Teachers and Community
Vikki Esplin - Grade School
With a degree in Applied Psychology and a masters in Education, Vikki has over 12 years of class teaching experience in international schools and UK public schools, Vikki has only recently delved into Waldorf Education and is keen on bridging her hands-on and integrated teaching approach with Waldorf pedagogy. She is thrilled to have found Waldorf Education and is excited about what this new journey will bring.
Passionate about outdoor learning, nature and wilderness, Vikki will also be leading the Friday Nature Connection program, exploring Ottawa in all its seasonal elements and natural beauty. Vikki is enrolled in the Child and Nature Alliance of Canada Forest School leaders program and has led expedition clubs, residential camping programs and ski trips.
A classically trained singer, Vikki enjoys bringing music, particularly choral singing into the classroom. Experienced at dealing with student well being, Vikki is skilled at using mindfulness techniques, emotion coaching and reflection with students. She also loves drama and storytelling. In her spare time, Vikki can be found running along the Ottawa canal, riding her bike in the arboretum, exploring galleries or exploring her passion for food and travel. Vikki is excited to be joining the Polaris community this fall.
Casey Hayes - Grade School
There were many interesting adult education courses on offer and he learned how interesting and unique Waldorf education was. He had just completed his B.A. in history and decided to plunge right in and signed up for the next teacher training class.
In his quest to become a Waldorf teacher he has journeyed from one end of the country to the other. Finding that each Waldorf school is unique and learning so much during his travels. The lessons he has taken from these experiences is not to be underestimated. He has been exposed to a number of schools and has navigated different Board and Faculty styles. At this point in his career, he is eager to find work with a school he can grow with and where he can lend his breadth of experience and knowledge.
His teaching philosophy is that anyone can learn anything if it is explained correctly. A teacher’s role is to remove hindrances so that learning can take place. The essence of education is the relationship between a caring, knowledgeable adult and a motivated, secure child.
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 and is eager to take on a larger role as a teacher at the school now.
Oana Nichifor - Grades school
worked as an English teacher since. It was during a volunteering program at an indigenous high school in Mexico that she came across the Waldorf education, and so, started her Waldorf 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 Toronto the following year. She is interested in remedial teaching and psychology. She enjoys reading, painting and hiking.
Yasmeen Osman - Kindergarten
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.
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.
Sylvie Richard - Eurythmy, Upper Grades
She also is one of two Coordinators of the Upper Grades Program at Polaris School and Centre.
Sylvie is an active visual artist, member of the Visual Arts Section of the Anthroposophical Society of North America.
She has been involved in Waldorf Education since 1994, as a teacher, a therapist and a parent. She is the proud mother of four young men who benefited from a Waldorf Education.
She loves playing the piano, gardening and writing poetry.
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 school 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 Waldorf 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 Waldorf Education thrives in the Ottawa area so 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.
Alan Krueger- mentor and Upper Grades Guest Teacher
Gordon was trained at the Toronto Waldorf School and worked at Kimberton Waldorf School in Pennsylvania as a High School Physics teacher. For many years he taught Physics, Chemistry, Math and also Learning Disabled groups of kids Science and English in the Ottawa Public Board. He is a member of the Anthroposophical society, a Chemical Engineer, beekeeper, and writer of children's books.
Gordon Kubanek, P.Eng.
TSSF, Society of St.Francis
Beekeeper & Writer
Arie van Ameringen
Guest teacher in the Upper Grades Program
Arie is an alumnus of the Hague Waldorf High School in Holland. He studied biology and linguistics in Montreal and, for many years, taught linguistics and literature in a junior college. Trained in Waldorf pedagogy in Dornach, he has gained experience at École Rudolf Steiner de Montréal as a class teacher and a high school teacher in Humanities for more than 20 years. He was the General Secretary of the Anthroposophical Society in Canada. He currently lectures internationally. He is the founder of Editions Perceval.