High School Faculty

Amanda Ayling

Amanda Ayling

Math and Science and HS Pedagogical Co-Chair

aayling@seattlewaldorf.org

Amanda (she/her) grew up in Hawaii and was formed by the waves and sand. She fell in love with the Pacific Northwest while attending the University of Washington where she earned an M.A. in Chemical Engineering. Since 2008, Amanda has taught chemistry and math at Seattle Waldorf School. As Chair for the Math and Science Departments, she is a strong advocate for experiential, place-based trips in the science curriculum and hands-on, real-world projects in the math curriculum. In recent years, Amanda has taught classes in sexuality education, led rite-of-passage programs, coordinated teens in social activism, and taken youth on international travel adventures. For five years she served as the Program Director at Rite of Passage Journeys. After a decade of mountain climbing and rock climbing, Amanda has settled into backpacking, sailing, and simply sitting in the woods. She aims for 40 nights spent in the wilderness every year!

Aurora Blackmore

Aurora Blackmore

Assistant Head of School and HS Director

Tania Adams

Tania Adams

School Counselor

tania.adams@seattlewaldorf.org

Tania’s Waldorf education journey, spanning over a decade, began with her own children enrolled in Waldorf schools in Hawaii & Washington. This experience ignited her passion for Waldorf education, a passion that has blossomed both personally and professionally over the last thirteen years. Raised in Southeast Asia, Tania is an alumnus of several international schools, including the Singapore American School. Her academic pursuits took her to the School of Visual Arts in NYC for film studies, the University of Hawai’i – Manoa for Asian Studies, and she earned an MSW from the University of Washington. As a licensed independent clinical social worker, certified school social worker, and registered yoga teacher, she currently maintains a private practice in addition to being the school counselor at Seattle Waldorf School. She has two decades of experience in mental health and education, working in settings such as hospitals, community mental health, and schools. She is currently completing her M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction (May 2024) with a specialization in Waldorf High School Education at Sunbridge Institute. Her interests of place-based education and Waldorf pedagogy drive her passion in education. With a deep connection to the water and sun, Tania thrives in natural settings. She enjoys engaging in activities with her three children, delving into poetry, practicing mindful movement, cooking, and maintains a lifelong commitment to learning.

Carl Busse

Carl Busse

Movement and Science

cbusse@seattlewaldorf.org

Carl (he/him) grew up in the Manhattan Beach neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. Before joining Seattle Waldorf School, he was a grade school teacher at Whatcom Hills Waldorf School in Bellingham, Washington. Carl’s high school teaching career began in 2001 at Hazel Wolf High School, where he taught classes in science and movement. He earned his B.A. at Humboldt State University and was a two-sport collegiate athlete in soccer and volleyball. Carl did graduate work in coral reef ecology at the University of Hawai’i Manoa, where he became a SCUBA instructor, and in aquatic stream ecology at Western Washington University. At SWS Carl teaches classes in anatomy, geology, zoology, and P.E. He also leads key grade-level outdoor trips including the grade 12 Zoology trip to Friday Harbor Laboratories and the grade 10 Hydrology trip to the Elwha Dam removal site. In his free time, Carl loves exploring natural history and taking his grandchildren to Twin Ponds Park by Haller Lake.

Jessica Chisum

Jessica Chisum

Humanities and Educational Support

jchisum@seattlewaldorf.org

Born and raised in Alaska, Jessica (she/they) joined the faculty in 2022, teaching in the Humanities and Educational Support Departments. She received her BFA in Acting/Playwriting from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. Currently, she is a student at Antioch University, where she will receive her Teaching Certificate and MFA in Creative Writing. Jessica has taught Drama and Literature at The Center School in Seattle, and at Eastside Preparatory School in Bellevue. Before joining SWS, she worked as a writer and educator for the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles and the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. Jessica is devoted to Waldorf education as a parent of two young Waldorf students and enjoys baking banana walnut muffins, car-camping and listening to 80s-era New Wave music.

Kerry Clark

Kerry Clark

Director of College and Career Counseling

kclark@seattlewaldorf.org

Kerry (he/him) joins Seattle Waldorf School part-time with a wealth of experience as a teacher, coach, advisor, and college and career counselor over the past decade at small, elite independent schools in Spokane and Seattle. He brings passion and energy as the new Director of College and Career Counseling to the work he does. Kerry works one-on-one with families to help them make decisions about the future based on a number of important factors. His focus is on helping students of all backgrounds and interests understand their options based on their own unique talents, desires, and expectations. His focus is on helping students develop a plan for post-high school that puts them in the best position to be successful in life. Kerry holds a College Counseling Certification from UCLA, an M.A. in English from Washington State University, a B.A. in Humanities with a Minor in History and a Professional Writing Certification in English from Washington State University Online, and an AA in General Studies from Centralia College. He is a voting member of NACAC (National Association for College Admission Counseling) and PNACAC (Pacific Northwest Association for College Admission Counseling), in addition to being elected as the Awards and Recognition Chair for PNACAC.

Greg Fulton

Greg Fulton

Music

gfulton@seattlewaldorf.org

Since 1993, Greg (he/him) has worked as a soloist, ensemble/band member, a session musician, composer/orchestrator. He has over 20 years of experience as a theatrical musician (onstage and playing in the pit) as well as leadership roles such as associate music direction and music mentor for actors. Greg has performed and taught guitar privately for 25 years with a broad stylistic knowledge. As a music educator Greg’s primary aim is to inspire students to see themselves as artists first. Encouraging this manner of self-identification allows students to bring artistic expression into all aspects of music.

Robin Jacobs

Robin Jacobs

Art

rjacobs@seattlewaldorf.org

Bio coming soon. 

Nishu Katyal

Nishu Katyal

Math and Science

nkatyal@seattlewaldorf.org

Nishu grew up in India and comes from a family of educators. Having completed her B.S. in Math and Physics, and MBA in India, Nishu completed professional development training at Harvard and Cambridge Universities. She comes with a wide and rich experience of 21 years in the field of education and has worked as a teacher, coordinator, and Principal of a school. Initially she taught Math and Physics to a multicultural population at the English International school in Benin and later established the Indian International school, Benin and headed the school as its principal for 14 years. Nishu loves to read and is looking forward to becoming a part of Seattle Waldorf School.

Christopher Komisarek

Christopher Komisarek

Spanish and History

komisarek@seattlewaldorf.org

Christopher is a dedicated educator joining the Seattle Waldorf School, bringing his expertise in Spanish and History all the way from New Hampshire. With a B.A. in Music Technology and a minor in Spanish phonetics and linguistics from Plymouth State University, Chris furthered his studies by earning a Master’s degree in Multicultural and Bilingual Education from the prestigious Universidad de Alcalá in Alcalá de Henares, Madrid, Spain. After completing his education, Chris embarked on a teaching career, initially as an adjunct professor at Plymouth State University, where he taught International Student Studies, Spanish, and U.S. Culture and Communication. In addition, he has taught Academic Reading and Writing for the Advanced Studies Program at St. Paul’s School during summers. With experience at Tilton Boarding School and Pinkerton Academy, Chris has effectively taught Spanish and Cultural Geography in a variety of settings. Beyond academics, Chris has a deep passion for music, eagerly participating in various musical endeavors. His love for mountain biking and water-related activities, including waterskiing, wakeboarding, and jet-skiing further fuels his zest for life. Chris firmly believes in the significance of embracing thrilling adventures, such as bungee jumping in Bulgaria and sledding in South Korea’s enchanting bamboo forests, as a means to cherish life and cultivate a rich understanding of diverse cultures and nations.

Iris Kulasic

Iris Kulasic

Educational Support and HS Pedagogical Co-Chair

ikulasic@seattlewaldorf.org

A Waldorf high school graduate herself, Iris (she/her) joined Seattle Waldorf School in 2005 as grade 8 co-teacher. She transitioned to teaching middle school math and humanities courses, eventually finding her true calling in educational support. As head of the Educational Support program, Iris provides wraparound support services for students in grades 9-12. Iris came to Seattle from Bosnia and Herzegovina, via a longish young adulthood stint on the East Coast. In 1999, she graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in Fine Arts and Art History and obtained her teaching certificate and completed her MEd at Mercy College. She is a lifelong learner, observer, and student of Anthroposophy and Waldorf pedagogy. She has been an assistant to the Bosnia and Herzegovina Ambassador to the United Nations and spent five priceless years teaching in the public education systems in New York City (Chinatown and the Bronx) and Philadelphia. Iris loves watching the hard work of her students metamorphose into confident and capable human beings, knowing that growth is the work of a village—students, faculty, and staff. In addition to teaching at the high school, Iris is a part of the larger web of SWS as her two small children are students at the grade school. Someday when she has the time, Iris plans to paint with watercolors, guided by Jean Haines’s tutorials.

Annie Paladino

Annie Paladino

Art and Humanities

apaladino@seattlewaldorf.org

Annie (she/her) has been a part of the Seattle Waldorf School community since 2014, bringing her love of live performance and her enthusiasm for creating “something out of nothing” to students of all ages. A Waldorf student herself (Waldorf School of Orange County), Annie studied Theater and Psychology at Wesleyan University, where she received Honors for her performance of and research on Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days. Annie also is a graduate of Washington State’s TATLab (Teaching Artist Training Lab). Her work as an actor and director has been seen on stages in San Francisco and Seattle, with companies including The Cutting Ball Theater, Ragged Wing Ensemble, FoolsFURY, and Akropolis Performance Lab. At SWS she has directed plays and musicals at the high school and middle school, including several original works by students. Annie coaches and competes in powerlifting and is an avid gamer, chef, and knitter—although these days her free time is somewhat monopolized by her 2 year-old son, Evan.

Mike Perez

Mike Perez

Music

mperez@seattlewaldorf.org

Mike Perez joins our faculty as the String Orchestra Teacher. Mike grew up in Central Florida and discovered a love for music in his late high school years. He went on to study music at Daytona State College and eventually pursued his Bachelor’s and Master’s in music with an emphasis in jazz studies on the double bass from the University of North Florida. Mike began his performance career over a decade ago, playing with many different artists all over the country. He has been a part of the Monterey Bay Jazz Festival, as well as a guest performer at the Jazz Educators Network “JEN” convention. Mike found his way into education in 2017 teaching band and elementary music at Liberty Pines Academy in St. John’s, Florida. He moved with his wife to Texas in 2019 and began working with the Tobin Center for performing arts “Generation NEXT” education program, where he worked with inner-city schools and developed music programs. Mike enjoys movies, cars, cooking, biking, hiking, and exploring the outdoors.

Nancy Pfeiffer

Nancy Pfeiffer

Art

npfeiffer@seattlewaldorf.org

Nancy (she/her) is a longtime member of the Seattle Waldorf School community, first as a parent from 2002-2016, and, beginning in 2014, as an Art teacher. She received her B.A. in Art/Theater from DePaul University in Chicago, and she earned both her Waldorf Teacher Certificate and a MEd from Antioch University. Nancy began her teaching in early childhood, then became a class teacher, working primarily at the Whidbey Island Waldorf School. Nancy has directed many plays through the grades and high school. She has been on stages with the Whidbey Island Community Theater and Outcast companies. She also has taught in several teacher training programs in Seattle and China. Nancy continues to study with master artists both in the visual and performing arts.  If she is not acting or painting, she is swimming in lakes and enjoying a good book.

Morgan Root

Morgan Root

Math and Science

mroot@seattlewaldorf.org

Morgan (he/him) joined Seattle Waldorf School in 2021. He teaches all levels of math from Algebra 1 to Calculus. Before moving to Seattle, Morgan worked for 3 years in Columbus, Ohio, as a math teacher at East High School. Morgan has an MEd from Ohio State University, a M.A. in Applied Mathematics from North Carolina State, and a B.A. in Physics from Pomona College. Prior to teaching, Morgan held a variety of jobs: he built math models of weather and diseases, wrote algorithms for crowdsourced raking, worked in data management and IT for the federal government, and spent time as a baker. When he isn’t teaching, Morgan is raising two teenagers with his wife in the Wallingford neighborhood. Morgan also is a Buddhist teacher, giving meditation instruction and leading weekend retreats at a Buddhist center in Seattle. Morgan has a passion for travel and he is trying to visit as many countries as he is years old, a task that grows more challenging every year. He is a passionate cyclist, although he hasn’t fully made his peace with all the hills and rain here in Seattle.

Lara Ruegg

Lara Ruegg

Director of Student Support and Experience

lruegg@seattlewaldorf.org

Lara has been the Experiential Education Director at Seattle Waldorf School since 2022. She runs the outdoor trips and the community service program at the high school and supports grade school teachers in their outdoor adventures. Lara also manages student accountability, clubs, student council, and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging. A backpacker since age nine, Lara has spent the past five years running around in the woods with kids professionally. One highlight from a recent trip was finding a giant kelp crab with the seniors on San Juan Island! Lara is a Wilderness First Responder, trained in outdoor Risk Management, and Mental Health First Aid. She holds a B.A. from Whitman College, a MEd from the University of Washington, and a certificate in Environmental Education from Islandwood. Originally from the Bay Area, her other passions include baking bread, running, and spending quality time with her polydactyl cat, Bub.

Gordy Ryan

Gordy Ryan

Music

gryan@seattlewaldorf.org

Gordy (he/him) Onayemi Ryan has laid down the groove for the Olatunji Drums of Passion for decades, as well as for Gabrielle Roth, the Coleman Barks Rumi concerts, Zhikr Rituals,movie scores (including films by Spike Lee and Eddie Murphy), and many other great musical artists—Carlos Santana, Jerry Garcia, Airto, Mickey Hart, Planet Drum, Nile Rodgers, Roger Fisher, Bruce Langhorne, and more during his long concert and recording career. Gordy has led Rhythm Master Classes world wide, including at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, CA, Omega in N.Y, The Drummers Collective in N.Y.C., and Hollyhock in B.C. (where he built the Olatunji Hall on Cortes Island that hosts the annual Olatunji Rhythm and Dance Sessions). He currently lives on Vashon Island where he plays in several bands, leads weekly Rhythm Sessions, and sings in the Vashon Chorale. The ‘Generation Pass Down’ is a prime focus for Gordy; He loves playing music with the students at SWHS, inspiring them to open the creative realm in their lives.

Jonah Sulla-Menashe

Jonah Sulla-Menashe

Office Manager and Yearbook Design

jsulla-menashe@seattlewaldorf.org

Jonah (he/him) joined Seattle Waldorf School in 2021 as the office manager for the High School. Before COVID, he volunteered internationally to see as much of the world as he possibly could. His love for exploring the world stems from growing up in Hawaii and attending a Waldorf school, a combination that has fostered an adventurous spirit. Jonah received a BA in Philosophy from Seattle University. Apart from working at SWS he spends time on the weekends at Mary’s Place, an organization in Seattle providing shelter and services for women, children, and families. His other interests are in technology and web design, video games, sports, books, and food.

Yi Wang

Yi Wang

Mandarin

ywang@seattlewaldorf.org

Yi (she/her) joined the Seattle Waldorf School in 2017 and currently teaches Mandarin Chinese. She holds a Senior Chinese language teacher license authorized by China and is an IPA (International Professional Association) certified Senior Chinese Language Teacher. Before becoming a Waldorf teacher, Yi served as a Mandarin Coordinator for EtonHouse International School and taught at an advanced level within the PYP (Primary Years Program) and MYP (Middle Years Program) of the IB (International Baccalaureate) for two years. Additionally, Yi taught Mandarin in public schools in Suzhou, China, for 19 years and also served as Deputy Principal and Director of Teaching and Learning for ten years. Yi is a graduate of Suzhou University and completed the STARTALK Teacher Program at the UW Language Learning Center. In 2021, Yi participated in the Stanford University Continuing Studies Program on “The Socially Just World Language Classroom.” She believes that language learning should be engaging and relevant to help students create meaningful understandings about the world they live in. Yi’s Mandarin students have received numerous awards, including prizes and publications from the Washington Association for American and Chinese Education and the American Academy of International Culture and Education. In her free time, Yi enjoys cooking, dancing, and music.