“River Song has provided a truly loving, creative and nurturing environment for my daughter to thrive in her preschool years. She is well prepared for her next chapter in life, with a strong imagination and healthy confidence.” – Sunflower Room parent
Who is caring for your children? We all are!
Waldorf educators are very special people. We all come into this profession for a variety of reasons, and we all find the beauty, simplicity, and soulfulness of the Waldorf approach speaks to our vision of the world. River Song is fortunate to have a diverse staff of experienced, excellent and loving souls who hold the strongest of commitments to young children and the precious years of early childhood.
Becky Praamsma came to River Song in 2015 upon leaving a large for-profit child care center after 10+ years. She was ready to give back in a way working in the corporate world would not allow and was looking for an early learning program that better aligned with her beliefs of what is important for young children. Becky is married with 3 daughters, 2 here on earth (Hanna & Keemaya) and one watching over from above (Nella). She earned her Bachelor’s degree from Northern Michigan University in Early Childhood Education. Becky began her career teaching preschool, slowly moving her way into a Director position before moving to Colorado from Michigan in 2004. She loves hiking, reading, camping, and visiting Lake Michigan in the summertime. She has become the embodiment of the River Song Waldorf Philosophy and guides the school with a gentle, loving hand.
- Favorite children’s book: Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet & Allan Ahlberg and any of the Pettson & Findus stories by Sven Nordqvist
For inquiries about visiting or enrolling at River Song, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Claire Browning, Star Garden Lead teacher
Claire Browning is the lead teacher for our Star Garden class. Her interest in Waldorf education is rooted in years of child care experience as well as her education from the University of Oregon, where she received a B.A. in Fine Arts. After working in a Waldorf early childhood education program in Washington state for several years, she earned her Waldorf Early Childhood teaching certificate in 2017. Shortly after, she moved to Colorado to become part of the River Song family. Being a Northwest native Claire loves Colorado because of its proximity to the mountains and rivers. She is excited to continue studying anthroposophy and exploring this great state.
- Favorite children’s books: Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak & The Real Mother Goose by Blanche Fisher Wright
Hillary Menke, Star Garden Assistant teacher
Hillary grew up in a cozy little house just north of Denver. To her, home was the smell of fresh laundry, the sound of the piano, and the warm glow of flashlights in blanket forts. After an almost three-year stint of studying Opera and Theater, Hillary found that despite her love of music performance, her true calling lies in the service and care of little children. She went on to earn her B. A. in Early Childhood Education and Teaching Licensure from the University of Northern Colorado in 2019. She has since started working on her Waldorf teacher accreditation through Sound Circle Teacher Training Center in Seattle, Washington. Hillary had the joy of assisting in the Kindergarten at Mountain Sage Community School for four years and is over the moon to continue her practice and learning here at River Song. She is honored to be entrusted with the task of helping these children discover what it means to be human in their constant becoming. She strives to show our little ones that they are capable of such good, that they are worthy of love, and that the world is a miraculous place even in the face of challenges. When she’s not in the classroom, Hillary can still be found dabbling in theater and music, or wading along a river with her dear, sweet man, Mike and their dog, Roland.
- Favorite children’s books: The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett & Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
Aurora Romine, Moon Garden Lead Teacher
Aurora Romine was led into Waldorf education through her children & puppetry business as a textile artist. All her passions found a home in the Waldorf community: to guide children in freedom through their head, hands, and heart; reverence for nature & spirit; and pedagogical development. She began her anthroposophical studies and substituting at River Song in 2004. When her children were both school-aged, she finished her Waldorf teacher training at West Coast Institute and became the lead Moonflower teacher. While on her 3rd child’s ‘baby leave’ Aurora continued to mentor the teachers of River Song while also serving on the Board of Trustees. Aurora played a key role in helping to manifest our new building! She feels incredibly blessed to be doing this good work and for all the wonder and morning lovins’ each day brings.
- Favorite children’s book: A Cloak for the Dreamer by Aileen Friedman
Olivia Hill, Moon Garden Assistant Teacher
Jen Voggesser, Sun garden Lead Teacher
Jen Voggesser was born and raised in Southern Ohio, catching fire flies and exploring the forests along the banks of the the Little Miami River. She was captivated by the culture, art and music of Chicago so she moved but after some time living in the city she was ready to immerse herself in nature once again. She landed in Glenwood Springs, Colorado where she earned an Associate of Science in Professional Photography at Colorado Mountain College. It was there that she became close with the community at Waldorf on the Roaring Fork. She fell in love with Waldorf Education and began her path to becoming an educator. She moved to Boulder, Colorado and after working as a Photographer and taking time to travel, she went on to attend Naropa University earning a Bachelors in Early Childhood Education. When it was time for her to choose a place to complete her internship she knew right away that she wanted to study at a Waldorf school. She loved the soft, magical, nature based approach to educating the whole child and found what she was looking for at Blue Sky Kindergarten. During her internship she studied under some amazing women who taught her how to create magic in the classroom with storytelling, art, song and presence. They planted the seeds of circle time, festivals and nature walks that now live deeply inside of her. Jen assisted in the classroom and worked in the office at Blue Sky until the birth of her son. She slowly got back into teaching while her son was young and taught a couple of summer camps at Boulder Valley Waldorf School when it was a working farm with animals. Jen then decided to leap back into teaching and taught at a Waldorf Inspired Forrest School in Ft. Collins with her son, Koda. The classroom was the forest, they learned and played outside all day. When that ended she found River Song Waldorf and is excited to start a new adventure in teaching. She wishes to take what she has learned and create an atmosphere full of intention and wonder for children to flourish in. She now lives in Longmont, Colorado with her Husband Toby, her son Koda and their 4 chickens. She enjoys spending time with her family, photography, concert going, hiking, camping, gardening, and crafting.
- Favorite children’s books: Pelle’s New Suit by Elsa Beskow / The Tompten by Astrid Lindgren / The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsh
Abby Shifriss, Sun Garden Assistant Teacher
When Abby discovered River Song and the joys of Waldorf curriculum in spring 2018, it felt like home. She spent her childhood playing in the forests of Indiana and attending Harmony School—a community which values and respects the voices, hearts, minds, bodies and spirits of all its students equally. Abby went on to study Human Development and Family Studies at Indiana University. In 2016, she moved to Fort Collins to pursue her dream of living near the mountains. A deep connection to Mother Earth is at the root of Abby’s identity and it brings her so much joy to share that with children! She has worked with children through babysitting, a variety of summer camps, volunteering and nannying since the age of 12. She has done some training to become a birth doula and been a job coach and an advocate for adults who have disabilities (as well as for survivors of domestic violence). She has also worked for her local co-op and been a Mental Health Technician in a behavioral health facility. Throughout her various journeys, her heart continues to gently guide her back to children. Each day she spends in the classroom, she feels more inspired, creative and rejuvenated and she is filled with gratitude for the opportunity to be a part of this community. She loves to travel, go to live music, garden, read and learn, nurture her yoga practice, hike, be silly and creative and spend time with her incredible network of family and friends.
- Favorite children’s book: Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
Chelsea Hotchkiss, Kindergarten Teacher
Ms. Chelsea has spent 8 years working at River Song. She also taught at Mountain Sage Community School for a year as their homeschool enrichment assistant. Chelsea was blessed to come full circle as she had attended River song 19 years ago! Being able to teach in a school she attended herself has been a true gift. Chelsea grew up in a waldorf home environment as her mother was also a teacher who carried many classes through 6th grade. She was lucky enough to graduate from a Waldorf high school in Boulder. Shortly after high school a job came up to be a Waldorf classroom assistant at River Song. She applied immediately and River song became her home once again.
Chelsea has her Waldorf Early Childhood teaching certificate from Sound Circle in Seattle. Working with young children is a true blessing that she doesn’t take lightly. She believes we are here to nurture, love and remove obstacles so they can become who they are meant to be.
- Favorite children’s books: The Root Children by Sybille von Olfers and The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
Oheo Walker, Kindergarten Assistant Teacher
Oheo was born in a small town in New York and moved to Colorado when she was 3 years old. She became a mother to Scarlet in 2017, who is in the Moon Garden room. Oheo began subbing for River Song in 2017 and has had the privilege of working in all classes with all teachers, which has allowed her a great deal of learning from each one. Oheo’s favorite thing about teaching is hearing the children’s imaginative stories. Her biggest hobby is art of all kinds, with painting being her favorite medium. Oheo is very excited to have a permanent home at River Song and looks forward to helping Chelsea develop our kindergarten program.
Derick Otero, Afternoon Teacher
Colby Beutel, ‘Waldorf Weaver’
Colby is the mom of two grown children, Zoe is 29 and Max is 23. She was born in New York in 1961 and have lived in London- England, Westchester NY, Philadelphia-PA, and Chicago-IL. She received a BFA from PCA/University of the Arts in 1983. Her life has always revolved around bringing up her own children and working with others. Colby has been a teacher’s aid in two Chicago Public Schools working with special need children and as a one-on-one aid. She had to stop working at CPS when Zoe, at 14yrs of age, was diagnosed with stage four Hodgkins Lymphoma. From 2004-2009 she had cancer three times, two stem cell transplants and both hips replaced from radiation damage. Colby’s daughter has been cancer free for ten years and is a truly amazing person. During that time Colby became a Children’s book specialist at Borders and then the Children’s Lead at Barnes and Noble. She returned to the Chicago Waldorf School two years ago as an early childhood assistant teacher. She has always wanted to be a nursery school teacher and Waldorf is the perfect fit. She has loved being a part of Chicago’s Waldorf community and is excited to be the Weaver at River Song Waldorf School. Colby is passionate about the importance of Waldorf education in the early years and looks forward to getting to know all of you and your children. We are excited by all the wonderful activities Ms. Colby is bringing to our afternoon rhythms.
- Favorite children’s books: The Wishing Chair by Enid Blyton; My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannnett
April Kraus, Afternoon ‘Lighthouse’ Keeper
Ms. April maintains our lighthouse watch over duties supporting our lovely school. After earning her B.Sc, M.Ed, and M.Sp.Ed, April became a high school teacher, which she loved! She was also a prep school natatorium Director for many years, mentoring her passion for swimming. She has been immersed in our nurturing, nature play Waldorf Community since 2008. After taking a leave from River Song and moving to the mountains where she worked at another Waldorf school, April has since returned to us in January 2019. She delights in continuing her education and practice of the concepts, values, philosophy, and pedagogy of Waldorf education. April is devoted to all things sports, especially those water-related…open water swims, boats and floats of all kinds, even lap swimming! She was raised on the magical campus of Cranbrook School in Michigan and her heart twitters when she is at her familial home on the lake in New Hampshire. April is grateful for the companion of her 3 children, their spouses, and 5 grandchildren, all under the age of 10 and live in Fort Collins.
- Favorite children’s books: Mr. Grumpy’s Motor Car by John Burningham and Will’s Mammoth by Rafe Martin