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Grade School Faculty

1st Grade Teacher
Jessie Cartwright

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Jessie has 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.

2nd Grade Teacher
Alexa Krakauskas

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Dr. Kraukauskas came to DWS in 2016 with a strong science and teaching background, having graduated from Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine with a DVM in 2001. Following graduation, Dr. Krakauskas worked in a veterinary hospital prior to delving into Waldorf education. She launched her teaching career at The Waldorf School of Philadelphia and also taught at Mountain Phoenix Community School in Wheat Ridge. Dr. Krakauskas moved to Colorado from Pennsylvania with her husband and four children in 2015.

3rd Grade Teacher
Jennifer Grahnquist

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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.

4th Grade Teacher
Magally Luna

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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 Spanish 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.

5th Grade Teacher
Charlie Orphanides

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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.

6th Grade Teacher
Ben Reynolds

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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.

Keenan Hand

7th Grade Teacher
Keenan Hand

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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 College 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.

3rd Grade Class1

8th Grade Teacher
Vernon Dewey

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Vernon has 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.

Nathan Ballenger
Middle School STEM Teacher

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Nathan grew up in the Lookout Mountain area and headed southwest 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 to work as an air-quality specialist. Together with his wife, Rachel, he involved himself in helping organize the opening of a Waldorf school, the Mancos Valley Independent School. Nathan left his position with the county to teach Spanish, Games and the school’s 3rd Grade class, having been mentored by Shining Mountain Waldorf School retiree Miriam Barton. Upon relocating to the Denver area with Rachel and their three children, Kahlil, Jyles and Judah , Nathan founded NRG by Design, an energy auditing contracting firm and also worked with Tesla’s energy division as a solar energy advisor. Transitioning back into Waldorf education suits Nathan well.

“Working for Tesla felt great and was a wonderful job,” Nathan said. “But being a Waldorf teacher has been a long time in the works and is a lifestyle.”

Read more about Nathan in our blog post

Class Assistants

Rekik HaileSelassie
1st Grade Assistant

Onna Jordan
4th Grade Assistant

Lexi Robinson
7th Grade Assistant