Our Beloved Educarers
Alaya's teachers and administrative staff members are our most valued resource. They are highly trained and experienced in early childhood education and bring their whole selves to the classroom each and every day. Alaya teachers work in teams of 3 to 4 that stay together – with your children – as they rotate from their Tiger year, to become Snow Lions, then Garudas and finally Dragons. This model allows our teaching teams to perfect their complementary skills and develop deep, genuine relationships with their students that last several years (or more).
Brooke is a teacher at Alaya, where she has taught since moving to Colorado in 2009. She has been an educator for 25 years, mostly in preschool settings including 10 years at schools serving children who need extra support. Brooke holds a B.S. in Early Childhood Education (E.C. Ed.) and is completing coursework toward her Master's in E.C. Ed. Contemplative Movement and Insight Meditation are Brooke's main contemplative practices.
When school is not in session, Brooke can often be found on a mountain trail. She also has 3 grown children and a life-partner to spend treasured time with.
Darlene's heart is Alaya - the school, the children and the families. She has taught here every year since 1986, and remains committed to bring forth the vision, philosophy, history and rituals of our school. Her son (now 35) is an Alaya alumnus and her husband joins us to present Alaya’s annual Hobgoblin and Shambhala Day plays. Darlene’s daily inspiration is to open to all situations, emotions and energies, and to be present and awake to creatively work with them for the benefit of all - foundations of Alaya’s philosophy.
Darlene holds a B.A. in Dance Therapy from Naropa University and has taught as Adjunct Faculty in Naropa's B.A. in Early Childhood Education program for 20 years and in the M.A. Contemplative Education program for the past year. In 2009 In 2009, Darlene was awarded Educator of the Year by the Boulder County Association for the Education of Young Children. She teaches and trains others (both locally and internationally) in contemplative education practices and contemplative movement practices, including “Waking the Teacher” mindfulness classes.
Darlene greatly enjoys spending time with her husband, family and 5 grandsons as well as hiking, dancing, gardening, camping, river trips and just appreciating being a human in this amazing world.
David graduated from Naropa University in Early Childhood Education in 1994 as part of the first graduating class in this illustrious field of study. He did his internship at Alaya in 1993 with Darlene as his supervising teacher.
David has been the kitchen manager at Alaya since 1997, and helps out each day in the Tiger classroom.
David loves to hike, as well as sit back and relax with a good book.
Emily has been one of our beloved full-time Alaya teachers since 2014. She began her tenure here as an intern in 2010, while completing her B.A. in Early Childhood Education at Naropa University. Emily brings many complementary skills and passions to her teaching at Alaya, including her double-minors in visual art and Eastern Art (also from Naropa) and her expertise as a landscaper/gardener.
Before moving to Colorado, Emily held numerous child-centered positions, including teaching in northern India and Nicaragua, living in a yurt on a farm school in New Hampshire, teaching at a private preschool in Brooklyn, teaching snowboarding and skiing to children, and working at a Head Start program in Brattleboro, Vermont.
Emily loves being outside with her dog Maya, hiking and exploring mountain creeks and hidden dirt roads. She enjoys fly fishing, snowboarding, skateboarding, playing guitar, building and creating, primitive living skills, and all things living (especially dogs).
Greta is a teacher at Alaya. She has worked here since 2006. Greta has been known to be the conductor of song, strumming melodies and creating delight with a merry band of preschool children. She earned a certificate in Early Education through Front Range Community College in 2003 and worked at other preschools 2000-2006, before she took her current position at Alaya Preschool. Greta has also been a Bikram yoga teacher since 2013, and has been a practitioner of yoga since 2000.
During school breaks Greta enjoys spending time with her husband, who is also a teacher. Together they enjoy hot spring visits, going to concerts and festivals. Greta loves baking, sewing, and playing her ukulele.
Julia is one of Alaya’s beloved teachers, and is also the mother of an Alaya student. She has been an educator since 2005, when she began a Masters of Education program at the University of Washington. After working with elementary-age kids from Seattle, Julia felt the need to address the social-emotional aspect of life more definitively. She sought social justice, community service, and healing work for a decade, to wind up combining them in her passion for Early Childhood Education.
Julia believes that to achieve justice and sustainability, we need a deep recognition of the value of each being, and a series of skills to make that tangible. She previously taught at the Boulder Jewish Community Center preschool, and worked with adults at various small non-profits. With this diverse background, Julia is active in both community building and fundraising efforts at Alaya.
When not being reminded of children's sacredness by their perfect baby cheeks, Julia makes things, dances, and enjoys her awesome family.
Julie is Alaya's Office Manager, helping our school thrive by doing everything from teacher support to social media promotion to cooking oatmeal. Tommy, her one-eyed wonder, is Alaya's official mascot and "therapy" dog.
In addition to being the mother of two wonderful children, Julie also worked as a nanny for 15 years. She graduated from the University of Colorado in Boulder, after which she became a certified Montessori Teacher. She worked at Sunshine House Montessori in Boulder, first as a teaching assistant and later as a lead teacher. While teaching at Sunshine House, Julie also obtained her real estate license. She has been a realtor for over 10 years and really enjoys helping Alaya families and friends buy and sell homes.
In her free time Julie likes to hike, skate, be with her 2 children, garden, cook, snowboard, dance, take road trips and camp.
Juliet has been the Co-Director of Alaya since 1999 and holds a certification as an Early Childhood Education Director. In addition to her administrative role here, Juliet was a teacher at Alaya from 1987 to 1990, and both of her (now adult) children attended Alaya as well. She also taught preschool in California, before moving back to Colorado.
Juliet has a background in ballet and dance, and teaches several dance movement classes per week in the community. She is the founder of Ayre, a dance workout class she developed in 2012. When school is not in session, Juliet loves to visit family in California and New Hampshire. She lives with her husband and two adorable dogs named Biggie and Georgie (both small). In her free time, she enjoys working on sewing projects, watching basketball, or creating new dance choreography.
Mikayla has the cheerful distinction of being both a graduate (Garuda Class of ’93) and a beloved teacher at Alaya, since 2006. Mikayla revived her B.A. from The New School University in New York City, where she studied education and social justice. She specialized in working with refugee youth through the International Rescue Committee, which inspired her to write her thesis on disaster education in New Orleans and Haiti. Mikayla was raised in the Shambhala Buddhist community, which Alaya is associated with through our shared founder, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. As part of her Buddhist community, Mikayla has staffed many contemplative education programs both in the U.S. and abroad, including a role as both director and teacher of the international Aloka Childcare program in France.
As a trained hip hop dancer, Mikayla can be found dancing in grocery store isles, along sidewalks or most anywhere that music is playing. She enjoys photography - especially printing photos in a darkroom. She also loves painting, making jewelry, the occasional woodworking project and going to see live music.
Sigga has been an Alaya teacher full time since 2016. The mother of 3 grown children, her ease and expertise with young ones is warmly apparent. Sigga is from Iceland, where she taught elementary and secondary school for 20 years. She earned her Bachelor's degree in education from the University of Iceland in 1977, and then continued her studies, first in Denmark and then in the United States. Before moving to Boulder she also taught Icelandic in Minneapolis.
Sigga loves to read, knit, and take long walks. She also enjoys talking to people, including Skyping with her friends and relatives in Iceland and Sweden.
Steve currently Co-Directs Alaya with Juliet. He is also often found in the classroom, leading circle time, singing songs and playing his dulcimer, or playing "Guess the Animal" games.
Steve has been an educator for the past 36 years. Graduating from Kenyon College, Steve moved on to receive his Montessori Director Credentials. He taught in 3 different Montessori schools for a total of 24 years. In addition to 10 years teaching or co-directing at Alaya, he has taught at Naropa University in the Early Childhood Education program. Steve also co-founded Eastern Sun Academy, a contemplative elementary school for grades K-5.
Steve is also the current co-director of Family Camp at the Shambhala Mountain Center, which focuses on the path of parenthood as a spiritual practice, and helping children “grow brave.”
When not at school, Steve enjoys meditation and study, running and hiking and golf. He plays the piano and the Appalachian lap dulcimer and has been credited with writing a second verse for "I'm a Little Tea-pot,” which has become a standard in the Alaya song repertoire.
Tamding joined the Alaya teaching staff in 2017, beginning in the Tiger classroom. She was born in Tibet and moved to the United States in 2002. After graduating from Bard College in 2012, Tamding began her teaching career as an intern while working for the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, CA. As a docent, most of her tours were given to high school groups, public and “Step Program” for elementary grades. In 2015, she received her certificate in Early Childhood Education from University of California in Los Angeles and has since led toddler classes, preschool and Pre-K programs.
During school breaks, Tamding enjoys fishing, hiking, golfing and camping.