Meet the faculty & staff at awakening seed school
Andrew Olsen | Preschool 3s Lead Teacher
About Andrew: While attending NAU, Andrew was placed at Awakening Seed to complete his coursework and immediately knew where he wanted to teach. This will be Andrew’s first year at the Seed, although he has been teaching children for nearly fifteen years. After instructing swim for many summers, Andrew started his own business teaching children swim lessons in their home pools. Andrew has taught gymnastics lessons to preschoolers and kindergarteners, and even lived in Lake Tahoe, CA for a ski season, teaching children to snowboard.
Education: Andrew earned his bachelor’s degree in elementary education and early childhood education from Northern Arizona University. He also has an associate’s degree in psychology from Scottsdale Community College.
Free Time: You can see Andrew riding his mountain bike on South Mountain or shopping at any local hardware store. His hobbies include cycling, dirtbiking and building just about anything. Andrew and his wife, Madison, recently celebrated their one year anniversary and plan to start a family next year.
Gabbi Horst | Early3s Lead Teacher (spring 2018)
About Gabbi: Gabbi was born and raised in the Valley of the Sun. She knew that teaching was her calling from a young age. She has worked as a nanny and has spent several years in different classrooms as a volunteer and for practicum experiences. She believes that her diverse experiences have helped her grow as an educator immensely. She finds joy in working with children, watching them learn and grow. She is inspired by their honest and open minds that are full of infinite creativity and possibility. She feels fortunate to have found a school that provides such rich learning opportunities and loves being a part of the Seed community. She looks forward to continuing work and play alongside children throughout their learning experiences.
Education: Gabbi earned her Associates in Arts from Mesa Community College in 2014 along with an Arizona General Education Certificate. She will be graduating from Northern Arizona University in December of 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education with an early childhood endorsement.
Free Time: Gabbi enjoys being outdoors, traveling, and spending time with family and friends. She loves coffee, U of A baseball, making art, listening to music, and roadtrips. Over long weekends and breaks, you can usually find her relaxing at the beach or exploring in the forests up north.
Mindy Bender-Webster | PreK Lead Teacher
About Mindy: Mindy, a native Arizonan, has always had a passion for working with children. At fifteen, she was an assistant teacher at her family’s dance studio and by eighteen was teaching and choreographing for her own dance classes. In 2003, as a senior at Mountain Pointe High School, she volunteered her afternoons working in classrooms at an elementary school. Over the next few years Mindy continued her hands-on training as a classroom assistant at The Chrysalis Academy, a private school for children with autism. In 2009, she became a certified yoga instructor and in 2010 started her journey at the Seed teaching physical education. She has since been the toddler after school lead, assistant in the Toddler 2s, Preschool 2.5/3s lead and is now the PreK lead teacher.
Education: Mindy holds a Child Development Associate credential through the Care Courses program.
Free Time: In her free time Mindy likes to spend time with her husband Alex and baby son, Easton.
Lesley Chamberlain | 3rd/4th Grade Lead Teacher
About Lesley: This is Lesley’s sixth year on staff at the Seed and her fifth year teaching the 3rd/4th grade class. She previously taught fourth grade for eight years in the Alhambra Elementary School District in Phoenix.
Education: Lesley received her M.A. in Educational Technology from Northern Arizona University and a B.A. in Elementary Education from Arizona State University. She also holds an Arizona teaching certificate with an ESL endorsement.
Free Time: Lesley and her husband, Paul, are Seed parents as well. Their daughter, Berkeley, and son, Reese, are each former Seeds and currently attend school in their Ahwatukee neighborhood. In their spare time, Lesley and her family enjoy traveling, reading, swimming, and spending time together with their two mischievous mutts, Stella and Roo.
Krina Gobster | Toddler 1s Lead Teacher
About Krina: This is Krina’s fifth year as a lead teacher. It it her third year in the Toddler 1s after two years in the Preschool 3s. Prior to teaching, she worked eight years as a lifeguard, five of which she spent teaching swimming lessons during the summers. She spent two years studying at the Seed as an intern and student teacher in both the Preschool 3s and Kindergarten classes. After being hired as an additional part-time assistant and personal assistant in the Kindergarten class, she became the assistant in the 1st/2nd grade class for one year.
Education: Krina graduated with her bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from ASU in December of 2011. She is an Arizona certified teacher.
Free time: When she’s not neck-deep in art projects with your children, Krina likes to be making a fun mess at home with her two kids. Both of her children attend the Seed. Her daughter, Georgia, is in 3rd grade and her son, Jaxen, is in kindergarten. Krina and her fiancé, Chester, take the family to Missouri each summer to enjoy some country living before returning back to this amazing school and community.
Deb Hopkins | Preschool 4s Lead Teacher
This is Deb’s 12th year as lead teacher in the Preschool 4s class. Her career at the Seed began the winter of 2004 when she was persuaded to assist in Mary Glover’s 4th/5th grade class. Her life at the Seed began when her children were young. Her son Hayden (age 16) and daughter Hannah (age 18), both proud Seed graduates, first attended the toddler class at age two, have worked at the Seed as summer interns and, recently, her daughter Hannah was hired as an after school staff member. In her former life, Deb worked as curator for many years at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art where she planned, organized and curated exhibitions and wrote about art and contemporary artists such as James Turrell, Wolfgang Laib and others. Deb’s art background influences her multi-disciplinary approach to teaching, at times turning the classroom into an immersive experience. Over the years, the preschoolers have delved into an array of subjects including the Middle Ages, food and culture of the world, the Ice Age, the Amazon rainforest, space, and dinosaurs. The Seed is her family’s second home.
Education: Deb earned her bachelor of fine arts degree in photography from the University of Arizona and has taught paper-making, book binding and photography to children and adults.
Free time: Deb has a passion for cooking, gardening, art, photography and yoga. She’s slowly learning how to play the guitar!
Jenny Limburg | Toddler 2s Lead Teacher
About Jenny: Jenny grew up in Southern California and moved to Arizona in 2009 when a job opportunity brought her family to Phoenix. Jenny and her husband, Daniel, have three children: Megan, Connor, and Mallory (a Seed alum.) This will be Jenny’s thirteenth year teaching preschool and her fifth year teaching in the Toddler 2 classroom. She loves the nurturing environment and creative atmosphere of the Seed.
Education: Jenny graduated from Cal State Long Beach in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in child development and family studies.
Stephanie Peyton | Resource Coordinator
About Stephanie: Stephanie has worked at the Seed forseventeen years and has been the resource coordinator for nine years. She also has a wide range of experience teaching almost all of our grade levels. Stephanie has done extensive work with special needs children, especially those with autism spectrum disorders, ADHD, and visual impairment. She has presented her classroom model at several conferences sponsored by the Arizona Department of Education and works with the Seed teachers to support classroom management and work modifications for students with special needs. She has taught special education classes at ASU for pre-service teachers. She also serves on the board for the Foundation for Blind Children.
Education: Stephanie has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in education focusing on curriculum and instruction. She is an Arizona certified teacher.
Free time: Stephanie and her husband, Justin, have three daughters. Sarah Beth, their oldest, is in the 4th grade at Arcadia Neighborhood Learning Center in the Life Skills Program and Hillary is in kindergarten at the Seed. Their youngest, Catherine, is also at the Seed in the Early 3s class.
Kerri Tornow | K-1 Lead Teacher
About Kerri: Kerri, who grew up in Michigan, is the kindergarten teacher. She has been part of the Seed staff since 1984. Kerri has many years of experience working with preschoolers through 2nd graders at the Seed. She also teaches art at the Seed summer art camp. Kerri enjoys children’s art and literature. Her focus is on providing a safe, happy classroom environment in which young children can explore their world and influence their own learning with rich oral expression, creative opportunities, purposeful experiences and strong social connections to their peers and teachers.
Education: Kerri graduated from ASU with a degree in art education and has an Arizona elementary certification with an early childhood endorsement.
Free time: Kerri is married to Roger. They have two sons, Andrew and Aaron. Andrew works in the field of graphic design. Aaron studied kinesiology and now works as a physical therapy technician. Both boys started their educations as Seed preschoolers and graduated from ASU. Kerri loves to draw and create crafts, as well as camp, canoe, hike and travel with her boys and their dogs.
Tatiana Vanegas | Early 3s Lead Teacher (fall 2017)
About Tatiana: Tatiana grew up in Mexico and moved to Phoenix fifteen years ago. Tatiana and her husband Victor have three kids: Nicolas, a 7th grader, Sofia, a 5th grader, and Isabel, a 1st grader, all Seed alums. This will be her eighth year on staff. Tati was a co-lead teacher in the Toddler 2s class for four years and this is her first year leading the Early 3s. She first heard of the Seed through friends and was attracted to the Seed’s nurturing and inclusive environment. Tatiana hopes to contribute to the Seed’s rich multicultural environment through her diverse background and experiences as a mother striving to raise positive bicultural and bilingual Seedlings.
Education: Tatiana has a degree in marketing from the Monterrey Institute of Technology.
Free time: Tatiana enjoys running, cooking and spending time with her family.
Hanna Beels-Barfoot | 1st/2nd Lead Teacher
About Hanna: Hanna grew up in Tempe and discovered the joy of working with kids at a young age. While in school, she experienced the excitement of the Seed summer art camp working as an assistant. While living in Flagstaff she worked at a Montessori school where she fell in love with elementary school learning. Two years ago she returned to the Seed and was pleased to fill a position as an assistant in the Toddler 1 classroom. This is Hanna’s first year as the lead teacher in the 1st/2nd grade class. She is excited to learn and explore along with her students.
Education: Hanna graduated from NAU in May 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in speech and hearing sciences. In the spring of 2017 she completed a second bachelor’s degree in elementary education, as well as completing her Arizona teaching certification.
Free time: Hanna loves finding hole-in-the-wall coffee shops, cooking and gardening. When she’s not working or doing homework, she enjoys running and camping with her husband and their two dogs.