Photo of Andrew Darian

Andrew Darian, Ph.D.

Curriculum Director

My teaching career began in the corporate world, as General Manager and VP of
Printer’s Parts, Inc. For five years (in my late teens and early twenties), I supervised
30+ employees and ran the day-to-day operations of the corporation at its office
headquarters and warehouse in Chicago. My greatest satisfaction when I left
Printer’s Parts was that four of the entry level employees I had hired, trained, and/or
supervised ended up becoming business owners themselves by the time I left or
shortly thereafter. Three of these employees were women and one was a young man
of Hispanic origin who was a former gang member.

The question is: what could possibly have prompted me to leave a job I enjoyed
running and a company that paid me in six figures by the time I was twenty-one?
There was only one answer: teaching. First it was a Sunday morning gig with a
Sunday School class of 25-30 Kindergarten and First Grade Students. Half of these
students came from wealthy Caucasian families from the suburbs of Chicago and the
other half, who came from African-American and Hispanic families, were
transported in from the inner city of Chicago. Just weeks into the school year, the
lead teacher became ill and I was left holding the bag. This was where I discovered I
had intuitive abilities to create a cohesive learning environment with children from
diverse backgrounds with a variety of behavioral, emotional, and academic learning
challenges.

The plan was to return to school to get my public teaching degree and license.
However, when I was in my first semester of Education classes and was asked to
observe at a local school, at Shea’s urging, I observed at the Bellingham Waldorf
School. After that, there was no turning back. Waldorf Education appeared to me to
be the type of Education that came naturally to me as a teacher. It was a hands-on,
holistic approach to learning and teaching that I could get behind.

Shea and I moved our growing family to Sacramento so I could attend Rudolf Steiner
College, where I earned my Waldorf Elementary teaching certification. In the years
after, I spent a decade teaching and administering in Waldorf schools, including the
Waldorf School of Louisville, where I was co-founder, board president, lead
Kindergarten teacher and faculty chair. After a decade in private Waldorf education, I
realized a desire to return to school to get my public teaching degree.

I earned my B.S. in Elementary Education and B.A. in History at UW-Madison. At UW,
I was the old man of my peer group (a thirty-something among a bunch of 19-22
year olds). My classmates were determined to reap all they could from my decade of
teaching experience. So, whenever anyone had a hard-to-solve teaching problem,
they came to me and I helped them to think it through. That’s when I realized that I
wanted to be a teacher of teachers and make a bigger impact on public/charter/
private education – by helping school apply Waldorf methods in the classroom.
When my family moved to Phoenix to care for Shea’s Dad who was living and dying
with cancer, I started teaching in the Washington School District. During that time, I
continued to pursue my education and my goal to become a college professor.

During my doctoral studies, I served as 8th grade teacher at Desert Marigold.
I earned my M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction at Ottawa University and went on to
earn my Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Arizona State University. After I
finished my Ph.D. coursework, I landed a job at Lebanon Valley College, a small
liberal arts college in Annville, PA. Although I enjoy teaching college courses and
have grown fond of many of my students and colleagues, the work I have enjoyed
most since coming to Pennsylvania is mentoring teachers at Circle of Seasons School
(a Waldorf-inspired charter school) in Foglesville, PA.

In addition to this change in course regarding my career choice, Shea and I also
desire to be closer to our children who live in Los Angeles. Thus, I took on a position
at Highland Hall Waldorf School as the Pedagogical Administrator. After assisting
Highland Hall in going through the accreditation process, Shea and I decided to
move towards our many friends who reside in the Phoenix area. I took on a 8th
grade Science and then a 5th grade Language Arts position in the Tolleson district.
The year prior to reconnecting with Desert Marigold, I taught for Ottawa University
and the Arizona State Prison system.

At the bottom line, my long-time desire is to bring movement-based education
(based on Waldorf methodology) more fully to the public realm. Working with
teachers and taping into their natural skills of designing and leading classroom
curriculum is something that brings me great joy and satisfaction.