Nate Howe

Northeast Ohio native and Spring Garden Waldorf School alumni, Nate Howe, designed the Olympic logo for NBC 2012’s coverage of the games. Nate transferred to Spring Garden after what he described as being “disengaged, unmotivated and unconnected” to his public school education. Nate continued on in Waldorf education for high school. He is now an EMMY® Nominated multidisciplinary creative director and designer based in LA and has a client list including Coca cola, MTV, Oprah, and Ford. See Nate’s portfolio of work at

SGWS admissions director Amy Hecky spoke with Nate about how his schooling influenced his creativity and career.

“SGWS set a foundation for me at a critical time in life.  In my public school, there was no value or respect for art. Plus, teachers and students lacked diversity in their thinking and their awareness of a world outside of their day to day interactions. Spring Garden opened my eyes to an appreciation of human diversity and art.”

Nate told Ms. Hecky that SGWS “changed my outlook on education and life” and noted class trips to Chautauqua Institute and Niagara Falls among other experiences that brought him to the belief that “things are possible and I had the inert ability to go out and do them.”

According to Nate, “SGWS began a chain reaction of positive things in my life.”

When asked if going to school without technology had a negative impact on his techno-centric career, Nate said, “There is a time and place for technology.  It is not for young children.  It is a tool.  It should not be used in place of human interaction or as a distraction.  Students in upper grades could benefit from exposure to using technology as a tool to create, but young children should have their lives rooted in reality first and then be introduced to technology later.”

So what kind of education will Nate choose for his own children?  He says Waldorf education is the best — for him and for his family. “Waldorf education fosters values, morals, creativity, diversity and endless possibilities. And Spring Garden allows children to be sensitive and to be themselves in a safe environment. This nurturing atmosphere provides space for growth in exponential ways.”


Erin Brown

erin_self-portraitFilmmaker and Director, Erin Brown, started off at our very own Spring Garden Waldorf School in Northeast Ohio. In fact, on her website,, she says, “… [my] Waldorf grade school education taught me the importance of artistic expression and individual identity.”

Erin creates and directs commercials, music videos, films and more having worked with an impressive list of clients including ABC Family, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen and Skinny Cow. Erin has won 9 awards from the Open Frame Film Festival and is currently working on her second feature film, Honeychild, which she describes as, “A documentary about a former child prostitute’s journey across America with her daughter as she recounts her struggle for survival in the 1970′s sex trade.”

We are very proud to have been an influence in this accomplished young woman’s life.


Chris Connelly

Spring Garden Waldorf School alumni, Chris Connelly, was awarded the Kroc Fellowship with National Public Radio. The fellowship is an honor to receive and Chris is paid to intern in all aspects of NPR.  He is currently a producer for All Things Considered.  His next assignments will be as a reporter both producing his own stories and reporting on national news in Washington D.C.

Chris went from Spring Garden to Firestone High School and then to Antioch and Berkeley for Media and Journalism. He says his elementary education at SGWS taught him how to collaborate. “It is such an incredible skill to be able to talk with people and critically engage with each person’s ideas—100% of my work is collaborative now so being able to communicate and collaborate along with thinking critically has been invaluable.”

The folks at NPR have worked before with Waldorf graduates and told Chris his attributes are true to what they have seen before in Waldorf students.

“Everywhere I go, more and more people have heard of Waldorf.  When I say in passing, oh I went to a Waldorf school, the typical response I hear is ‘that’s why I like you so much!’  It’s like it’s an explanation of why I am a good person.”


Max and Ed Mitchell

Spring Garden Waldorf grads, Max and Ed Mitchell, are doing great work out in the world.

Ed Mitchell

Ed Mitchell

Max is a reporter for The Legal Intelligencer, which is the oldest law journal in the United States. Here is a recent article written by Max and picked up by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette or you can read many more examples of Max’s work by reading His Blog at The Legal Intelligencer.

Ed is an industrial designer for Bresslergroup and was recently featured in Wired Magazine for his creative work redesigning each of the flags for the 50 states to represent a more “United” States. You can view the images of his flags and hear more from Ed about the process of the United We Stand redesign project HERE.



Chloe Marie Comunale


Chloe Marie Comunale had her artwork shown at the Cleveland Institute of Art Foundation Show on Friday. December 6, 2013. The two drawings to the upper right are both by Chloe, “Self Portrait” and “Footwear Landscape” (both charcoal and graphite on paper). All works in the show are selected by the instructors based on merit.


Laura Wallerstein

LWallersteinAt the 25th Annual Benefit Auction, Spring Garden Waldorf School awarded “The Waldorf Difference,” honor to Alumni Laura Wallerstein for her participation as a Board Member with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Summit and Medina Counties, and her involvement in Torchbearers and the Akron Canton Regional Food Bank.

Laura has already been recognized for her career success, most notably being named a 2014 Ohio Rising Star by Ohio Super Lawyers Magazine. Attorneys chosen as “Ohio Super Lawyers” represent 5% of the Ohio Bar.

Laura has fond memories of grade school. She began in public school and advocated for her own switch to Waldorf education.

“After enrolling in SGWS, my mother tells me that I ‘went from being sad to being happy.’ As an adult, I simply have no memory of being anything but joyful in my grade school years.  SGWS stripped away the pressures of a strictly academic-content curriculum and gave me the space to explore what a happy childhood could be like.”

Laura has also credited her childhood education with helping her appreciate strength in others. As a student in a class of children who were respected for their varying degrees of ability in different subjects, she grew to admire both difference and resourcefulness.

“A special kind of compassion and humility develops when one student who is strong in a subject helps another who is weak and then the students reverse roles in another activity.  As an adult, I find opportunities for teamwork rather than ways to exclude those people who seem weak.”

We believe she sums it best by saying, “The Spring Garden Waldorf School community gave me more than an education; it gave me the space to be happy, the confidence to be unique, and the ability to appreciate the strength in others.”

Laura is a lifelong resident of Ohio and practices in the Akron office of Brennan, Manna & Diamond.


Sarah Welton

SarahSGWS alumni, Sarah Welton, was honored for her winning essay about Spring Garden Waldorf teacher Marie Paul. The My Favorite Teacher contest, sponsored by Barnes and Noble, declared Sarah the winner of the 9-12 grade essayist category for her entry about her Spring Garden Class 1-8 teacher. In addition to be honored for her local win, Sarah will also have her essay entered in the regional B&N contest.



William de Cardenas

WilliamdeCardenasWilliam de Cardenas, an SGWS grad and current senior at Theodore Roosevelt High School, in Kent Ohio, has won Best in State in the Verizon App Challenge. Cardenas, along with classmates in the App Club, designed an app to test streams for pollution.

The team has qualified for national competition, a $10,000.00 prize and a trip to Florida.



Isabella Sparhawk


Isabella Sparhawk is an SGWS grad whose Mock Trial team for St. Vincent – St. Mary moved on to state competition March 2013 in Columbus. Ms. Sparhawk also won an award at Regionals for Best Attorney. And we also just learned she won 1st Place Grand Champion in the Northeast Ohio Science and Engineering Fair.

After which, she made the news for being granted a patent for her science project work this year; her project has also advanced to be judged at Intel ISEF, the world’s largest international pre-college science competition, which offers cash awards ranging from $1,000 to $100,000.


Timothy Fries


Congratulations also go out to SGWS alumni, Timothy Fries, who has received the Second Year Distinguished Scholar award from Muskingum University, where he ranks in the top 5 percent in academics for his graduating class. Fries was also inducted into the Omicron Delta Kappa, the National Leadership Honor Society in 2013. He has also recently been inducted into Kappa Mu Epsilon, the mathematics honorary society.




Hannah Schurr


SGWS alumni, Hannah Schurr, has been awarded an all-expenses-paid trip to London, Salsburg, Vienna, Venice and Rome. Schurr,who is majoring in drawing with a minor in art history at Edinboro University in Pennsylvania, competed against students from 14 Penn State Universities for this honor.

Students had to provide a resume, recommendations, samples of work and complete interviews before two were chosen to attend the trip.

Aubrey Tingler

AubreyTinglerSGWS graduate, Aubrey Tingler, is one of 9-12 students across all of Emory University chosen to work with a local Atlanta artist to create an art installation focused on prominent social issues. She was chosen via competitive application to be a participant in Emory University’s Art and Social Engagement Project, whose purpose according to the Emory Center for Ethics is, “to engage the Emory University student body with Atlanta non-profits as co-creators of thought-provoking collaborative art projects designed to address important social issues in Atlanta based on proposals by Artist Facilitators.”

Aubrey was chosen by a panel consisting of the Director of the Ethics & the Arts Program, Carlton Mackey, the Director of the Ethics & Servant Leadership Program, Dr. Edward Queen, and a representative of (sponsor) Southwest Airlines. In addition to creating an art project about a pressing social issue in Atlanta, Aubrey will work with the other chosen participants to create a white paper, “describing the impact of the social issues their projects seek to address on the Atlanta community, and the ways in which their projects address said issues.”



Ariel McCleary

Ariel McCleary, an SGWS grad, is having great success as a vocalist and instrumentalist at Stow High School and in her band Recipe of Life.

ArielMc2Ariel will be performing in the Stow-Munroe Falls High School musical “Hello, Dolly!” where she will play the second female lead Irene Molloy.

Ariel and her Recipe of Life band mate Shelby Denton also won the 2012 Stow-Munroe Falls High School talent show with their original song, “The Journey.”

McCleary credits Spring Garden for opening up her eyes to the music world: “If I hadn’t been in the choir or played musical instruments in the orchestra and music classes, I would’ve never found my notch with singing. I would’ve never found a desire to be in the musicals and plays in high school. Spring Garden taught me the beauty of music and how it changes you.”


Matt Rossi


The Mock Trial team of fellow SGWS grad, Matt Rossi, a senior at Hoban,  also advanced to the state competition in Columbus this year. And Matt won “Outstanding Advocate” at the State Competition.

Emma Hunko-Hayneck

Emma Hunko-Hayneck, SGWS graduate and daughter of SGWS teacher Cate Hunko, had the opportunity to meet President Barack Obama in the Student Center at The Ohio State University.



Alyssa Humes

Alyssa has been teaching since 2010 at Spring Garden. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of Akron and is a graduate of Spring Garden Waldorf School. Here are highlights from a recent interview.

What is your favorite quote about teaching or education?

“Teaching is learning twice.”

HumesHow did you first hear about Waldorf education?

I attended Spring Garden Waldorf School from Kindergarten to 8th grade. Along the journey I realized I wanted to be just like my 1st through 8th grade teacher. So here I am years later, fulfilling my dream!

What is your dream for the future of Spring Garden?

My dream for the future of Spring Garden is that the faculty continues to be open and caring, the students continue to love to learn, and the families continue to value education.

Who is the person that has had a profound effect on your life and choice of path? Why?

Marie Paul, my 1st through 8th grade teacher, has had a profound effect on my life. I decided in 6th grade that I wanted to be a teacher just like her, and since then she has always encouraged me, given me confidence when I needed it, helped me through hard times, and has supported me every step of the way towards becoming a teacher. Even now that I’m a teacher, she is a constant supporter and is always there when I need help.

What is your favorite subject to teach?

Well, I haven’t had experience teaching many different subjects, but I like letters and numbers best. Teaching slowly at a pace the children can understand and be excited about the stories behind the forms is so wonderful.

Ian Lim-Bonner

IanCharlesFormer SGWS student, Ian Lim-bonner (class of 06) graduated Allegheny College with honors with a BS in Environmental Science.  Ian recently interviewed with OPWALL and said, “This [job] would allow me to conduct biodiversity research in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean (fingers crossed). Tomorrow I leave for a four week backpacking trip around Europe. Life is so good.”

Todd Rexroad

SGWS graduate (‘10), Todd Rexroad, who just received the Omnova Solutions scholarship — “dedicated to math and science education today that creates innovators of the future.”