“What the teacher is, is more important than what he teaches.”
Ashley Mastrine – Ashley is excited to officially be a part of the New Day staff. Born and raised in rural Pennsylvania, she moved to Philadelphia in 2004 to attend Temple University. While living in Philadelphia and attending college she taught at Moonstone Preschool, a Howard Gardner influenced preschool. At Moonstone, Ashley learned to cultivate children’s multiple intelligences through music, play, and art. After graduating from Temple in 2009 with a double major in Broadcast Communications and Film and Media Arts with a minor in Women Studies, Ashley moved to Portland to pursue her Masters in Media Criticism. Portland brought her many opportunities and after working in advertising for two years she decided to redirect her life and go back to what she loved the most: working with children. This past summer Ashley worked as an almost a full-time substitute at New Day and can say without a doubt it was her favorite summer in Portland. She is delighted to have found a home in Portland and at New Day School.
Chris Kaminski - Entering his tenth school year at New Day, Chris is now working with our school’s youngest children. Born and raised back east in several places around New York, he graduated from New York University with a degree in print journalism, which, in light of the current climate in the newspaper industry, might as well be burned for fuel energy. When not making little children laugh, Chris can be found in his garage music “studio,” cranking out beats and noise. He lives with his wife Ivana and son Val, who attends New Day in the Sun Song Class.
Elan Gerzon - Born and raised in Israel, and having worked around the world, Elan has dedicated his life for the last decade to the field of education and sustainable agriculture. While his specialty in education is to work with children of special needs, he devotes the rest of his time to studying music, language, history, cooking, and textile arts.
Jean McConnell - Jean is a former New Day parent who has worked at the school for three years. She was literally raised in a daycare environment, as her home was a licensed child care center when she was growing up. From her very first job teaching in a children’s art camp, to working as a bookseller specializing in children’s literature, to homeschooling her son in Kindergarten and First Grade, she has enjoyed working with young children to fulfill their potential. Jean attended an innovative private high school in the Bay Area where Socratic dialogue was the main method of learning, and subsequently developed a longstanding interest in alternative modes of education. She studied the humanities while traveling to 19 countries and continues to take Early Childhood Education coursework. She enjoys spending time with her family, reading, researching, and traveling.
Jordan Mills - Jordan comes from explorations in school, on farms, in markets, with early childhood education, in outdoor garden classrooms, and of ordinary days, excited to deepen a relation to nature, education, and self. Graduating with a B.A. in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Cruz, she feels blessed to have begun a formal exploration in the beautiful riverways and grasslands of California’s central valley and coast that invite noticing the ways in we can nourish our self, greet our environment, and come to know ourselves in the process. She feels even more blessed to find these lessons opening every day in listening, observing the cycles, stillness, offerings, and delights unfolding in nature and her own yoga and mindful practices. She enjoys the challenge of seeing things with a beginner’s eye, playing in the kitchen, spacious sounds on the piano, baths, time spent watching nature, following the call of creativity and remembering the power of playfulness. She feels so grateful to continue learning and to be able to practice fostering relationships with our selves and our surroundings alongside every one at New Day School.
Katie Walsh - Born and raised in the NW, Katie is an avid coffee-drinker, rain-scorner, thrift store shopper, music listener, and chess player. She graduated from the Art Institute’s graphic design program, but preferred to work in a field that is more soul enriching, and was lucky to find New Day. She has enjoyed the large family atmosphere and feeling of community at the school, along with the ethical values that it holds. Along with teaching, Katie owns the River Rock Tile Company with her musician partner Steve. Katie has been a teacher at New Day for more than 5 years.
Keelin Mayer - Keelin was born and raised on the south side of Chicago. She completed her undergraduate degree at Northeastern Illinois University with a BA in Art. Keelin received her Masters of Art in Teaching from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland. Keelin has recently returned to Portland after eight years away. While previously living in Portland she worked for Portland Parks and Recreation for five years as a swim instructor, lifeguard, manager, and art instructor. While living in Chicago, she worked for the Chicago Public Schools for six years in Pre-K and as an Art Teacher K-8. Keelin is also a practicing artist and musician. Her art includes print making, fibers, ceramics, sculpture, photography, video and installation. She plays the saxophone in various bands and enjoys performing. She also enjoys biking, camping, and swimming. Keelin’s daughter, Opal Jane, attends New Day School’s Phoenix class. Keelin is grateful to come back to Portland and enter a holistic educational setting at New Day. She is excited to teach in a school where creativity is a central component of the learning process.
Kim Dubois Harrison – Kim grew up in a small town in Indiana. After attending Indiana University studying Political Science and Fine Arts, she moved to a small town in Illinois. She had the privilege to be part of an amazing preschool community working as a classroom teacher and creator and facilitator of enrichment programs for families while raising her daughter, Celeste. During that time, Kim realized how important strong relationships between the school staff and students’ families are to the educational experience for everyone. Kim and her family relocated to Portland in the summer of 2012. That fall Celeste left for college on the other coast. Kim is currently continuing her education through St. Mary of the Woods College with a focus on Human Services. She is excited to be part of the New Day School community as a substitute helping out in all the classrooms and as a member of the curriculum development team. Kim enjoys living in the Pacific Northwest and loves hiking, biking, and bike camping. She also can be found cooking, running long distances, and planning trips to Washington, DC, to visit Celeste.
Mahendra - 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.
Mark Bruno - Mark is animated by the dream of a sustainable culture that supports the cultivation of the most noble aspects of the human spirit. Born and raised in New Jersey, he studied philosophy and psychology as an undergraduate. After university, he immersed himself in a self-designed contemplative curriculum at various meditation retreat centers and monasteries across the country. After some years of traveling, he settled in the Pacific Northwest, becoming enchanted with its many natural wonders. Some of his strongest interests include the exploration of consciousness, meditation, yoga, music, communing with nature, gardening, and learning to be a better educator. He hopes always to nourish the child’s intrinsic spark of curiosity and wonder and gently guide it toward the realization of its highest potentials.
Melody - Melody possesses a natural gift for working with young ones, and has deep enthusiasm for contributing in community based atmospheres grounded in respecting nature and her life cycles. She has been a teacher’s assistant since 2003, and stepped forward to head teacher in Stargarden this year. Melody has had a life long interest in helping others experience enlightenment, especially children. She feels that over the years she has learned as much from the children in her care, as she has shared with them. In addition to her passion for Neo-Humanist curriculum and education, Melody is also an Eco jewelry designer. Look out for her at many of the wonderful local street fairs and bazaars around town where you can find her creatively displaying her love for life, community and nature.
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.
Patrick Dundon - Patrick is entering his sixth year at New Day School. He attended preschool in southeast Portland where his favorite activities included drawing, cooking and circle time. Later, he graduated from Yale University with a degree in mathematics. After working as a tour guide, an actuary, a math tutor and a grocery store clerk, he is grateful to be a part of the New Day community, a place where he can share his love for teaching and learning. When he is at home, you will probably find him reading, writing, drawing, painting, covering something in glitter, or petting his cat Polly.
Piper Philbrook - Piper is a natural born teacher, student of Life, traveler, yogini, poet, martial artist, dancer, reiki practitioner, fire performer, spiritualist, and youth mentor. She became a dancer at age 9 in Contemporary Jazz, Captain of the Step Team in 1999, then a Tai Chi, Qi-Gong, Kung-fu practitioner in 2000, a Yoga Instructor and Reiki practitioner in 2006, a Fire Dancer in 2007, and a Nia Dance Instructor in 2010. In between, Piper spent 3 years teaching dance, sports, cooking, swimming and treating each other with love and kindness at Madison School District K-6 summer/before and after school program. Piper dedicated 8 years as an ESL and SPED Instructional Assistant with Phoenix Union High School District, where she pioneered Yoga and Slam Poetry clubs for 9-12th grades. After returning to Portland by way of Arizona and New York, Piper created a program combining the practices of Yoga, Tai Chi, Kung Fu, Dance, and Poi: “Yo-Chi-Fu” and taught K-5 for Metropolitan Family Services CAFÉ after school program, Milwaukie, OR for 2 years.
“I learned to focus in Tai Chi, I harnessed courage in Kung-fu, I feel freedom in Dance, I found my breath in Yoga, and children teach me to embody it. It is an honor and a blessing to have become part of New Day School.”
Sarabel Eisenfeld - After traveling and falling in love with Portland 8 years ago, Sarabel made the move cross-country (by train!) from Philadelphia to SE Portland just this past Spring. Meanwhile back east, she graduated from Penn State (English/Philosophy), taught in Waldorf pre-school, taught Kindergarten in Quaker school, (cultivating purpose of empowering each person’s Inner Light, with young ones.) She also taught K-8 at The Farm School in Massachusetts (living in a bus in the woods,) fingers in dirt, tools in hand, hearts in the work: gardening/carpentry/bee-keeping/yoga/preserving harvest/maple-sugaring with children. Sarabel cultivated interests in language-acquisition and Latina culture (wood-fired cooking, social justice, surfing) through travel & work in Central America and led Alternative Spring Break service-project trips of high-schoolers (through American Jewish World Service,) partnering with NGOs throughout Central America. In Portland, Sara is thrilled to find that passions for dance, natural building/crafting, lacto-fermentation, playing/seeing live music, & Challah-baking can all thrive within biking-distance of each other, even under one roof. Sarabel is grateful to join the New Day School community of wondrous young ones, inspiring families and teachers, to be daily living the dream: fruit trees, story circles, cart wheels, and community building.
Thubten Munsel - Munsel has been a Buddhist nun for 32 years. She graduated with a B.A. in Humanities from New College of California, in San Francisco, went through Montessori training in Coral Gables, Florida, and is a Step 10 on the Oregon Registry. She lived and practiced in a Buddhist community in North California for 15 years, where she taught ESL to the ‘boat children’ arriving from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, worked in administration, and taught English, Meditation, and Buddhist studies to K-12 students in their private schools. In addition, Munsel is a professional Feng Shui consultant, transcriber, offers clutter-clearing assistance, and does gold leaf work. She has been a teacher at New Day School since the Fall of 2010.
Suzanne - Gardener Suzanne has worked with children her whole life. Born and raised on the rocky Maine coast in a family of teachers, lupines, lichens & the salt of the ocean were her earliest memories. Even though most of her family is Maine-bound, her travel bug has led her to many places, and eventually to Portland and New Day School. She graduated with a B.A. in Geology from Mount Holyoke College, but she found her favorite & most rewarding education on organic farms: a CSA, Abundant Life Seed Saving Farm in Port Townsend, Washington and organic farms around Europe. In 2002, she began working as the gardener at the New Day School and has worked off and on as gardener and teacher since then. During this time she has become certified in Permaculture, started her own gardening business, and has fulfilled her lifelong dream of attending herb school. Suzanne and her sweetheart have bought their home in the Montavilla neighborhood, in which she can be found making herbal medicines, making sounds with her saxophone, piano and voice, taming her wild garden, and sewing in her very own sewing room. Suzanne is so excited to be one of the gardeners again, as this place and its inhabitants (plant & human) fill her with such great joy.
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.
In 2007, Malati opened a Venezuelan food cart, “Michelle’s Amazing Venezuelan Kitchen” and it became very popular since it was the only Venezuelan place in town, but after 4 years of 16 hour workdays, her heart was ready to move on. She decided it was time to find a more meaningful position cooking with a soulful purpose, and that is when she found New Day School. Malati feels fulfilled at New Day, like she used to be when cooking in an ashram in Santa Cruz, with love and devotion. New Day’s children have given her so much inspiration; every day is so funny and it’s exciting to embark upon this journey exploring the connections good food can create with them. She’s so happy to be here!
Mark - Namaskar New Day Community. I am so honored to have the privilege to contribute to this amazing and magical place. My hope is to create the most beautiful campus we can imagine, and in doing so, teaching our children just how much is possible, and realizing they have the power to create the world they envision. I’m also working on a craft/building/science curriculum for fall semester, and I’m working toward creating a music curriculum for the school as well. Big dreams for the near and far future. Looking forward to the journey with you all.
Didi 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 over 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.
Atandra 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.
Krishna - 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 here: