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Meet the Staff - 2016-17 School Year


School Operations

Anjanette Gonzales Anjanette Gonzales
Director of Operations

Anjanette Gonzales was born and raised in Arlington, Texas and learned German at an early age from her mother and grandmother. Anjanette lived in Finland as an expat and assisted in managing a software company in Austin, Texas prior to her children joining the SAGA community over 5 years ago. Anjanette enjoys spending time outdoors and playing piano in her free time.

"Different languages and cultures have always been a part of my life. I am grateful that the SAGA experience is allowing me to pass on the gift of being bilingual to my children!"


Angela Hellermann Angela Hellermann
Office Assistant

Angela Hellermann was born in Seattle and grew up in a bilingual German - English speaking family. She has traveled in both Germany and Austria. Angela has worked for offices and a private school, and she is happy to be a part of a school that promotes German language and culture.

"I believe the German immersion program at SAGA school is an excellent opportunity for youth to grow in cross-cultural understanding."


Elementary Program

Angrid Henning Dr. Angrid-Kathrin Henning
Director of Elementary Education

Angrid was born in Hannover and moved to the US nine years ago with her family. She has served as the Principal of the Eastside German Language School (EGLS) in Bellevue since 2009 and worked as a Paraeducator for the Kent School District since 2011. Angrid has her PhD in Civil Engineering from the University of Stuttgart and has past experience helping The SAGA School in science curriculum and substituting in the elementary school classes.

""One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way." ‒Frank Smith. Seeing my own children grow up bilingual makes the opportunity to be a part of SAGA's bilingual education program even more enjoyable."


Anja Blesch Anja Blesch
Kindergarten Teacher, Art Teacher

Frau Blesch joins us from Überlingen, Germany. Anja has a Master of Arts in "Europalehramt" from the Pädagogische Hochschule Karlsruhe. She has eight years teaching experience with a background in bilingual education. Anja moved to Seattle this summer and has already taken a trip to visit surrounding areas such as Portland and Salem, Oregon!

"Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow." -Antony J. D'Angelo


Judith Menke Judith Menke
1st Grade Teacher, Sports Teacher

Frau Menke comes from Mannheim, Germany. She received her Education degree, with a focus on PE, German and English, from the University of Heidelberg. She has teaching experience in primary and middle school settings in Ghana, Germany, and Guadalajara, Mexico. She enjoys activities outside and loves hiking in the mountains.

“Do not train children to learning by force and harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.” - Plato


Verena Smykatz-Kloss Verena Smykatz-Kloss
Second Grade Teacher

Verena comes from Heidelberg, Germany where she attended high school. She received a Masters in Biological Science from the University of Bologna, Italy and later studied Primary Education in Auckland, New Zealand. Verena has worked as a German teacher in a New Zealand State school in Auckland and (for nine and a half years) as a full time teacher at a Waldorf school in Wellington. A highlight for the students was the exchange program with Waldorf schools in German speaking countries, which Verena organised. She loves working with children and in her free time her interests are in German literature and Independent Film.

"I am not afraid of storms for I am learning to sail my ship." - Louisa May Alcott


Friederike Dietz Friederike Dietz
Third/Fourth Grade Teacher, Music Teacher

Frau Dietz joins us from Berlin, Germany. Friederike completed her teaching education in Freiburg, Germany receiving her certification for elementary and middle school. She has eight years teaching experience and has worked in a bilingual learning environment. She moved to Seattle over the summer and has enjoyed getting to know this wonderful city!

"Where words leave off, music begins.” ― Heinrich Heine


Brigitte Johmann Brigitte Johmann
Elementary English Teacher

Frau Johmann was born in Heidelberg, Germany, raised in the Seattle/Tacoma area, and had been living in Germany for twenty two years before returning in 2014. She received her Master's in Education at Claremont Graduate University in California where she went on to teach first and fifth grade. In Germany, she was involved in teaching English in Kindergarten and Grade School as well as advising college students in their teaching practices. She has taught courses on curriculum development and methodology in the "English as a Second Language Classroom".

""Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn." This quote from Benjamin Franklin makes clear the teaching process for me. I enjoy being a part of SAGA's bilingual and bicultural education experience."


Preschool Program

Anita Dunlap Anita Dunlap
Director of Preschool Education
Playgroup, Faustlos, Music & Movement Teacher

Anita is an Early Childhood Specialist who completed her education at the Fachakademie for Sozialpädagogik in Nürnberg, Germany. She began her professional career in the US in long term care as a nursing assistant, working as a restorative aide, activity director and restorative supervisor. She has taught at the Eastside German Language School (EGLS) in Issaquah for over fifteen years and is currently the vice-principal. Anita ran a successful German immersion preschool in Kent prior to becoming the first SAGA teacher in 2005 in Issaquah. As one of the initial teachers at SAGA, she taught music to Preschool children, trained to teach the Second Step program, and created our popular summer programs.

"Teaching is the art of assisting discovery and I love to see children discover their abilities!"


Dorit Goodwin Dorit Goodwin
PreK Head Teacher

Dorit is a native German speaker from Cuxhaven, Germany and has a wealth of experience as a German teacher in Waldorf and Montessori Schools. Dorit enjoys spending time with her grandson and she also loves to dance! Dorit was trained in Germany to be an elementary teacher and is also a licensed massage therapist. Dorit has been with the SAGA School since 2012.

"Witnessing children's development and expansion of mind and creativity is such a privilege and joy. At the same time, each child gives me the opportunity to learn and grow from them each day. I feel fortunate and grateful to be part of a process like this."


Silvia Phillips Silvia Phillips
Preschool Head Teacher

Silvia is from Regensburg, Germany. Over the past ten years, she has worked with young children both in Germany as well as in the Seattle area. She has led playgroup classes at the Eastside German Language School for one to three year olds, managed an in-home daycare for one to four year olds and assisted in a co-op preschool. Silvia loves art and nature and enjoys sharing that with children. She is also a trained goldsmith and an avid long distance runner.

"I love to spend time with children and see how they learn and grow. I strive to give children room for growth by creating a safe and inspiring environment that allows them to discover their interests and abilities."


Jutta Effler Jutta Effler
Preschool Head Teacher

Jutta was born and raised in Speyer, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. She holds a Master's degree in Food Chemistry from the University of Kaiserslautern and received her state certificate (Staatsexamen II). For eight years, she worked as a tenured staff scientist at the Institute for Food Chemistry in Speyer, with tasks ranging from developing analytical methods for determination of organic residues to teaching food chemist trainees. Jutta and her german husband moved to Seattle in 1995 and are raising their three kids bilingually. For ten years, she assisted teachers in various North Seattle College Cooperative preschools and took monthly classes on child development and early childhood education. She also is a seasoned volunteer in Seattle's public school system, having worked with K-12 students as assistant teacher, chaperone and tutor.

"I love being around kids, seeing their excitement about new things they encounter and learn and sharing my experience in raising bilingual kids at SAGA."


Janet Scholz Janet Scholz
Preschool Teacher Assistant

Janet is from Erfurt in the center of Germany. She spent some years in Kassel and graduated with a University degree in Social Work and Social Education. She worked with children ages four to twelve and youth from diverse social and cultural backgrounds in different educational centers in Germany. In Seattle, Janet directed an afterschool program in an Elementary school. Janet enjoys the outdoors, dancing, music, and is a massage therapist.

"I enjoy being part of the journey of the young children at SAGA, assisting them in their learning and exploring, and growing their voice. It is such a delight to experience a group of children being excited in play and absorbed in a project."


Lina Hanks Lina Hanks
PreK Teacher Assistant

Lina grew up in Lehre, a small town in northern Germany. She attended college in nearby Braunschweig where she received a degree in Kindergarten and Early Childcare Teaching. After graduation, she moved to Dresden where she worked at a preschool/kindergarten for six years with children between the ages of one to six. From her years of teaching, she has gained valuable experience working with children of different backgrounds and learning styles. Lina enjoys traveling, gardening, origami and other handicrafts.

"I enjoy seeing how children learn, develop and grow. They are eager and enthusiastic to experience new things. It also impresses me how children can learn from each other. I'm glad I can be a part of their development process."


Semira Macias Semira Macias
PreK Teacher Assistant

Semira was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She was raised in Eltville/Erbach am Rhein. She attended Wiesbaden's Louise Schröder Schule, where she earned her technical degree in Baking. Later, Semira did her practical training at Bethanien Kinder-und Jugenddorf Marienhöhe to gain skills working with children. She used her experience from the Jugendorf to travel abroad to the U.S. as an au pair for Culture Care Au Pair, whom she later worked for as a local childcare care coordinator for families in Seattle. Semira went on to earn her early childhood certification from North Seattle Community College.

"I appreciate that kids live in the moment. It is great to be able to share those moments with them because it is an opportunity for both of us to learn from one another"


Nora Stone Nora Stone
Preschool Teacher Assistant

Nora was born in Northern Michigan. She has German ancestry and began studying the language seriously in 2002. Spending a year as an exchange student in Hamburg cemented her interest in German language and culture. After completing her BA in German Studies and Linguistics in 2013, she became interested in early childhood education, and is very excited to combine her two passions – German and preschool – working at SAGA!

"You are not here merely to prepare to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand." —Woodrow Wilson


Katie O'Brien Katie (Katharina) O'Brien
COOP Care Scheduler

Katie is from Davis, California, and joined the Seattle community after finishing her degree in German Studies at Scripps College in Southern California. During her time at Scripps, she participated in Study Abroad in Heidelberg, Germany. Katie has enjoyed working with children for as long as she can remember, and she still enjoys giving swim instruction and music lessons. Working at SAGA has been a perfect combination of her favorite things- getting to have fun working with children, and speaking German.
"Everything that we encounter leaves traces behind. Everything contributes imperceptibly to our education" - Goethe