Faculty & Staff

Jenni Chaves

Assistant Teacher

Jenni was born and raised in Bogota, Colombia. She moved to the States at the age of 13 and lived in Florida with her immediate family. After graduating from college with a BA in Political Science and Philosophy, she moved to Washington DC where she loved to experience the changing seasons, attend Jazz in the Garden and go hiking in the local parks. After completing her Masters program at Georgetown University in Peace and Conflict Resolution, she decided to return to Colombia where she found an unconventional path for peace building—birth work as a Doula. Upon returning to the States and making Maryland her new home, the birth of her daughters guided her to discover Waldorf education and fall in love with Acorn Hill. She is now pursuing her Waldorf Elementary Teacher Education certificate at Sunbridge Institute.

Angeli Escalante-Bieler


Angeli was born in the Philippines, and grew up in Catonsville, MD and New York City. She studied Fine Arts at Goucher College and later graduated with a B.A. in Communications & Business Management. Shortly after, she left for the Big Apple to work for a large Wall Street law firm. Angeli spent about 15 years in Manhattan working in corporate, securities, and film finance, while volunteering for the Children of Bellevue, reading to hospitalized children, Reach Out & Read, and as a Child Advocate for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) in Manhattan and Brooklyn Family Courts. She returned home to Maryland/DC after 9/11, and became a member of the Junior League of Baltimore, continuing her dedication to community service.

Angeli got off to an early start caring for children in the 1970’s by helping with her mother’s home child care service. She was introduced to Acorn Hill by a WWS parent, whom she met at a nearby dog park where their puppies played together. She started as a substitute teacher at Acorn Hill in 2016, later becoming the 3 Day Nursery assistant teacher, Parent/Child assistant teacher and Friday Aftercare teacher. Currently, she is the lead teacher in the 3 Day Outdoor Nursery.

Outside of teaching, she is a licensed Realtor who helps manage her family’s properties. Angeli lives with her husband, a sports journalist, and her beautiful son, Sean, born in July 2019. Her family includes a cat named Einstein and two dogs, Fionnuala-Tula & Ellie.

eli_20140305_0021-EditKate Gage

Faculty Chair, Teacher

Kate was born in the DC area. She traveled through Europe, settled in Ethiopia and traveled again in East Africa. When she returned to the States she finished her BA (science, painting, poetry and pottery), and received her MFA (in painting and new forms) from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y. During her middle years she lived in an artist’s loft in Soho, in the country on Martha’s Vineyard, and at the foot of the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina. She gardened, made art, designed theatre sets, and got involved in a household hazardous waste project. Kate discovered Waldorf education shortly after the birth of her daughter and is now a certified Waldorf Elementary Education and Therapeutic Education Teacher. Since 1996, she has loved working at Acorn Hill as a nursery and parent-child teacher. Kate has written articles for Waldorf publications and gives workshops and presentations at the annual Waldorf Kindergarten Conference and to our Acorn Hill community.

Liz HagermanLiz Hagerman


Liz Hagerman MA, BC-DMT, is a board certified dance/movement therapist with a masters degree from Goucher College(1990). She has studied motor development and the relationship of motor development to the development of sense of self. Liz is a Waldorf Birth to Three specialist,(Sophia’s Hearth), a Pikler® pedagogue candidate, a RIE® intern, and a certified Infant massage instructor. Working from the insights of both Rudolf Steiner and Emmi Pikler, Liz developed the Birth to Two Parenting program here at Acorn Hill, where she has worked since 2001. She is on the Birth to Three advisory circle to the WECAN board (Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America), and is a member of the Acorn Hill board. She is on the faculty of the two year Infant Observation program at the Washington School of Psychiatry. She is the mother of two grown sons both of whom attended Acorn Hill and Washington Waldorf School.

Marie-Christine Hoover


Marie-Christine was born and raised in the Loire Valley, France, lived in the countryside and was lucky to grow up with wonderful homegrown vegetables and fruit from her father’s garden. She studied in Orleans where she earned degrees in Tourism and English. She came to the United States in 1992 and met her soon-to-be husband, and they moved to Bethesda in 1995, after getting married in her hometown in France. Marie-Christine worked for the French Embassy and French mission to the OAS for several years, then opened and ran a French Antique furniture store in Kensington with her husband for 10 years. She loved the contact with customers and the smell of beeswax used to nourish the old furniture. When her first daughter was ready for school, Marie-Christine was introduced to Acorn Hill – it was love at first sight! Starting as a substitute teacher, Marie-Christine is now a certified Waldorf Early Childhood Teacher and an assistant teacher in the Five Day Nursery. Her daughters, Emma and Hannah are both attending the Washington Waldorf School. Marie-Christine loves camping and taking walks in the woods with her dog Loki, finding peace and inspiration in nature.

eli_20140305_0041-EditJane Jannotta

Business Office Assistant

Jane was born and raised in Maryland and has lived in or near Silver Spring most of her life. She earned a BS degree from the University of Maryland, working for a Government contractor in Washington DC upon graduating. She soon sensed the need for a big life and career change, and joined the staff of a small health magazine as a Publisher’s Assistant, while also tutoring high school math part-time. Her favorite, most challenging and rewarding job followed – raising her three children. Her two daughters, Eva and Melia, and son, Nolan, all went to Acorn Hill many moons ago, and it was here at Acorn Hill that Jane’s deep interests in holistic health and spirituality dovetailed so beautifully with parenting. When her children began 1st grade, she home schooled them through 8th grade using Waldorf methods. Her recent interests include yoga, eurythmy, and long walks in the woods with her pup.

Rajni Joshi


Rajni grew up in Lucknow, India where she earned a Masters of Anthropology and a Masters of Social Work. She started her career managing health programs in India for underserved rural populations. After moving to the U.S., she worked for several years teaching at a cooperative preschool in Silver Spring. When Rajni and her family moved back to India from 2014-2018, she worked with a non-profit in New Delhi where she trained teachers, organized programs for adolescent girls, and started a program to train young women from poor, urban areas in early child development. Rajni lives in Takoma Park with her husband and two sons, who attended the Acorn Hill summer program and parent-child program. She is drawn to the wholesomeness of the Waldorf philosophy of education and its emphasis on nature and imagination. Rajni enjoys yoga, painting, gardening, writing poetry, and acting in Hindi theater productions.

Fatima Mendez

Assistant Teacher

Fatima was born in Fairfax, VA but came to live in Hyattsville, MD as a child and continues to live there. She began her studies at Washington Adventist University in Early Childhood Education. She and her husband, Jose, welcomed their daughter, Isabella, in March 2017. Fatima continued her education online and achieved her 90 hour Maryland preschool certification. She then received a Teacher Assisting Diploma and her Associates in Early Childhood Education from Ashworth College. She is currently continuing her early childhood education online at Ashworth towards earning a bachelors degree. Fatima loves spending time with her daughter outdoors. She also loves tutoring neighborhood children, and has been tutoring children for 6 years. She has worked at the University of Maryland as a summer camp counselor/head pre-kindergarten teacher. While a student at Washington Adventist, she was an assistant teacher for a pre-kindergarten at John N. Andrews Adventist School, and a lead teacher for pre-kindergarteners at Sligo Adventist Elementary School. She was also the receptionist of the Religion Department at Washington Adventist University. Fatima would love to pursue her Waldorf Elementary Certification in the near future. She is fluent in both English and Spanish.

Natasha Nair


As the daughter of a foreign service officer, Natasha grew up in Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Cairo and Maryland. She then attended McGill University in Montreal, Canada. After completing her BSc in Psychology, Natasha went on to work as a meditation and yoga program manager for both adults and teenagers. This led her to go back to school and complete her MA in Elementary Education at American University. She then taught various grades in the D.C. public school system. When her son was born, she discovered Acorn Hill and immediately fell in love with its holistic and nurturing environment. As another child came along and years went by, it became clear to her that Acorn Hill represented the perfect blend of her love for children and her beliefs in child rearing and education. She lives with her husband Dileep, her two grade school children who attend the Washington Waldorf School and her labradoodle, Milo.

Monica Nermark


Monica first came to Acorn Hill as a parent in 2010 in the Parent-Child program, and enjoyed the quiet and warm atmosphere and pedagogy of the school. Her children continued to attend Acorn Hill until 2016, while Monica became active in the Parent Circle, and joined as a substitute teacher. In September 2017, Monica was hired as the Administrative Assistant. Monica was born in Sweden and raised in Italy, Sweden and Switzerland, before completing her Bachelor of Arts in International Relations at the University of Pennsylvania. After working in Washington, DC for a year, Monica moved to London for 13 years, where she took on various roles at a number of small businesses, ranging from a consultant at a management consulting firm, strategy consultant at a web development company, and as an account manager at a software firm specializing in the asset management sector. Since moving back to the Washington, DC area, Monica has stayed at home with her two children, until they began grade school, and has been actively involved in school and neighborhood community activities. Monica enjoys walking or biking to Acorn Hill from her nearby home.

Teresa Price


Teresa joined our faculty in 2005 as an assistant teacher, after eight years of substituting and working in our Summer Program. She has served on both the Diversity Committee and our Board. She is currently Vice President of the Southern DC Chapter of Mocha Moms Inc., of which she has been a member for more than 10 years and has run a summer camp for young children from her home. She has been involved in holistic health for over 25 years.  Teresa has been very active in many community projects involving children, parenting, education, world peace, nutrition, and equity and justice. Her sons Alan and Amir were students at Acorn Hill and the Washington Waldorf School for over twelve years. She has a BS from the University of Maryland in Business and Psychology. Teresa grew up in Prince Georges County, Maryland and spent her childhood baking, cooking, singing, playing, reading and spending time in nature.

Becca Stem

Assistant Teacher

Becca was born in the Baltimore area, and spent her childhood split between various parts of Carroll County, Maryland, and the mountains of New Jersey! She spent two years studying Early Childhood Education, while simultaneously working for a local estate winery which followed eco-friendly, biodynamic practices. Becca is a firm believer in being a good steward of the environment, being an avid gardener herself! So she followed this passion for the past four years. She recently re-enrolled into college to continue her studies, with a focus on the Waldorf philosophy. She will graduate in December with her A.A.T in Early Childhood Education. Outside of this, Becca is a self-taught guitarist, enjoys being in nature, journaling, creating aromatherapy jewelry, and dreams of one day having her own small, sustainable farm. She is soaking in all the knowledge she can as an aid in one of our Kindergarten classrooms, and is eager to be a part of our team!

Carol St. John


Carol was born and raised on a dairy farm in the Finger Lakes of Central NY. As a member of 4H from the age of eight she learned how to bake, cook, sew, knit, raise vegetables, show her Gurnsey heifers at the County Fair and  at the NY State Fair. Little did she know then when she went off to college as an education major that all she learned on the farm prepared her as a Waldorf Early Childhood teacher. After teaching a few years Carol received permanet certification for K-12 when she completed her Master’s degree in Education at Long Island University.

Even now, Carol enjoys mixing Biodynamic Agriculture and Gardening along with her daily involvement with children. She created a school garden along with parents, teachers and children at Potomac Crescent WS in Alexandria, VA. The school garden won Judge’s Choice award for Best School Garden in 2017 from Edible DC.  Carol advises schools on how to get started with a school Market Garden where students sell the produce they have grown in their school garden at pick up time.

In between her 20 years teaching in the public school system on Long Island and her 10 years as a Waldorf teacher, Carol was self employed managing a family owned Honda dealership in Levittown, NY. It was during this time period that Carol worked as a Human Resource Department of one and later became the General Manager. Carol has been a Waldorf Early Childhood teacher at Acorn Hill since 2004. She completed her Waldorf teacher training at the Rudolf Steiner Centre in Toronto Ontario. She also completed her training in Waldorf Therapeutic Early Childhood Education  in 2013. She recently returned to Acorn Hill as an After Care teacher.