Our Faculty

Middle and Upper School Faculty

Dr. Richard Beall

School Co-Head
AP Psychology Teacher
CCLS Teacher

With Maharishi School since 2008

rbeall@maharishischool.org

Maharishi School Head Dr. Richard Beall

Dr. Richard Beall

PHIL BENEZRA

Social Studies Teacher
TM Instructor

With Maharishi School since 2019

pbenezra@maharishischool.org

Phil Benezra

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What inspired me to teach

 I love helping people learn, grow and realize their full potential. One evening while backpacking with my son and his friend in the wilderness, sitting around a campfire, reading to them from a book, a light bulb went on that I would love to teach young people.

My teaching style

Engaged, creative learning. Ensuring accurate, clear understanding, while adapting my style to allow students as much as possible to express and reveal the content.

If I had to brag

I would brag that I don’t have to brag about anything 😊. OK–as a younger teacher, I performed on the keyboards with a high school rock band in front of a gym full of cheering teenagers.

How I would describe myself in high school

Well, hybrid: jock (swimmer)/nerd (Who was in all the honors/advanced classes).

Hardly anyone knows that…

I play the piano.

My favorite food

Organic home grown vegetables; anything my wife cooks.

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SOPHIA BLITZ

Math Teacher
Computer Science Teacher
Alumni

Started with Maharishi School in 2017

sblitz@maharishischool.org

Sophia Blitz

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Hardly anyone knows

I was a competitive ballroom dancer for 5 years.

The book or music I cannot imagine my life without

Book: Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (and its sequel, The Speaker for the Dead)

Music: Bachata music in general

When not at the school, I can be found

Dancing: at home, in the Argiro Dance Studio, in Iowa City, in Chicago, in NYC, in LA, in Mexico, in Barcelona, you name it!

Studying: working on my graduate degree.

How would I describe myself in High School

Definitely jock, but also nerd. I played varsity basketball, volleyball, track and cheerleading, in addition to club volleyball. 

I know I’ve been successful as a teacher when

When I see my students discover that they enjoy math. When parents tell me that their child excitedly shared with them something they learned in my class.

If I had to brag

I’m good at keeping a positive attitude.

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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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Sheila Higgins

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Stay tuned: Ms. Higgins is formulating her answers!

My teaching style
I know I’ve been successful as a teacher when
The students call me
When not in the classroom I can be found
If I had to brag
My Favorite Food 

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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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DR. LYNWOOD KING

Math Teacher
Physics Teacher

With Maharishi School since 1999

lking@maharishischool.org

Dr. Lynwood King

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

I would like to be a nice pirate, as Glenda the Good Witch of the North is to witches, or Robin Hood is to thieves. Per pre-arranged staging and choreography, I would board cruise ships and give chests of doubloons to all the newlyweds, and smaller bags of pieces-of-eight to all the guests, captain and crew. I like to give of what I have, as I give of my time to all my students today. I also envy the expanded vision pirates enjoy: they always know what’s happening and where.

Favorite Place in Fairfield

Long before I learned about meditation, I seemed to have an affinity for the transcendent. My boa constrictor’s name was Waldo, after Ralph Waldo Emerson. It was Thoreau’s Walden that inspired me to move into my Plains Indian teepee and seek a transcendental experience in nature. In 1973 I found TM and began fathoming the transcendental depths with effortless regularity. In this light, my favorite place in Fairfield is the transcendent, and my favorite place to be in the transcendent is Fairfield.

The book I cannot imagine my life without

Scaramouche by Raphael Sabatini 

Hardly anyone knows that

I was Secret Santa in 1998, and I made my acting debut and finale in 2000 as Samuel Chase, the Representative from Maryland in the play, 1776.

How I would describe myself in high school (e.g., nerd, jock, brown-noser, rebel, performer, other)

I was all of the above except a brown-noser. I had friends in the smart bunch, cut classes (not too many) with the pre-dropouts, ran track, cross country, and was in the Monogram Club, learned to play guitar from wild thespians, enjoyed hanging out with my fellow hunters and bass fishers, and had very understanding, trusting parents. Furthermore, I had a super fun English roadster with wire wheels and an unlimited gas allowance. In short, those were remarkably happy years.

If I had to brag

I soloed a sailplane (glider) at 14, earned my private license for sailplanes at 16, and soloed a Cessna on my 16th birthday. I still draw on my knowledge of flying during physics discussions.

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ERIN LEVI

CCLS Teacher
Transcendental Meditation Teacher
Alumni

With Maharishi School since 2019

elevi@maharishischool.org

Erin Levi

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

Movies – The Princess Bride  Music: Glycerine by Bush

How I would describe myself in high school

I don’t think I fit into a category. I didn’t get perfect grades, I played sports, was involved in theater, loved movies and reading, babysat and worked at The Raj for spending money, and had a lavender-colored bedroom.

My Favorite Food

Kasenepf, schoeffnoodla, or kuchen – all three of these are foods passed down through my Volga German/South Dakota roots

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

I would be a ninja for the graceful, powerful movement

Favorite Place in Fairfield

The 2nd Street curve.

Favorite job perk

Being back home in Fairfield. This community is unlike anywhere I have ever lived or visited.

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DOUG DALLER

Music Teacher

With Maharishi School since 2019

ddaller@maharishischool.org

Doug Daller

DAVID POHLMAN

CCLS Teacher
Residential Life Director

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

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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JASON WALLS

English Language Arts Teacher
College Counselor
Alumni

With Maharishi School since 2019

jwalls@maharishischool.org

Jason Walls

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

Though the life of a pirate or ninja seems interesting, I’d be a superhero, as long as I could choose my power. There’s a lot of versatility there. Turning invisible, conjuring elements… the list goes on. I see a lot more potential as a superhero.

What inspired me to become a teacher

My love of learning about other cultures drew me to teaching. I knew that through teaching English abroad, I would be able to experience cultures very different from my own, thereby broadening my scope and appreciation of life. For me, what’s more significant is that I stayed with teaching. I taught a variety of ages, exploring new methodologies, looking for ways to enhance interactions. It never got old. Teaching is never-ending learning, never-ending creativity.

If I had to brag

I won first place and $50 in a slam poetry contest one time.

The Book, Movie that I cannot imagine life without

When I was in 7th grade, my friend lent me his copy of Ender’s Game. Before that, I hadn’t been into reading, but I really enjoyed the novel, and soon I was reading lots of sci-fi stuff. To date, Ender’s Game isn’t my favorite book, but I can’t imagine my life without it because it was a “turning point” for me. Until that book came along, I filled my life with games, sports, and outdoor activities. If I hadn’t read Ender’s Game at that point in my life, would I have gotten into reading in 7th grade? Would I have become an avid reader at all? It’s hard to imagine how my life might have been different.

My teaching style

I research teaching ideas and activities often. Whenever I plan, I draw from my database of knowledge and experience and try to find the best fit, differentiating my plan as necessary. I keep in mind that during the lesson, though what I’m doing is important, it’s not as important as what the students are doing. I’m always trying to gauge their level of involvement and adapt as necessary.

How I would describe myself in high school

In high school, I dabbled in a variety of identities. I’d say I was some combination of jock, artist, mini-rebel, nerd, and performer.

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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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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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JESSIE CAY

Earth-to-Table Program Manager

With Maharishi School since 2019

jcay@maharishischool.org

Jessie Cay

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I know I’ve been successful as a teacher when 

My students begin asking ME the questions

What inspired me to teach

Being able to obtain knowledge is one thing- but being able to share it with others is one of the most rewarding forms of service to the world.

Hardly anyone knows

I LOVE dinosaurs. When I was younger, all I did was play with plastic dinosaurs and collect every book I could on them. My mom would get me to eat my vegetables by telling me they were dinosaur food  🙂

If I had to brag

I make the best pies! I love baking and i feel like I’ve created the perfect recipe for the flakiest pie crust. There’s nothing like picking fresh fruit off the tree and throwing it in a pie!

When I am not in the classroom

In my hammock reading a book, playing with my dog, Logan, or in the kitchen cooking up a big meal. I love pursuing the simple things in life and pouring my whole heart into them.

My teaching style

Fun, quirky, engaging

Favorite Food

Crab cake Eggs Benedict

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CHRISTINA COX

Assistant Primary Teacher

With Maharishi School since 2018

ccox@maharishischool.org

Christina Cox

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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VALERIE GAMBLE

Lead Child Care

With Maharishi School since 2016

vgamble@maharishischool.org

Valerie Gamble

Valerie Gamble

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Hardly anyone knows

I lived for almost 15 years in a small straw bale house, totally off the grid. Only powered by wind and solar, collecting my own rainwater and heating with wood. I also ran a small scale organic farm in Fairfield for 5 years.

What inspired me to go into teaching

I got “lured” into the preschool by our former director Rebecca Bellonci with whom I was going to a pottery class. I just came to observe for one day and at the end of it, I was so inspired by the Montessori approach and how purposeful and independent the toddlers were that I decided to give it a try. Three years later I am still here, committed to it and loving it.

When not in the classroom, I can be found

At the Goodwill store. I must admit I go to Goodwill a lot. Not only for the second-hand clothes but also in search of unusual vintage finds.

How I would describe myself in high school

Introverted, artsy, hippy type

Favorite food

Truffles, not the chocolate kind, but the mushroom kind and preferably the white ones. I love truffle everything [ oil, cheese, shavings.. ].

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ANTONIA GARCIA
Preschool Assistant Teacher

With Maharishi School since 2019

agarcia@maharishischool.org

Antonia Garcia

UMA HENDERSON
Preschool Assistant Teacher
Alumni

With Maharishi School since 2019

uhenderson@maharishischool.org

Uma Henderson

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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BRIDGETT KONAN
Preschool Assistant Teacher

With Maharishi School since 2019

bkonan@maharishischool.org

Bridgett Konan

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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LYNN SHIRAI

Lower School Director
Grade 3: Reading/Writing Teacher

With Maharishi School since 1996

lshirai@maharishischool.org

Lynn Shirai Lower School Director

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

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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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MADELINE THOMAS
Preschool Teacher
Lower School Music Teacher

With Maharishi School since 2019

mthomas@maharishischool.org

MADELINE THOMAS

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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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

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The books I cannot imagine my life without

For 5-6th graders: Small as an Elephant, Home of the Brave, Because of Winn-Dixie, Thief of Always. They are wonderful stories with deep life lessons like ‘life doesn’t have to be perfect for one to be happy’ or ‘there’s always someone available to help you beyond your parents.’

My teaching style

I consider myself more of a guide than an instructor: a guide with high standards.

I know I’ve been successful as a teacher when

students come to class happy; when they’re proud of what they do; when they’re confident; when they develop as self-starters and become independent learners.  Witnessing this fills my heart with joy and it’s so energizing.

When not in the classroom, I can be found

Knitting, being in nature, making art, travelling.

The part of teaching I love most

The foundation of my life is developing myself with the knowledge and experiences through Maharishi’s Vedic Sciences. I also love children and teaching. So teaching here is the perfect job for me.  It combines the things that I love most. I have the best job in the entire world. (There are, of course, times when I lose sight of this. I’m human.)

Favorite food

Anything delicious! I adore trying new foods from other cultures. Bring it on.

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Temporary for Christina
Temporary for Christina