Sarah Heller – Director

Sarah is the founding director of Fiddleheads Forest School and has been involved with the UW Botanic Gardens for over eight years, growing and building nature-based education programs. She holds a Master’s in Science Education and a Certificate in Early Childhood Leadership from UW, and a Forest Kindergarten Teaching Certificate from Cedarsong. Sarah is deeply committed to connecting families with the Arboretum and creating opportunities for kids to learn and grow in nature. As director, she takes pride in her work supporting the teachers and classes, connecting with families and managing the administration and operations for the school. In her free time, Sarah loves to hike, camp and travel with her son and husband. She is immensely honored by the opportunity to work with the dynamic, growing community here at Fiddleheads.

 

 

 

Jenn Leibham – Lead Teacher (Trillium Class and Maple 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!

 

 

 

Hannah Bressler – Associate Teacher (Trillium Class and Maple Class)

Having lived most of her childhood in various countries outside the United States, Hannah and her partner decided to settle down and make Seattle their home in 2008. She has since fallen in love with the Cascadia and as a dendrophile (tree enthusiast) is overjoyed to work at Fiddleheads, engaging kids with the forest. Besides her experience as a teacher at other preschools, her previous work as a midwife and a long-term nanny gave her appreciation for the diverse styles of families and a deep respect for a child’s unique path of development. Hannah believes in the genius inside of each person and that the preschool-age is a special period where a child is exceptionally receptive to exploring empathy and philosophy. In her free time, Hannah works as a publisher for a small press in poetry and illustrated fiction. She also loves to cook, paint, read, and find new places to ride her bicycle.

 

Caitlin Van Der Spuy- Lead Teacher (Magnolia Class and Cedar 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 and Cedar 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!

 

 

 Kit Harrington – Adviser

Kit is the co-founder of Fiddleheads Forest School and recently moved home to Vermont to raise her son close to family. She will always be a part of the Fiddleheads community and continues to serve as an adviser from afar. 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. She works nationally to support the growing field and set standards 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.

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