Urban Prairie Waldorf School

Faculty & Staff

Hannah  Avellone

Class Teacher


Hannah Avellone received her BA from Bard College and her Waldorf teacher certificate from the Arcturus Rudolf Steiner Education Program. A class teacher, Hannah has long been a member of the Urban Prairie community as a lead kindergarten teacher at City Garden Waldorf School, through her work with the Urban Prairie Board, and as an adult educator. Outside of the classroom, you can find Hannah hiking, playing the cello, knitting, singing, and playing games.

Heather  Berhalter

Director of Community Development


Heather Berhalter has been a member of the Board of Trustees since 2009 and is currently responsible for marketing, admissions, enrollment, parent education, and development efforts for the school. Before moving to Chicago, she served in the State Department Foreign Service in several overseas posts and in Washington, D.C. as a Special Assistant to Secretary Madeleine Albright. She is also a La Leche League Leader. She and her husband, Jay, have three sons, including two UPWS students and a City Garden student.

Candace  Choma

Educational Support


Candace received her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Washington University in St. Louis. Upon graduating, Candace became the founding early childhood teacher of Three Rivers School, a Waldorf initiative in LaCrosse, WI. Candace went on to teach early childhood / kindergarten at both Great Oaks School and Prairie Hill Waldorf School. Candace completed her Waldorf teacher training through Waldorf Teacher Development Association in Ann Arbor, MI. More recently, Candace completed her Master’s Degree in Special Education while teaching in a therapeutic day school setting. Candace is currently in the remedial training program offered through the Association for Healing Education.

Hannah  Dallman

Handwork Teacher


Hannah Dallman currently serves as a handwork teacher at UPWS. She is also chair of the Makers Guild, a parent community group that gathers once monthly to work on artistic projects that beautify our campus. Before becoming a Waldorf teacher, Mrs. Dallman spent several years teaching film and video at the university level, working in arts administration, and video production. She holds a BA in Theater from Macalester College and a MFA in Film and Video from Columbia College Chicago. Prior to joining the faculty at Urban Prairie, Mrs. Dallman served as a classroom assistant at City Garden. She and her husband, Matthew, have four daughters, all enrolled at UPWS.

Glenda Ding

Mandarin Teacher


Glenda Ding is our Mandarin instructor. A native of Lanzhou, in northwest China, Ms. Ding was a college professor for ten years and taught foreign languages at a global education organization in Beijing for eight years. She holds a BA in literature and a master’s in economics.

Tolman  Flannery

Spanish Teacher


Tolman Flannery was a Waldorf student himself at the Chicago Waldorf School (CWS), where he was in the third class to graduate eighth grade.. Mr. Flannery traveled to Mexico many times as a boy and studied Spanish throughout his schooling. He attended Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota and studied in Oaxaca, Mexico for a semester. Mr. Flannery taught ESL to adults for eight years. He then taught Spanish at CWS and North Park Elementary. He also taught in Bilingual Classrooms at Pilsen Community Academy, a CPS School. He is currently raising three bilingual children, two of whom have joined him at Urban Prairie. He is happy to be apart of the Urban Prairie Community.

Miguel Garcia

Music Chair


Miguel Garcia has taught at Urban Prairie for three years. He took on the role of Music Director at the start of the 2014-15 school year. He graduated with honors from from Boston College (B.A., Music) and the Chicago College of Performing Arts (M.M., Violin Performance). Mr. Garcia has performed as a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral violinist across the United States, Europe, Africa, and Asia for over 15 years. He was the two-time winner of the Boston College Concerto Competition, resulting in his solo performances of the Brahms and Bruch violin concertos. Mr. Garcia has received fellowships from Boston College, the Aspen Music Festival, and the International Music Academy. His 2016 performance schedule includes concerts with the Illinois Symphony, Third Eye Opera Company, Peoria Symphony, Chicago Summer Opera, and Main Street Opera. He has performed with a number of diverse artists and ensembles, including Gil Shaham, David Robertson, Brinton Smith, Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, and the Trans Siberian Orchestra. A graduate of the Washington Waldorf School, Mr. Garcia has undergone Waldorf Music training with Par Albom, Christiaan Boele, Elizabeth English, and Monika Sutherland. He currently performs on a violin made in 1897 by Maurice Mermillot.

Karen  Hartz

Faculty Chair


Karen Hartz, Pedagogical Director, joined Urban Prairie in the summer of 2015 and became the faculty representative on the Board. With degrees in English and secondary education, Karen has worked in a variety of public and private high schools in Illinois and Wisconsin. She has taught all levels of high school English, from remedial to AP, and has coached forensics and directed theater. After the birth of her son, a friend encouraged her to read an article on educating the “heart, head, and hands.” Finding a philosophy of education that resonated with her own, Karen joined several Steiner study groups before enrolling in Waldorf teacher training and serving as a full-time second grade aid to a master Waldorf teacher. A year later she had the opportunity to take up her own class. Karen has since led four middle school classes, at Prairie Hill Waldorf School in Pewaukee, WI, and the Chicago Waldorf School. In addition, Karen served as full-time faculty chair and was a board member at Prairie Hill.

Ashley Ingold

Administrative Assistant


Ashley Ingold is the Administrative Assistant at UPWS, which includes many roles. She chaperones recess and field trips, substitutes in special subjects classes, organizes and leads aftercare and summer camp, teaches art classes, and is part of the administrative support team. She has a BS degree in Art Education from Southern Illinois University.

Bailey  Johns

Class Teacher


Bailey Johns completed her Foundation Studies at Arcturus while also working at UPWS as an aftercare, recess, and classroom assistant. Bailey attended Antioch University to complete her teacher training. During her time on the east coast, she worked at the Lake Champlain Waldorf School. She is currently working on her master's thesis.

Angela Kiefer

Class Teacher


Lead teacher Angela Kiefer received her Waldorf training at the Great Lakes Teacher Training program, Milwaukee, WI. Prior to joining Urban Prairie, Ms. Kiefer taught the kindergarten summer program at Singing Winds Waldorf School in Riverside, IL. She is a former improv comedienne and an accomplished horsewoman. Ms. Kiefer holds a B.A. in French and theatre from the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh and has completed coursework for her M.A. in education, Mount Mary College.

Adriana Kondrat

Games and Movement Teacher


Adriana is the movement teacher and math tutor at UPWS. She is a Chicago Waldorf School graduate and is currently enrolled at Arcturus. She was the Assistant Director of CWS Summer Camp and will be leading the UPWS camp program this summer.

Shabath Leidy

Handwork Teacher


Shabath Leidy is our handwork and woodwork teacher. She attended Chicago Waldorf School from early childhood through 12th grade. After attending college, she received her Waldorf training at the Arcturus teacher training Center. Ms. Leidy was formerly an assistant at City Garden Early Childhood Center.

Peggy Lofgren

Director of Operations and Finance


Prior to being hired as Director of Operations and Finance, Peggy served as the school administrator, chair of the Urban Prairie Board Finance Committee and Treasurer. She joined UPWS with a wealth of expertise in administration and finance in the luxury hospitality and wellness industry. She has managed P&Ls for the last 15 years from $2M to $20M in revenue. She has local and international experience in the luxury spa business and has led key corporate initiatives using strategic planning and analytical skills. She has launched multiple new properties and collaborated with corporate leadership in marketing, human resources, design and construction, training, and finance. A UPWS parent, she is committed to Waldorf education and is passionate about Urban Prairie.

Meredith  Merchant

Educational Support, 3 Stream Coordinator


Meredith received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in New Media and Sculpture from Ringling College of Art and Design. Upon graduating, Meredith spent her time living broadly over the United States. She also spent one year serving the community she grew up in via AmeriCorps. The calling to be a Waldorf educator came while Meredith was working for an artist in Colorado. She holds a class teacher certificate from Antioch University, and is an M.Ed candidate. Meredith spent her practicum working as the Land Stewardship Assistant at The Hartsbrook School in Hadley, MA. There she decided educational and student support was her path. Meredith is currently in the remedial training program offered through the Association for Healing Education.

Jillian  Miller

Class Teacher


Jillian Miller is one of the 1st grade class teachers for UPWS' first double-track class.

Moriah Peterson

Class Teacher


Moriah Peterson found her love for teaching in college when she helped develop a program to educate middle school girls about entrepreneurship through organic farming. After studying English and Women's Studies at the University of Minnesota, Ms. Peterson began assisting at the City of Lakes Waldorf School in Minneapolis which led her to teacher training at Antioch University. Upon completing a Graduate Certificate in Waldorf Education, Ms. Peterson was led to Chicago to teach her current class. She is currently pursuing a Master's degree from Antioch. Some of Ms. Peterson's many passions are music, football, Lake Superior, and exploring the world.

Mat Riendeau

Class Teacher


Class teacher and Faculty Chair Mathew Riendeau trained at Arcturus Waldorf teacher training program in Chicago. Before coming to Urban Prairie, Mat taught at Water’s Edge Waldorf School in Wauconda, IL. Prior to realizing his calling as a Waldorf teacher, he completed two tours of service with the United States Peace Corps. He taught English for two years in Sichuan Province, China, and spent two years working at a rural health clinic in Burkina Faso in West Africa. He holds a B.A. in Chinese from Middlebury College.

Johanna  Rohde

Eurythmy Teacher


Johanna Rohde brings the Pedagogical Eurythmy and Therapeutic Eurythmy programs to Urban Prairie and co-chairs the Care Group. Waldorf and Curative Education have been an integral part of her professional life for many years, leading to an extensive network with colleagues. Ms. Rohde is part of the Midwest Eurythmy Group in Chicago, working to bring about children's performances and contributions to seasonal festivals. She is committed to the larger community-building process peripheral to the classroom setting.
Ms. Rohde has a BA in English and Philosophy and certificates in Curative and Waldorf Education. She received her Eurythmy diplomas and certificates in England and German and the US.

Mary Spalding

Class Teacher


Class teacher Mary Spalding is a graduate of the Arcturus Waldorf teacher training program in Chicago. She has also completed the Association For A Healing Eduation’s (AHE) Educational Support Program. She taught lyre and painting at the Chicago Waldorf School, where she has been a longtime parent and also served for ten years on their Board of Trustees in a myriad of capacities. Prior to her involvement with Waldorf education, she spent many years working in an administrative capacity for Northview Biosciences, an independent contract testing laboratory. She received an M.F.A. in Radio, Film and Television from Northwestern University and a B.F.A. in Visual Art from the University of California, Irvine.

Sarah Vander Meulen

Class Teacher


Sarah Vander Meulen graduated from UIC with a Bachelors degree in History. She has been an active member of the Urban Prairie community both as a former board member and a teacher at City Garden. After completion of her Waldorf teacher training at Arcturus, she joined the Urban Prairie faculty as a class teacher.