Faculty & Staff

Early Childhood Faculty

Melody Birdsong-Shubert

Mixed-Age Kindergarten Teacher

Jerilyn Burke

Mixed-Age Kindergarten Teacher

Jerilyn is a world traveller and has been working in the realm of early childhood education for many years. She assisted and taught Parent-Child classes at River Valley and began her career as a kindergarten lead teacher at the Waldorf School of Philadelphia. In addition, she was an ESL teacher to young children in Japan, a nanny in France, and established a home childcare program inspired by LifeWays and Waldorf methods in Bethlehem, PA. She holds a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Humanities with concentrations in Art History, Communication Arts, and Music. Jerilyn encountered Waldorf education in 2008 soon after her first child was born. What she discovered was that this approach encompassed so much of what she loved and had been doing all along — the beauty and humanity sought through studying art history, interest in community through studies in communication, the joy of singing and the creative arts, the wonderment of nature experienced through her extensive travels, and the call to nurture others, particularly the developing child. Jerilyn is trained in Hand In Hand Parenting methods, is a LifeWays graduate and mentor, and has received WECAN certified training at the Rudolf Steiner Centre Toronto. Jerilyn enjoys writing on the topic of early childhood and is a published author.

Molly MacDonald

Early Childhood Teacher

Molly began her formal teaching working with young children with significant disabilities in 1992 and continued that work for eight years.  It was at this time that she was introduced to Waldorf education. In search of Waldorf for her own young children, she started a parent child class.  She then taught Handwork for a year and found herself pulled to River Valley Waldorf School. Molly received her Waldorf early-childhood training at Sophia’s Hearth in Keene, NH. 

Laura Muraco

Garden Gate Teacher

Grade School Faculty

Bridget Brier

Class of 2026 and 2027

Gabrielle Nembhard

Class of 2025

Gabrielle received her BS in Education with Special Education, Concentration in Math from SUNY Geneseo, which included student teaching in New York and abroad in Ghana. A Waldorf graduate herself, she spent four consecutive Summers as the assistant teacher in a Waldorf Summer Camp program for early childhood. Prior to teaching at RVWS, Gabrielle lived in Seattle, WA for several years, where she taught in grades K-8 at the Three Cedars Waldorf School. Gabrielle completed her Waldorf Teacher Training at the Sunbridge Institute. In her spare time, she loves to learn or try something new and spend time with her husband. Gabrielle has a special love for Jamaica, her husband’s home country.

Christina Hummel

Class of 2023

Christina attended a Waldorf School in Germany from kindergarten through grade five and then a public school on a Greek island from grades six through twelve. Having received her Certification in Early Childhood from Sunbridge Institute, Christina did her practicum at the Merriconeag Waldorf School. She joined River Valley in 1998 as one of its first two kindergarten teachers, moving into the grades in 2001 while pursuing her certification in Elementary Education from Antioch New England.  

Melanie Niemczura

Class of 2022

In the summer of 2009, Melanie, along with her two sons, arrived at River Valley Waldorf School to become one of our kindergarten lead teachers. Prior to joining the faculty at RVWS, Melanie taught for three years at Northern Lights, a Waldorf-initiative school in Lake Placid, NY. Melanie completed her Waldorf teacher training in Waldorf elementary and early childhood education at Antioch New England Graduate School in 2006 and also holds a BS from Pennsylvania State University.   

Rachel Howard

Class of 2021

Rachel comes to Waldorf education through her discovery and study of Waldorf since the birth of her son in 2012. A determined and passionate learner, Rachel has studied anthropology, linguistics, and is fluent in Spanish. Rachel received her BA in Linguistics from the University of Texas, teaching certificate from Pacific Oaks College Northwest, and MA in TESOL from La Universidad del Turabo in Puerto Rico. She has dedicated herself to the study of Steiner teachings and philosophy.  

Genevieve Solomon

Class of 2020

Genevieve holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and Creative Writing.  Immediately following college graduation, Genevieve fell in love with Waldorf education and moved to San Diego for her grades training.  She accepted her first position after completing her certification at the Waldorf High School in Orange County, CA.  She continued to work in Waldorf Schools after moving back to NJ to grow her family.  She loves philosophy, literature, and comparative religion.  She loves to sing and write and to spend time in nature.

Lynn Vazquez

Educational Support Teacher

Lynn began teaching at RVWS in September of 2005. Prior to that she taught at a Waldorf initiative in Wilton, CT and served as a class teacher at the Vancouver Waldorf School in North Vancouver, British Columbia. Before receiving her certification in Waldorf Education, Lynn taught mathematics to seventh and eighth grade students in an inner city public school in New York State. She received her Bachelor of Arts in History and Mathematics from Binghamton University and her Master of Science in Remedial Education from Sunbridge College. Lynn has been teaching for the past 21 years and delights in learning. Recently she became certified as an Orton-Gillingham reading specialist and has taken several courses in preparation for HANDLE screener certification. 

Specialty Subject Faculty

Jessica Alfaro

Music Teacher

Tina Quintana

Handwork Teacher

Sharon Ferguson

4th – 8th grade fine arts; select middle school main lesson blocks

Sharon earned her BA from Western Maryland College, with a dual major of Fine Arts Sculpture and Communications and a minor in French. After graduation, she continued with coursework in various fields and disciplines while working full time as a graphic designer in educational publishing. Sharon’s first experience with River Valley’s community was in the fall of 2002 in the parent-child classes and she has been involved in faculty work ever since. In those 13 years, she has acted as Pre-K and Kindergarten Assistant, Aftercare lead teacher, Handwork Teacher, Seventh Grade Class Teacher, Grades Block Lesson Teacher and Fine Arts Teacher. 

Ellyn Siftar

Woodworking Teacher

Josh Laker

Sports & Games and After-school program

Administration

Erica Nichols

Admissions and Outreach Coordinator

Erica began her career in admissions and outreach by opening a martial arts school with her husband in 2006 after graduation from Rutgers University with a degree in Psychology. She came to River Valley first as a parent, drawn to Waldorf education out of a deep recognition that it is what her child needed. After being involved in many aspects of school life, festivals, auctions and parent council, she joined the staff as Admissions and Outreach Coordinator in 2019.

Reeve Kelly

Business Administrator

Reeve’s professional background is entrepreneurial, providing business consulting for public schools. She first became interested in alternatives to the traditional educational model during her work at Hurricane Island Outward Bound School in Rockland Maine. She received her BA in English Literature from Rutgers University. After graduating, she worked with public schools to manage the business side, and eventually co-founded a software start-up. Throughout that time, she sought a different experience for her own young children, eventually learning about Waldorf education and River Valley Waldorf School from a family friend.   

Patrick Janssen

Buildings and Grounds Coordinator

Charlene Chapman

Bookkeeper

Robbie Miller

Administrative Assistant

Robbie grew up outside of Philadelphia and received a BA in journalism from New York University. She lived in New Mexico for many years during which time her sister was one of the founders of Golden Circle Kindergarten and, in fact, her niece and nephews were among its first kindergarteners. On frequent visits home she visited Golden Circle and after she moved back to Pennsylvania, was asked to join the River Valley Waldorf School Board of Trustees in 1999.

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610-982-5606
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