OUR STAFF

Anna St Denis

Director, ECE
Educator for Tuesday & Thursday morning, 3-5 year old program

Anna, a certified forest school practitioner, graduated from the Early Learning and Care program at Camosun College and this is her 9th year at VNS. We feel so blessed to have had her help and expertise to get our program off the ground and her continued support of VNS staff and families.

Her passion to work with children is deeply rooted in many years of experience with children of all ages and diverse abilities. During her time as a student, Anna realized how important being outside, especially in natural settings was to her.  As such, working as an educator in a nature school aligns perfectly with her personal philosophy. “The thing I love the most about the forest is that it offers challenges for all children, regardless of age and ability. It is a great privilege for me to work with children on a daily basis." 

Robin Lenhardt

Manager, ECE
Educator for all full day 3-5 year old programs

We are so fortunate to have Robin back for the 7th year as manager and full-time ECE at the Victoria Nature School. Robin is a certified forest school practitioner and an enthusiastic outdoor educator who has been exploring nature with children for over 15 years. She began as a daycare provider in Northern BC for over ten years before relocating to Saanich with her husband and two sons. She then continued teaching both preschool and school-age groups through

various rec centre programs. "I strive to inspire students sense of wonder during their many child-led adventures on the mountain, in the forest, and at the ocean and believe that outdoor learning fosters children's resilience, self-esteem, leadership and social skills as well as improving their physical literacy. I trust that whatever the group is interested in learning is worth investigating in detail and believe that these early outdoor experiences lay the foundation for a lifelong love and stewardship of our natural environment." When not in the forest at VNS Robin can be found at her eldest sons soccer games, teaching kids weekend cooking classes or being the volunteer shipping department for her youngest sons technology enterprises.

Tessa Larson

Educator, ECE, for all full day 3-5 year old programs

This is Tessa's second year with VNS after a very successful practicum placement with VNS. 

"I love being in nature with children! I am passionate about children leading their own play. I feel lucky to be from Southern Vancouver Island, where there is such an incredible ecosystem at our fingertips. I am excited about exploring the forest and the beach, together with the children. I decided to study at Camosun College when I learned about nature education. I feel very grateful to work together with the children, families and staff."

Andrew Furrdt

Educator for all full day 3-5 year old programs

Andrew first joined VNS two years ago working with the 5-7-year-old Fox Den class.  This will be Andrew's second year working with the full day 3-5 year old classes. Andrew has a degree from Ryerson, received his yoga teaching certification from Yasodhara Ashram, and his ECEA certification from Pacific Rim Collage. Before joining us at VNS, Andrew has worked with children of diverse abilities for several years, of which he spent five years bicycling with a multi-age group of children to parks across Victoria, rain or shine, as a field trip supervisor for Oak and Orca Bioregional School. "Looking back at my time in education, I'm so grateful for my experiences outdoors in nature with students and teachers as they connect with each other and their surroundings, having fun, and learning. In all sorts of weather, I've seen my own and others' resilience and wonderment grow. " He lives with his partner and their six-year-old daughter, and he enjoys cooking, playing guitar and practicing meditation at home.

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Caroline Simister
Educator, Tuesday & Thursday morning 3-5 year old program
Bio & picture coming soon!

Briana Corbin
Educator, Tuesday & Thursday morning 3-5 year old program

Briana is a recent graduate from the Child and Youth Care at the University of Victoria  where she discovered her passion for outdoor learning while doing her practicum at EPIC nature school. Briana is excited to begin her journey with Victoria Nature School and to engage in alternative ways of learning and teaching with children. Briana has been working and volunteering with children and youth for over five years in many different settings. She is passionate about meeting children where they are at and bringing in nature as a way to help kids grow and learn. Being born and raised on the island, Briana has a deep appreciation for the mountains and ocean. Briana loves surfing, hiking, camping and creating connections with people wherever she goes. She hopes to continue to gain knowledge around outdoor education and discover new ways to empower children. “What I love about learning outside is that it breaks down barriers and opens up space for children of all abilities and ages to connect, discover and explore the land around them.”

Bela Spick 

Educator, Monday & Wednesday Fox Den Programs

Bela is starting starting her third year with VNS. She is a certified forest school practitioner and received her Hon. BSc specializing in Ecology from the University of Toronto. After working in the field of environmental assessment, she began providing supportive educational learning to children. She spent over 10 years, running a gymnastics centre and coaching kids of all ages. Children are her passion, as is the great outdoors.  

"I am living my dream of helping kids to connect with all the wonders that our natural world has to offer. I feel blessed to watch their little minds and little hearts grow as they explore and play in beautiful Mount Doug". Bela loves adventure and her family. She is happiest when she is taking her boys camping into the backcountry, climbing or wandering in the wilderness.

Kirsten Dallimore

Educator, B.Ed, Monday & Wednesday Fox Den Programs

VNS is very excited for Kirsten Dallimore to be joining our team this year. Kirsten has been connecting children of all ages with nature connected learning experiences for close to 20 years.  Kirsten is a certified BC teacher who holds degrees in Environmental Studies from Laurier University in Waterloo, ON, Bachelor of Education from Nipissing University in North Bay, ON, a Certificate in Ecological Education from the University of Saskatchewan and is a certified National Nature Interpreter. 

 Learning and teaching about how to connect deeper with nature and gain a sense of place on this earth is what has grounded Kirsten to pursue her passion for environmental and outdoor place-based learning. Her experience and excitement for the environment and the outdoors began as a child on many camping adventures across Turtle Island with her family. She became inspired in these places to want to learn more about the natural world and gain a sense of belonging amongst the trees in the forest and water in the rivers, lakes, and ocean. Although Kirsten didn’t grow up on the west coast, she always felt connected to the ocean and the magnificent living beings that call this place home, especially the orca that does a lot of traveling.  Kirsten grew up in Southern Ontario on the traditional land of  Huron-Wendat, Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe people. Kirsten moved to Vancouver Island in 2014 to pursue a career as an environmental facilitator of learning and park naturalist. These days, you are likely to find her floating in her packraft on the Gorge Waterway or out experiencing the beauty of the Garry Oaks meadows and Coastal temperate rainforest found here on Southern Vancouver Island. 

​​​  Victoria Nature School Staff Responsibilities:

 
  • Support the day-to-day operations of the school.

  • Planning, managing and implementing a 10-month Forest School Program.

  • Spend the majority of the day with the children outside, rain or shine.

  • Plan and lead programs and projects to facilitate new learning opportunities for children.

  • Record, assess, and evaluate the nature school program on a regular basis.

  • Help maintain school observations and reflections via facebook logs, providing regular updates and musings on the children's activities.

  • Attend and participate in regular Victoria Nature School Society meetings and professional development opportunities.

  • Communicate regularly with parents and caregivers.

 The Victoria Nature School Staff: 
 
  • Are licensed Early Childhood Educators

  • Have a strong understanding of a nature-based preschool philosophy.

  • Are certified Forest School Practitioners

  • Have Coyote Mentoring Training and 8 Shields Experience

  • Confidently use positive guidance approaches.

  • Foster collaborative and professional relationships with a variety of people in a diverse community.

  • Have knowledge of diverse educational approaches such as Reggio Emilia, Waldorf, and Montessori.

  • Are proficient in planning, managing, and implementing a 10-month forest school program.

  • Have knowledge and passion of the outdoors and is committed to sustainable living models.

  • Record, assess, and evaluate the nature preschool program on a regular basis.

  • Have current first aid and CPR training.

  • Are adaptable, flexible, and well-rounded with a passion for teaching and exploring other diverse avenues of child-based learning such as art, music, dance sport, yoga, cooking, gardening, photography, film-making, etc.