Teacher+Staff Bios

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


ashleyAshley 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.

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.

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.

lorenLoren – Loren has been working within arts education all over Northern California, including the Napa Valley, Santa Cruz, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Most recently she has found herself within the magical Pacific Northwest to root down within the lush landscape and vibrant inhabitants. Loren feels blessed to have found the New Day School community and is excited to continue her life long role as a student, as well as bring her skills forward as a passionate creative teacher. A background within art therapy, public education, Montessori elementary, and at risk youth have shaped her philosophy around creative based education, with the mantra that everyone is born an artist and creator. Learning, laughing, dancing, baking, growing, creating, and moving are her loves; especially when accompanied by the young curious minds of New Day students!

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.

MelodyMelody – 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.

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.

PiperPiper 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.”

ThubtenThubten 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.


alexAlex – Alex was born in Washington and attended the Evergreen State College in Olympia before moving to Portland in 2011. He worked at Tender Leaf Preschool as the cook during the 2013-14 school year before moving to New Day School. He enjoys creating healthy and nourishing food for staff and children at the school and spends his free time making music and creating visual art.


Builder MarkMark – 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.


V__E8FASheri – 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.

SuzanneSuzanne - 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.


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.