All elementary students receive weekly instruction from specialists in art, physical education, and vocal and instrumental music. Students also enjoy weekly visits to the elementary school library, frequent trips to the farm, and regular wellness classes. Twice-weekly instruction in Spanish begins in 1st grade.
In art, students explore a wide variety of media and are introduced to a number of artists and genres.
Michelle teaches art for preschool through 4th grade. Michelle has a B.A. in art from San Francisco State University and an M.A. in art education from California State University, Los Angeles. A working artist and printmaker, Michelle always knew she wanted to teach art. To support her students, she says, “I try to meet children where they are and listen to their ideas and what they are interested in exploring and expressing.” Michelle has two daughters; her daughter Nadine is enrolled in the 8th grade at Waverly.
Alyssa teaches art in the upper elementary, middle, and high schools. Alyssa has a B.F.A. in painting and sculpture from Syracuse University School of Visual and Performing Arts and an M.F.A. in animation from the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts. Alyssa’s animated films have screened and won awards at festivals in the U.S. and internationally. Prior to coming to Waverly, Alyssa taught video art, drawing and painting, and photography for almost eight years at Harvard-Westlake’s Middle and Upper Schools.
Children love to move their bodies, and the curriculum at Waverly allows for movement of various sorts throughout the day. Elementary school children enjoy time with our physical education specialist twice a week.
Students are introduced to keyboard, guitar, ukulele, and percussion instruments. The emphasis is on children finding joy in creating music as they learn to play songs and sing.
Josie teaches instrumental and vocal music at the elementary school. After studying languages at El Camino College, Josie sang professionally for 10 years. She has been a vocal music teacher at Waverly with her husband, Michael, since 1996. Josie chose to become an educator because, as she explains, “I love teaching and always have. I was a lead singer in a band for years and had played guitar since my school days. I decided to combine both of my passions. I developed a music program that teaches children that they can learn to make music easily and immediately.” Josie is the proud mother of three children who all attended Waverly. Michelle and Dan, class of 2016, are college students and Allie is a music teacher.
Students in kindergarten through 4th grade have a dedicated library visit each week. Visits include storytime for the kindergarteners and chapter book read alouds for 1st/2nd grades. Students learn the Dewey Decimal System and about the organization of books in a library. The library is open for Library Lunch for 5th and 6th grade students, who may check out books, read, or study quietly. Outside of class visits, the library is open to middle school students who need reference materials and books for class assignments.
Tina is the elementary school librarian and teaches library skills for preschool through 6th grade. She joined Waverly in 2014 after working for nearly 15 years as a children’s librarian at Altadena Public Library and a branch librarian at Pasadena Public Library. Tina majored in English and journalism at the University of California, Los Angeles, and co-produced a nationally syndicated public affairs program for Pacifica Radio prior to her library work. The most gratifying part of Tina’s job is seeing the looks on the kids’ faces when they find a book they’ve been looking forward to reading. She says,“The smiles of surprise…and the eagerness to open that book the moment it’s in their hands make all my efforts worth it.” Tina lives in Altadena with her husband, Bob, and daughter, Johanna, who graduated from Waverly in 2017.
The Waverly organic farm, located within walking distance from the school, is a one-acre multi-purpose green space for students, teachers, and families. The farm provides weekly opportunities for learning, play, and collaboration for every class at the elementary school. Students participate in age-appropriate farm work including planting, weeding, composting, building, and taking care of the chickens.
Barbara has managed the farm for more than a decade, first as a volunteer. Barbara loves to collaborate with her colleagues to create farm curriculum that is meaningful to each class and relates to the social studies theme when possible. In the short-term, Barbara wants “our children to spend a little time connecting with the natural world and the seasons.” In the long-term, her goal “is that they remember the idea that you can grow your own food, and that it tastes better, looks better, smells better, and it’s fun, too!” Barbara has two children at Waverly, Joe and Katie, both in 12th grade.
The elementary school wellness curriculum is focused on fostering respect for self and others, and learning how to build community and healthy relationships. The program introduces students to the concepts of diversity, equity, and tolerance. Discussion of gender, gender expression, and gender identity is done through this lens. Students critically examine common stereotypes and media messages, and brainstorm empowering strategies in order to be agents for change in their communities.
Caitlin teaches wellness. Caitlin received a B.A. in English from Harvard College and an M.F.A. in creative writing from Columbia University. A lifelong learner, Caitlin completed a post-baccalaureate premedical program before her work as an educator with Planned Parenthood inspired her to forgo medical school and return to her first love: teaching. Caitlin has been an educator for over a decade. She is an avid yogi, published poet, and an advisor for Change The Talk, a peer-to-peer social justice workshop. She incorporates themes of tolerance, mindfulness, and empowerment into her lessons for all ages. Caitlin’s daughter, Ramona, is in kindergarten.
Elementary students receive twice-weekly lessons in Spanish beginning in 1st grade. Students learn and become familiar with the language through music, dance, games, art projects, storybooks, and cultural activities. The curriculum is designed to integrate language skills into our everyday classroom, excite students about Spanish, and introduce skills that will provide the support and repetition children need to learn a language.
Maria is an associate teacher in a 3rd/4th grade classroom and teaches Spanish in the elementary school. Maria has worked with children for more than 25 years and has been with Waverly since its days as a preschool. Of her work, Maria says, “It gives me joy to watch the children grow year after year and see how they become passionate artists, confident speakers, talented musicians, and kind young adults who love us all for being part of their journey.” Maria’s two daughters attend Waverly, Aaliyah in 6th grade and Natalie in 8th grade.
Bret teaches Spanish at the high school and is the 5th/6th Spanish specialist in the elementary school. Bret earned a B.A. in French and Spanish and an M.A. in both languages from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. He enjoys sharing his passion for the Spanish language, its people, and its culture with his students and encourages them to use as much Spanish in the classroom as possible to develop into confident speakers. In his free time, he loves to travel, explore new places, and ride roller coasters.