Our teachers and staff members put the life, kindness and warmth into the heart of Bend Forest School. Each one of them dedicates their time to meeting each and every child in our program where they are to insure they are thoroughly and lovingly supported. We are so very grateful for every individual introduced below and acknowledge that Bend Forest School's mission and vision would never be possible without each one of them.
RAE ALBERG (she/her/hers)
Founder & Head of School
BFS Est 12/2017
Rae is an educator, mother, and lover of all things colorful, creative, muddy and green. She has over 20 years of experience in the early childhood field, many spent working, thinking, dreaming and planning a program that supports the whole child.
Being inspired by Richard Louvs, “The Last child in the Woods,” and learning about the first Forest Kindergarten in the states, Rae was inspired to take steps to open a Forest School in Bend.
Rae has a Masters Degree and Oregon Teaching License in Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education as well as a graduate certificate in Infant Toddler Mental Health from Portland State University. In 2016, Rae became a Certified Forest Kindergarten Teacher through CedarSong Nature School’s Teacher Training program. In addition, Rae is a certified yoga teacher and is certified in Wilderness First aid and CPR.
When not tromping around the woods with a group of children, Rae spends her time gardening, running and chasing her six-year-old son Loren, four-year-old daughter Birdie, young-at-heart husband Lucas and doodle, Huckleberry.
RACHEL KELLEY (she/her/hers)
Director of Operations
BFS Teacher since 6/2019
Rachel grew up in Flagstaff Arizona and spent the majority of her childhood playing in the vast ponderosa pine forest surrounding her hometown. Having been given freedom to explore the natural world as a child Rachel gained an irreplaceable respect and love for the outdoors at a very young age. Her early experiences exploring Northern Arizona combined with the emphasis in learning about and caring for the environment sparked her desire to become an educator.
Rachel received her BA in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Concordia University in 2012. Having spent the past decade in the education field Rachel has had the chance to work into various educational environments, always finding her work with young children and their families to be the most joyful and meaningful of all. Rachel firmly believes that when children are given the opportunity to explore their surroundings and interests in a way that fosters freedom and creativity they grow a deeper connection to their education as well as the land and its inhabitants. With hopes of being an educator who encourages and provides children with this opportunity Rachel aims to provide the children in our program with the early life lessons that will foster a lifelong love of learning and the natural world.
Rachel is headed into her 4th school year with Bend Forest School and is thrilled to have the opportunity to teach and work in a school where she finally feels that she will be the educator she always dreamt of becoming as a child. When not outside exploring the forest with her students you can find her hiking, backpacking or riding bikes with her husband Josh and their daughter Olivia.
JASON GOCKEL (he/him/his)
3-5's Forest Preschool Program Supervisor
BFS Teacher since 6/2019
Jason developed a love and appreciation for the natural world at a very young age. Most of his childhood and adolescent years were spent exploring the forests outside his home in southern Ohio. While studying Economics at Miami University, Jason attended a wilderness backpacking program in northern Montana where he learned the true power of spending time in the outdoors.
Knowing that teaching and learning in a wilderness setting was his passion, he moved to Bend in 2013 to work for a wilderness therapy program. For the past 6 years, Jason has been teaching young adolescents a wide variety of therapeutic tools / concepts, mindfulness practices, and wilderness skills while also being responsible for the physical and emotional safety of the group.
Jason strongly believes that those who spend time in, and connect with nature will gain a deeper connection to others and a deeper understanding of themselves. He has seen the power of nature assist in the improvement of many peoples’ emotional, mental, and physical health and believes that this development of well-being starts at a very young age.
Jason is "grateful to be part of an early childhood forest program that allows children to guide their own learning through the discovery and exploration of their own interests." When not at the forest school, Jason can be found exploring all of the beauty that Oregon has to offer.
LB GOSSETT (she/her/hers)
Kindergarten Program Lead & Teacher,
BFS Teacher since 9/2020
LB grew up on the banks of the Tennessee river in Chattanooga, TN and called the foothills of the Appalachians home until she was in her early 20s. She attended college in Knoxville, TN and received her BA in both French and English Creative Writing. She moved to France after graduating to teach English in the french public school system and also worked as an au pair. She spent 5 years abroad before returning to the US permanently to pursue a career in alternative early education models. While abroad, she was inspired to learn more about forest schools by a close friend and re-wild woman Lucy O’Hagan of Wild Awake (Ireland).
Moving to the PNW gave her the opportunity to work at a Montessori preschool and then for Trackers Earth as a lead educator for their summer program. She later attended the Tracker’s Earth Forest School Teacher Training program where she was introduced to more outdoor skills and immersed in different environmental education philosophies. The next year she was hired as co-lead for the Forest Kindergarten class. She spent the year growing an established, unique outdoor curriculum for a class of 10 curious kindergarteners five days a week.
Over the last 10 years of working with children (from ages 2 to 18) LB has seen how the curiosity of a child can open hidden doors to understanding. "Nurturing and interweaving that curiosity with connection to the natural world is vital for the preservation of the wild spaces we cherish and want to preserve for generations to come."
STACY WILHELMSEN (she/her/hers)
Curriculum & Instruction Coordinator/Coach
BFS Staff Member since 9/2022
Stacy received her BA in Early Childhood and Elementary Education at Oregon State and her Masters in Teaching from Lewis and Clark in 2010. Her experience in education began in the preschool setting as the director of a preschool in San Diego, CA. She has spent the last decade as an Elementary School teacher in public schools, grades 1-3, most recently in the Bend-La Pine School District. Stacy is the mom of twin boys, Henry and Sawyer, currently enrolled in the 4th grade and a daughter, Sloane, in the Kindergarten class. The Forest School model is something Stacy has been passionate about since Graduate School after being introduced to Richard Louv’s work, Last Child in the Woods. Emergent curriculum is something she has incorporated into her teaching style even in the public school setting.
Stacy is "thrilled to be working alongside such a wonderful primary team to develop a curriculum that best supports the Bend Forest School model - a dream position!"
CHRISTINA SALVADOR (she/her/hers)
Bend Forest School Foundation Founder & Director
Christina is a mom, writer and nonprofit coordinator. After graduating from Baylor University, she started her career in the nonprofit realm as a project manager for a collaborative on poverty and food insecurity. During this time she wore a few different hats, but most enjoyed being given the opportunity to develop and facilitate a photojournalistic advocacy project. She loves researching and strategizing, especially when done to build something that benefits and supports others, so nonprofit work is an area she feels intrinsically connected to.
Christina was eager to help when BFS founder, Rae, approached her for input on possible nonprofit trajectories that would help increase accessibility to Bend Forest School, and was happy to spearhead the project that led to the founding of Bend Forest School Foundation. She now heads up the foundation and is "immensely grateful for the opportunity to work alongside such kind, well-intended individuals to make the BFS program as accessible as possible to the families within our community".
Christina and her partner, Anthony, moved to Bend in 2018, seeking an opportunity to raise their two children in a place with ample ways to engage and fall in love with nature. Her family was fortunate to discover Bend Forest School in the first year they moved to Bend. Her oldest has been in the program since 2018 and her youngest was able to start in 2021. When not working, Christina can be found traveling, reading, exploring outdoors and all throughout Oregon with her family, tending to her many houseplants or diving deeply into learning something new that's sparked her interest.
BAILEY RODGERS (she/her/hers)
3-5's Forest Kindergarten Teacher
BFS Teacher since 9/2021
Bailey first fostered her love for nature while wandering through Chapparal and Saguaro as a child in rural Arizona. Since then, her life has centered around experiencing the natural world through her love of plants, lichens, mosses and fungi.
She began her formal education in early childhood studies and then became impassioned by herbalism. She completed an Associate of Occupational Studies in Western Herbalism from the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts and then the first-year herbalism apprenticeship program at Columbine School of Botanical Studies. Her love for outdoor education and field work developed through the study of wildcrafting etiquette and plant identification in the outdoor setting. These experiences inspired her to teach wildcrafting classes and to work for the forest service as a botany field technician in the Umpqua National Forest.
After a few years she began to crave a scientific understanding for her observations of the natural world and decided to pursue a BS in Botany and Plant Pathology from Oregon State University. While earning her undergraduate degree she was blessed with an opportunity to teach school aged children in plant identification and survival skills at the Whole Earth Nature School.
This experience renewed her desire to work in early childhood education. Witnessing her students’ heightened capacity for learning, expressing creativity, and building emotional skills in the outdoors has led her to believe that nature is our most powerful facilitator. Her belief is that when we give children the opportunity to wander, explore and take risks in the natural world we help to develop a foundation which builds deep rooted resiliency and confidence. Bailey is honored to join Bend Forest School and is thrilled to share the wonders and curiosities of nature with her students. When she is not teaching, she can often be found adventuring with her daughter and partner, botanizing, painting and playing guitar.
LAUREN ALLEN (she/her/hers)
Sunriver 3-5's Forest Kindergarten Teacher
BFS Sub and Teacher since 6/2019
When one of Lauren's children asks for her to tell them a story, the story's setting often takes place in the woods outside of her childhood home in Ohio where she spent countless hours engaged in all types of play with her brother and neighbors. Lauren believes that this early emergence in nature is so important for child development, so it comes as no surprise that she continues to foster and encourage this environment in her family life with her husband and three children. Living on the outskirts of town allows her family to reap the benefits being immersed in nature has to offer.
After earning a Bachelor's degree in biology, Lauren spent several years working for non-profit environmental groups. Backpacking, collecting data and trail building were wonderful experiences, but she missed connecting with younger people. This led her to pursue a Masters degree in teaching, then spend 12 years teaching early elementary. Lauren started her career in a 2nd grade classroom, but later felt called to the younger grades and worked her way towards Kindergarten. Lauren appreciates all stages, however, she fell in love with the preschool and Kinder ages. Throughout her years of working with young children, Lauren learned to appreciate the necessity and joy of play. Through play, she discovered children's learning was deeper, more meaningful, and of course, more joyful.
Lauren's love for education and children has fueled her commitment to her profession, but many factors have lead her to take leave from the public schools. Lauren is very passionate about preserving and enriching early childhood experiences. She believes that building strong social and emotional skills at an early age has many benefits and has a positive effect on quality of life. Lauren knows that play is fundamental to healthy (and happy) growth, for children and adults. She is "excited to be a part of the Bend Forest School family, learning alongside children and adults in our amazing world."
AMY SEELY-FANCHER (she/her/hers)
Sunriver 3-5's Forest Kindergarten Teacher
BFS Teacher since 3/2020
Amy is a native Oregonian. Her fondest memories as a child are being outside, building forts, and experiencing the freedom to play and explore without interruption. As an early childhood educator, she longs to provide these same opportunities to children. She strives to encourage curiosity and confidence, and is a strong believer in allowing children’s minds to wonder outdoors whether it be through building tree forts, climbing a tree that may have been too scary yesterday, or discovering new types of wildlife!
With over 25 years of experience, Amy has learned to listen to, and observe children within their chosen explorations in order to provide them with the necessary tools to flourish in and outside of the classroom. Amy believes that children are capable of amazing things, especially when empowered to be confident and independent. One of her favorite parts of teaching has always been observing how a child takes these tools and lessons and applies them to real life scenarios. She's happy and excited to witness the children's independence bloom and curiosity thicken as their growing minds learn and absorb new things.
ABBIE REXROAD (she/her/hers)
BFS Teacher since 12/2017
Abbie grew up in Kansas, spending the majority of her free time climbing trees and playing outside with her siblings until her parents called them in for dinner. She has always been curious and full of wonder and exploration. Being the oldest child, Abbie has helped care for children all her life which guided her focus towards teaching and working with children as a profession. During college, Abbie began working with children with Autism, which opened the door to many unique opportunities and further guided her path towards her degree. When pursuing teaching, Abbie didn't want to choose between Education or Special Education, as she had a vision of children learning with each other and from each other in the same environment. Instead, she found a degree that supported these ideas and later obtained her Bachelors in Human Development and Family Life from the University of Kansas with a concentration in Special Education. (Rock Chalk!)
Abbie is passionate about inclusion and recognizes that we all learn in our own unique ways. Over the past two decades, she has gathered years of experience working with children as a camp counselor, nanny, teacher, foster parent, yoga teacher, parent educator, home visitor, and most recently as an Inclusion Specialist for NeighborImpact. In this role, Abbie helped teachers make adjustments to their schedules, teaching styles, and environments to adapt to the needs of the children in their class and provide a more inclusive environment. This work truly lights her up! She also fuels this passion by traveling with Central Oregon Disability Support Network (CODSN) to provide Disability Awareness Trainings throughout Oregon.
Abbie loves teaching kids yoga and has been certified in YogaCalm for 8 years. She incorporates mindfulness and breathing techniques when working with littles as a way to help calm their bodies and minds and also as a tool to reset and process big emotions as they come up. Abbie is happiest when she is in nature and moved to Oregon in 2010 to become a river guide, where she was able to combine her passions by hosting yoga rafting trips and teaching kids camps on Oregon Rivers. When she is not at BFS, she is traveling, hiking, snowboarding, running, reading or relaxing. Although she grew up in Kansas, Abbie feels most at home in Oregon.
SHERIS PATTEN (she/her/hers)
1st Grade Assistant Teacher & Wilderness Skills Instructor
BFS Teacher since 9/2021
When Sheris was young her parents couldn’t keep her indoors. She spent most days in a tree and pretend playing. Later on, her love for being outside deepened when she found outdoor sports - mountain biking, snowboarding, and rock climbing just to name a few favorites. Further into her adulthood, she also fell in love with exploring further into the natural landscapes of the US and later prioritized instilling the same passion into her own kids.
Sheris attended numerous college courses on culture, herbalism, the arts. She obtained her AA at COCC and Family Herbalist Certificate at the School of Natural Healing in Utah. She has been working with children for over two decades, but it wasn’t until working in wilderness therapy that she experienced firsthand the positive and healthy impact integrating nature into learning has in supporting children and their unique abilities.
She has worked with kids in several different settings including schools, camps, parks, gardens, and homes, and has found that when you provide them with open space and natural surroundings, they're better regulated, and have more capacity to be creative and curious in their explorations. Sheris believes she has found her true calling - to get every kid outdoors and into the woods so they can see, hear, touch, smell and fully engage with the beautiful nature we call home.
SAVANNAH HORWOOD (she/her/hers)
BFS Teacher since 9/2022
Savannah grew up in Ventura, California, where she was fortunate to have attended two alternative schools, Orca and Oak Grove. Schooling never came easily to her until she attended these schools, which to her emphasized connection to the natural world and community. Her time there gave her the confidence, acceptance and encouragement to become the life long learner she is today. Her experiences shaped her goal as an educator to support students’ autonomy and confidence all while building a safe and trusting relationship.
Savannah began the studies of early childhood education in Santa Cruz, California at Cabrillo Community College. Following a love and passion for snowboarding and adventure sports, Savannah then moved to Big Sky, Montana and attended Montana State University. She earned a degree in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Early Childhood. During this time Savannah became inspired by Waldorf, Montessori, Reggio and Forest schools style of learning. Following graduation, she received a lead kindergarten teaching position at Ophir Elementary in Big Sky, Montana. During these first years of teaching she wrote curriculum for the class incorporating parts of her philosophy of outdoors and community involvement, which aided the school in receiving their International Baccalaureate certification. Savannah found that being outside the four wall classroom more often allowed for more curiosity and deeper level of learning inspired by the students. Savannah then assisted at a Montessori-based school where she led the outdoor education program that took students skiing, hiking, and exploring the natural world. She also led mindfulness lessons with yoga, mediation, and movement.
Teaching at a Forest School has been a longtime goal of Savannah’s and she is delighted to be part of the Bend Forest School. She looks forward to nurturing students' natural curiosity of the world by encouraging them to question, explore and investigate. Savannah is new to Bend and looks forward to exploring the area’s forests, mountains and rivers with her dog, Arrow.
KRISTIN SADDLER (she/her/hers)
BFS Teacher since 9/2022
Kristin spent most of her upbringing in Ohio, discovering her connection to nature through running and exploring nearby trails. She later unlocked a deep love for everything outdoors when she moved to West Virginia to become a whitewater guide and fanatic. She spent the next five years guiding raft trips in the summer and teaching little ones to ski during her winters in West Virginia and Colorado.
Venturing further west, Kristin moved to Bend to pursue a job in wilderness therapy, where she taught her students about emotional awareness, modeled grounding and coping skills and taught them how to use nature as a means of reconnection to self and others. Her experience as a wilderness therapy guide has inspired her to bring that deep level of empathy and compassion to her work at Bend Forest School.
Kristin believes one of the most important things she can do is help inspire a generation that will love and cherish our Earth. She believes that connection to nature is vital for understanding ourselves, and that nature can provide a supportive space to explore and build healthy relationships with others. Always curious and eager to learn, she values the importance of self-led learning and fostering independence through use of a wild playground. She is "very grateful to be a part of the Bend Forest School community and is excited to learn alongside her students in the beautiful Oregon wilderness."
EMMA FISCHER (she/her/hers)
1st Grade Lead Teacher & Spanish Teacher
BFS Teacher since 11/2022
Emma grew up spending ample time in the prairies and forests of Wisconsin. She spent her childhood experiencing different landscapes, making mud pies with her brothers, and helping her father with controlled prairie burns. All of that outside time in her critical developmental years has led to a deep appreciation of the natural world and our connectedness to it.
Emma received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse in Spanish Education and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). Before joining BFS, she was a Spanish and English literary teacher to grades K-6.
When she is not teaching, Emma can be found painting, reading lots of fiction books, playing on the river, and spending time outside with her husband and dog.
ALI BLOXSOM (she/her/hers)
BFS Teacher since 9/2022
Ali grew up in the woods in New England where she frequently left the house after breakfast and didn’t return until dinner time. She spent most of her time reading, riding horses, and running around outside finding the best places to hide and make forts in the bushes. Ali has a BS in Mathematics with a concentration in Elementary Education from CCSU and went on to get certified to teach middle school. She taught middle school math before becoming a stay at home mom when she had her first child in 2017.
Ali became an avid proponent of alternative education after spending 6 years in the public school system, witnessing the effects of intense academic rigor on students, and started to raise her daughters with as much outdoor time as possible and as little screen and focused academic time as possible. She has always been a big believer in child-led experiences. She spent her daughters' toddler years following them around outside to see what they gravitated towards while answering and asking lots of questions. These experiences and close observations motivated her to learn about forest schools, as the approach felt like the perfect fit for her family and parenting philosophy. She learned of Bend Forest School long before moving to Bend in January of 2022. Becoming a teacher at BFS and having her children enrolled is "a dream come true" for Ali. In her free time you can find her knitting, reading, doing yoga, mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and chasing her daughters and dog all around outside come rain, shine, or snow.
STEPHANIE DOIDIC (she/her/hers)
BFS Teacher since 11/2022
Stephanie began her relationship with nature early in life while in California making potions in the branches of the tall oaks in her neighborhood, and exploring the meandering paths of the Santa Monica mountains. She has always been in awe of the natural world that surrounds us and hopes to instill these same passions in her own daughter.
After Stephanie earned her associates degree in environmental studies from Moorpark College, she continued her educational experience with a focus in Early Childhood Studies and shortly after went on to attend the California State University of Channel Islands. While obtaining her Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Studies, Stephanie became inspired by the principles and practices of forest school and soon after graduation she was co-teaching at a forest school in Santa Barbara called Wild Roots. During that time she had the opportunity to hone her skill set and gained valuable knowledge of the importance of song and story while expanding her understanding and love of the forest school model. Stephanie is passionate about this holistic approach and undoubtedly believes that the collaborative community built in an outdoor setting can provide each individual and unique child with the tools that will help them understand themselves and reach their full potential.
Stephanie truly is her best in nature and moved to Oregon in 2022 to pursue a calmer way of life in connection with the natural world, and to grow deep roots with her family. Last year she had the opportunity to continue her passion in Forest School as a floater at the Tilicum site and cherished building meaningful relationships with the children and staff. She was also able to complete Knighthawks naturalist and survival immersion courses, where she strengthened her skills in plant identification, tracking, bird language, shelter building, tool & fire making, and so much more. This year Stephanie is looking forward to being in a preschool classroom where she hopes to encourage a true love of learning by harnessing and focusing on each child’s passions, as well as creating passion within the students. When she is not at Bend Forest School Stephanie is out on the river, wandering the trails, or working on magical crafting ideas that pop into her head.
LINDSAY DAMIANO (she/her/hers)
BFS Teacher since 9/2023
The last several years, Lindsay taught at Bing Nursery School, Stanford University's lab preschool program. Prior to that, she earned her Master's in Education at Stanford's Teacher Education Program, taught 1st grade in Silicon Valley, taught English in France, and substitute taught in Washington, D.C. public schools. Helping children learn to regulate their emotions and to follow their interests with joy and focus are among her favorite parts of teaching.
When not delighting in her time spent with children, she love all things fitness and wellness, being an engaged citizen, and entertaining her 11-year-old cat and four backyard chickens.
EMMA KATE GREEN (she/her/hers)
BFS Teacher since 9/2023
Emma Kate grew up in Southwest Virginia and studied Elementary Education at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. During her time in college, Emma Kate became passionate about farming and outdoor education through her own outdoor learning experiences. Her time farming made her excited to be a part of the BFS team. She moved to Central Oregon in June and is excited to explore all that Oregon has to offer! In her free time you can find her hiking and camping with her dog, Moose, running, cooking, or skiing.
HOLLY PRATT (she/her/hers)
BFS Teacher since 9/2023
Holly grew up in Western Pennsylvania where she was given a lot of independence to explore the world around her. After graduating from college in New York City, Holly moved to the Pacific Northwest where she served as a teaching assistant at an independent Montessori school and discovered the joy of working with children ages 3-6 and their families.
Upon returning to the East Coast, Holly continued her work in independent education. Seeking more time in nature, Holly and her husband moved onto a 39’ sailboat. In Boston, Holly worked as an administrative assistant at a Montessori school, which led to her taking a position in the admissions department at a preparatory school outside of Boston.
After eight years working in independent education, she took time off following the birth of her child. Inspired by Richard Louv’s, Last Child in the Woods and Angela Hanscom’s, Balanced and Barefoot, Holly focused her energy ensuring her daughter’s early years would be spent outside, every day. She was fortunate to have a nature-based preschool nearby that her daughter could attend. Holly’s professional and personal experiences as a mother ignited a passion to support children to be out of doors. Holly believes that time in nature nurtures and strengthens the whole child while fostering a reciprocal relationship with the natural world. Holly wants children to feel connected and unhurried and encouraged to play, create, and wonder. After deciding to return to Oregon, Holly found Bend Forest School and is grateful to be able to contribute to this school community.
RACHEL CRISS (she/her/hers)
BFS Teacher since 9/2023
Rachel is a global citizen born and raised in Germany with an English mother and an American father. While growing up in Germany she loved playing in the woods and enjoyed going to Bauspielplätze (building play grounds). Her passion for travel and camping adventures led Rachel to explore different countries and cultures around the world. For a time, she found herself connected to the Australian way of life where she discovered her passion for teaching and early childhood education. She completed her Early Childhood Education studies in Melbourne,Australia and has been teaching since 2010.
Rachel has always been inspired by the Waldkindergarten philosophy. She believes that the connection to our natural world is an essential part of positive self development and sense of belonging, which deepens overall respect and compassion.
Rachel enjoys practicing yoga, and began to incorporate mindfulness and yoga into children’s learning experiences. She has witnessed how this practice supports children’s mental, physical and emotional wellbeing and in 2015 she ventured to the Himalayan Mountains in India to complete an intensive Yoga Teacher Training course. She has also completed a Yoga for Kids Training course.
From 2018-2023 Rachel was living and teaching in Hamburg, Germany. During this time she reconnected to the importance of learning a second language, having benefited herself from learning German as a child. She taught German pre-school children the English language through play and observed how this quickly widened their cultural understanding and problem solving abilities.
Rachel has a love for the mountain lifestyle and has newly arrived in Bend. She is excited to settle and integrate into the community and be able to share her experiences and knowledge with the children at Bend Forest School.
JESSE KAHN (he/him/his)
BFS Teacher since 9/2023
Jesse grew up in the hills of the Driftless Area of Wisconsin where he attended a Waldorf school and spent most of his free time running around in the forest and playing in the creeks. In high school he had the very special opportunity to attend an outdoor, environmental boarding school for a semester. It was here he realized he wanted to spend his time connecting people to nature.
This past year Jesse helped to run the Ski School at Blacktail Mountain in Lakeside, MT and also taught pre-k at Foxtail Forest Skola in Whitefish, MT. Prior to this, he worked as a paraeducator at a forest school in Wisconsin and loved the experience. Jesse’s background is in outdoor and environmental education and includes courses through the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in addition to a degree in Outdoor Education from Northland College in Ashland, WI.
Jesse loves working with young children, supporting their abundant creativity, and helping them connect with nature in order to foster a deep sense of place as well as facilitating their growth into loving human beings with nature as a co-teacher.
He is thrilled to be joining the community at Bend Forest School this fall.
2nd/3rd Grade Lead Teacher
BFS Teacher since 9/2023
Megan first discovered her love of teaching in her home state of Arizona where she worked as an education guide at The Phoenix Zoo. She thrived sharing her passion for the natural world with children and began to discover her love for education.
She has worked with children in a variety of settings since then, eventually landing in Bend in 2016 to work for a wilderness therapy program. It was there that she developed the strong SEL foundation that she operates from today. Her unique experience as a field instructor served her well when moving into her role with the same program as a family resource and education specialist. There she worked with the program’s education department to tailor the curriculum to each individual student and support parents by coordinating therapeutic workshops and lending a shoulder to cry on when things got hard.
Megan has recently been working for the Bend La Pine School District teaching reading in a Title One program while working on her Elementary Education degree from George Fox University. She firmly believes that there is no one size fits all approach to teaching students and finds immense joy in learning how to support each student individually. When she isn’t teaching, Megan can be found tending to her garden and chickens or exploring the outdoors with her family.
DYLAN MCFARLANE (he/him/his)
2nd/3rd Grade Assistant Teacher and Wilderness Skills Instructor
BFS Teacher since 9/2023
Growing up in Australia, the outdoors have been a huge part of Dylan’s life. From an early age Dylan found connection to outdoor spaces through formative family camping adventures. While completing a BS in physical education at Victoria University in Melbourne, Dylan dove deeply into outdoor education. His studies not only provided him with a strong theoretical foundation but also fueled his desire to share his knowledge with others in a nature-based context.
In 2015 he began working as a guide for an outdoor education company. Over the next several years Dylan led countless groups of students on multi day adventures from backpacking to ski touring, facilitating their experience to learn about themselves, others, and the natural world. In 2019 Dylan moved to America to guide backpacking tours in Yosemite and Southern Utah. With over a thousand days in the field, Dylan prides himself on his ability to adapt his approach to cater to various learning styles, ensuring that each student is engaged and empowered.
Dylan moved to Central Oregon with his wife in 2022. He believes that fostering an appreciation for nature alongside education not only enriches individuals but also creates a brighter future for our planet. When he’s not teaching, Dylan can be found hiking, biking, climbing, and exploring the stunning places that Oregon has to offer.
DANNY DIAMOND (he/him/his)
4th/5th Grade Lead Teacher
BFS Teacher since 9/2023
Danny grew up in the Sierra Nevada foothills trail running, swimming, and climbing among the live oak forests along the American River. He thinks back fondly on exploring the woods in the hot dusty days of summer with friends and falling in love with the forest.
As a young adult Danny spent his days on the central coast of California, where he attended California Polytechnic State University, earning a degree in Physics (2010) and worked intermittently for the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. While Danny enjoyed his time in research, he found his true passion and life's work in education and decided to pursue a Masters Degree in Education from the University of California at Santa Barbara (2011). He and his wife Ashley married during this time and spent several years working and having adventures along the coast of California.
Inspired by the Waldkindergarten schools of Germany and a relocation to Bend, Danny and Ashley pursued sending their children to Bend Forest School and quickly fell in love with the program and curriculum. They have watched their children become incredible problem solvers, while developing into kind, caring, emotionally healthy children. In the spring of 2023, Danny decided to transition from Realms High School (a local choice option school, based on the Expeditionary Learning model of education developed through a partnership between Outward Bound and Harvard University) to the Bend Forest School. He brings with him years of experience developing interdisciplinary, alternative styles of learning in the upper grades and is excited to develop our 4th and 5th grade curriculum into something truly unique to Central Oregon.
HEATHER LEEDER (she/her/hers)
Behavioral and Reading Specialist
BFS Support Staff since 9/2023
Bio Coming Soon...
JESSIE ARMSTRONG (she/her/hers)
Program Mentor and Support
BFS Support Staff since 9/2022
Jessie is an experienced leader and teacher who works with people of all ages. She has a Masters in Special Education and has spent twenty-five years developing and directing a non-profit children's outdoor adventure education program, Idaho BaseCamp (idahobasecamp.org). She connects with her clients in a multitude of settings that include homes, schools, daycares, summer camps, business workplaces, sports settings and more. She understands the dynamics that create challenges and has the skills, education and experience to help people navigate through those obstacles. Jessie approaches each client with an open mind and skills specific to each situation. Jessie can relate to clients on both a professional and personal level.
ANNIE ROULAND (she/her/hers)
BFS Support Staff since 9/2023
Bio Coming Soon...