Aura Bernardi

Willow Class Assistant

Having passions for human connection and facilitating connections, Aura has worked and volunteered within the human services field for a majority of her life. She enjoys her experiences working with and learning from the diverse populations she interacts with. Aura spent some years in public education as a substitute teacher after completing her bachelor’s degrees in psychology and sociology. Aura believes that everyone has something valuable to teach, and we can all learn from each other. She carries her passion for connection and learning into the Willow class as the assistant by spending time with each student- both teaching and learning from the students. Being part of the Lilac community has been an enriching experience for her and her family. So many wonderful people to learn from! Aura navigates life and homeschooling with her husband, John. They have four kids, one that graduated from Lilac last year, and three that currently attend. Aura enjoys time spent out in the community with her family; family time at home crafting and playing games; and in the summer months, they enjoy beaches and camping.

Ruthann Blundell

Magnolia Blossom Class Teacher

Teacher Ruthann has been a teacher in some capacity for the last 25 years and she has an English and Arts Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree in Teaching. She started her career as an art teacher in college and worked in public schools until her first child was born. She and her husband, Jeff, have homeschooled ever since! Teacher Ruthann is a self-described compulsive researcher who loves to try new things; her family has dabbled in many different learning styles but has settled for a very relaxed collaborative approach. The Blundells are relatively new to the Rochester area, having previously lived in New Jersey, Oregon, and Massachusetts, but they are ready to put down some roots and develop a close community here. Teacher Ruthann joined the Lilac teaching team in 2022 and is excited to work with the Magnolia Blossoms class. Two of her children are enrolled in the program, and her oldest graduated last year. The Blundells have already made some close friends and look forward to developing further relationships. Teacher Ruthann loves storytelling and arts and adores working with her students.

Jaclyn Cellura-Crane

Hazel Class Teacher

Being in community, learning through the arts, and finding ways to be playful have always been important to Teacher Jaclyn. She is delighted to be part of the Lilac community, where all of these things are celebrated! Teacher Jaclyn has a masters degree in Early Education, with concentrations in literacy and “Arts for Children”. She worked in public schools for over ten years, and taught for another two years at an outdoor learning center for homeschoolers. It’s been one of the great pleasures of her life to transition her family to homeschooling, and to find so many wonderful families to grow with in the process. Her two children currently attend Lilac, providing the whole family with more opportunities for seasonal celebrations, play with friends, and a slower, gentler pace through poetry, handwork and other mindful learning activities.

Christy Dryden

Willow Class Teacher

Joseph Gomulak-Cavicchio

Hawthorn Class Teacher

With over 20 years of teaching experience at various levels, Joe's passion for education shines through in his warm, relationship-focused teaching style and his infectious sense of humor. An advocate of lifelong learning, he and his family embraced homeschooling long before he joined the Lilac community as a teacher in 2019 when his youngest child started first grade in the Hawthorn class. Outside the classroom, you might find him kayaking, learning how to crochet, or hanging out with his family.

Damore Viola Jensen

Lindenwood Class Teacher

Damore began teaching at Lilac Children’s Garden in 2017 when the Lindenwood students, now thirteen, were seven. Though Damore’s professional background is in the legal field (she holds a bachelor’s of arts degree in political studies and a juris doctor degree), she has always made time to work with and advocate for children. She began homeschooling in 2011 and has been on Lilac’s board since that time. Her homeschool path was directed by many Waldorf education ideas – the importance of rhythm and simplicity in the daily life of a child, the integration of the arts into and across the curriculum, the respect for the natural unfolding of children, and the creation of a course of study that is developmentally appropriate. Lilac’s program was a natural fit for Damore’s teaching style and approach to learning. She especially enjoys bringing her creative gifts to storytelling and to the study of history in the classroom as well as integrating the lively arts (poetry, watercolor, modeling, drawing, movement, speech, drama, and music) into her afternoons with the Lindenwood class.

Amanda/Farrah Lawlan

Paw Paw Class Teacher

Teacher Farrah has been a teacher in many different environments for 20 years. She has a bachelors in physics and a masters in science education. She and her wife and their two 7 year olds (Both Paw Paws) live near Highland park with at least two cats. At home she blends both Waldorf and Unschooling philosophies to meet the needs of her neurodivergent family. Finding the Waldorf pedagogy has felt like puzzle pieces falling into place. Farrah has always loved being a teacher but also has always felt that something was missing from the various classrooms she taught in. For fun she studies languages (currently French, Japanese and American Sign Language), plays video games, lives in books, dances with trees and spends entirely too much time pondering the minutiae of our lives.

Suzanne Morgan

Hickory Class Teacher

Teacher Suzanne has been teaching at Lilac for more than 12 years (the exact number is a mystery, even to her) and a board member for much of that time. She lives in the Highland Park neighborhood with her partner, Jenny, and their two young-adult offspring, Katy and Quinn - both Lilac graduates. Having taken the “Bayberries” class from first grade to graduation, Teacher Suzanne decided to start all over again with the Hickories class, who are now in their 6th/7th grade year. This community has been so crucial to Teacher Suzanne’s homeschooling experience, and both of her kids count their Lilac classmates among their closest friends. It brings her so much joy to see those same close connections forming among the children currently attending the program. Teacher Suzanne loves being part of a community that looks out for its members and sets such a wonderful example of loving acceptance of human differences. She feels proud and grateful to call Lilac “my community”.