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Our Team

Our Team

Our Team of educators and administrators are fiercely dedicated to the education of children in our community. Wild River was born from devoted teachers and parents, and our team is as strong as they come because of it. We would love for you to meet our wonderful team who truly live to their fullest versions of themselves to better serve the children of our region!  

DIRECTORS

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PEDAGOGICAL LEAD

Bonnie River

Bonnie knew she was a teacher from age nine standing at a plant stand and asking all her siblings and cousins to listen to a story. Now, more than 50 years later, she is still telling stories and painting imaginative pictures of a bright, connected, happy world born from the struggles of becoming the best human we can be. Bonnie completed her doctoral studies in Organizational Leadership where she embraced many wonderful approaches to creating strong, committed, mission-driven organizations. These studies came after more than 30 years as a Waldorf Teacher. Bonnie has lived and studied in three countries. Her work with young adults on the spectrum, and in special education has opened her heart and will to working with individual children who have specific needs.  

 

Her three children, all received Waldorf Education and are testaments to the promise that our graduates will have purpose, meaning and direction in their lives. Bonnie is a steward of Gradalis Waldorf Teacher Training and serves as a consultant and teacher trainer throughout North America. (that is, until she came home to guide the pedagogy at Wild River). Bonnie served as a consultant to many innovative Waldorf Programs like Cyber Civics and Human Development. She is a teacher of philosophy, who truly enjoys finding synthesis in our controversies. 

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DIRECTOR OF FINANCE & OPERATIONS

Kate Panawek

Kate is a native of California and spent much of her childhood and young adult life adventuring in the mountains of the Tahoe region until in 2010 she grew roots in Truckee. Her first encounter with Waldorf education was when she was in search of a preschool for her son and was looking for a program that would give him confidence in being his own unique self, offer him immersion in imaginative and nature-based play, and embody the arts, kindness, and a strong balanced life rhythm.

Kate has a BA in Architecture from UC Berkeley and a Masters in Regional Planning from the University of Cincinnati. Prior to starting Wild River, Kate was part of a group of parents that formed a non-profit Waldorf inspired preschool named Little Gems of the Sierra. Kate was a founding board member as the Treasurer and then moved into a Director of Finance and Operations role which she still holds today. Prior to her career in educational leadership, Kate ran an international design firm based in Dubai, Singapore, and the Bay Area. Kate has over 20+ years of professional experience working at the intersection of strategy, planning, and organizational structuring.

 

Kate has had the opportunity to live and work abroad during 5 years of her career development and has also travelled extensively throughout the world. Besides travel, Kate has a love of backpacking, skiing, handwork, and spending quality time with family in the outdoors.

EARLY CHILDHOOD

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ASPEN

Soma Miller

Bio COMING SOON!

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ASPEN

Apryl Bracelin

Apryl Bracelin was born and raised in Northern California. She and her husband Michael began to raise their two daughters in a small town in the Bay Area. This is where she started working with children grades K-8. She has 15 years of experience as a Youth Development Professional, Instructional Assistant, and Program Coordinator. Apryl began to read about Waldorf Education when her youngest daughter was in kindergarten. In 2020 her family learned about a Waldorf school in the remarkable town of Truckee, this helped assist in the decision to move their family to the Mountains. Her daughters started their beautiful Waldorf education in 1st and 5th grade. Apryl soon realized she also wanted to be a part of the school, and in teaching this amazing group of children. She then began as a Kindergarten Assistant for what is now Wild River  and has loved every aspect of it. She enjoys cooking, exploring the outdoors with her family and two dogs, doing arts and crafts with her children and continuing to grow and learn more about the Truckee community.

Lead Teachers
Learning Groups

LEARNING GROUPS

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BOBCAT LEARNING GROUP

Maddie May

Maddie May was born and raised in a small mountain town called Manitou Springs, Colorado. It was there that she developed a love for spending time in the outdoors exploring, playing, and learning. After graduating with a B.S. in Wildlife and Conservation Biology from Colorado State University, she moved to Truckee to work on the trail crew and teach in a variety of outdoor education environments. It was a few summers spent teaching blind and visually impaired people about science that solidified Maddie’s calling to be a teacher. She then attended graduate school at the University of Idaho where she earned a Masters of Natural Science in Environmental Education and Science Communication. She found herself drawn to Waldorf education because of its emphasis on music, art, and imagination!

Outside of teaching, Maddie loves backcountry skiing, painting and drawing, dancing to bluegrass music, and spending time with her family and two dogs.

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CHICKAREE LEARNING GROUP

Rebecca Bear

Rebecca was born in Minnesota, and grew up in a large family playing pond hockey and skiing. Rebecca has always been a maker, and earned her BFA at the University of Minnesota Duluth in Graphic Design. While working at a grocery co-op in Bloomington, Indiana, she rediscovered her passion for working with children, and was determined to become a teacher. She earned her MSEd in Elementary Education at Indiana University and completed her student teaching at Sørhåland Privatskole in Skudeneshavn, Norway. After experiencing how raw and intentional a school experience could be, Rebecca moved to California. She taught for five years at Nevada City School of the Arts, two years in Sonoma County, and is now thrilled to call Truckee her home. She enjoys carving stamps, beading, drawing, baking, music, camping, and skiing.

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NIGHTHAWK LEARNING GROUP

Ayla Shaw

Ayla was raised in Truckee, so she is delighted to return to her hometown to be a  part of pioneering Waldorf education in the Tahoe area. Ayla graduated with a B.A.  in Place-Based Education and Children's Book Writing and Illustrating from  Prescott College, where she first encountered Waldorf education by volunteering in  local school gardens. Before becoming a Waldorf teacher, Ayla spent a decade  working in outdoor education and wilderness trip leading in both Yosemite  National Park and Maine, as well as spending her summers rambling around  remote corners of Yosemite as a Wilderness Ranger for the National Park Service.  While traveling around South America for six months to learn Spanish and climb  rocks, Ayla visited several Waldorf schools and decided she was ready to pursue  this next step by enrolling in Antioch New England's Waldorf teacher training  program, in addition to earning a public teaching credential through Moreland  University. Ayla now lives in the expansive Sierra Valley with her dog, Topo, and  spends her weekends climbing, cross-country skiing and mountain biking, often in  tutus.

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EAGLE LEARNING GROUP

Kathleen Mumaw

Bio COMING SOON!

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DRAGONFLY LEARNING GROUP

Emelia Legarza

Emelia was born and raised in northern Nevada. She earned a B.S. in Outdoor  Adventure Leadership at Southern Oregon University. After graduating she worked  as a part-time scuba instructor for the university and a part-time nanny which is  when she simultaneously fell in love with teaching and working with children. Not  long after moving to the Florida Keys for scuba diving in 2017, Emelia pursued a  Master of Arts in Teaching with a focus on Elementary Education through Western  Governors University. While finishing her degree she began working at a local  Montessori inspired charter school teaching kindergarten and first grade. While she  loved her school and being so close to the ocean, she began to miss the mountains  and being close to home. Following the pandemic, she decided it was time to move  back west. In search of a school that would fill her heart as much as the last, she  stumbled upon our Tahoe Truckee Waldorf Community and knew this is where she was meant to teach.  Currently, Emelia resides on the North Shore with her boyfriend, Chris, and their  two dogs, Blizzard and Benwood. When she’s not at school or doing crafts at home,  she’ll be outside doing something else she loves like climbing rocks or skiing down  mountains.

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MOUNTAIN LION LEARNING GROUP

Emily Desler

Emily was born in the Bay Area but spent the second half of her childhood just outside of Boise, Idaho, surrounded by raging creeks, pine trees and dirt roads. After high school, Emily earned an AA in photography from North Idaho College and then continued on to earn a BA in video production from Boise State University in 2005. Since then, Emily has had the opportunity to camp, hike, ski, climb, float, travel, guide, teach, facilitate and learn with a variety of ages, maturity levels and wisdoms across numerous countries. Europe and Australia were her home for three different stints as she guided week-long outdoor education and self-reflection trips. She continues to relish in her work outdoors and in: guiding individuals into growth-based situations. In 2015 Emily welcomed her twins, Quincy and Lincoln, into her world. Later that year Emily earned her Master's in Education and continued on to teach at Forest Charter for six years. Though her chief ambition is to one day possess the skills to keep an orchid alive more than a few weeks, Emily, in the meantime, engages, cuddles, sings, and plans adventures with her 7-year-old identical twin boys. Their dog, Olive, demands they spend most of their days outside on beaches, trails, mountains, lakes, rivers, bikes and scooters, which they don’t mind at all. Their cat, Luna, seems annoyed that she gets left behind so often. 

SINGLE-SUBJECT SPECIALTY ENRICHMENT

Single subject enrichment
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ECO LITERACY

Liz Sheppard

Liz Sheppard was born and raised in Atlanta, GA where she learned the power of an incredible and supportive education, the magic of southern hospitality and the beauty of a family meal. Her love of being outdoors was kindled by the time she spent as a child in the Southern Application mountains and the Wilds of Maine. She has led wilderness trips from the wild tropical jungles of Costa Rica to the barren tundra of Alaska. She has always liked going to school and has a dual BA from Tufts University in Environmental Science and International Relations, and Master in Education from UNR.

Liz has worked in Outdoor Education for over two decades and designed and ran the Eco Literacy program at Golden Valley Tahoe School over the last 4 years and is excited for the opportunity to offer this amazing program to the greater Truckee community. Liz loves supporting children with hands on learning experiences in the outdoors where they discover how all living things are interconnected. She teaches children about science, math, english, cooperation, communication, empowerment, empathy, cause and effect and wonderment in real time while exploring the world around them. She believes in Waldorf education and how it teaches to the whole child. She appreciates how it respects the individuality of children by incorporating a variety of different learning styles. Most of all she loves how it teaches children to find beauty in the world and believe in themselves. 
When she is not educating people in the outdoors, Liz loves spending time with her family, being outside, camping, traveling, snowboarding, doing yoga, sleeping, and finding time and space to explore her inner artist.

PROGRAM SUPPORT

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OFFICE MANAGER

Serenity Enriquez

Serenity was born in Texas and spent her first 5 years living in Mexico. From age 10 to 16, she lived in a school bus with her family, traveling full-time throughout the US as unschoolers. She left home at 16 when they came to San Francisco, where she entered foster care and became a bike messenger. She attended college for emergency medicine and fire science, then merged her two passions, by training bike messengers to form a disaster response team for the City of San Francisco.

 

Serenity moved to North Lake Tahoe in 2003, and became an avid kayaker, telemark skier, mountain biker and licensed airplane pilot. She home birthed two daughters and homeschooled them in the Waldorf method until enrolling her youngest in our program in 2021. They moved to Sierra Valley in 2019, where she is an active volunteer firefighter and medical responder. She gardens, rides her dirt bike and studies anthropology when at home.

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LEARNING GROUP ASSISTANT

Rachel Bauer

Rachel grew up in Clovis, CA on an almond farm with her parents and younger brother. To pass the time she rode bikes and ski raced through high school and ran track and cross country in college. In 2004, she moved to Aspen, CO, with a degree in Liberal Studies and a CA Realtor license to work as the Senior Property Manager for the Snowmass Village Mall (a 77,000 sqft outdoor shopping mall). Rachel enjoyed spending her time as an instructor on the weekends working with all ages and abilities, attending training and exams to finally obtaining a full certification. Rachel has represented the USA Cycling Team in the Pan American Continental Mountain Biking Championships, is an Alpine Examiner for over 11 years in the Western Division, and ran the largest training program in the west of over 450 employees at Heavenly Mountain Resort. In the winter months, she maintains various positions at local ski resorts as a Tech Team member, training manager and kids ski school manager. In the summer months, she runs her own cleaning business and works with mountain bike riders both at national levels and local levels. She currently resides in Olympic Valley with her 10year old Aussi Mix passing the time with music, indoor gardening, and yoga.

Office Staff
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