Faculty

Kabir MacDow
Principal, with 40 years of experience in holistic education and child psychology

Beginning in 1977, Kabir was one of the founding teachers at the original Living Wisdom School in Nevada City, California, where he worked closely with “Education for Life” author and founder of the Living Wisdom Schools, J. Donald Walters. In addition to teaching in the United States, Kabir has also taught in India, Italy, Austria and the United Arab Emirates, where he started a school for the Abu Dhabi government.

Kabir has been a part of Living Wisdom School of Palo Alto since 2015 and is now principal of the Living Wisdom High School.

Kabir is a strong advocate of recognizing and drawing upon each child's strengths and for guiding students into a greater experience of their full potential of intelligence, wisdom, peace, kindness and joy that lies within them. In addition, he teaches numerous self-reliance and life skills, which he gained as a corpsman (medic) in the U.S. Navy and as a Master Boy and Girl Scout Leader.

Kabir holds an M.A. in Education from Murdoch University and a B.S. in Humanistic Child Psychology from New York State University.
Vishwan Smith
Math and Spanish tutor

Vishwan has been a math-lover since an early age. Growing up in the Palo Alto school system, he was placed in a special math program for gifted mathematicians and eventually put Palo Alto High School atop the national rankings on a nationwide math contest.

Vishwan is very aware of the talents, needs and progress of each student. He comes to LWHS twice weekly for several hours each day, working individually with the students – supporting, guiding, and motivating their progress in mathematics and Spanish.

Vishwan has earned two degrees from Stanford University and is now working on achieving his MBA. Vishwan adds, “I especially look forward to sharing my love and understanding of math and Spanish with the Living Wisdom High School students.”
Charles Hancock Starr
Science tutor and science lab instructor

Charles is pursuing a PhD in biophysics at Stanford University, where he studies the physical properties of supercoiled DNA using single-molecule techniques. Before moving to California in 2015, he attended Columbia University in New York City, studying Applied Physics and Applied Math.

For nearly 10 years, Charles has been mentoring students in science, math and independent research projects. Outside of school, Charles enjoys growing vegetables, exploring the Western landscape, and listening to live music in the area.

Charles says, “I am thrilled to be helping at the Living Wisdom High School as a science tutor. I look forward to learning about each student's curiosities and interests, and I hope to convince my students that life as a scientist can be exciting and fulfilling.”
Shanti Pollacek
Yoga and personal development activities, graphics and promotional support

Shanti is currently a sophomore in college, focusing her studies in the areas of education, Spanish, media and marketing, and youth empowerment. For most of her schooling, she went through and graduated from the Living Wisdom School system in Nevada City, CA where she developed a love and enthusiasm for learning and a deep desire to serve others. She loves to travel and has so far been to 16 countries, all of which have expanded her perspective and opened her heart to the goodness in the world and in each person.

Shanti spent her first year of college doing a program through Naropa University called Leap-year: a year of traveling, service projects, hands-on learning, retreats, and the opportunity to follow one's inspiration. She is a trained yoga teacher and is now studying at Foothill College to continue her education. She enjoys backpacking in nature, playing music, engaging conversations, meditation and yoga, reading, karate, dance, and adventures of all kinds.

Shanti's dream is to support youth, and especially teens, with self-discovery and empowerment — overall, helping them to become their highest potential. Her enthusiasm for this dream has manifested as an annual summer camp for teens– focused on self-discovery, empowerment, and adventure. Shanti is very inspired, excited, and grateful to be joining the Living Wisdom High School of Palo Alto and to give back to an education system that left an indelible mark on her life.
Sunanda Peters
Art teacher

Julia (Sunanda) Peters has over 20 years of experience working with children. She earned her B.A. in the visual arts with honors from Mills College and studied art at the art Instituto Allende in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

She has taught at Aurora School in Oakland and Peninsula School in Menlo Park. As a child, she began her love of art at Peninsula School, where she was first exposed to the concept of free expression in the medium of clay. She sees art as a calming and exciting visual language with which one can deepen and expand their mind through creative expression.

Julia is also a beekeeper who is passionate about the environment, loves to garden, solar cook, and create wallets out of recycled plastic bags, alongside many other fun and creative projects.
Navashen Jones
Physical Education

From a young age, Navashen has always had a natural enthusiasm for moving the body, through sports and athletics to feel a sense of joy, upliftment, and focus.

A graduate of East Carolina University, Navashen received his degree in Sports Studies where he experienced a wide range of fields including sport management, recreation and leisure, fitness, and wellness, to name a few. After graduating from ECU, Navashen worked for 3 years in Minor League Baseball before moving to the Bay Area to work at Facebook HQ helping run their Fitness Center.

Navashen now serves full-time for Ananda Palo Alto (Yoga & Meditation Center) while also serving part-time at the Living Wisdom School (PreK-8).

Noticing how the competitive side of sport and athletics has brought about heightened levels of stress in children, Navashen encourages the cooperative side of sports and athletics while placing a strong emphasis on tuning into the joy of physical movement.
Peggy Lytle
Qigong & Taiji

Peggy is a certified personal and group fitness/wellness coach with multiple certifications including a Youth Certification through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She is also certified as a Chen Taiji and Five Elements Qigong Teacher. Peggy has practiced ChenTaijiquan for 10 years and has been a teacher for over 5 years in the Bay Area. She found Taiji after looking for a way to improve her balance and memory after a traumatic brain injury in 2009. She experienced great changes after practicing for a year and chose to teach to share this form with others who may also receive the benefits such as increased focus, breathing techniques, leg strength, balance, memory and a general sense of well being.

She is delighted to share this with the LWHS students, providing them with another tool to increase focus in their studies and reduce stress in their lives. She demonstrates the form, has the students follow and then they teach each other. She presents the martial art application of the Taiji moves, the Taoist philosophy entwined in the form as well different applications of the Qigong movements.