Director: Heather Ashton Black
I am honored and excited to be a part of Mixed Greens, a real-life dream come true, and a place of love, peace, and learning for children and grown-ups alike! To learn more about me and our beginnings, please visit the Director tab in the About menu.
Site Supervisor & Seedlings Teacher: Olivia DeMarais
Hi, my name is Olivia and I am really excited to be a part of the Mixed Greens Community at the new school site! I hold a Site Supervisor Permit and absolutely love working with children! I graduated from Chico State last May, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Child Development with a double minor in Family Relations and Gender and Sexuality Studies. I am currently working towards my Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education at Sonoma State University. A child is a curious learner, and having the opportunity to foster optimal growth and development with young children is a dream of mine. I see play, creative expression, diversity, cultural awareness, and an intentional environment as vital pieces to children’s learning process.
In my spare time I love reading, watching movies, and trying new restaurants! I also love being around family and friends.
Sprouts Teacher: Lauren Geiger
Hi! My name is Lauren and I am super excited to be a new member of the Mixed Greens Community! My interest in child development really began when my younger brother was born. As he developed into a toddler and on, his zest for life and the world around him drew me in. I believe that the first five years of a persons’ life are by far the most influential.
I received a Bachelors degree in Early Childhood Studies with a minor in Studio Art with an emphasis in Photography from Sonoma State University. I am currently enrolled in the Master’s program in the Education department, with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education. I also hold an Associate Teaching permit. I began working at the Sonoma State Children’s School in 2014 in the infant classroom, and absolutely loved it. Then, I had the opportunity to follow my second class into the toddler environment, and chose to do so. I have been working in the toddler classroom ever since. Every day, I am in awe of what children have to offer me. The learning really is in the hands of the child, I am just here to foster and expand their own desires and interests for the world, people and things that surround them.
Hello everyone, my name is Mahogany (or Miss Mo), and I’m so thankful to have joined the Mixed Greens Family! Previously, I’ve been a teacher at Kindercare in Rohnert Park, and I’ve also spent time volunteering at Mt. Taylor Children’s Center in Santa Rosa. My love for Child Development began once my niece, who recently turned five, was born. As I watched her grow every day, I became very intrigued by how she learned and by all the cool things I could teach her at such a young age. I began taking Child Development courses at the Santa Rosa Junior College in the Spring of 2015. It was during that first class that I knew working with children was what made my heart happy. Two years later, I am now one class away from obtaining my full Teacher Certificate!
Childhood was such a wonderful time in my life, and as a teacher, I not only want to create similar fun memories for other children, but also want to help show them the ways of being a successful member in their community. Working with small children, I feel that it’s important to show them that they are respected, encourage and celebrate cultural diversities, pursue curiosities during play, and discover the environment and all the wonderful living and nonliving beings within it. When I’m not interacting with the kiddos, I enjoy doing physical fitness activities, trying new restaurants, and learning new makeup tips.
My name is Erin Shea and I am so excited to be a member of the Mixed Greens staff as the Garden Teacher! After majoring in Environmental Studies with an emphasis on Sustainable Agriculture at UC Santa Cruz, I traveled to Europe and Central America and came back to Sonoma County and got a job in the insurance industry. Not quite what I had envisioned for myself! Luckily, I eventually found myself starting my own small-scale organic vegetable farm in Healdsburg, mostly learning on the spot. After several years farming there, I made the move to a larger piece of land in Santa Rosa and established a non-profit educational program, teaching kids about sustainable agriculture and healthy eating through hands- on activities. Around this time, the first of my two daughters began attending Mixed Greens Preschool. The farm eventually shut down, and my two girls graduated and moved on to Elementary School, but our connection with Heather and Mixed Greens remained, as did my passion for growing food and sharing my knowledge with others. To be a part of the establishment of the second location of Mixed Greens is an honor, and I am looking forward to all of the exploration and learning to come in the garden!
Atelierista: Emily Page Ruiz
Hello, My name is Emily and I’m so happy to be a part of this program! I have been working with children for about 8 years and have a Child Development Associate Teacher Certificate from the SRJC and hope to continue my education in child development. While in school, I worked in the SHAPE (School and Home Autism Program through Education) program with SCOE for three years, and was also an assistant teacher in the preschools there for about 4 years. I am excited to help guide children through their own learning and creative process and to facilitate social and emotional growth. While I’m home with my two year old, we love to paint and go on lots of walks, especially if there are puddles!
My interest in child development began when my cousin was diagnosed with autism when I was 5 years old. Our connection guided me towards learning more about special needs and child development. While working with special needs preschool children I was able to have an art corner and my two passions of art and child development collided! For the past couple years I have stayed home with my son and have been able to teach art classes to children and parents in the community, as well as work on my own art. I can’t wait to learn more from the children, families, and teachers here, and share some of my passions with everyone as well!
Assistant Teacher: Vivian Ngo
My name is Vivian and it is with enthusiasm that I am a part of Mixed Greens! I strive to implement hands-on learning experience for children by incorporating their interests and needs. I am good at following directions and completing given tasks. I am excited to improve the way I work creatively with children.
I was born and raised in Southern California. I graduated with an AA degree at Orange Coast College in Early Childhood Education. I am working towards completing my BA degree in Early Childhood Studies at Sonoma State University. Prior to working at Mixed Greens, I have worked as an assistant teacher at Garden Grove Montessori Academy, a substitute at Westcliff Early Childhood Center for two years, and I interned at Bright Horizons as a student- teacher for my field class. I look forward to improving my teaching skills and getting to know everyone and working together!
Assistant Teacher: Giselle Vigil
Hello! My name is Giselle Vigil I am so happy to have the opportunity to be a part of such an amazing group here at Mixed Greens. I was raised in California’s central valley and recently moved over to Sonoma county when I married my lovely husband. I am fluent in English, Spanish, and American Sign Language.
I started my career with children at the age of 16. I began working for a non-profit organization that offered after school tutoring and mentoring to children ages 5-17, since then I have worked in elementary schools, high schools, and as a nanny. It wasn’t until I was a sophomore in college that I decided to switch my major from Pre-Nursing to Early Childhood Education, I now have my Associates in Arts in Early Childhood Education and my certificate in Early Childhood Education Associate Teacher.
As a part of the Mixed Greens team I want to help children learn, explore, and grow into curious individuals. My goal is to create an environment that makes the children feel safe and loved. I am so excited to see what Mixed Greens has in store for me, let the adventure begin!
Floater Teacher: Madison Baldo
Hello! My name is Mary-Madison Baldo (though I’m most commonly called Madison), and I am so excited to be a part of the Mixed Greens staff!
I am a New York City native with a great deal of enthusiasm, curiosity, and passion about creativity, self-expression, and education. I have wanted to be a storyteller and a teacher for as long as I can remember, and for the past five years, I have been at Sonoma State University pursuing these goals. I graduated with a double major in English Literature and Early Childhood Development, and this year, I will be chasing yet another dream: a Master’s Degree in Film and Digital Media.
I have always adored working with children! We share the same boundless energy, optimism, and undying interest about the world around us. Children are incredibly honest and insightful, and I acknowledge this fact by treating them with the support and the respect that they deserve. I love being a part of their growth, and I actively encourage communication through conversation, through movement, through exploration, and through play, as every child learns very differently. There is no task or challenge that I have been handed in my varied experiences of counselling, nannying, volunteering, interning, and teaching that I haven’t been able to tackle head-on and hands-on. No matter what the challenge the day has presented me, I always walk away from the classroom with dirt on my knees, a smear of marker on my cheek, and a grin on my face!
I’m looking forward to more amazing days and smiles at Mixed Greens in the future!
Floating Fairy: Cam West
Hello! My name is Cam and I am so excited to be a part of Mixed Greens and the positive impact that it is bringing on our community! My passion for working with children stems from my own past and upbringing, growing up in a big family where everyday was taught to be an adventure, there was never a dull moment. My parents encouraged all of us to learn with our hands, interact with nature, and explore the beauty in all cultures, languages and ethnicities. To this day, I watch them help any child in need and I strive to follow their glowing example. I have had the privilege of assisting children in therapeutic horseback riding. I believe the connection between child and animal plays a vital role in their emotional development as well as building up a sense or responsibility and trust. Another passion I have is teaching music. Music is the universal language in which anyone including children can express themselves in any language or even without having to speak a word. Seeing a child really ‘feel’ music is one of the most rewarding things anyone could ever experience. When I am not outdoors you can bet I am thinking about when I can be outdoors again! We live in a very high-tech world so helping a child find the magic within nature is even more so important to me! A few other activities I love teaching and sharing are Archery, Loom crafting, Farm maintenance, and Swedish/Spanish/Vietnamese language learning. I am so happy to be a part of such an inspirational school and team who’s goals match my own!
Hi, I’m Megan and I am so grateful to be part of the Mixed Greens community, especially opening the new Lia Lane location! I have my Bachelor’s degree in Women’s and Gender Studies with a minor in Mathematics from Sonoma State University, and my Master’s from CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.
My nephew is a Mixed Greens graduate and I fell in love with the Mixed Greens philosophy visiting him at school, picking him up and hearing the exciting things that he did, and exploring with him on many amazing field trips. After living in New York and spending time abroad, I’m back in Sonoma County and excited to start this journey with your little ones at Mixed Greens!
I speak Portuguese and Spanish, I have a very curious toddler, and when I have a free moment, I’m usually experimenting in the kitchen.
Substitute Teacher & Extra Loving Hands On Deck: Cara Viripaeff Baum
Hi, My name is Cara Viripaeff Baum. I am overjoyed to be a part of the Mixed Greens Family! I earned my Early Childhood Education credits at City College in San Francisco while working on my BA in Pyschology at USF, eventually completing my Masters in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from SFSU and Multiple Subjects Clear Credential through SJSU. I have worked as a therapist for Early Intervention and taught kids and adults: preschool, k-8, high school, college, university, and adult-ed, in addition to all sorts of other fun stuff including being a nanny, camp counselor, mom, and step-mom.
I found Mixed Greens while looking for an amazing preschool for our daughter. As a mom of a micro-preemie, well versed in sensory and neuro needs, I was thrilled to find a Reggio Emilia inspired school with a philosophy based on experiential, social learning in a green environment that provides children lots of space to play, explore, and get dirty. I hope to bring my passion for early childhood education with an understanding of RIE, multi-cultural, and mindful classroom philosophies.
I also speak Spanish and in my free time you can find me on the trails as a volunteer bilingual docent with Landpaths or exploring fun places to play with our three kids, friends, and family.
Colors of Spanish: Guadalupe
Guadalupe, a native of the Bajio region of México, has been teaching Spanish to children and young adults in this area since 2003. She is part of the El Día de los Muertos, Petaluma committee and in 2011 was among seven individuals named as Latino community leaders in Petaluma by the Argus Courier. She has a Master’s Degree in Spanish, with a focus on early age acquisition of foreign language. Her classes encourage creativity, energy and the spirit of play!
She is the founder of Colors of Spanish, an early childhood language-learning program that has provided classes in schools, preschools and community centers in Sonoma and Marin Counties since 2004.
Hi there, my name is Heather Harrison. I am more than thrilled to be a part of this amazing community of Mixed Greens and Camp Ever Greens! I am the Director/Counselor every day at Camp Ever Greens and a substitue at Mixed Greens. Ever since I was a little girl, I have always had a passion for the outdoors. Gardening, camping, and running cross country were a few of my favored activities. I have also had an extreme connection with animals, always training my dogs’ basic obedience and specialty tricks as well. I was also a very active FFA (Future Farmers of America) member in the Campbell, CA Chapter competing in speech competitions and raising and showing animals, receiving 2 blue ribbons. I raised three pigs, a lamb, two turkeys and shared a steer with a fellow FFA member!
One of my greatest memories when I was younger was attending science camp. Remembering how much joy it brought me singing songs and learning about the earth around me fascinated me and I am so excited to be given the opportunity to share that same joy with other children.
I have my Camp Director certification from the American Camp Association, and am currently enrolled in the Child Development program at SRJC working towards my Associate Teacher certificate…in fact, I have done some of my teacher learning at Mixed Greens! I started this new direction in my career because of my daughter, Violet. The day she was born, a love for children bloomed that I had never realized I had before her arrival. I started taking child development classes to ensure that I am doing everything I can to become the best mother possible. In doing so, I realized I have a talent for teaching and a passion for guiding new sprouting minds! Working for Mixed Greens and Camp Ever Greens, I am given an opportunity to extend my knowledge of development and nurturing to benefit other children as well as my own. I am so excited to get to know all of these wonderful children and their families!
Music (& other fun Mess Making): Russ Scarola
Russ is the papa of Mixed Greens alum, Jenner, and of current Mixed Greens rock star, Jalen, who now shares his love of music and teaching with the whole MG crew! “You haven’t learned something until you’ve created with it!” When not learning from his two adventure seeking boys, Russell Scarola teaches art-integration to future teachers in the Hutchins Department of Liberal Studies at Sonoma State University. Recent community projects have included designing recycled materials and mentoring student projects for the Sonoma County STEAM SHOWCASE. Russ’s passions include volleyball, playing guitar, and creative writing, but his biggest joy is in helping people of all backgrounds enjoy science and encouraging more voices to be involved in how best we can guide our human ingenuity.
My Gym: Olivia
My name is Olivia Llamas and I work at My Gym Children’s Fitness Center in Santa Rosa. I have been working with children for the past 8 years as an elementary soccer coach, a daycare instructor and most recently as the Director of My Gym Santa Rosa. I have always been passionate about exercise and physical activity and love to jog, hike, play soccer and practice yoga. I am thrilled to have to opportunity to bring the My gym fun to Mixed Greens Preschool!
Lil’ Kickers: Kaitlin
Hello! My name is Kaitlin and I work at Sports City as a Lil’ Athletes coach. I am an Early Childhood Studies major at Sonoma State. I have been working with children for the past 7 years as a dance instructor, an assistant director for children’s plays, assisting in both preschool and elementary classrooms, and as a Lil’ Athletes coach! I look forward to sharing my love for soccer and expanding my knowledge in early childhood studies with everyone at Mixed Greens Preschool!
My name is Amy Hudgens, and I am the Nutritional Consultant for Mixed Greens and two other local preschools. I am honored and excited to announce a new program that we started here the first week of May 2012. Mixed Greens agreed to be the Pilot school for my Nutrition Program for Preschoolers called Rainbow Greens! I am also a mother of a toddler and know how busy life can get and how important it is to stay nourished inside and out. I am grateful that my dreams and visions are finally coming alive with the start up of Rainbow Greens! Rainbow Greens was developed with the intention of making learning about nutrition fun and educational for the kids. I want to keep it simple with a huge focus on organic whole foods, short fun educational lessons, and little cooking demos. I will also be providing parents with 2 free cooking classes per calendar year so that the whole family can be involved. Also, with every monthly lesson, each child with get a card with “health tips” or a nourishing recipe on it to share with their family. I am so excited to start this program. Thanks to Mixed Greens for helping so much get this program started! Be Well, Amy Hudgens