Our Team

Jody Lukas

Lead Education Consultant

  • BA:1 (Hons) Primary Education Studies with Qualified Teacher Status – University of Wales, Newport
  • Certificate in Steiner Waldorf Education – West of England Steiner Teacher Training

Jody Lukas

As an experienced Waldorf teacher, I joined the VFS team at its inception and have acted as Educational Lead and Elementary Class Teacher for the past two years. While taking a break from class teaching to study, travel and support other schools this year, I will be acting as Educational Consultant and Mentor for VFS and continuing to support its growth and development from afar.

During my sixteen years as a teacher, I have been fortunate to work with a diverse range of incredible children in a wide variety of educational contexts: these include various mainstream primary schools; a secondary comprehensive; a Camphill Community school for students with additional educational needs; and prior to VFS, one of Britain’s oldest independent Waldorf Schools. During this time, I have come to discern what is most important to me and have discovered that it is educating young people towards freedom and enabling them to feel truly seen and valued. The words of Rudolf Steiner capture my sentiments best, he said, "Our highest endeavor must be to develop free human beings who are able of themselves to impart purpose and direction to their lives. The need for imagination, a sense of truth, and a feeling of responsibility - these three forces are the very nerve of education." Consequently, I pride myself on working creatively and out of a sound understanding of child development to engender in children a sense of awe, wonder and guardianship for the world. The beautiful natural setting of the Village Forest School provides the perfect backdrop for the holistic, health-giving Waldorf Education which I wholeheartedly believe in and we have achieved a great deal in our first years.

In addition to my role as class teacher, I had previously worked as a leader and member of middle management in several areas in the wider school context; these included mentorship & training, safeguarding & child protection, recruitment, differentiation & moderation, literacy co-ordination, and policy writing. This experience has helped me to lead the formation of VFS with strong foundations for further growth. I consider it a special privilege to continue working with staff, parents and the wider community to realize the long term dreams for this venture.

Siva Shankari

Middle School Lead Teacher

Siva

  • Bachelors in Botany and Masters in Microbiology
  • Bachelors in Special Education

Having been associated with the Waldorf Education system and the principles of Anthroposophy for the past 9 years as a parent and an educator, I relate strongly with the words of Rudolf Steiner: ‘Receive the children in reverence, educate them in love, and send them forth in freedom.’ As an educator with more than 5 years of distinguished teaching experience, working with primary, middle and high school children has been a wonderful opportunity to learn, unlearn and relearn the aspects of facilitating the process of learning in children. A profound feeling of being there for the children, their parents and the teaching community has enriched me as an educator, a parent and an individual.

Facilitating the process of learning in children with joy and enthusiasm is a gratifying experience. I have taught children in varied settings focusing on experiential, student-centred learning and differential instruction that enables engaging and wholesome learning experience. I believe that education should nurture the curiosity of children and allow them to go out into the world as free thinkers. I have undeniably enjoyed the process of building the curriculum for middle and high school. When I am not working, I love getting lost in reading or getting creative with colours.

Before becoming an active participant in the field of education, I have been working in the e-publishing industry for more than a decade as a language editor and a trainer in the editorial department. I have dealt with a wide range of academic materials including journals, books, encyclopaedias, question banks, theses and newsletters. I have compiled a couple of books for universities on communication skills for undergraduates.

I am thrilled about the journey that I will be embarking upon with the Village Forest School community.

Jéssica Juliana Commandulli

(Bilingual)

Middle School Assistant Teacher

Jéssica Juliana Commandulli

  • Bachelors in Geography
  • Attendant student at Mario Conti Training School for Steiner-Waldorf Teachers

Graduated as a Geographer, my first step into a class room as a teacher was at the beginning of the university and it was thrilled. I was born in Brazil and grew up in a city called Joinville, my curiosity brought me to learn more about the world and my Italian roots. Through friends I first heard about Anthroposophy and together we introduced our city to the Steiner Waldorf Education by organizing occasional events, workshops, and summer camps. From this experience, Relicario de Luz kindergarten was born, which is now a Steiner Waldorf School with many students and still growing strong.

Since I was child I always dreaming about live abroad. After the university I decided to do a year of voluntary job and I moved to Duffcaring Camphill Community in Ireland. Camphill is a worldwide movement that follows the principles of Rudolf Steiner's philosophy for persons with additional needs. Living in the Camphill farm was the most incredible experience I ever had and connected me with volunteers from all over the world, on a life-sharing basis.

The farm life in Ireland always reminded me of the time I was in high school when I enjoyed the days with my friends studying in a farm school. Running to pick up a pig, cleaning the mess of the chickens, watering the plants, fishing for fun, and learning from our experiences.

I have been attending the Steiner Waldorf training in Milan and the course brings so much joy on my days. After few years working as an IT consultant I start searching for a way to deepen my knowledge and my practice on Steiner Waldorf Education. I'm really happy to be part of that great community that allows me to express my natural talents every day. I always believed that education is the unique way in which we can strive all for a better world.

Gabrielle Hudson

Elementary School Lead Teacher

Gabrielle Hudson

  • BA Hons Early Childhood Studies – University of Northampton
  • Post Graduate Certificate in Education – Bath Spa University

I have worked with children in a variety of roles for over 10 years, including as a Kindergarten Assistant in an inner city Steiner Academy, in a private nursery, as a nanny and as a mainstream Class Teacher in inner London for the past 4 years. My first taste of teaching came long before I trained as teacher, as I used to teach children natural horsemanship when I was a teenager.

Throughout my time working with and educating children, I have taken an active interest in Waldorf education and incorporated Rudolf Steiner’s educational philosophy into my studies and professional practice as far as possible. I have a great reverence for nature, and it has been an honour to share this with the children I have taught, many of whom arrive in my classroom worried about getting their hands dirty and by the end of the school year are proudly presenting a new insect they have discovered, a useful stick they have found or an especially beautiful leaf for the nature table.

My principles as a teacher are predominantly based on building mutually respectful relationships, valuing and celebrating the unique qualities of each child, developing the skills for learning how to learn and ensuring learning is consistently engaging, inspiring and relevant. In a world where we are educating children for jobs we cannot yet imagine, it is more important than ever to support them in finding their inner strength, fostering their creativity and nurturing healthy lifestyles. This is what has drawn me to Village Forest School, Montaldo.

When I am not teaching, I can generally be found outside riding horses through Epping Forest come rain or shine. As someone who was born into a Camphill Community, brought up in Stroud and attended a Steiner school myself, being outdoors is a big part of my life. I also believe that nature offers a vast amount of learning opportunities, and I am excited to explore and learn about Montaldo in all its richness. I also enjoy reading, playing my flute, working on various crafts and baking cakes. I am excited to wave goodbye to city life (which has never really suited me) and join the Village Forest School community.

Paola Mondati

(Bilingual)

Elementary Bilingual Assistant

Paola Mondati

  • Early childhood Waldorf certificate - Level 5

I was born in Senigallia, Italy, my babbo Italian and my mamma British. As a teenager, I dreamt of travelling the world to encounter as many cultures and people as possible.

When I finished my studies in Italy, I moved to the UK and I studied at Cambridge University. From there I travelled to South Africa to backpack the country. I completely fell in love with this country, so much so as to spend 21 years there. In Cape Town I met my husband, Bruce; Noah, our son, was born in 2012. I also discovered Anthroposophy and Waldorf education.

While being a full time mum and becoming as involved as I could in Noah's school, I was given the opportunity to work with children in the pre-primary aftercare. I felt that I had finally met my destiny! I, then, decided to widen my knowledge and experience as a teacher by enrolling at the Centre for Creative Education in Cape Town (Waldorf teachers' training centre in South Africa) where I obtained my Early Childhood certificate.

Bruce and I had dreams and many talks about coming back to Italy and finding a community that we could call home... well, sometimes dreams do come true!

Every day in the classroom allows me to look a little deeper within myself and my potentials as a human being. I strive to improve and learn from my experiences and challenges. I am deeply committed to children's wellbeing and I believe that Waldorf education is the education of the future.

Some of my favourite things to do are being outdoors, Yoga, cooking and baking. I am a big animal lover!

We are super excited to be joining the Village Forest School's family!!!

Adam Clark

Elementary (Robinia) Teacher

Adam

I am a Waldorf teacher with 14 years experience. I have taken a class from Class 1, when they were aged 6 and 7 to Class 8 when they are aged 13 and 14. This was such a special journey for me. I felt privileged to watch the children grow and help them become confident and resilient adolescents, full of a sense of adventure with a deep appreciation of nature. During my time as a teacher I also took management roles and was involved in recruitment, safeguarding. I hope to put the skills that I have learned in these areas to good effect at the Village Forest School.

It is very important for me to have a dialogue with parents and guardians of the pupils in my care as this relationship helps the one I have with the children each day. There are many ups and downs during a child’s life at school and helping them to navigate them means the adults need to be in communication also!

Before teaching I was involved in the growing and cooking of food in many different ways. I helped to set up the Local Stroud Community Agriculture which is still going strong. I cooked in many different settings and favoured local, organic produce whenever possible. Prior to this I lived for 5 years in Camphill communities for adults with additional needs, hand milking cows, making cheese, bread and butter. I also worked in the Catskill Mountains in New York state on a summer programme for children with additional needs.

I am a keen swimmer, play any kind of sport (perhaps not skydiving though!) and love to get stuck into a good novel. I am really enjoying getting to know the local hills and valleys on the weekends. Being part of an exciting new venture is great, with the daily challenges and ‘magic moments’. I look forward to helping grow the school so that it reaches maturity, like the children, strong, confident and with a big heart!

Irene Riccioni

(Bilingual)

Elementary (Robinia) Support Teacher

Irene Riccioni

I am a native Italian speaker with a diverse array of skills and work experience. After finishing my translation and literature studies in Italy and France, I moved to Amsterdam, where I worked as a consultant, advisor, seller and process specialist for small to medium-sized international companies. I spent the last 3 years in Barcelona, where I helped build and define retail processes for a clothing brand which aims to promote slow and sustainable fashion. I have always been thrilled to work in multicultural environments and wanted to integrate travel and discovery into my personal and working experience, as well as the practice of foreign languages.

During the past 10 years I had the chance to work with children of most ages in different countries and environments. I have 2 years experience as a children's events organizer and entertainer in Rome, I was a volunteer Childcare assistant and teacher during a stay in Quito, Ecuador. I have also been a drawing teacher assistant for adolescents in Boston. Working with children has always been the happiest and rewarding experience for me, and I am now planning to focus on expanding my knowledge in the field of child development and education.

I have a very creative mindset, and I believe that integrating arts and creativity into the schooling experience is very important. Drawing has always been my passion, yet I enjoy exploring art in many forms. I love painting with different colors and materials, pottering, collages, photography. I have recently started to crochet and embroider clothing items.

I thrive in environments that align with my passion and values and feel that Village Forest School is a perfect fit. Looking forward to joining the family!

Serena Salvadori

(Bilingual)

Kindergarten (Ciliegio) Teacher

Serena Salvadori

I am a qualified Steiner Waldorf kindergarten teacher.

I moved to England 7 years ago to improve my English and to work as au pair in a bilingual family. I attended the NESWEC programme and in November 2017 I completed the NCFE CACHE Level 4 Diploma in Steiner Waldorf Early Years Childhood Studies. In 2019 I completed the NCFE CACHE Level 5 Diploma – Leadership and Management. After the au pair position I worked in a nursery with children ages 0-4 in a nursery in Birmingham.

I worked in Elmfield Steiner School as a Kindergarten Assistant specialising in special educational needs (SEN) with a little boy with disabilities. This job was very challenging but incredibly rewarding from both a human perspective and a professional point of view, providing me with a greater understanding of the difficulties some children face during their early years and how to create a supportive and nourishing environment in which to grow. Recently I've been working as a Steiner Waldorf inspired nanny for a family in Birmingham (UK) with a toddler.

I think that the possibility of following step by step the adventure of a child's growing path is a great privilege. It is a gift being able to take part in their lives, helping them to discover the world around them, leaving lots of room for creativity, imagination and freedom. I also believe children can teach adults love, patience, friendship, the virtue and the value of time and remind you how to have fun!

I love running, knitting and birdwatching. I'm really excited about being part of the Village Forest School, it's going to be a fantastic adventure!

Alessia Callegher

Kindergarten Assistant Teacher

Alessia Callegher

I am Alessia and I live in Montemagno, a small town not far from here where I was born and raised. I attended the High School of Social Sciences and during the summer I always worked as an animator in the summer centre organised by the parish of my village.

In 2016 I graduated from the University of Turin in Science of Education and from that moment I turned my passion into my real job. I thus started working in a traditional private parish school, becoming teacher of many joyful and bouncy little children. Within the structure during the the first year, I was a childcare assistant (with children aged 3 to 6 years) and later an educator (with children from 14 months to 3 years). Afterwards, I worked for 3 years in another public school in the "spring section".

With time, however, I began to feel that the traditional school was a bit distant from me and my lifestyle and therefore I decided to change and upset my habits. I thus embarked on a small adventure in a summer centre in the forest, an experience that helped me grow as a person and as an educator. We built huts, created totem poles, went for walks and realised how important it was to to respect nature. From that moment on, I realised that this could be the right path for me and right path for me and.... now I am here, in this magical place. I can't wait to see the children play and learn in an environment far removed from the traditional idea of a school!

My passions include walking, hiking and snowshoeing in the mountains, skiing, reading and cooking. I am certainly not a cook, but I love preparing new dishes and experiment for my friends and family. I also dabble in creating gifts, cards with recycled materials.

Simona Beretta

VFS Administrator

Simona Beretta

I am Simona, first and foremost mother of two wonderful children - Leonardo and Matilda.

For many years wine has been the object of my work as an export logistician in local wine producers.

I had long felt the need to put what life and work had taught me in a project related to human growth. A dear friend led me to meet first Lucie and Ronan, then Summer and Fabrizio, and it was love at first sight for me. The yurts, the community, the nature, the children, the teachers... Village Forest School is a magical place where I feel happy and at ease. I am involved with the founders and teachers in the organizational, administrative and financial aspects of the school, and passionately hope to contribute - though not directly - to the growth of strong, knowledgeable individuals who can bring signs of positivity, awareness and health to the environments in which they will live.

Sara Pfaff

Bi-Lingual Consultant

Sara Pfaff

Sara comes to the Village Forest School with several years experience in early childhood bilingual education. As the coordinator and founder of a bilingual program at an Italian preschool she has direct experience with children aged 3 to 6 years old in the field of language acquisition at an early age. Sara's teaching philosophy focuses on learning a second language through play, storytelling and song as well as context based language learning. As the mother of two young children, she also has direct experience raising children in a bilingual home. Sara is excited to combine her experience and expertise in bilingualism with the Village Forest School's outdoor learning Steiner based education model. Learning by doing is the perfect compliment to learning a second language.

Sophie Crichton-Stuart

School Chef

Sophie Crichton-Stuart

I grew up in the Oxfordshire countryside but then began a long love affair with London where I studied, initially Physics and then Art History at university. In my heart it’s been my home ever since, although I’ve also taken long breaks to travel, including two years teaching English in Japan and then an around-the-world trip. More recently I have lived in Singapore and travelled the length and breadth of South America. My husband and I are now hungry for a new cultural adventure to share with our children.

Prior to starting a family in 2014, I worked in a number of fast-paced roles in the financial services industry, but over time struggled to find the balance needed to feel healthy and happy. So when my son was born I seized the opportunity to pursue two long-held passions in food and human health. I spent three years retraining as a nutritionist at the College of Naturopathic Medicine in London and have since been running a private practice specialising in complex gut issues and the crossover between gut and mental health. Alongside, I was running weekly pre-schooler classes that encouraged food curiosity and taught the basics of human nutrition.

My work as a nutritionist has a strong ‘Weston Price’ influence. I encourage people to eat as broadly as they can using the best seasonal organic produce available, ensuring the proper preparation of grains and legumes, and incorporating plenty of fermented foods and bone broth.

My love for cooking long precedes my work as a nutritionist. For years I’ve enjoyed the challenge of catering for big gatherings and making food that looks and tastes beautiful, as well as being healthy. I enjoy surprising my guests when I reveal the hidden ingredient or lack of sugar in a dish! In the last ten years my efforts in the kitchen have been very much focused on using food to help heal and promote mine and my family’s health, as well as nourishing my children with the most delicious healthy food I can conjure up. The Western food industry provides some stiff competition (in children’s eyes!) and so I am excited to join a community where we can offer the children a wonderful diet and education away from these influences.

When I am not in the kitchen, I love yoga as well as anything active and outdoorsy, from big hilly hikes to trampolining with the kids. And now with the opportunity for greater space and closeness to nature, I look forward to combining my love of cooking and physical activity by learning how to grow, forage and be generally more self-sustaining.

Noemi Marraffa

School Chef

I have been cooking for the wonderful children of the VFS since October 2020. Initially, I worked alongside Chef Aran Goldstein and then Master Chef Paolo Berrino until I was able to work independently on menus that are strictly organic, vital, in harmony with nature, varied and prepared with love, respect and awareness of the raw materials. In fact, I believe that food, like water, is energy and life force. Knowing how to listen to one's body and emotions, and knowing the nourishment that a food can provide allows us to give the right "input" for a healthy and vital organism. During this year I have been responsible for the regular offerings of Gluten Free snacks, without refined flours and sweeteners; I have developed recipes and cooking workshops, in collaboration with the teachers, which all the children at VFS have carried out with enthusiasm, curiosity and a sense of discovery. I am a coach in holistic nutrition and privately provide nutritional advice and support while respecting and listening to the real desires and emotions that drive us to choose a particular food.

In December I will finish a course in Holistic Nutritional Cooking. Cooking is much more than preparing a balanced and healthy nutritional menu, cooking is energy and emotion. Knowing how to give a unique and surprising value to a food is the key to intrigue anyone ... even the little ones!

Where We Are?

Cascina Iuli, Via Centrale 27
15020 Montaldo di Cerrina

Contact us

info@villageforestschool.com
Mon-Fri 8:30-15:30
+39 014 294 6657

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