Image by Katie Barnes


“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


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.


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. Read our latest newsletter here.


Nicole Knapp-Weber
Nicole Knapp-Weber

Founder and Director of City Garden School, Nicole Knapp-Weber has taught first, second, and third grade in the last four years. She is a certified middle school science teacher in the state of Missouri and has her Master of Arts in Teaching. Nicole received her B.A. in Biology and English from Furman University. She spent three years in AmeriCorps and was hired at her last placement in Portland, Oregon at Sunnyside Environmental School. There she taught, wrote curriculum, took students on field trips, and organized events and festivals.

Nicole has been studying the art of Waldorf education ever since her oldest child entered Garden Gate Preschool 8 years ago. She has completed a Waldorf Second Grade training with Eugene Schwartz in Kimberton, PA as well as the online Waldorf Essential Conferences for First and Third Grade. She has also attended a “Waldorf Without Walls” training held by Barbara Dewey for teachers and homeschoolers. She has two daughters, both of which she has taught at City Garden. She enjoys spending time with her family, hiking and camping, and loves to work in various crafts.

Tory Kassabaum
Tory Kassabaum

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 has been interning with City Garden School since the fall of 2015, observing, studying, and teaching in first, second, third, and fourth grades, and plans to attend a Waldorf training this summer. She is overjoyed to be a part of the City Garden community and will be teaching third and fourth grade starting in the fall of 2016.

Blanca Kelty
Blanca Kelty

Blanca G. Kelty is from Mexico City and has lived in the United States for 26 years. She started teaching Spanish in San Antonio, Texas 24 years ago. She moved to Columbia, MO in 1991. Since then, she has been teaching different levels of Spanish: elementary, middle and high school, as well as college and adult education. She has a masters in Spanish Literature from the University of Missouri Columbia. She loves languages, traveling and dancing and loves teaching at City Garden because it has a very interesting approach to teaching young students. She believes the Waldorf philosophy creates a relaxed and creative atmosphere in which students interact with their classmates and enjoys their constant participation.

Board Members

Neeley Current - President
Neeley Current – President

Neeley Current is a committed supporter of education inspired by Waldorf. Since 2011, she has built awareness of the merits of this form of education in Columbia, Missouri. Neeley values simplicity, creativity and educational opportunities that impart meaning, beauty and purpose; elements found at City Garden School. Neeley earned a BA in Anthropology and German and a Master’s degree in Information Science from the University of Missouri. She works at the University of Missouri’s College of Education where she manages the Allen Institute and the IE Lab, a User Experience Lab.

Mike Grellner - Vice President
Mike Grellner – Vice President

Mike Grellner is a commercial broker with Plaza Commercial Realty in Columbia. He is involved in a number of civic organizations including the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, the Columbia Board of Realtors, Boys and Girls Club of Columbia, Bank of Missouri Advisory Board, Regional Economic Development, and Central Missouri Development Council. Mike graduated from Truman State University with a B.S. Degree in Business-Finance.

Mike’s passion for City Garden School and Waldorf education stems from his belief that education should focus on the whole child, including moral development, and that education should teach children not only how to read and write, but also to contribute to their community in a meaningful way. He values his service on the board, knowing that shaping education for our children has a substantial impact on the future of our culture.

Laura Hockett - Treasurer
Laura Hockett – Treasurer

Laura is originally from Kirkwood, Missouri and came to Columbia to attend Mizzou where she received her Master’s in Accountancy. During her time at Mizzou, she met her husband, a Columbia native, and never left. After college, Laura began working for Williams Keepers LLC in the audit department. She received her CPA license in fall 2015, and is so excited about the opportunity to be able to use her skills as Board Treasurer to help such a neat school and community. Laura enjoys spending time with friends and family, running, hiking, camping, and including her dog Alfie in these activities as much as possible.

Karen Shortt-Stout - Secretary
Karen Shortt-Stout – Secretary

Karen Shortt-Stout, the Columbia Art League Education Director since 2014, received her Bachelor’s degree with emphasis in Fine Art and Art History, from Stephens College in 2009. Soon after, Karen’s personal interest in the Waldorf educational model and subsequent discovery of the Garden Gate/City Garden community, is ultimately what led her to pursue a Master’s degree in Art Education from the University of Missouri, Columbia, which she completed in the spring of 2015. As Education Director for CAL, Karen facilitates a monthly art program for the City Garden students, and now, as City Garden board member, she hopes to continue to strengthen the relationship between the two communities.

Learn more about our programs.