Teachers and Community
Yasmeen Osman - Kindergarten
Yasmeen was born in South Africa, where she had a strong experience of living in community and spending a lot of downtime outdoors, 'just playing', with a lot of freedom. She also internalized deeply the need to recognize the humanity in all people and to contribute to the creating a better world. She moved to Ottawa when she was 12 years old, and has been mostly rooted here since then.
With a university degree in biology and studies in child development and psychology, she then felt drawn to her long-standing interest in children and education. She was first inspired by the focus on beauty , reverence and and lively engagement of the children in the Waldorf approach. Her interest grew when her daughters attended Waldorf schools, and she completed the Waldorf Teacher Training at Sunbridge College in New York. She has had the privilege of leading Kindergarten programs for the past 23 years, including at École Parsifal and the Garden Gate Program.
Learning and integrating her personal and professional experience continues to be a priority, with the children as treasured among her many teachers. "My task is to hold a space that celebrates the precious un-hurried nature of childhood. I feel honoured to be witness to the profound richness of the children's play and to be in the presence of their joy and wonder." Connecting with family and friends, long chats at the kitchen table, singing together, reading, being in Nature and long walks beside water are cherished activities.
Alan Krueger-Grade School Teacher
We are delighted to announce that Mr. Alan Krueger has joined Polaris. Alan is a graduate of the University of Guelph and received his B. Ed at Western University. Before teaching in the Haldimand-Norfolk County School Board, Alan taught overseas in Germany, Lebanon and Thailand. Upon returning to Canada he embarked on a 19 year career as a Waldorf teacher at the Ottawa Waldorf School. Alan has also mentored Waldorf teachers in Ottawa, Kingston, Guelph and Toronto. He brings with him a wealth of experience and expertise to share not only with the students but with our teachers and staff as well.
Jennifer Neate - Centre Programming
as a volunteer with the Natal Parks Board. While in South Africa, she discovered her love of guiding children in outdoor nature exploration when she volunteered at an environmental education centre in the Drakensberg Mountains. Upon returning to Canada, she completed a Bachelor’s of Education degree specializing in Outdoor and Experiential Education and began working as an outdoor education instructor with the Ottawa Carleton District School Board.
Her interest in Waldorf education began when she attended a parent and child program with her first daughter. She was immediately inspired by the deep reverence for nature and beauty that was conveyed. Upon further study of the Waldorf pedagogy, she decided to homeschool her daughters blending nature education with elements of Waldorf education. During the five years that she homeschooled, she founded and led a Waldorf-inspired forest homeschool program. Since that time, she has worked as an independent educator providing nature-based programs for children and youth, and as an occasional teacher for the public school board.
Jennifer enjoys being outdoors hiking, cross-country skiing, canoe-tripping and simply being in the company of our more than human brothers and sisters. She also enjoys spending time with her family, singing, meditating and making her own herbal medicines.
Cole McLaughlin - Nature Connect
with the guidance of a caring mother who inspired by Rudolf Steiner’s work but unable to send him to a local Waldorf school, brought him into his body, mind and spirit through craft, music, story and time in nature. Later, through enrolment in an outdoor group led by his grade six teacher, Cole embarked on a journey that went deep into philosophy, wilderness living and naturalism.
Cole continued through his youth as a participant and eventually leader for young boys and into a career after searching for a way to keep growing his skills and doing meaningful work in his early 20’s. Right around the time that he was enrolled as a undergrad student at University, Cole began planning adult programs with the hopes that he might once again have a cohort to deepen his skills and love for nature and teaching. It was serendipity or chance that Cole stumbled upon an outdoor school at that time called the P.I.N.E. Project and discovered that the Director, Andrew McMartin, had already started building what he though didn’t exist in Toronto and the rest is history.
From 2011 on Cole led and developed programs through the P.I.N.E. Now since moving to the nation’s capital Cole has been sharing his love for nature and craft through his work with various organizations in the area.
He brings a special love of working with local plants to turn their barks into threads and textiles and continues to bring cohorts of kids and adults out and into relationships with the world all around.
Bethany Leonard - Nature Connect
She believes we exist to co-create with Nature and each other and this relationship is well-nurtured through crafting & creative play - feeling our roots in Nature, engaging with our curiosity and accessing the river of creativity inside us all.
At Nature Connect you will find Beth caring for the kids with silliness, laughter and careful listening to their souls desires and interests. She also loves creating cozy spaces of comfort outside in all seasons, having a creative activity at the ready, and a tasty tea or treat ready to be cooked up for and with the kids.
Oana Nichifor - Programming & Painting
She moved to Mexico in 2013, and has worked as an English teacher since. It was during a volunteering program at an indigenous high school in Mexico that she came across Waldorf education, and so, started her teacher training in Cuernavaca, Mexico in 2018. In 2019 she moved to Canada, graduating from the full-time Waldorf teacher training program at the Rudolf Steiner Centre in Toronto the following year. She is interested in remedial teaching and psychology. She enjoys reading, painting and hiking.
Bozens Hrycyna - Handwork & Programming
She did not have any connection to the school, but grew up playing by the creek and the woods nearby, where she cultivated a love of plants and hands-on learning. Summers were spent on the shores of Lake Ontario and camping all over Canada with a scouting organization which immersed her in Ukrainian language and culture, in addition to the Ukrainian heritage school and church that were a part of her diaspora community upbringing.
She graduated from York University with an Honors Bachelor in the Arts, and a Bachelor of Education, with a focus in history and literature. For several years she travelled extensively and spent two years teaching English in Central-Eastern Europe. Upon returning to Canada, she settled in Toronto where she worked as a teacher for the Catholic school board. Her passion for the folk arts, farming and food led her to a host of community endeavours including starting Kosa Kolektiv, which evolved into Folk Camp, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to connecting people through traditional customs and crafts.
Frustrated with the mainstream educational system, she sought out Waldorf and completed the Foundations Studies in Anthroposophy at the Steiner Centre in Toronto in 2015. She moved to the Ottawa Valley in 2017 to live on the land in a communal setting and to continue deepening her relationship with traditional folkways. She was missing teaching and an educational community very much and is grateful to have found her way to Polaris.
Božena cherishes beauty and connection, she enjoys bringing people together in ways that are soul-nourishing. She loves folk singing, dancing, gardening, and all handcrafts, but especially embroidery and weaving.
Marc Delannoy - French
(the French fur traders) in wintertime and much later, his encounter with folk music in all its manifold expressions at the Winnipeg Folk Festival.
Since moving east some thirty years ago, Marc has completed his Waldorf Teacher Training in Toronto and taught at various schools in the Ottawa area including École Parsifal School and Ottawa Waldorf School. He has obtained a Bachelor of Education from Ottawa University in 2011 and is a member of the Ontario College of Teachers.
A lover of folk song and poetry, Marc has enjoyed singing and composing over the years, as well as developing string games in relation to poems and telling French Canadian folk tales. He continues to be inspired by Waldorf’s unique approach to education and its use of art in all its guises as a therapeutic teaching tool.
Simon McMillan - Programming
Simon worked for 7 years as an informal educator and exhibit developer first at the London Regional Children's museum and then at Science North in Sudbury. Simon enjoys outdoor activities, particularly rock climbing and canoeing, and is also an accomplished choral singer. Simon is a founding member of Polaris, having been the chair of the board for the last two years. Over the last couple of years he has regularly taught the upper year students at Polaris.
Dina Cristino - Administrator
Dina was the former administrator of the Ottawa Waldorf School. She comes to Polaris with over 14 years of experience in school administration. She completed her Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in Law and Justice before travelling to Portugal, where she completed her ESL teacher training and then became the owner of a language and tutoring centre there for over 11 years. Apart from valuable teaching experience, she also gained vital skills in communication, bookkeeping, human resource management, and more, which she has been able to bring to Polaris.
A number of coincidental events lead her to Waldorf Education upon her return to Canada, and she began her journey a number of years ago after joining a Parent and Child class with her daughter. Waldorf Education’s focus on movement, art, music, storytelling and creating a “lived experience” for the children all spoke to Dina’s own teaching methods and philosophies. That combined with its focus on reverence for the earth and natural toys and lifestyle, fit so well with her family values.
She is grateful for all that Waldorf Education has brought to her personal and family life and thankful to be a part of Polaris and working with the whole community to ensure that all families seeking this unique education have the opportunity available to them.
Growing up in a very small town in Northern Ontario, surrounded by forests and lakes, Dina developed a love for the outdoors and nature. She enjoys spending time hiking and gardening or can be found curled up with a book, when she can find the time, which is her other passion.