Governing Council Biographies

MPCS Governing Council

Don Toups

Don Toups

President

don.toups@mountainphoenix.org

Don has had two children attend Mountain Phoenix. He and his wife, Rina, enrolled their elder daughter in MPCS the summer before the opening of the Wheat Ridge campus, participating in school work days during the summer of 2011—at which point terms such as “lazure” and “eurythmy” entered their working vocabulary. Their younger daughter joined the Sunflower kindergarten class in the fall of 2012.

Don is motivated to serve on the GC both by the opportunity to further Waldorf education in the public realm and by the potential MPCS holds as a leader in that movement. Among the various aspects of the Waldorf educational philosophy, Don most appreciates its holistic approach to child development and its presentation of topics and skills to children when they are developmentally ready to integrate them.

Don works as an Instructional Designer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, designing learning and training materials to achieve business objectives. Outside of work and GC activities, Don enjoys spending time with his family, taking care of their sheep, chickens, and bees, hiking, skiing, reading, cooking, and traveling.

Don has an M.A. in English and Applied Linguistics and a B.A. in Journalism, both from Louisiana State University. He has intermediate fluency in Spanish and speaks enough French to confuse wait staff and make jokes that embarrass his wife.

Jeff Wilhite

Jeff Wilhite

Vice-President

jeff.wilhite@mountainphoenix.org

Jeff has been involved with MPCS for the past 3 years, initially facilitating the establishment of the MPCS Foundation. He was instrumental in the purchase of the current campus as the advisor to the school in arranging for the underwriter of the purchase bond. Jeff was asked to join the MPCS Governing Council based on his demonstrated commitment to the school, his interest in Waldorf Education, and his experience in charter school governance.

Jeff’s commitment to charter school education started when his son and daughter enrolled in middle school at Rocky Mountain Academy of Evergreen. RMAE was extraordinarily impactful for his children, shaping the fundamentals for their subsequent educational and personal successes. Jeff served on the RMAE Board for 3 years, holding the positions of Treasurer and Board President. He was a founding board member of the RMAE Foundation, also serving as its Executive Director for one year. Jeff served on the State of Colorado Educational Success Task Force for two years. He serves as a frequent member of the CDE charter school start up and expansion grant award committee and as a presenter at the Colorado League of Charter Schools convention.

Jeff has been involved in banking for over 30 years, primarily focusing on real estate/ construction lending and business development. He has a BA from Indiana University in Bloomington, IN, and a MA from Goddard College in Vermont.

Sarah Landreth

Sarah Landreth

Secretary

sarah.landreth@mountainphoenix.org

Sarah Landreth is a parent of three children at MPCS with her husband Scott. Her family has been a part of the MPCS community for five years, originally in the ECE program and now spanning from the toddler program to second grade. When considering school options for her children, and with her passion for "outside the box" teaching, Sarah found MPCS. She was immediately drawn as a parent and teacher to Waldorf education's strong emphasis on human development, bringing forth of the whole individual, and community emphasis. She strives to be a positive steward of MPCS's mission and vision in the public school arena.

Before her current work as a stay at home mom, Sarah was an elementary teacher for seven years in a variety of school settings in Colorado and Oregon. She holds a BA in Psychology and Elementary Ed certification from CU Boulder. Outside of MPCS, you might find her tinkering on her piano or camera, in yoga class, jogging (mostly after her toddler), or reading, but especially enjoying moments with her family.

Rich Peters

Rich Peters

Treasurer

rich.peters@mountainphoenix.org

Bio and photo coming soon.

Nicole Dominic

Nicole Dominic

Member at Large

nicole.dominic@mountainphoenix.org

Bio and photo coming soon.

Gina Schley

Gina Schley

Member at Large

gina.schley@mountainphoenix.org

Gina is a mother of two children at Mountain Phoenix (Grades 1 & 3) and has been with the school since the Wheatridge campus opened. She plays an instrumental role helping lead the Marketing & Communications Committee, she leads the Annual Give Campaign for the MPCS Foundation, and she assists the Master Planning Committee particularly as it relates to grounds and playscapes. Through serious investigation Gina developed a deep respect for Rudolf Steiner’s philosophies, in both education and agriculture, and is very passionate about bringing Waldorf Education to the public school realm. She believes the Waldorf Charter School movement isn’t just a trend; it is a concept that will impact the future. She also believes that women should sit at the table and sees herself as bringing a "mother's perspective" to the board room.

Gina has a BA from Bowling Green State University and is pursuing a masters degree in Environmental Leadership. Previously, she had a successful corporate career working in the fiberglass industry for Owens Corning where she led various assignments in marketing communications, business management, and sales. It wasn't until she and her husband, Rodman, were blessed with their two children that her life changed and she found a passion in environmental work. She's become deeply involved in the world of humanitarian work as a grassroots community organizer and urban agriculture activist. She and her husband host a PBS television series called "Urban Conversation," which documents environmental leaders across the country in hopes of teaching others about sustainability as they learn themselves. Their most exciting moment as a family has been working in the 1st Lady Michelle Obama's garden on the south lawn of the White House and sharing Michelle's very first watermelon from her garden.

Samantha Siffring

Samantha Siffring

Member at Large

samantha.siffring@mountainphoenix.org

Samantha joined the MPCS community as a parent in 2012 when her oldest son started in the Sunflower Kindergarten. She has been active in the community helping with the Winter Market, as a class representative, and as a member of the Foundation. She and her husband Stuart have three children: two attend MPCS and the third can often be seen trying to join her big brother in kindergarten.

Samantha was first drawn to MPCS while looking for a preschool that honored child development, a child’s need for play and outdoors, and valued creativity. Her family has stayed at MPCS for all these things and many more as her understanding of Waldorf education and love of the school’s community have deepened. As a member of the board, she hopes to help the school reach new heights as a leader in the public Waldorf movement.

Samantha grew up in northern Virginia and attended James Madison University. She has a BS in Psychology and an MA in Human Services: Counseling. When not on the MPCS campus, Samantha works as a life coach for women. She enjoys trying new recipes, camping with her family, yoga class, volunteering, doing crossword puzzles, and writing.