Govinda Reinhalter, M.Ed and Shakti Sutriasa, LCSW, MA
In 2004, Govinda and Shakti decided it was time to create a new school concept for Indian River County. After spending nearly two years researching best practices and coming up with an exciting concept that included: the ideas of multi-age classrooms, project based and experiential learning and a holistic approach, they were ready to find a home in Vero Beach.
Thankfully, the Unity Center embraced their vision and eagerly rented them space to begin. Willow launched that September, 2004, with 11 children in grades 4-8. The following year, the school expanded to accept children in Grades K-8 and grew to 36. Since then, the school has continued to grow and expand, has become accredited with Advanc-Ed, SACS & CASI and has received over $250,0000 in grant monies.
The Willow Staff and Board Members
Board of Directors Member
Peter was born and raised in Vero Beach. In 2010, he graduated from the University of North Florida with a BA in History. He was a Boy Scout from the age of five and is a lifetime member of the National Eagle Scout Assoc. He co-founded an organic, sustainable farm in Sebastian and has taught classes for adults and children. Peter joined Willow in 2014 and is passionate about making school engaging. He has been serving as Willow’s principal since 2020. In his free time he enjoys high adventure sports, fishing, and camping.
Board of Directors Member
Christine Nielson MD is a medical acupuncturist at Indian River Acupuncture. She has worked in academic medicine and as a medical director in a large hospice organization. Currently, she enjoys doing acupuncture and being a lifelong student. She and her husband have twin boys who attend Willow. She is devoted to the school and its mission and volunteers at their events and fundraisers.
Board of Directors Member
The Willow School welcomes Kristen to the Willow Board of Directors
Rachel has been working with children in elementary education for the past ten years. In her previous school position, she ran a busy office where she focused her energies on administration and public relations. She also successfully implemented a new art program and opened a school library. Rachel is a mother of two, loves to travel and dedicates her spare time to Vero Beach’s Theater Guild.
Board of Directors Member
Cheryl has been working in bookkeeping and accounting over 30 years. Originally from New Jersey, Cheryl has lived in Vero Beach since 1968. In her previous positions, she ran her family’s construction company as well as managed several local and international businesses including her own. Cheryl is the mother of two dogs and enjoys gardening, kayaking, photography and has a passion for travel.
6-8 Math and Science Teacher
Felicia has been teaching at Willow since 2008. She is a certified teacher and holds a dual Bachelors’ Degree from Lincoln Memorial University in English and Fine Art. Prior to joining the Willow Staff, Felicia lived in Takasaki, Japan where she taught English as a Second Language, focusing on grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, writing, reading, and American culture. Felicia has enthusiastically embraced the project based learning at Willow.
6-8 grade Language Arts and Social Studies Teacher
Karen Rebentisch graduated from the University of San Francisco, Cum Laude. She has worked in elementary education in New York state for several years. Most recently she served as a substitute teacher at The Imagine School of Vero. She and her husband have 2 children. In her free time she enjoys reading, traveling and being at the beach enjoying the beautiful Florida weather.
Brooke studied at The University of Florida and earned her Master’s Degree in Elementary Education with an ESOL endorsement. Brooke taught math and science at The Willow School from 2007-2009. While taking time off to start a family, she has worked with students as a private tutor for the past six years. During this time, she opened and operated a local tutoring and enrichment center in Vero Beach. Brooke looks forward to returning to The Willow School to teach full time.
Fundations Teacher and Art Enrichment
Laurie is a professional artist and graphic designer who enjoys teaching children. As a Willow parent since 2008, she has assisted in all the Willow classrooms. Her second favorite subject is math. Laurie’s first love is hands on activities and art projects bringing her love of art and enthusiasm to the classroom daily. She has extensive knowledge of both graphic and traditional art. When she is not in the classroom, you can find Laurie on her computer updating Willow’s media.
K-1 Teacher Aide
Heidi was born in Rhode Island but has lived in Florida for over 15 years. Heidi has two children who have both been enrolled in the Willow School since Kindergarten. Heidi has over 15 years experience in Pre-K education, and 5 years experience with Pre-K administration. She also has 10 years of training/mentoring experience with social emotional growth and development utilizing a variety of accredited programs and methods. Heidi also holds a her CDA (Child Development Associate) and her Directors license. In her spare time Heidi enjoys spending time with her family and reading. Her addition to the K-1 class will help Willow assess the needs of new students entering kindergarten and prepare them for the future.
2-5 Grade Math and Science
Erika studied at the University of West Florida earning a B.S. in Marine Biology in 2019. After graduating, Erika lived overseas in South Africa assisting in instruction as a PADI divemaster and found a passion for teaching underwater and about the local flora and fauna while working with highschool and university students from around the world. Erika is very project and field based as well as active in the classroom with grades 2-5. During her free time, she enjoys traveling, nature photography, reading and water sports. She feels right at home with her Willow Family.
2-5 Teacher's Aide and Spanish
Jackie is currently working on her teaching certificate at IRSC with a focus in early childhood
education. She is a native Spanish speaker and enjoys the beach, traveling, and spending time
her with son.
6-8 Teacher Aide K-3 PE
The Willow School welcomes Carla to the Willow family for the upcoming school year!
6-8 Teacher's Aide and Music
After his honorable discharge the US Army in 2021 Sam started work at The Willow School.
Sam is proficient in several musical instruments including guitar, piano, and violin. In his free
time he enjoys fishing and fossil hunting around Florida’s beaches and springs.
2 - 5 Teacher Aide
Shiva earned his Juris Doctor from Georgia State University in 2011. He worked in various legal
positions throughout New York City for several years. In his free time he enjoys playing sports,
yoga, and spending time with his family.
2-5 Language Arts and Social Studies
Michelle comes to Willow with a BA in El. Ed. from Grove City College in PA and over 15 years teaching
experience in Florida. Her endorsements include ESE, ESOL, Gifted and Reading and recent
participation in Mental Health for Youth. Her husband and grandchildren are from Montreal,
Canada and Brownie is her adorable four legged baby. Swimming, jigsaw puzzles, cooking and
devouring books are her favorite activities outside of the classroom. Using STEM to guide
project based learning and helping students incorporate their unique talents is what drives daily
instruction beyond the basics.
PE and Aftercare Coordinator
Nicki lived in Vero Beach most of her life and graduated from Vero Beach High School. The last 15 years she has worked and volunteered in various childcare jobs. She love spending time with her husband and son, who was a student at Willow for 3 years. In her spare time Nicki enjoys reading, doing puzzles, and playing board games.
Catherine studied special education at Florida
International University in Miami, Florida. After a short time teaching public education, she moved to the Treasure Coast where she taught language arts and history here at The Willow School for several years. Her lifelong love for teaching and learning has brought her back to Willow as an instructional coach. During her free time, Catherine enjoys spending time outdoors with her two boys, swimming, crafting, and cooking with her husband.