The City Garden Faculty


Since it's beginning with one class of eight children in 2005, City Garden has grown into a thriving school offering a mixed-aged kindergarten early childhood program to over 100 children. Since it's founding, Jone Hellesoy and Victor Krol have worked together to create an oasis in the city where children are able to be children, and families come together to learn and grow together as a community.

City Garden graduates move on to our associate grade school, Urban Prairie Waldorf School. Festivals and other community events are shared between the two schools, forming one community.

Jone Hellesoy

Ms. Hellesoy is the Director of City Garden and a Lead Early Childhood Teacher. Prior to opening City Garden, Jone taught at the Chicago Waldorf School (CWS) for more than 20 years, educated adult students at the Arcturus Rudolf Steiner Education Program, and mentored many teachers along the way. At CWS, she served on the College of Teachers, the Board of Directors, and in a leadership capacity on numerous committees. Born in Norway, Ms. Hellesoy herself was educated in the Waldorf tradition. 

Mary Cowen
Mrs. Cowen holds a Bachelor of Arts in Education from Eastern Illinois University and a Waldorf teacher certificate from Arcturus Rudolf Steiner Education Program. Mary is a Lead Teacher at City Garden and the Faculty Chair. Before joining City Garden in 2008, Mrs. Cowen taught at the Chicago Waldorf School in the grades. She has also served on the Board at Urban Prairie Waldorf School since its inception. Mary has two children, both educated at City Garden and Urban Prairie.  
Paula Franzese
Ms. Franzese is a Lead Teacher. She holds her Waldorf Early Childhood Teaching Certificate from the Arcturus Education Program. Before becoming a lead teacher, Paula was a teacher for the parent-child program, an assistant, and an aftercare teacher. She loves to incorporate her many family traditions into her classroom, especially when centered around good food. When not teaching, Paula enjoys mushroom foraging, beekeeping, and wine-making with her family.
Susan Harris
Mrs. Harris has a BA in Business and Economics from Wheaton college. Her children were among the first children to attend City Garden Waldorf School and after homeschooling them and pursuing her Waldorf teacher training, she comes to City Garden as a Lead Teacher.  Mrs. Harris has four children who attend both City Garden and Urban Prairie. 
Michele Preysler

Ms. Preysler is Ms. Hellesoy’s assistant and oversees the Aftercare Program at City Garden. Michele has a BFA from Barat College, and still tries to carve out time to create art. Parent of two Waldorf-educated children, Michele has been part of the Waldorf movement for years, working at the Chicago Waldorf School (CWS) as a teacher’s assistant and a front office manager. For 19 years, she has actively supported the CWS high school theater productions as a make-up artist as well as a costume and prop coordinator. Michele loves all crafting and art, from painting to felting and everything in between. 

Eleonora Salvemini
Mrs. Salvemini is Ms. Franzese's assistant. She is currently enrolled in the Arcturus Waldorf Early Childhood teacher training program. Before moving to Chicago, Eleanora assisted at a Waldorf school in London, and was responsible for the wholesale of organic and biodynamic products for a company in Denmark. Mrs. Salvemini is originally from Italy, and holds a Masters in Business and Administration from the University of Hamburg, Germany. She lives with her husband and son, and loves spending time with them as well as knitting, crafting, and playing tennis.

Maria Wetzel

Maria was born in Ecuador and has lived in Chicago for almost 15 years. She has a Master's Degree in Early Childhood education and a Bilingual/ESL endorsement. Before joining City Garden, she taught for ten years as a Dual Language Teacher and got her certificate in Baking and Pastry. She loves traveling, exploring new places and restaurants with her family, baking delicious treats and crafting with her daughter.

Liz Avila

Mrs. Avila is Mrs. Harris' assistant teacher.  She has a BA from Augustana in Sociology, an M.Ed. from UIC in Early Childhood Education, and an ELL Certificate from Erikson Institute.  She loves to bake and she enjoy running. She is working toward her Waldorf teaching certificate.  Liz joins City Garden after teaching young children and supporting teachers in the public schools.  Liz and her husband, Vladimir, have a son at City Garden and a daughter who will begin attending next year.  Liz's childhood was filled with endless hours outdoors exploring nature.  She and her husband are trying to offer the same to their children. 

Gina Joslin
Mrs. Joslin is the administrative assistant at City Garden and she also fills in as a classroom assistant as needed. She holds a BA from The University of St. Thomas in English and Women's Studies and an MA from The University of Chicago in Humanities. Mrs. Joslin has two daughters, Giulia in third grade and Amelia in first grade. Both of them attend Urban Prairie Waldorf School. 
Peter Vine
Mr. Vine is City Garden’s Eurythmy Teacher and visits the children once a week to do movement with them. Peter is a member of the Midwest Eurythmy Group and travels to perform and teach. Prior to working with City Garden, Mr. Vine was a faculty member at the Chicago Waldorf School for thirty years.
Victor Krol
Mr. Krol is the co-founder of City Garden Early Childhood Center. He is a long time resident of Pilsen. His Czechoslovakian grandparents settled in the neighborhood in the 1890s. Victor holds a business degree from DePaul University and has vast business experience.
Frank Mik
Mr. Mik oversees the buildings and grounds of the Center. Originally from the Czech Republic, he is a welder by trade. A magician at working with his hands, you can see much of his beautiful, skilled work in the outdoor play lot and garden at City Garden.