Chavitos! Nature School

Nature Inspired, Spanish Immersed

Ages 2-5 and Grades K-3

Chavitos Guides for 2019-2020 

Meag Diamond is a Cedarsong certified Forest Kindergarten teacher. For 13 years she has taught in the public and private school environments in Washington and in Lagos, Nigeria. Before starting Chavitos she spent six years at a local public Montessori school as a Lower Elementary Teacher (grades 1-3). Meag holds her National Board Certification in Literacy and also possesses a Montessori certification. When she saw her older son's love for nature she started to think creatively about a solution that would get both of them into the woods together more often. Now she has witnessed the powerful magic of the forest with her 1 year old. Chano has been in the forest since he was one month old and it's hard to get him to come inside.  

Meag is passionate about plant medicine and has started a two year study with Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine. She hopes to learn natural plant dying from an abuela while in Guatemala. In September Meag, Jose, Keats and Chano live Guatemala for six months.

Meag teaches in the forest mornings during April-August.  

Jose Estrada is originally from Guatemala where he spent six years teaching physical education and coaching soccer, lacrosse and swimming. For four years he worked at Safe Passage where he worked with some of Guatemala's neediest children. It was here where he met Meag who was volunteering for a week. His passion is to incorporate play and recreation into education with an emphasis on exploring nature in our diverse community. Jose and his sons Keats and Chano love to learn through cooking, dancing and biking to the farmers market.

José Estrada es originario de Guatemala donde pasó seis años enseñando educación física y entrenador de fútbol, lacrosse y natación. Durante cuatro años trabajó en Camino Seguro, donde trabajó con algunos de los niños más necesitados de Guatemala. Fue aquí donde se cumple Meag que trabajaba como voluntaria para una semana. Su pasión es la de incorporar el juego y la recreación en la educación con énfasis en la exploración de la naturaleza en nuestra diversa comunidad. José y su hijos Keats y Chano les encanta aprender a través de la cocina, el baile y el cuidado de los cuatro pollos de la familia.

Jose teaches both mornings and afternoons in April-August and is a Native Spanish speaker.

Clara grew up exploring the lakes, forests and rivers of Minnesota where she learned to appreciate the wonder of Nature in all of its glorious seasons. Clara is an enthusiastic early childhood educator. She is a certified AMS Montessori teacher and has her Cedarsong Way Forest Kindergarten Teacher Training certification from Erin Kenny of Cedarsong Nature School. Clara has been teaching children on and off for more then 20 years. She is passionate about being in the forest with children, supporting them as they bloom and grow. As an accomplished artist with an MFA from the University of Wisconsin, Clara loves to guide children in making nature art out of found objects that they find in the forest. She enjoys hiking on Vashon Island with her husband and two Yorkies Buttercup and Blossom and riding the trails with a most beloved horse, Henry the Hanoverian. You will often find Clara outside writing poetry, reading about trees and unicorns or curled up under a cedar for a cozy nap.

Clara teaches Monday-Friday mornings and Monday and Friday afternoons in September-March.

Mark Walker was a certified high school science teacher serving wonderful students of Flint, Michigan for thirteen years. For fifteen years to follow, Mark worked with university, college, and community college students who were taking biology, chemistry, and nutrition courses. Perhaps most notably, Mark and his wife Gaby shared the natural sciences and professional health care services with about 500 youngsters in the Mchinji District of Malawi, Africa for five months in 2010. Mark states that these life experiences have shaped him for the important challenge of working with the children of Chavitos Nature School.

Before the arrival of their son, Francisco, Mark and Gaby enjoyed seeing what they could of the world and spending time with family in several states of Mexico. With Francisco now seven years old, the family enjoys the garden, studying, ice hockey, Tae Kwon Do, and nearly all of the outdoor activities here in Washington. Mark is grateful for the people he has met so far in the Forest Community, expecting to learn so much with the children, families, and educators.

Mark teaches mornings Monday-Friday in September-March and is a fluent Spanish speaker.

 Brian is originally from Sitka, Alaska and so you could simply say that from an early age, he's always had a taste for the outdoors. He moved to Enumclaw, Washington when I was 6 and the adventures continued.

Fast forward, he attended Washington State University where he earned a Bachelors degree in Kinesiology. While attending University, he got involved with a Campus Ministry that helped transform his life and set a new trajectory-Fitness and helping people. After graduating, he worked in the fitness industry for a few years, but eventually felt called to get involved with missions work overseas. This landed him in Valladolid, Spain for almost three years. Here his desires for teaching and for the Spanish language really started to take root. Along with his team, they established an official English tutoring classes that really blossomed and helped many young adults improve their English in many ways (not to mention, it helped US with our Spanish).While in Spain, he started a long distance relationship with his now wife, Christi who is from Peru. They've been married a little over 5 years now and have two wonderful children, Eliana (2) and Ezra (16mos). They absolutely love going on outdoor adventures and discovering new bugs, animals, and plant life. These past 5+ years, they've been youth pastors at a Bilingual Church here in Tacoma. He is also a director for what is called, “The School of Life-Youth.” They love serving and helping others in the community. 

Brian teaches Monday-Friday afternoons in September-March and is a fluent Spanish Speaker

Orchid Fowler is currently the lead elementary school teacher at Chavitos Nature School. Formerly the lead forest kindergarten teacher at Mother Earth School and the lead nursery teacher at Tacoma Waldorf School, Orchid has dedicated her career to nature immersion education, nature-based curriculum development, nature mentorship for all-girls rites of passage camps, and social justice advocacy. Orchid is passionate about survival & homesteading skills. A mother of one and a Waldorf-trained educator, Orchid has been teaching outdoors in the Pacific Northwest since 2010.

Orchid teaches in the Elementary program Tuesday,Wednesday and Thursday September-August.

Valeria is originally from Mexico where she studied biology. Being a biologist allowed her to have countless field trips where she explored almost every type of vegetation in Mexico. Perhaps it was when she was following the migratory route of the monarch butterfly or when determining the habitat of the military macaw when she realized how much she loves to share about nature. As a way to involve the public in science she became an environmental educator at a kindergarten. Her love for kids and desire to learn English brought her to the United States as an AuPair. It was in Washington where she fell in love with the evergreen forest of the Pacific Northwest (and her husband too). She took every single opportunity to take her host-family’s kids on walks to the forest on Vashon Island or along the beaches of Puget Sound. Her passion for learning and helping out led her into many volunteer opportunities, including an internship at Chavitos Nature School. During the spring low tides you will see her leading groups of students for beach explorations at Seahurst Park where she is a naturalist

Valeria teaches Monday and Friday afternoons April-August. She is a native Spanish speaker.