Meet Our Training Team

Ashley d'Ambrosi Masters

Ashley d'Ambrosi Masters.jpgAshley'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. In addition to serving on the Board, Ashley works as Student Services Director of the LifeWays Trainings in Asheville, North Carolina.

Cynthia Aldinger, Executive Director

Cynthia-grandkids-cropped.jpgCynthia founded LifeWays North America in 2001.  Author of the book Life is the Curriculum and co-author of the book Home Away From Home: LifeWays Care of Children and Families, Cynthia has lectured and presented internationally and is pedagogical director for trainings and seminars across the United States.  She served fourteen years on the board of the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America.  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.

Marianne Alsop

marianne.jpgMarianne is the Director of the California Coast LifeWays Early Childhood Training. She has been involved in Waldorf education for over 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 8 years she taught in the San Francisco Waldorf School Parenting program. She is also the Administrator of the Online Waldorf Library , a website for Waldorf educational resources.  She and her husband, Dave, have two Waldorf educated adult children and three adorable grandchildren.

Mary O'Connell, President

In 2002, Mary opened LifeWays Early Childhood Center in Milwaukee where she served as director for 13 years.  Mary is an alumni of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is a traveling teacher and Training Coordinator for LifeWays North America. She has taught parents and childcare teachers all over the U.S. and internationally. In 2010, Mary co-authored Home Away From Home: LifeWays Care of Children and Families with Cynthia Aldinger, and in 2018 she authored Observing Young Children: A Tool for Meaningful Assessment. Most recently, Mary started a non-profit farm education program at Paradise Farm in West Bend, where she and her colleagues provide outdoor, farm-based education to children and adults.

Bridget Scherer Schneider, Lead Teacher

Bridget received a PK-3 degree from the University of Wisconsin, which in turn led to many positions in mainstream daycares and schools, and ultimately seven years as an elementary teacher in Milwaukee. After the birth of her first child, she felt renewed energy for teaching when she became exposed to Waldorf Education. She dove in to the Great Lakes Waldorf teacher training program, did in-home childcare, found LifeWays and completed that training in 2011. She then became a kindergarten assistant at Prairie Hill Waldorf School, completed the Simplicity Parenting group leader training, and founded Mothering Arts Milwaukee mother-infant groups. The notion of “Life is the Curriculum” has become so completely woven into the everyday fabric of her life as a homemaking, homebirthing, homesteading, and homeschooling parent that she has been heard to say that the LifeWays training was the single most transformative experience of her life. She served as Student Services Director for the 2015-16 Wisconsin training and began taking on more roles as a teacher in the trainings both in Wisconsin and Alaska. She lives on a small homestead with her husband Michael, where they strive together to live simply, raise some animals, run a business, homeschool, and co-parent their five mutual children ranging in ages from 5 to 23.

Chinyelu Kunz, Student Services, Pennsylvania

Chinyelu has been teaching in the Parent-Child and Pre-School program at Kimberton Waldorf School since 2005 and is lead teacher at Kimberton’s Rosebud Garden, a LifeWays Representative Program. She has been involved in Waldorf education for nearly 22 years as a mother and early childhood teacher.  Chinyelu holds a BA in Interior Design and a Master's in Architecture as well as having completed the Waldorf Early Childhood Teacher Training at Sunbridge Institute in Spring Valley, New York, and the LifeWays Early Childhood and Human Development Training.

Chinyelu works with LifeWays North America to develop healthy early childhood programs at Kimberton Waldorf School, as well as training programs for caregivers, parents, and parent educators.  She is very excited to help bring LifeWays training to Kimberton Waldorf School.  She is the proud mother of two Waldorf graduates and a 10th grade daughter who attends high school at Kimberton.

Christine Margetic, Lead Teacher

Christine Hoffman Margetic, M.A. is a long time Waldorf Early Childhood teacher who currently teaches in the LifeWays San Francisco Bay Area Early Childhood Training. She is a certified Simplicity Parenting and Simplicity Parenting Discipline Coach. In addition to working in early childhood, Christine was also the Social Inclusion Coordinator at Marin Waldorf School for 7 years working with elementary school children, their teachers and parents.

Faith Collins, Lead Teacher

With over a dozen years of working with children, Faith Collins has been an early childhood teacher, co-director of the Rainbow Bridge LifeWays Program, and taught adult classes for parents and daycare providers in the US, England and online. In 2013 she was a keynote speaker at the first LifeWays conference, "Creating a Joyful Life with Children."  She founded her organization, Joyful Toddlers, in 2010 and since then over 200 people have taken her popular six-week tele-class, Joyful Days with Toddlers & Preschoolers.

Faith received an MA with Distinction in Early Childhood Studies from Roehampton University, doing original research for her dissertation on toddlers’ involvement in adults’ household tasks.  She lives in Denver with her husband and daughter.  You can learn more about her work at

Kate Hammond, Student Services, Bay Area

Kate Hammond has taught kindergarten, preschool, parent and child classes, and infants. She has also taught adult literacy, parent classes, children with special needs and movement workshops. Kate is a Waldorf alumna with a Bachelor of Arts (Honors) in Applied Linguistics. While class teaching at the Calgary Waldorf School, she completed her movement training with the Spacial Dynamics Institute. Kate has had a lifelong interest in adult education and has enjoyed living in many anthroposophical communities all over the world. She is a passionate crafter, a life-long learner, and is the intrigued mother of two teenage boys.

Kyle Schaller, Student Services, Jacksonville Beach, FL

Kyle lives in Atlantic Beach, Florida where she is a stay at home mother of two young children (Elijah, 6 and Liza,3). Kyle was first introduced to LifeWays by the Playgarden by the Sea in Jacksonville Beach, Florida in 2014. From her first visit to that cozy beach cottage, Kyle knew she had found something special and set out to learn as much as she could about LifeWays and Waldorf education. She enjoys hiking, biking, cooking and spending time at the beach with her family. Kyle's previous experience includes working with the Florida House of Representatives.

Laura Cassidy, Lead Teacher

LauraCassidy.jpgLaura Cassidy taught in the Early Childhood Department of Prairie Hill Waldorf School in Pewaukee, WI, for 22 years, 8 of those as a lead kindergarten teacher. She founded the school's "WonderGarden" preschool and taught in the parent-child playgroup, assisted in grade one, and continues to teach calligraphy to sixth graders. She is a core faculty member of the Great Lakes Waldorf Institute for teacher training.

Laura has a B.A. in English, graduated from the very first LifeWays training with Cynthia Aldinger, and took the 3-Year Gradalis Early Childhood Therapeutic Education Course with Bonnie River, Nancy Blanning, and Lori Clark. She is the mother of three grown Waldorf alumni. Laura has a deep love and is inspired by the fairy tales, her work as a calligraphy artist, and the archetypal artist and healer: Mother Nature.

Rachel Solt, Fundamentals Course Boulder

Rachel Solt has been a Waldorf Kindergarten teacher in Boulder, CO for 14 years. In addition she has served as Enrollment Tour Coordinator and Parent Enrichment Facilitator at Boulder Waldorf Kindergarten. When not at BWK, Rachel is the Director of Out of the Classroom & Into The World (OCIWorld), an organization dedicated to giving adolescent children alternative learning opportunities and educating through real-life experiences. She holds a BA from Pepperdine University, pursued her Master’s at California Lutheran University and earned her Waldorf Early Childhood teaching credentials from Rudolf Steiner College. With a background in both public and Waldorf education, Rachel brings over a decade of experience teaching young children and working with families. A mother and step-mother of three (now teenagers), Rachel has 19 years of experience raising children! With a progressive interpretation of Waldorf education, a deep respect for nature, a fun-loving spirit and a warm-hearted, sensitive approach to guiding children and parents, Rachel brings magic and wonder to a child’s burgeoning curiosity and gentle wisdom and mentoring to parents in this increasingly complex world.

Rosario Villasana, M.A., Lead Teacher

RosarioRosario Villasana, M.A., Department Chair at City College of San Francisco, Lifeways Instructor, and Early Childhood Consultant.

Rosario directs the LifeWays en Español caregiver training program focusing on development of curriculum materials in Spanish, community programs and mentoring teachers. 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.

A frequent and sought after presenter at the most respected professional conferences, notably NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children), the World Forum and the AERA (American Educational Research Association) as well as universities and colleges in the US, she has travelled internationally presenting in China, Greece, Mexico and Russia. Her primary focus is the Birth to 7 year old child and focus areas include; the Program for Infant/Toddler Caregivers, Rudolf Steiner Pedagogy, The Impact of Media on the Young Child, Environments for Children, Dance and Movement Education, Sensory Integration and Brain Development, and Resource Development for Spanish Trainers.

Susan Silverio, Lead Teacher

Susan Silverio was the founding teacher of Ashwood Waldorf School in Rockport, Maine, providing the multi-age kindergarten for 20 years near her three-generation family homestead in Lincolnville where she is now the director of Spindlewood Waldorf Kindergarten and LifeWays Center, She holds a B.A in liberal arts and has worked as a social worker and in providing emergency shelter and transitional housing for women and children. Susan is an organic gardener and beekeeper and enjoys rowing and sailing small craft in all seasons.

“I believe firmly that in a child’s early years, the foundation is laid for his or her entire life: for their health and well-being, for their sense of relationship with other human beings and with all realms of nature. It is about giving the child the opportunity to play, to explore, to be outdoors, to experience the arts and the spoken word, living images, stories and music. It is about giving them something worthy of imitation, inwardly as well as outwardly. In this way a child finds a sense of inner authority.”

Tiffany Manoukian, Student Services Arizona

Tiffany resides in the magical Sonoran Desert with her husband and four children and is currently the Parent/Child Director for the Tucson Waldorf School. She completed her LifeWays Early Childhood Certificate in Phoenix, AZ in March 2018 while serving as both the Administrative Assistant and cook. She also has a degree in business finance, and has completed the Mothering Arts postpartum training.

She has had a lifelong dream to work with young children. She discovered Waldorf Education shortly after her first child was born. She started a home school group that began by celebrating festivals, has had an in-home program and later taught in the kindergarten at Desert Marigold Waldorf school prior to her current position. She is fulfilling her dream to bring the life-changing LifeWays training to her community in Tucson.