Cynthia founded LifeWays North America in 2001. Co-author of the book Home Away From Home: LifeWays Care of Children and Families, Cynthia has lectured and presented internationally, directs trainings and seminars across the United States, and is an Adjunct Faculty member at Rudolf Steiner College in California. She served fourteen years on the board of the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America, is a member of the National Association for Family Child Care and a supporter of the Alliance for Childhood. A former Waldorf Kindergarten teacher, Cynthia received her Waldorf teaching certificate at Emerson College in Sussex, England. A mother and grandmother, Cynthia’s passion is the preservation of the playful spirit of childhood and helping to create home-like environments that provide the comfort, security and activities found in a healthy home.
Meet Our Training Directors
Marianne is the Director of the California Coast LifeWays Early Childhood Training. She has been involved in Waldorf education for nearly 40 years as a mother, early childhood teacher and facilitator of Waldorf parenting groups. She holds a B.A. in English and attended Emerson College in England, a center for Waldorf teacher training. Much of Marianne’s focus and interest has been on all things early childhood. She was a co-founder of The Ark (Fair Oaks, CA) in 1977, one of the first Waldorf toy stores in North America. The growing interest in Waldorf education in this country led her to become the first Managing Editor of Renewal, A Journal for Waldorf Education. For 15 years Marianne developed and led parent support groups in the Sacramento, CA area and for the past 7 years she has taught in the San Francisco Waldorf School Parenting program.
When her own children were young, Mary had a LifeWays home program with such a long waiting list that she decided a LifeWays center was necessary. In 2002, she opened LifeWays Early Childhood Center in Milwaukee where she still works alongside a wonderful staff of caregivers.
Mary has a business degree from University of Wisconsin-Madison and was a student in the very first LifeWays training. She is a consultant for LifeWays North America, serves on the board, directs the Wisconsin LifeWays Training, and in 2010 co-authored Home Away From Home: LifeWays Care of Children and Families with Cynthia Aldinger.
Mary’s favorite thing about LifeWays is seeing both children and their caregivers thrive in a home-like environment that truly values and respects them.
Rosario Villasana, M.A., is Faculty at City College of San Francisco at the Mission Campus Child Development Center, Adjunct Professor at San Francisco State University and Early Childhood Consultant. She is Community Programs Coordinator for Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks, CA and directs the LifeWays en Español caregiver training program focusing on development of curriculum materials in Spanish and community programs and outreach. Rosario is a member of the Board of Directors of LifeWays NorthAmerica and President of the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Childhood. She has conducted training and staff development in Rudolf Steiner based education in China and Mexico as well as throughout the United States. Rosario is the happy mother of two Waldorf graduates; a son, Eduardo and daughter, Lucia.
Ashley's life has revolved around working with children and their families. After growing up in her mother's home care program, she obtained a degree in Art Education and taught in public schools. During this time, she felt a strong pull towards early childhood education. She went on to become a preschool teacher, Director of a large childcare center, student of Anthroposophy and Board member for two Waldorf school initiatives (in CO and NC). Ashley worked at the Santa Fe Waldorf School, was the lead Waldorf early childhood teacher at Azalea Mountain School, led parent-tot classes and operated a home-based LifeWays summer playgroup. Now homeschooling her two sons, Ashley continues to incorporate her LifeWays work into their daily lives. She is thrilled to help bring the LifeWays training to western NC, a dream since she completed her training in 2010. Ashley also enjoys traveling, gardening, hiking, handwork, and shooting slingshots with her husband and boys.
Barbara Rose works with Suzanne as Student Services Director for the Boulder training. Her background includes teaching in public school in Sydney, Australia and at the Waldorf School on the Roaring Fork as the handwork assistant and parenting arts facilitator. She also actively participated in the life of Shining Mountain Waldorf School and Tara High School for the Performing Arts in Boulder, as well as the Yuba River Charter School in California while she and her husband, Arnie, raised two daughters in the Waldorf stream, both at home and at school.
Barbara has trained and worked as a doula, a nanny and a ceremony facilitator. She loves to create meaningful time with family and parent groups, to travel, make jewelry, and be out in nature. She reminds us, “Our children will show us the way… it is up to us to create a healthy, balanced, rich-with-wonder life that is one of being rather than doing.” She loves supporting and inspiring LifeWays students, whom she considers “wisdom keepers of family life, who are doing the great work of our time.”
Bianca began her career in banking and business administration while attending Mira Costa College studying pre-law. With the birth of her eldest son and upon finding a pioneering Waldorf school in her area in 2001, she promptly got involved and obtained a certificate of training for Waldorf Administration from Sunbridge College. She went on to serve in nearly every position available in a Waldorf School from bookkeeper to handwork teacher but found her "home" in the early childhood classrooms. Seeing the lack of Steiner based care for the very young child in the county, she proclaimed that if she ever had another child, she would found a LifeWays center. That day came with the birth of her youngest son in 2007. Bianca completed the LifeWays training at Rudolf Steiner College and founded San Diego's first LifeWays center for young children that same year.
Judith Frizlen is Director of The Rose Garden Early Childhood Center, which she opened in Buffalo, NY after completing the LifeWays Training. The Rose Garden serves is a developing Representative Site of LifeWays North America. Prior to that Judith was an early childhood teacher at Aurora Waldorf School, as well as director of the City Satellite in Buffalo. Earlier in her career she taught elementary grades at Calasanctius School and Buffalo Public Schools, and then presented seminars for teachers at learning centers, colleges and statewide conferences before coming back to early childhood education, which she describes as the nearest thing to heaven. Judith is a mother, educator, writer and community supporter. She has a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and a Master of Arts with a concentration in Human Development.
Kim Raymond is a mother of four, grandmother of six, Waldorf kindergarten teacher, mentor and advisor, Parent-Child educator and AWSNA Leadership Council member. Cyndee Fehring is a mother of five, LifeWays graduate, Parent-Child educator, Nutritional and Health Counselor and Founder and President of The Aurora Foundation.
Originally from North Carolina, Laura spent her school years and college years in the Midwestern states of Illinois and Indiana. She graduated from Earlham College with a B.A. in Spanish and had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Nicaragua, Mexico and South America. She and her husband relocated to Austin, TX where she met anthroposophy, pursued training, and served as a Spanish teacher and class teacher at the Austin Waldorf School for seven years. She then left to grow her family and is now the mother of four children. For the past six years she has been developing early life programs for expectant parents and support for families with young children. She provides parent-child classes, parenting workshops, and mentoring for local early childhood caregivers.
“It has been at true honor to initiate the Austin LifeWays program with Cynthia Aldinger and colleagues and I am delighted to be serving children and their caregivers in this extraordinary way.” – Laura Olson
Margo Running moved to North Vancouver, BC, Canada from Arizona in 2004. She has a degree in Early Childhood Education and Waldorf training in kindergarten teaching and daycare practices. She has worked with children in summer camps, created a new kindergarten and play yard, and run a home childcare business in Arizona. She came to Vancouver to set up and coordinate the first Infant-Toddler Program in a Waldorf school that goes to grade 12. She is now director of LifeWays Childcare Society, a Representative Center of LifeWays North America and a member of the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America. Margo is completing the ECE degree program at Capilano University. Her interests also include communication and relationship models as well as sociology and the culture of childhood.
Susan was the founding teacher of Ashwood Waldorf School in Rockport, and is now lead teacher and director of Spindlewood Waldorf Kindergarten and LifeWays Center in Lincolnville, Maine near the three-generation family homestead where her husband and stepson practice architecture.
Susan holds a bachelors degree in liberal arts and has worked as a social worker. She is also founder and former volunteer executive director of Mid-Coast Hospitality House which provides emergency shelter and transitional housing for individuals and families in the Rockland area.
Susan is a gardener and beekeeper and enjoys sailing and rowing in all seasons with the Traditional Small Craft Association. She is the director of Northeast LifeWays training.
Suzanne Down is Director of the Boulder Based Lifeways Training in Colorado. She has been involved with the early childhood Waldorf movement for 30 years in different capacities - Teaching in early childhood in Waldorf schools, owner of her own home preschool, as Director of Juniper Tree School of Story and Puppetry Arts, as international ece conference speaker and presenter, and early childhood therapeutic puppetry pioneer. She mentors early childhood teachers in schools and is resident puppetry teacher at the Boulder Waldorf Kindergarten. She has been teaching language development/story/puppetry in all of the Lifeways training centers for years, and will continue doing that as well as develop and direct the training in Boulder. Her passions are creativity in the fiber arts, especially all aspects of felting, writing and presenting stories for children, and teaching adults, which has been her specialty for a long time!
You can follow her work at:
“Discovering the gardener, painter, eurythmist, crocheter, singer and healer within.” Melinda Kerst