IB Coordinator, Art and Design Teacher SLT
Sally Batten IB English
Jenny Taylor IB CAS, TOK, EE
Kate Hood IB Chemistry
Suzanne Van Wyk IB History
Jen O’Donnell IB French
Amy Jewson IB Maths
Suzanne Van Wyk Secondary Coordinator, SLT
Kate Hood Science Teacher, Wellbeing
Jen O’Donnell Year 7 Music, Choir
Brooke Varacalli Outdoor Ed,
Year 9 Guardian
Seamus Kavanagh Year 8 Guardian
Secondary Teacher, ICT
Josh Byrne Year 7 Guardian, Secondary Teacher
Clare Bennetts Class 1
Jacinta Walker Class 2 Teacher
Deputy Principal, Primary Coordinator,
Member of SLT
Michael Brittain Class 3
Linda Sampson Class 4
Glenn Hood Class 5
Lou Pullar Class 6
EARLY CHILDHOOD Teachers
Sandi Valerio Coordinator SLT
Taryn Baker Playgroup Leader EC Assistant
Jane Nealon EC Assistant
Ariel Stava Rosa Mundi Prep Teacher
Paul Britton Classroom Assistance,
Geoff Wright Music Coordinator IMT Guitar/Singing/Drums
Alannah Harper Music Staff
Lucy Cleeland Violin Teacher
Claire Little Music/Drama Teacher
Simon Howard Cello Teacher
Genevieve Desantis Cooking Coordinator, Library Teacher
Andrew Storrie Cooking Assistant
Peter Berenyi Literature/Numeracy Support
Kaz Wilson Education Support Sustainability, Lab Assistant
Bec Mcmillan Librarian
Fran Cummins Principal
Andrew Karzons Operations Manger
Sally Singleton Admin Officer, First Aid
Sue Plumb | IB Coordinator, Art and Design Teacher SLT
Sue has over 30 years’ experience as an educator and leader in secondary schools, both government and independent. As a specialist in Art and Design she has had extensive involvement in curriculum development and administration, working with VCCA, ACARA and TAFE. In 2019 she took on the role of IB Coordinator and worked with the Leadership Team and secondary teachers to introduce the Diploma Program to our School.
” As a practising artist/designer, I know first-hand how these activities enrich a life. Waldorf education recognises the importance of the arts as an integral part of the development of the whole person. Although we may not all aspire to become artists, the value and development of creative thought, whether it be literary, musical, dramatic or aesthetic cannot fail to expand our appreciation and understanding of the world around us. This is what I understand holistic education to mean and this is what I aim for in my teaching.”
Sally Batten | IB English
Sally has been teaching English and Literature to secondary students for over 18 years at Wesley College, Melbourne, before moving to Tolmie this year. Her path to teaching consisted of an initial four year stint at Wesley teaching junior secondary classes before leaving to complete a Masters of Arts in Australian Studies at the National Centre for Australian Studies at Monash University. She then accepted a position at the university as co-ordinator and editor of The Bibliography of Australian Literature, which was published in four volumes, as well as teaching at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels across three campuses. After some time living and working overseas, the next turn in the road saw a return to Wesley College where Sally was teaching English across Years 9-12 and, in particular, as a leading teacher in Literature in the International Baccalaureate Program. It is her involvement with the latter that led to her interest in Mansfield Steiner School as they became pioneers in this internationally recognised Years 11 and 12 program. The focus on the educational and emotional development of the individual, at the centre of both the IB and Steiner philosophies, resonated strongly. Steiner teaching also provided the opportunity for Sally to work closely with the Mansfield community, in which she and her partner now reside, and the privilege of opening the minds and hearts of her students to the challenges and power of literature. Sally is very much looking forward to embarking on what she refers to as a two year “IB World Trip” with her Year 11 Literature students in 2020.
Jenny Taylor | IB CAS, TOK, EE
Jenny has been teaching for a number of years in both the VCE and the International Baccalaureate programs and it has been an enriching experience, one where she has had the privilege of working alongside so many wonderful young people and colleagues. Jenny began her teaching career at a small community school in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where she taught English and History to Grades 5-8 students. On her return to Australia she taught at the Glen Waverley campus of Wesley College and, for the past 12 years, at MLC – teaching VCE English, Literature and Global Studies, and IB Core subjects (Theory of Knowledge, Creativity Activity and Service) and Literature, holding various positions of responsibility such as team leader, mentor to pre-service teachers and level coordinator. Jenny’s great love is the classroom – as a subject teacher with a passion for her subjects, and in being able to impart this to students. The pastoral care element is crucial – ensuring that the classroom is a place where everyone feels safe and is heard and challenged to grow. It is indeed a privilege to be a part of a student’s learning journey. This care for each person is something that is very obvious to Jenny as she comes full circle from her initial teaching in Chiang Mai and begins to work in the IB program here at Mansfield Steiner School.
Josh Byrne | Year 7 Guardian
Josh is the Year 7 Guardian and Secondary Teacher. After graduating from Monash University Josh spent 2 years teaching in London. During this time Josh became aware of the need to develop students’ attitude beyond the mere grade at the end of the year. He found ways to stretch the students’ learning beyond the dot points of the mandated curriculum and to maximise the potential of every student in his class. Josh is excited about being part of the team at Mansfield Steiner School, he enjoys the challenge of teaching across multiple disciplines and participating in the Outdoor Programme and “I can understand the huge potential that such a programme can have in the development of a student’s intellectual, spiritual and physical wellbeing”.
Amy Jewson | IB Maths
, Year 9 Maths
Amy started at the school in 2018. She specialises in Mathematics and Physical Education. She spent her first 5 years of teaching at Mentone Girls Grammar School followed by 4 years teaching and co-ordinating Maths and PE at Geelong Grammar School’s Timbertop campus. She is most passionate about helping students discover the abundance of Maths and algorithms in their everyday lives. She feels very privileged to work in a school where the curriculum framework allows her to focus on guiding the students through a journey of discovery and proving Mathematical theories for themselves. Amy has a growing interest in exposing Senior School IB students to the beauty and creativity of Mathematics; assisting them in constructing their own conceptual understanding and to develop higher levels of thinking as they relate facts, skills and topics. Amy is passionate about teaching PE students the importance of life long physical activity and the life skills and lessons that being involved in sport will bring. She believes the way we move greatly influences the way we think, feel and will.
” Maths gives us hope, that through perseverance and assistance, every problem has a solution “
Kate Hood | IB Chemistry, Science Teacher, Wellbeing
Kate has over 10 years of teaching experience specialising in Science and Student Well-being. At Mansfield Steiner School she currently teaches IB Chemistry, Secondary Science and supports students and staff throughout the school with understanding and implementing effective well-being strategies. Kate worked previously at Geelong Grammar School’s Timbertop campus in the role of Science Coordinator, Head of Unit, and Positive Education Coordinator. Her curiosity and love of learning drives her teaching practice and she endeavours to bring wonder and awe into all science classes. Strong scientific procedures allow theories to be developed and for Kate, this links to her main passion of psychology and wellbeing. Understanding how and why we learn, remember, create and develop ideas is paramount to good teaching, and Kate believes that this will occur effectively for students if they are mentally well. Along with her teaching qualifications Kate holds a Master of Applied Positive Psychology and is passionate about developing emotional literacy throughout the school. She believes that with the ability to communicate feelings comes a more empathetic and kinder community. Kate’s favourite place is anything outdoors and loves the community of Mansfield, and with her husband Glenn (Class 5 teacher), son Tom in Rosa Mundi (Prep) and daughter Gemma in Morning Star (4yo Kinder) her whole family feels grateful and privileged to be a part of the Mansfield Steiner community.
Suzanne Van Wyk | Secondary School Co-ordinator, IB History SLT
In 2019 Suzanne Van Wyk has joined the Mansfield Steiner School faculty as our first Year 10 Guardian and Secondary School Co-ordinator. With a love for hiking and the outdoors, Suzanne also brings a wealth of knowledge from her experience working as a soldier, lifeguard, nanny, outdoor educator and teacher previously teaching at SPC Alice Springs and Cathedral College in Wangaratta.
“ Rudolf Steiner emphasises that adolescents – the development phase where students are able to question the world and analyse their own place within it, is a time where it is important to have teachers and adults who can both provide a dialogue around these questions, as well as be an upstanding and exemplary community member in their lives. A unique working life has provided me the opportunity to participate in the world broadly. Joining the Mansfield Steiner community feels like coming home.”
Jen O’Donnell | IB French, Class 7 Music, Choir, Class 4, 5 & 6 French
Jen studied French, Music (piano), English Literature and Education at the University of Melbourne and has been teaching for over 25 years in many different types of schools. She has been at Mansfield Steiner School since 2007, teaching French and Music. Jen is passionate about languages and performing in the realms of theatre and live music and she still adores reading. Jen loves working with children and young people of different ages and seeing their skills and confidence grow over time. Mansfield Steiner School is special to Jen because we celebrate young people’s strengths and passions and we believe they can make a difference in this world.
Brooke Varacalli | Outdoor Ed, Year 9 Guardian,
Brooke is our first Outdoor Education teacher. She has worked in many different settings including Lauriston, Little Yarra Steiner School and more recently Sophia Mundi Steiner School. Brooke is passionate about the Outdoors and has had experience in the leadership of students in a variety of outdoor environments including hiking, white water and ski touring. Brooke is looking forward to introducing the Year 9 students to many exciting and beautiful places from the coast to the mountains.
Seamus Kavanagh | Year 8 Guardian
In the past year Seamus has been the Swiss Army Knife of our school – meaning he has had many functions. He was born in NZ and has enjoyed the many challenges of his varied role. This year he is Year 7 Guardian, Secondary ICT teacher and Class 4 teacher on a Monday. His Year 7s bake a loaf of bread to share for morning tea every day.
Clare Bennetts | Class 1 Teacher
Clare has been a teacher at the Mansfield Steiner School for five years and has started a new cycle this year with Class 1. She is excited to begin this journey with a new group of students and build on the experiences she had with her last group. Before working at this school, Clare spent three years teaching Agriculture and Geography to Year 9 students at Timbertop. She enjoys spending time exploring nature through hiking and camping and has also worked at Wollangarra Outdoor Education Centre. She also spent a semester teaching in a remote Indigenous community in the NT. Prior to her teaching career, Clare worked helping to develop Animal Welfare policies for the Department of Agriculture. Clare grew up on a farm in Barjarg and has always had a passion for working with animals. She was one of the first students at Mansfield Steiner School, when it was first established in Maindample, and she never forgot the love and dedication of the teachers and parents that created such a nurturing and inspiring place for children. Last year Clare completed a Certificate in Steiner Education through the University of the Sunshine Coast. She recalls one lesson, in particular, that suggested students didn’t need to understand everything straight away, the most important thing was that they were ‘touched’. This conversation was in the context of working with the feeling life of the child, what Steiner considered the vehicle for development for the 7-14 year old.
Jacinta Walker | Class 2 Teacher
, Deputy Principal
, Primary Coordinator, Member of SLT
Jacinta has worked in Steiner Education for over 20 years and came to Mansfield from an acting Assistant Principal role at Collingwood College. She has a passion for the philosophy behind Steiner education and strives to bring this to life in her classroom through the work she presents to the children in her class. She is always working to bring concepts to the children in a way that will awaken or enliven their imagination. Jacinta loves teaching maths and has completed professional development in helping students who are struggling to understand mathematical concepts. She also has a keen interest in music and very much enjoys bringing this to her students through classroom singing and recorder.
On weekends, Jacinta enjoys working on her small farm and learning new practical skills – like fencing and shearing sheep. She loves living in a small community where you get to know everyone over time.
Schools are all about relationships and knowing your students. Living in the same community is a huge advantage – it’s wonderful to see students at the local pool after school or at a park run on weekends. It helps us to see each individual student more clearly.
Michael Brittain | Class 3 Teacher
Michael grew up in Los Angeles. He came to Australia on a project which promoted environmental education, met his future wife and came to Steiner Education by accident. This form of education suits his passion for history and enjoys moving through the epochs in class teaching.
Linda Sampson | Class 4 Teacher
Linda has been involved in Steiner Education for over 20 years, as a parent and as a teacher. She is currently teaching Class 4 and completing her second round. She enjoys the journey of traveling with the same class as it allows for greater depth and understanding of each child. Linda believes Steiner’s education not only provides a wonderful rounded learning environment for children but also enables her, as a teacher to continue to learn and grow.
Glenn Hood | Class 5 Teacher
Glenn taught at Art, English and Outdoor Education at GGS Timbertop for five years. He enjoys the variety of the Steiner Curriculum and the long term relationship with the children.
“There are no excuses and no outs – you work with what you have and you make it work.”
Lou Pullar | Class 6 Teacher
Lou and her family spent six months sailing up the east coast of Australia. Along the way they met two Steiner graduates who were also sailing. Lou liked that they could think outside the square and that they had very different ideas about how to live life. They were free thinkers and lived beautifully.
Lou and her family moved to Mansfield for the school.
Taryn Baker | Playgroup Leader
Taryn Baker works as our playgroup leader and as an assistant in the kindergarten. She has been working at our school for a number of years in a variety of roles in the Early Childhood area.
Taryn is passionate about working at the Mansfield Steiner School as she values and supports the beauty, richness and integrity of the curriculum and philosophy.
Here at our school we have the opportunity to “Receive the child with reverence, educate him in love and let him go forth in freedom”.
Jane Nealon | EC Assistant
Jane first came to the school with her two boys because of the Playgroup and is now the Leader. Jane is a qualified Occupational Therapist and will begin her Extra Lesson training next year.
Sandi Valerio | Coordinator SLT
After being a part of other Steiner schools with my family of four children. Mansfield felt like coming home to us. The school has an essence like no other I have known. Warm, welcoming, relaxed and above all friendly.
“This school is moving forward, and I felt that our family could help pioneer this way forward“
Ariel Stava| Rosa Mundi Prep Teacher
Ariel began her teaching career with 10 years’ experience in a diverse range of public schools in Victoria and Western Australia before landing her dream job as the Prep Teacher with the Rosa Mundi Class. She has now been teaching at Mansfield Steiner School for 7 joy filled years. Ariel describes her role as challenging but extremely rewarding, as Prep being the fundamental link from Early Childhood to Class One. Every year there are so many exciting milestones to experience as the children in her care develop confidence and readiness to join the “Big School”. The careful balance of seasonal creative experiences, songs, stories and games build as the year goes by with a great sense of anticipation and curiosity for learning in her class.
Ariel is passionate about seeing young children active and healthy. A program with strong rhythm, routine and repetition allows children to develop essential brain development for future academic success. A highlight of each year is building a relationship with the garden and natural world as the children learn to care for the plants and animals reaping the rewards by way of tasty foods to try and beautiful flowers to share.
Discovering the lifelong journey of Steiner Education opened my eyes to the beauty and wonder of learning that I had been longing for.
Paul Britton | Classroom Assistance, Bus Monitor
Paul has taught at Mansfield Autism Statewide Services, as music teacher at Geelong Grammar, as well as various roles at Mansfield Steiner School including kindergarten teacher and various teacher assistant roles. In 2020 Paul is the assistant in the Rosa Mundi room and has taken on the role of Bus Monitor.
His interests are producing art works, singing and playing instruments.
Genevieve DeSantis | Cooking Coordinator
, Library Teacher
Genevieve has experience teaching in a range of schools within Victoria and overseas. Prior to moving to Mansfield in 2018 with her young family, Genevieve was teaching the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program in Singapore. As an educator, Genevieve is passionate about nurturing every child’s potential and ability and fostering positive, enquiry-based environments for children to learn, grow and thrive within. She is thrilled to be teaching at Mansfield Steiner School and to be a part of each child’s inspired learning journey, both within the Library and Kitchen Garden.
Lou Jenkins | Craft Teacher, PE Teacher, Bothmer Gym,
Lou has many roles at the school. She is Class 5 teacher on a Monday. She teaches fine motor skills in Craft to all the Primary classes and gross motor skills to the upper classes in Bothmer Gym. Lou loves all things outdoors especially surfing, horse riding and camping.
“Teaching at Mansfield Steiner allows me to teach to the whole child”.
Peter Berenyi | Literature/Numeracy Support
Peter is a strong believer in diagnostic testing rather than standardised testing. He likes leading students into mathematical processes with puzzles and problems.
I feel that the leadership and staff are self-critical and are always trying to improve educational outcomes. Each child is thought about thoroughly with the view to expand their potential and develop them as good citizens.
The sentiment is to think globally and act locally. Care and thought have gone into building and garden design. Parent participation is high and a sense of community is strong.
The curriculum with Main Lessons, performances and a world- wide network of Waldorf Schools enables a deep pedagogical belief and understanding of the educational process.
It is easy to recommend this school as a place of learning, playing and co-existing.
Jo Bell | French Prep to 3
Jo is a primary trained teacher and has taught Year 1 through to Year 9. She studied French at university and has lived in France as well as travelling there to do more study. She taught Year 9 French for a number of years at the Geelong Grammar Timbertop campus, and tutored students at a number of levels.
She is excited about teaching at Mansfield Steiner School because it is such a lovely community of people and of learners. Teaching and learning another language connects students to the broader world and contributes to the development of our young global citizens
Claire Little | Music/Drama Teacher
Claire Little has been teaching and performing music for over 20 years. She completed her Music studies at the University of Melbourne undertaking performance on Clarinet with a second study of Conducting. Claire has also played and performed on recorder and voice from an early age. To perform with authenticity, the performer must love what they do. To teach with authenticity, the teacher must love what they do. Claire’s career has always kept a balance of both disciplines and loved both disciplines. Having the opportunity to share the passion she has for performing and sharing music forms the basis of her teaching philosophy. Claire has taught right across the spectrum of school systems including working at local schools, Merrijig Primary School, St Mary’s Mansfield and Geelong Grammar’s Timbertop Campus. Having been afforded the opportunity work at Mansfield Rudolf Steiner School five years ago Claire has found a pedagogical fit to the approach she had fostered to this point. This is to enable each to child to develop and mature into their own passion-filled lives with support and nurture through Music and the Arts. She feels It is a privilege to walk beside them and help them discover, explore and reach for their dreams and ideas.
Simon Howard | Cello and bass teacher. JPO conductor.
Simon has directed ensembles and taught cello and double bass at schools all around Melbourne, from Prep to Year Twelve. He particularly enjoys arranging music for ensembles inspired by the students musical interests as well as his own. He has been a keen performer of chamber and orchestral music since secondary school including locally at the Mt Bulla Summer School for many years. In 2006 Simon had a change of direction, and studied Health Sciences. He then spent over ten years working as a paramedic. He is returning to teach music while still working with Ambulance Victoria. Simon’s experiences in ambulance have given him a new appreciation of the importance of effective education in helping young people develop strong physical, intellectual, social and emotional skills to take into the rest of their life.
Kaz Wilson | Education support
, Lab Assistant
Kaz trained as a botanist and has worked at the National Herbarium in the Melbourne Botanic Gardens and the University of Melbourne Herbarium as well as with an indigenous community investigating plants with traditional uses. She has taken photographs of pollen grains using a scanning electron microscope, collected plant specimens from all over Australia, and identified all sorts of weird and wonderful plants.
Kaz discovered Steiner education at the Ballarat Steiner School where she became a playgroup leader, assisted with craft classes, worked in the kindergarten and was involved in the parent group that looked after the school grounds. At MRSSK, she began as kinder educator and playgroup leader, then has become literacy support, library assistant and a sustainability advocate.
Kaz enjoys working with children and watching their potential unfold. She also is passionate about bringing the natural world into the hearts of children, whether that be through making nature tables, telling stories about bugs, birds or plants, rabbiting on about the benefits of mistletoe, watching birds in the school yard with an entourage decked out with small pairs of binoculars, or helping look after this planet by harvesting and sorting waste and recycling at school.
Moving with the times Kaz, has discovered eBirding (recording birds for citizen science through an app) and eBiking, and at times combines these two pastimes much to the mirth of her family, friends and herself.
Lucy Cleeland | Violin Teacher
Lucy is the violin teacher at the school. Lucy is a violin teacher and musician of the highest calibre. She studied violin under Thomas Kemp and Maciej Rakowski at the Royal Northern College of Music in England. While at RNCM she undertook her teaching degree. Lucy has much experience writing music curriculums and coordinating music events. She was awarded a grant to take her school choir to Wembley Stadium to sing at half time during a rugby world cup match. After marrying and settling in Mansfield Lucy has been very involved in community music. She has been involved in Mmudds and the MAD orchestra. Lucy has an absolute love of her instrument and wants to share her passion for music with children.
Lucy is a registered secondary, primary and early childhood teacher.
Bec McMillan | Librarian
Bec is a great storyteller as well as a lover of books. She is able to make the library a very special place for all students.
Alannah Harper | Cello Teacher
Alannah teaches cello. She is a former student of Mansfield Steiner School and was married under the Grandfather Tree in the school grounds last year.
Geoff Wright | Music Coordinator
Geoff Wright moved to Mansfield from Melbourne in 2016 with his young family, eager for a tree change. Geoff started his Instrumental Teaching career in 2007 with Musicorp Teaching Services, teaching approximately 150 students each week in a number of schools throughout Melbourne. During this time, he had the pleasure of facilitating the classroom music program at a primary school in Toorak, which included directing a musical involving 400 students in Beauty and the Beast Jr.
Geoff has a passion for students learning music, which helps them to explore and develop their creativity, self-esteem and confidence.
In his spare time, Geoff enjoys spending time with his wife and two young boys and running a music school in the town, Mansfield Music Lessons.
Pat Dowling | Gardens and Grounds
Pat is such an avid gardener that his second name is Herbaceous. He ensures our grounds and gardens are always stunning, he also gardens with the Primary classes. Pat inspires the children to get their hands in the earth and teaches them how to create a healthy environment for all.
Fran Cummins | Principal
Fran has been involved in the school for many years as a Class Teacher. Passionate about the lifelong benefits of Steiner Education and its emphasis on integrating the arts in every subject. She is excited about the introduction of the IB and the creation another option for Secondary Education in Mansfield, with the possibility that Mansfield could be a town dedicated to a diverse educational opportunity.
“At MRSSK we produce creative thinkers who will positively contribute to the making of a better world.”
Sally Singleton | Administration
Sally is the usually the first point of contact at the school. She has held many positions over the years, as a parent, playgroup facilitator, first aid person, reception and assisting with College administration.
Andrew Karzons| Operations Manger
Andrew moved from a National role in Melbourne to take on the role of Operations Manager. Andrew enjoys the variety in his position from managing school finances to rescuing swarms of bees.