursery-kindergarten into its present form as the second mixed-age kindergarten of Meadowlarks. Born in the countryside of Pennsylvania, her childhood was full of sailing, writing poems & stories, skiing, knitting, scuba-diving, fort-making in the woods, dunes, and riverbanks, and all the singing possible along the way! She has a BA in English Language & Literature from Yale University, and MA in Art & Religion from Yale’s Divinity School. She moved to Kansas several years ago from the Pacific Northwest, with a happy history as both parent and teacher with over half a dozen Waldorf schools throughout the country. She has received professional development from Rudolf Steiner College in California, Sunbridge College in New York, Arcturus Institute in Illinois, Rudolf Steiner Institute in Maine, and the Waldorf Institute of Southeastern Michigan, completing her Foundation Year at Sound Circle Teacher Training Institute in Seattle, Washington. She’s enjoyed continuing her studies recently both there and at Prairie Moon’s own Midwest Regional Waldorf Teacher Preparation Course. A teacher for almost 20 years, she has loved exploring education from preschool through high-school in settings as diverse as Waldorf, Quaker, Montessori, college-prep boarding and day schools, and even her own homeschool adventure with three daughters and her puppy Tansy. Her experience echoes Steiner’s encouragement that “Education must proceed…from a living abundance. With this abundance the teacher….approaches the children as though she were an instrument enabling the world itself to speak to them.”
Chelsy Lueth, Assistant Teacher, Meadowlark Garden Mixed-age Kindergarten
Hillary Spratt, Aftercare Teacher, Early Childhood Program
Photo and biography to come.
SPECIALITY TEACHERS: GRADES
Kristin Newbegin, Music Teacher 1st-6th grade
Originally from Wisconsin, Kristin Newbegin moved to Lawrence in 2011 to pursue graduate work at the University of Kansas. She is currently pursuing D.M.A. work in Voice at KU. She holds a B.M. in Music Education and Spanish Studies from the University of Minnesota and an M.M. in Opera Performance from the University of Kansas.
Prior to moving to Lawrence she taught elementary school music in Minnesota for two years. Besides teaching at Prairie Moon, she currently works as a graduate assistant in voice at KU and as adjunct voice faculty at Benedictine College in Atchison, KS.
Besides her love of teaching, Kristin is also actively involved as a performer in the Kansas City Metro Area and beyond. She has performed with companies such as Kansas City Lyric Opera, Opera for the Young, Kansas City Metro Opera, Lawrence Opera Theater, Seagle Music Colony, and University of Kansas.
When she isn’t teaching or on stage, Kristin enjoys spending time fostering dogs, doing yoga, and cycling. Kristin is looking forward to spending the year sharing her love of music with the children at Prairie Moon.
Aichen Zhang, Mandarin Teacher 1st-6th grade
My name is Aichen Zhang. I was born in Beijing China, and lived there until I married my husband. I studied Spanish and business in college, but my true passion is always in music and arts. I learned singing, piano, flute, drawing and dancing when I was a child and I have really been enjoying them ever since. I embrace learning new things, and take great pride in being creative and thoughtful.
After I married my husband in 2001, I came to the U.S. and lived in Alabama for 5 years while my husband worked for his Ph.D. at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. We then went to Oklahoma for a bit over a year before finally settling down in Lawrence. I have a 9-year daughter and 7-year son, who are currently attending Quail Run Elementary. Through working with them, I have gained a lot of experience teaching Chinese to children. I hope I will use these experience, along with my skills in music and arts, to make learning Chinese an exciting adventure for the students in Prairie Moon. I look forward to a productive and fun year with you all!
Matthew Burke, Woodworking Teacher 4th-6th grade
Matthew Burke teaches wood working to the fifth and sixth grades at Prairie Moon. He received his BA from Colby College, in Maine, and received his MFA in Sculpture from Queens College, CUNY. He grew-up in northeastern Connecticut and spent over a decade in New York City making art and exhibiting in many venues. He is an Associate Professor of Art at the University of Kansas where he teaches sculpture.
His studio, Matt Burke Sculpture, produces large scale outdoor sculpture, objects, and drawings. The outdoor work engages traditional and uninitiated art audiences in tandem with the artist to create works that engage with the earth’s visible and magnetic energy flows. Together in spirit and form, the makers and their sculpture strive to have a positive, guiding impact on the environment.
His sculpture, drawing and artist books are in several major museums and collections including; the Museum of Modern Art Library; the Brooklyn Museum of Art; and the Cleveland Institute of Art Library, among others.
Raven Harper, Handwork Teacher, 1st-6th grade
David Eichler, Extra Lesson, 1st-5th grade
The Extra Lesson was developed in the 1960’s when a British Waldorf teacher, Audrey McAllen, was asked to develop a series of exercises intended to work with children who experienced challenges in important aspects of sensory-motor development (including body awareness or body geography, spatial orientation – both two and three dimensional, sidedness/dominance, fine and gross motor coordination, and visual/auditory processing) or academic development.
Audrey McAllen’s work was inspired by indications given by the founder of the Waldorf educational movement, Rudolf Steiner, in faculty meetings at the original Waldorf School and in lectures on pedagogical and other themes. McAllen’s exercises are described in her book The Extra Lesson, originally published in 1973 and now in its 6th edition. There are training programs for Extra Lesson teachers across the globe, including the United States, Canada, Australia, India, Brazil, and Europe. David is in the second year of a three-year training program and will be bring Extra Lesson to Prairie Moon Waldorf School as a weekly subject class beginning in the Fall semester, in the lower grades.
The Extra Lesson class includes guiding the students through various exercises and activities, some done sitting at a desk, some standing and moving in the room, and some on a mat or on the floor. The exercises and activities involve bean bags, balls of varying sizes, copper rods, beads, wool, balance boards, and other equipment. There are small and large movement activities, as well as form drawing and specific painting exercises. Some of the exercises involve speaking and moving at the same time to enhance auditory capacities, while other exercises are more physical or visual in nature.
Melissa Watson, Administrator
Melissa Watson has served as administrator and ex-officio Board Member since 2009. Prior to that she served on the Board as Board Secretary and Chair of the Facilities and Environment Committee starting in 2008. In 2011 Melissa graduated from Rudolf Steiner College in Sacramento, California, where she received her certificate in Waldorf school administration. She also holds an MFA degree from Queen’s College, City University of New York, and a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute in Kansas City, Missouri.
“I want this education not only for my child, but for the greater community of Lawrence, as well,” says Melissa. “I believe that Waldorf education is the answer to what our world requires of us as it’s stewards, and what we want from our world as its residents. Waldorf students enter the world as free human beings capable of self-direction and with a sense of purpose in their lives.”
Sue Nutterfield, Bookkeeper
Sue joined Prairie Moon in spring of 2007. Even though Sue’s education is in accounting, she has always been involved in the education of children through volunteering, substituting, being a paraprofessional, and now as bookkeeper. She enjoys the learning environment and being involved in the process of educating our young.
Lauren King, Development Coordinator
Lauren’s biography to come.