Kit is the Founding Director of the Fiddleheads Forest School and the founder of the Washington Nature Preschool Association. She is an accredited Montessori Early Childhood Educator whose work is grounded in her background in perceptual learning and early childhood development as well as her passion for helping young children with diverse needs and experiences develop self-regulation and social and emotional skills. As Director, Kit focuses on curriculum development, philosophy, equity & cultural responsiveness, family communication, research, and outreach in addition to her administrative duties. She works nationally to support Fiddleheads’ development and set standards for the field through her role on the leadership team for the Council for Nature and Forest Preschools and by helping write and define National Best Practices for Nature-Based Early Childhood Education for the Natural Start Alliance. Kit first developed a love of and appreciation for the natural world during her childhood in the Green Mountains of Vermont, where she spent her days exploring the back woods behind her house and making friends with the local wildlife. She immensely honored by the opportunity to work with the dynamic, growing community here at Fiddleheads.
Sarah Heller – Interim Director & Co-founder
Sarah is an environmental educator with over a decade of experience creating, building and teaching nature-based programs. She received a BA in Human Ecology from College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine then returned to Seattle to pursue a year of hands-on graduate work at IslandWood, where she earned a certificate in Education, Environment and Community, and a Master’s in Science Education at the University of Washington. Sarah has been involved with the UW Botanic Gardens for over seven years, growing and building education programs. She is deeply committed to connecting families with the Arboretum and creating opportunities for kids to learn and grow in nature. In her free time, Sarah loves to hike, camp and backpack with her son and husband. After taking a few years to be a stay-at-home mama, Sarah will be resuming her role at Fiddleheads when Kit departs for her maternity leave in July.
Jenn Leibham – Lead Teacher (Trillium Class)
Jenn is an early childhood educator who has been teaching preschool in a variety of nature-based classroom settings over the past 5 years, including Schlitz Audubon Nature Preschool in Milwaukee and Tiny Trees Preschool in Seattle. She is a born naturalist with a true passion for connecting children to nature and supporting their development. Her journey as an educator has led her to amazing people, inspiring places, and a deepening sense of self throughout it all. In addition to teaching preschool, Jenn is passionate about training young adults on how to connect their communities with nature. She has provided professional development to nature-based teachers around the country through conferences and workshops and is deeply rooted in nature-preschool philosophy. Jenn has a special love of playing, and of spontaneity in teaching, as well as a particular joy of jumping in puddles!
Stephanie is an Environmental Educator, born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. Her background is in Anthropology and Environmental Studies, looking at how humans and the environment interact. She has been teaching at Fiddleheads for the past 2 years, where she has worked as both an assistant and temporary lead and is excited to begin pursuing formal studies on child development and early childhood education. When Stephanie is not teaching at Fiddleheads, she presents engaging programs and experiences at the Woodland Park Zoo, focusing on environmental education and inspiring conservation action, complete with lots of fun reptiles! Her passion for education and community involvement act as pillars in her work to support healthy people, environments, and communities. One of her favorite things about Fiddleheads is the community that develops with students, families, teachers, and the forest over the course of the year. She loves fresh berries, and the thrill that you feel when you positively identify something new for the first time. Stephanie approaches environmental education with a sense of wonder and excitement; she can’t wait to join you on adventures that foster our fundamental appreciation for the natural world.
Caitlin Van Der Spuy- Lead Teacher (Magnolia Class)
Caitlin is a recent Seattle transplant from the East Coast. She is certified in Early Childhood Education and has a Bachelors in Sociology with a concentration in Emergency and Environmental Management. Caitlin has worked in early childhood education for the past 10 years in a variety of settings including public schools, summer camps, churches, and preschools. For Caitlin, Fiddleheads is the perfect place to combine her love of the outdoors with her passion for working with kids.
Jade Hoiby – Associate Teacher (Magnolia Class)
My name is Jade Hoiby and I am a Japanese, Norwegian, and Alaskan Native woman who is continuously overflowing with enthusiasm and joy. Having been born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, I have an ever-increasing affinity for my natural and cultural surroundings. This past spring, I became a first generation college graduate with a degree in cultural anthropology from the University of Washington. Throughout my academic journey, I have realized that I’ve become infused with the feeling of accelerating towards something all-important. For the past three years I have had the good fortune of working at the Seattle Farmers Markets and have consequently turned into a farm-fresh-food enthusiast. I am constantly craving the outdoors, and find that I am my best self when I am outside exploring, hiking, running, reading or practicing yoga. Over the past year, I have fallen in love with the nature preschool movement and with the process of teaching young children in the incredibly dynamic learning environment provided by the forest groves. I am elated to have the opportunity to continue working at Fiddleheads this year and look forward to all the adventures we will have together!