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).
CHICKADEE CLASS – Educator
Anna was brought up on the farmlands of Southeastern Wisconsin. Her joy of the outdoors and adventurous spirit were nurtured through forest exploration, lake swimming, hiking, biking, cross country skiing, and snowboarding. After she graduated high school, her love for education and the ocean led her to San Diego where she attended SDSU. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology along with an Early Childhood Education Credential. Her artistic way of living has taught her the beauty and magic that connecting with nature can bring. Her passion for teaching and appreciation for children are fueled by her adoration for the natural world. She delights in sharing this wonder with her students. Throughout the past five years as a preschool teacher Anna has worked with infants through age of 6 and equally loves them all. Along with teaching the little ones, she enjoys instructing yoga, painting classes, and surfing to all ages. She is grateful and excited to be a member of the team at All Friends Nature School where she feels free to blossom into the teacher she has always dreamed of becoming.
COYOTE 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.
CHICKADEE CLASS – Educator / Language Support
Natalia is an East Coast native, born and raised between the city and the Jersey shore. As the oldest of 6 siblings, she is no stranger to caring, nurturing, and leading little ones. Spending her childhood swimming in lagoons, exploring the woods, and climbing trees. Her endeavor to get a Bachelor’s in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences is what brought her to sunny San Diego. She has loved living in SD for almost 4 years now. Natalia is currently working on getting a minor in the field of Child and Family Development. Her heart lies within programs where children first experience the world around them. She has experience in working with pre-school, after-school care, and summer camp. Her recent volunteer position as a Language Facilitator fed my love for pre-school age kiddos and the power of early intervention. It is imperative to her that all students feel cared for, loved, and given the tools and language to explore and express themselves. She has also fulfilled her major’s language requirement in American Sign Language and hopes to reach a more inclusive world of communication by making basic sign accessible for our Deaf/Hard of Hearing friends. In her spare time she enjoys astrology, being a plant-mom, meditation, painting, and sitting in the sun. She is looking forward to sharing, listening, and raising the voices of students at All Friends!
Coyote Class – Support Teacher
Laura (Miss Lola) was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She spent her childhood at the beach and hiking on trails in the surrounding mountains. She graduated from the University of San Francisco with a major in Environmental Studies and a minor in Urban Agriculture. During her time in the Bay Area, she deepened her connection to the natural world, exploring the breathtaking Northern California Coast. Most recently, she lived in Point Reyes National Seashore, in a rural surf town, north of San Francisco. There, she was deeply immersed in nature, spending her time connecting to the land and sea, growing food, and teaching about the importance of nature connection. She loves learning about botany and has been deep in the study of herbalism and California flora. She has worked as a botany and garden educator for 5 years, teaching gardening skills to all age ranges, from young children to adults. She recently moved to San Diego to be closer to her family. She plans to attend graduate school for a Masters of Science in Nutrition for Wellness and Health Coaching, to incorporate the importance of healthy eating into her curriculum. She has a passion for nature-based education and is so excited to be a part of All Friends Nature School!
Coyote Class – Support Teacher
Alyssa is a San Diego native who has had the pleasure of spending significant time living along the West Coast. Most of her formative years were spent in San Diego, living between Pacific Beach and East County. She also spent 5 of those years calling the great PNW home, and experienced what snow days and living among the consistent rain and redwoods have to offer. No matter where home base was, she often traveled with her family for sports and regular camping/boating trips anywhere from Shasta Mountain to Yuma River; where they would hike, fish, tube, play games and explore. She has 7 siblings and is the oldest of 5. This has allowed continuous first-hand lessons and real-life experience in caring, nurturing, and leading young ones in various stages of childhood. She went on to the City of Trees – Chico, CA for her undergraduate studies. This is where she earned a double Bachelor of Arts, in Childhood Education K-12 and Spanish Language. She gained experience in the academic world by working in dual-immersion schools, interning at a hands-on-science lab, and continuously enriching her passion for education as a life-long learner. She also studied abroad in Costa Rica where she completed her Spanish degree and interned as a Teacher’s Aid at a local elementary school. She is passionate about equitable access to education, exploratory learning, mentorship, fostering a sense of belonging, a healthy imagination, and use of creativity within the learning environment. She plans to continue her education by earning a Masters and Credential in Early Childhood Education. In her free time Alyssa enjoys writing, meditating, doing yoga, spending time with loved ones, soaking up the sunshine, and most of all taking long walks with her floppy eared, best fur-friend, Truman. All Friends Nature School has ignited a thrill for practical learning in the natural world. She is grateful to be apart of the inspiration, wonder, and joy that the students and staff of All Friends Nature School provides.