Xaelel Allen-Caballero , Preschool Teacher
Start Date: 2020
Originally from Upstate New York, Xaelel (Shylel), received her bachelor's in Environmental Science and Psychology from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. She knew from an early age that being in nature had of positive effect on her mental health and well-being. Intrigued to learn more, she decided to continue her education focusing on how the natural world was formed, in the hopes to learn more about sustainability and stewardship. Continuing her studies, she became increasingly passionate about combining her love of nature with her love of understanding the human mind and body. This is where she learned and fell in love with the Forest School model and the emphasis it has on free play and positive improvements nature has on sensory development in young children.
She started her career in education teaching a SPLASH course on 'Earth Art' at MIT and later as The Assistant Schools Manager for an environmental education program in NY. She has done extensive research on agricultural water pollution, spent a year researching native bat species in Massachusetts, and spent five months conducting fieldwork in geology at the University of Otago in Dunedin, NZ.
Xaelel is passionate about being a forever learner in life and views education as a multidimensional platform that houses immense opportunity for both the student and educator. She is continuously learning from her students every day and believes that allowing children space for creativity and wonder in the outdoors can facilitate learning about natural systems, promote ecological ethics, and inspire leadership in life and for the environment.
Tori Price , Admin Assistant
Start Date: 2020
Tori is from Atlanta, GA and moved to Denver at the beginning of 2020. She received her bachelor's degree from Furman University in Psychology and is passionate about mental health and the positive effects that nature, art, mindfulness, and yoga have on the well-being of humans - no matter the age.
Tori has worked with children of all ages since 2004 and began her teaching journey in 2014 through managing a children's art studio. Since then, she has taught as an assistant teacher in two preschools, led the youth program at a community art center, and taught drawing classes to children in after-school programs. She also spent 5 years volunteering and working as an administrative assistant and art teacher with a non-profit that provides art therapy-based programming to impoverished and homeless children around the world; she has had the honor of creating and leading empowering art experiences for children in both Atlanta and in Ethiopia.
Tori loves bringing nature, mindfulness, and social & emotional learning into her art curriculum to help expand the minds and hearts of children, guiding them in building confidence, curiosity, imagination, self-esteem, and self-expression, and helping them to see the unique beauty in themselves and in the natural world around them.
In her personal life, Tori enjoys creating and selling her nature-inspired paintings, leading mindful art experiences for women, practicing and teaching yoga, and spending time outside to appreciate the wonders of our natural world.
Justin Way , Elementary Teacher
Start Date: 2020
After returning home from one of his trips abroad, Justin decided to return to graduate school and earn a master's degree in Early Childhood and Childhood Education. While there, he began to question the methods and structures utilized in the traditional American classroom. In doing so, the concepts of nature deficit disorder, nature and forest schools, and nature Rx began to take root as solutions to many of the flaws the traditional school system exhibits. Then, after moving to Denver with his wife, Jillian, and working in DPS for a year, Justin moved to position with the city of Aurora where he developed, coordinated, and taught a nature-based program for overlooked and underserved youth, families, and communities in Aurora and East Denver. Now, he is excited and ready to fulfill his dream of working in the nature school setting with a great school such as Worldmind.
In his personal life, Justin enjoys traveling, hiking, birding, spending time with his wife, family and friends, playing guitar, reading, climbing, and doing yoga. Justin tries to live a vibrant and balanced life full of fun, happiness, and love that he hopes his students feel every day. Happy trails!
Cheyenne Stokas, Preschool Teacher
Start Date: 2019
Cheyenne was raised in the mountains of Taos, New Mexico, and spent her free time camping, skiing, hiking, and swimming with her family. These early adventures, instilled a deep love for the outdoors. Growing up, Cheyenne found that she was dyslexic young and after struggling in a traditional school setting, moved to small, alternative classrooms, where she found success in learning.
Since moving to Denver in 2011, Cheyenne has earned her BA in Fashion Design, worked as a seamstress, and fallen in love with rock climbing. She has always loved working with children. She has taught skiing to children ages 3-5, worked as a teacher's aide, and been a nanny. She is excited to put her energy into fostering the inherent curiosity of our students, through learning in the outdoors, creating community, and developing social-emotional skills.
Jen Howard-Baker, Elementary Teacher
Start Date: 2020
K-6 Connecticut Certified Teacher (2010) for the past fifteen years, Jen has taught math and science at the middle school level and has been immersed in teaching math to K-1 through the Russian School of Mathematics. Her own educational journey is soundly based in a public alternative pilot grade school program that emphasized service, social action, and experiential learning, where their days were spent in exploration and child-led learning. She attended a public high school and went on to graduated with a degree in Outdoor and Environmental Education from Prescott College in 1991. During her parenting years, she facilitated her two children's educational path using inspirations from John Holt, John Taylor Gatto, and the homeschooling community. (2000-2010) After receiving her MS.Ed from the University of Bridgeport (2008), she taught 7/8 science in a parochial school, then entered the public school system as a grade 7 special education assistant, followed by grade 6 science/math for 5 years. At this time in her career, she returns to what matters most: connecting children to themselves, their community, and nature through experiential activities, discovery, and reflection.
Caroline Griesel, Homeschool Enrichment Teacher
Start Date: 2017
Caroline holds a Bachelors in Zoology with Entomology focus from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She has combined 6 years experience in education, including teaching children's English classes in Japan and being a para-professional in public schools. She also spent some time in Ecotourism, researching ecological relationships between ants and sea birds, and guiding kayak tours to the research site. A childhood fishing and combing the beaches of Galveston, Texas inspired her to ensure a lifelong connection to nature and self-discovery through nature is possible for everyone.
Caroline is an amateur naturalist and adventurer, who loves curating her collection of rocks and minerals, stargazing, and bushcraft.
Annie Carrington, Elementary Teacher
Start Date: 2020
Annie was born and raised in Kansas where she spent a lot of time on a farm with her grandparents. This helped foster her love for the outdoors and animals as well. 13 years ago she moved from Arizona, where she met her now Husband, to Colorado. She now has two boys that are 10 and 13. Her and her family spend a lot of time in the mountains and outdoors, hiking, biking, swimming, snowshoeing, camping and fishing.
Annie has her Bachelors in Human development with a minor in elementary education. She also has her K-6 license. She has been working with kids for 12 years and has over 5 years of experience with 3-6 year old. After struggling to find her place in the public school system she decided to branch out. She is thrilled to continue working with students at a nature minded school.
Amy Snodgrass, Elementary Teacher
Start Date: 2020
Amy holds a master's degree in Secondary English Education and a bachelor's degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. She began her career in education by volunteering with creative writing programs in Oregon School for the Deaf and Oregon State Penitentiary. She worked as an assistant teacher in Dallas, Texas before finding her home in Denver, where she spent four years teaching fifth grade reading. In addition to English Language Arts, she has experience teaching music, creative writing, and art. Amy is a proponent of the Forest School model because she believes the best education fosters curiosity and confidence in learners. She is passionate about project-based curriculum design that fosters strong habits of discussion through both shared readings and choice texts.
She spends her time reading, practicing yoga, playing cooperative board games, hiking, writing poetry, and illustrating comics and graphic novels.
Ellis Chase , Preschool Director/Teacher
Start Date: 2019
Ellis grew up in Virginia and received her Bachelor's Degree from Elon University in Psychology. An interest in human development led to working with individuals with sensory disorders, eventually inspiring her to work towards a teaching license and Master's Degree in Education from the University of Richmond. During graduate school, Ellisworked in public schools and preschool environments, opening her eyes to the importance of facilitating social and emotional development as a foundation for learning. These experiences inspired her thesis research, which confirmed the positive, social effects of positive affirmations, yoga, and breathing exercises for preschool-aged students.
Over time, Ellis' connection with the natural world and passion for early childhood education merged as she discovered the Forest School model of learning. She loves learning with her students and believes it is essential to engage our younger generations with compassion and wonder for our environment while fostering self, community, and ecological awareness.
Megan Patterson, Founder and Head of School
Start Date: 2015
While working on her graduate degree in Ecological Teaching and Learning at Lesley University, Megan Patterson discovered the Forest School model of learning and development. After teaching in public school settings all over the world for several years and conducting extensive research on the Forest School model of education, she knew this was the type of learning environment she wanted for her own son.
Megan grew up camping and backpacking through the beautiful mountains of Colorado. She has climbed all 54 of Colorado's fourteen thousand foot peaks. She has one son and enjoys exploring with him outdoors. Her passions are showing people of all ages the wonders of nature, hiking, backpacking, camping, traveling, running, and playing soccer.
Board Development / Board Orientation
Child and Family Development