About

“Every afternoon at the end of the school day, my child is happy and excited, satisfied and enriched by the day’s activities. The depth of personal attention and skill that the teachers bring to the classroom follows us home each day.” —City Garden Parent
“Our highest endeavor must be to develop free human beings, who are able of themselves to impart purpose and direction to their lives.”
—Rudolf Steiner

Mission

City Garden School educates children in a method inspired by Waldorf education, which nurtures and develops the child’s senses, allows children to discover who they are, and supports each child’s creative capacities. We honor the development of each child by bringing age appropriate stories and multi-sensory materials in all subjects to them. We teach an intellectually rich curriculum that inspires creativity and self-discovery.

Waldorf Education

Waldorf education was founded by Rudolf Steiner almost 100 years ago and is currently one of the fastest growing school initiatives in the world. It has a holistic approach to education that looks at the growing child developmentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually, and then creates curriculum and experiences based upon these observations. The curriculum then nourishes the child in each stage of her development and allows for a natural unfolding of skills, academic knowledge, and thought. As a result, the child’s innate sense of wonder in learning is fostered, he finds great joy in school, and she remains intellectually curious throughout her educational career and into adulthood.

Curriculum

Our curriculum aims to help the child discover who he/she truly is, allowing them to explore multiple arts and modalities while feeding them with rich stories and experiences. We strive to give them a morally centered curriculum and to allow time for true learning to take place. In addition to reading, writing, and arithmetic, our students learn to draw, paint, play a flute or recorder, move in rhythm, sing, recite poetry, and perform dramatic plays. They create their own textbooks and have time to explore the outdoors. We believe all of this helps create balanced children, who will grow into responsible and contributing citizens. If you are interested in our curriculum, you can read directly from our teachers on our blog.

Teachers

Neeley Current
Neeley Current, First and Second Grade Teacher
Drawn to the beauty, simplicity and interconnectedness of Waldorf education, Neeley Current spent 4 years as the City Garden School Board President. Working with teachers, the board, and parents she was instrumental in transforming the vision of City Garden School into a fully operational organization. Now, as first and second grade teacher she finally has been able to pursue her love of teaching by directly serving the children at the school.
Since first connecting with Waldorf education in 2011, she has been learning about the philosophy and its application. In 2017, she advanced her commitment through a year-long internship at City Garden School under the guidance of Nicole Knapp Weber. In that capacity she regularly observed in the classroom, attended weekly teacher meetings and served as the primary substitute for the school.
Neeley attended the Midwest Waldorf Collaborative Conference that included training in the grades and school administration. She continued her training under Nicole Knapp-Weber along with second grade and math specialization training from Eugene Schwartz, a master Waldorf teacher. She is also connecting with other area Waldorf teachers to enhance her skills in handwork and singing.
Neeley earned a B.A. in German and Anthropology and a Master’s in Information Science and Learning Technologies from the University of Missouri. She spent the past decade working at the University of Missouri College of Education where she ran a user-centered design lab and taught PhD students practice-based applications to their studies. Prior to that, she was a librarian at Stephens College. Additionally, with her long love of dancing, she spent the past two years learning dance & movement education from Nancy Stoy.
Neeley loves dancing and restful time at home with her family.
Lauren Holland
Lauren Holland, Third and Fourth Grade Teacher
Since earning a Master of Education in the Visual Arts from the University of Missouri in 2017, Lauren has been searching for a school community to call home. City Garden School’s creative approach to nurturing body, mind, and soul resonated with Lauren’s holistic teaching practices. She is happily joining City Garden this fall as a third and fourth grade teacher, and she begins her pursuit of a degree in Waldorf-Steiner education this summer through Taruna College in New Zealand.

For the last four years, Lauren taught many forms of visual art through the Columbia Art League. This year she enjoyed facilitating art therapy sessions with veterans at the Harry S. Truman Veterans Hospital and worked in public education as a substitute teacher. Lauren taught Art Appreciation courses for the University of Missouri, presented at MAEA conferences, volunteered in arts-integrative classrooms, and exhibited her artwork in many establishments throughout the city of Columbia.

Lauren’s pursuit of educational experiences has taken her to many other parts of the world. She recently volunteered as an instructor in movement and perceptual motor development for primary school children in New Zealand, where she also worked as a tutor, nanny, and horticulture assistant. She studied the arts and humanities through courses in Australia, the Netherlands, and Belgium, and she volunteered as an English language teacher in Nicaragua. Lauren has engaged in work-exchange programs all over the world, most recently at a holistic healing family retreat on the coast of British Columbia.

When not teaching or traveling, she can be found making art and music in her studio space in her hometown of New Bloomfield, Missouri.

Sara Arriagada
Sarah Arriagada, Fifth Grade Teacher
Sarah moved to Columbia, MO in September 2017 after a five year stay in London, UK where she taught Art and French at the German School London while sustaining her own art practice. She has a Master’s Degree in Fine Art from the University of the Arts Berlin, Germany and a Master’s Degree in Art Therapy from the Berlin Weissensee School of Art. She has worked in many different settings with children and adults of different backgrounds and ways of life. Via the arts as well as teaching, she strives to create connections and encourage self-discovery while maintaining a peaceful and open heart. She is very excited to discover and immerse herself into the Waldorf philosophy and to learn more about its wholesome and engaging education methods at City Garden School, where she is teaching grade 5.
Michelle Cabarcas, Spanish Teacher
Michelle Cabarcas was born in 1981 in Colombia, South America. She studied Methodology in Teaching a Foreign Language and Education at Surcolombiana University in Neiva, Colombia. In 2015 she earned a master´s degree in Spanish Literature at UMKC. That same year she followed her dream and started a PhD in Spanish Literature at MIZZOU. As a professional, she worked in several elementary schools in her home country and it was in 2012 when she moved to United States to accomplish her desire for getting a master´s degree in a foreign country. Her hobbies are playing with her cat, reading about artistic movements around the world, doing scratch booking and walking around the park.
Tory Kassabaum
Tory Kassabaum, Director of School Affairs
In 2012, after graduating from Knox College with a degree in Environmental Studies, Tory moved from the flat Midwestern plains of Missouri and Illinois to the mountainous Pacific Northwest. She was excited to live and study in Washington where she could explore the mountains and ocean while pursuing a certificate in Environment, Education, and Community from Islandwood School and a masters degree in Education from the University of Washington.
While in Washington, she taught at a preschool inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy. This not only opened Tory’s eyes to just how beautiful, fun, and creative the art of teaching could be, but also allowed her to cultivate her skills as a leader in the classroom. She then moved on to teach preschool at Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center. There, she transformed their program to use curriculum involving more art, emotion, and free play.
While Tory enjoyed the beautiful landscape in Washington, Missouri will always be home. She interned with City Garden School in 2015, observing, studying, and teaching in first, second, third, and fourth grades, attending a Waldorf training the following summer. The following year, Tory taught third and fourth grade, adding fifth grade to her repertoire in the fall of 2017. After taking some time for the birth of her first child this past spring, Tory is back in as the Director of School Affairs.

Board Members

Abram Wilks - President
Abram Wilks – President
Abram Wilks is a psychotherapist who has his License in Clinical Social Work and works full-time at Burrell Behavioral Health, an outpatient mental health clinic in Columbia. He is married and has two wonderful and spirited children that are part of the Garden Gate/City Garden educational communities. Abram and his wife, Sara, set out to find an educational system and community that aligned with their values and after some time searching, stumbled upon the Waldorf inspired education at City Garden and Garden Gate. Abram believes in the mind/body/soul connection and sees how our school nourishes these three core areas of life. He also strongly believes that if given a healthy environment and the right conditions, children will grow into happy and healthy adults who live valued and meaningful lives. He feels that City Garden school embodies these values that he holds close to his heart.
Kevin Gamble - Treasurer
Kevin Gamble – Public Relations
Kevin Gamble has been a supporter of and advocate for education based in Waldorf principles since his children started on this path several years ago. Kevin firmly believes in the Waldorf principles of nurturing development of the whole child, connecting the child to their learning through creativity and hands-on work, and fostering intrinsic motivation and curiosity. He has been delighted to see the effects of this approach in his children, and the joy they take in their learning. Kevin earned a degree in Art and a minor in French from the University of Missouri, and oversees philanthropy, community programs, and media for State Farm in Missouri & Kansas.
Beth Anderson - Treasurer
Beth Anderson – Treasurer
Beth Anderson recently moved back to her hometown of Columbia after living in the San Francisco Bay Area for the last thirteen years. As a Certified Birth Doula, Beth is devoted to the natural growth and development of children. She and her wife started their daughter at City Garden School in the Fall of 2018. With their daughter’s shift from the traditional black and white educational path into the full color of City Garden School’s guidance, Beth’s commitment to supporting the Waldorf philosophy of loving education has blossomed.
Beth brings her many years of experience in corporate finance and attention to detail to the board of City Garden School which she joined in the first quarter of 2019. Additionally, this past year, Beth spent time helping teach students crochet and hopes to bring her craftiness more frequently into the classrooms. She believes education is a family affair that extends outward and looks forward to supporting City Garden even more fully.
Kelly Dreier -
Kelly Dreier
Kelly Dreier is a caregiver/teacher at Wildflower Day Nursery. She is married and has a daughter who attends City Garden Grade School. Kelly came to City Garden through her work at Wildflower and has fallen in love with the holistic and nurturing education the school offers and the wonderful community found here. Since her daughter began attending City Garden in August of 2017, Kelly looked for ways to help support the school and its mission, and found her way onto the board in the spring of 2018. Kelly has a B.A. in Psychology from Stephens College and a Masters in Early Childhood Education from the University of Missouri, as well as Montessori Infant Toddler Certification. She is excited to learn more about the Waldorf philosophy and share the joys of Waldorf inspired education.
Learn more about our programs.