Emily Merchant, Executive DirectorEmail
Emily Merchant is a Utah native with a life-long interest in education and child development. She has earned a BS at the University of Utah, studying psychology and elementary education and a Masters in education from Antioch University with a focus on administration and Waldorf teaching.
Emily’s professional career has included work as a technical writer, a congressional Policy Adviser on education in Washington, DC, and experience in various educational contexts, such as teaching children with autism, coaching high school debate, creating service learning programs, and teaching dance and arts for preschoolers and in public schools.
After years of study and involvement in education, it was as a mother of three beautiful and lively girls that Emily discovered Waldorf education. Emily was enlivened and inspired by the use of the arts as a primary teaching modality, the deep spiritual and philosophical basis, the attention to the whole, developing child, and the role of the teacher in Waldorf schools. She immediately began learning more, incorporating aspects of the Waldorf approach into her home, and looking for Waldorf schools in her area.
After attending training at Rudolf Steiner College and aware that there were not any Waldorf schools in Utah (to which she was moving with her family), Emily was inspired to work to bring a Waldorf school to the Salt Lake Valley. Given her personal experiences as a mother and deep commitment to providing the highest quality educational options for students of all demographics and socio-economic statuses, Emily felt strongly that this must be a public charter school, allowing Waldorf education to be a choice for all families.
Over the last few years, Emily has worked with other dedicated individuals throughout the community to apply to the Utah State Office of Education for approval of Utah’s first Waldorf charter school. Emily is thrilled that the Waldorf approach to education will now be available to Utah’s children and families. She feels privileged to be a part of such a valuable work and is in awe daily of the blessing it is in her personal life to have had her interests, experiences, and passions all intersect into this endeavor.
Prairie Adams, Pedagogical DirectorEmail
Prairie Adams has been involved in Waldorf Education since her daughter entered the kindergarten class when the Santa Cruz Waldorf School in California opened its doors in 1976. Her involvement as a parent in various Waldorf schools continued as her family moved from Santa Cruz to Sacramento, then Auburn, and finally Boulder, Colorado. In 1985, after moving to an intentional community in the foothills of Northern Colorado, she and others began homeschooling the children, teaching the Waldorf curriculum, as well as, gardening, animal husbandry, handwork, and more. She was also engaged in teaching recorder and taking on the responsibility for various main lessons in the nearby Waldorf school.
At this time she began her studies in Eurythmy which culminated in a diploma from Eurythmy Spring Valley in 1993. From that time forward she taught kindergarten to adults and children K – 8.
In 1999 she took a first grade at the Denver Waldorf School where she remained as a class teacher for nine years with an additional year to continue the work as their delegate and conference coordinator.
Following this, she spent a year in Norway where she continued her studies in Eurythmy and received her BA from Den Nørske Eurytmihøyskule in 2012. She returned home to work as a Field Mentor Supervisor for the Hybrid Program at Rudolf Steiner College.
Aside from her position as pedagogical director for the Wasatch Charter School, she is also a founding member of the Gradalis teacher training.
Kara Salisbury, Administrative AssistantEmail
Kara Salisbury graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Her first teaching experience was in 6th grade in Northern California, working largely with children of migrant farm workers. Returning to Utah, she changed career tracks and became an administrative assistant to a hospital administrator. After five years of assistant experience in increasingly responsible roles in the healthcare, finance, and hospitality industries, she left to stay at home with her two daughters over the next nine years.
With her children in school all day, Kara felt a pull to return to school herself. After assisting in middle school classrooms for a year and a half, she felt incredibly lucky to learn of the founding of a Waldorf school on the Wasatch Front, in need of an administrative assistant. Combining her love of being in a school setting with her strengths in organization and attention to detail, she is thrilled to join the Wasatch Charter School team.