Teachers & Staff
“The teachers are so deliberate and thoughtful in all of their actions with the children. I never have to worry about how my son's day is going.” —City Garden Parent
Head of School
Jordan Johnson graduated Southeast Missouri State University with a BSW in Social Work, has obtained a teaching certificate in Elementary Education through the American Board, and recently graduated from The University of Missouri with a Masters degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis.
As a classroom teacher, Jordan has always been a proponent of outdoor education. She loves that she now gets to work within our community to expand our nature-based Waldorf approach to educating and nurturing children and make this style of learning accessible to more children!
5th/6th grade teacher,
Head Middle School Teacher
Dr. Rebecca Bruton
Middle School Math Teacher
4th grade teacher
Lauren has been working to change lives through education since she first began her teaching journey in 2011. She has since earned a Bachelor of Science in Education and a Master of Art Education from the University of Missouri, Columbia. Before finding her City Garden home in 2019, Lauren taught many subjects and age groups in the United States, Nicaragua, and New Zealand. In her free time, Lauren delights in spending time with her family and deep, restorative immersion in the beauty of nature. She is also a passionate creator of medicine music and visual art.
Lauren is a dedicated advocate and facilitator of development for the whole child. Her primary goal is to educate children for the future of our Earth through the meaningful strengthening of intellect, discernment, willpower, and the wisdom of the heart. Through City Garden’s holistic educational philosophy, Lauren seeks to equip our children to bring about a more perfect world.
3rd grade teacher
Emily has always felt a call to care for others through teaching, and the holistic and integrated approach of Waldorf education piqued her interest several years ago. She holds a degree in Early Childhood Education from Rasmussen College and has been an educator for more than a decade. Emily has nurtured and taught children from infancy through high school in various settings before finding her way to City Garden in 2020. Emily led the school’s forest-based afterschool program at Camp Takimina and the summer camp program at Rock Bridge State Park. She is delighted to now fulfill her role as City Garden’s second-grade class teacher.
Emily strives to create a loving and nurturing environment for all students, encouraging the children in her care to use their intuition and individual talents to better the world. Having grown up exploring the woods and creek beds of mid-Missouri, Emily has a deep love and respect for the beautiful land where we hold our outdoor school. When she is not teaching, you can find Emily hiking and foraging in the woods, working in her garden, and spending time with her partner and their senior citizen bunny, Janis Hoplin.
1st/2nd grade teacher
Drawn to the beauty, simplicity, and interconnectedness of Waldorf education, Neeley Current was City Garden School’s first 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 the first-grade teacher, she has been able to pursue her love of teaching by directly serving the children at the school.
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 worked for a decade at the University of Missouri College of Education where she helped run a user-centered design lab and an educational research center. Prior to that, she was a librarian at Stephens College where she also studied dance, music, and film. She continues to learn dance & movement education from Nancy Stoy and most recently she studied storytelling from Dr. Eric Miller at the World Storytelling Institute.
Neeley loves dancing and restful time at home with her family.
Head Kindergarten Teacher
Molli is a skilled educator with almost a decade of experience as a public school teacher in Missouri and a drive to bring her talents to City Garden School’s kindergarten program! She has four years of experience in early childhood education, and as an educator, she strives to support her learners in developing a sense of community, independence, and empathy. She loves being a part of the City Garden School Community because it will allow her to marry her passion for education with her love for nature, animals, and the environment. She is looking forward to helping the kindergarten program grow and flourish!
Assistant Kindergarten Teacher
Ms. Frank has always been very fond of the outdoors. She started her time with City Garden as a summer camp teacher in 2021. While walking through the woods and playing in the creeks at Rock Bridge State Park she knew that City Garden was the perfect fit.
Ms. Frank has a bachelor's degree from the University of Missouri, School of Natural Resources with an emphasis in Natural Resource Management. She has worked as an Outreach and Education Coordinator at Prairie Fork Conservation Area where she spent many sunny days teaching children about different aspects of the environment. She very much enjoys working with children and seeing the wonder of nature through their eyes. She has spent much of her career teaching and spending time with children of all ages.
Ms.Frank enjoys hiking, gardening, reading, and knitting. She loves to be outside with her two children, Olive and Ezra and her husband Indi. They enjoyed traveling and finding fun adventures together.
Student Support & Friday Games Teacher
Katy Shaffer began her work with City Garden School in December of 2021 stepping into the role of Interim Director.
Katy graduated from Columbia College with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Minor in Elementary Education. She is a certified 1st through 6th grade teacher with Missouri’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. She taught 5th grade at a private school in Columbia for 3 years before having her two babies. After becoming a mother, Katy began exploring alternative education opportunities. She started working at, a Peace in Nature Education preschool (Little PINE). Through the outdoor education experience, she was witness to its incredible effect on children. She is passionate about the success and scope of City Garden School and supporting the students and staff for years to come. Educating the whole child with a nature-based approach, an emphasis on the arts, nourishing relationships and self-regulation, and access to play is what Katy wishes for her children and yours. She is grateful to have found City Garden School when she did!
Outside of school, Katy enjoys spending time with her two young children and her husband, Josh. She enjoys reading with her kids, doing chalkboard art, and staying in touch with Mother Nature and the Moon.
Monica Everett Frayne
Dr. Suzan Schuetz
Middle School Enrichment & Aftercare Teacher
Pamela Martinez Jertberg
Mrs. Pamela Jertberg (Martinez) is originally from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Comparative Literature and Spanish from San Francisco State University. She has taught Spanish at schools like Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School in Georgia, and the American School of Puerto Vallarta in Jalisco. She speaks Spanish, English, and French, and loves to explore the outdoors. Mrs. Jertberg creates immersive language lessons to teach the foreign language in an interactive and fun way. Through City Garden’s Waldorf educational philosophy, Mrs. Jertberg seeks to enrich the lives of the students, for a deeper affection for Spanish-speaking cultures and a better understanding of our world.
Ms. Kristy Jackson
Kristy Jackson, administrative assistant
Kristy Jackson began her journey with City Garden School when she was looking for alternative education options for her son. She put in many hours as a parent volunteer in 2020 and quickly fell in love with working behind the scenes. In 2021, she joined City Garden as the Administrative Assistant.
Kristy is a hairstylist who owned her own business for nearly 10 years in Columbia. After having her second baby, she left the styling chair and became a stay at home mom. She wanted something different for her boys and discovered City Garden School. She is passionate about the school and continues to work behind the scenes and gives support to the director, teacher, and families.
From Katy Shaffer ~
My first day in the woods with City Garden students was a magical experience. I saw teachers laughing and playing with their students under a wintergreen canopy. I saw sticks become wands, and children carefully gathered around a campfire. I saw mesmerizing chalkboard art and special forest treasures collected by the teachers and students. I saw a student-made (and manned) rock quarry. Besides what I was seeing, I could feel the vibrant energy of the children from the tips of the trees through the breeze and smoke and around the hiking paths.
That day, I was awakened to just how powerful a compassionate, Waldorf-inspired, outdoor school is for children. I was a witness to nature immersion education and believe deeply that every child should get to experience learning this way. City Garden has figured out that by approaching education in this manner, we are cultivating a holistic experience for our future generation. The founders of CGS are still deeply involved in the mission of the school, serving as teachers and parents. Great effort, and donations of money and time, have been poured into the school by our staff, Board of Directors, family, and friends. The City Garden School community has been intentionally fostered and tended to grow in a responsible, compassionate, and generous manner. I am especially grateful to be with City Garden on the cusp of a very exciting and transformative time.
History of City Garden School
City Garden School is a 501c3 nonprofit independent school in Columbia, MO. City Garden School was incorporated first as an LLC by Nicole Knapp-Weber in June of 2013 and then as a non-profit organization, receiving 501c3 status in September 2014. We were founded by a small group of parents who wanted a school inspired by Waldorf education for their elementary students. When we first began, we had 12 students spanning grades 1-3 and one teacher who also acted as the Director. We had a small Board of Directors that met once a month and did much of the admin work as well. We rented two rooms in Calvary Episcopal Church in downtown Columbia and we visited Peace Park for recess. Every Friday, parent drivers would help bring our students to a nature area in the county. We visited Three Creeks Conservation Area, Rockbridge State Park, Pinnacles, and local city parks as well. This Outdoor Friday program continued for many years. In our second year, we added a teacher and grade 4. We then had two classrooms, a combined 1st and 2nd grade and a combined 3rd and 4th grade, and around 15 to 16 students. We partnered with the University of Missouri’s Confucius Institute to bring a Mandarin teacher to City Garden for that year.
Since Waldorf education typically teaches foreign languages to their students, we continued to look for a language teacher. We had a German teacher and then a Spanish teacher. Eventually, we had a Spanish and German teacher and the German teacher also took on some teaching for the addition of a 5th grade. Still, our student body was under 20 students. In the next few years, City Garden remained steady at this rate. We added a homeschooling program for students to visit our classes 2-3 times a week, and many homeschooling families joined us. We also added a part-time Director who was not one of the class teachers.
With the onset of Covid 19, we met the education crisis with outdoor education. It was in the 2020-2021 school year that we first rented Camp Takimina from August to November and March to May, returning to our location at Calvary Episcopal Church in the deepest winter months. We saw a rapid increase in our student body, almost doubling to around 35-40 students. We also added a Middle School Enrichment Program outdoors on Wednesday and Friday mornings and filled this program with 20 students. We had three classrooms for 1st through 5th grade, an Aftercare program and teacher, a part-time Spanish teacher, and a part-time Director and Administrative Assistant. We stopped going on Outdoor Fridays because we were outdoors all week! We enjoyed the outdoors and saw how wonderful it was for our students, so we decided to keep the focus. However, we moved our indoor location to Karis Church, which afforded us a larger indoor location. In the 2021-2022 school year we added a fourth classroom.
In the 2022-2023 school year we are adding a kindergarten and a 6th grade, with the goal of becoming a K-8 by the 2024 - 2025 school year. The plan is to add an additional grade each of the next two school years. We have added a reading specialist, middle school math teacher, kindergarten teacher, and assistant kindergarten teacher. We will add woodworking in the spring as a compliment to the handwork classes that we already teach. Our school continues to grow and we are excited that nearly every class is filled to capacity for this school year.