MEET THE TEACHERS AND STAFF
Sarah Barrett, Founder/Director & Math Instructor
Sarah Barrett started The Living School in July 2015 after seeking a homeschool enrichment program for her two children that combined hands-on, nature-inspired, whole-child learning with Waldorf philosophies. After envisioning what an ideal program would look like and not finding one nearby, she decided to open a school in Orlando that offers this unique program one to two days a week for homeschoolers. Sarah is also the co-founder of the Waldorf Homeschool Conference, a local resource hosting national experts for families interested in learning Waldorf homeschooling methods.
Sarah’s educational background is in Industrial and Systems Engineering. She graduated from the #1 Industrial Engineering program in the country, Georgia Tech, and started her career with Walt Disney World.
“Given my background, I have high standards when it comes to education — especially math and science. I took math classes beyond calculus-six along with numerous science and engineering courses. I also had an interest in physics, taking several physics courses outside of my major and teaching a physics undergraduate lab. Disney recruited from my college, and I went to work in various engineering roles for Disney including managing a forecasting-and-workload team of engineers and statisticians.
It was a rule of thumb at Disney that any presentation should have more pictures on a page than words – on every page. This would make your presentation more effective. This rule even applied to the engineering teams where we were inclined to display numbers and facts! This simple rule has shaped much of my view of education, and has played a big part in what led me to discover Waldorf education. I think it’s critical for our students to be able to learn and express what they are learning using more pictures than words. It has been an effective guideline in our homeschooling, and I use it in my math classes too.”
After leaving Disney and before starting The Living School, Sarah owned a consulting company that primarily worked with internationally renowned health & fitness brands and functional medicine doctors. She has ghost-written articles, presentations, curriculum, and health programs for many clients including two NY Times best-selling authors, medical doctors, and various business leaders. She has also served as editor for two magazines.
Sarah currently homeschools her two children and loves working with Dawn and all of the Living School teachers to bring diverse educational offerings to our community.
Dawn Divine-Norman, Founder/Director & Theatre Instructor
Always on the lookout for educational opportunities for her daughter, Dawn, realized that there was a lack of hands-on, multi-aged, creatively fun, nature-inspired, whole-child centered programs in her area. She was thrilled when Sarah approached her about starting just such a program together. So, in July of 2015 they teamed up and began The Living School together. Ever since then, it has been an incredibly rewarding experience for Dawn, working with Sarah, to bring their vision to life. As their vision grew, and their love of using Waldorf Methods at home and in The Living School increased, they decided to bring more Waldorf educational opportunities to the Orlando area. So, together they also founded the Waldorf Homeschool Conference. Their dream is to one day bring The Living School and the Waldorf Homeschool Conferences to families around the country, so that every child will have an opportunity to learn in an engaging, whole-child centered, hands-on, artistically driven, and creatively fun environment.
Dawn is a graduate of Ithaca College, with a BFA in Acting. Since graduating from college she has worked as an actress in Film, TV, and Theatre. She has taught acting and dance to children ages 6 to 16. As well as directing and choreographing theatre and dance projects for children ages 6 to 16. Dawn has also taught music to children ages 8 months to 8 years old using the Music with Mar program, both in their preschool program and also running a homeschool language arts, math, and science course for K-3rd grade using the Music with Mar curriculum.
In the past Dawn has run two successful sales based businesses out of her home, but The Living School is, by far, the project that is closest to her heart. It combines her passion for education, with her love of helping children, and her desire to make sure each child has a place where they feel accepted and safe, and where they feel they belong. This is our goal at The Living School. We want our children, and all those that attend, to have a safe environment to learn and grow in, to be excited to come to each week, and that sparks a lifelong love of learning in them that will help them succeed at whatever they choose to do in life. Dawn is so grateful to be able to homeschool her daughter, and to show her, by example, that you can achieve your dream if you are willing to work hard, give back to your community and those that helped you along the way, and stay true to your heart and who you are inside. She is thrilled to share the journey of The Living School with her incredible daughter, wonderful husband, and amazing partner, Sarah. And she is grateful that the Orlando area has embraced this dream, and is helping to make The Living School a reality for her daughter and the children of our community. She is excited to see what the future holds, and what other Waldorf-based, child-led educational opportunities can be brought to our area through The Living School, The Waldorf Homeschool Conference, and the support of our amazing community!
Rachael Norris, Assistant Director
Rachael Norris is thrilled to be joining The Living School staff and excited to be a part of opening The Living School Clermont. She is excited to help bring The Living School to Clermont where it will provide a hands-on and creative learning environment to homeschool families in, and around, the area.
Rachael first discovered The Living School when her daughter began to miss learning alongside other children in a “classroom setting”. She began searching online to find a way to fill this need for her daughter. When she met with Dawn and Sarah at The Living School, and was introduced to their instructional and educational philosophies, she knew she had found something her daughter would love! Rachel’s goal through home educating her daughter is not only to give her an excellent education but to instill in her a love of learning. Thanks to the classes that The Living School offers, and their hands-on approach to education, a spark for the love of learning has been ignited in her daughter once again.
Rachael is a graduate of the University of Southern Indiana with a Bachelor of Science in Finance. She worked in the Banking and Insurance industries before deciding to take time off to be with her daughter. Rachael enjoys attending homeschooling conventions, workshops, and seminars. She has served as an Assistant Director at The Living School’s Windermere branch. Rachael is always eager to grow and learn more in her home educating journey. And she is excited to see where this next step in her journey will lead her.
Stephanie Kelly, 6&7 Year Olds’ Waldorf-inspired Instructor in Windermere and Winter Garden
Stephanie has always had a deep connection to the Arts, nature and nurturing children. Native to Northwest New Jersey she grew up involved in the community, sports and exploring the woods. Her first job at 14 was on a farm which was life-changing. It inspired healthy living, awareness and still leads her on creative adventures.
She graduated in 2003 from East Stroudsburg University in PA with a Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education with a minor in Art. After relocating to Florida that summer she began her teaching career. That career has consisted of experience in public, private and homeschool settings teaching Elementary Education K-5 and Art on all levels.
Currently she teaches Art to homeschool children from her studio. She is pursuing her own small business and is a full-time mom of three spectacular children. Stephanie likes to think of herself as a modern-day renaissance woman. “Be the reason someone smiles today” is her family’s mission.
Caroline Chomanics, Gardening and Nature Studies Instructor in Windermere and Florida Ecology and Marine Biology Instructor
Caroline Chomanics is a passionate horticulturalist in the Central Florida community, having earned her Horticulture Degree from Valencia College and is currently attending Rollins College working towards a Bachelors in Environmental Studies. She is the Environmental Educator to Nehrling Gardens, a historic botanical garden in Gotha, Florida. She previously worked at the gardens for 4 years as Caretaker, tending to 6 acres of flora including a 100 year old canopy. She is Program Manager to Fleet Farming in Audubon Park, Florida. Fleet Farming is a pedal-powered urban agriculture program that transforms underutilized land into productive farming plots while teaching the community about growing local food. She is honored to educate youth on the natural processes of the world around them and to represent the The Living School family!
Michele Bumbier, Gardening and Nature Studies Instructor
Michele Bumbier has been enthralled with Nature since she was a child. Her greatest passions are Herbalism, Sustainable Gardening, and Wholesome Living. She installs permaculture designs & raised garden beds throughout Central Florida. She has a background in Horticulture Technology & Landscape Design and a certification in Permaculture. Michele works closely with the Florida School of Holistic Living as a Garden Intern and teacher. You can be contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org and view her additional classes at http://www.holisticlivingschool.org/
Candace Martin, E-RYT, RYCT, Yoga Instructor
Candace Martin is the Founder & Director of both the Young Yogi Program (Registered
Children’s Yoga School) & Young Yogi Advocate Program, Inc. Both programs offer yoga,
wellness, and mindfulness classes and camps year round. Candace and YYP also offer a 95hr
Children’s Yoga & Mindfulness Certification through Yoga Alliance. All YYP trainings have a
strong emphasis on advocate work. Candace currently teaches at local studios including Guruv Yoga, Warrior Power Yoga & Firefly Yoga Company, and is grateful for her longtime relationship with Whole Foods Market, Phillips Crossing.
In 2013, Candace Martin & Beth Stone received a Grant from the Pollination Project, jump
starting the Young Yogi Advocate Program which now serves at-risk youth and mental health
providers in Central Florida. YYAP provides free classes, workshops and camps for those living
in marginalized and underserved communities. YYAP is committed to linking our next
generation to possibility in the community and offers free yoga certification to teens in or edging
our of advocate care.
Candace is dedicated to sharing the tools of yoga with all of her students so they can access,
uncover and shine their inherent, unique and profound light.
Sarah Greenberg, 5&6 Year Olds’ Waldorf-Inspired Instructor in Windermere, Yoga Instructor in Windermere, and Creative Writing Instructor in Winter Garden
Sarah graduated with honors from the University of Central Florida with a degree in Early Childhood Education. She has taught in public and private schools in Central Florida. Her passion for teaching children has been a constant throughout her life. Working with children and helping them explore and make connections through hands-on, creative methods is extremely important to her. Sarah is also a certified yoga instructor through the Warrior One Power Yoga Teacher Training Program and enjoys incorporating yoga, breath, meditation, and mindfulness wherever she can to set the tone for our community as a classroom. She completed training through Connection Coalition to further her yoga certification and teaches yoga programs in schools and after-school groups. She is so grateful and thrilled to be a part of the Living School team!
Candi Clark, Photography Instructor, Handiwork of World Peoples Instructor
Candi Clark is a Mom of three amazing kids with a very diverse background and love for learning. Candi has an Associate’s degree in psychology and worked as a crisis intervention counselor for the Georgia Department of Family and Children’s services. She went on to study anthropology with a focus on Mesoamerican archaeology at Georgia State University. Candi worked on archaeological sites in South Georgia with Georgia State University and Ferbank Museum of Natural History, as well as in the Yucatan Peninsula with National Geographic and Georgia State University.
Candi left the field of archaeology for less traveling to teach at a private school in Georgia, and eventually left teaching to home school her own kids “I loved traveling and being a part of something bigger than myself, but I wanted to make sure I was there for my children growing up, I didn’t want to miss that, and what better way to use my knowledge than to share it with my own children!”
Candi is now a professional photographer who owns her own business. “I was always a photographer on the side, so I knew when I decided to home school I could make it my full-time business.” Her company, Magical Pix by Candi Clark, has clients from all over the Unites States and the world who are visiting Florida. She specializes in family photography.
“I am so excited to join the team of amazing teachers at The Living School Orlando, and I can’t wait to share my love of photography, culture, and science with these kids. I truly hope to foster in them a love of learning like I have.”
Christine Cheesman, Art Instructor in Windermere
Christine Cheesman graduated from East Carolina University with a BFA in Fine Arts/Education, and a concentration in painting. She did a summer semester in Gubbio, Italy, and upon graduating college, studied with Greek artist Lisa Sotilis in Milan, Italy. In 1998, Christine began teaching in both public and private schools in Grifton, NC, and outside of Asheville, NC, before making the decision to homeschool her own children. She currently teaches private art lessons in the Winter Garden, Dr. Phillips, and Williamsburg areas of Central Florida.
Christine is humbled that she gets to help the next generation grow in their freedom of expression and the exploration of their creative selves. She loves travel, creating healthy recipes, working out, and going to the beach. Christine lives in Winter Garden, FL, with her husband, Woody, and their three children.
Samantha Soto, Archaeology and Latin Instructor
Samantha Soto is a passionate student and teacher, devoted to learning, sharing, and creating connections with the planet and with others. A student at UCF pursuing bachelor degrees in both Anthropology and Environmental Sciences, her focus has been on how human cultures of the past and present relate to the environment, and how this relationship has changed over time. She also has 4 years of Latin language and Roman history studies. With focuses on cultural anthropology, archaeology, botany, and conservation, she is excited to combine this knowledge and share it with her students.
Samantha is also a yoga instructor in the Orlando area, with years of experience teaching children. She has created several yoga and mindfulness programs for kids and has experience teaching her younger sister also, who is a happy homeschooler and student at the Living School.
She is blessed and grateful for the opportunity to connect with the students at the Living School and to hold space for them to grow, expand, and share in love and joy.
Alexis Bohrnstedt Rapp, Art Instructor in Winter Garden
Alexis Bohrnstedt Rapp currently homeschools both of her two funny and vibrant boys, while sharing this beautiful life with her partner, Mark. She graduated with both a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and a Master of Education from Rollins College and has worked with OCPS from 2001-2013 in various capacities: primary grades teacher, teacher’s assistant, Reading Coach, Arts Integration Specialist, and Professional Development Resource teacher. She has been blessed to have worked with the Developmental Studies Center (now the Center for the Collaborative Classroom) as an Educational Consultant. She also loves learning, yoga, reading, the mountains, good music, and good food. And chocolate. Lots of chocolate.
“I am extremely grateful for the learning opportunities and community that The Living School has provided for our family. I have adored the experience as a parent and am excited to learn from the staff and students as an instructor. I can’t wait to be a part of The Living School team!” ~Alexis
April Christman, Sign Language Instructor
April Christman is a graduate of the University of Central Florida with a degree in Hospitality Management. Her passion for Sign Language began in high school and she continued to study and earn certification for interpreting taking continuing education classes at Valencia Community College.
After graduation April worked in the interpreting field for 4 years at Lake Sybelia Elementary, Orange County’s magnet school for hearing impaired. She also spent multiple years interpreting for the Orlando Science Center’s summer program.
April currently homeschools both her children and looks forward to working with young students and sharing her passion for Sign Language.
Dorothea Holcomb, High School Speak to Lead Instructor, Lower School Speak Out Instructor
Before becoming a homeschool mom, Dorothea enjoyed a successful career in marketing. She worked at American Express Travel where she helped promote destinations and hotels, and this is where she discovered her love for travel and geography. After moving to Florida, she found her dream job working at Disney where she promoted the parks and resorts to various tour and travel companies, as well as planned special events for upwards of 500-1,000 people. In her career, she learned the importance of effective public speaking after being trained in the art by some Disney masters. This training is something she wished she had learned as a child and instilled in her a commitment to one day develop a program that would teach children how to have confidence and speak effectively in front of people, whether it be as few as five or a crowd of 5,000.
After leaving Disney to be a full-time mom to two boys, she rediscovered her passion for teaching. Today she is active in the homeschool community and has taught over 20 classes to homeschoolers in a variety of venues, organized and coordinated science fairs, geography expeditions, history events, and field trips. Dorothea loves creating an excitement for learning new things and teaching children of all ages. Her favorite subjects are those others consider “geek subjects”: Literature, American History, Geography, Life Skills and, of course, Public Speaking. She considers it a blessing to be able to share her knowledge and passion for homeschooling with others and is excited about this opportunity at The Living School.
Andrea Hochkeppel, Theatre Intensive Instructor, Theatre Instructor, and Chorus Instructor
Andrea Hochkeppel is a Louisiana-born performer and teacher here in the Orlando area. Andrea’s credits include performing as a lead singer for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, starring as Junie B. Jones in Junie B. Jones the Musical, and swimming the seas with Finding Nemo the Musical at Walt Disney World. She was recently seen as a featured dancer on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire.
Andrea has a degree in Musical Theatre from Northwestern University where she received extensive training in voice, acting, and dance. She has played piano, clarinet, and bassoon for over 15 years in educational, regional, and professional settings. She’s studied with the top voice teachers in Chicago and NYC and worked as a teaching assistant at Northwestern in vocal performance/singing-acting. Andrea has a multitude of experience teaching students of all ages. Her passion for teaching and her love for the performing arts is apparent in every project she takes on. She’s absolutely thrilled to be teaching at The Living School!
Amy Anderson, High School American Government Instructor
Amy grew up on the Gulf Coast of Alabama and spent her childhood playing in the woods and on the water. She homeschools her two daughters and holds a strong conviction that children (and adults, too!) need ample time for play, exploration, and that which brings them joy. Her interest in American history and politics began at an early age, but took on new depth and enthusiasm during an intense study of both the U.S. food system and our educational system. Amy is fascinated by the many intricate ways in which culture, current events, private interests, and public policy intersect and affect our individual lives. She is excited about getting to know her students and making these issues meaningful and relevant to them.
Amy studied Fine Art at Auburn University, ran a successful business as a film photographer, and spent the last four years in a snowy tundra called Massachusetts, where she taught, mentored, and learned from kids of all ages at a self-directed learning community, the Macomber Center for Self-Directed Learning. She spends her free time reading, writing, and drinking all the coffee. Amy is excited to have made a new home in sunny Florida, and feels incredibly lucky to have found The Living School!
Isaac Shtark, Gardening Instructor in Winter Garden
Isaac Shtark is a lover of learning, especially when learning can happen through our connection to the environment around us, through plants, or another spoken language.
After growing a large and abundant garden of food, flowers, and herbs in his backyard he has learned, through trial and error, as well as first hand experience, the benefits of gardening and working with plants. Teaching our youth where our food comes from, and showing them how easy it is to grow a garden with the right knowledge is a passion he feels blessed to be able to share with The Living School children!
Isaac is also fluent in Hebrew, and teaches English to children who live overseas. After living in Israel, and strengthening his fluency in Hebrew, he has seen how experiencing the world around you in another language, very different from your own, can be extremely eye opening as a child.
Isaac is a certified yoga instructor as well, with years of experience. He volunteers regularly with Fleet Farming and Orlando Permaculture. It is one of the ways he stays connected to the community of gardening and plant knowledge here in the Orlando area.
He looks forward expanding the children’s knowledge of the world around them through the language of Latin, and the language of gardening!
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” – Maimonides
Ligia Vecino, Spanish Instructor
Ligia Vecino is excited to join The Living School Orlando. She is originally from Columbia, South America, and move to the United States in 2001. She enjoys teaching students a new language, helping them to find the joy, fun, and usefulness in becoming bilingual. Ligia has taught at the Ladybird Academy in Windermere, Oakland Avenue Charter School, Berlitz Language Academy, My Kids Academy, Montessori Charter School Winter Garden, and is a Futura Language Professional. She lives in Winter Garden with her husband and two children.
Heather Parrish, Operations Manager
Heather Parrish is a creative, enthusiastic, and adventurous educator. Raised in a small town in rural Georgia, Heather learned how to garden, sheer sheep, raise quail and rabbits, and catch fish. Today she enjoys being outdoors, running, reading, tinkering, traveling, and spending time with her family. She was a National Honor Society high school graduate and earned academic scholarships to Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus, Georgia where she graduated Magna Cum Laude, majoring in Elementary Education. Heather enjoyed many leadership roles in college and returned to GSW to get her Master in Education degree in Reading and Gifted Education.
This mom of two girls is entering her tenth year of teaching students ranging from kindergarten to college age. Most recently, Heather was the Gifted Teacher and Multi-Tier System of Supports Coach at Montessori of Winter Garden Charter School, now known as Innovation Montessori Ocoee. Prior to that, Heather served as the Art Teacher to Pre-Kindergarten to sixth grade students at MWGCS, where her students raised funds for the future building for IMO. She was also part of The Living School teaching staff during it’s opening semester as Humanities & Literature Instructor. She loves working with young people who have a thirst for knowledge and has an imaginative way of engaging students in her lessons. Heather looks forward to sharing her enthusiasm for life and learning with your student!
*Background checks and reference checks are performed on all of our teachers.