Our extraordinarily caring, dedicated, and involved faculty and teachers are committed to public Waldorf educational values and ongoing training.
Beckie Fosmo (Butterfly Kindergarten)
Beckie Fosmo is our Butterfly Kindergarten teacher. She is originally from the state of Wisconsin, but has adopted Western Colorado as her home for more than 25 years now. She has 3 beautiful children, all girls, ages 20, 12 and 9. She loves camping, fishing, reading and her most recent new love – felting!
She attended Waldorf Educational training in New York state last summer and is always striving to help our kindergartners to become the happiest most imaginative little people they can possibly be. She believes that working with Kindergartners is the absolute best job in the world and looks forward to meeting all of the new little faces that will joining our school this fall.
John Rizzo (Cottonwood Kindergarten)
This Jon Rizzo’s 8th year as a Waldorf Kindergarten Teacher. His hands on approach strives to revive lost arts though long walks in nature, woodworking, sewing, gardening, building forts, playing guitar and banjo, cooking, and baking.
His classroom at Juniper Ridge feels like living in a tree house as the children buzz about busy with their work. He is a master storyteller providing a rich imaginary landscape to nourish the hungry young minds. Mr. Rizzo also teaches woodworking and carving in the afternoon to the grade school students.
In his spare time he builds rustic furniture, restores and rides bicycles. He loves to camp, and hike with his wife Nancy and his daughter Kate.
Sarah Creighton (Rainbow Kindergarten)
Diana Soto (Butterfly Kinder Assistant)
Andrea Cronin (Rainbow Kinder Assistant)
Andrea Cronin is the Rainbow Garden Kindergarten Assistant. This is Andrea’s second year serving Ms. Claudia and the Rainbow Garden students and she couldn’t be more excited or grateful for such a joyful way to spend her days. She was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri and relocated to Grand Junction along with her husband and two dogs a year and a half ago. They’ve fallen in love with the diverse outdoor activities and community of this wonderful valley.
She and her husband love to hike and camp but when indoors Andrea loves to craft with recycled and vintage materials and explore new ways to express her creativity. Andrea received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology through Truman State University. She then applied her love of working with children and youth through directing a summer camp full time for many years and is now so excited to be working with Kindergartners at Juniper Ridge again. Positively impacting these young lives is a privilege and she can’t wait to begin another amazing year with the Juniper Ridge community.
Brandon Kohn (First Grade)
Brook Shaffer (First Grade)
Mandy Rabe (Second Grade)
Mandy Rabe is new to Juniper Ridge this year and she is very excited to begin her journey teaching children in the Waldorf experience! This is Mandy’s second year teaching. She taught fifth grade last year at a different charter school, but felt that the passion for learning was just not there. After she graduated from Colorado State University in 2005 with a Bachelor’s degree in Zoology, she explored many careers and went back to school to take some classes in manufacturing and art. She’s been a jeweler’s apprentice, a trail builder, and a pharmacy technician but never found her niche. In the fall of 2013 she discovered that her passion lay in teaching. She went through an intensive teaching program at Colorado Mesa University and became certified in the summer of 2015. She believes that Juniper Ridge has something unique to offer students, teachers and parents alike, and that is a passion for learning that will get stronger with time.
Blythe Rusling (Second Grade)
Blythe Rusling is one of the handful of original teachers who began with Juniper Ridge Community School when it opened its doors three years ago. She took her class from third through fifth grade and decided it was time to adopt a new group in first grade and take them up through fifth. Blythe is a long time public school teacher with a Waldorf certification who strongly believes in bringing the philosophies of Rudolf Steiner and Waldorf education to the public where it belongs. She and her husband Craig Lombard moved to Fruita in 2008 from Gallup, NM. Like many of you, they made the migration for the plentiful outdoor activities that they love to partake in. Also, there is a lot more of one thing here that they were sorely lacking in their corner of New Mexico: WATER. Blythe was born in Grand Haven, Michigan, but moved to Prescott, Arizona at age six to follow her architect father’s dream of building a passive solar home. It was in this fabulous home nestled in huge granite boulders that she did most of her growing up. Blythe’s school career began in Fine Arts at Yavapai College, moved on to Creative Writing at NAU and finally settled on Early Childhood Education at UNM. Her teaching experience has run the gamut from first to fourth grades in Zuni, NM, providing preschool intervention at Head Starts throughout the Navajo Reservation and first grade in Gallup, NM, first grade at Clifton Elementary, multi-age at Glade Park Community School, and most recently, Gifted and Talented education at Wingate Elementary. Blythe is the mother of three lovely dog children and lives in a tiny 1916 “Victorian Farmhouse” with a garden that you will often find her poking around in. Blythe has a penchant for moving rocks, planting stuff and creating things. She also has an insatiable curiosity for the world around her and loves the power of a good story.
Valerie Lowe (Second Grade Assistant)
Andrea Bethke (Third Grade)
Veronica Harvey has a background in journalism but found her way to education during the summer of 2016 when she accepted a position teaching third grade at Clifton Elementary School. She is thrilled now to be part of the Juniper Ridge community. Veronica lives with her husband and three children in Fruita. She is also a registered yoga teacher.
Jo-Zan Kirk (Fourth Grade)
Jo-Zan Kirk has been teaching for over 15 years and has taught Preschool, Kindergarten, first and second grade. In Junction she has taught at New Emerson, Lincoln Park and the Career Center High School.
She is married (just celebrated 25 years) with two grown daughters. She is a native Coloradoan and most of her extended family lives in Denver. She moved to the valley 12 years ago and loves it here! Her oldest daughter (age 23) graduated from CMU this past May with a degree in Studio Art. Her youngest daughter married her high school sweetheart in June and is finishing her degree online from Colorado State University. She will be graduating in December with a degree in English. She and her husband live in Chicago where he attends Northwestern working on his Doctorate Degree in Chemistry.
Jo-Zan is very active in her church, loves to read, bake and do various crafts when she has time. You may recognize her from the Grand Junction Farmers Market where she gets her summer kid fix by face painting.
Mary Benepe-Sytsma (Fourth Grade)
Mrs. Sytsma is excited about teaching third grade this year. Mary moved to the area one year ago from Naples, Florida where she lived with her husband, Dennis and two of her four children. Mrs. Sytsma has taught a variety of subjects and grades over the last 25 years.
When she’s not teaching, she enjoys performing in musical theater productions, traveling to visit friends and family, or just relaxing with a good book.
Judy Drake (Fifth Grade)
Judy Drake has been teaching for twenty three years in the Grand Valley. She and her husband have been married for twenty-four years and have a daughter who is a senior at Colorado Mesa University. She also loves watching dance performances, especially ones her daughter has danced in. Judy at one time had a collection of over 5000 children’s books, and is passionate about sharing the love of reading. She is teaching the third grade and says she has the same excitement that she had as a first year teacher.