Laura Cruz

Executive Director

lcruz@theplaygarden.org

Our Executive Director is Ms. Laura Cruz. She is responsible for all administrative functions of the school and keeps our school home happy and bright. Ms. Laura served as a Dragonfly teacher for two years, enjoying inside and outside play at The Playgarden, where she won our hearts with her caring disposition and grace with the children.  

 

Before the playgarden, she graduated Magna Cum Laude from Florida State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Art Education. She is a Nation Board Certificated educator who taught art for 10 years at Shenandoah Middle Museums Magnet school infusing the creative arts into the core curriculum.  Most recently Mrs. Cruz was a museum educator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville working with young children in the Art Fusion arts enrichment classes and teaching young visitors how to engage in exhibitions.  “I love exploring and learning with children.  They have amazing curiosity and their thirst for knowledge develops naturally through creative play and wonder."  You may find her creating felt puppets for story time or climbing a tree picking mulberries in The Playgarden. She has completed her LifeWays Early Childhood Education Training through LifeWays of North America and currently enjoying Waldorf Administration Training throughThe Center for Anthroposophy at Antioch University.

Carol Wagner

Financial Controller

cwagner@theplaygarden.org

Ms. Carol worked in the administrative/accounting field in different businesses before taking time off to homeschool her children.  During this time she had a strong pull towards working with children, teens & families.  She became the director of a large nursery/preschool program and organized a youth program.  In 2012, she joined The Playgarden as a teacher’s assistant with Ms. Adana & Ms. Lynn and then moved into the administrative position.  After six years in this role, she grew into the Playgarden's head of finances as the Financial Controller. She keeps our garden organized and operating smoothly with her expertise. Her warm smile and generous heart bless The Playgarden's children, their families, and staff in many ways.  Ms. Carol’s favorite thing about the Playgarden is being a part of the love and devotion poured into the lives of our children and their families in a home-like environment.   She completed a Waldorf Administrative training through The Center for Anthroposophy in 2019.

Adana Whyte

Butterfly & Hummingbird Teacher

awhyte@theplaygarden.org

Ms. Adana serves as a Pedagogical Chair for the College of Teachers and Senior Lead Teacher for the Butterfly & Hummingbird program. She holds a bachelor's degree in fine arts, has worked in a variety of early childhood settings with children with diverse learning styles and needs. Since joining The Playgarden faculty in 2011, Miss Adana completed LifeWays Early Childhood Education Training through LifeWays of North America in Lincolnville, Maine. She has completed numerous trainings including Explorations Training through The Center for Anthroposophy and is currently seeking her Masters of Waldorf Education with a transdisciplinary focus in Healing Education. She has been a LifeWays Mentor for many years and she had the distinguished pleasure to teach handwork courses for our recent year long LifeWays Certification training. Miss Adana brings her gentle natural warmth and love of fiber arts to our littlest ones in our Playgarden family.

Anna Butler

Hummingbird Hybrid Forest Teacher

abutler@theplaygarden.org

Ms. Anna is a Florida native that has called the Beaches home for over ten years.  She earned her Bachelors of Science in Science Education from Florida State University and taught junior high science for six years before embarking on the exciting journey of parenthood!  She is a nature enthusiast who loves to travel and is always planning her family’s next adventure.  Ms. Anna has been a member of The Playgarden community since 2013 when her oldest son began preschool in Jacksonville FL.  She has completed LifeWays Early Childhood Education Training through LifeWays of North America as well as courses in Forest Education and Wilderness training. She was recently a presenter at the Eastern Regional Association of Forest and Nature Schools at Suncoast Waldorf School in Tampa Bay, Florida. Ms. Anna has a passion for teaching children and helping to nurture within them a love of learning and a sense of wonder and reverence for the world around them.

Kalie Nacca

Dragonfly Teacher

knacca@theplaygarden.org

Miss Kalie is our 5-day Dragonfly Teacher. She holds her B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Asheville. She was a full-time nanny in Asheville for 3 years where she discovered her passion for working with children. With a background in the performing arts and vocal music, Ms. Kalie loves to incorporate movement and music into her day at the Playgarden. As former museum educator at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Jacksonville, Ms. Kalie taught art classes and facilitated museum tours. She is finishing up her last session of LifeWays Certification and already putting to work all she has learned during her training year. She is ecstatic to cultivate a creative space at the Playgarden where children are led by their imagination. 

Leah Henderson

Dragonfly Forest Teacher

lhenderson@theplaygarden.org

Miss Leah is our Dragonfly Forest 2 day teacher and will also be enjoying more forest fun with Miss Anna as the Dragonfly forest assistant.  This is her second year leading as last year she served as our Dragonfly program teacher, Monday through Wednesday.  She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology with minors in Chemistry, Computer Science and Studio Art.  She carries a Masters of Arts in Teaching, Secondary Science Education. Miss Leah has began working at the Playgarden in 2017 as a Teacher's Assistant in our forest program. She is excited to get back into nature.  She loves welcoming children to our seasonal camps as the Lead Counselor. She has years of experience building children's imaginations by leading children's classes in engineering.  She is passionate about encouraging children to build a genuine desire to learn, and helping children express empathy, kindness and love towards everyone they meet. She is finishing up her last session of LifeWays Certification and already putting to work all she has learned during her training year.

Marcella Yonkosky

Hummingbird & Butterfly Teacher

myonkosky@theplaygarden.org

Miss Marcella is one of our sweet  Hummingbird & Butterfly teachers. She will be enjoying spending time in the Kinderhaus with her Hummingbirds as well as sharing her love in the cottage with her Butterfly class. Miss Marcella became part of the Playgarden family by helping in the office after she fell in love with the school when her son attended here.  She holds her B.S. in Journalism from the University of Florida, with a minor in Spanish, as well as her Masters in Education from the University of North Florida. She previously taught at Sandalwood High School and Southside Middle School Spanish and ESOL, as well as the preschool children through her church during Sunday school and the cherub choir. She is excited to be part of the College of Teachers in educating the Head, Heart, and Hands at our beloved Playgarden. She is finishing up her last session of LifeWays Certification and already putting to work all she has learned during her training year.

Alice Rix

Butterfly Teacher

arix@theplaygarden.org

Miss Alice is one of our lovely Butterfly teachers. This is her third year at The Playgarden holding roles on campus and in the forest. Miss Alice is completing her Master's Degree in Arts in Medicine, bring together her love of helping children in need with her love of the arts. She has years of experience and service volunteering in the areas of rural agriculture and women's empowerment in Africa. Pair that with a beautiful singing voice and you've got a loving spirit who is a welcomed contribution to The Playgarden. Alice completed a wonderful yearlong Waldorf Education class, Explorations, in 2018 through The Center for Anthroposophy.

Our Teacher's Angels

Miss Jen

Teacher Assitant- Butterfly & Hummingbird

Miss Celena

Teacher Assistant - Hummingbird and Office Assistant

Miss Jodi

Teacher Assistant - Hummingbird hybrid and Butterfly

Miss Crystal

Teacher Assistant - Dragonfly Forest

Miss Charlotte

Teacher Assistant - Dragonfly Forest

Miss Morgan

Teacher Assistant - Dragonfly

Miss Natalie

Teacher Assistant - Hummingbird

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Teachers & Staff