Head of the Class 2017

Children are the future! We’ve put together a list of the top educators in our area, bringing the vision for the future to life in our students.


Summers-Knoll School
Walter Landberg, Head of School


What is your vision for your school?
Summers-Knoll is focused on meeting every student where they are and helping them to move to the next level. From our math program, which allows students to progress at their own pace, to our project based and real world approach to teaching and learning, students are engaged and challenged every day. While our aim is certainly to prepare students with the academic skills and the work ethic they’ll need in any high school or college/university environment, our overarching focus is on developing students who are prepared for the real-world.

What do you love most about working with the children in your school?
As I walk around the building each day, I make it a priority to ask students what they are working on and I’m always impressed by their ability to talk about what they are learning, and most importantly, why they are learning it. Summers-Knoll kids are curious and interested in the world beyond the school walls. I think this comes from a combination of the community of families and a group of teachers who see it as their job to both inspire and engage.

Since joining Summers-Knoll, I’ve come to learn that the school has been a bit of hidden gem, especially our middle school program where we currently have openings. In 20 years as an educator, I’ve never seen a school where kids are so engaged with learning and the teachers so focused on utilizing the resources of the community. I also want to mention that our school is a very inclusive community because the parents and leadership have always made diversity a real priority. Over 30% of our families receive need-based financial aid and our hope is to give as many kids as possible the chance to experience this type of learning.


St. Paul Lutheran School
Julie Novak, Kindergarten Teacher


What is your vision for your school?
The students at St. Paul Lutheran School are smart. They know about the world. My vision for my students is to give them experiences that enable them to gain a love of learning, and to personally grow. We continue to expand as a school and have a great opportunity to teach about our faith in the community.

What do you love most about working with the children in your school?
I love so many things about working with our students. I love the kids. I love the way they think, their hugs, and their smiles. Nothing stops them! They come to learn and they will try anything. It is such an exciting place to be when they are so excited to learn and grow. St. Paul Lutheran School is a huge family. The kids in the school love, care, and even pray for each other and grades don’t divide them. It truly is a special place with Christ at the center of it all.

Principal Bob Burgess nominated star kindergarten teacher Julie Novak to represent St. Paul Lutheran School and added that he chose to join the school himself because of the excitement and opportunities it offers. “Our school is blessed to have experienced, certified, and caring teachers that are dedicated to provide an opportunity for students to become solid academically, firm in their faith and confident in their character. It is a joy to observe families being positively transformed in amazing ways as the students prepare for the great plans that God has in store for them.”


Early Learning Center
Katie Beckington, Director and Lead Teacher


What is your vision for your school?
Since 1975 the Early Learning Center (ELC) has been providing a unique preschool program based on the belief that learning takes place primarily through exploratory play activities. Children are encouraged to play, to explore, to think, and to develop a strong sense of self-esteem, independence and curiosity. The program also focuses on the emotional needs of children. Emphasizing kindness and cooperation, ELC strives to foster good relationships among the children and between children and adults. The ELC attempts to provide a well-balanced program. Activities are planned with regard to the social, emotional, intellectual, physical and creative needs of each child. Our goal is to offer a comfortable, nurturing, and stimulating environment which promotes the growth of the whole child. It is my vision to preserve this type of fun, developmentally appropriate program in a time when trends are now changing to challenge children with material and expectations that they may not be developmentally ready for..

What do you love most about working with the children in your school?
I can honestly say that I love coming to work everyday! The children that I teach bring genuine joy to my life. Their honesty, excitement, curiosity and natural love of learning inspires me daily.


St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School
Julie Fantone Pritzel, Principal


What is your vision for your school?
St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School is a remarkable place. The confidence of each child is palpable as soon as you walk in the building. Children who attend St. Francis strive to be kind and compassionate individuals while also working towards academic excellence. Before becoming principal I was an alumnus, teacher, and a strong visionary in the school; all of which have contributed to the perspective I bring to my work with students and teachers at St. Francis. The vision for our school is brought alive by our dedicated team of teachers who are immensely committed to their students. They work together to guide the students to greatness, not only in academics but in the formation of the whole child.

What do you love most about working with the children in your school?
What I love most about being a part of the St. Francis community is the family atmosphere. I can remember when one student, Scarlett, was born. I held her two days after she returned home from the hospital and now get to see her as a student in our school and as a member of our school family. This is unique in an education setting, to be with some of these children for 9-14 years is remarkable. This is what makes St. Francis School so special. I also truly enjoy seeing the growth of each child. It’s amazing when a second grader tells you they need to work on their self-control and prudence. It reminds me as an adult that I too have areas to grow. I am surrounded by 500 individuals who want to help each other become remarkable humans. That’s pretty special!


Rudolf Steiner School of Ann Arbor (RSSAA)
Maggie Crawford, Early Childhood Coordinator


What is your vision for your school?
RSSAA has gone through a recent growth spurt! My vision for the school is for our relationships with our many new parents to deepen, and for our work with the greater community to continue to flourish. We have many wonderful events that we welcome the community to enjoy, such as our Winter Festival and puppet shows for preschool children. We also have a new relationship with University Living, an assisted living facility, that brings residents to visit in our early childhood classroom each month for crafting and snacks. My hope is that we have the opportunity to fully support all of our families in the best possible ways. We want to be there to support parents and to continually focus on whatever we can do to encourage and strengthen the children’s development.

What do you love most about working with the children in your school?
I am a coordinator which means I work more with the teachers and parents. It is such meaningful and deep work. When I was teaching, I cherished cultivating an environment where wonder and imagination could be fostered and observed in the children. Seeing the excitement and the love of stories and experiences that Waldorf education is known for was so rewarding. I loved kneading bread dough with the children and how the smell of baking bread would fill the room as they played. I loved the movement and speech work during circle time and could see the relationship between the physical and neurological development of the children. Watching the children develop socially in a safe space was fulfilling as well. Now I get to support the families and the early childhood teachers at RSSAA in these endeavors, and it is truly the best job I could ever imagine!