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“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in."

Rachel Carson, Sense of Wonder

 

About our Teachers

  • We hire teachers with complementary skill sets in both early childhood education and environmental education. Our teachers have experience working with young children and come from progressive fields of education with emphasis on nature-based, environmental, and outdoor learning. 

  • Everyone on our team, including interns and volunteers, undergo extensive background checks. Lead teachers have current CPR and First Aid certifications and have received Nature-Based Teacher Certification through the Eastern Region Association of Forest and Nature Schools (ERAFANS.org).

  • Our team participates in ongoing professional development including: collaborative planning, team meetings, attending and facilitating PD workshops, partnerships with other nature-based schools, written publications, membership to professional associations, and work with (or as) consultants, regionally, nationally, and internationally.

 

MEET OUR TEAM

These inspiring teachers lead our programs and cherish time in nature - rain or shine!

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Leah Balkoski

Homeschool co-Op Lead Teacher/ Camp Director

Leah loves to be outdoors! She has experience working with a wide range of ages and is excited to be part of the Notchcliff team.

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Kiley Dare

Lead Teacher/ Yoga Instructor

Kiley has been caring for young children since her early teens, working as the neighborhood babysitter. She spent eight years working for a progressive, arts-integrated charter school in Baltimore City as a paraeducator. As the Kindergarten teacher assistant, Kiley was fortunate to spend a lot of time outdoors with her students. As an avid hiker and camper, she brings a deep appreciation and curiosity for all living things. She loves to photograph nature, listen to birds and sit by the river. Kiley is also a personal trainer and yoga teacher and loves to be active with children. She looks forward to meeting families and children at Notchcliff!

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Kalliopi (Kelly) Katsaros

Lead Teacher

Kelly is a long-time early childhood educator who is excited to be working outdoors. She is certified as a level 1 Nature-Based Teacher with ERAFANS and is thrilled to join the team!

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Jasmine Atkins

Administrative Assistant

Jasmine joined the team at Eastern Region Association of Forest and Nature Schools (ERAFANS) in 2021. She puts her organizational skills to work, assisting with program registration with Notchcliff as well other other professional development programs offered by ERAFANS. 

Christina Woods

Seedlings Lead Teacher and Substitute Lead Teacher

Christina loves to be outdoors, experience adventure, and find creatures. Growing up on the Chesapeake Bay, she developed a love for nature and a deep appreciation for the balancing human life and natural surroundings. As a teen, she moved to Baltimore County and continued her adventures in the forest around her home on the outskirts of the Loch Raven Watershed. Today, as a mother of two, she has a mission of sharing her appreciation of nature with her sons and with children in the region. Her discovery of Notchcliff Nature Programs has inspired her to help children move beyond ecophobia and guide parents comfortably in nature, planting a seed of balance, compassion, and love. 

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Monica Wiedel-Lubinski, M.Ed.

Executive Director of the Eastern Region Association of Forest and Nature Schools, Founding Director of Notchcliff

Monica is an experienced leader in nature-based education. She is the founding director/co-director of three nature-based early learning programs in Maryland (The Nature Preschool at Irvine, Wild Haven Forest Preschool & Childcare, and now Notchcliff Forest Preschool). She is also the director of the Eastern Region Association of Forest and Nature Schools, a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to nature-based professional development.

When she is not in the forest, Monica travels far and wide to support the growth of nature preschools as a consultant and keynote presenter. She a contributing author to STEM In Early Childhood Education (Cohen and Waite-Stupiansky, 2019), and to the Nature-Based Preschool Professional Practices Guidebook (NAAEE, 2019). Most recently, she coauthored Nature Play Workshop for Families: A Guide to 40+ Outdoor Experiences in All Seasons (Quarto Press, 2020). She is currently writing a book about nature-based education for the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) with an expected release in 2023.