Teacher+Staff Bios

“What the teacher is, is more important than what he teaches.”
Karl Menninger


AshleyZAshley Zentz – Ashley has been a resident of the incredible Pacific North West her whole life. She grew up on her grandparents’ orchard where she learned to find stillness within herself and life through observing nature. She has carried this importance of being present in nature all her life. She is extremely passionate about helping children discover themselves and the world through their own unique perspectives, and is eager to engage with the children of New Day School in a way which promotes creativity and movement in a safe and nurturing space. Ashley also loves playing piano, painting, her three cats, gardening, laughter, and hiking. Ashley is currently working towards a degree in elementary education at Western Governors University. This is her first job in education and she feels extraordinarily blessed to have the opportunity to join the New Day School Community.

BreannaBreanna – Breanna was born and has lived her whole life in Portland, Oregon. She has always enjoyed babysitting and spending time with young ones of family and friends. She loved her experience at outdoor school so much that she decided to return three different times in high school as a student leader. To this day it is one of her most treasured memories because not only did she have the opportunity to guide children for days at a time, but to do so outdoors! Her hobbies include gardening, hiking, camping, rollerblading, dancing, drawing, painting, making jewelry, and writing poetry. Breanna is thankful for her job at New Day School and is very passionate and excited about continuing her career with children.

BenjaminBenjamin Teasel Brown – Hailing from the wilds in the direction of the sea, Benjamin has always felt a connection to the trees and plants that breathe in what we breathe out. Moving to the big city to study mathematics and ‘hard science’ at Reed College, Benjamin wrote a thesis in social psychology before taking to the trees, studying wilderness medicines and first aid while campaigning for the protection of our native forests. Returning to Portland, he found his calling in the guidance of children, and was introduced to the education-towards-freedom philosophy of Rudolph Steiner. Benjamin undertook training for 6 years at the Micha-el Institute, learning through the inspirations of singing, story-telling, and circle play, ultimately steering his skills into the classroom for two years at the Portland Waldorf School. He’s also indulged in work with his hands, knitting and sewing, carving and sawing, bending and shaping, heating and hammering. Once known as ‘Teacher Thimble’, Benjamin is happy to be returning with a new name to the New Day School and his third year wading within the Waterlily classroom.

CiaCia – Cia Cortinas joins us at New Day School after teaching children in South America for three years. Before her South American life, she taught in many preschools here in Portland working with young children from ages two until Elementary. She enjoys this special age and feels her best work is done exploring through the eyes of children. She views herself as a guide and says she learns just as much from her students as they do from her. When she started her path into education, she worked with disabled children in her hometown of Walla Walla, Washington, where the children inspired her to live as authentic as possible and find blessing in the little moments. Her passions are Spanish, cooking, camping, travel, and lazy afternoons with her husband and eight-year-old Siberian husky, Yoshi.

image_coming_soonEarenya – Earenya grew up living between a hippy enclave in backwoods Maine, a very Italian neighborhood in New Haven, Connecticut and the beautiful New Jersey shore. After her oldest son start​ed​ kindergarten, she became highly involved at his cooperative school, and then, knowing she had found her calling, she became a founding member at Trillium Charter School. It is her mission as a teacher to provide a loving, safe and nurturing environment for all children, and to provide experiences that help children develop socially, emotionally, physically, and cognitively. Earenya believes it is her job to show children the world — but not what to see.

Jayagiita2​Jayagiita ​(formerly known as Jiiva)​ – Jayagiita began her path in education 14 years ago when she realized education was a powerful tool for social and environmental change. Beginning with a non-profit outdoor adventure company, Environmental Traveling Companions, J​ayagiita​ served children and adults with special needs in outdoor education. Along with teaching, ​she is a musician, yogi, environmental scientist, and passionate nature lover. In her eleventh year in early childhood education, J​ayagiita​ brings her many passions to the classroom, teaching the children yoga and meditation, offering traditional and original music, sharing her passion for sustainable practices as well as her joy in caring for plants and animals. J​ayagiita​ was introduced to the Ananda Marga tradition and yogic practices in 1999 and enjoys studying its philosophy and social theory. From 2011-2014, she taught and later directed Tender Leaf Preschool in SW Portland. She returns to New Day School as teacher and trainer of Neo-Humanist Education and will serve in the Waterlily classroom. Jayagiita​ received her BS from Florida Institute of Technology, her ECE certificate at DeAnza college, and has served on the New Day Board of Directors as Secretary. She is the co-founder of KALA, an Oregon based nonprofit which serves the advancement of art and education.

mahendraMahendra – Mahendra joined Ananda Marga in July 2010 in Manila, Philippines; at the same time he met his wife. Most recently he taught English in Korea in public school for almost 3 years, teaching from pre-school to middle school in Korea. He moved back to the USA in early 2013, with his son who just turned 2 years old in August 2013. Mahendra wanted him to go to a Neo-Humanist school, which is why he contacted New Day School. He and his wife had plans to both work at New Day but they found out she is expecting their second child just a week after she started. Now she is staying home with their son and her due date is in February 2014. Mahendra enjoys every day at New Day, the rewards and the challenges.

Nandini Jani – Nandini was born in India and traveled to US in 1992 to pursue graduate studies. She has training and great interests in India classical music, art, graphic arts, vipassana and sustainable living. Early experience in childhood education came from working with children in India and taking part in summer camps for children. She is very happy to be a part of “New Day school” community and is dedicated to making a positive difference in every child’s life.

nateNate – Nate was born and ​raised in the Valley of the Sun, Phoenix, AZ. Son of a Montessori teacher, youngest of 4, and uncle to 8 nieces and nephews, he has been caring for little one’s since his teenage years. Nate is also a Martial Artist, Musician, Trained Vocalist, Massage Therapist, Chiropractic Assistant, and a Natural Born Leader. He is passionate about eastern philosophy, being informed about what’s going on in the world, and ice cream. He is always humming his own tune, and telling stories on the playground that continue to leave the children in awe. He is truly a blessing to have at New Day School, sharing his love and light with all who interact with him.

Olivia PhotoOlivia – Olivia grew up in Minnesota, and began working with children after joining the youth performing circus, Circus Juventas. Olivia moved from Minnesota to Portland to attend Lewis and Clark College, where she has been a part of several volunteer tutor and teacher assistant programs. Olivia loves music, yoga, animals, knitting, and any outdoor adventure in the beautiful nature of the Pacific Northwest and beyond.


taylorTaylor – Taylor is from Los Angeles and moved to Portland in 2011 to attend Lewis and Clark College. She graduated in May of 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Classical Studies. She loves ancient literature, mythology, and philosophy, and enjoys trying to plant an interest in these subjects in young minds. She believes that by appreciating ancient works, which have inspired so many of the stories that we and children are familiar with today, we can feel connected with a breathtaking scope of humanity, and also learn much about the human spirit. She would like the New Day community to know that if anyone or their children is interested in learning to read some ancient works in their beautiful original language, she would love the opportunity to practice her Latin and Greek by giving lessons. Taylor also loves biking, food, music, animals, being outside, crocheting, and finding cool things at yard sales. This is Taylor’s first job in education. She is extremely grateful for the opportunity and hopes that it will be the first experience in a long career of sharing her passion for learning with all different age groups.



 Cook Tosh – Tosh was born and raised in Bulgaria, and moved to Oregon more than a decade ago. After graduating from Western Oregon University, he traveled for a couple years to Hawaii and Ecuador in his pursuit of new and interesting fruits and veggies, and then moved to Portland with his partner. Tosh is excited about being a part of New Day School, where he can share his passion about natural wholesome food. He believes in cooking with a positive intention and in preparing honest organic food that is physically and emotionally nurturing. During his free time, Tosh loves being outside in nature, gardening, playing volleyball, meditating, and learning new things like pottery and sailing.

V__E8FAGardener Sheri – Born of the Rocky Mountains and raised in the prairie lands of Wyoming, Sheri’s love for nature and the wild has been nurtured from the loving embrace of the varied landscapes that she has been graced to know. It is no wonder that her life journey brought her to New Day School to share her education, experience, creativity, and love. She attended Pacific Northwest College of Art and graduated from Portland State University with a B.S. in Arts and Letters and a minor in Environmental Science. It has been her dream to connect people to the landscapes in which they live and to the food that they eat. Sheri was blessed to serve as an Americorps volunteer for two years helping support native plants and providing environmental education. Her coursework in horticultural therapy has also broadened her perspective on how people-plant connections can be used to heal a variety of ailments and support good health. She has worked on farms throughout Central America, Washington, and Oregon, and has more than 13 years gardening experience. Sheri has also worked with a broad age range of children in Guatemala City teaching English, music, and mural painting; with kids of high school age, she collaborated on several public mural projects. With preschool age children, she loved being a substitute in a Montessori school. Other loves include running, playing music, and practicing Qi-Gong for health and fun. Her whole life she feels she has been called to serve and she is so grateful to be a part of the New Day School vision and community.

SuzanneGardener Suzanne – Gardener Suzanne is currently on sabbatical.






Administrative Team

Didi2Didi Ananda Krsnapriya – Director, Board of Directors – Also known as “Didi” which means elder sister, has been a yogic nun and meditation teacher for 33 years.  She has served as teacher and director of Neo-Humanist Schools all over the world including, Ghana, Denmark, Australia and Jamaica.  With over 30 years in education, she is known to bring the joy of yoga, meditation, gardening, singing, art and aesthetics to the classroom.  As a mentor to her teachers, Didi encourages lifelong learning and integrated personal development in all her staff.  Didi has been inspired by healthy living practice and the yogic lifestyle since she was a young girl and decided to dedicate her life to the practice of self-realization and service as a nun in 1978.  Didi has over 30 years experience of ongoing Neo-Humanist Education training as well as 300 hours in Waldorf teacher training.  Didi has served as director of New Day School as well as chair of the school’s Board of Directors for more than 10 years.    Didi is also co-founder of Tender Leaf Preschool in SW Portland as well as a founding member of KALA, a nonprofit organization serving the advancement of art and education.

AtandraAtandra Didi – Enrollment Director, Board of Directors Atandra was born and educated in Mumbai, India. She has been involved in Ananda Marga her entire life. In 1991, Atandra became an Ananda Marga missionary, teaching yoga, meditation, holistic living as well as doing relief work and supervising & teaching in schools and orphanages all over India and the US. Atandra has a passion for vegetarian cooking that she loves to share with the NDS community. She is a talented henna artist with a keen ability to impart Indian philosophical knowledge.

KrishnaKrishna – Curriculum Director – Krishna began his missionary life at the early age of 16, guided by his grandfather and inspired by the teachings of Vivekananda. During his training he studied Yoga, Meditation, and Neo-Humanist philosophy and its practices. After training, Krishna was appointed Principal of Ananda Marga School in Ghazipur.  His next post, with Ananda Marga Gurukul, allowed him to create a textile center and serve in one of the poorest and most remote parts of India.  Next, he spent time conducting research and sharing Neo-humanist philosophy and spiritual practices throughout Northern India.  Then, he served with a small crew of disaster relief providers in Orissa after a cyclone devastated the city.  In 2001, Krishna began to pursue his passion for devotional/spiritual music, leaving full-time missionary work to study the technical aspects of audio recording. Eventually he began work as a music composer, and accepted a position in advertising. Within a few short years, his missionary heart led him to return to Orissa to establish a children’s home which he continues to nurture to this day. Finally in 2012 he came to Portland to work for Kala, a non-profit dedicated to promoting art and education, which he co-founded with Jiivapriya (Director of Tenderleaf Preschool). Recognizing his dedication, passion, and knowledge of Neo-Humanist philosophy and practices, our Board of Directors appointed Krishna curriculum director. Krishna is now joyfully engaged in creating Neo-Humanist curriculum for New Day School.  You can listen to some of Krishna’s music at

WendyWendy – Office Manager – Wendy relocated to Portland with her husband in June 2013.They moved from the harsh winters of Minnesota/Wisconsin for the beauty, fun, and warmth of the Northwest.Recent empty nest-ers (daughter and bird), they traveled with minimal belongings and the desire to live a simple life.Wendy has a BS in Zoology and a minor in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Barbara.Many years spent volunteering, working for corporations, and a near-death experience left her to reflect on life and priorities.A goal to find meaningful work, to be surrounded by kind-hearted and healthy beings, and live in a community as organically as possible led her to New Day School.In her free time, Wendy loves to garden, spend time with her husband, eat yummy Portland cuisine, and practice yoga and meditation.