28 Aug Meet Our Teachers – Camp Long Forest Kindergarten

Camp Long in West Seattle is a wonderland of forests, ponds and meadows, steeped in the heritage of Seattle’s outdoor recreation culture. To bring this classroom to life we have assembled a team of outstanding educators. This team is remarkable in the breadth and diversity of experience and their shared passion for play and learning outdoors.

Recognizing how large Camp Long is we have a North and South classroom. Each classroom has 16 children, two teachers and one adult volunteer or apprentice.

Katherine Miller comes to Tiny Trees from one of the first nature preschools in the US (and one of the few to utilize state subsidies and tuition waivers for low-income children) – the Kalamazoo Nature Center in Michigan, where she has been a lead teacher for the last 4 years. In addition to learning how to safely manage an outdoor classroom during the cold and snowy Michigan winter, Katherine excelled at creating a playful and high-quality learning environment. Her classroom and teaching consistently earned a 5 star Program Quality Assessment Rating by the state of Michigan (the highest rating possible). Katherine has a Bachelor of Science from Western Michigan University with a K-12 health and 6-12 teaching focus as well as a Child Development Associate degree (CDA). Katherine is a lead teacher at our Camp Long South classroom with Maryyah.

Maryyah Trodep received her BA from the University of Washington in Early Childhood Education and a minor in Diversity and for the last two years has been a lead teacher at a preschool in North Seattle. Maryyah spent four years as an interpreter at the Pacific Science Center and after bringing her love of science and outdoor learning into her indoor classrooms she is excited to make the switch and bring the classroom outside. Maryyah is an assistant teacher at our Camp Long South classroom with Katherine.

Anne Churchill grew up in Denmark where she learned to teach in Denmark’s famous forest schools. She earned a Bachelor of Social Education (equivalent to an early childhood education 4 year degree) with a specialization in the Forest School model that is popular throughout Scandinavia. After teaching for two years in Denmark she moved to West Seattle and home schooled her daughter for 5 years before joining Tiny Trees as an assistant teacher in our Camp Long North Classroom with Chris.

Chris Olsen began his teaching career as a kindergarten literacy tutor while attending Seattle University. After he graduated with a BA he moved to Montana where he earned a master’s in Environmental Studies with an emphasis on early childhood environmental education and spent 3 summers as a teaching naturalist with the Audubon Society and the Great Bear Foundation. Most recently he was a lead teacher at the Mermaid’s Lagoon Preschool (Starbucks Bright Horizons Center) where he won the Excellence in Care and Education Award. Chris is a lead teacher at out Camp Long North Classroom with Anne.

In Their own words

Katherine Miller On Bridge

Katherine Miller
Lead Teacher
Camp Long: South

Dear Andrew Jay and Erin Soper,

I am writing on behalf of my interest and passion for joining the Tiny Trees Preschool team as a Lead Teacher. I believe that my education, experience and passion will allow me to provide high quality outdoor education for diverse students and families among the beauty of the community parks of Seattle.

With four years of experience as a lead outdoor educator at Nature’s Way Preschool for the Kalamazoo Nature Center, and six years of experience teaching a diverse population within the City of Kalamazoo, I feel that I can provide exceptional service to the diverse families of Tiny Trees.

Along with my preschool child development certification, I hold a bachelor of science with a major in health education, including several courses in psychology, physiology and cultural competence, which has led me to my belief in and passion for outdoor education. I lead nature –‐based programs that encompass the whole child, enhancing academic, social, emotional, mental and physical abilities. Integration of academic skills and nature allows for meaningful experiences that allow children to make personal connections.

The programs that I plan and implement not only prepare children for kindergarten, but they also give every child the opportunity to gain respect, along with a sense of wonder and belonging to the natural world. Every day my mission is to allow children to explore and experience nature with their very own hands, feet, eyes, ears, sense of smell and even taste. I provide experiences that require cognitive thinking for investigation and problem solving. Through these experiences, children gain the skills to become lifelong learners and stewards of nature. My lessons and coordinated family events provide education and inspiration to the child, caregivers and extended family members, leading to family values and actions that positively impact our environment.

I have extensive experience in using the “High Scope Curriculum” and “Teaching Strategies GOLD”. My classroom holds a five star rating for the Preschool Program Quality Assessment that has allowed for city and state tuition assistance in order to represent all children of my community.

I continue to receive 24 hours of early childhood professional development every year, which has enhanced the quality of my programs. Outside my lead teaching responsibilities, I have had the opportunity to lead a wide spectrum of programs and activities through my employment at the Kalamazoo Nature Center. These have furthered my professional experiences as an outdoor educator. Please see my resume for specific experiences.

Below, I have included expressions from the voices of parents that I have served. I ask that you take the time to read them in order to gain a sense of my community impact as a teacher. References are attached to my resume. If requested, I would be glad to send a sample of my lesson plans, unit calendar and school to home connection ideas. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely, Katherine Miller

“Katherine, Thank you for being a positive influence in Colin’s life. We have seen him grow, mature, and develop friendships this year and we know much of that is due to your hard work and dedication in the classroom. Thank you for creating a loving environment that nurtured Colin’s imagination and his enthusiasm for learning. Thank you for your patience during his rough spots and your willingness to work through them and still believe in him. We will always look back fondly on this time at Nature’s Way and we feel very fortunate for Colin’s time there. Thank you for everything.” -­‐Lindsey and Joe

Maryyah pic Color Run

Maryyah Trodep
Assistant Teacher
Camp Long: South

Dear Tiny Trees,

It is a pleasure to apply to teach at Tiny Trees Preschool! I was ecstatic to see on your website that you are currently seeking applicants for this position. I am a highly enthusiastic and motivated young educator that is seeking to commit my skills and energy in the education field. I graduated from the University of Washington in Spring 2015 with a degree in Early Childhood and Family Studies with a minor in Diversity and I believe I am great candidate because I have passion for what your organization strives to achieve and I have an interest in working in the greater Seattle area that serves families in diverse communities.

For the past year, I have been working at Alphabet Soup Preschools in Greenlake, WA. Alphabet Soup started in 2006 in San Juan Islands and has expanded to two more locations in North Seattle. I started part time as an Assistant Teacher at the Phinney Ridge location. Currently, I am one of the two Lead Teachers in Greenlake. Our philosophy is for children to learn through interactive play and intentional teaching while nurturing each child’s sense of accomplishment and personal growth. This philosophy co-aligns with the HighScope curriculum. This opportunity allowed me to work with children ranging from one to five years old. I enjoy working with children with the hands-on approach with people, objects, events and ideas because it is a method that has personally worked for me.

I am a firm believer that you are a product of your environment and you have a responsibility to give back to those who given to you. As a Seattle native, I am fortunate for my teachers who supported my self-growth not only academically but emotionally and mentally. I am interested in the Teacher position because my personal background and experiences provide a match for this position. Tiny Tree’s vision “to create a community where all children have access to high quality education and develop the social, emotional and academic skills needed to thrive in school and life” collides with my own personal and profession values.

I looked forward to talking with you soon so we can further discuss in person how eager and excited I am to work with Tiny Trees. Thank you for your considering my application.


Maryyah Trodep

photo camp long nature preschool

Anne Churchill
Assistant Teacher
Camp Long: North

Dear Andrew and Erin,

I was thrilled when I heard about Tiny Trees launching outdoor preschools in Seattle, and I knew right away that I wanted to be part of it when you start up.

I am a preschool teacher from Denmark with a Bachelor in Social Education, which is the official education for preschool teachers there. My main focus and profiling was in outdoor education because that is where my heart is. I love spending time outside with kids in all weather conditions, and I know in theory and practice how to make it work.

I have several years of experience working as a preschool teacher and assistant. Three month was in a forest preschool, but even regular Scandinavian preschools are much more outdoor and play based than a typical American preschool. Children spend at least an hour (often 3-5 hours), outside every day, rain or shine, and playgrounds are bigger with more trees, dirt and hills.

I know a range of nature activities and games to support every aspect of preschool-aged children’s development. I like to be prepared and have activities planned, but know when and how to postpone plans and improvise because of changes in weather, or to catch the children’s ideas, providing materials and input to support and enrich their experiences according to the curriculum.

In addition to nature, I am also passionate about art and music. Especially when they are combined with nature: painting sticks, drawing insects, singing & chanting while drumming on stumps, acting out fairy tales etc. I am great at reading aloud with expression, enjoy choosing relevant picture books and field guides, and it is second nature to me to talk about letter sounds, numbers, shapes, textures, colors, and anything we encounter, building vocabulary and encouraging curiosity and a love of learning.

As an immigrant I can identify with the joys and struggles of adapting to a new culture and living in a multicultural, bilingual family. I am aware of issues of diversity and privilege, and will work hard for everybody to feel welcome.

I am patient, helpful, kind and optimistic. I enjoy working in teams, learning new things and I’m flexible to change. Thank you for your interest and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely, Anne Churchill

Chris camp long forest kindergarten

Chris Olsen
Lead Teacher
Camp Long: North

To Hiring Committee,

I am excited about the opportunity to hone my early childhood environmental education and leadership skills through the Lead Teacher position with Tiny Trees Preschool at either Carkeek Park or Camp Long. While pursuing my master’s degree in Environmental Education, I developed an interest in early childhood development, nature study, and multicultural education, and I hope to apply these passions to this position. My academic and leadership experiences align with both the required skills of this position and the mission of Tiny Trees Preschool.

An Early Childhood Lead Teacher should be able to effectively provide a child-centered early childhood learning environment and practice emergent curriculum focused on nature and a child’s innate love of learning. Throughout my studies at Seattle University and the University of Montana, I have taken a variety of classes that have contributed to my understanding of environmental education and working with a variety of audiences and participants. For example, in my Curriculum Design course, I developed my own curriculum for a preschool environmental education program. Further, as a volunteer at the Learning and Belonging Preschool at the University of Montana, I facilitated science-based inquiry and environmental education for the students based on child-directed inquiries and what the children wanted to explore further. As a Summer Naturalist for the Seattle Audubon, I have gained additional experience working with students in a learner-centered environment. I primarily worked with kindergarten and first grade students, introducing them to nature and helping them develop a sense of wonder about the world around them.

Currently, I am employed by the Mermaids Lagoon Preschool (Starbucks’ Bright Horizons Center), where I serve as a Lead Teacher for a Kindergarten Prep class of 4 and 5 year olds. Each week, I craft curriculum for my students based on their inquiries and questions that includes math, science, language arts, writing, reading, movement, and socio-emotional skills. We recently finished a unit on books, where each child in the class wrote their own story book with the help of a teacher, illustrating and crafting the story themselves. My work with Bright Horizons has also provided me with extensive knowledge of Teaching Strategies Gold, including conducting assessments and parent-teacher conferences.

As a Lead Teacher with Tiny Trees Preschool, I look forward to helping every child receive a great education and a nature rich childhood: one full of play, exploration and wonder. I look forward to growing my skills as an environmental educator and contributing to the learning community of Tiny Trees Preschool. I have the academic and leadership experience to thrive in this position, and I welcome the opportunity to interview. I am available to interview at your request. I look forward to hearing from you.


Christopher Olsen

  • Jeanne Clark
    Posted at 08:55h, 30 August

    We’re excited to meet the Camp Long teachers! It means a lot to our family that the educators for our son have an extensive and passionate background for the outdoors and taking learning outside. We feel lucky.

    • Andrew Jay
      Posted at 09:11h, 30 August

      Thanks Jeanne! It’s a pretty amazing team and we’re glad to have you part of our first class!!

  • Anne Bradfield
    Posted at 10:28h, 30 August

    We’re looking forward to meeting everyone on Wednesday! Thank you for this pre-introduction to what looks like a wonderful staff!

    • Andrew Jay
      Posted at 10:50h, 30 August

      Thanks Anne! We’re excited to meet you too!

  • Sue Belcher
    Posted at 12:48h, 30 August

    What an awesome team! We are looking forward to meeting everyone on Wednesday.

    • Andrew Jay
      Posted at 13:19h, 30 August

      Thanks Sue! See you then!