Lower School

The class teacher is the primary teacher for children in grades 1-8. He/She teaches the main lesson and typically stays with a class for all eight years of lower school. 

Clare Andre
Class Teacher, 2013

Clare was born in New Zealand, but has spent most of her life traveling. She feels most at home where her family is, and is therefore now contendly at home in Bethesda. She has worked as a personal trainer, dance teacher, swim teacher and coach in countries as diverse as Australia, Oman, England and France. Clare began teaching games and movement in the lower and middle schools, then worked as the substitute teacher before taking first grade. Clare's favorite pastimes are running and dancing with her wonderful husband, reading great books with her wonderful children, and spending time at home or out and about and camping with her wonderful expanded family of six.

John Brauer
Class Teacher, 1975
BA, University of Maryland; Year In-Service Training in Spatial Dynamics, Certificate, Waldorf Institute of Mercy College. Waldorf teacher training at the Waldorf Institute of Mercy College of Detroit from 1973-75. Graduate of the first Spacial Dynamics In-Service Training Program.

John has guided several classes through the lower school, taught history blocks in the high school and served as a movement teacher, athletic director and coach.

Laura Cox,
Class Teacher, 2009
BA and MAT program, Johns Hopkins University; Waldorf teacher Training, NOVA Institute.

Laura comes to Waldorf Education after first teaching grades 3, 4 and 5 in Prince George's County, Maryland, public schools and a long hiatus from teaching after becoming a mom. Prior to taking this class, Laura directed a youth education program for a Unity Church.  While completing teacher training, Laura worked with several homeschool cooperatives, tutored  middle school students and taught Middle School English Skills. Daughters Galena and Raya are in seventh and fifth grades respectively and have attended WWS since the Children's Garden. Along with Facilities Director, John Cox, the girls, their dog Saffron and two new kittens, during the school year the Cox family lives aboard a 52' motor boat at the Gangplank Marina on the Potomac River. In the summer, they return to their house in the small peninsula village of Galesville, MD located on the West River in southern Anne Arundel County about 15 miles south of Annapolis. Having moved on a boat and changed lifestyles dramatically to be at WWS, Laura considers herself 'commitable' to WWS, which for her is truly a family affair.

Grace Chris

Lower School Substitute Teacher, and Music Teacher in Grades 1 and 2, 2014

BS in Music Education, University of Vermont. Newly arrived in the DC areas, Grace was previously a music teacher at the Orchard Valley Waldorf School in Vermont from 2011-2014.

Gloria León
Class Teacher and Art Educator, 2000

BFA painting, Minor in Art History, Parsons/The New School, BA Art Education (Certified K-12), University of Kentucky; Waldorf Teacher Training, Kindergarten and Grades, Eugene Waldorf School

Born in Puerto Rico, Gloria came to WWS from Oregon where she spent three years working as an artist-in-residence in public schools and teaching through the University of Oregon's TAG program. She spent her early twenties in Kentucky raising her young children on her family's farm and finishing up her degrees. While in Kentucky, she also apprenticed as a midwife, studied herbalism and mastered stained-glass and ceramics. She is a certified doula and reflexologist and currently works as a painting teacher in the teacher training at WWS and privately. She also loves to sing, act and dance and feels lucky to be able to do all those things with the wonderful children in her class and her own two daughters, Camille and Sophia.

Jack Petrash
Class Teacher, Faculty Mentor, 1973
BA, Education, Queens College; MA, Waldorf Education, Adelphi University

Jack grew up in New York City and went to the New York City public schools and then to Queens College. It was at Queens College that he had the good fortune of having a professor who assigned several articles on Waldorf Education and took his class to visit the Garden City Waldorf School. After graduation Jack attended the Waldorf Institute at Adelphi University and came to the Washington Waldorf School in 1973 to take the first of his four classes.

Jack's three children were also students at our school: Jonathan (class of '91), Joshua (class of '95) and Ava (class of '07). In 1982, in a moment of professional and personal insight, Jack convinced Carol Reynolds to come and work in our preschool. They were married two years later and Jack says that from that point on his teaching and so much more improved dramatically.


Debbie SpitulnikDebbie Spitulnik
Class Teacher, 2006, 1996-2004
BS, Education (Special Education and Elementary Education), Syracuse University; MEd in Waldorf Education, Antioch New England Graduate School

Since she was in middle school, Debbie has been working with children, starting out by teaching blind and multi -challenged children. Twenty -three years ago, while looking for a school for her oldest son, she found the Washington Waldorf School and Waldorf education. Knowing immediately that this was the school for him, she also realized it was the place that would bring together all of what she thought was best and most important about teaching and learning. This connection with this education brought her back to teaching after a hiatus during which she began raising her three children, starting a catering business and creating and then managing an education program at a local arts center. A proud mother of three Waldorf graduates and wife of attorney and teacher Chuck Spitulnik, Debbie kvells when speaking about her family.

When not teaching, Debbie studies the art of creative speech formation, bringing alive the sound and movement of words. She loves theater, especially when her children are performing. When there is time, Debbie is found working with wool, walking in the woods or by the water, reading and traveling. Debbie is known to many students, alumni and parents for her famous “Mrs. Spitulnik’s brownies”.

Dawn Tanner
Class Teacher, 2004
M. Ed. Antioch University New England 2010; Teaching Certificate in Waldorf Education, Antioch University New England 1996; B.S. in Elementary Education, Towson University 1987;

Prior to joining us she taught at the Waldorf School of Baltimore for eight years. Dawn completed coursework with the Coming of Age project with Tamara Slayton, and developed and led workshops for adolescent girls and their mothers in the Baltimore area. In addition to her class teacher duties at WWS, she has served as the lower school department chair, as an AWSNA delegate, on the college of teachers, and is currently the Student for Social Action advisor. She completed the AWSNA Mentor’s Colloquium in 2009, and completed several of the Collaborative Counseling Training sessions with Kim John Payne. Her interest in social health issues prompted her to write her master’s thesis on the topic, and she has been the chair of the Social Health committee since its inception. While not at work, she enjoys traveling, cycling, gardening, singing, hiking, kayaking, and spending time with family and friends. When she really wants to escape, she reads fantasy/science fiction novels: Ursela Le Guin and Octavia Butler, in particular.  Long before teaching and motherhood, Dawn spent a year aboard a tall ship, the Pride of Baltimore II as a deckhand.

See Also

Specialty Teachers