Our Team

Marinella Pro

Italy

School Director

Marinella Pro

My name is Marinella Pro and I am a native of Torino, Italy. After college and after much travelling in Europe, I landed in the USA where I stayed for 25 years. I raised my two beautiful daughters, Elisa and Sophia, who are now young women roaming the world.

With an empty nest, the pull to go back home to Italy grew stronger. A few years ago, I visited Village Forest School and it was love at first sight! I knew that at some point I would join this extraordinary community.

I have a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Torino, Italy. I also have achieved an Associate Degree in Early Childhood Development from Western Technical College in La Crosse, Wisconsin, USA. Lastly, I hold two certifications; one in Foundational Studies from the Sophia Institute and the other in Facilitator Training based on Steiner Philosophy from Madison, Wisconsin.

I have been working in Waldorf Education for 25 years, covering several roles. I have served as classroom assistant, after-care program administrator, kindergarten lead teacher, faculty chair and board member. I have also served on several committees, such as personnel and faculty council.

Some of my passions include puppetry, reading, knitting, traveling and walking in nature.

My goal for Village Forest School is to provide a supportive climate and culture that is conducive to teaching and learning. By doing so, each individual student, parent, teacher, and staff member can experience growth to their highest potential. I am a supportive leader who is here to listen to the needs of students, families, and staff members. I will use my leadership and communication skills to help accomplish the goals that we create together. I can’t wait to start this adventure with you all together!

Paola Mondati

Italy / South Africa

Kindergarten Lead Teacher

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!!!

Alessia Callegher

Italy

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.

Amber Patricio

USA

Kindergarten Assistant Teacher

Amber Patricio

  • Bachelor of Arts & Sciences, Communication Studies
  • Teaching Certificate Grades K-6, State of Florida

I consider it a most humble privilege to participate in a child’s life & development; to be a witness to that spark of interest in their eyes deep in imagination, to encourage their wild and free spirit in nature or to celebrate with them in their newfound confidence at a new skill, creative outlet or ability. It is an honor to help fan the flame of wonder and curiosity that is naturally present in the hearts, minds, bodies and spirits of our children. I am delighted to join the Village Forest School team and the beautiful adventure of cultivating this idyllic place where the whole-hearted child is nurtured and educated.

My teaching background began in 2005 teaching K/1 in Public school, followed by 10 +years in homeschooling/hybrid teaching positions for K- high school ages, in multiple community cooperatives in the US. With four children, aged toddler to teenager, our home has been a cultivated nest of anthroposophic principles and culture, with respect to the individual needs and child developmental stages. I continue to maintain a posture of both reflection and growth in my own personal development to more fully embrace the rhythms of this lifestyle. I am currently studying to learn the Italian Language and in my spare time enjoy gardening, reading, art, music and spending time with my family in nature.

Gabrielle Hudson

UK

Elementary Lead Teacher - Robinia

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.

Benedetta Lombardo

Italy

Elementary Assistant Teacher - Robinia

Benedetta Lombardo

Having lived in different countries, I grew up bilingual, speaking Italian at home, and English at school. I grew an interest in learning about different places and cultures which led me to study social anthropology at university. In the meantime I also worked with children and young people in different ways- I was an au pair for six months in Spain where I taught English to the children, I volunteered as an assistant teacher in both a kindergarten and a pre-school, and was an English teacher and nanny in Milan and in Piedmont. In the past year I led the Slow Food’s ‘Orto in Condotta’ gardening classes for the local primary school and kindergarten in Pollenzo. The world of education has always interested me, and I took up mentoring and facilitator roles while at university to better understand and help different approaches to learning.

More recently I have become more passionate about food and the role it plays in education and experiential learning, which has drawn me to the Waldorf approach. I am excited to join Village Forest School to put into practice what I have learnt so far, learn more about it and experience an educational approach that strongly connects the community to its environment.

Some of my favourite activities are hiking in the mountains, knitting and crocheting, or curling up to a good book. On the weekend, I like to bake cakes for my friends. I also love music and practice the violin when I have the chance!

Sisa Ntshwaqela

South Africa

Elementary Lead Teacher - Frassino

Sisa Ntshwaqela

I am South African and grew up in the beautiful diverse city of Cape Town. My roots can be traced back to a small village with rich landscapes in the Transkei, where the people are dominantly IsiXhosa speakers.

I completed all of my education in Cape Town and after high school, I co-founded an organisation that implemented reading programs in schools within the township. This project validated my interest in education, especially working with children. During this time, I studied business and leadership but soon my heart became restless, it yearned for something soulful.

In my search, I connected with Steiner Education and I started working as an assistant Art Therapist at a Waldorf school; here I was able to work with children with all kinds of needs in a healing way using artistic mediums.

From there I enrolled at the Centre For Creative Education, the Waldorf teacher training provider in Cape Town. I completed a four-year degree and began working at the Starseed Community Waldorf School, where I taught Classes 1 and 2. I also taught IsiXhosa as a language subject lesson from Class 2 to Class 5.

It's thrilling to be joining the Village Forest School and I am looking forward to creating and learning with the entire community.

Siva Shankari

India

Middle School Lead Teacher - Quercia

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.

Sara Tarditi

Italy / Switzerland

Middle School Assistant Teacher - Quercia

Sara Tarditi

I deeply love community life and being in a multilingual international environment, it is part of my nature! I was born in Lausanne (Switzerland), my Swiss French mother and my Italian father, and my home has always welcomed people from all over the world. As a child I spent summers abroad, mainly in Switzerland and England, and this allowed me to learn English and French well.

The relationship with Nature is a priority for me, especially since I left Turin to live here in Monferrato in the middle of the hills. My encounter with Steiner and Anthroposophy came through devoting myself to caring for the fruits of the earth. I studied organic and biodynamic agriculture and in my farmhouse I produce organic fruits and vegetables while also practicing Permaculture and Electroculture. I believe in the importance of experiential education in nature and began to explore this first as a parent and then as a teacher.

I love being with children and passing on knowledge by experiencing it first, also using play and movement. I worked for 10 years as an educator with elementary school children and also with children with special needs. I held workshops in elementary schools on film making, ball games and recycling education. After graduating in Literature and Philosophy from the University of Turin, I worked for 10 years in contact with university students at Politecnico di Torino, managing international mobility projects. This job allowed me to travel all over the world and broaden my views and perspectives. I then chose to leave Turin and my job to spend more time with my three children. I began to make reflections about traditional educational methods and undertook trainings in which I learned about various methods, including Waldorf. I then became a yoga teacher and holistic therapist, beginning in recent years to teach French and English to middle school children.

I live life with joy and enthusiasm and I’am happy to be able to facilitate children’s learning and growth processes. Working with kids for me means putting their needs at the center, accompanying them to discover their passions and talents, and guiding them in the realization of their dreams. I bring with me passion for all games and sports (especially ball sports like basketball), dance, theater, reading, art and music.

I am immensely grateful and beaming to experience this new journey at Village Forest School!

Jéssica Juliana Commandulli

Brazil

Handwork & Form Drawing 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.

Roberto Ajmone

Italy

Gardening Teacher

Roberto Ajmone

My name is Roberto Ajmone, for over twenty years I have studied the practice and sharing of different traditions of yoga, understood as a relationship and conscious and loving participation in life.

For the last fifteen years I have been a swimming instructor, lifeguard and pool manager in various swimming pools in Piedmont, where I have had the opportunity to interact with children, young people, adults and the elderly.

Over the last few years I have been involved in Permaculture and Synergistic Agriculture, both on a personal level and by collaborating with a number of schools in the area in the context of educational gardens.

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.

Jody Lukas

UK

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.

Robert Sim

UK / USA

Waldorf mentor and member of the College of Teachers

Robert Sim

Robert, born in Hertfordshire, England in 1949, pursued a lifelong journey in education. After studies in economics and agricultural economics, he ventured into social work before discovering his passion for Waldorf pedagogy. His Waldorf journey began in 1982 after foundation studies at Emerson College, leading him to teach at schools in Germany and the United States. Dedicated to his students and professional growth, Robert currently serves as the Director of Professional Development at High Mowing School. With over four decades of anthroposophic exploration alongside his wife Barbara, Robert's wisdom and experience enrich the VFS College of Teachers and ensure we stay rooted in Waldorf principles.

Where We Are?

Via Pezzere 6
15020 Montaldo di Cerrina

Contact us

info@villageforestschool.com
Mon-Fri 8:30-15:30
(+39) 0142 943740

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