Specialty Teachers | 2018-19

Grades 1-7

Erica Armstrong

Handwork Teacher

Ms. Armstrong has a degree in Botany and has taught Science to elementary through college age students in the US as well as China (while serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer).  She has also taught sewing, quilting and other Handwork subjects since High School.  As a parent, with a child attending Nevada Sage Waldorf School, she was drawn to become a Waldorf Teacher.  After attending 4 years of teacher training courses at Rudolf Steiner College she became a fully trained Waldorf Teacher, with a specialty in Handwork, in 2017. She enjoys performing improv comedy, cooking, baking, handwork, reading, camping, and learning more about Handwork, Waldorf and life’s questions in her free time.


Estefania Cervantes

Spanish Teacher

Ms. Cervantes was born in Cuautitlan (“tu casa entre los arboles/your house among the trees”), Edo. de Mex, a small town near Mexico City. She enjoys working with youth and has worked with them in Spanish, tutoring, theater, and behavioral and mental health.

Ms. Cervantes earned a Bachelors degree from the University of Nevada, Reno, and she hopes to continue schooling to further her career. She is very thrilled to teach her native language as she believes being bilingual opens opportunities and provides an appreciation for other cultures as well.


Douglas Hein

Grades Music Teacher

Mr. Hein holds a Bachelor of Music in Classical Guitar from USC and a Master’s of Music in Composition/Theory from CSUF. He is a published composer. He has taught at CSUF, Cal Poly Pomona, Long Beach City College. Currently, he is a private teacher in classical guitar, cello, and theory/composition.

In his spare time, Mr. Hein greatly enjoys woodworking. In winter months, he is busy being the cello-playing Santa of Reno.


Catalina Lavalle

Movement and Games Teacher

Catalina Lavalle is an artist and teacher and one of five children from a large Argentinian and Chilean-Portuguese family from Northern Virginia. She holds a BFA in Theater Performance from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Graduate Certificate in Documentary Film-making from The George Washington University. Her theater performance studies focused primarily on physical and devised theater, a form of theater that originates from a collaborative, improvisatory, movement-based process. From 2008-2013, she worked with Synetic, a physical theater company from the Georgian Republic based in Washington, D.C., and independently as a performance artist.

In 2014, she retired from performance to pursue a career in education. Her background in theater extends to the classroom, where she uses play to support learning. It is a shared avocation that play serves a crucial role in human development by both honing skills and grounding us in fulfillment of being alive that drew her to Waldorf education.  As the movement and games teacher she is thrilled to be able to culminate years of professional experience into a curriculum that supports the growth of each Nevada Sage student.

She is the founder of Believe in Recess, a play consultancy and eco apparel line with the mission to “make play happen” and is currently developing a tool to help teachers bring play into their classrooms. In 2016, she established a small urban flower farm, Recreo Farm (Spanish for recess), which is in the early stages of relocating to Reno where she currently lives with her husband, Colby, and wirehaired pointing griffon, Orbit. She enjoys, hiking and learning about native plants, watercolor painting, and stained glass and mosaic work. She is a native Spanish speaker.


Catherine Matovich

Strings Teacher

Ms. Matovich is a classical violist and a country roots fiddler. She plays with the Reno Philharmonic, the Reno Chamber Orchestra and the California Symphony. She is also the fiddler and band leader for the popular Bay Area Cajun-Zydeco dance band, CZ & the Bon Vivants, violist with Red Tango and fiddler and vocalist with the Sierra Sweethearts.Ms. Matovich toured the world with Neil Diamond and has played in back up bands for many of today’s current pop artists. She has taught string workshops in Berkeley, Irvine, Albuquerque, New Delhi and currently runs a violin/viola/fiddle studio in Reno. She loves teaching and watching her students develop their own way to speak through music. Catherine holds a BA in English from Oberlin College and a MA in Old English Literature from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.


Soma Miller

Biodynamic Gardening Teacher

Ms. Miller has always been drawn to nature. Childhood soccer games found her eyes on the clover flowers and dandelions at her feet, rather than ‘on the ball’. Her creative expression led her to graduate from FIDM in L.A. with a degree in fashion design. While she greatly enjoyed aspects of working in the garment industry, the pace of city life was not for her. In 2004 she returned to Reno to walk the sacred path of motherhood. The path soon led to Waldorf education and the teachings of Biodynamic Gardening which weave together her passions for plant teachers, ritual, and acknowledging the elemental beings. When she is not tending her home and two children she can be found coaxing color from native plants onto silk, cotton, and wool. She is honored to learn alongside her young students at Nevada Sage Waldorf School as we work to make our plot of land beautiful and abundant.


JoAnne Neish

Music Teacher

Mrs. Neish is a professional musician with experience that encompasses leading singing classes in elementary schools, accompanying choirs, leading children’s choirs, youth bands and private teaching of piano, voice and guitar. She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Vocal Performance from San Jose State University and has played classical piano and organ as well as country, pop and rock music. She loves teaching children and has many music stories she’s gathered in her life ranging from singing on cruise ships to playing and singing in bands to leading worship teams to and singing in chamber choirs.

Mrs. Neish moved to Sparks, Nevada from Napa, California this past July where she was the music teacher and Eurythmy accompanist at Stone Bridge Waldorf elementary school. She is looking forward to discovery and wonderful music adventures with Nevada Sage Waldorf School.


Otis Poisson

Woodworking Teacher

Mr. Poisson hails from the Northeast where he was trained in fine arts and mechanical engineering. He worked as a design engineer in Brooklyn, NY before taking a nine-month hiatus to explore the country by motorcycle, eventually moving west permanently in 2016. Landing initially in Los Angeles, Mr. Poisson spent his time in LA reviving his personal artistic practice and working in set design and construction.

Having worked with children at summer camps since high school, just this past summer Mr. Poisson returned to his role as Counselor, leading backpacking trips in the Tetons. He appreciates the often-times unapologetic individuality of children and is excited to see how that transfers to his students’ woodworking.

Mr. Poisson holds a BA in studio art from Wesleyan University and a BS in mechanical engineering from Columbia University. In his free time, you might find him trying to make use of the two — tinkering, building, drawing, and making artwork. Otherwise, Mr. Poisson enjoys spending time outside, hiking, cycling, meditating and appreciating the natural beauty in and around Reno.


Lanae Riggs

Grades Aftercare

Ms. Riggs was born and raised in both Carson City and Reno, Nevada. From a young age, she has always been drawn to specific teachers throughout her educational experience, and the way they had impacted her, whether the experiences were negative or positive to her, early in life she always knew that becoming a teacher of any sort was her calling.

Ms. Riggs spent two years in Napa Valley teaching preschool then returned to Reno and began teaching at Nevada Sage Waldorf School in the Grades Aftercare program. She is currently pursuing a Bachelors degree at Sierra Nevada College with a BA in Elementary Education.

Ms. Riggs thrives to be a positive role model for each child she is in the presence of, and there is no better feeling for her than to have her students know that the relationships she is building are built from failure, curiosity, guidance, and love.

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