Silke Marjkowski (Grade One)
Silke Markowski grew up in a small village in Germany in a multi generational household.
This instilled, at an early age, the Love for community and the land. Music , art and poetry have always been a part of her life.
Her calling to be an educator started when she was fourteen and led her to study Education. She holds a BA from Germany and continues to this day her yearly studies in Waldorf education.
Since 1992 she has stood in service to the Taos community as an Educator with the inspiration of Rudolf Steiner and ongoing support from former Waldorf teachers.
In 1995 Silke Markowski laid the foundation for today’s Taos Waldorf School by forming the Waldorf inspired “ Country Day School” with Micah Roseberry, Linda Seto and Melinda Bateman. The school served the founding parents in the education of their children, who all benefited from a Pre-K through 8th Waldorf- inspired education.
Silke Markowski has seen the school through its transformation to become “Taos Waldorf School” and served in many different capacities after her two daughters graduated . Her deep understanding for the Grade Class curriculum and her dedication to Anthroposophy led her to become a Class teacher in the year 2014. Her love for life-long learning leads her, since 1994, to participate yearly in Waldorf teaching programs that support teachers in self-development and preparation for the class room work.
Silke Markowski has a pioneering spirit, which led her to explore the “movable classroom” and she currently teaches the Taos Waldorf School first grade, incorporating balance boards and desks that can be turned into balance beams. Silke Markowski shares the German language in lesson with her class and is dedicated to the school as a whole.
Silke Markowski understands the importance of land- based education and is deeply grateful to the land the school rests on and the location , which supports education on a daily basis and makes the Taos Waldorf School a real treasure.
Gnomes/ECE Director – Claudia Pfiffner
Claudia Pfiffner arrived in Taos in 2011 where she taught the Blossoms preschool class at the Taos Waldorf School. She has teaching degrees from Switzerland, Canada, and the United States. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Management from City University in Bellevue, WA and her Master’s in Waldorf Education from Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks, CA.
Rudolf Steiner and the inspirations he gave through Anthroposophy and Waldorf education have provided her with long-sought answers about child behavior, stages of development, and appropriate curriculum for young children. For her Master’s thesis she researched early brain development and Waldorf early childhood education and found the two to be very compatible.
After two years of teaching kindergarten at the Tucson Waldorf School Claudia is back in Taos and happily taking on the role of early childhood director and Gnomes kindergarten teacher.
Besides teaching, she loves hiking and bicycling, and attending silent retreats.
Gnomes Kindergarten Teacher Assistant-Elissa Rookey
Elissa Rookey moved to Taos from Missoula, MT with her family (husband, two children, two dogs, and a horse) in the summer of 2013. Her first opportunity to work in the Early Childhood came in 2002, when she taught Pre-School at the Sandpoint Waldorf School in northern Idaho. After one year the program was shut down, so she switched gears and worked with “at risk” teenagers and young adults for the next nine years. Now at her second year at TWS, she is very happy to have returned to the little ones! Outside of school, she loves gardening, hiking in the wilderness, yoga, cooking, swimming in cold mountain rivers, biking, laughing, and spending time with her family.
Llora grew up near the ocean in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and recently settled in Taos after feeling the pull to the southwest and the high desert. She has a master’s degree in education and her Waldorf Teacher Certification from Antioch University New England. She earned her B.A. in Latin American Studies and Art from Warren Wilson College. Her 10 years of experience working with children include co-directing and lead teaching an outdoor Waldorf pre-school in Vermont.
Llora brings a rich practical and artistic life to the classroom. Her background includes training as a massage therapist, working in the field of sustainable agriculture and running her own landscaping business. She loves to sing and has been part of choirs since she was a child. An art minor in college, she continues to enjoy watercolor painting and working with wool in all its forms. Llora is happiest when she is playing in the outdoors with children or meditating or both.
Gaia moved to Taos in 2012 and worked at TWS as an intern in the gnomes, 1-2 grade and 4-5 grade. This year Ms. Gaia is taking the role as head teacher for our beloved 4th grade class. She has a degree in Liberal Arts and is working toward her certification in the Waldorf Grades through the Micha-el Institute in Portland, Oregon. Her son, Talon, can be seen skipping around in the first. Ms. Gaia comes to us with a strong background in the healing arts and indigenous ceremony. Both avenues being the foundational work and development guiding her to step into the role as a Waldorf teacher. Gaia is an avid lover of art, nature and physical movement.
Grade Seven Teacher-Beth Kreiger-Fritsch
Beth moved to Taos from the midwest in 2007; her son, Oliver, is in the fourth grade and her daughter, Mae, is an elder Gnome in the kindergarten. Her husband, Tom, can be seen from time to time fixing or building things around campus, in between his work as a chiropractor in town. Beth has an undergraduate degree in English and Spanish and is soon to be finished with a dual Masters of Education and Waldorf Teacher Training through the Great Lakes Waldorf Institute and Mount Mary University. She is so happy to be in the exciting middle school years with her incredible class. When not at school, Beth enjoys running, skiing, reading, jumping on the trampoline, and spending time with her family, friends and garden.
Rachael Penn, String Teacher
Rachael Penn moved to Taos in 2000 after she completed her Bachelor’s of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies from Naropa University in Boulder, CO with an emphasis in the Creative Process and Healing Arts. Along with other pursuits, her love of music has been a constant and present force throughout her life, calling her to join music and dance groups and classes as a child and to continue to look for musical opportunities as an adult. Over the years she has enjoyed exploring the worlds of improvisation, songwriting, composition and folk music from different cultures.
Rachael is active in the local music community, playing and recording with numerous songwriters and musicians. She is currently performing locally as a singer and a violin/violist and also runs a bookkeeping business providing services to Taos businesses.
Rachael is passionate about supporting the creative process and artistic expression of people at all ages and skill levels. She believes that music has always been a powerful way of breathing life into community, fostering a sense of belonging and creating bridges of understanding throughout the ages. She also believes that music can be a powerful vehicle for children and adults, helping them to develop the discipline and the courage to constantly strive to learn and hone new skills and to engage themselves more meaningfully in the world. She is very excited to begin her journey as a strings teacher this fall at the Taos Waldorf School.
Music- Jenna Paulden
Jenna Paulden has a BA in theater and literature from Grinnell College. Her liberal arts education as well as years of Waldorf Teacher training at Rudolf Steiner College in Sacramento, CA, has well prepared her to be a Waldorf teacher. Jenna has lived in Taos for 30 years. She raised her children in a Waldorf home environment and home schooled her oldest child with a Waldorf curriculum before Taos Waldorf School was born. Her two younger children graduated from Taos Waldorf School. Jenna has been involved with our school since 1997. She has served on the Festival Committee for many years, and was a parent rep. many times over. She has directed, co-directed, and costumed numerous plays for our 7th and 8th grades – and Shakespeare is her favorite! She was a main class teacher who took her class from 1st to 4th grade. Currently she teaches singing, music theory, and recorder to all of the grades, and it brings her much joy. She is a passionate believer in sharing the delight of singing with young people because it is a gift that will enrich their entire lives.
Beatrix, our handwork teacher is from Switzerland, where she taught kindergarten in small villages and was involved in the local music schools. She moved to CA in 1996 with her husband Jade and baby Ryan. Gardening and landscape design have been passions of hers, as well as cooking, and you can find her in the garden, out hiking, or knitting away.
She has worked for a preschool, later started an outdoor program for a ranch, where the kids could explore nature and animals rain or shine.
In 2011 her family moved to Taos, it is her 2nd year at TWS.
Trix enjoys working with children of different ages, and hopes to spark a passion for handwork and crafts of all sorts.