Image by Taylor R

Educators

Who We Are

Saplings educators have shifted their practice toward an ongoing, constantly evolving model of knowledge creation through intentionally attending to the conversations, interests, and needs of students. By paying attention to these emergent moments and the multiple ways in which students can explore their learning, educators welcome multiple perspectives, complexity, and diversity by creating a program that is flexible, responsive, and relevant to our local community. By engaging with the complexities of their practice in a spirit of experimentation, children and adults think and learn together, ultimately guiding one another toward thinking deeply, responding respectfully, and building communities.

 

Saplings believes that clear communication between educators, parents, and students is an integral part of an educational experience.  Educators celebrate, document, and display student work to make learning visible so families may share in the learning journey, and students may gain the skills of self and peer evaluation.Through collaborating to create an evolving student gallery as the year progresses, students can begin to understand the connections between projects, revisit their ideas, and learn to remain open to renovating their thoughts and responses as they go.

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HEATHER FRASER

BA, BCYC, RECE, MEd

Program Director & Forest School Educator

A mother of two, I am passionate about working with children and have a love for the outdoors. I have taught in a number of early childhood settings including toddler, preschool, and school-aged programs. I have a passion for nature and I am excited to share that passion with others around me. I spend my time gardening with my two children and exploring the beautiful trails and beaches around our home. I feel that it is so important to get outside whatever the weather and connect with the world around us.
 

My academic background includes a BA in Child and Youth Care from the University of Victoria, as well as an Early Childhood Certificate. I continue to take many professional development courses in Early Childhood Education to keep up with current information in the field.

My passion for outdoor play and the importance of connecting our children with nature inspired me to build Saplings Outdoor Program. Through our nature based school, I hope to further share my appreciation for nature and a compassion for all living things.

Pronouns: she/her.

CECILY HERAS

BA, BEd, MEd

Head of School, BC Certified Teacher & Forest Educator

In my work as an educator and a mother of three, I draw upon strong personal relationships with both the people and the places around me. Having completed undergraduate studies at UBC and a graduate degree at SFU, I have developed a particular interest in critical and visual literacy, ecological sustainability and education, imaginative educational practices, formative assessment techniques, and in-depth learning and thinking skills. I strive to support students in becoming aware of their own knowledge, thoughts, and motivations in order to share their ideas and creativity with confidence.

I passionately believe that education should help students gain a sense about the goings on in our world, how it is, and how it came to be this way. I also believe that establishing a connection to nature is one way to help humanity to realize a sustainable future for all. I hope to cultivate a love of learning, based in freedom and intellectual security to give students a feeling of accomplishment and a sense of the interconnectedness of everything.

Now rooted in the beautiful North Shore, in my spare time, I can be found in the garden.

Pronouns: she/her.
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EMILY MARTIN

BA, BEd

BC Certified Teacher, Forest Educator

I have grown up exploring, playing, and learning on the traditional lands of the Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh, and Squamish Nations. As I continue to connect with the natural world, my passion for sustainability, mindfulness, and movement strengthen and grow.

At the University of British Columbia, I completed a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Bachelor of Education, while also being an active member on the Varsity Field Hockey team. My academic and athletic experiences have led me to deeply value community connection, place-based learning, and student empowerment.

I believe it is important to create inclusive learning environments that foster wonder and imagination, so that students can discover and establish their relationship with self, community, and place.

My most memorable moments are in nature, which is why I gravitate towards opportunities where I get to share my stoke for the outdoors with others and create new memories.

In my free time, you can find me on a mountain either skiing, biking, or hiking and enjoying the fresh air with family and friends. I also love to dive into a good novel, bake cookies, and get cozy by the fireplace.

I am grateful to be a part of the Saplings community, and excited to get muddy with the children and learn from our beautiful forests!

Pronouns: she/her.

JULIA MILLS

BFA in Visual Arts, Expressive Arts Therapist

Educational Assistant & Forest Educator

I grew up on Quadra Island where trees, rocks, creeks and fields were my playgrounds. Whether alone or with friends they provided the landscape of my play and learning. My love of the natural world only grew as the adults around me shared their knowledge and love of plants, animals, ecology, and farming. Four days a week we’d take our speed boat over to Read Island where I attended a Surge Narrows Elementary school from grades 2-6. On these commutes we met all sorts of ocean residents, such as porpoises, jelly fish and sea lions. Just second to the ocean and the forest was the fact that my school had only 13 kids, one teacher, and a few community volunteers. The experiences I had during this time are still vivid in memory.

 

Thinking back on my childhood full of nature and free-spirited knowledgable adults I am filled with gratitude. I know I wouldn’t be the person I am today if they hadn’t been there for me. 

 

I now have a BFA in Visual Art from UBC, and a certificate in Expressive Arts Therapy (EXAT) from Langara College. During my EXAT training I did a practicum in the North Vancouver School district doing therapy with students from K-7. I strongly believe that space to explore and engage with imagination is integral to children’s growth and development. Art therapy for kids is not just painting and drawing it’s all presentations of imaginative play, and what better place to engage with our imagination than the forest? 

 

This is why I am so excited to be a teacher at Saplings. I’ve been working as an EA and forest educator since October 2021, and I can’t wait to see what adventures the forest and the Saplings community will share with me in our next school year.

Pronouns: she/her.
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GEO MCLEAN

BA, BI, EI

Educational Assistant & Forest Educator

I am a long time Scout, behavioural interventionist, and mental health worker. I've worked in conventional schools, Montessori classrooms, group homes, outdoor schools, camps, and in 1-1 settings. With over 20 years in Scouting, I have developed great comfort with outdoors skills, a deep appreciation for the natural world, and a passion for nurturing both in others. Having recently completed a certificate in ASL and Deaf Studies with VCC, I am able to sign, and am conscientious of the nuances of accessibility and diverse needs.
 

My undergrad degree focused on gender, sexuality, cognitive development and sociology. Combined with my experience in mental health and behavioural support fields, I bring a wealth of skills and insight such as:

Staying calm and collected in stressful or emergency situations

Modelling non-violent, non-confrontational communication

Supporting and encouraging self-awareness and vulnerability.
 

Often I have been the only male staff in the classroom, and I understand the impact that acting as a model of caring, gentle, and empowered masculinity can have on the youth I work with.

 

Pronouns: he/they.

REBECCA MCKIERNON

BA, PGCE

Educational Assistant & Forest Educator

I moved to Canada from the UK  in 2019 and was drawn to the beautiful surroundings of BC. Through my eight years as a teacher in England, I have taught in a wide range of different primary schools including some time as a substitute teacher, which helped me learn to think on my feet and follow my instincts.

I have always drawn from the fundamentals of forest school teaching, taking every opportunity I could to take my class outside and connect to the world around us. I believe that children learn best through hands-on memorable experiences and when they feel happy and supported to take risks. As an educator, I always strive to bring calmness, creativity, and kindness to every child in my care.

My academic background includes a Bachelor of Arts in Design and a Post Graduate Certificate in Education from the UK. I continue my learning through my love of reading about conservation, plants, and animals.

I believe in a simple way of life, trying to collect experiences and memories rather than things. In my own time, you will find me being creative in all kinds of ways; enjoying painting, drawing, macrame, cooking, brewing kombucha, and fermenting foods. I feel happiest when outside discovering more about BC’s diverse flora and fauna.

I am so excited to be joining the Saplings team and helping children find their own love for the outside world through child centered, interest led learning.

 

Pronouns: she/her.
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Cailey Armstrong

BBA in Business Administration and MPH

Educational Assistant & Forest Educator

It took me many years of searching, several career switches, and a move to Spain before I finally landed in the field of education. In Spain, I worked as an Auxiliar de Conversación (Education Assistant) at a bilingual pre-school/elementary school and from the very first day in the classroom I was hooked! I held this position for 3 school years, working with students of diverse educational needs and English as additional language learners.

 

Since that fated first day in the classroom, I have also worked as a private tutor to pre-school/elementary students for 4 school years, as a teacher at a learning centre in Reading, Math and Writing for nearly a year and as a drop-in instructor of a bike education course at local elementary schools (as part of my last position).

 

Prior to my life as an educator, I earned an undergraduate degree in Business Administration (Accounting), with a minor in Music Performance, and a Master of Public Health degree, with a concentration on climate change policy. I also spent many years working in business administration, accounting and at several environmental and public health organizations in Canada, the United States, New Zealand and Australia.

 

I'm thrilled for the opportunity to work at Saplings, as it combines several of my passions: teaching and nature / our environment. I look forward to continuing to grow as an educator, and I am grateful for the privilege of being part of our students' young lives.

Pronouns: she/her.

Written works by our Educators:

All of the below links are clickable.

By Heather Fraser and Nancy van Groll

Our Board Members.

Image by Filip Zrnzević
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Heather Fraser

President

Image by Steven Kamenar

Belva Stone

Vice-President

Image by Deric

Kirk Zimmer

Treasurer

Image by Olena Sergienko

TK Hannah

Secretary