28 Aug Meet Our Teachers – Carkeek Nature Preschool

An extraordinary landscape of forests, beaches, and streams, Carkeek Park, Seattle, makes an ideal location for an outdoor preschool. To bring this landscape to life we have assembled a team of talented educators. This team is remarkable for their depth of experience in evidence-based practice, creating joyful and laughter-filled classrooms, and environmental education.

Tessara Couch joins Tiny Trees from the Woodland Park Zoo where she has been teaching school groups of all ages about biology, ecology and animal behavior. Before working for the Zoo she was a preschool teacher at the Village Country Day School on Mercer Island. At Carkeek she brings together her passion for the natural world and her love of teaching. Tessara has a Bachelor of Science with an emphasis in marine ecology from Western Washington University.

Jennifer Leibham comes to Tiny Trees from the highly regarded nature preschool at the Schlitz Audubon Center in Milwaukee,Wisconsin. A naturalist by training (including holding a Bachelor of Science from the University of Wisconsin – LaCrosse), teaching at an outdoor preschool combines Jennifer’s passion for the natural world and her love for early learning. In addition to teaching, she has been selected as a natural leader by the Children & Nature Network. Jennifer is a lead teacher.

Liz Boyle joins us from the Mermaid’s Lagoon Preschool (Starbucks Bright Horizons Center) where she was a lead teacher. Liz has a Bachelor of Elementary Education with a focus on language arts and a Masters in Language, Literacy and Socio-cultural studies with a focus on teaching English as a second language. Both are from the University of New Mexico. She combines an impressive education with a love of outdoor learning and creating joyful, creative classrooms.

In their own words

Jennifer Leibham
Lead Teacher
Carkeek: West

Dear Andrew Jay and Erin Soper,

I am writing to express my true excitement and joy for the opportunity to support and work for Tiny Trees. I am applying for Lead Teacher, a position that requires a creative, self-starter and supportive individual.

I am a born naturalist with a true passion in connecting children to nature and supporting their development. I have a love of playing, spontaneity in teaching and joy of jumping in puddles! Being outdoors gives children the opportunity to grow, play and develop important life skills, and I am honored to be able to support the children I work with in developing and making important neurological synapses, something I hope to continue at Tiny Trees.

As you can see in my resume, I have diverse opportunities working with children in the outdoor setting, with a special focus on early childhood education in the natural world. I’ve developed and started many programs in my communities to reach this age group and their families. I currently work as a nature preschool teacher at Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, working to encourage children to connect with the natural world through play-based, child-centered learning and following developmentally appropriate practices. Transitioning from a naturalist to a full time nature preschool teacher is where I feel I am meant to be. My heart lights up working with children and supporting others to develop skills to bring nature connection outside of classroom walls. I teach and am familiar with Creative Curriculum, Teaching Standards GOLD and High Scope, which in my opinion, are all important practices in the early childhood education field.

Connecting children to nature has always been one of my greatest passions. As a Trainer being a part of the Children and Nature Network: Natural Leaders Network I have gained important skills on leadership and community organizing that has supported me in becoming a dynamic Natural Leader. I am currently working as a mentor to support educators in finding their own passions, connecting others to nature and guiding them to accomplish their personal goals, they’d like to obtain. I plan to continue my education by attending Antioch University for a Masters degree in Urban Environmental Education; a program that respects and responds to cultural diversity and embraces the approach of ecological complexities of a city. My strengths are in listening to the needs of children, families and staff. I excel in building safe, supportive environments that provide a welcome and warm space for all to enjoy.

It would be my pleasure to join Tiny Trees to create a place where all children can experience and have access to an amazing high quality nature program. A child once told me, “You’re a student. You laugh to much too be a teacher!” I hope I can bring laughter, songs and leadership support to this position. I feel confident in my abilities and will happily relocate to Seattle. I look forward to speaking with you.


Jenn Leibham

Tess Carkeek nature preschool

Tessara Couch
Assistant Teacher
Carkeek: East

Dear Mr. Jay and Ms. Soper,

Please accept my application for the Assistant Teacher position with Tiny Trees Preschool. This position was posted on the North American Association for Environmental Education web site and I am extremely interested as it fits very well with my education, experience and career interests.

I bring with me over five years of experience working in environmental education and a passion for fostering student’s love and understanding for the natural world around them. Having used our natural world as my classroom I have a firm understanding of the challenges that can be present when working with children. Keeping students excited and engaged with their learning in any weather condition is a skill that I possess, and I understand that if I have a positive attitude students are much more likely to maintain one as well.

I have over 10 years of experience working with preschool age children. While attending school at Western Washington University I worked as a nanny for several families with preschool aged children where we spent much of our time out side. I also worked as a volunteer in a special needs preschool where I began to develop my skills for managing large groups of preschoolers. While continuing my work in environmental education I have also worked as an assistant teacher and sub for the Country Village Day school where I have continued to develop my skills with working with large groups of preschools, as well as the skills needed to work with their families.

I have experience with the development and evaluation of curriculum, as well as tying nature based curriculum to state standards. Throughout my five years of teaching experience I have learned how to take my lesson plans and adapt them to the needs of my students. Strong customer service skills and the ability to communicate and work effectively with diverse groups of people are skills I have acquired. My high level of enthusiasm, strong work ethic, flexibly and the ability to think on my feet are additional strengths of mine.

Over the years I have found that I truly enjoy working with preschool age children and teaching in an outdoor and natural setting. The Assistant Teacher position with the Tiny Trees Preschool would allow me to combine both of my passions and have a job that I look forward to each day. My education, teaching experiences and desire to learn and take on new challenges are all attributes that I will bring to the position. To further discuss my qualifications in an interview, please contact me at ——

Sincerely yours,

Tessara Couch

Liz Carkeek Nature Preschool

Liz Boyle
Assistant Teacher
Carkeek: West

To Tiny Trees,

I believe I am your candidate! I believe in the ideas and founding principles behind your program, and would be honored if you would consider me for the position of lead teacher at one of Seattle’s parks. I hold a Masters in Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Studies as well as a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education from the University of New Mexico. My academic research focus was in culturally responsive outdoor experiential education.

I am currently a Pre-Kinder Preparatory teacher at Bright Horizons Starbucks Campus. Here I have developed and implemented emergent curriculum for students aged 4-5 and fostered parent partnerships through direct correspondence as well as reflective documentation of each child’s development through Teaching Strategies Gold. I have also been certified in child and adult First Aid CPR AED through this position.

My background includes work as a summer camp lead teacher at the Pacific Science Center in 2015. Along with implementing the center’s developed curriculum, I was responsible for classroom management and keeping open correspondence with camper families. I worked collaboratively with a teaching assistant, maintaining a 10:1 student-teacher ratio, and also supervised a high-school age student volunteer each week.

I received intensive training as an outdoor ecology educator in rural New Mexico toward the end of my Masters program. There I lead a different fifth grade class each day on 2.5 -4.5 hour experiential, inquiry/experience-based hikes in the Sandia Mountain Natural History Center (SMNHC) as part of their ecology field program. This provided me with experience developing and implementing non-formal environmental education curricula in an outdoor setting with a range of diverse student populations that I can apply to a Tiny Trees classroom.

After completing my Master’s thesis, I worked as an environmental educator with Talking Talons Youth Leadership (TTYL), in a bilingual (Spanish/English) classroom outreach program. I assisted with species and ecosystem conservation and restoration lessons, bringing in and handling a variety of reptiles as well as assisting with presentations that introduced students to recuperated (non-releasable) birds of prey. I was later hired by TTYL to assist in data entry, and tasked with the development of an original set of K-12 lessons focused on introducing students to the topic of the Great Pacific Gyre.

During this same time I volunteered and worked as a part time contractor for the Environmental Education Association of New Mexico. In this capacity I was as one of the principle writers on New Mexico’s environmental literacy plan and assisted with the coordination and facilitation of the Environmental Literacy Summit for the state to review that plan.

Collectively, these experiences have provided me with a solid foundation in Environmental Education, which when coupled with my career goal of experiential outdoor education hopefully puts me at the top of your list of candidates.

I look forward to the opportunity to speak more with you to see how my academic background and skills could benefit to Tiny Trees Preschools. I am happy to provide additional references, personally developed educational materials, and transcripts upon request.

Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.

Elizabeth Boyle

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