WE BELIEVE IN CONNECTING WITH THE LAND TO CONNECT WITH OURSELVES.
Whether digging for worms or collecting fallen leaves, children learn better through experience than lecture. Take a lesson on insects as an example. In a traditional classroom setting, you might have pictures, stuffed animals, puzzles of insects and a teacher to tell you about them. In an outdoor classroom, you are seeing the insects, watching them in their natural environment, interacting with the ecosystem, feeling the dirt they move through, and being completely immersed in the concepts. Following the nature school model, our teachers give children space for observation, while also quickly identifying teachable moments where they can weave in the curriculum based on the child’s natural curiosity.
PLANTING SEEDS FOR A LIFELONG LOVE OF NATURE
The mission of Fidalgo Nature School is to foster a lifelong connection to the natural world while supporting the developmental needs of young children. Our belief is that children are intrinsically motivated to learn and that the natural classroom is an ideal environment to cultivate a strong mind, body, and emotional being.
YOU'VE GOT QUESTIONS. WE'VE GOT ANSWERS.
Here are the answers to our most frequently asked questions. Didn’t find the answer you’re searching for? Have a unique question? Please reach out directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org
How can I enroll my child?
Enrollment is full for the 2019/2020 school year and we currently have a waitlist. Head over to our enrollment page now to learn more about the class schedules and apply for the waitlist.
What is the class schedule?
The program for the 2019-2020 school year is offered from 9am to 1pm. You may enroll for either 2 or 3 mornings a week. You can enroll your child for a minimum of two days per week or a maximum of three days per week. For 2 day per week students, school days are Tuesday and Thursday. For 3 day per week students, school days are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. We do not make custom schedule adjustments.
What ages does your school teach, and how big are the classes?
We serve children ages 3 to 6 years old. Class size is up to 10 students. There is a 5:1 Teacher to student ratio. Having 5 students to 1 teacher is not only safer but allows our teachers to really know the kids. They quickly learn which child needs more space, or who needs a longer hug. This generous ratio of teacher attention allows us to customize and amplify the educational experience for every child.
What is the curriculum, and is it different every day?
Children learn and comprehend complex concepts (notably science and math!) at a better rate in the outdoors than inside a classroom. Children learn better through experience than lecture. Let’s use a lesson on insects as an example. In a traditional classroom setting, you might have pictures, stuffed animals, puzzles of insects and a teacher to tell you about them. In an outdoor classroom, you are seeing the insects, watching them in their natural environment, interacting with the ecosystem, feeling the dirt they move through, and being completely immersed in the concepts. Following the nature school model, our teachers give children space for observation, while also quickly identifying teachable moments where they can weave in the pre-planned curriculum based on the child’s natural curiosity.
Where are classes held?
Our classroom is nestled in a beautiful wooded location with a covered shelter and water access at Washington Park, in Anacortes.
Are the kids outside in all weather, even in cold winter rain?
With our dedicated shelter and the help of proper clothing (rain boots, coats, etc.), most of Washington’s mild winter weather won’t keep us from our beloved forest environment. However in inclement or dangerous weather -- notably the high winds we occasionally experience in Anacortes -- we have arranged a safe indoor alternate location nearby.
What is the enrollment fee?
The enrollment fee is based on the number of days your child will attend each week: 2 days per week is $232/month,3 days per week is $348/month. There is a $75 non-refundable enrollment fee to be submitted with your application and one months non-refundable tuition which reserves your child’s space in the program.
When do classes begin?
School begins on Wednesday, September 3rd. In order to ensure a smooth transition into the natural classroom, we will stagger first days of students; your child’s start date may be later than September 5th.
I don’t know much about the philosophy behind outdoor education, where can I learn more?
We’re so glad you asked! Here are some fantastic resources to get your started:
MEET OUR STAFF
Teresa Cosgrove, Education Director
I started my career in early childhood care and education, when my own children were preschoolers, with a Montessori Primary Diploma (AMI.) A lifelong learner, I earned a certificate in Early Care and Education from Capilano College in British Columbia and, eventually, a Masters Degree in Human Development with a specialization in Early Childhood Education from Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena, CA, along the way. My experience with the education of gifted young children led to my thesis: Reconciling Differences: Parents’ Perceptions of their Gifted Young Children.
I have worked with toddlers or preschoolers in Montessori, play-based and Reggio Emilia inspired classrooms. I’ve trained early childhood educators in college certification programs and mentored teams of educators in childcare centers. I have been the director of my own family childcare program and been responsible for the quality of a statewide system of preschools, financed by a federal grant, for children learning English as an additional language and families challenged by poverty.
I believe that education is a transformative process that relies on the integrity of the relationships I have with children and their families and with educators and the community; on an awareness of issues of social justice; and on an emergent curriculum that results not only in the growth of knowledge but especially in meaningful learning.
I am proud to be working with Fidalgo Nature School’s passionate and committed board and its enthusiastic and professional team of educators.
Kate (Katelynn) Merandy, Instructor
Hi, my name is Katelynn (Kate) Merandy and I am originally from Cold Spring, NY. I my started my career in Early Childhood Education shortly after I graduated from college, and simply fell in love with teaching. After being an assistant/co-teacher, I went back and got my Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Mercy College. I moved to Vermont with my husband in 2015, and some of the longest and coldest winters we decided that it was time for a new adventure. I am excited to be here in the Pacific Northwest, and cannot wait to see what new journeys I will find here with the Fidalgo Nature School and in Anacortes. I love to hike, but I also love to be on the beach, searching for the perfect rock (or rocks).
Kat (Katheran) McCarroll, Instructor
Kat comes to us from the National Estuarine Research Reserve at Padilla Bay, and has a Bachelor's degree in Environment and Planning and will be beginning her Master's degree studies in Outdoor Education beginning January 2020. As a certified Wilderness First Responder and environmental enthusiast, she has developed curriculum and led field trips for students ranging in age from preschool to 13 years, as well as leading teacher workshops instructing teachers on educating their students about climate change.
MEET OUR BOARD
Nichole Kean, Board President
Nichole grew up in the Pacific Northwest and feels most at home in a forest full of fallen big leaf maple leaves. Before having her own children, she worked with young children for over 15 years. She has a passion for learning about the development of young children and how to connect them with the natural world.
Julia Frisbie, Treasurer
Julia works as the Associate Director for the Northwest United Methodist Foundation. In her free time, she grows food in the backyard with her husband Drew and runs around barefoot with her sweet son Ellis.
Anastasia Brencick-Higman, Secretary
Anastasia is a founding board member for FNS and sees our school as the beginning of something big and important for our children, our community and the world. When she isn't being a mom, she writes, offers bodywork and community organizes.
Margo Carroll, Board Member At Large
Margo was part of the team of Founding board members at FNS, driven by the belief that her children's time is best spent learning about their world and themselves in nature. She runs a marketing consulting business, enjoys trail running hiking and camping, and loves expanding her permaculture and farming skills whenever she has the chance.
Krystle Taniguchi, Board Member At Large
Krystle grew up in California, and moved to Washington 2 years ago. She studied at California State University Long Beach for her BA and MA. She taught English in Fürstenfeld, Austria through Fulbright; taught German at CSULB, and taught English at the Montessorischule in Penzberg, Bavaria.
In her spare time she runs, makes costumes for races, renovate her house, and travels.
Amy Martin, Board Member At Large
Amy is mom to wild twin boys, with a day job as a Process Engineer. While not at work, she can usually be found exploring the forest or the beach, traveling, or helping her husband create amazing meals at home. She is thrilled to support this amazing school and help as many children as possible children gain outdoor experience.