“Let Nature be your teacher.”
In September 2019, I was very fortunate to join a team of Manzanita colleagues on a professional training trip to Helsinki, Finland to learn about the Finnish Early Education Model. I was delighted to observe young Finnish students spending a large portion of their day learning, exploring, and playing outdoors in all types of weather. My most memorable experience during the trip occurred when we observed a math lesson for 7-year-old students in the middle of the forest. The children sat on a tarp on the forest floor and participated in an engaging lesson which involved movement, technology, and hands-on manipulatives. Afterward, they were encouraged to play and explore in the forest before walking back to school. Some of them played in a stick shelter they had built, while others used sticks and rocks as musical instruments or looked for insects in the bushes. I observed engagement, focus, comfort, and wonder on their faces.
“In Finnish schools, the term ‘outdoor education’ refers to learning that happens outside and aims at achieving the objectives of the core curriculum (The Success Story of Finnish Basic Education).” Our campus offers an outdoor classroom surrounded by a wonderland of pine groves, grassy fields, and chaparral habitat for our scholars to play, explore, observe, and participate in hands-on citizen science. Our Outdoor Education Program will include time for unstructured play and discovery as well as hands-on activities guided by the Next Generation Science Standards for each grade level. I am honored to guide this program where Manzanita Scholars will be offered meaningful experiences in nature, where they can be mindful, make their own observations, draw their own conclusions, and find joy.
I have served in several teaching roles at Manzanita for more than ten years, including the last seven years as a Second Grade Teacher. My scholars and I have enjoyed taking advantage of our beautiful campus by engaging in bird and wildlife studies, nature walks, and regularly scheduled “Explore Time.” I recently earned a Master of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction, with a concentration in Environmental Education from Concordia University, Portland. Prior to earning my Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from Chapman (now Brandman) University in 2010, my undergraduate studies and professional life centered around Environmental Education.
I earned my Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Studies, with a minor in Latin American Studies and Latino Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz. During my junior year, I participated in the UC Education Abroad Program, attending the University of San Jose, Costa Rica for one semester. I am proud to be able to communicate with scholars and parents in both English and Spanish.
My professional career in Environmental Education included two years as an Environmental Educator with the Los Angeles non-profit organization, TreePeople, and seven years as an Assistant Park Naturalist for Santa Barbara County Parks at Cachuma Lake.
I am thrilled to be able to share my passion for natural history, birding, and outdoor adventure while continuing to learn from nature alongside all of the Manzanita Scholars and learning from them as well as they conduct their own inquiries and develop their own passions.