Our teachers love children! They have many combined years of training and experience in early childhood education. Their focus is on teaching to the individual needs and talents of every child, and they find great joy in sharing their love of learning with the children and their parents.

Alissa Nasiatka (Executive Director)

I grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan and went to college at Brigham Young University in Utah. After graduating with a Bachelor's degree in Special Education and a minor in Family Studies, I taught in a variety of early childhood programs, mostly near Cincinnati, Ohio. After the birth of my 4th child in 2007, I accepted a position as a preschool director. Several years later, I accepted a full-time position with a childcare resource and referral agency as an early childhood professional development specialist. I had the opportunity to coach early childhood directors in several preschools and childcare programs, helping them to achieve higher quality as well as having access to unlimited high-quality ECE professional development trainings. In January of 2016, I was excited to learn about the open position for director at New Discovery School. By March, my family was preparing for the big move to Seattle after living in Ohio for almost 22 years. My first year as the director at NDS has been amazing. I have had exceptional training and mentoring by the founder, Susan Gorman and feel so much support from the NDS Board, staff, and families. It is great to come to work everyday and feel at home!

Elise Aney (Threes Teacher and Art Specialist)

From the moment I walked through the doors of NDS, I felt welcome. Having always desired to work with children creatively, I could not imagine a more ideal setting. The sense of comfort and belonging among the staff and community is unparalleled to any working environment I have experienced.

I began my path at New Discovery in the fall of 1999 working with three year olds. With a background in and a love for the arts, I began exploring techniques to enhance the creativity in my students. Eventually, I began teaching art to the other classes as well.

In a community that embraces and possesses so many talents, there seem to be no bounds to what we can learn from both the children and each other. The opportunity to take outside classes and be a part of our informative curricula help me grow as an educator and find new ideas to offer. I am honored to be a part of this community. Being able to fulfill our philosophy and help foster kindness, confidence, and creative expression gives me a deep sense of gratification.

Sara Akers (Fives Teacher)

I have wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember. There is something refreshing about surrounding yourself with young minds and the curiosity that comes with them. I love the challenge that each new question brings and the light bulb that lights up when the answer finally makes sense or is applied in real life. I have a BS in Elementary Education and an MA in Behavioral Analysis with an Emphasis in Autism. I started my teaching career in upper elementary grades and moved into lower grades, but have found a great connection with four and five year olds. I started at New Discovery in the fours and am currently a fives teacher.

I grew up in eastern Washington and have lived in Idaho and California. When I am not in the classroom I enjoy spending time with friends and family, reading a good book, strolling around Green Lake or taking a quick nap. I am fortunate to call New Discovery School home!

Gwyn Benson

(bio coming soon)

Margaret Clarrissimeax (Fours Teacher)

I'm excited about being at NDS, where I'm surrounded by young children and their excitement, curiosity, humor, and insights. I love supporting their emergent interests, promoting their love of learning, helping them establish their independence, and stimulating their social and intellectual growth.

I have been teaching for 20 plus years. Most recently I taught third grade, and now I'm thrilled to be back in preschool. My teaching credential is from Pacific Oaks College for preschool through eighth grade.

My interest in education has taken me to a variety of places, from local co-ops to alternative public schools, private schools, and even Japan and France to teach ESL. I also learned about education funding and governance while working on the U.S. Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee in Washington, D.C.

Bret Ellerton (Three's Teacher, Music Specialist, and Programs Manager)

Children see the world in a fresh and magical way, and I love seeing it through their eyes. I joined New Discovery School in 2000 and have been at home here since then. The emphasis on play as the main arena for implementing and practicing our social and emotional learning curriculum is a big part of why I feel drawn to continue teaching here year after year. To me, this is the most important area of learning at this age, and I feel proud to be supporting it. I also enjoy interacting with the parents and my coworkers in this warm and supportive community. Helping to create a kind society is at the heart of my purpose in life.

I began teaching children in special needs environments while receiving ongoing training in early childhood education in 1996 in Austin, Texas. I have a Bachelor's degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder in the study of religion with an emphasis in Buddhist studies. I am an authorized mindfulness practice instructor with Shambhala International as well as a certified Parent/Professional trainer through the Talaris Institute for the 'Parenting Counts' program. Also a certified specialist trainer for the Washington Department of Early Learning for mindfulness, social-emotional learning, curriculum development, and child development.

I was inspired to play music as a child by experiencing the laughter and fun of my grandparents, uncles and aunts playing duets on the piano. As the music specialist at NDS, I try to instill the same fun and wonder in the children. Whether that is through watching sand vibrate on a 'magic box' from singing into a microphone or through writing songs together. I have played and recorded music in a variety of contexts including ensemble work, phonography/ambient music, music for film, and music for children.

Austin Garrison

(bio coming soon)

Sheri Gorman (Threes Teacher and Morning Care Teacher)

I graduated from Washington State University in 2006. Go Cougs! While there, I received my Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education, and double minored in psychology and sociology. I joined NDS in 2010.

Teaching has to be the most fulfilling profession. I come to work and get to hug, sing, play and experience the joy of watching little ones learn and develop on a daily basis. Witnessing the milestones that take place is magical!

I enjoy baking, cooking, and doing yoga, and storytelling with the kids in my class. I love watching their interest in something expand and grow.

NDS is a warm and welcoming environment where there are many opportunities for families, teachers, and children to come together to create experiences and memories with each other throughout the year. There is an enormous amount of support and involvement here that is so special and unlike anywhere else.

Sarah Graham (Fours Teacher)

I attended Whitman College where I studied History and French. While there I also worked on a minor in education. I joined New Discovery School in the fall of 1998.

My student teaching experience took place in a tiny town in eastern Oregon, in what was basically a one room schoolhouse. I don't feel as though the education classes I took prepared me at all for being in the classroom, but watching the teacher balance the needs of all of the children in her care was amazing; and it still affects the way I interact with children today.

I love working with the four year olds at New Discovery. At this age, they are just beginning to see themselves as a part of a bigger world. Learning how to understand a problem from another person's perspective and to understand what it means to work together are just a few of the challenges at this age. They are also curious and willing to ask incessant questions. I try to honor that quality by helping them discover their own answers, and by helping them to realize that asking questions is as important as knowing the answers.

My favorite time of the week is when Paige and I bake with all of the fours. The children learn about the science of baking, and get to eat the results. I love that they know that measuring brown sugar requires compacting it enough so that when they dump it in the bowl it should look like a sand castle! New Discovery is a community for me because of the respect that we have for each other. I learn from and I'm challenged by this amazing group of people.

Carolyn Hanson (Fives Teacher)

I have ALWAYS wanted to be a teacher! I remember playing teacher in my basement, instructing imaginary students in math and reading. I moved onto babysitting, day camps and summer camps...with live children. I earned my BA in Elementary Education from the University of Montana, and soon landed a job in Meridian, Idaho teaching 6th grade Math, Science and Reading. I shared 60+ students with my teaching partner, and had a blast. I learned about NDS through my son John when he attended the Fives Class in 2009-10, and joined the teaching staff in the fall of 2010.

I can't imagine teaching without a partner. Partner teaching allows constant brainstorming, support and feedback, as well as lots of laughter. I believe my favorite aspect of teaching, besides the bright smiles, creative imaginations and fun explorations is the day to day problem solving. It is a thrill to problem- solve, on the spot, on how best to reach a child, reschedule an activity, or hang the solar system.

Teaching at New Discovery School facilitates all that makes teaching fun for me. We get to team teach for a vibrant community, which expects you to give your best at each moment. I wouldn't have it any other way!

Darcy Held (Fives Teacher)

I came to New Discovery as a parent seven years ago.  Thrilled with how my own children thrived and grew, I jumped at the chance to work in the 5's classroom when a position opened up.  I graduated from the University of Oregon with a General Science degree with an emphasis on Developmental Psychology.  After teaching preschool for several years in Eugene, I moved to Seattle. I soon discovered Pacific Oaks College, a place that I shared so many of the same teaching beliefs.  I completed my coursework for my Masters in Early Childhood Education and a Preschool-3rd grade teaching certificate.  I taught at Hutch Kids for over ten years. I worked with all age groups but found my love of working with 4-5 year olds while working at Hutch Kids.

Over the years every teacher evolves their teaching style and strategies for working with children each year. Each child brings something new to the classroom each and every day.  One of the exciting parts of working with young children is watching how the classroom evolves each day. As a teacher there is a careful dance of watching and guiding the child that is wonderful to be a part of. I am excited to be back in the classroom after taking some time off to send my own children off to elementary school.  It is an honor to be a part of the first chapter in your child's education. In my spare time I enjoy baking, cooking and going on adventures discovering new parts of Seattle with my family.  In the winter you can find our family up in the mountains skiing.

"Great teachers empathize with kids, respect them, and believe that each one has something special that can be built upon." – Dr. Ann Lieberman

Nicki Mason (Administrative Assistant and ASL Teacher)

I began teaching American Sign Language at NDS in the fall of 2000, while working as the production manager for a large corporate gift company. After moving to a position as office manager for a plumbing company, I jumped at an offer to join NDS as the full time administrative assistant to the director, while still teaching ASL one day a week. Over the years I have taught ASL to many age groups, but my favorite is the preschooler, with their eagerness to learn. I enjoy teaching them a new way to powerfully express themselves.

It has been a pleasure to be part of the NDS community; I love greeting everyone as they arrive, and enjoy helping to keep the school running smoothly. Whether I'm answering phones, applying Band-Aids, giving hugs, or even fixing the plumbing, it all seems like a labor of love, and not a job. When not at NDS, I enjoy dancing, gardening, travel, and hiking in the desert.

Paige Orthmeyer (Fours Teacher)

I have a BA from Willamette University, where I took introductory education classes. I joined New Discovery School in 1996, and have been learning on the job and taking classes and workshops since.

I love the joy and honesty of four year olds as they grow over the course of a year. I enjoy sharing new sensory experiences with the children, whether through a messy art exploration, or a cooking project.

I love having the opportunity to learn from the amazing teachers and families I have contact with every day. It is great to be able to work in such a generous and supportive community.

Kat Steinglass (Fours Teacher)

I have been working at New Discovery School since 2013. I earned my teaching certificate in 1999 and completed my Masters in Human Development in 2004 at Pacific Oaks College NW. Prior to working at NDS, I worked with toddlers and taught kindergarten through second graders.

I love going on nature walks, especially with kids. I also love birding, swimming, gardening, arts and crafts, and playing music.

I enjoy being in the moment with the four year olds, watching their imaginations unfold and finding ways to support their ideas. I love working at a school that values their play and recognizes all the learning that comes from it.

I am inspired by the kids, my co-workers and the community at NDS.

Finally, I love starting my day out at song circle!

Michelle Wicklund

(bio coming soon)

Hana Zuwan (Threes Teacher)

I studied air transportation management back home in Indonesia. When I came to the U.S. in 2005, I began teaching and loved it! I earned my Child Development Associate degree in 2009, and have continued taking additional early childhood education workshops. I joined the NDS staff in the fall of 2011.

I love teaching and spending my day with children, helping them to learn and explore every day to prepare them for the future. I also enjoy creating an environment for them in which they feel secure and loved while away from home.

I like sharing different cultural experiences through cooking, stories, and pictures. Throughout the day, I introduce the children to a little of the Spanish and Indonesian /Malay languages. I love coming to New Discovery School, because it's an amazing place where we are always learning from one another.