Faculty and Staff 2018-2019

Erica Banda

Sugar Maples Kindergarten Lead Teacher 

Erica grew up in a small town in Wisconsin.  After receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from UW-Milwaukee in 2005, she began her exploration of Waldorf education and became an assistant in a Waldorf Kindergarten.  Her interest in this model for education sufficiently piqued, Erica moved to Eugene, OR to immerse herself in the Waldorf Teacher Training program.  Her graduation from that program in 2008 coincided with the birth of her first son.  Since then she has worked in Waldorf education in Seattle, relocated back to Wisconsin, birthed two more children, developed and operated a Lifeways program, all the while focusing on supporting and building a strong Waldorf community in Madison.

Erica feels incredibly fortunate to be leading the Sugar Maples class.  While out in nature with her class, she is consistently overwhelmed with gratitude for the opportunity to facilitate such a unique and nourishing educational environment for the children and herself.  Erica loves yoga, dancing, family, and self discovery.

Nina Bell

Sunflower Kindergarten Lead Teacher

“It is an honor to work with the children in my care, to be a part of the magic and wonderment of childhood, and a guide and guardian of light worthy of their imitation. I strive to meet each child and family where they are with a warm and open heart.”

A Florida native, Nina was born and raised in sunny Ft. Lauderdale and is the third of five children in a very close family. As a graduate of The Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale and The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, Los Angeles, she worked for several years in the fashion industry and served as a nanny for families in the entertainment industry in the greater Los Angeles area. Though still passionate about apparel design, she decided to answer her true calling to work with the purest of hearts and their families and began a career in Early Childhood Education.

While working professionally for over 15 years with children age 6 weeks to 12 years, Nina has accumulated extensive continuing education and professional development credits in Early Childhood, School-Age and Waldorf Education fields. She is currently in the enrollment process for the Waldorf Early Childhood Teacher Education completion track at Sunbridge Institute.

Her desire to serve in a heart-centered, awakened community led her to Madison Waldorf School. She is living her dream as both the Sunflower Kindergarten teacher and a Waldorf parent, with her daughter also attending MWS. Nina loves traveling and exploring the world, spending time with her family, creating art and communing with nature.

Rasha DeIuliis

After School Program Director

A Wisconsin native, Rasha has always been passionate about art and creativity. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in 2014 and moved to Madison shortly after. She worked several odd jobs for a few years including a seasonal artist at a whiteboard animation company, a falafel slinger in a food cart, and a restaurant manager. All of these she enjoyed, but it wasn’t until she became a volunteer Children’s Advocate through DAIS (Domestic Abuse Intervention Services) in Madison that she discovered her passion for working with children.

From there she sought a position in a school environment and was hired as an after school program assistant at Madison Community Montessori School in 2017. Through her work with MCMS, Rasha became passionate about early childhood education and interested in the Waldorf philosophy.
“As soon as I toured the school I knew I wanted to work here. I am so excited to be joining the MWS family.”

In her spare time, Rasha enjoys painting, drawing, reading, and spending time with friends and family.

Jo Drury

German Teacher

Jo Drury grew up in Wisconsin and graduated from the UW at Madison. She also spent 11 years in Germany and while there attended a vocational school and completed an apprenticeship in the prepress field. After working in that area for many years, she decided to return to the US and continue her university education and became a licensed German teacher.

Currently, she works part-time at Madison Waldorf School, teaches at a German afterschool program and works part-time in a manufacturing company doing prepress work, as well as user-manual editing, in addition to other projects. Ms. Drury or Frau Drury as the students call her, thoroughly enjoys teaching the children the language and culture of the German speaking countries and values her time with the children. In her free time, she plays indoor soccer, listens to podcasts, enjoys her cats and likes to travel.

Ray Eckenstein

Grade 5/6 Class Teacher

Ray Eckenstein grew up surrounded by a family of teachers in Urbana, Illinois, home of the University of Illinois. Ray graduated from Columbia University, where he studied Earth Science, Statistics and Epidemiology.  Upon returning to the Midwest, Ray trained as a math teacher in the Milwaukee Public Schools’ Proficiency Based Teaching program. After teaching for 4 years in a variety of schools around the Milwaukee and Madison areas, Ray took time off to be a full-time Dad after his children Rhys and Abby were born.  Ray is now the math specialist teacher for the upper grades at Madison Waldorf School. His hobbies include making pottery and playing the ukulele.

Cherity Foat

Grade 3/4 Class Teacher

Teaching in the Waldorf classroom is a daily exercise of love and commitment. I always share with the children that each day is a new day, and that we have a new opportunity to do our best.  Working with the children in my care the past few years has been exciting, creative and at times humbling. It is the hardest work I have ever done, but also the most gratifying, seeing the daily successes and triumphs of each child over the years. This success could be finishing their first chapter book, painting their best watercolor, running their heart out at pentathlon or presenting a project to the class. Teaching at Madison Waldorf School inspires me to be my best every day and to see the potential in each student.

Cherity holds a B.A. in both Spanish and Latin American Studies from Rockford University and an M.A. in Latin American Studies, with a concentration in History, from the University of New Mexico. She received her Waldorf Teaching Certificate from the Great Lakes Waldorf Institute. She has worked for the past 10 years in education and the past 7 as a class teacher.  She is passionate about the potential of each child, and the ability of Waldorf education to allow for those qualities to be discovered and fostered. In her free time she loves to read, speak Spanish and Greek, cook, walk, garden, travel and spend time with her family.

Michael J Kass

Grade 7/8 Class Teacher

Michael was born and raised in Bloomington, MN, where he learned to value family and winter. After high school, he studied mechanical engineering in Duluth, MN, before graduating with degrees in History, Social Sciences and Secondary Education from UW-River Falls. Michael’s love for the outdoors and commitment to disadvantaged youth lead him to a career as an expeditionary educator with at-risk teenagers for over 20 years. He finished his 26 year career with the State of Wisconsin, working with forensic patients at Mendota Mental Health Institute.

Michael and his wife have raised six children. Their youngest, Thomas is a 4th grader at the Madison Waldorf School. Michael’s passions include travel, backpacking, skiing, coaching and woodworking. His love of woodworking began as a youth in his father’s workshop. He has worked part-time as a licensed contractor, specializing in home remodeling for the last decade.

Michael joined the staff at the Madison Waldorf School in the fall of 2016. He has enjoyed helping to develop the Sugar Maples curriculum. He also appreciates working alongside teachers who see and respect the sacredness of every child.

Aleksandra Martinka

Sunflower Kindergarten Assistant Teacher

Aleksandra grew up in Gdańsk, Poland, where her childhood memories revolve around outdoor time spent in the woods or by the shores of the Baltic Sea. She received a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Aleksandra first learned about Waldorf education in 2003 while searching for a special place for her young daughter. She was inspired by the teachers of the Great Oaks School in the Chicago area to deepen her understanding of child development. She moved to Wisconsin and finished Lifeways Early Childhood training in Milwaukee.

Here in Madison, Aleksandra spent many years leading an outdoor program for young children at The Orchard Lifeways Center, following Waldorf principles. In her free time she enjoys being in nature, where she gladly helps the many wild animals that come to her in need of care. Aleksandra has two children, one of whom attends the MWS.

Kathy McAleese

EC Chair, Faculty Co-Chair

Kathy was one of the founding teachers at Madison Waldorf School. She taught kindergarten for twelve years, and has been a faculty chair for the past five years. Previously, she taught grades 1-3, led parent-child playgroups, and has served as a board member and leader in the Madison Waldorf community since 1996.

Kathy has a Masters degree in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin. She completed summer intensives for teaching grades 1-4 at Sunbridge College in NY, coursework at Arcturus in Chicago, and early childhood courses through the Great Lakes Waldorf Institute. Most recently, Kathy has been enrolled in the Educational Support Teacher certificate program in Ann Arbor, MI.

Kathy is passionate about providing an education that fosters creativity and a love for learning, and one that encourages students to embrace their gifts and transform their challenges so that they may grow to serve the world with strength, compassion, and a deep sense of purpose.

She and her husband have six children, most of them now young adults. Their youngest son attends grade school at MWS. Kathy loves spending time with family, cooking, running, hiking, travel and poetry.

Sarah Meyers

Grade 1/2 Class teacher


Sarah has been involved in the Waldorf school movement since 2001, when she became a student of anthroposophy and Waldorf methods at the Eugene Waldorf Teacher Training program in Eugene, OR. Upon receiving her teaching certificate, she moved across the country to Washington DC, where she spent seven years as a class teacher at the Washington Waldorf School in Bethesda, MD and another two at the Potomac Crescent Waldorf School in Arlington, VA. Though she enjoyed living in the nation’s capitol, she yearned to be closer to her friends, family, and the man she was to marry. So in 2012, she moved back to her home state of Wisconsin, where she joined MWS as a class teacher.

Kerstin Smith


Specialty Teacher and Parent Liaison

Kerstin is a passionate childbirth advocate, educator, doula, healer, speaker and author. She sees all of life as sacred and works toward healing and wholeness in all she does. Kerstin has worked in colleges, churches, and schools in a variety of positions and with various age groups. Her adventures have taken her to multiple states and countries, but nothing has been more formative than parenting her three children.

As the oldest of six kids she has been in the role of caregiver and teacher for as long as she can remember and enjoys witnessing the growth of the whole person. This led to the pursuit of a Music Education degree and studies in Theater as well as a Pastoral Ministry degree and an MA in Theology with an emphasis on the Liturgical Arts from the Franciscan School of Theology at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA. These studies are most fully expressed in her zeal for ritual and creating sacred space. Her work as a healer through Reiki, the Enneagram, and EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and companioning people in their trauma and pain gives evidence to, as well as continues to cultivate her sense of empathy and ability to relate to daily challenges and meeting people where they are at in her parent liaison role. She enjoys working with the coming of age curriculum at our school and weaving in real life stories of childbirth and healing for our students. She also works with class plays and directs/choreographs the Summer Stage experience, an intergenerational musical open to all.

Kerstin currently has several publications with LTP, teaches at Edgewood College, and is the founder of LiveFRē.com and GentleSurge.com.
She loves the outdoors and can often be found on family hikes.