Our School

Get to know our Waldorf-Inspired Grades Program located in Fallbrook, California!

Our Mission

Spirit Mountain School is devoted to nurturing, loving, and guiding children so that they grow to be adults who can think clearly, feel deeply, and act responsibly in the world.

Using a developmentally appropriate storytelling curriculum, we strive to educate the whole child – body, soul, and spirit. We foster a connection with nature to keep children grounded and connected to the world’s deep wisdom. By honoring the child’s individuality and ever-changing consciousness as they grow, we keep the child’s natural love of learning alive and help each child grow to their own unique potential.

Our Vision

Spirit Mountain School envisions creating a small class size, private, non-sectarian, mixed-age village school that serves children and families in North County San Diego. We are committed to creating a Waldorf-inspired education that’s accessible to to families of all ethnic, spiritual and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Our History

Spirit Mountain School began as a home-based Waldorf-inspired program that was brought into being in the summer of 2012 when a group of parents asked our founder, Lori Duckstad, an experienced Waldorf teacher, to design a program for their children.

The initial group of five 1st through 3rd graders were called Home Grown Kids. We adopted the name Spirit Mountain in May of 2013 and have continually grown, adding more children and families to our community each year. We were idyllically located in the homes of parents in our initial years, surrounded by abundant nature and a working ranch.

In the spring of 2016, the program moved into the friendly village of Fallbrook in order to be able to serve more families and connect with the larger community. We became a private, independent school, devoted to building a complete Waldorf curriculum for families of North County San Diego and Southern Riverside Counties.

Our students learn in mixed-age groups and attend school Monday through Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  There is an optional class offering on Friday. Our hope is that we offer the right fit for those families seeking a holistic education for their children.

Unity and Acceptance

Our school faculty and board see diversity and inclusion as essential components to any soulful endeavor and living system. We are proud and grateful of our diverse student body, and we welcome all races, religions, creeds and humans to be a part of our growing family.

Non-Discrimination Policy

SPIRIT MOUNTAIN SCHOOL admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.

Please read our full Non-Discrimination Policy here.

exploring mission creek at Spirit Mountain School

A Waldorf education seeks to connect students with the vibrancy of life in all things.

It nurtures and protects childhood. Waldorf education emphasizes the role of imagination in learning, the use of an artistic approach to all subjects, and an honoring of the slow unfolding of capacities in three distinct developmental stages: early childhood, elementary, and adolescent education. The goal of Waldorf Education is to develop free-thinking, morally responsible, and capable human beings who can impart purpose and direction to their lives.  

Students are taught through diverse activities and modalities. The curriculum is comprehensive in its depth and breadth, and is based on a profound understanding of human development. This approach teaches to the whole child—head, heart, and hands, something that is rejected by the standardization movement within conventional education.  In addition to learning the standard academic subjects – English, math, history, and science, Waldorf students learn to sing, play a musical instrument, model clay, draw, paint, knit,  sew, carve wood, garden, move with grace and ease, speak foreign languages, and act in a play. The development of social awareness and understanding is an important part of the students’ school life as well.

Waldorf teachers are dedicated to self-development and study. By continuously striving to develop their own capacities and understand human development, they are able to create curricula for their classes that are truly age appropriate and meet the childrens’ consciousness as they grow and change. They are also consciously striving to understand each unique student who is entrusted into their care. They are given many tools and skills to practice a therapeutic and artistic teaching approach. As a result, children under their care feel more at home within themselves and more easily embrace their own potential and develop a lifelong skill set for thriving in our world.

Meet Our Faculty

Nina Bingham

Nina Bingham

Teacher - Upper Grades

Nina Bingham was introduced to Waldorf education while living in Seattle, WA working as an educational coordinator for Neighborhood House. She began the path toward Waldorf Teacher Training at Sound Circle after discovering and developing a deep appreciation for the child-centered, developmentally appropriate pedagogy offered through Waldorf Education. Nina completed the Foundation Year Teacher Training and has since attended training for the Art of Teaching 5th, 6th, and 7th grades.

Nina graduated Summa Cum Laude from Arizona State University with a B.A. in Elementary Education in 1998. She also successfully defended an Honors Thesis on the topic of Middle Grades Education from Barrett Honors College at ASU. She holds a middle school endorsement, a middle grades math endorsement, and a middle grades science endorsement.

Ms. Bingham has been a staff member at Pine Forest School since 2013; she is now on an educational journey with the students in her class that began in 2015 and will culminate at their Eighth Grade Graduation in 2019. Her interests overlap into the classroom; she enjoys singing and playing various musical instruments, reading and story-telling, scientific discovery and discussion, critical thinking games, camping and hiking, gardening, and healthy cooking and eating.

Nicholas Barter

Nicholas Barter

Teacher - Lower Grades

Nicholas was raised in the town of Twentynine Palms in the Mojave Desert in California.  As he was growing up, he spent many of his holidays camping throughout the Southwest.  After high school he traveled and explored the culture and terrain of the U.S., Mexico and Central America, and discovered many ways of living and thinking.  His journeys were inspired by love and freedom. He participated in World Peace Rainbow Gatherings, Earth First base camps, and small multi-devotional ashrams, and also hitchhiked through the dismal beauty of the Navajo Indian Reservation.

Nicholas holds early childhood teaching and consciousness studies certificates from Rudolf Steiner College.  He is actively committed to anthroposophy  and deeply invested in Waldorf education.  He has been a lead preschool and kindergarten teacher in California, and worked as a movement and nature teacher, substitute class teacher, and a class and special education assistant at Kona Pacific Public Charter School in Hawaii.  He has developed his interest in practical arts and in therapeutic education, through training and work with Ruskin Mill College Trust in the United Kingdom.

Stacey Riggs

Stacey Riggs

Teachers Assistant

As an entrepreneur for over 25 years, Stacey’s elevated multi-tasking to an art form, and she finds great pleasure sharing her skills, creativity and support with such wonderful faculty and students.

Stacey’s biggest passion is gardening. She also loves art and leads our summer art camp with creative projects of all kinds (including her favorite art, mosaics). Stacey has a large heart and it shows in her volunteer work and commitment to excellence. She has participated in National Charity League for 4 years—contributing over 1,000 volunteer hours for various non-profit organizations around North County San Diego. Mrs. Riggs cares deeply about all people and appreciates the unique perspectives and diversity they contribute to her own growth.

Diane Gravlin

Diane Gravlin

Strings Teacher

I love to teach the violin, viola and fiddle. I really enjoy working with adult beginners to help them discover music. You are never too old to learn! I also enjoy working with young children and youth to establish a wonderful foundation for the student.

I have special training in working with children from age 5 up to youth. I work with my students to incorporate, into the lessons, a strong sense of musicianship with both the violin, viola and fiddle. I am a structured teacher, one that is helpful, friendly and fun to work with. In working with young children, I encourage the parent to be involved with the lessons and they must be present at the lesson…to partnership, so that the child will progress and have an enjoyable experience.

María Hernández

María Hernández

Spanish Language Teacher

Tía María is an immigrant, first generation college student from Tijuana, México. Early in her childhood, María discovered her love for teaching. Dedication and effort were reflected in each assignment she completed; classmates believed her to be a perfectionist due to her pursuit of excellence in her studies.

After moving and completing high school in the US, María completed her B.A and my M.A. in Spanish education. As the Spanish Language instructor at Spirit Mountain School, she is committed to providing the tools to develop in each child the ability to communicate fluently and effectively in the Spanish language.

Katie Lundry

Katie Lundry

Mandarin Teacher

Katie grew up in Taiwan ROC, living in a suburb of Taipei. After completing university in Taiwan with her husband, who also studied Mandarin, she moved to the United States. Initially living in Iowa City, IA, Katie began studying English. Later, she moved to Oregon, and finally settled in Temecula, California where she raises her bilingual daughter.

Katie began teaching Chinese a few years ago, when friends asked for her assistance. During these informal language sessions, she discovered that teaching children and sharing her native language was a joy! Gradually, Katie has grown her Mandarin classes to include teaching students with no background in Chinese and also children of Chinese speaking parents.

Steps to Enrollment

Enrollment for the 2018-2019 school year is fast approaching! Read our application process and start today!

Why Waldorf Works