Our Faculty

Middle and Upper School Faculty

LAURIE BAUMANN

Projects Director
Residential Life Director, Assistant Director for Middle & Upper Schools

With Maharishi School since 1997

lbaumann@maharishischool.org

Laurie Baumann

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If I Had to Choose, I Would Be a Ninja/Pirate/Superhero

Definitely a superhero, because I could help people and wear cool clothes.

Hardly anybody knows that

My alter-ego would be a backup singer for a rock band!

If I had to brag

I can make some of the best desserts you’ve ever tasted!

How would I describe myself in High School

I was totally a rebel — political and avant-garde in a conservative Catholic school.

I know I’ve been successful as a teacher when

My students go beyond my teaching/understanding.

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MINCA BORG

Science Teacher

With Maharishi School since 2016

mborg@maharishischool.org

Minca Borg

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The book, movie, work of art, or a piece of music I cannot imagine life without

Peter Pan, White Fang, Hafiz, Bhagadvad Gita, Siddhartha, Calvin and Hobbes, The Farside, xkcd, The Oversoul, Civil Disobedience, Song of Myself, King’s Letter from the Birmingham Jail, Between the World and Me, Letters to a Young Poet, e e cummings, Paul Hewitt’s Conceptual Physics and last, but not least, random poems on the internet and Nietche Family Circus

Favorite Place in Fairfield

Home. It’s a little poet’s cottage in the middle of nowhere prairie flower fields hemmed in by the arc of creeks and trees, with a wood stove and fluffy animals and the magical Mark and Joanne Wilkins always up to some sort of cool project. The stars are clear at night, and deep in the middle of summer, the fireflies are everywhere like stars weaving themselves into the prairie grasses.

Hardly anybody knows that

I write poetry. Frequently. It keeps me sane. There’s too much that’s beautiful and poignant and mysterious to not process it somehow.

My Favorite Food

This is unfair. Imagination is for two things: inventing recipes and planning gardens. Mostly inventing recipes

Why teaching

So here’s the deal. I get to be taught by many teachers at once, my fellow teachers are a variety of ages-mostly 12-14 years old and I get to see how lots of people’s minds work and watch us all grow.

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Mike Cantafio

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If I Had to Choose, I Would Be a Ninja/Pirate/Superhero

A ninja, so I could sneak in and steal the pirate’s map and the superhero’s secrets.

Favorite place in Fairfield

My favorite place in Fairfield is Cafe Paradiso. The coffee is amazing and they always have great musical performances.

Hardly anybody knows that

I practice Chinese Calligraphy and painting to unwind.

If I had to brag

I still wouldn’t as I’m the most humble person you’ll ever meet. Ever. Period.

The book, movie, work of art, or piece of music I cannot imagine life without

This is a really tough question… I don’t know if I could choose between John Coltrane’s  A Love Supreme or Beethoven’s String quartets.

When not in the classroom I can be found

With a book, an instrument or a paint brush.

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ZARA COLAZIO

Health Teacher
Math Teacher
Physical Education teacher

With Maharishi School since 2018

zcolazio@maharishischool.org

Zara Calazio

Zara Colazio

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If I Had to Choose, I Would Be a Ninja/Pirate/Superhero

I would be a ninja because they have extremely refined mind-body control and the capability to perform incredible physical stunts. Double backflip, roundhouse kick, into the splits and roll sounds pretty cool to me. Martial arts (mma, muay thai, and jiu-jitsu) are some of my favorite activities.

Hardly anybody knows that

I grew up working on a farm. From a young age, I worked with my family to build a house, string fence, stack hay, lay tile, care for animals, and operate heavy machinery.

If I had to brag

I understand the art of going slow to go fast; creating something that is beautiful and will last so that you don’t have to constantly replace it or redo it down the road.

The book I cannot imagine life without

Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon. I am fascinated with historical fiction and the story of time travel, war, love, and medicine.

How I would describe myself in high school

In high school, I was low-key nerdy because I was intensely focused on my academics but I was also super into working out. But I did not play any team sports. I did Krav Maga, Kettlebell training, and powerlifting.

I know I’ve been successful as a teacher when

Both the students and I walk away having thought about something in a new light and with new skills.

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TOM CORBETT

English Language Arts Teacher
Social Studies Teacher

With Maharishi School since 2016

tcorbett@maharishischool.org

Tom Corbett

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What inspired me to go into teaching?

Working with the youth to be an enthusiastic vehicle for knowledge, cultivator of curiosity, and a passionate advocate for my subjects. I also realized that teaching was my dharma from aged 9, inspired by my dad and teachers in the family.

Hardly anybody knows that

I’ve made 28 round trips across the Atlantic. Even I’m amazed.

My Favorite Food

My mother’s Irish Stew – there’s nothing like it. Oh, and Rebecca Bellonci’s baking, especially her cupcakes, muffins, and banana bread.

If I had to choose I’d be a ninja/superhero/pirate

Superhero. Doing good is more evolutionary that being a pirate – even a half good one. And anyway, teaching is a bit like saving lives.

Favorite Place in Fairfield

“Revelations” – love being surrounded by all those books, the ambiance and service staff! Pity about their short opening hours. “Cafe Paradiso” comes a close second.

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CYNTHIA CORNELL

English Language Learners Teacher

With Maharishi School since 1990

ccornell@maharishischool.org

Cynthia Cornell

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The book, movie, work of art, or piece of music I cannot imagine life without

my 300 movies and many books that delight, enchant and enrich my heart–no violence!

What inspired me to go into teaching

the enjoyment I derive from watching people grow in confidence and a sense of empowerment through gaining knowledge and developing skills. Education should be a lifelong process.

If I had to brag

it would be that I was raised by parents who never tolerated prejudice in any form.

My teaching style is

to meet each student at his/her own level of strengths and weaknesses.

My Favorite Food

If it’s Mexican, I’ll eat it, except menudo!

If I had to choose I’d be a ninja/superhero/pirate

If I had to choose, I’d be myself. My internal dialogue keeps me constantly amused.

Favorite job perk

being part an incredible, dynamic, caring, and fun team of students, faculty, and administrators who live by the motto “the world is my family” and mean it!

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MAGDA ELLINGHAUS

Spanish Teacher

With Maharishi School since 2011

mellinghaus@maharishischool.org

Evelyn Ellinghaus

Magda Ellinghaus

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What Inspired Me to Go Into Teaching

My grandfather who was a great teacher of mathematics.

My Teaching Style

Chevere (look up the spanish translation!)

Favorite Job Perk

My perk is to eat every day with my husband and my son at lunchtime.

If I had to brag

I acted in Romeo and Juliet in school in Spanish playing the role of Lady Capulet, Juliet’s mother.

Hardly anybody knows that

I like to paint in acrylic.

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Tara Ellinghaus

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My teaching style

I favor a method melting pot. I think it’s important to vary traditional lecture with flipped classroom and learning projects. I believe humans learn best by seeking. I’m not a gatekeeper of knowledge. I’m a trail guide and a chief cheerleader.

I know I’ve been successful as a teacher when

My students contact me as they traverse college or the next step in their journey and regale me with stories of how our time together helped prepare them. I’m successful if they walk out of my class with the skills to succeed the rigors of collegiate life and an appreciation for our subject matter. I’m successful if they leave my class thirsty to know more about history, English, and the humanities. If they leave me as an inspired lifelong questor after learning, then I have done my job.

The students call me

The other Mrs. Ellinghaus

When not in the classroom I can be found

Reading or writing a novel, nerding out to a history podcast, or just plain geeking out playing complex board games with my nearest and dearest.

If I had to brag

I recently won the best cosplayer award at my favorite board game convention and came in fourth in the national Red Dragon Inn tournament (that’s a little-known nerd card game). I’m an avid historical costumer and steampunk aficionado.

My Favorite Food 

Absolutely mad about Thai Food and Chinese!

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LAURIE EYRE

Math Teacher
Math Department Chair

With Maharishi School since 1981

leyre@maharishischool.org

Laurie Eyre

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What Inspired Me to Go Into Teaching

The success I had in high school tutoring math students.

I am proud that

My husband and I are founding faculty (1981) of this school where we met and married in 1982.

Favorite Job Perk

A schedule that allows me to do group practice of the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi program and living in this special community.

If I had to brag

I climbed Mount Whitney at 53 years. My sisters and I took six days to walk the last 120 kilometers of El Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain, 2015.

I know I’ve been successful as a teacher when

My students come back to visit me to let me know how much they have appreciated my high expectations and rigor, which prepared them for college.

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KAYE JACOB

Academic Director, Director of Middle & Upper Schools
English Teacher

With Maharishi School since 2017

kjacob@maharishischool.org

Kaye Jacob

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What Inspired Me to Go Into Teaching

My parents were teachers; I love being around young people and provoking thought and empathy through literature and writing.

The book, movie, work of art, or piece of music I cannot imagine life without

Robert Schumann’s Rhenish Symphony and Elton John’s “Your Song,” both equally important.

I know I’ve been successful as a teacher when

A student finds their voice

If I had to brag

It would be about my daughters. They are wonderful women!

Hardly anybody knows that

I am pretty open; someone somewhere knows everything about me!

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JONAS MAGRAM

Math Teacher

With Maharishi School since 2018

jmagram@maharishischool.org

Jonas Magram

DAVID POHLMAN

CCLS Teacher
Dorm Head

With Maharishi School since 2017

dpohlman@maharishischool.org

Dr. David Pohlman

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The book, movie, work of art, or a piece of music I cannot imagine life without

Ah, the music of Rufus Wainwright. Feeds my soul.

I know I’ve been successful as a teacher when

…I have a “flow” or “zone” experience while teaching.  I cannot control what someone learns or doesn’t learn,  but I know I am at my absolute best when my words rise up in my mind from someplace that feels beyond me.

How I would describe myself in high school

At age 17, I wrote a six-page essay and won a $15,000 scholarship in a statewide essay competition. I enjoyed “15-minutes” of fame through newspaper and radio interviews and a phone call with the Governor of Ohio. I became full of myself.

When not in the classroom I can be found

on the basketball court, softball field, flag-football field.

My teaching style

My teaching style resembles jazz… improvisation, spontaneity, flow, on top of a basic structure.

My Favorite Food

Mexican. Thai.

If I had to choose I’d be a ninja/superhero/pirate

When I was a child, I often prayed at night for the power of flight so I could quickly get to people in need and help. For a while, I woke up each day to “test” if the ability had come during the night. I’d let myself “slip” out of the top bunk bed to see if I’d float. It only worked a few times. 😉

Superheroes save and protect. I have those same instincts.

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RICK RUDLOFF

Math Teacher
Science Teacher
Rocketry Program Director

With Maharishi School since 2012

rrudloff@maharishischool.org

Rick_Rudloff

Rick Rudloff

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What Inspired Me to Go Into Teaching

Falling in love with math in college

What My Students Call Me

Captain Calculus

Hardly anybody knows that

I was briefly a keyboardist in a band.

If I had to brag

I could write a book on beating the game of blackjack. I taught myself and mastered things no one has ever written about in card counting books.

When not in the classroom I can be found

Launching rockets, baking, golfing, or designing a new piece to laser engrave/cut.

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ASHA SHARMA

Science Teacher
Sanskrit Teacher

With Maharishi School since 2010

asharma@maharishischool.org

Asha Sharma

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If I Had to Choose, I Would Be a Ninja/Pirate/Superhero

Superhero, so that I can solve everyone’s problems with my superpower.

Hardly anybody knows that

I never spoke English before I came to Fairfield and I was the naughtiest in my class

If I had to brag

I know how to have fun in every situation and I can make my friends happy

How would I describe myself in High School

Performer and all-round student with top grades

When not in the classroom I can be found

My office or anywhere in Maharishi School

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ANGELA SICKLER

English Teacher
CCLS Teacher

With Maharishi School since 2017

asickler@maharishischool.org

Angela Sickler

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What inspired me to go into teaching

When I was in high school and college, I loved helping my friends study and learn.  I realized how fun and rewarding it can be and how teaching actually helped me learn the material better.

The book, movie, work of art, or piece of music I cannot imagine life without

Harry Potter!  The movies and books were literally my childhood.

How I would describe myself in high school

I was a combination of nerd and jock, being both a total overachiever in the classroom and on the tennis and volleyball teams.

My Favorite Food

Anything with cheese.

If I had to choose I’d be a ninja/superhero/pirate

I’m not a pirate (I get seasick and don’t like the whole pillaging thing).  Being a superhero would be great, but is a lot of responsibility and attention.  I think I would be a ninja because I can be pretty stealthy and I would love to learn martial arts.

Favorite Place in Fairfield

Definitely the Public Library.  It is very cozy and I can disappear in there for hours.

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JAN THATCHER

Speech and Theater Teacher

With Maharishi School since 2012

jthatcher@maharishischool.org

Jan Thatcher

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Favorite Place in Fairfield

Anywhere with Greg (my husband).

What inspired me to go into teaching

I love theater – both acting and designing and costuming. The opportunity to share this with students is just too much to miss!!

Favorite Job Perk

My perk is, eat every day with my husband and my son at lunchtime.

I know I’ve been successful as a teacher when

The least talented students have breakthroughs and surprise themselves.

Hardly anybody knows that

I had a professional acting career and learned to cook to support this passion.

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CATHY WADSWORTH

Social Studies Teacher
Art Teacher

With Maharishi School since 2008

cwadsworth@maharishischool.org

cathy_wadsworth

Cathy Wadsworth

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If I Had to Choose, I Would Be a Ninja/Pirate/Superhero

I would be Merlin, a legendary figure best known as the wizard, enchanter, and prophet featured in Arthurian legend. I like the idea of having a secret power for the good of others without them knowing.

Favorite place in Fairfield

My kitchen. It’s where the love flows.

If I had to brag

In addition to teaching, I have successfully built and expanded several businesses including: managing my own restaurant and an Apple Computer Reseller and repair store. I worked as a Marketing Executive for the Reader’s Digest Corporation, and I was the Executive Director for the monthly 1st Friday Art Walk.

Favorite food

Ika Vaka Lolo, which is fish cooked in coconut milk from my home country, Fiji.

My students call me

Ms. Wadzy

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MARK WILKINS

CCLS Teacher
Destination Imagination program Director

With Maharishi School since 1997

mwilkins@maharishischool.org

Mark Wilkins

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If I had to choose, I would be a ninja/pirate/superhero

None.  I would just be who I am.

I know I’ve been successful as a teacher when

When I see that “Aha” look on a child’s face.

What inspired me to go into teaching

Kids, especially middle school kids.  I felt I had something to offer in the making of good human beings.

Hardly anybody knows that

I have a degree in Gemology.

If I had to brag

Always about the kids.

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Preschool and Lower School Faculty

ANNE BALF

Grade 1-2 Teacher

With Maharishi School since 1987

abalf@maharishischool.org

Anne Balf

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My teaching style

My teaching style has always been nurturing and relaxed, which is perfect for young children. I am sort of like their grandma! I really love and understand the little ones.

What inspired me to go into teaching

I was inspired early on in my teaching career by working with VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America). As a volunteer with VISTA, I served as a resource teacher and focused on the children who needed extra help… and this was in the 3rd poorest county in the nation.  My college degree was in political science but that year clarified my desire to serve children.

I know I was successful as a teacher when

the children are happy and I am having fun.

If I had to brag

Believe it or not, my great grandfather is Franz Liszt. My great grandmother was singing in a choir in Budapest and met the older Franz Liszt who was considered something akin to a rock star. My father and grandparents immigrated to the US in 1910 to avoid the impending war.  So I’m half Southern Belle and half Hungarian.

Unfortunately, I have no musical talents whatsoever. I grew up with a grand piano in the living room but we used it as a bookshelf to store our books!

Hardly anybody knows that

I am a really, really good ping pong player!

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LAURA BORDOW

Lower School Director
SCI Teacher

With Maharishi School since 1988

lbordow@maharishischool.org

Laura Bordow

Laura Bordow

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What inspired me to go into teaching

I realized it wasn’t my dharma to be a professional ballerina and was inspired to go into education by an English class I took in college. During that class, I wrote a paper on Maria Montessori and began to understand the value of education.  Also during my college summers, I taught creative movement to young children and had so much fun!  

When not in the classroom I can be found

in my garden tending to my beautiful flowers. I also love spending a relaxing time with my golden retriever, reading historical fiction novels, and cuddling up on my couch in the winter with a good knitting project.

How would I describe myself in High School

I was quite a rebel, but for a good cause! The year after high school, I learned TM and began to settle down (a bit).

If I had to brag

I am a pretty amazing cook, or at least that’s what my husband tells me!

The book, work of art or music I cannot imagine life without

Any historical fiction; any work of art collected by my Dad; and any song from the 60’s (especially the Beatles).

If I had to choose, I would be a ninja/pirate/superhero

I would be Wonder Woman, and use my abilities to create wonder, strength, and love in all of the WONDERful children.

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EMILY CANTAFIO

Art Teacher

With Maharishi School since 2017

ecantafio@maharishischool.org

Emily Contafio

Emily Cantafio

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When not in the classroom I can be found

With my dog and my hubby.

How would I describe myself in High School

Theater kid

I know I’ve been successful as a teacher when

My students are able to let go and get creative.

If I had to brag

I have a pretty spectacular singing voice.

Hardly anybody knows that

I was once bitten by a chipmunk at Yosemite National Park and had to get a rabies shot.

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CHRISTINA COX

Assistant Primary Teacher

With Maharishi School since 2018

ccox@maharishischool.org

Christina Cox

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If I had to choose, I would be a ninja/pirate/superhero. 

Superhero – because I’d like helping save the world from utter destruction. It sounds fun.

Hardly anyone knows

that I still have my tonsils.

When not in the classroom, I can be found

watching movies with my husband, playing with my daughter, at church, reading books about travel, practicing Spanish.

I know I’ve been successful as a teacher when

A child on their own makes the best choice for what is right for them and is satisfied with it.

Favorite place in Fairfield

My home church – Fairfield Foursquare- and any parks.

The book or piece of music I cannot imagine life without

The Bible and Praise and Worship music

The part of teaching I love most

watching kids grow in their independence and seeing them be excited about it.

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KAREN DEANGELIS

Gardening & Cooking Teacher

With Maharishi School since 2006

kdeangelis@maharishischool.org

Karen DeAngelis

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If I had to choose, I would be a ninja/pirate/superhero. 

I would be a Ninja because I work from a silent, unseen level and attack my challenges with skill, focus, and perseverance.

Why I chose to teach

I didn’t choose teaching, it chose me. I have taught Biology, 8th-grade math and now my favorite: gardening and cooking. My mother, sister, and daughter are all professional teachers but I consider myself a professional learner, who likes to share the things I know.

My favorite job perk

As a passionate gardener, my favorite job perk is to have the chance to spend my time with what I love: plants, food and nature.

Hardly anyone knows

that I have a sense of humor.

If I had to brag

I would expound on the Garden of Bliss Program that was created during my 10-year tenure of its development. Starting with an overgrown greenhouse and poorly managed gardens, we now have a robust Seed-to-Table program with a fully functioning greenhouse, butterfly garden, fruit orchard, and outdoor growing spaces as well as a food forest, and prairie garden path. The development of this program is the result of the commitment of many dedicated parents, volunteers, and local gardening experts and we thank them all.

Favorite place in Fairfield

Chautauqua Park. I love the big oak trees, the sounds of Nature and the crunch of the leaves in the fall.

The book or piece of music I cannot imagine life without

As a seeker of Truth and Knowledge, no one work of art or literature, fiction or nonfiction can be eliminated from its impact on my character and development. Having said that, Maharishi’s Science of Creative Intelligence tapes must stand out as the most influential Knowledge of my life.

The part of teaching I love most

As a hands-on teacher, I consider my teaching strength to lie in my encouragement of discovery and wonder. Although my lessons are directed towards a specific end the most rewarding experiences in teaching are when my students are teaching me something new, something different or something profound that can only come from the eyes of an innocent learner.

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VALERIE GAMBLE

Lead Child Care

With Maharishi School since 2016

vgamble@maharishischool.org

Valerie Gamble

Valerie Gamble

ELYSE HAMILTON-SOARES

Lead Toddler Teacher

With Maharishi School since 2013

esoares@maharishischool.org

Elyse Hamilton-Soares

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Hardly anyone knows

I was a spelling bee champion as a child.

How I would describe myself from high school

Eclectic and shy.

Favorite place in Fairfield

Maharishi School

What inspired me to start teaching

the education offered at Maharishi School.

Favorite food

Salmon and rice

Favorite job perk

being in the same building as my own children every day!

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DIANE JAMES

Grade 3-4 Teacher

With Maharishi School since 1989

djames@maharishischool.org

Dianne James

Diane James

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What inspired me to start teaching

An inner knowingness all my life.  I loved to play teacher with my cousin.  She’s a teacher too.

Hardly anyone knows

I lived on an island off the Great Barrier Reef alone for 3 days.

I know I’ve been successful as a teacher when

I hear or see the students applying the knowledge that they have learned.

If I had to brag

I have 3 fabulous children and a cute grand dog named Rambo.

Favorite place in Fairfield

Nature Trail

Favorite food

Toast with butter

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SHAINA KREIGER

Assistant Toddler Teacher

With Maharishi School since 2017

skreiger@maharishischool.org

Shaina Kreiger

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What inspired me to start teaching

I am passionate about holding space for children and families to feel and be nourished in their individual choices. Teaching is an ever-unfolding chance to personally learn and grow, and I am honored to serve humanity in this form. Education is empowering and liberating.

If I had to choose, I would be a ninja/pirate/superhero.

I feel like all of these as the mother of a two! Motherhood has been my greatest teacher and most rewarding gift. I have found more power in myself since having children and coming to know the Montessori philosophies and positive discipline principles.

Hardly anyone knows

I am originally from Grand Rapids Michigan! I have also lived in a tiny house with my family of four for a year in Fishhook Illinois. I am also extremely passionate about childbirth education and advocacy.

My teaching style

As this is my first year in the Preschool, I have been in deep observation mode of the Montessori philosophies, Positive Discipline practices, as well as the emotional and social support systems that have been created for the teachers and students that work here.  As a parent, I have personally become more confident in my ability to problem solve and help resolve conflicts with my children. As a teacher, I am in absolute awe of each child and their own inner power to accomplish tasks from their heart and mind. I have worked in two other preschools previous to Maharishi School, and I have never seen such harmony and rhythm manifest out of team effort and love for the children.  I enjoy holding a safe space, so as not to interrupt the children’s flow. I love to play and exercise curiosity with the children as well!

Favorite place in Fairfield

I am incredibly grateful for the coffee and pastries served up at Cafe Paradiso, and love being under the conifers around the reservoir. I also have a handful of small-scale farms around the community that I love to see blooming and spend time on.

Favorite food

I love seasonal local foods in the Summer and Spring especially! I also LOVE doughnuts and pistachios.

Favorite job perk

I enjoy being outdoors with the children the very most! I also feel incredibly empowered by the team of teachers at the Maharishi Preschool. We are all passionate about social and emotional support, and I am grateful for this!

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ADRIEN LOGSDON

Assistant Primary Teacher

With Maharishi School since 2017

alogsden@maharishischool.org

Adrien Logsdon

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What inspired me to start teaching

Having kids made me realize the unquantifiable value of education and, in particular, teachers who care about their students. I want to be a part of that.

I know I’ve been successful as a teacher when

I can see the progress the kids are making and I know they can feel how much I love them

If I had to choose, I would be a ninja/pirate/superhero

Superhero. Superpowers include flying, instant healing, super-speed reading, superhuman strength, and witty banter.

Favorite food

It was pizza until I became one of those no-gluten-no-dairy people. Now it’s probably avocados and sweet potatoes. And coconut ice cream.

If I had to brag

I sang in front of the Queen when I was in college in England

Favorite job perk

The hilarious and creative things you overhear the kids say

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ISSAC NEVAS

Lead Primary Teacher

With Maharishi School since 2018

inevas@maharishischool.org

Issac Nevas

Issac Nevas

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What inspired me to start teaching

A lot of soul-searching, experimenting with different kinds of work to see what I liked and was suited for, and a dream.

When not in the classroom, I can be found

These days? Just working on Homework for my AMI (Association Montessori Internationale) Certification. I’ve been told it’s more work than a Ph.D., and I thought that was hyperbole, but…I’m not actually sure now.

How I would describe myself from high school

Thoroughly Nerd. Playing D&D with my friends, reading fantasy books, being super uncomfortable around girls. I cranked that dial up to 11.

Favorite place in Fairfield

Any firefly enriched field at night.

The book, movie, the piece of art or music I cannot imagine life without

I suppose the Bhagavad-Gita changed my life the most. But there have been lots of good books that have changed me. But I can imagine life without them: I have a very vivid imagination.

Favorite job perk

Getting to see children growing in compassion, confidence, and curiosity.

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SAMANTHA RUSSEL

Assistant Toddler Teacher

With Maharishi School since 2018

srussel@maharishischool.org

Samantha Russel

Samantha Russel

LYNN SHIRAI

Grade 3: Reading/Writing Teacher

With Maharishi School since 1996

lshirai@maharishischool.org

Lynn Shirai

Lynn Shirai

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Hardly anyone knows

I love camping, hiking, fishing, mushroom hunting, and being in northern Iowa in the summers.

I know I’ve been successful as a teacher when

my students are able to challenge themselves, think independently, and enjoy learning.

What inspired me to start teaching

Volunteering at my children’s school inspired me to work with children, and working in Los Angeles for the Foundation for the Jr. Blind gave me a nudge in this direction.

Favorite food

I love food that is anything Japanese or Hawaiian.

Favorite job perk

Being fortunate to have such delightful and sweet students to work with.

If I had to brag

I have the BEST family! Kids, grandson, and husband are all close and supportive.

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KATHY SIEMSEN

Grades 3-4: Math Teacher

With Maharishi School since 1982

ksiemsen@maharishischool.org

Kathy Siemsen

Kathy Siemsen

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What inspired me to start teaching

My mom suggested it when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to major in at college. She noted how successful I was when interacting with my younger brother, who had learning challenges, and she thought it might be an area where I had some natural talent.

Hardly anyone knows

I was the Jasper County 4-H president at age 17, OR that I had the lead as Josephine – the captain’s daughter , in “HMS Pinafore”, a Gilbert and Sullivan musical in my Junior year in HS, OR that I had two operations on my vocal chords to repair damage done when I screamed at basketball games when our high school team went to and won the state tournaments in 1963 and 1964.

My teaching style

To make the subject as fun as possible and to have fun myself.

Favorite place in Fairfield

Other than being in my home, which I love, or at school, which is like my home away from home, I enjoy all the parks in our community – for a picnic or outing with my family.  I also love to hang out at the At Home Store where my daughter Meredith works, and where I can meet up with my knitting friends.

I know I’ve been successful as a teacher when

my students tell me they love math and I see they are ‘getting’ whatever we’re working on.

Favorite food

My mom’s bean soup.

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MICHELLE SVENSON

Children’s House Director

With Maharishi School since 2015

msvenson@maharishischool.org

Michelle Svenson

Michelle Svenson

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What inspired me to start teaching

Several things inspired me to go into teaching. First, it was the heart value. The love and joy from teaching and working and playing with children is profound. But what keeps me going is an understanding of child psychology and the impact that Early Childhood Education can have on the future of humanity.

Hardly anyone knows

My first college degree was a BA in Literature, and I definitely credit this experience to growing my intellect and critical thinking.

If I had to choose, I would be a ninja/pirate/superhero

As a Montessori teacher, I have to be all three! We are ninjas because we observe the children without disrupting them and breaking their concentration. We growl like Pirates with the children, and spend much of our time outdoors! We are Superheros because we are working towards peace through the education of young children. We empower them and help them to grow in all aspects of life, including resolving their own issues.

Favorite place in Fairfield

I think it’s probably tied here between the Seven Roses Inn, where my husband and I got married, and our beautiful outdoor classroom! Both places feature beautiful flowering gardens, and a sense of serenity I feel very lucky to visit one of these almost every day!

My teaching style

I am playful, but I think moreso I am very logical with the children. I like to have them come to their own understanding. When a child asks me a question, I will often say, “What do you think?” or I will give an answer and ask them why they think that’s the answer. It is really powerful to have six-year-olds (and even five and four!) figure out the reasons behind a classroom rule. It makes for a very cooperative environment.

If I had to brag

I feel pretty powerful with a shaved head!

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KENZIE WACKNOV

Assistant Primary Teacher

With Maharishi School since 2017

kwacknov@maharishischool.org

Kenzie Wacknov

Kenzie Wacknov

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I know I’ve been a successful teacher 

when I help a student through a struggle and they come out on the other side with greater understanding.

When I’m not in the classroom

I am at home making baby food because my son has the appetite of a bear!

Favorite place in Fairfield

Chautauqua Park

I was inspired to teach

because I have a strong love of education and wanted to be a part of building those cherished experiences for people.

Favorite job perk

is that I get to watch all the kids grow and learn.

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KATHERINE WALMSLEY

Grade 2: Reading/Writing/Math
Librarian

With Maharishi School since 2008

kwalmsley@maharishischool.org

Katherine Walmsley

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What inspired me to start teaching

I love children and I love how they think—simple and full of heart.

Hardly anyone knows

I worked on a #1 TV show on Nickelodeon called, “You Can’t Do That on TV”.

I know I’ve been successful as a teacher when

I know I’ve been successful when the children don’t want to leave the classroom!

Favorite place in Fairfield

The Library and Revelations Cafe are my favorite places because I love to read books.

If I had to brag

I am Canadian but plan to become an American citizen.

Favorite job perk

I get to come to school to be with my other family. But it’s really the students that are my favorite job perk!!

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KATE VETTER

Coordinator for Development of Consciousness

With Maharishi School since 1990

kvetter@maharishischool.org

Kate Vetter

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What inspired me to start teaching

I never considered anything else in my childhood. I came back to it after spreading my wings in various ways from age 22-38.

If I had to choose, I would be a ninja/pirate/superhero

I made various super-hero choices in my life from childhood: teacher, philosopher, hippie/Woodstock dweller, off to the big city (Boston/Cambridge/New York), Ed M. Harvard, then the highest – the TM path to enlightenment. TM teacher and elementary school educator in DC and then Fairfield. Another MA in ED from MIU – and teaching, teaching, teaching.

I know I’ve been successful as a teacher when

I have Oh-oooh trilled in the tone of Ahhah!

The book, work of art or music I cannot imagine life without

Modern works of art—Kandinsky, Miro Chagall, Calder

If I had to brag

I’m happier now than I’ve ever been. Life keeps getting better –on the inside anyway!

Favorite job perk

Spending time with people who live in clouds of happiness they carry with themselves (children in grades 1-3). I worked a long time to get to teach the little ones.

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HALLIE WILKINS

Lead Primary Teacher

With Maharishi School since 2017

hwilkins@maharishischool.org

Hallie Wilkins

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What inspired me to start teaching

I have always loved working with children, but my 8th grade English teacher really inspired me to pursue teaching.  She set high expectations for her students yet was completely open, supportive, and understanding of all.  I strive to find this balance in my own teaching style.

Hardly anyone knows

that I used to take Krav Maga and Parkour classes.

When not in the classroom, I can be found

spending time with my family, cooking, eating, reading, cuddling with my two dogs, or spending time outside.

I know I’ve been successful as a teacher when

my students feel proud about their accomplishments at school or when students confide in me.

Favorite food

I enjoy food way too much to only have one favorite! Because I am from New Orleans, the foods I currently miss the most are grilled redfish and fresh French pastries – yum!

Favorite job perk

My favorite job perk is absolutely getting to watch Celeste grow at school.  A close second would be working with the other members of the preschool faculty.

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CHARLOTTE ZMACHINSKY

Grade 5-6 Teacher

With Maharishi School since 1993

czmachinsky@maharishischool.org

Charlotte Zmachinsky

Charlotte Zmachinsky

Temporary for Christina