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Grade School Faculty

1st Grade Teacher
Jennifer Grahnquist

Jennifer joined The Denver Waldorf School in 2017 as a 2nd Grade Assistant and became the interim 2nd Grade Teacher in January of 2018. Prior to earning a Bachelor’s degree in Education from Chatham University, Jennifer danced professionally with several ballet companies across the country including the Colorado Ballet. While attending college, she was an intern at the Waldorf School of Pittsburgh working with first through eighth graders. Jennifer is completing her Waldorf teacher certification at the Sunbridge Institute and expects to graduate in 2018.

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2nd Grade Teacher
Magally Luna

Magally became a class teacher during Fall of 2018 after teaching Spanish and having worked as an ECE assistiant since joining DWS in August of 2000. She is a native speaker whose family hails from Colombia and Mexico. Magally received her Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Dance from the University of Colorado, Boulder. She has had the privilege of sharing Latin dance and music in Asia and Europe. She continues to sing with the Afro-Caribbean band Kizumba and she acts occasionally in plays at El Centro Su Teatro, one of the few bilingual theaters in the United States. Both or her sons, now in college, attended DWS through high school.


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3rd Grade Teacher
Charlie Orphanides

Charlie came to DWS after teaching at Waldorf schools in Boulder, New York City and New Hampshire. He began his teaching career fortified with an English degree from Lewis and Clark College, a master of education degree and Waldorf teacher certification from Antioch University, complemented with many trainings in movement, art and meditation studies. Away from the classroom, Charlie’s hobbies include gardening, fixing and building things, running, bicycling and playing with his two sons, reading, writing, studying all sorts of healing modalities and playing guitar and piano and anything else that is fun to make music with.

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4th Grade Teacher
Ben Reynolds

Ben joined DWS is Fall 2018 after having spent the 10 years in Pucon, a small town in southern Chile where he taught English at the local Waldorf school for four years, then as a class teacher at the same school for six years. A Denver native from the Lookout Mountain area of Jefferson County, Ben earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Hamilton College in central New York. He found his way to Waldorf education in Pucon as a Kindergarten project developed, ultimately earning his Waldorf teaching certification from the ARCHE Institute in Santiago. Ben and his wife Heidi, a Chilean-poet, had been planning a move to Denver and were delighted to coordinate their move with the opportunity to become part of the DWS community—their son Alex is in our 10th grade and their son Oliver is in our 8th grade. Away from the classroom, Ben enjoys strumming his ukulele and building things with his teenage sons and wife Heidi, a Chilean-poet. Hockey is also a passion, along with gardening. Though Ben disclosed that his at-home gardening pursuits have not yielded positive results, he enthusiastically gets his hands dirty and tries again each year.


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5th Grade Teacher
Keenan Hand

Keenan joined The Denver Waldorf School in 2013 as a Games teacher and assistant in the 3rd Grade class. He earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Art from Humboldt State University and his Waldorf Teacher Education from Emerson Keenan HandCollege in England. He also has taken courses in Consciousness Studies at Rudolf Steiner College, focusing on inner transformation and initiation studies, collage, painting and drawing. He was a Waldorf Grades Teacher at the Olympia Waldorf School, taking a class from 6th to 8th Grade. He has many passions, including backpacking, hiking, rock climbing, fly fishing, surfing, painting, photography, ceramics, sculpture, soccer, basketball, Ultimate Frisbee, running and cycling.

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6th Grade Teacher
Vernon Dewey

Vernon 3rd Grade Class1has been working at The Denver Waldorf School since 2008, assisting in the 1st and 2nd Grades before taking on the 1st Grade as class teacher in 2010.  He attended Evergreen State College and graduated with a Master’s in Education and a Waldorf Teaching Certificate from Antioch University of New England in 2010.  In addition to teaching at The Denver Waldorf School, Vernon also serves as a founding member and co-chair of the school’s Diversity Committee.

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7th Grade Teacher
Jessie Cartwright

Jessie 1st Grade Class25has been teaching at DWS since 2003.  She was the games teacher for two years before taking her first class as a lead teacher from 2nd Grade through 8th Grade. Jessie attended Fort Lewis College in Durango, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Humanities. She graduated from Antioch New England Graduate School, where she earned her Master’s Degree in Waldorf Education in the summer of 2006. Jessie is a graduate of The Denver Waldorf School.

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8th Grade Teacher
Darlene Gilchrist

Darlene 2nd Grade Class4has been a part of DWS since 1994. She enrolled at Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks, California, then began her teaching career with a Preschool Kindergarten teaching position in Texas before moving to Denver. As well as working for one year in our school’s administration, she worked in our Preschool Kindergarten for three years before moving into the role of a class teacher. She earned her Waldorf teaching certificate from Sunbridge College in March 2006. Darlene has taken one class from 1st through 8th Grade.

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Middle School STEAM Teacher
Nathan Ballenger

Nathan grew up in the Lookout Mountain area and headed to Durango after high school to study at Fort Lewis College where he earned a bachelor’s degree in biology with minors in chemistry and psychology. During his college years and beyond, Nathan lived in a tipi, built a straw-bale house and became interested in clean air and energy initiatives. He traveled to India, Israel, Italy and South American countries, eventually settling in Colorado’s La Plata County where he worked as an air-quality specialist. Together with his wife, Rachel, he involved himself in helping organize the opening of a local Waldorf school, the Mancos Valley Independent School, where he taught Spanish, Games and the school’s third grade class. On the home front, Nathan and his wife, Rachel, are guiding the education of their three children, Kahlil, Jyles and Judah.

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Class Assistants


Beccy Cochran


Tracy Gonzalez

Tracy came to DWS in 2017 after having worked as an Assistant in the Kindergartens at The Waldorf School of Bend in Oregon as well as Mountain Song Community School in Colorado Springs. She also enjoyed teaching a Waldorf-inspired parent/child class after she and her family moved to Colorado Springs in 2012. Tracy loves witnessing how Waldorf education nurtures not only students, but the families of students as well. Tracy studied art, sustainable living and consciousness at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa. She also studied and practiced massage therapy in Austin, Texas before her son was born. She is passionate about healing arts, GROW BIOINTENSIVE mini farming (which has roots in Biodynamic growing), permaculture, singing, meditating, storytelling and spending time with her family. She makes and sells beeswax candles in her free time.


Angela Martinelli

Angela began assisting in the classroom during February of 2016, bringing a wealth of experience to the students. Angela is also the Games Teacher at DWS. After earning an art and Italian language degree in 2008 from Colby College in Maine, Angela went to work as a ski instructor, trainer at REI, guest service assistant at Denver Art Museum, course advisor at Outward Bound, health care records specialist at a bustling medical practice and as a graphic designer at Monty Nuss Photography. Outside of work, Angela shows and sells her oil paintings and giclée print reproductions and volunteers her time teaching art.


Krista Smith


Middle School Assistant
Joni Anderson

Joni joined The Denver Waldorf School as our Middle School Assistant in 2017 after having worked in education as a teacher’s assistant and music teacher in the Denver area for nearly 10 years. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Cornell College in Iowa and a Master’s from the Lamont School of Music at The University of Denver. Joni is a Denver native and enjoys biking and hiking with her daughter when she isn’t teaching.