FIRST GRADE: Catherine Dixon
After graduating her first 8th grade class in June 2016, Catherine will be the First Grade class teacher this fall in her fifth year at the school. She grew up in Washington, D.C. and attended the Washington Waldorf School for several years. She received her BA from the University of Vermont and spent her junior year in Athens, Greece. Her first teaching job was in an inner city school in Baltimore where for two years she pioneered a pilot program, teaching health, cooking, and cultural studies to 8th graders. Then she moved to New Hampshire and enrolled in Antioch University’s 12-month Masters in Elementary Education and Waldorf Teacher Training Program. Her passions include canoeing, soccer, tennis, skiing, singing, swimming, cooking, farming, and camping in the wilderness of Quebec and Labrador.
SECOND GRADE: Jen Franczak-Vogel
Jen has been a longstanding member of our greater Waldorf community as a parent and early childhood teacher, and we were thrilled to welcome her to our faculty last year. She came to the position of first grade teacher with 10 years experience both as an early childhood teacher and a grades teacher. From 2011 until June 2015 she ran The Open Door pre-school, one of our Waldorf–based early childhood programs here in Ashland. Prior to creating her own pre-school, Jen taught at Willow Wind Community Learning Center and at Children’s World Montessori. As her interest in Waldorf pedagogy grew, she decided to enroll in the Waldorf teacher-training program at the Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks, CA. She completed her coursework in June 2015. Jen also has a Masters in Teaching from SOU. Her two daughters are in 2nd and 5th grades. Jen loves to cook nutritious meals for friends and family and run long distances!
THIRD GRADE: Ghigs Razi
Ghigs Razi is one of the school’s founding class teachers, now in her 13th year with the Siskiyou School. She joined during the “pod years” and served on the Board of the Siskiyou Initiative that brought the new school into being. She took her first class from fourth to eighth and then another from fifth to eighth. Upon graduating her second class and serving as First Grade Class Assistant for a year, she decided to pick up a third class at the very beginning, in first grade. Ghigs is now in her third year with her new class. She enjoys reconnecting with middle schoolers when teaching her weekly 8th grade current events and helping with 8th grade projects. She graduated from Colorado College and did her Waldorf training at the Rudolf Steiner College in Sacramento. She grew up in Washington, DC, and Maine and attended Waldorf school for most of her elementary years. She and her partner, Michael, have two girls: Juniper, 6, and Grace, 3.
FOURTH GRADE: Ronan Dunphy
Ronan’s bio is coming soon!
FIFTH GRADE: Gregory Beech
Gregory has been working in Waldorf education for the past twelve years and is very happy to be at the Siskiyou School. He began as an elementary teacher serving for eight years at City of Lakes Waldorf School in Minneapolis, and recently taught humanities and history for three years at Tara Performing Arts High School in Boulder, Colorado. He appreciates the Yeats quote, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire,” believing that inspiring students to seek and learn through experience opens their world to all great gifts. Originally from Minnesota, Gregory graduated from the University of Minnesota Morris with a degree in English and theatre arts, later earning an MFA from Rutgers University. He received Waldorf teacher training from Arcturus Rudolf Steiner Education Program in Chicago and continues to study and deepen his teaching. He is a musician, theatre artist, painter, and sculptor. Gregory has two grown children, a son, Graham, and a daughter, Breana, both living in Minnesota. Gregory lives in Ashland with his wife, Adderly.
SIXTH GRADE: Javier Alvarez
Javier Alvarez began his teaching career at the San Francisco Waldorf High School in 1999. Inspired by the quality of work, clarity of thoughts, and loving nature of those high school students, he found his calling as a Waldorf teacher. Javier completed his teacher training in 2005 and graduated his first class from Summerfield Waldorf School in 2007. Javier was born in Mexico City, grew up in the Philadelphia area, and graduated from the University of North Carolina. After a few years in Taos, New Mexico, he is thrilled to be living in Ashland and sharing his passion for Waldorf education with the Siskiyou School community. Javier enjoys exploring the outdoors in search of pristine swimming holes, breathtaking vistas, and fresh powder. Javier is blessed with two magical daughters, Luna and Mercy.
SEVENTH GRADE: Kelly Shelstad
Kelly’s bio is coming soon!
EIGHTH GRADE: Ben Gaskin
Ben joined the Siskiyou School staff as the first grade teacher of the Cedar Class in September 2009. He had recently moved to Ashland from the island of Kauai where he was a class teacher and a beloved member of the Kauai Waldorf school community for eight years. Ben started his teaching career in the public schools after receiving his BA from Colorado State University and his teaching license in Denver in the mid 90s. After discovering Waldorf education while visiting Kauai, he underwent three years of professional development, mentorship, and training to become versed in Waldorf methodology and pedagogy. In addition to teaching, Ben is also a performing songwriter and musician on various instruments, including ukulele, banjo, guitar and piano. He teaches ukulele to many of our students at the Siskiyou School. His other passions include hockey, tennis, his beloved dog, Makai, and his wife, Mia.