- Administrative/Supporting Staff↑
Steve is a founder of Harmony School. He has served as a director of Harmony School since its founding in 1974. He has been serving as Executive Director of Harmony Education Center since its founding in 1990. Steve’s wife Barb also helped to start Harmony and has continued to work here ever since. Steve and Barb’s daughter, Fern, graduated from Harmony in 1993 and in 2000 started her own non-profit organization in Bloomington, People and Animal Learning Services (PALS, http://www.palstherapy.org), a therapeutic riding program. Steve, Barb and Fern, along with several other Harmony students, started Rhino’s Youth Center in 1990. From 1974 to 1979, he also taught Social Studies at Harmony’s high school.Steve grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from Shaker Heights High School in 1967. In 1971 Steve received his B.A. in the Independent Learning Program with a concentration on History and Creative Writing. In 1978 he received his Masters in Alternative Education from Indiana University. His experience as one of the first graduates of Indiana University’s Independent Learning Program contributed greatly to his ideas for Harmony School.In 1978, he was appointed by Governor Otis Bowen to a Managing Council for State-Wide Job Training Programs. From 1980-82, he served as Chairperson of the Youth Subcommittee for the Council. From 1988 to 1991, he sat on the National Board of the National Coalition for Alternative Community Schools from 1989-91 he served as Treasurer. In 1989 Steve Bonchek was an original member of the Community Alliance for Lifelong Learning, a Bloomington Chamber of Commerce initiative that brings together leaders from business, education and government, and remained a member until 2000. In 1991, Governor Evan Bayh appointed Steve to the Indiana 2000 steering committee. In 1995 Steve was one of the founders of the National Center for Independent School Renewal.
Natalie Bouse (Operations Director)
Natalie is a Harmony parent and joined the operations team this past summer. She has over 10 years experience working in both the public and private sectors, working with children and families, and leading training and development initiatives. Outside of Harmony, life is full of family. Natalie and her husband Ash keep busy raising their 10 year old son Jackson (who is in Lana and Matt’s class) and baby girl Amelia. When she gets the chance she enjoys (loves) flea marketing/thrifting, baking, hanging out in water on sunny days, and watching baseball (especially when her son is playing and husband is coaching).
John Soots (Office Manager)
John Soots is the office manager. If you’ve called the school recently, chances are you’ve spoken to him on the phone. John moved to Bloomington in 1994 to attend IU. At this point he is officially considered a townie, although he took a 3 year hiatus from Bloomington when he moved to Portland, OR with his wife (Lana, who teaches in the 3/4 class) and his daughter Lucy (who is in 4th grade in Lana and Matt’s class). He attended college in Portland, where he learned as much as he could about typography, drawing, film editing, graphic design, and interactive media design. When he’s not hard at work, John spends his time playing and recording music.
Alyssa Paxson (Assistant Office Manager)
Alyssa recently transplanted to Bloomington from Central Florida and is excited to be part of the Harmony community. She has a BFA degree in Studio Art, with a focus on oil painting, which included studying abroad in Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji. She attended an arts high school where she played Flute and Tenor Saxophone in the orchestra and small ensembles. She enjoys, art, music, sewing, crocheting, exploring outdoors, traveling, baking, and reading.
- Early Childhood Program↑
As soon as I moved to Bloomington from Indianapolis to go to school, I knew I had found a long term home. I fell in love with the town, the people, and the surrounding hills. After graduating from Indiana University with a degree in English, I spent the next few years writing and recording music, and playing in a band called The Impossible Shapes. We toured all over the U.S. and Europe. After that exciting adventure, I became interested in Early Childhood Education and creating music with young children. I started doing music sessions at the Bloomington Developmental Learning Center with infants and toddlers. I also taught in the Kindergarten and preschool classrooms for five years.I love being creative with children, helping them to exercise the “imagination muscle” daily. I enjoy hands-on science experiments, learning from nature and unpredictable art projects. In my free time I enjoy exploring the forests of Bloomington, riding and fixing my bicycle, practicing yoga, gardening, writing poetry, and studying cosmology and ethnobotany. I still perform my own music around town and occasionally out of town as well. I am very excited to be a part of the Harmony community.
Linda Lewis (Teacher)
Linda started Harmony School’s Early Childhood Program in 1993. Born and raised in Brown County IN, Linda still resides there with her husband Iuri and their two children on adjoining property with her sister and nephew. Linda took a leave of absence from Harmony during the 1997-1998 school year to learn Portuguese and travel to Brazil where she met and married her husband, who now teaches a Brazilian Cultural Art called Capoeira Angola here at Harmony in the evenings. Linda’s two children, Zeca and Zara, currently attend Harmony School. Her favorite thing about teaching at Harmony is the strong feeling of community she shares with her co-workers, students, and the parents of her students. She believes the supportive environment makes it possible for teachers as well as students to do their best and feel good about themselves.
Summer Vergiels (After School Program)
After School Program Teacher
This is my seventh year working in the After School Program here at Harmony, with this being my second year of running it. I have one child who is in the elementary school and another who is a toddler. I work as a midwife assistant and doula as well as crafting things. For fun I dance with a performance art troupe that specializes with fire dancing. I love being a part of the Harmony community.
- Elementary School↑
(email@example.com)Harmony School is very near and dear to my heart. I am not only a teacher here, but also a parent and an alumnus. In fact, my old locker upstairs is still painted as I painted it in the 8thgrade, and if you look really hard you can find pictures of me on the collaged rhinos that sit around the school. I graduated from Harmony in 2000, sent my daughter here in 2008, started working part-time in the ECP in 2009, and started my full-time teaching career here in 2010. After getting my bachelor’s degree in social work from IU in 2004, I moved to Portland, OR with my husband and our baby daughter. I worked as a nanny, a personal assistant, a bio writer, a freelance writer, and a salesperson/copywriter for an educational toy catalog. In 2008 we moved back to Bloomington, and I went back to IU to complete the course work for my master’s in elementary education. In my free time I love to spend time with my family and friends, read, bake, work on projects, and spend time outdoors swimming, hiking, bike riding, picnicking, camping, and more.
Claudio Buchwald (1st & 2nd Teacher)
I lived my first ten years in Lima, Peru; my parents were immigrants from Vienna and Prague. I’ve lived in the DC area, the Boston area, Ithaca NY, and now Bloomington since 1992. I’ve been teaching young children since 1985, and I love being at our small school, where teachers and students can get to know each other well. I also love teaching with a partner. Outside of school I enjoy life with my wife Mary Helen, cooking (and feeding), playing soccer and softball, swimming, playing music, being with friends, spending time outdoors, traveling and visiting in the summers, and reading.
Laura Beth Wayne (1st & 2nd Teacher)
I am a native Hoosier returning to my homeland after living all over the United States. I have been teaching Montessori education for the past 5 years in Oregon and Georgia. I am excited about teaching at Harmony.I love the energy, community and being back in B-town. I enjoy practicing yoga, gardening, playing with my dog, sewing and working on my farm, The WE Farm, with my husband in my off time.
Jennifer Ruff (K-6th Teacher)
3rd and 4th Grade Teacher
Jen is excited to be joining Harmony. She is returning to Bloomington after several years of teaching in the Bronx. Her classroom has always been full of art, books, and laughter. In her own time, she loves making things, baking things, and most importantly, spending time with her husband, Paul, and her two young children, Clem and Tal.
Matt Rosenthal (3rd & 4th Teacher)
3rd and 4th Grade Teacher
Matt taught fourth, fifth, and sixth grades for 13 years in the Owen County public school system. He is excited to be teaching at Harmony in a more student-centered environment. He loves teaching collaborative problem solving, creative writing, and hands-on science. Outside interests include writing songs, playing guitar, reading, cheering on his Philly sports teams, and listening to selections from his growing record collection. Matt lives in Bloomington with his lovely wife, Emily, his two wonderful children, Oscar and Yabbi, and their dog, Maisy.
Kathy Boone (5th & 6th Teacher)
Being raised in the countryside my favorite memories of childhood are riding quarter horses in fields, forests, and show arenas of the Midwest. I left horses behind when I went to college at Indiana University (IU) in Bloomington. I began my undergraduate career with a scholarship in the business school, although it wasn’t long before the poetry and prose of the English Department lured me toward a BA in literature. Before I graduated, however, I was accepted as a participant in the first IU exchange program with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). While studying at Hangzhou University, I discovered what seems to be a life-long love of Chinese language and Asian history and culture.Since that inspiring experience, I have traveled further in the PRC, Taiwan ROC, Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan, and Jamaica. After earning an MA studying Chinese Linguistics, I worked for a while with adult new readers. This experience inspired me to pursue a career in education, working with children in the hope that my students would become skilled in the language arts. Soon after receiving my teacher’s certificate, I began working at Harmony School. I currently teach 5th and 6th grade. I especially enjoy teaching writing, literature, social studies, art, and multicultural courses. When not at school, my interests include social justice issues, art, playing softball, hiking, camping, listening to music, and reading. My greatest joy is spending time with my daughter, who is currently a university student. Harmony School is an extended family to me, and I really value the community support it offers.
Zevon Adkisson (5th & 6th Teacher)
I grew up in the small southern Indiana town of Rockport, where I got to experience all the joys of living in a small rural community. I grew up playing and exploring outdoors as much as I could with my family and friends.I left Rockport in 2008 to further my education by attending Indiana University studying accounting in the business school. After a few business classes I realized that this was not the life I wanted to create for myself and left the Business School. A few weeks later I joined the School of Education and graduated with my degree in Secondary Mathematics Education in December 2012.Through my time at IU I was lucky enough to fulfill some of my graduation requirements at Harmony School. After a few days here I realized this was the type of school I would like to be a part of. Although this is my first year of teaching, I feel as if my time already spent here has given me some good insight on what to expect here. I am very excited to become an official member of the Harmony community!Outside of school I am an avid Disc Golfer. I also really enjoy playing sports (especially baseball), reading, playing guitar and saxophone, hiking, Geocaching, video gaming, and spending time with my loving girlfriend Jordan.
- Middle School↑
Marty was born in Gary, Indiana and graduated from Indiana University having studied history and English. He received a Masters’s Degree in Education in 1980, and began teaching at Harmony in 1978 as a 5th & 6th grade language arts teacher. He made the transition to Middle School 10 years later and currently focuses on both language arts & social studies. “Publishing student work has been a fundamental part of my curriculum, with over 60 publications to date.”
Kelli Debikey (MS Math/Science)
I am a country girl at heart from Shelbyville, Indiana. From there I moved to Bloomington to go to school at IU. I have discovered that Bloomington is the town for me and that Harmony is the school for me. You can find me tucked away in my little computer corner working on lesson plans and loving every moment. I am a devout gardener, euchre player, and just love to have an overall good time with life.
Ursina Hasting-Heinz (MS Science/Art)
Ursina Hastings-Heinz teaches Science and Art and integrates the two often, in classes such as: “Out of the Earth – into the Fire”, “From Pinhole to Digital”, and “Color and Light”. She spent time doing research and living with the Lacandones in the rainforest in Chiapas, is a native of Switzerland and was amazed when Amish in northern Indiana spoke her mother tongue. Ursina holds a BFA from Indiana University and lives here in Bloomington with her husband and daughter.
- High School↑
Alan grew up in Louisville, KY where he attended and graduated from St. Francis DeSales High School in 2002. He went on to the University of Kentucky and received his B.S. in Mathematics in 2006. He stayed at the University of Kentucky and received his M.A. in Mathematics in 2008. While pursuing his M.A. he taught multiple classes as a teaching assistant. Most of the classes he taught were either algebra or calculus. He then moved to Bloomington, IN in August of 2008 with his fiancée, Katie, where he worked at Indiana University tutoring student athletes in math. In May 2009 Alan and Katie were married. In June 2009 he started a Transition to Teaching program at Indiana University, and in April 2010 received his Indiana teaching license for high school and middle school mathematics.In his spare time Alan likes to play his guitar and mandolin, and crochet blankets as Christmas gifts for members of his family. He likes to visit his parent’s 22 acres of land located in Meade County, KY where he and his wife love to fish for bluegill and largemouth bass from their pond. Alan is very passionate about mathematics and will talk about math to anyone who wants to talk about it. “My main goal as a math teacher,” Alan says, “is to make my students just as passionate about mathematics as I am.”
Mark Bell (Digital Media Arts)
Mark stumbled out of the wilds of Toronto, Canada 15 years ago where, in 1993, he received a B.A. in English from the University of Waterloo. He spent 15 years in the software industry and then returned to higher ed to get a Masters in Digital Storytelling from Ball State and is working on his PhD in Mass Media from Indiana University. While at IU, Mark has taught classes on various topics from media literacy to web design and was recognized as one of the best graduate student teachers. He has also published technical books including, How to Build a Website for Free. He is married to Sarah “Intellagirl” Smith Robbins and has a full house of four twelve-year olds: Jack, Morrigan, Teagan and Xander. His passions are music and story so he spends his spare time recording his songs, making movies, writing comics and playing board games.
Sallyann Murphey (HS Social Studies)
Sallyann teaches history, politics and media studies, and serves as the High School Coordinator and the Senior Advisor at Harmony. She began her first career as a journalist and writer at the age of 23, when she joined the British Broadcasting Corporation as its then-youngest producer.In 1985, she came to America to establish the news operation for ‘Good Morning Britain’, the sister program to ‘Good Morning America’ – which brought her to New York where she met her husband, photographer Greg Murphey. The couple eventually moved to Chicago, his hometown, where their daughter, Charley, was born in 1987. Sallyann continued to work as an investigative journalist for a number of publications including the London Observer, IPC Magazines, The Chicago Times Magazine and The Utne Reader – until 1991, when the family moved to a farm in Brown County, Indiana. This change of circumstance gave rise to Sallyann’s first book, Bean Blossom Dreams – A City Family’s Search for a Simple Country Life (Hearst Books, 1994). Four books have followed, including The Zen of Food – A Philosophy of Nourishment (Berkley Books, 1998), and The Metcalfe Family Album – Six Generations of Traditions and Memories (Chronicle Books, 2000). An updated edition of Bean Blossom Dreams was published by Indiana University Press in 2009.Sallyann – who holds a B.A. (Hons) in Politics and Modern History – is a recipient of the “Realizing the Dream Award” from the Independent Colleges of Indiana for inspiring students to expand their educational horizons.
Emily Sprowls (HS Science/Coordinator)
Emily teaches a range of sciences in the high school, and is mom to two little boys in the elementary and early childhood programs. Before coming to Harmony in 2007, she taught science at a traditional college-prep school where she and her students hiked ancient lava “mountains,” swam miles, dug soil pits and waded through pond scum. She enjoys knitting, kayaking, camping, cycling and making crafts with her kids. After graduating from Kenyon College with a degree in biology, Emily discovered that she wanted to be a teacher during her service in the Peace Corps. She spent two years in Panama, where she found herself spending a lot of time planting trees at the local schools and giving nutrition seminars to anyone in the village that would listen.When she returned to the US, Emily taught marine biology on an old fishing boat in Cape Cod. This involved a few cold, wet, seasick adventures, but also lots of lobsters and sea stars! She then married another biologist and moved to Connecticut to get a Masters in Environmental Science from Yale University. In the process she was lucky enough to do an environmental education internship on a little island in Columbia, where she got hooked on coffee and fell in love with lizards. Stop by the high school science classroom any time to meet her geckos!
Dale Hartkemeyer (HS Spanish)
Born in Cincinnati, Dale majored in Spanish at Dartmouth College. During that time he participated in a foreign study program, lived with a family in Salamanca, Spain, and traveled fairly extensively in the central and southern regions of the country. This foreign experience really stirred his fondness for cross-cultural experiences, and so five years after graduation he returned to Spain, this time to spend a year living in Madrid and teaching English.It was this first taste of language teaching that pretty much launched and sealed his lifelong interest and professional career in language learning/instruction. After returning to the States, he taught Spanish, French, and ESL in a language school for a number of years before earning an M.A. in Spanish at the University of Cincinnati and teaching the language there at the college level.Over the years he had become increasingly interested in a number of other languages, and the natural curiosity that arises when you compare and contrast structures in different languages led me to want to pursue the study of how languages universally operate as systems, i.e. the field of linguistics. He spent some years at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign doing master’s and doctoral degrees in the field, with particular interest in the areas of phonology and historical linguistics.After this graduate education, Dale spent eight years at Central Michigan University teaching Spanish courses at various levels, including a grad course on the history of the Spanish language. In 2008, spurred on by an aspiration to practice Soto Zen Buddhism intensively with a community here, he moved to Bloomington and began teaching Spanish here that fall at Harmony High School on a part-time basis. The arrangement has so far been a happy one: it allows him to balance the two elements of most value and interest to him in his life—spiritual practice and the great satisfaction he finds in language teaching/learning.
Jamie Schmiechen (HS Cultural Arts/Music/ESL)
Jamie Schmiechen is very excited for his first year teaching Humanities and ESL at Harmony. His classes encompass a range of subjects, including art and technology. He grew up in San Francisco and attended Lick-Wilmerding high school where he learned to rock climb and make things out of wood. In 1997 he received his B.A. in English and Film-Studies from Colorado College, a small school in Colorado Springs. He lived in Austin, TX and built houses for a year before returning home where he taught Language Arts in San Francisco public schools. He moved to Bloomington seven years ago with his wife Sarah to raise kids and tomatoes. The kids, Jacob and Hannah, turned out well. He hopes to imbue his students with an appreciation of vivid stories, passionate arguments and homemade food.
- National School Reform Faculty↑
Michele Mattoon is the director of the National School Reform Faculty. She works with schools and national facilitators across the country and overseas to implement Critical Friends Trainings, strategic planning sessions and other work relating to collaborative learning. Michele has been a national facilitator with NSRF for 9 years and enjoys facilitating trainings for educators interested becoming coaches for Critical Friends Groups. Michele also facilitates strategic planning sessions for educational and business groups.Before becoming director for NSRF, Michele taught school at Harmony for 26 years. She was awarded the Hoosier Educator Award in 2000 and the Dorothy Johnson Award for Excellence in Education of Young Children in 2001. During her teaching years, Michele created and developed a conflict resolution, mediation and life skills program and still works with schools to transform their cultures into ones of peace, mutual support and collaborative learning. She has been trained in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and teaches adults and students how to acquire a greater peace of mind and focus.
Luci Englert McKean is the NSRF Special Projects Manager. Some of her projects include supporting the organization in developing new materials, new service lines, and a revised website. Luci is also the curator of TEDxBloomington, a freelance writer and presentation consultant, Lotus Festival committee member, resident of Bloomington since 1986, and the parent of two Harmony students.
- Rhino’s Youth Center↑
Brad Wilhelm has been the Director of Rhino’s Youth Center for over 18 years. He currently is also the Southern Indiana Hub Director for VOICE, the state’s youth anti-tobacco industry activism movement. Brad serves on the Monroe County United Way Agency Director’s Association Executive Board, The Monroe County CARES Board, and the Monroe County Asset Building Coalition. He also talks into microphones a lot.