Anna St Denis, Director, ECE
Anna graduated from the Early Learning and Care program at
Camosun College and this is her 6th year at the Victoria Nature School.
We feel so blessed to have had her help and expertise to get our program
off the ground!
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."
This year, Anna will be taking the year off to be with her newborn but will continue in her role as Director. Please don't hesitate to contact her with any questions or concerns!
Robin Lenhardt -Manager, ECE
We are so fortunate to have Robin back for the 5th year as manager and
full-time ECE at the Victoria Nature School. Robin is 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.
Andrew Furrdt -Manager, ECE
Andrew joined VNS last spring working with the 5-7-year-old class. This year, Andrew is working with our youngest children as he completes his ECEA certification at Pacific Rim Childhood Institute. He also has a degree from Ryerson as well as yoga teaching certification from Yasodhara Ashram. Andrew has worked with children of diverse abilities for several years, of which he spent the past five 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 four-year-old daughter, and he enjoys cooking, playing guitar and practicing meditation at home.
Bela Spick (5-7 yr old program)
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.
She 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 center and coaching kids of all ages. Children are her passion, as is the great outdoors. She is now starting her second year at VNS and obtaining her certification as a Forest and Nature School Practitioner through the Child and Nature Alliance of Canada. "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".
Tessa Larson -ECE
Tues/Thurs 3-5 Yr Old Program
5-7 Yr Old Monday Forest School Program
We are very happy to have Tessa Larson join us after a very successful practicum placement with VNS this past year.
"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."
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.