Our Team

Jody Lukas

Educational Lead / Elementary (Frassino) Teacher

  • 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

During my fourteen 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 most recently, 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 enables me to bring my passions for literature, sciences and the arts to a new constellation of students.

In addition to my role as class teacher, I have worked as a leader and member of middle management in several areas in the wider school context; these include 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 this year and I consider it a special privilege to work with parents and the wider community to realize the long term dreams for this venture.

I relocated to Montaldo from Stroud, England with my whippet Luna and have enjoyed exploring the local landscape and learning a new language. I enjoy art, poetry, music, swimming and travel. Building the foundations of this school alongside committed colleagues, parents and students has been a gratifying experience which has forged strong bonds; I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved in the first academic year and am excited about all the opportunities for growth which lay before us.

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!

Katie Turner

Kindergarten (Ciliegio) Teacher

Katie Turner

In 2018, I graduated from the Centre for Creative Education in Cape Town, South Africa; specializing in Rudolph Steiner’s Anthroposophical approach to education. During this time, I gained practical experience by teaching at both South African government curriculum schools, Waldorf primary schools and also a rural Waldorf school in Rongai, Kenya. I spent the next two years working, travelling and volunteering part time in different Waldorf kindergarten classes in my home city. The beauty of the kindergarten rhythm has since captivated me. Last year I travelled to Italy to begin a new journey at a local bi-lingual Italian school where I have spent my past year teaching. I now look forward to bringing my knowledge of Steiner education, the early childhood kindergarten years and also my understanding of the elementary school journey yet to come to the Village Forest School Asilo. VFS combines my passions for Steiner education, agricultural living and an educational approach that aims to nourish our children holistically. I am thrilled to be a part of this project and bring all I have to offer to the Village Forest School Community.

Nivan Yahaghi

Support Teacher/Elementary

Nivan Yahaghi

Nivan spent his early childhood in the Umbrian countryside, moving to Rome when he was 8. Born to international parents, he grew up bilingual, attending both Italian and English language schools. At 19 he moved to Chicago to study film, but instead found himself immersed in the theater department where he studied directing, costume design, and stage management. After graduating in 2011 he worked in film and theater, in the food industry, and with several urban farms, until a long-standing interest in education led him to start working in public high schools on the South Side of Chicago in 2015 as part of a University of Chicago program aimed at boosting student prospects in one of the most disenfranchised and violent neighborhoods in the USA. Upon his return to Rome the following year, he continued his work as a teacher, working in Italian public high schools and overnight summer camps. He has taught in Italian and English, has taught sciences, humanities, arts, and crafts, and has experience working with children of most ages, with many different challenges, and from a wide range of backgrounds, always trying to awaken students' curiosity, wonder, empathy, and critical thinking skills. He is an avid reader, cook, craftsperson, and amateur farmer, believes that there is always something to learn, and is extremely excited to join the Village Forest School in the Monferrato.

Irene Riccioni

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

Kindergarten (Ciliegio) Support 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!

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

Noemi Marraffa

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

Give Us a Call

Mon-Fri 8:30 - 15:30
+39 014 294 6657