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Faculty and Staff

Meet our school’s warm, friendly and knowledgeable faculty and staff.

Administrative Staff

Autumn Piontek-Walsh, Owner.AutumnPhoto8x5


Lauren Denton, Director


Kristen Smith, Assistant DirectoroKristin

Kristin grew up in Illinois, where she graduated from Augustana College with a degree in Geography.  Even before graduation, she was re-locating herself to Washington state. Kristin worked as a Park Ranger in many states and national parks before earning her Master’s Degree in Public Administration at Montana State University and making her way back to Washington -this time with her family.  Like many of our staff, she started working for Five Acre School after her daughter started school here.  She has worked in the Primary classroom and now in the office.  She loves watching each child grow up through the classrooms and become more and more their own individual person.  She loves how Five Acre School honors each of those individuals and celebrates each child’s unique strengths.


Woody French, Office Manager



Joy Sheedy, Special Projects Coordinator/ Office assistant

Joy came to Five Acre School in 2003 to help with the office paperwork.  Joy’s 26 years at Peninsula College prepared her for this endeavor, working in the Family Life Education program as both a children’s teacher and as a parent educator, Early Childhood Education instructor, and as the director of the Educare Center.  Joy grew up in Port Townsend, left the Peninsula to obtain a BA from Western Washington University in Recreation and returned after 10 years, realizing this was the best place to live. Joy claims that her best education and training was being a parent to 2 children, Aaron and Joan.

Joy, with her husband Bob, resides in Port Angeles on 5 acres of land.  Her interests include reading, hiking and long walks, biking, volunteering at the clothes closet, gardening, and planning “projects” with her four grandchildren, ages 2, 4, and 9 (twins).  Joy enjoys talking with parents about their children, supporting staff, watching the 5 Acre children grow and mature, and the challenges of every day life in a very busy school office!





Teri Dobson,

Teri was raised in Olympia, Washington and received  a  B.A. in Art from the University of Washington. She has lived in Port Angeles since 1979 with her husband, Hal and they have a son, Alden (a Five Acre alumnus) who is attending the Evergreen State College.

Teri’s interests are in the study of nature, science and art and how to share these passions with young children. She has been an assistant in the Primary Class since 1997 and was trained extensively by the late Lisa Inman. She is a member of NAEYC and continues to deepen her understanding of the most effective methods of enhancing the natural love of learning in children.



 Bob Maddux,

Bob was born and raised east of Los Angeles with Michigan roots. As the city exploded and took over his neighborhoods and with the crime and crowding that comes with it, he packed his bags and moved north. Living in Lake Tahoe was paradise, best of all worlds, mountains, deserts, and meeting his future wife Jill. He earned his degree at Sierra Nevada College, focus on Environmental Science, Paleobotany, Horticulture, Photography, and Ceramics.

Living on the Northern California coast he worked with Humboldt State University and the Nature Conservancy on long term biological projects with great success. He also started his own nursery, shop, and landscaping business. Some of the gardens he created were touted in national magazines. After an earthquake and a flood, he moved north again to the Olympic Peninsula. When his daughter was old enough for preschool he found one, Five Acre. After a year he was on board working as a part time assistant, believing in the philosophy. His daughter went through sixth grade at Five Acre and now is a thriving accomplished student. Bob has now been teaching at Five Acre for 12 years. He enjoys family, friends, anything to do with the outdoors especially his love of plants. The future is bright!


Debbie Nelson,

Debbie was born and raised in Seattle. She has lived in the Pacific Northwest all of her life and has lived in Sequim for 24 years. She has been a teachers assistant at Five Acre since 1995, fifteen years in Primary, two years in the Explorer class, and now back in Primary. Debbie earned an AAS in Environmental Landscape, Design and Construction.

In the past she has been self-employed and has held many varied jobs from Dental Assistant for a pediatric dentist to truck driver. I enjoy working in the Explorer class and encouraging the students to be good communicators, respectful, critical, and independent thinkers. Her two daughters attended and graduated from Five Acre and are currently attending Western Washington University. She enjoys gardening and filling her freezer with organic produce. She also enjoys friends, family, traveling, hiking, hand drumming and has eight chickens 1 dog and 3 cats.



Discovery Class,


Andrea Olson





Christine Spaulding,

Christine grew up on a small farm West of Port Angeles and remembers setting up a school as a child in the basement for neighborhood friends. As a Rotary Exchange Student to Brazil her desire to see life in other countries sparked her interest in being a Nanny in New York for 5 years and then to backpack through Europe.  She has been to fifteen countries while pursuing her teaching career. After receiving her Bachelors degree from Manhattanville College in NY and her teaching certificate, she taught Third Grade at Dry Creek School where she and her husband both went to grade school. The Montessori Method of teaching was fascinating to her so she got another Associates of Arts degree from Green River Community College and her Montessori Teaching certificate for ages 3-6. She also went to Spring Valley Montessori Teacher training for Elementary ages 6-12 before she and her husband Jeff had two boys, Dean and Reid. Christine worked for Five Acre School in the Primary class for two years and loved it!

     Christine, Jeff and their two active boys love to go on adventures, kayak, sail and try out new restaurants. Christine enjoys researching the best education practices, being near water of any kind and laughing with friends and family. Five Acre School is the perfect combination of education, nature and community and there is no where else she would rather be!




Adventure Class,

Sarah Goff,

Sarah was born in Montana and grew up in Montana, Alabama and also lived in Alaska. She moved to the Washington in 2005 to be with her mother and sisters. When Sarah started her family, she sought out a school for her boys that would fit their active lifestyle and provide an active learning environment. She has been a parent at Five Acre since 2010. In 2011 Sarah decided to pursue her teaching degree. She spent several months’ student-teaching in the Explorer classroom. In the spring of 2013 Sarah earned her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with an endorsement in Reading from City University. She was hired to teach at Five Acre in the fall of 2013.

Sarah has two children and lives on a small farm in the Agnew area. The Farm has two dairy cows, a horse, two dogs, three cats, rabbits, chickens, peacocks, fish and a bearded dragon. She enjoys reading, being outside, hiking, walks with her boys, gardening, crocheting and making homemade lip balms and salves. She loves living in the Pacific Northwest!  Sarah loves teaching and loves how much she learns FROM the students. Laughing with the students is one of her favorite parts of her job.



 Explorer Class,

Tom Harris,

eTomHTom Harris has been teaching the upper elementary students at Five Acre School since he was hired in 2001. Tom earned his bachelor’s degree from Brown University in 1986, got his teaching degree from the Upper Valley Teacher’s Institute, and was awarded a Master’s degree from the University of Vermont in 1992.

Before coming to Five Acre School Tom taught in both Vermont and California. While still in college Tom started working as a summer seasonal backcountry ranger in Olympic National Park. He worked in Olympic National Park for ten seasons from 1985 through the summer of 1994.

Tom is married to Kate Reavey and has two children, Maeve and William, both of whom graduated from Five Acre School and attend the Sequim public schools. Tom is a long time soccer player, coach and organizer. He also enjoys fly fishing, hiking and camping. Tom also had a short career as a timber framer which grew out of his long time interest in woodworking.


Rosie Sharpe, Music and Performing Arts Teacher for all Classes

Rosie Sharpe has worked at Five Acre School since 2008.IMG_9577Rosie has a degree in both Art and English Literature from the University of Washington, and also attended Penland School of Crafts for two years. She has completed Levels one and two Orff Schulewerk Certification (an innovative approach to teaching music) and plays Fiddle in a Contra Dance Band.

Previous adventures include cooking on various boats in Alaska, designing textiles for industry, teaching yoga, and working at Children’s Montessori in Port Angeles. She has two children attending the school. She loves to quilt, read, hike, garden and spend time with her family including her eight brothers and sisters.





Miriame Cherbib, French Teacher for all classes

Miriame CherbibMiriame Cherbib was born in Paris, France. After getting a Master degree in International Economics and working in a research institute on Energy, Climate Change and Development, she moved to Sequim in 2014 and completed a year long course on the art of teaching French with the “Alliance Française”. She is now a certified French Teacher. 
She joined Five Acre school in 2016. She also teaches French culture and history at the Continuing Education at Peninsula College and gives private French language classes for all ages.