Big kudos

    Thanks to Cedar Crest’s curriculum, the kids seem to learn without feeling the stress of learning and yet have plenty of time for fun. Big Kudos!

    Preschool Parent
    Park Highlands campus


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Bellewood Staff

Administrative Staff

Spaetzel Danielle

Danielle Spaetzel
Director of Pre-primary

Danielle graduated from Bowling Green State University in Ohio in 2012 with a Bachelor of Science in Education. She is very excited to be joining the team at Cedar Crest Academy. Danielle was a Pre-Kindergarten teacher for over a year and has many years of experience with young children, including being a tutor and nanny.  For Danielle, teaching is a lifelong process of learning new philosophies and new strategies, learning from parents and the community, learning from colleagues, and especially learning from the children. Children have taught her to open her mind and her heart to the joys, the innocence, and the diversity in the world.


Bodwin AmandaAmanda Gratton
Director of Elementary

Amanda has been a part of the Cedar Crest Academy community since 2008 and is very excited to celebrate her tenth year! She started as a Pre-Kindergarten teacher at the Kirkland campus and loved the children and families she worked with during that time. In 2011, Amanda began teaching First Grade and moved to the Bellewood campus once it was opened in 2013. Since that time she has been the First Grade Team Lead and has taken on other roles such as the Dance Club teacher and Events Coordinator.  She has such a close connection with the Founding Directors, students, families, and staff here at Cedar Crest and it truly feels like a second family to her. Amanda is thrilled to take on the Director of Elementary position and believes she has the insight, dedication, and enthusiasm to serve the school and families.

Amanda is originally from the Orange County area and is a proud Californian. She attended Chapman University where she received her B.A in Liberal Studies along with her Master’s Degree in Education and California State Teaching Credential from Pepperdine University. Her schooling provided her with a strong knowledge of effective education as well as valuable classroom experience in multiple grades. Amanda has achieved her Professional Teaching Certificate from Washington State and is currently completing the Doctoral program at Seattle Pacific University. She is a lifelong learner and enjoys researching and reading about new teaching strategies, practices to increase student achievement, and professional development for educators.

When away from her office and the library, Amanda can be found spending time with her husband, Matthew. Together they enjoy exploring the outdoors with their dogs, Winston and Vladimir, trying new restaurants, and going to sports games.


Anderson Julie

Julie Anderson
Office Administrator

Julie graduated from Washington State University with a degree in Childhood Education. She has always had a love for children and for four years she helped raise ten challenged foster teens along with raising her own two teens.

After spending the last several years on an adventure in Costa Rica volunteering in the well-known animal shelter there she returned to Seattle to be closer to her family of two children and five grandchildren. Prior to that Julie spent many years in property management and in thecustomer service industry. She is a published author and is currently working on a children’s book. Julie has always followed her heart and has had the wonderful opportunities to live in India, New York, and California during her life.



Preprimary Staff

Charlean Givan
Young Preschool Teacher

This is my second year teaching Young Preschool at Cedar Crest Academy (CCA). Prior to coming to CCA, I had the privilege to work with student from the ages of 3 to 17 in different school settings, since 2005.

I’m married to my best friend and loving husband Blessings. We have two adorable little munchkins Khloe and Caleb. When I am not working I enjoy spending time with my family hanging out, cooking, watching movies and reading. I have lived in the south most of my life until relocating to Washington in last year.

Kellie Thornton
Young Preschool Teacher

This will be my first year at Cedar Crest Academy but I have three years of experience working with the early preschool age. I have worked at Goddard school, Evergreen academy, Olympic View Montessori and I am so excited to be starting here at Cedar Crest Academy. I graduated from Western Washington University with a degree in Therapeutic Recreation where I have learned so much about helping people of all ages. Some hobbies of mine would be outdoor activities like hiking, kayaking or playing sports like soccer, volleyball and tennis. I would see myself as an active person always trying to find the best in the situations. I look forward to meeting you all and having so much fun getting to know each of our students! 

Anna Dartnall
Preschool Teacher

I have been involved in early-childhood education since 2002. I started out teaching and directing the children’s program at my local church. During my time as a children’s program director, I also worked with special needs high school students and began volunteering at Seattle Children’s Hospital for eight years where I had the privilege to invest my time, love, and bring comfort to many kids of all ages and walks of life. In between these responsibilities, I also worked closely with kids in their homes as a nanny and tutor for many families. I have worked as a pre-primary teacher for the last four years, and this will be my third academic year with Cedar Crest Academy. I am extremely excited to invest in your child’s education and early development this school year!

When I’m not in the classroom I enjoy spending time with my friends, family, and husband of one year. I have lived in the Pacific Northwest for most of life and I think that’s why I enjoy the overcast weather we get here in Washington. Some of my hobbies are journaling, reading, cooking, and spending time outdoors especially by the water.

Jessica Ngar
Preschool Teacher

This is my first year teaching at Cedar Crest. Last year, I worked as the office admin and quickly learned how much I missed being in the classroom. I am ecstatic to share my love with each and every one in my class! I attended Humboldt State University where I received my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. I have been teaching Preschool for two years and loved it! When I am not teaching, I enjoy being outdoors. I love backpacking, hiking and lounging at the beach listening to the beautiful sound of the ocean.

Margaret Von Heidecke
Preschool Teacher

I’m excited to join the Cedar Crest family and bring much experience and enthusiasm for Early Childhood Education! In 2002, I began teaching Preschool and have since worked with children of all ages, especially 3-5 year olds. It’s a wonderful age in which to guide the development of language skills that enhance all other learning; social, creative and academic. I also have a BA in Theatre with many formal credits in Education. I’m very much looking forward to this school year and to getting to know each and every student.

The Pacific Northwest is one of my favorite places ever because it’s beautiful and because my grown daughter and son both live nearby. Some of my favorite things to do when I’m not teaching include spending time with my family, outings with friends, hiking and singing.


Sarah Schultz
Pre-Kindergarten Teacher

I will be returning to CCA for a second year teaching in the Pre-K 1 class. Before venturing to Cedar Crest Academy I taught Pre-K for two years, and one year of preschool at The Scottsdale School in Arizona, which is a private Christian school. I relocated back to the PNW in 2014 to be closer to my family. I grew up in Bellevue WA so I am familiar with the area. I attended college in Arizona at Paradise Valley community College where I earned my Associates degree, I then transferred to Northern Arizona University where I obtained my Bachelors in Early Childhood Education. I plan to return for my Masters in Education and reading specialist endorsement at Northwestern University next fall 

I enjoy spending my weekends with my family, nephew, and my dog Bruiser, he is my child! I have been tap dancing since I was three years old, and I love to be outdoors. I spend a lot of time hiking around the PNW, playing in the lakes and reading. I really have been enjoying the diverse cuisine of the PNW and trying new places to eat is something I enjoy. I have always had a love for learning new things and since I was a little girl I have always wanted to be a teacher.  I look forward to getting to know all of you and your beautiful children. I am so blessed to return for another year at Cedar Crest and have the opportunity to help and watch your children learn and grow. 

Parul Purohit
Prekindergarten Teacher

I recently moved to WA from NJ in April 2016 due to her husband’s job.  Prior joining to Cedar Crest Academy in May 2016, I worked as an Asst. Teacher at a Charter School in NJ. I taught children from ages 2 months to 5 years old as a Preschool teacher at River School, Jersey City, NJ. I have my Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from India, and working on getting her Teaching Certification. My 3 year old daughter is also a student at Cedar Crest Academy this year.  I am very passionate about working with young children and thoroughly enjoys teaching and learning from them. In my free time I like to spend time with her daughter and dog Milo. Traveling is something else we enjoy doing as a family and visiting different places around the world.

Candice Metzger
Prekindergarten Teacher

I have always loved school and hope to pass my love of learning on to your children.  I have been working with children since I was 15 and have been a certified teacher for 12 years; this is my 2nd year teaching at Cedar Crest.  I have taught grades preschool through 2nd grade, have worked in child care and was a school Director for 3 years.  I hold a Professional Teaching Certificate and a BA in Elementary Education and Science Education.  Their inquisitive minds, excitement for learning and the individuality that blossoms over the year are just a few things that I love about children!  I am very excited to use my knowledge base to help your children become lifelong learners.

In my free time I work as an actor, singer, director and I am an avid Disney fan.  I am Winnie the Pooh’s number 1 fan and I adore the color orange!  My all-time favorite things to do are act in musical theater and teach drama classes.  I belong to a theater company called “Auburn Avenue Theater” where I most recently played ‘Glinda the Good Witch’ in “The Wizard of Oz.”  I also enjoy traveling with my husband, especially to Disneyland!

Mandy Safstrom
Assistant Prekindergarten Teacher

I am originally from California but received a bachelor’s degree from Western Washington University in Bellingham in the winter of 2014. Throughout my life, I have consistently had experience working with children. I developed a love for teaching children when I volunteered to teach preschool for a vacation bible school as a high school student. The experience was highly rewarding and led me to seek out other positions to teach students of various ages. My most recent position was leading an elementary afterschool program through an organization called Wild Whatcom. I am excited to be able to use all of the things I have learned from my experiences in the classroom this year!

Outside of work I love to go camping, hiking, and travel. I just moved to Seattle and there are so many areas around here that I am wanting to explore during the next year. I also love cats and am the proud owner of the softest, black kitty named Ziggy Stardust. We live in Seattle with friends and in our free time at home we can be found curled up together reading a good book.

Elementary Staff

Erin Milligan
Kindergarten Teacher

Erin joined the Cedar Crest Academy staff in the Summer of 2014. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Inter-Disciplinary Studies from The Evergreen State College. After several years of living abroad and working in preschools and daycare centers, she returned to school through Washington Governors University to become a certified teacher, earning a post-baccalaureate Elementary Education degree with K-8 Washington State certification. Erin has taught as a student teacher in the Seattle School District, as a lead teacher in an arts-based preschool and as head teacher in a French immersion Kindergarten. Her favorite part of teaching is the light bulb moment when her students make connections or learn something new.

Jaime Wilson
Kindergarten Teacher

Jaime attended Western Washington University where her focus was in human development. She obtained her Bachelors in Elementary Education. All of her experience in early elementary classrooms combined with her background knowledge in psychology has helped her develop and implement excellent classroom management and teaching strategies. Jaime is very excited to join the Kindergarten team at the Bellewood Campus for another year of great education within the Cedar Crest family. Jaime has spent four summers as a camp counselor, mentored fifth graders during college, been a nanny for a few families over several years, and has taught pre-school. Jaime cannot imagine doing anything besides working with children. She loves being in a classroom and fostering children’s growth both academically and socially. She believes that being an educator is more than just being academically strong, knowing that focusing on the child as a whole is most important.

Linda Ream
Kindergarten Teacher

Linda joined the Cedar Crest Academy staff in the summer of 2016. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Humanities for Teaching at Seattle University. After several months teaching in Zambia, and working with children diagnosed with Autism, she returned to school at Seattle University earning a Master’s in Teaching with a K-8 Washington State certification in 2015. Linda has taught as a student teacher in the Seattle School District, and as a 2nd grade teacher in the Highline School district. In her spare time, she enjoys eating delicious Indian food, finding cute coffee shops, playing soccer, and gardening. She enjoys reading, and often finds fun books at Half-Price Books to share with her Kindergartners. She uses games and songs to engage students and enhance their learning.

Cynthia Hirst
Kindergarten Teacher

Mrs. Hirst has loved school her whole life- the best day of the year is the first day of school!  She graduated from Centennial Senior High School in Coquitlam, B.C., where she earned a swimming scholarship to Simon Fraser University.  There she minored in Kinesiology and Learning Disabilities while swimming on the record-setting varsity swim team.  Her first year of teaching was in Jakarta, Indonesia at the International School, along with coaching the school swim team.  Last year, Mrs. Hirst taught Kindergarten for the first time in the Bellevue School District.  In-between, she has taught for over 25 years in British Columbia and Washington state, including as the owner/director of a music school (The Musik Place), where she taught families how to play musically together, as well as piano, flute, recorder and saxophone.  Over the course of her teaching career, Mrs. Hirst has taught all grade levels (K-12), and such subject areas as English, ELL, Biology, US History, French, physical education and of course, music!

Mrs. Hirst has been married for 28 years, and has two sons.  Malcolm, age 22, is going to Bellevue College, and Andrew, age 21, is attending his final year at Western Washington.  She lives in Redmond with her husband and an orange cat named Pumpkin!

Brooke Pettis
Kindergarten Teacher

Brooke earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Washington before moving back to Vancouver, Washington to complete her Masters in Teaching at Washington State University-Vancouver. Brooke considers herself a lifelong learner and has completed additional coursework in Reading and Literacy, Classroom Management, Differentiated Instruction, Positive Behavior Supports and attended various conferences on Social Justice, Language Acquisition and Optimal Learning Environments. Brooke hopes to instill her passion for learning into her students and strives to make learning fun and exciting.


Anna Culliton
First Grade Teacher

Anna graduated from Western Washington University with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Education, and her teaching certificate. While enrolled at Western, Anna attended the Woodring College of Education and majored in Human Development. Throughout her college career she worked as a nanny and a reading tutor at a local elementary school. Anna is thrilled to move from the 3rd grade to the 1st grade this year. She is very excited to begin her third year with Cedar Crest Academy and looking forward to teaming with Ms. Bodwin to make an amazing First Grade experience for all the kids.

Laura Mercier
First Grade Teacher

Laura is very excited to begin her second year as part of the Cedar Crest Academy team.  Laura has earned her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education along with a K- 8th grade endorsement in 2009.  She then completed her Masters in Teaching degree in 2012.  Laura earned both degrees from Northwest University.  Following her passion for teaching, Laura has taught various age groups starting from preschool through third grade.  Laura firmly believes in teaching the whole child.  Her goal is to create a learning environment that nurtures children intellectually, emotionally and socially.  She believes by creating a healthy environment children will find the joy of learning and become lifelong learners.

Jon Meyers
Second Grade Teacher

Jon attended the University of Central Florida where he earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary Education. He went on to teach Kindergarten and 2nd grade for 4 years in Florida, joining Cedar Crest Academy in 2013 at the Park Highland Campus. He is very excited to lead our Second Grade classroom this year at the Bellewood Campus. Jon is a big believer in the Cedar Crest philosophy in which learning is a lifelong process. His goal is to help students of all ages become responsible and productive citizens, effective decision-makers through active learning and participation.

Vinu Vijay
Third Grade Teacher

Vinu earned her Honors in Bachelor of Science at the University of Toronto in Canada. After working as a Project Manager at a medical research facility, she received her Bachelor of Education at the University of Ottawa, also in Canada. She had a passion to teach since the age of 15, and worked towards that goal since then. She comes to us with extensive experience in teaching in all age groups, and as the Head of Academics in her previous school.

Before moving to Seattle, Vinu grew up, for the most part in Ottawa, Canada, and moved to Toronto, Canada for education. In her free time, Vinu loves to hike with her family, and her dog, Odin. She also volunteers with local youth organizations to help foster kids in improving their life skills.


Dave Sauter
P.E Teacher

Dave graduated from the University of Jamestown in North Dakota, and obtained his teaching license from the State of North Dakota. He’s worked with several school districts, one being Medina school district in North Dakota. He developed a new K-12 physical education program while he was there. He’s taught from elementary through High School students. Dave is the P.E specialist for all 4 of Cedar Crest’s campuses and is excited to be a part of a school that gives their students the opportunity to be involved in high quality physical education classes. His ultimate goal is to help all kids stay active and healthy for the rest of their lives.

Christian Nelson
Library and Media Specialist

Christian graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in History . Prior to joining Cedar Crest, he worked 8 years as a residential youth counselor, assisting at-risk youth in the midst of familial crises. He’s also worked in after school programs, provided tutoring assistance and served as a youth mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Puget Sound. Over his first two years at Cedar Crest Academy, Christian worked as an office administrator, taking on may IT support related tasks. Entering his third year, he is excited to be teaching library and technology classes.

Heather Carpenter
Executive Director

Heather brings close to twenty years of experience in private school elementary education, where she has served as a teacher, principal, mentor, trainer, and regional director.  Heather joined Cedar Crest Academy in 2013 as the Director of Curriculum Development.  As Director of Curriculum Development, Heather helped restructure Cedar Crest Academy’s elementary program to make certain Cedar Crest Academy’s students are achieving academic excellence through an individualized, academically rigorous program and are able to compete on an international level.      

As Cedar Crest Academy’s Executive Director, in addition to overseeing the elementary program, Heather will visit all campuses on a weekly basis, ensuring consistency and quality in curriculum implementation and that all preprimary programs are adhering to Cedar Crest Academy’s standard of excellence.  Heather will continue to hone in on Cedar Crest Academy’s Core Values and Mission, ensuring Cedar Crest Academy exceeds standards, individualizes programs, develops and embraces the whole child, and challenges students to believe in themselves and their limitless potential.      

Heather holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Bachelor of Education in Elementary Curriculum from the University of Victoria.  She adores spending time with her family and being active with her two children.  Skiing, cooking, and reading are just a few of her pastimes.