Since 2007, All Friends Nature School has provided children and families with remarkable opportunities to form nature connections and build community.
The mission of All Friends Nature School is to foster the development of the whole child – physical, cognitive, emotional and social – through use of a play, place, experiential and emergent curriculum. A natural environment offers the ideal setting wherein a child may grow and develop freely, with enthusiasm, confidence and excitement.
By fostering the development of self-regulation, self-direction, and self-reflection, we provide children with the educational foundation that will support them for the rest of their lives. We value the relationship between parents, teachers and our community and work to build these relationships so we can nurture the growth of children during this important developmental time.
About Our Teachers
Founder / Teacher
Susan, founder and lead teacher, grew up in a rural town in Virginia. From a young age she was grateful to have space to roam and explore. Some of her fondest memories were playing hide and seek in the forest, catching tadpoles and playing outside all day. Attending college in a mountain town led her to an even deeper appreciation of nature. This love of nature continued on into her adult life taking her on many traveling adventures and bringing her to California. The biggest adventure was becoming a parent to two amazing boys. Susan has been working with children and families for the last 13 years. Susan has a genuine appreciation for the outdoors and is passionate about teaching young people to have a meaningful connection to nature and the world around them. Susan is trained in “Growing Up Wild” an early childhood education program that builds on the children’s sense of wonder about the world around them. Susan also continued her education in Forest Kindergarten Teacher Training at the The Academy of Forest Kindergarten Teachers.
Susan is an active board member of the California Association of Forest Schools (CAFS).
Hummingbird class– Educator
Katie was born and raised in San Diego. Growing up on sacred Kumeyaay land, she was grateful to have access to a variety of natural wonders. Her nature connection continues to deepen through the conscious exploration of mother earth from the majestic pacific ocean, to chaparral-covered canyons to alpine mountains and desert wilderness. Katie has had the privilege of being a respectful and loving guide in early childhood education for over eight years. As a partner in learning, she strives to support children in their development of a strong sense of self and a love of learning by passionately supporting their creativity and imagination. Her experience working in outdoor nature early education has sharpened her skills of intentionally guiding children while respecting their personal freedom and natural ability to learn. From climbing trees to crossing creek beds, by trusting children while ensuring their safety she is able to provide a safe and warm environment for children to learn and grow. As a musician, she further fulfills her mission to keep the magic and wonder of childhood alive through music and movement. Katie utilizes the art of creative storytelling to transmute knowledge and information in a way that is exciting and enjoyable for young children.
Katie earned her Bachelor’s degree in Child Development at Point Loma Nazarene University and an Associate’s degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences at Grossmont College. In addition, she holds a Child Development Master Teacher permit authorized by the California Commission on Teaching Credentialing.
Hummingbird class – Educator
Nicole was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN. Nicole studied child development at St. Paul College and worked for 4 years as a Lead Teacher for the Child Garden Montessori School before choosing the sunshine and ocean waves of San Diego. Nicole enjoys spending time in her Zen Garden as she has an affinity for plants and flowers with a background in floral design. She has become like family to several families in San Diego working as a nanny. Nicole spends the majority of her time with the children outdoors, going on nature walks, learning and playing at the bay and beach. She has a special appreciation for Pre-K aged children due to their unwavering curiosity and wonder at the world around them. Last year, Nicole published a children’s book, My Shiny Chakras, as an early guide to the chakra system. The book is written as a series of rhyming affirmations and features portraits of children she has known and cared for. She believes mindfulness is a critical part of enjoying the human experience and hopes to encourage it as a practice for young minds. Nicole is thrilled to be joining the team at All Friends Nature School!
Hawks class – Educator
Born and raised in London (UK), Gabby’s fondest memories are of long walks through her local parks, (Hampstead Heath and Kenwood), hiking trips to Devon, and beach days in Cornwall. From an early age, she loved the changing of the seasons; the life cycle of local chestnut trees, the flowers in full bloom at the Chelsea Flower Shower, and the quiet calm frost that descended on her suburb in the winter months. Gabby has been working with children for over 15 years. She completed her Bachelor’s degree at Oxford Brookes University and earned a Postgraduate Certificate in Education at Middlesex University. After several years in a North London elementary school, Gabby moved to New York City where she taught at an international school on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Throughout her career, Gabby has been passionate about child-led learning through play, encouraging children to take learning into their own hands. Gabby and her family moved to San Diego in 2021 and joined the All Friends Nature School in the Summer of 2022!
Hawks class – Educator
Eliana is a Southern California Native who grew up playing in canyons and painting on every surface she could find. She was enrolled in several holistic schools and educational programs throughout her childhood, which empowered her to live with an open heart and be her truest self in all forms. Oftentimes, this looked like creating and participating all different types of activities, ranging from fundraisers for natural disaster victims to making films at intensive youth media programs, practicing music and dance from a variety of cultures, rolling around in the dirt, and developing her interest in the natural sciences as her formal education furthered. She is currently working on her degree in Education with a minor in Environmental Science. She began her childcare journey at the age of eight as a mothers helper to two toddlers. This carried through her teenage years, where she took on roles as a private in-home caretaker and spent every summer as a counselor in training at the Boys and Girls Club of San Diego. She has four prior years of experience as an English tutor, helping youth, peers and adults with their writing and communications skills. Eliana works part-time at Torrey Pines State Park, where she develops and facilitates environmental education programs for the public. Most recently, she helped develop, organize and facilitate the Junior Rangers Program for children in the San Diego area. When she is not at All Friends Nature School, she is painting murals, making music with her friends, hiking, doing yoga, cooking nourishing meals, reading and spending time with the people she loves.
Hawks class – Educator
Sophie was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts, and spent most of her youth jumping into leaf piles and exploring snowy wonderlands. After graduating with a degree in Literature and Film Studies, she flew over the pond to England and worked on farms in France and helped build out boats on the Thames River in England. This experience working on the land and in collectives helped plant the seed for her love and passion for permaculture, sustainability and living off the land. She then moved to San Diego where she began exploring the endlessly humbling and deeply soul-enriching practice of being a teacher. Beginning her journey as a guitar, bass, ukulele, and piano teacher, she has taught students as young as three and as old as fifty across San Diego, in group classes and individually. She has led ensembles and helped students build their own instruments using natural materials. Her curiosity for gardening and the deep call to return to nature led her to undertake Wild Willow Farm Summer Farming Intensive as well as Beekeeping Workshop. She is passionate about inspiring children to engage with their natural surroundings and encouraging them to utilize their creativity and sense of wonder to lead a more enriching, inspired life. She seeks to blend the natural inclination towards play and curiosity that children have with the unique musical expression and artistry she believes resides in every human being. She is a proud member of “A Funny Name” kids band and enjoys writing, reading, playing music, growing and cooking food, collaging, foraging, and exploring. She is honored and humbled to be part of All Friends Nature School.