Kindergarten Teachers

Hellene Brodsky Blake, Morning Glory Class

Each morning Ms. Hellene and her family drive from Carlsbad to Aliso Viejo to be at Journey.  Ms. Hellene travels these many miles because she loves Journey and believes that Waldorf education should be accessible to all.

Ms. Hellene brings more than 15 years of teaching experience to the table—8 of which have been spent at Journey as a Grades and Kindergarten Teacher.  Throughout her career, Ms. Hellene has cultivated joy, love, and reverence in her students like seeds in a garden. She considers it an important responsibility and to be the first teacher her students encounter along their educational path:

“I strive to create a calm, nurturing and loving home for the students.  The teacher serves as a model for imitation and fosters imagination and creativity through play, puppetry, story, movement, song, verse and poem. The young child is physically developing and needs energy to grow in healthy ways.  This education supports the young child by promoting active participation and the “doing” of purposeful work.  We allow the young child to experience the world around him/her through the limbs.”

As Ms. Hellene looks to the future she remains excited about building exceptional “community” with parents.  She also looks forward to providing even more instructional leadership and mentoring services to colleagues.  She is gratified to see Journey School mature beyond its pioneering stage.

In addition to her extensive teaching experience, Ms. Hellene is a life-long learner. As an undergraduate at Michigan State University she studied Psychology and then went on to earn a Master’s in Clinical Psychology from the California School for Professional Psychology.  Additionally, Ms. Hellene possesses the following qualifications: Master’s in Waldorf Education, Waldorf Teaching Certification, California Multiple Subject Teaching Credential, and a School Psychologist Credential. Ms. Hellene is an instructor at Rudolph Steiner College, a leader in the Early Childhood Department, and serves on the school’s Pedagogical Council.

Ms. Hellene is a native of Detroit and developed a strong work ethic and appreciation for the seasons as a result.  Her own children attended Journey.  In her ‘spare time,’ she loves doing the simple things with the family, including: kicking the Hacky sack around in the yard, strolling to the beach, and talking together.


Laura Bujjoni, Dandelion Class

Ms. Bujjoni was born in Laguna Beach and spent her formative years growing up in Northern California.  She has fond memories floating down the Feather River as a youth during summer. She and her siblings found the river to be their refuge and, “Hardly a day went by that we were not in it, near it, or high above its canyon walls.” The opportunity to freely explore in nature was a profound experience for Ms. Bujjoni; and, these memories fuel her passion for ensuring all students spend abundant time in nature.

Mrs. Bujjoni’s search for fulfillment brought her back to Orange County—where she met the, “Love of her life and now husband, Allen, while also pursuing coursework at a local junior college.”  College was a huge turning point for Ms. Bujjoni, as she loved learning and now jokes; “I would have remained a career student if the pay was better.”  So, she did the next best thing and committed herself to the teaching profession in order to ignite a similar love of learning in children.  Ms. Bujjoni reflects:

“I love being a teacher at an amazing school where I can be that career student while serving children that I have come to know and love on a level that I never thought possible. My children inspire me with their sense of curiosity for the world, creativity, and live imagination.  On any given day, I get to watch them become cooks, kings, and sailors during creative play. Next year, I really look forward to the Star children taking the lead.  I want to see them grow and become more confident in every way.”

Ms. Bujjoni graduated Cum Laude from CSU, Fullerton with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Studies. Her postgraduate work includes a California Multiple Subject Teaching Credential.  She will soon graduate with a Master’s Degree and Teaching Certification in Waldorf Education from Rudolph Steiner College.  Ms. Bujjoni has been a Main Class Teacher in the grades and uses this understanding of the curriculum to inform her work.

As Ms. Bujjoni reflects upon the year, she feels gratitude for her parents who have been, “So loving and supportive. I feel like I have gained many new family members. They are so trusting and I enjoy listening to their perspectives. The open communication lines are great.”


Jill Murphy, Snapdragon Class

Ms. Murphy has been at Journey since its inception.  She is thrilled to lead the Snapdragon Class once again.  For her, the children are such a gift and the classroom has become a place of wonder, surprise, and reward:

Nothing is taken for granted. These young ones have much to teach the rest of us. They are so close to purity that everything in life is good. For instance, the leprechauns truly did make mischief in the classroom on St. Patrick’s Day.  And, the stones at the park really are special gems—just as that gravel road is actually a golden pathway. These ‘little things’ mean so much to the children because their imagination and hearts are engaged in all they do.  It is an honor to protect their childhood and as we prepare the students for the grades.” 

Ms. Murphy enjoys bonding with her families and welcoming new parents. She feels there is so much positive engagement in the Early Childhood Department; and, she loves how her parents come together as a community:

“My parents have bonded beautifully.  I love being there as they begin their journey with Journey. I have lots of anticipation for what will come next year.  Ms. Elisbeth and I have learned so much about what works and how we can do even more.  I am excited and inspired.”

Ms. Murphy’s life has long revolved around school.  Her father was a teacher, her mother drove a school bus, and as the youngest of three children she always had a natural love of learning.  Over the years, many inspirational teachers, especially Mrs. Seivers of San Clemente, ignited her desire to teach. Ms. Murphy first launched her educational career as an aide in Kindergarten while still in high school. She also worked in several pre-schools as well as the medical field. These experiences planted in Ms. Murphy an early understanding of what the young child needs.  Additionally, Ms. Murphy served as Main Class Teacher in the grades.  Hence, she has a clear picture of ‘what lies ahead’ beyond the Kindergarten.

As an undergraduate, Ms. Murphy was a History Major at UC Irvine. She is also in possession of a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from CSU, Fullerton. Soon, Ms. Murphy will graduate with a Master’s Degree and Waldorf Certification from Rudolph Steiner College.

Ms. Murphy is the proud mother of three strong Irish young men.  She loves spending time at the ocean with the boys when she’s not involved in school.


Jennifer Sternberg-Hopps, Sunflower Class

Ms. Jennifer is excited to lead the Sunflower Kindergarten once again. She believes the work performed in the Early Childhood Department is more relevant than ever:

“We are surrounded by so much rapid change right now in the world.  These are uncertain times—whether it is the economy, politics, or society in general. Now more than ever children need beauty, truth, and goodness. We all do. The conditions that inspired Steiner to create Waldorf education are not too different from what is unfolding now; and, our education is needed to give our children’s generation hope and inspiration for their future.”  

Ms. Jennifer delved into Waldorf studies as soon as she arrived at Journey in 2011.  She will soon graduate from Rudolph Steiner College with a Master’s Degree and Teaching Certificate in Waldorf Education. She also possesses a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential with an English Learner Authorization from UC Santa Barbara. Ms. Jennifer was a Cum Laude graduate from UC, Santa Barbara—where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Biological Sciences. She was also the valedictorian of her high school.

Before coming to Journey, Ms. Jennifer taught for Saddleback Valley Unified School District’s Trabuco Field Study Program—leading nature studies in the lower grades.   She draws upon this background to support creative play and experiential learning. With regard to her parent partners, Ms. Jennifer reflects:

“I am continually inspired by my parents’ personal striving and commitment to their children’s education and overall well being.   I am looking forward to a year of joy and growth with my students.  My class is so close. We are very much a family now!”

Ms. Jennifer is a loving mother of four children and enjoys spending time in nature, learning, and exercising when she’s not teaching the young ones at school.