Office & Administration
Administrative Director - Cheryl LeBlanc
Cheryl came to Desert Star School from a managerial background, with more than twenty years experience in business environments. She joined the School's administrative staff in 2009 and served in a variety of administrative and business roles since that time, helping to shape the operational aspects of the school in its younger years. Through her two children enrolled at Desert Star, Cheryl has connected to the pedagogy and classroom culture of the school across all grades K-8. As Administrator, Cheryl holds the role of principal and spokesperson for the school's operations and relationships. She holds a BA degree in Accounting and Business Management from Northeastern University.
Curriculum Administrator - Dru Smith-Crain
Ms. Smith-Crain completed her Waldorf Teacher Training at Rudolf Steiner College in 2009 and earned her BA in Environmental Studies in Sustainability at Prescott College, Prescott AZ. She holds a Master of Education in Administrative Leadership and Principalship (MEd) and is completing an MA in Environmental Studies focused on Goethean Science from Prescott College.
Initially Ms. Smith-Crain was drawn to Waldorf Education through an apprenticeship in biodynamic farming. She has served as a Public Waldorf teacher in grades one through eight for over 15 years. She loves spending time in the unique high desert environment studying the biotic relationships between the flora and fauna. She is particularly excited about the opportunity to help students and colleagues develop a sense of place, by practicing Goethean Observation as an inner path of self-development based on outer encounters with nature.
Student Support Services - Kelly Cadigan
Ms. Cadigan is in her third year at Desert Star. She grew up in Arizona and holds a Bachelor of Social Work from Northern Arizona University and a Master of Arts in Human Service Counseling from Liberty University. She was first introduced to Waldorf Education when her father began teaching at Desert Star Community School 10 years ago. Ms. Cadigan has worked in educational settings for the past seven years learning about and supporting student growth academically, socially, emotionally, and behaviorally. She is passionate about supporting students and meeting each child where they are in order to support them in their growth process. Her dedication to the well-being of the students contributes to Desert Star’s safe, loving, and supportive environment.
Registrar/Receptionist - Kathleen Harris-Johnson
2019 - 2020 teaching staff
Kindergarten - Donna Sturgis
Donna Sturgis was raised in New York until she turned 17 and left to attend Fairleigh Dickinson University where she received a BA in fine arts with a minor in education. In college Donna began studying the work of Rudolf Steiner and was introduced to Waldorf Education. Donna began her teaching career as a handwork teacher in Green Meadow Waldorf School in 1974. In 1977 she and her husband moved to London, England where two of their three children were born. Returning to the United States in 1981 the family settled in Kimberton, PA where Donna worked at Kimberton Waldorf School as a handwork teacher, a kindergarten assistant and a kindergarten lead teacher. She also ran a Waldorf home day care for 13 years. After 30 years in Kimberton Donna and her husband relocated to Sedona in 2012 where she has worked as Desert Star’s Kindergarten teacher. Donna’s years of experience, as well as her understanding of child development, help support the children in her care (and their parents) to successfully navigate the early childhood years.
1st Grade- Armida Cervantez
Ms. Cervantez was blessed to grow up in California climbing trees, picking almonds and playing on the river. She was introduced to Waldorf Education through having a local Waldorf school and training program in her community. The education spoke to her and it reminded her of her own cultural upbringing with a oral storytelling and rich celebrations. She began attending lectures at Rudolf Steiner College when her first daughter was an infant. Later she would become involved in the Waldorf Charter School her children attended. She volunteered as a class parent, festival representative and as a member of the Board of Directors.
Her work experience includes assisting in private Waldorf kindergartens, and director of a private preschool. She has assisted in public Waldorf kindergartens and created her own home program which included a parent child program as well. She joins Desert Star Community School for her Third year of teaching in the grades. She has taught first and second grade classes. Her storytelling skills, enthusiasm for learning and warmth bring a sense of security and joy to her class.
She holds an A.A. in Liberal Arts from Sierra College and a B.S. in Child Development from Walden University. She has training and education from Rudolf Steiner College, The Micha-el Institute, Gradalis, Lifeways Early Childhood program and Juniper Tree Puppets.
2nd Grade- Frank Plucker
Mr. Plucker grew up in Northern Arizona and earned his Associates Degree at Yavapai College. He then completed a bachelor’s degree at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington before moving to California we he began a family and worked in biodynamic agriculture while his two older children attended a Waldorf charter school. His work with his children’s school inspired him to complete a master’s degree in child and adolescent development and he completed the Calstate TEACH teacher training program. He returned to Northern Arizona and has been teaching at Desert Star Community School since 2013 as a class teacher. He is dedicated to inspiring a lifelong love of learning in his students.
3rd Grade- Brittany Young
Brittany Marie Young is a three year resident of Arizona originally from California. She has her Master's degree in Social and Cultural Foundations of Education from DePaul University in Chicago, IL. Brittany is an artist, writer, musician and educator whose greatest passion lies in facilitating spaces for learning and growth that embrace the whole human being. She strongly believes that unique and invaluable gifts, talents and perspectives are inherent in each individual and is dedicated to learning about and illuminating this truth. Brittany has taught art throughout Yavapai county schools and has been a part time educator in Chicago for at-risk youth. She has also been an avid traveler and student of life spending several years traveling abroad. This multicultural lens is something she hopes to weave into the classroom culture. She is very much looking forward to her new beginnings as a full-time 3rd grade teacher and happy to be fully present for the learning experience of the students.
4th Grade- Cory Brunner
Mr. Brunner holds a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and Education from Prescott College, here in Arizona, and completed an Associate of Arts in Early Childhood and Elementary Education, at Yavapai College in Prescott, prior to finishing his BA with PC in 2013. He has been a resident of Yavapai County since 2004. Born and raised in Milwaukee, WI, and well-traveled throughout the central and western United States, he asserts with conviction that nowhere else has felt more like home than northern Arizona, with its sincerely unique spirit, communities, ecology, and sensibilities.
Mr. Brunner has taught and supported Preschool and Pre-K programs at Primavera School in Prescott Arizona, in addition to coordinating after school programs and activities for early grades. He has worked with the Del Webb Center for Early Childhood Development through Yavapai College in Prescott, and has contributed to a variety of emergent community education programs and initiatives in the Prescott area over the last fifteen years; having also taught ESL and AP Composition in mainland China in 2013/14, as a Foreign Expert in English language education.
He was first introduced to Waldorf education as a component of his studies in child development, Mr. Brunner has known the work of Rudolph Steiner, and the American counterpoints of Steiner's broad-reaching educational philosophies, to be a exceptional light in an otherwise often lacking and overly ingrained system of western educational missives. Mr. Brunner is pleased and excited to be accepting the responsibility of this year's 4th grade class at Desert Star Community School, and projects a coming year of excellence and enjoyment for students, staff, and families alike.
5th Grade Teacher- Kristine Mattson
Ms. Mattson was born in San Francisco and spent the first 40 years of her life in Northern California, never living more than 60 miles from her roots. She graduated from UC Davis with a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and a minor in Cultural Anthropology and, at the same time became a California licensed Paramedic. Kristine worked twenty years as a Paramedic while her three children attended the Davis Waldorf school. It was her children’s school experience that inspired Kristine to return to education. She trained as a Waldorf teacher through Rudolf Steiner College in Sacramento. Since that time, she has moved every 4 years, teaching at different schools throughout the US in California, Utah, Hawaii, and most recently Arizona. Ms. Mattson has been teaching Waldorf education for eleven years and has been at DSCS since 2018. She is married to her high school sweetheart, Dr. Kevin McCauley, and enjoys living in Sedona.
6th Grade- Danette McAfee
Ms. Mac loves adventure! She grew up in New York and moved to Alaska when she was just 17. She has taught over 40 years in many different states, including the Virgin Islands sailed to her students’ houses on different islands. Besides teaching, Ms. Mac loves animals and trains service dogs and birds as an avocation and hobby. Her dog, Shiloh, is a R-E-A-D therapy dog and comes to class everyday where he helps Ms. Mac in so many unique ways. Ms. Mac graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in elementary education, an advanced degree in academic writing and her doctoral work in teacher training. She has worked at Desert Star Community School in several capacities beginning in 2014 and is currently the 6th grade math and ELA teacher.
7th Grade- Ellyn Hilliard
Ellyn is a graduate of the Communications and Design Programs at the University of California at Davis. She also studied Holistic Nutrition at Clayton College of Natural Health and earned a doctorate in Cancer Nutrition. Ellyn attended Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks, CA and has taught and administered in Waldorf schools in both California and Colorado. Since then, she and her husband Denny intended to retire to Sedona, but soon found a Desert Star class waiting in the wings. Her love of teaching spans from the Waldorf grades to cooking, quilting and costume making.
8th Grade- Joseph Giulietti
Joseph grew up in Connecticut and attended the University of Connecticut where he earned a Masters of Arts in Education. He taught elementary school in Connecticut for five years before moving to Europe. He taught elementary grades at International Schools in Hungary and The Netherlands for another five years. He returned to Connecticut to teach elementary and middle school before joining us here in 2013 at Desert Star Community School. Joseph has been teaching middle school grades and academic support.
Middle School Math- Linden Sturgis
Mr. Sturgis spent his early years on the west coast and his teen years and most of his adult years on the east coast. He holds a B.A. in Earth Science from Fairleigh Dickinson University and a Goetheanum approved diploma from The London School of Speech Formation. Mr. Sturgis taught in the high school for eleven years and as a class teacher for nineteen years at the Kimberton Waldorf School in Pennsylvania. While there he directed the Mystery Drama Acting Group and also founded and led the Kimberton Foundation Course in Anthroposophy and the Arts. After a move across country with his wife Mr. Sturgis has been teaching in the middle school at Desert Star since 2012. He loves teaching both young people and adults and is pleased to be able to contribute to the life of Desert Star.
Handwork & Upper Grades Art- Karen Boehm
Karen Boehm grew up in The Bronx and Queens in New York City. She holds an Associate of Arts degree from Queensborough Community College and a Bachelor of Fine Arts/Education Cum Laude degree from Queens College, City University of New York. She has studied at Parsons School of Design in NYC, Rudolf Steiner College in Sacramento, Yavapai College in Arizona, Waldorf Institute of Southern California and has taken numerous continuing education and behavioral workshops.
In 1991 Karen moved to Arizona and with her partner, started a family. When her children reached school age, after trying the local public schools and not being satisfied, Karen searched for alternative schools in the area. Karen has been teaching in various schools in varying capacities for the last 25 years and has been with Desert Star Community School since its inception in 2006 when she enrolled her youngest daughter into the first grade. She currently is serving on the Board of Directors.
Karen has embraced Waldorf education and continues to be an avid student of the teachings of Steiner. With a desire to be a great teacher and artist together with her knowledge and experience in the arts, education and special education as well as her love of children, Karen strives to be an asset to the entire Desert Star community.
Upper Grades Physical Education & Woodworking- Tom Cadigan
Mr. Cadigan has B.A. of Arts in Education and is a State certified teacher. He grew up in Arizona and was introduced to Waldorf Education in 2009. He has been a coach and physical education teacher for over forty years. He currently teaches Physical Education and Woodworking. His experience and love for children contributes to the academic and emotional success of the students.
Spanish- Mary Goodwin
Ms. Goodwin received a B.A. degree in International Studies from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. She grew up in New Mexico, and has also lived in California, Washington and Oregon, before moving to Arizona in 2016.
After college, she joined the Peace Corps and worked in Honduras, Central America for two years as a Literacy Promoter. She also lived Mexico for several months and worked as an English teacher in Brazil for a year. She is fluent in both Spanish and Portuguese.
She has completed many education courses, ranging from Early Childhood Development through Adolescent and Adult Education. She received training in Waldorf education with a wonderful mentor in Flagstaff who has taught Spanish in Waldorf schools for many years. Mrs. Goodwin has 14 years of experience in teaching Spanish and English with students from preschool age through adulthood. She has taught in several elementary schools and at Portland Community College in Oregon. She is also a certified Spanish Interpreter and worked as a professional interpreter for many years.
She will be entering her second year of teaching Spanish at Desert Star Community School this year. She enjoys incorporating cultural elements into her Spanish classes, including traditional songs, poetry, literature, dances, games, and holiday celebrations. Her main goals are to help her students truly be able to communicate in Spanish, thereby opening up new possibilities for them in the future, and to impart in them a deep appreciation for Spanish language, music and cultural elements. She believes that learning a second language will truly enrich their lives, as it has done in her own life experience.
Lower Grades Movement Teacher- Rhonda Bierman
Violin- Mimi Papp