Subject Teachers

Movement Education

Brianna Payne is the full-time Movement/Games teacher for the 2013-14 school year, after working part-time as the Movement Teacher last year. Having been an Extended Care teacher for the Grades, she brings much experience and knowledge to her new role. A former Crisis Center Counselor, Ms. Payne is unflappable and resourceful. She enjoys being a foodie and spending time on the farm.  


Carole Bennighof graduated from Birmingham Southern College with a  BA in music.  Ms. Carole has taught piano for 20 years.  A kindergarten teacher at AWS since 2006, Ms. Bennighof also teaches Music to 1st through 5th grade classes.

Sarah Gurganus has a degree in Music Education from the University of Montevallo with a concentration in vocal and choral music.  She taught music at Calera and Shelby Elementary Schools. Sarah has been a lifelong musician, performing in many bluegrass bands, including the Colorado band Acoustic Ranch Party. She has also performed in other genres such as opera and jazz. She is the director of the Middle School Choral Group as well as the Handwork Teacher at Alabama Waldorf School.

Luke Lucas holds a B.A. in Music Performance and a Waldorf Teaching Certification for Grades 1-8.  He consults on the Music Program in addition to teaching in the Grades.

Foreign Languages

Rita Meikson, AWS's Russian language teacher, lived her early life in Moscow, Russia. Ms. Meikson graduated from the Moscow Pedagogical University with a Master's degree in children's psychology and elementary education. She worked in Moscow for three years as an elementary school teacher, then for seven years as an instructor at the Moscow Teachers Institute.  In 1992, Ms. Meikson moved to the USA with her husband, who had accepted a position as Math professor at UAB. After coming to America, she worked for seven years as a teacher at the ABC Child Development Center. Now, "Rita Grigorievna" (as only the students call her, practicing Russian tradition by calling Ms. Meikson by her father's name, Grigorievna) is the Russian language teacher at Alabama Waldorf School. In her classes, she not only teaches the language but also the culture.  She uses many traditional Russian games, fairy tales, fables, and stories and poems written by the most esteemed Russian writers and poets. Ms. Meikson has three children, the youngest of whom is an AWS alum, focusing in Creative Writing at the Alabama School of Fine Arts.

Rachel Parsons Cullen joined AWS's grades team as the Spanish Teacher midway through the 2013-14 school year. She loves to play Spanish games and bring Spanish poetry to the Grades students at AWS. 


Sarah Gurganus loves all things Handwork! She began her Waldorf Handwork Certification in the summer of 2011 and specializes in knitting, quilting, and hand sewing. She also enjoys organic gardening, guitar, and traveling. She has extensive experience with one-on-one childcare as a nanny and has a daughter in the AWS Kindergarten. Sarah has always enjoyed her love of learning with children of all ages.

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