“I have a great love for children, and for knowing them as they grow and learn. Looking back, I can see that this has always been a part of me, from holding and walking little ones around when I was a child, to beginning to babysit when I was about twelve, to my first job painting faces at a local park, and finally in my career as a teacher.
“I started out as an instructional aide for the Byron School District shortly after I graduated high school, first as an after-school tutor and summer school assistant, and later as a specially-trained instructional aide for children with autism, working with students both one-on-one in their homes and in a kindergarten class. I held this position until I graduated from Cal State Hayward (now East Bay) with a BA in Liberal Studies and an emphasis on Early Childhood Education, leaving only when the demands of coursework and student teaching for my Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential made it impossible to continue. A few weeks into my second student teaching placement I was offered a teaching position at Highlands Elementary in Pittsburg, Califorinia, where I went on to teach third grade for eight years—meanwhile obtaining an MA in Teaching Leadership—before switching gears in 2011 to become a full-time mom.
“Moving from the Bay Area to Westport, I spent much of the next seven years as a mom and farm hand, but returned to working with children in 2016 as an instructor with Music Together, and later in the After School Enrichment Program at Community Center of Mendocino. Working with children from infancy to adolescence, I’ve enjoyed drawing on my own love for learning and the world around us to impart that same love to children.
“Now I get to bring that love to Caspar Creek, and I’m very excited. I’m excited to return to the classroom, but more so to be doing it in such a beautiful, nurturing environment while expanding my teaching to include Waldorf methods.”
Sarah Cullar joined Caspar Creek in 2018, heading up the Kindergarten and grade one program, and leads the grades 2-5 team beginning with the 2019-2020 school year.
Avamir (Ava) Nasoff
“It is with great pleasure and excitement that I am joining the Caspar Creek Learning Community as the co-teacher in the 2-5th program. I have spent my entire adult life working and being with children in a variety of settings—from my own home to formal classrooms and nature preserves.
“I was trained as an elementary educator and studied Environmental Science at Antioch College. Upon graduating, I studied briefly at a Waldorf Teaching School in Michigan, relocating when I became pregnant with my oldest son (now in his twenties). That, for me, began the extraordinary journey of Motherhood.
“Over the years, as a mother, and the wife of an entrepreneur, I worked as a substitute teacher at both public and private schools, founded and ran a home daycare, after-school care and summer day care program for children in their primary school years. Working as a naturalist at a residential Outdoor Environmental Center, serving 4th and 5th grade school children, I had the opportunity to work with a more diverse student population and developed my team building skills. Since moving to California, I helped to run ropes courses here in Mendocino County while living an off-grid lifestyle and caring for my youngest son, who arrived in 2012.
“I bring with me nine years of active involvement with an incredible school in Ohio, The Antioch School, which my sons attended from Nursery to 6th grade, where I was both a regular volunteer and a credentialed substitute teacher. As with Caspar Creek, the Antioch School uses multi-age groupings, nature forms the backdrop of much of each day’s activities, and play is welcomed and encouraged. The students’ interests are a driving force in the curriculum, and the importance of cooperation and community-building is highly-valued and taught.
“I greatly value academics, and am eager to help our students build knowledge and confidence in the various subjects areas traditionally covered in primary grades. I am also extremely elated to have the opportunity to guide children to discover their unique nature, and the role they play as essential and valued members of the school and community. I am hopeful that this will provide them with a foundation upon which to grow, thrive and learn more enjoyably and successfully.”
Ava Nasoff joined Caspar Creek in 2018, and beginning with the 2019-2020 school year, joins the grades 2-5 team as co-teacher.
Chelsy Rose Thompson
“I am so blessed to be a part of this community, where my daughters had their own start with the wonder of Waldorf. With joy and rhythm this play-based and nature-oriented curriculum is introduced to our little ones.
“I have had the opportunity to work with the early grades (preschool–grade 3) from San Francisco to Santa Rosa, and our beautiful Caspar, California, in a variety of school settings for over 25 years. Later, I worked at Three Rivers Charter School with second-eighth grade ESL students. I received my teaching credential from SFSU in 2000 with a focus on cross-cultural studies and dance. Early learning is strongly connected to the child’s own body; through movement and music, knowledge is integrated. If a young child is moving, they are learning!
“Over the next two years I danced and taught creative movement to a wide range of children in our community. With the Mendocino Dance Project, I designed and implemented creative movement activities that incorporated core curriculum while fostering physical and emotional awareness. I believe that if a child is moving, singing, creating and celebrating; if they have reverence and respect for one another and themselves, their lives will be full, and they will live well.”
Chelsy joined Caspar Creek in 2017, heading up the Kindergarten and grade one program, and following a year teaching in Oregon, returns to that role for 2019-2020.
I feel so very blessed to be a part of the beautiful community of Caspar Creek. Before joining Caspar Creek I spent 15 years teaching kindergarten in San Francisco and acting as principal for a summer program. Prior to that, I spent over 20 years working in Special Education. I have a BA in Education and an MA in Special Education. I am so excited about this new chapter in my life. I loved spending two weeks with our staff at a Waldorf training in 2017. My greatest passion in life is spending time with my two boys. I’m also loving learning about and exploring our amazing community. Thank you for including me in this special community.
Katie Peterson joined Caspar Creek in 2016 as a Special Education Tutor, and has since taken on the role of Site Supervisor, supporting our students’ and teachers’ success in many ways.
Dana Vogele“Growing up in the Bay Area, I camped at MacKerricher every year and dreamed of living on this coast someday. I feel so lucky to have ended up here, and to have found such an amazing school and community for my children! Now I live just outside of Fort Bragg with my husband Mike, our two girls, Harper and Grace, and our three dogs, eight chickens and four sheep. We spend a lot of time at home working in the garden, cooking and exploring the property around where we live, and we also love camping and spending days at the beach.
“I started my college career intending to work with children as a pediatric nutritionist; I earned my bachelors in nutrition at Chico State and masters in maternal and child nutrition at UC Davis. I went on to spend eight years working at the WIC program in Sacramento and Eureka as a nutritionist and in 2012 I became a lactation consultant. My girls were born in 2013 and 2014, and in 2015 the opportunity arose to move to Fort Bragg and be a stay-at-home mom, and we jumped at the chance! I’ve spent the last three years working part-time at Polliwog Playschool in Fort Bragg with children ages 1 to 9 years old. I’ve found that I really enjoy working in an environment where children get to learn and grow through play. I am very excited for the opportunity to work with the amazing children and staff at CCLC!”
Dana Vogele joins Caspar Creek in 2019 as the K-1 Aide.