Meet Our Parents
Background music: Viva La Vida by Coldplay, sung by the class of 2015.
Steven Bavaria and his wife Betsy are the parents of two Green Meadow students: David in Eleventh Grade and Abbey in Eighth Grade. They learned about Waldorf education while living in Rowayton, CT and moved to Chestnut Ridge 10 years ago to be near the school. A former international banker, journalist, and financial executive, Steven now focuses on freelance writing, including his recent article "The Gerbilization of America," about how society molds children to lead compliant, Dilbert-type lives, and a book in progress about executive pay, entitled Too Greedy for Adam Smith.
For Steven and Betsy, previously a model and kitchen designer, moving to Chestnut Ridge has enhanced and enriched their lives. Betsy has been an active volunteer and dedicated class parent, organizing “Hikes for Haiti” and Neighbor-to-Neighbor fundraising campaigns, while Steven serves on the Green Meadow Parent Council and the Board of Directors of the local Hungry Hollow Co-op.
Jessica graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Women’s Studies. She has worked at Barney’s New York in Manhattan since 1996, first for Jil Sander and, for the past year, as specialist for the Olsen twins’ label The Row.
Says Jessica, “I can’t imagine having my children at any school besides Green Meadow. It gives my older son the perfect balance of warmth and quiet, while encouraging his energy and helping him channel it. He is also being well-prepared for the academics to come. I can’t wait for my younger son to join the Nursery. Green Meadow has changed the whole makeup of our family; we really believe in the tenets of Waldorf Education and feel that we’ve found utopia.”
Yurdaer joined IBM Research, Hawthorne, NY in 1989 as a Research Staff Member. Since then he has worked and managed projects on broad research topics including Queing Theory, Intelligent Transportation Systems, Multimedia Servers, Web-based Collaboration, Electronic Services, Search for Technical Support, and Unstructured Information Management. His current research interests include the application of information management technologies to business integrity problems, focusing on providing continuous auditing by using business provenance data.
Yurader holds several patents, is an IEEE Senior Member, and holds a PhD. from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA and Master’s Degree from the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey.
Yurdaer and his wife Zinnur have two children in the school and are also the parents of an alumna. Says Yurdaer, "I was 24 when I left Turkey to pursue my doctorate studies in the US. It was not easy to leave the land where I was born and raised, as well as all my loved ones: my newly married wife, family, and friends. The hope for a better education, however, made it worthwhile. We were even more passionate about the education of our children and believe that it is the most valuable gift that we could give them. We were introduced to Waldorf Education at the Jerrahi Mosque, another center of education for us, where we learned that education without self-knowledge is pointless. Almost all the children at the mosque were GMWS students. They were caring towards each other, creative, and had a strong connection to nature. We also admired their natural curiosity and eagerness to learn. These timeless values prompted our move to Chestnut Ridge in 1992, the intersection point of the school and mosque communities, where we wanted to raise our children. Our daughter Zeynep will graduate from the Computer Science department at SUNY Stony Brook next year, and our son Mehmet will start architecture school in Manhattan this year. Rana (class of 2021), our little one, will follow her siblings. It is certain that through Waldorf Education, our children developed into better human beings. For us, the fulfillment of this potential matters more than anything else."
Dr. Anne Donnelly
Dr. Donnelly is a licensed psychologist who graduated with a Psy.D. from Pace University in NYC. After working as school psychologist, she provided psychological services for inpatient children and adolescents at Four Winds Hospital in Katonah. She has been in full-time private practice since 1998 in Katonah. Dr. Donnelly has served as adjunct clinical supervisor at Pace University in NYC since 1998, and became adjunct faculty in the Pace University doctoral program last year.
Dr. Donnelly originally heard about Green Meadow through a family member whose children attended the school, and then rediscovered Waldorf Education through colleagues whose children went to a Waldorf School in Connecticut.
Dr. Donnelly’s daughter entered Green Meadow in Seventh Grade. While very successful in school, she “didn’t love learning and didn’t discover how exciting it could be”, said Dr. Donnelly. At Green Meadow, she “understands how things fit together in the world”, rather than breaking subjects down into unrelated parts.
Born and raised in Switzerland , Philipp studied languages, math, and economics in England, Spain, and France. Philipp’s early career included work with a large financial institution in Europe. He was transferred to the United States 25 years ago, and began to work independently, still in the Finance sector, 15 years ago. Today, he is an independent employee benefits consultant, specializing in international companies.
Philipp and his wife, Karen, have a son who recently graduated from Green Meadow, and is currently studying at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. Their other son attends Green Meadow’s high school.
Philipp says of Waldorf Education, “A surprisingly large number of the students in the high school have a very good idea of what they want to do with their lives, which is rare at that age. We first came to Green Meadow because we had some babysitters who were students here, and they knew just what they wanted to do, which impressed me.”
Merav Greidinger is a freelance marketing consultant/researcher specialized in new product Innovation, working with both large corporations and small start-up initiatives. Her academic background is in Industrial Engineering (B.Sc from The Technion Israel Institute of Technology) and Integrated Marketing Communications (M.Sc from Northwestern University). Merav is also a certified Simplicity Parenting Group Leader, running parenting workshops based on Kim John Payne’s inspiring book. Consistent with Waldorf Education, Simplicity Parenting has brought increased harmony and deeper connections to her family and to many families around them, says Merav.
She adds, "This is our seventh year at Green Meadow, with twins in the Fifth Grade and a younger sibling in the Third Grade. We were initially drawn to Waldorf education due to the closeness to nature, as well as the inherent respect for childhood, allowing it to unfold at a truly healthy and joyful pace. Our children have been flourishing in this wonderful environment, developing love of learning, creativity, open-mindedness, great social skills, and self-esteem . We’re ever so grateful to our incredible, dedicated teachers and to this beautiful community that has enriched our lives in so many ways!
Ken Herndon and Donna Lee Miele
Ken Herndon and Donna Lee Miele have been parents at GMWS since 1999. Their five boys have all been nourished by the magical kindergarten, and have grown strong and eager for the world through the loving guidance of their lower school teachers. The two eldest Miele-Herndon boys are thriving in the high school, with the younger three poised to follow. Ken is a software engineer, and Donna an attorney and writer. Together, they run their own local businesses.
Emmy Laybourne is a writer and performer who began her writing career as a playwright. Her second play, Smorgas-Bourne, landed Emmy a starring role in the Paramount feature film Superstar, opposite Molly Shannon. As an actress, Emmy went on to have featured roles in the films Nancy Drew, The In-Laws, and Lucky Numbers. She was a season regular on the NBC sitcom “DAG,” and performed original comedy on Comedy Central, MTV, and VH1. She has improvised with the Upright Citizens Brigade, Chicago City Limits, and the Heartless Floozies.
Emmy is currently working as a novelist and a lyricist. Her first novel, Monument 14, will be published by Feiwel and Friends, a division of Macmillan, in June 2012. The sequel, Monument 14: Sky on Fire, is expected to be released in summer 2013. Emmy is currently a Lyricist in the prestigious BMI Musical Theater Writer’s Advanced Workshop, writing a musical called “The Midnight Princess” with composer Paul Libman.
Emmy and her husband Greg moved to New York from Los Angeles in 2008. They moved to Rockland county just to be close to Green Meadow. Their daughter Elinor is in the Second Grade and their son Rex is in the Kindergarten. Says Emmy, "We moved to the school because we believe in the both the artistic richness and the disciplinary structure of the Waldorf way of teaching. What has surprised us is how strong the community is and how much it adds to our lives. I'm not just talking about the kids, either! We've found support here, as parents, that has made a huge difference for us."
Stephanie L. Pfirman
Stephanie L. Pfirman, Professor of Environmental Science and Alena Wels Hirschorn '58 and Martin Hirschorn Professor of Environmental and Applied Sciences, joined the faculty of Barnard College in 1993, and serves as co-Chair of Barnard's Department of Environmental Science. She holds a joint appointment with Columbia University, where she is a member of the faculties of the Earth Institute and the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, and Adjunct Research Scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University.
Professor Pfirman is currently a member of the NSF’s advisory committees for both the Merit Review Process and for Environmental Research and Education. In the past, she also served as the first chair of the NSF Advisory Committee for Environmental Research and Education. In this role, she oversaw analysis of a 10-year outlook for environmental research and education at NSF. Presently serving on the National Academy of Sciences study committee on the Legacy and Lessons of International Polar Year 2007-2008, she is a past member of the Academy’s Polar Research Board, past President of the Council of Environmental Deans and Directors, and served as Chair of the Advisory Committee to the Office of Polar Programs at the NSF. She is currently a consultant for the Luce Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Sherman Fairchild Foundation.
Says Stephanie, "My daughter Nina started at Green Meadow a little over a year ago, when she was in Seventh Grade. She actually found the school herself over the winter break and told me about it. I visited the following week, and Nina visited the week after. Within three weeks she was enrolled: it's one of the best decisions we've ever made.
At Nina's other school, they just wanted students to master disconnected specifics. At Green Meadow, students actually engage in learning. It's much more like college, where what different students learn and contribute is more interesting than their common knowledge."
Binwa Sethi is the Senior Director for Leadership Development at Automatic Data Processing (ADP), a global human resource capital management firm, based in Roseland, NJ. Binwa is a human resources practitioner, with over 15 years of progressive HR management experience. Binwa specializes in the area of organizational and executive coaching. Anish, her husband, works for United Nations (UN) in Manhattan, in the area of Information Technology. Prior to this role, Anish worked for a large-growth Indian company, ITC, and came to the United States as an expatriate of ITC.
Both Anish and Binwa grew up in India and moved to the US in 1997. They have two boys, Akul in second grade and Aadi in Kindergarten. Says Binwa, “We consider ourselves a bicultural family. Green Meadow is a wonderful community to raise a family from diverse cultures. Living in this community has been a gift to us, as we have learned through our parenting journey that it takes a 'true community' to raise children. Education is a deep value we hold and we believe that holistic learning requires 'whole-person engagement': the head (or cognition), the heart (or what we need to attend to) and the hands (or application). We believe Waldorf education fosters this very enriching approach to a developing child.”
Jasper van Brakel
Jasper is the President and CEO of Weleda North America, a subsidiary of the Swiss Weleda Group, the world’s leading manufacturer of anthroposophic medicines and natural, organic personal care. Prior to coming to the US in 2008, he held sales management positions at Weleda Germany. Before that, he worked in project management and business development roles in the Netherlands. Jasper graduated from Erasmus University Rotterdam (MSc. in Economics, 1998) and from Harvard Business School (General Management, 2011). Jasper serves on the Board of Trustees of Sunbridge Institute, the Waldorf teacher training institute.
Jasper, his wife Marieke, and their children (Sarah, Anne, and Lucas) live in the greater NY metro area, and Sarah and Anne attend Green Meadow. Says Jasper, “As Waldorf alumni ourselves and active parents at Green Meadow Waldorf School, my wife and I highly value the truly full-spectrum approach that Waldorf offers”.