Karen Clarke, Handwork Instructor
Karen was born, raised and educated here in the Pacific Northwest. Karen is deeply influenced by the textures, colors and the wonder of nature and all its beauty. With an active imagination and passion for creativity, her designs are eco-minded with an emphasis on recycled materials. When not teaching the children at the Eugene Waldorf School, she teaches fiber art classes at several locations around the Eugene, as well as in her studio. She designs, develops and supplies product lines for companies worldwide and for her own online store. She has been involved with the Eugene Waldorf Handwork program for over 20 years and enjoys bringing the art, philosophy and beauty of sewing, knitting, felting and crafts of many kinds to children of all ages.
Maria del Pilar Cumpston, Spanish Teacher, Grades 5, 6 and 8
Growing up in the culturally diverse mecca of New York City, Pilar was exposed to all walks of life. Born to an American Anglo-Saxon father and a Columbian native mother, she learned how to speak Spanish at home. She moved to the Catskill region of New York and attended the State University at New Paltz, receiving a bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology. After leaving the hubbub of the city and experiencing the beautiful autumn colors of the Appalachian Mountains, and the crisp clean creeks and lakes of the rural countryside, it fostered a new love for the outdoors and nature.
After a few years of traveling, she relocated to Oregon in 1995. She felt she had found a community filled with creative and kind people, which supported her wishes to have a life based on environmentally conscious living, organic gardening, and self-sustainability. After completing the teacher training program in 2009 she was pleased to become of the Waldorf Community as a teacher, parent and friend.
Some of her interests, which her family continues to incorporate into their lives are yoga, hiking, biodynamics, alternative energy and conservation, promoting peace and community through music events and working with children for a healthy future.
Farrah Hess, Eurythmist
Farrah moved to Eugene from Mount Shasta, California in 2011. She has been increasing her teaching as her young son makes the journey through the Eugene Waldorf School. Farrah was born and raised in southeast England in a family immersed in music and Waldorf education. She attended the first Waldorf school in the English speaking world from age two through twelfth grade. After graduating, she began her travels, which took her to the far reaches of the world and to several Fine Arts Colleges in England where she studied painting, drawing and sculpture. This love of color, from movement within matter, along with her continued searching for “more,” led her on one last trip across land and ocean to the far northern mountains of California. There she met her teachers and obtained her eurythmy training from the American Eurythmy School, 1991-1995. She fell in love with eurythmy and with the founding ideals of the United States, and stayed. Since graduating, she has found great fulfillment in bringing eurythmy to all ages—from preschool to high school, and to adults—through performing and teaching in England, Canada and the U.S.
Keith Hess, Eurythmist
Keith Hess teaches eurythmy for preschool through grade 8 at the Eugene Waldorf School. He is a graduate of the American Eurythmy School in Mt. Shasta, California, and has taught eurythmy at Waldorf Schools in Alaska, Kentucky, and Seattle since 2004. Since 1989 he has explored the wild lands of the western United States, studying and gathering wild medicinal plants. He’s the founder of Spring of Life— a company that makes herbal extracts, salves and elixers, and hosts an herbal apprenticeship program. He and his wife Farrah (also a eurythmist) have a son.
Jelena Jaehnig, Seventh Grade Spanish Teacher
See Grades section for Jelena Jaehnig’s biography.
Justin Lader, Strings Teacher
Justin Lader, a native of Eugene, is an avid viola and violin performer, teacher and composer. He combines formal training with degrees from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and University of Oregon with hands-on experience of many international folk traditions. Justin teaches violin and viola at the University of Oregon’s Community Music Institute and at The John G. Shedd Institute for the Arts, where he is also the orchestra department coordinator. Since 2011, he has collaborated with multi-instrumentalist/composer, David Helfand, touring the West Coast and producing three albums to date. Justin values the intimacy and expression of traditional and cultural folk music along with the freedom of improvisation. Aside from music he holds a degree in environmental studies and has worked both as a biological field assistant and as a sustainability consultant. Justin enjoys running, gardening, dance, skiing, and learning/practicing foreign languages—especially German.
Rachel Sanders, Spanish Teacher, Grades 1-4
Rachel comes from a lifetime of Waldorf education as an alumni of the Portland Waldorf School, kindergarten through 12th grade. Although she began learning Spanish in 4th grade from Febe Chacon, she honed her Spanish speaking abilities when she spent a semester of college with School for International Training in Panama.
Upon completing her B.A. in music at Bard College in NY state, Rachel moved to Panama, where she lived in the rural, agricultural town of Cerro Punta and worked with Grupo Orgánico de Agricultores Cerropunteños (GORACE) as a grant writer, translator and organizer, helping promote organic agriculture in an area reliant on chemical use. Rachel has worked as an outdoor educator and field instructor for programs in Austin, TX; Alaska; California; Hood River, OR; and the Portland area.
Rachel continues her work with The School Garden Project of Lane County, helping schools in the Eugene area with cafeteria composting. When not teaching Spanish or cafeteria composting, Rachel can be found riding her bicycle, playing the banjo in her band The Dirty Turnips, knitting or working in her own garden.
Karen Tyler, Handwork Instructor
Karen enjoys the beautiful outdoors and living in the Pacific Northwest, gardening and hiking as much as possible. She grew up in Delaware and spent lots of time traveling the world after graduating from college in Virginia.
She became interested in handwork when her eldest daughter was just a babe in arms. Karen began a sewing business out of her home and quickly expanded her horizons once she learned of all the handmade toys and gifts she could create using recycled and natural materials.
She has held handwork classes for adults as well as various homeschool groups over the years. She has expanded her love of creating into a small traveling booth selling at fairs and markets in the local area.
Karen very much enjoys her work with children, sharing her inspiration to guide them to completing lovely handmade items both useful and beautiful. She lives within walking distance of EWS at her little urban farmstead.
Atta Turck, Woodwork Instructor
Born and raised in Germany, Atta is a master craftsman who gained his love for woodworking from his grandfather. He earned a master’s in economics at the University of Munich, holds a teaching certificate in adult education, and attended the Waldorf high school teacher training at Rudolf Steiner College. Atta taught in numerous community colleges in Germany. Prior to coming to the United States he lived in Tuscany, where he worked as a builder, started his own woodworking shop, began a biodynamic garden, and worked a small farm with grapes and olives.
After moving to Cottage Grove, Oregon, he opened his own wood shop specializing in doors, windows and custom furniture. He also developed wood-turning to a fine art. As operations manager in a small door company in Eugene, he honed his organizational and leadership skills. Also in Eugene, he served as a small claims mediator for the court and eventually branched out to community mediation, human rights advocacy and restorative justice mediation for the juvenile court system. After two years in Vancouver, BC, where his wife, Mary Webb, led a class to their middle school graduation at the Waldorf school, he became the woodwork teacher at the Waldorf School of Garden City for grades five to twelve. He also accompanied two high school classes as adviser to their graduation. In addition to living in Italy, Oregon, and British Columbia, Atta has traveled extensively throughout Europe, the Middle East, India and North America.
Molly Wilson, Grade 6 Math Teacher
See Staff section for Molly Wilson’s biography.