Cotati Staff

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 & Blossoms Core Teacher: Jessica Crosier

Hello everyone my name is Jessica Crosier and I am incredibly excited to have the opportunity to grow with the Mixed Greens family as the Site Supervisor at our newest campus! I was drawn to working with children after my first official job in high school and since that moment, I knew some form of work with children was the career path for me. After high school, I spent a few years at the Santa Rosa Junior College exploring various courses and completing an Associates’s Degree in Elementary School Teaching before transferring to Sonoma State University. There, I completed my B.A. in Early Childhood Studies with a focus on Education. I have been working alongside children since 2011 in various positions, including being an assistant director for a child care facility for five years, and have learned so much from each experience.

During the 2020 school year, I joined Mixed Greens as the Atelierista at our Farmstead campus! I really have enjoyed this position and the opportunity to strengthen my teaching skills and ability to meet the children where they are, providing creative, open explorations to further build on their interests and skills. I’m so incredibly grateful and humbled to now be part of a further extension of the wonderful Mixed Greens family as we continue to build a community of lifelong learners who feel safe and supported in their education journey.

I believe that children are leaders in their own learning and that learning best occurs when it is developed from the child’s interests. Having various materials readily available for open exploration encourages children to express themselves freely and symbolically through various forms of work and play. I am so happy to be a part of the  Mixed Greens family and am looking forward to meeting everyone and getting the chance to grow alongside your little ones!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Organic Garden Educator & Sprouts Core Teacher: Alaina Probst

Hello, My name is Alaina and I am happy to be joining the Mixed Greens family at the Cotati campus as the Garden Educator!  I studied Early Childhood Education at College of Marin, where I completed my teaching practicum at the Indian Valley Campus Preschool, and earned my teaching certification. In addition to my ECE certification, I am a certified Life Lab Garden Educator through UC Santa Cruz.I have worked in environmental education for over 15 years. My experience ranges from leading nature classes with the National Forest Service to local restoration projects with youth as an AmeriCorps member at Conservation Corps North Bay. I studied Sustainable Horticulture through College of Marin while simultaneously working the IVC Organic Farm and Garden, and as the garden educator at Loma Verde Elementary School. My passion for plants has lead me to many different areas of learning, including my herbalism certification through the Living Awareness Institute. Most recently, all these passions lead me to leading Tinkergarten classes with children and their families in our local parks.When I am not in the garden or the classroom I love to explore the outdoors with my two sons, Dylan (5yo MG grad), and Sawyer (2yo MG kid). Together we enjoy frequent dance parties, garden snacks, bird watching & engaging play that utilizes all our senses! I am now so excited to bring all I’ve gleaned to the “Mix”💚 and am so honored to be joining the Mixed Greens community of learners, families and educators!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Atelierista:  Lauren Johnson

Hi, my name is Lauren Johnson and I am so happy to have been a part of the Mixed Greens Family for quite a few years now! I completed my Early Childhood Education training at the SRJC and have been taking care of children and infants for over seven years. I grew up as the oldest of five children in my family, so I love being around young, imaginative minds. I’ve always wanted to work with children, helping them grow into loving and respectful members of the community and now I get to live my dream. 

Coming from a very artistic family, I love helping children discover their creative side. I have loved music all my life and enjoy playing ukulele and guitar in my free time. On top of that, I enjoy the creative and therapeutic benefits of painting and other mixed media art forms. I consider it a wonderful opportunity to be able to share these passions of mine with children of all ages!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teacher: Rae Jeanne McDonald

My name is Rae Jeanne McDonald and I am very happy and excited to be a part of the Mixed Greens team at the Shalom campus in Cotati!  I had the great honor and tremendous joy of teaching for over 20 years at a small, play
based program in Petaluma, where I was part of a loving and nurturing community of educators, children, and families.   Sadly,  we were unable to remain open during Covid, and I returned to my roots in the hospitality industry.
A bit of my background includes growing up in a tiny town in the Sierra Mountains,  being a competitive rower in college, graduating from Purdue University,  working for the Teamster’s Union, and best of all, being the mom of two amazing adult human beings, Colin and Sharon.
I am so happy to be back to the work that I have loved for so many years, and to be getting to know the children and families of Mixed Greens! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teacher: Marissa Brooks

Hi Mixed Greens Families! My name is Marissa and I am so excited to be joining the Mixed Greens Community! I am currently studying Child Development at the Santa Rosa Junior College, and will continue my learning at Sonoma State this Spring. I have always had a love for teaching, and have been drawn to the practice since I was a young child.  
I have worked alongside children in numerous roles since 2013, and have garnered many skills from the different facilities I’ve worked at. Prior to Mixed Greens, I was a Lead Teacher at Sunshine Preschool in Sonoma for two years. I was also a private nanny for five years and a counselor for Sonoma County’s YMCA for several years.
When I am not at school, I enjoy going on walks with my dog Missy, swimming in any body of water I can get to, and spending time with my loved ones. I am so excited for this year and being a part of this beautiful community! I look forward to getting to know you all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teacher: Tyrrell Salath

Howdy folks! My name’s Tyrrell and I’m super duper excited to be a part of the community here at Mixed Greens. I’m currently enrolled at Santa Rosa Junior College and working on getting my credentials. My experience working with children has been an adventure. Every party and event I’ve attended, children seem to gravitate towards me like how I seem to always gravitate towards the all-you-can-eat buffet tables. I also worked in another preschool a few years ago, and worked for an after school program for an elementary school. Being around all the kids I’ve come across in my life has helped me gain a lot of knowledge and also feed my spark of passion to work with kids. One of my memorable moments working with kids was when one of the kids who was considered difficult by other staff members told me that I was his favorite teacher because I know how to talk to him, unlike everybody else. 

Some of my passions are singing, playing chess, and taking care of my frog. For me, singing is a way to express myself…especially when I’m happy. I enjoy playing chess because I tend to think a lot so I like to use my thinking brain on the board instead of getting lost in my thoughts. Frogs are my favorite animal. I feel they are a good representation on how people are: Frogs start off as eggs, hatch into tadpoles, then evolve into adult frogs that are capable of adapting into almost any environment they’re in, just like how people evolve and adapt from situations they are given or thrown into. I have a Pikachu Pacman frog named Jiraiya – aka Young Thunder. I’m so happy to continue being a part of the Mixed Greens family and getting to know every child as an individual and their families. See y’all soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Assistant Teacher: Bridget Laugesen

Hi everyone! My name is Bridget and I’m so excited to be a part of Mixed Greens! I’m currently attending Sonoma State as a Hutchins Liberal Studies major, with the goal of becoming an elementary school teacher. I’m from San Jose and this is my second year here at Sonoma and I love it here! Some of my favorite things are cats, reading, sunsets, painting, hiking, and the beach! I was a cheerleader all four years in high school and I coached kids gymnastics for a little bit too! I love being creative, spreading kindness, and making others laugh. I absolutely love working with kids and I’m so excited to get to know everyone here and make new friends! I cherish all of the connections I’ve made with children I’ve babysat/ worked with before and I can’t wait to make more <3

 

 

 

 

 

 

Substitute Teacher: Cam West

Hello! My name is Cam, and I have had the privilege of teaching at all three MG campuses for several years. I resonate with the MG belief that students reach the goals of cognitive growth and educational development through child-interest based, teacher-facilitated projects, and that the potential for learning is stunted when the endpoint is formulated in advance. Over the years, this belief has become one of my core values as a teacher. I have supported children who have wanted to learn how to horseback ride before they could even ride a bike and other children as young as 5 years old who had the desire to learn how to solve Rubik’s cubes. With the strong belief of all our projects being child-interest based, we have had the opportunity to engage in so many creative fun activities like raising goats, hatching chicks, and even taming blue jays! I value building confidence through strong encouragement and support while creating an environment with developmentally appropriate activities that will facilitate critical thinking. I’m excited to see what’s to come next!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Assistant Teacher: Kathryn Haidinyak

Heyo!! My name is Kathryn and I’m so excited to be a part of the Mixed Greens family! I am currently a student right here at Sonoma State, where I am part of the Hutchins program, which is helping me on my way to a elementary teaching degree and credential. Ever since I was 16 and had my first job working with kids, I knew that this is what I wanted to do. To make a child smile and show them the way in learning is so fulfilling. There is no better feeling then when you have been working with them for a long time and get to witness them achieve something new and exciting.  I live for that excitement about gaining new knowledge and knowing they did it themselves!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Assistant Teacher: Susan Magnuson

Hi everyone, my name is Susan Magnuson and I’m excited to start a new journey with the Mixed Greens family. I’ve been working in daycare for more than 15 years, in addition to raising three of my own! A move from the South Bay to Santa Rosa two years ago put me in Heather’s path and I’m so excited to learn from, and hopefully teach something new to, all the bright and curious children I’ve had the pleasure of working with!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Substitute Teacher: Taylor Izard
Hello everyone! My name is Taylor and I am a floater/ sub here at Mixed Greens Preschool. I am so excited to be a part of the Mixed Greens Community! I am currently enrolled in classes at the Santa Rosa Junior College and working to obtain my assistant teaching certificate. My passion for working with kiddos and getting to teach began very early for me; I started babysitting at 12 and volunteered to help with the younger kids within my local community. Reading and writing are big passions of mine; I love all things creative; and getting to be outside is something I appreciate so much! I am so excited to be able to work here at Mixed Greens and I cant wait to get to know everyone in the Mixed Greens Community!! 

 

 

Substitute Teacher: Flor Martinez
Hello! My name is Flor. It means flower in Spanish and I am happy to share that I am bilingual and fluent in both languages. I am very excited to start my journey here as a Mixed Greens Substitute Teacher! I found an interest in working with children during my first year of community college, when I attended Napa Valley College and earned my general education, as well as a Child and Family Studies – Assitant Certificate. During my time there, I took many Child Development classes and worked alongside a mentor teacher for a semester. I am currently attending Sonoma State, planning to major in Early Childhood Studies with a concentration in Child Development. The concept of seeing and helping children learning to learn is such a fascinating process to be a part of and I am so happy to have this opportunity. I look forward to learning all the children’s names, personalities, and routines, and getting to know the wonderful staff too! 
A few fun facts about me: 
I am a BIG Spiderman fanatic!
I love going to concerts! (I’ve seen Olivia Rodrigo, Giveon, Sza, Shawn Mendes, so many more)
I went to Hawaii for the first time last summer!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Substitute Teacher: Raynee Jervan

Hello! My name is Raynee Jervan and I am very excited about continuing this adventure in my life with Mixed Greens. I come from a large family that has strong roots here in Sonoma County. From the time I was born, my parents and family have engulfed me with love & support, have taught me to believe in myself, appropriately express my feelings,  and experience every new day as an adventure in life that helps mold you as a person & create endless possibilities. I look forward to sharing those same loving qualities with the children I am blessed to be around here at Mixed Greens. I believe that children should observe nature and not only build and find the beauty in it, but also learn valuable loving qualities that they can imitate as they grow up and become respectful members of the community. I love teaching kids new things & having fun with them. I love being a part of a child’s development and I hope that I can make a positive impact on the kids that I am entrusted with daily. I’m very grateful to be working here at Mixed Greens so I can learn from the kids & they can learn from me. 

I also currently work as an Electrician’s Apprentice with my Father who has been an Electrician in the Bay Area for over 30 years and I am striving to be more & more skilled in this trade. It has been a privilege to help the fire victims in Sonoma County rebuild their homes and see their smiling faces when they move back into their homes and put their lives back to the Sonoma County normal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Substitute Teacher: Heather Becker

Hello, my name is Heather Becker and I am so happy to be a part of the Mixed Greens community.  I love working with children and seeing their creativity and imagination grow as they explore their world and the outdoors.  I have seen the benefits that the outdoors holds for our little ones and I love to be outdoors exploring with them whether it be in the rain splashing in puddles or searching for ladybugs in the grass! I enjoy being outside, gardening, hiking, doing yoga, and exploring Sonoma County with my friends and family.  I have graduated from Sonoma State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and I am looking forward to working with the children here at Mixed Greens – learning and growing alongside them in all our new discoveries!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Substitute Teacher: Courtney Hunter

Hi there, I’m Courtney Hunter, I’m the Organic Garden Teacher at the Farmstead campus, but I’m excited to get to spend a bit of time at our beautiful Shalom site as well! I’ve worked with preschool age children off and on for the past 18 years, while on my “off” time working many different farm/garden jobs. I spent a few years learning from a master gardener is Sebastopol at a small biodynamic farm, and here at Mixed Greens I get to fuse two passions together- gardening and early childhood education! I grew up here in Sonoma County and earned my AA in Early Childhood Education from our own SRJC back in 2008, and have loved teaching at different schools here in the North Bay and also in Seattle, where I lived for a few years. 

Childhood is such a brief magical time with so much to explore and experience, especially in our beautiful natural world. Being a part of a young child’s learning experience is truly a joy and learning lesson for all involved! Taking time to slow down and explore our curiosity about the natural environments, figure out how things work, and experiment with creative expression through art/movement/music/building/language are things that I love to encourage in children at any age (including us “grown ups”)!

Besides teaching, some of my other passions include tending to my own garden, studying herbalism and natural health, playing folk/rock music with my husband Skotty, hiking/exploring National Parks together, and volunteering in my community.  I look forward to meeting you all and continuing this learning journey together!

 

 

 

 

 

Family Connections Coordinator: Maria Freebairn-Smith

Hello, I am Maria and I am the proud mama of two beautiful sons that now stand taller than me and are fledged and giving their gifts into the world!  If you ask my friends and family, they will say I am joyfully impulsive, curious, honest and exuberant, just like preschoolers! They are “my people” and they are truly precious, each and every one of them.  I thrive when I can listen deeply and help guide young children, their families, and teachers. 

Professionally speaking, I am a preschool teacher, parenting coach/educator, and trained mediator with twenty years of experience working with families. I have a private practice helping parents and children move from conflict to connection. My graduate work was in Restorative Justice Practices and I am a trainer/facilitator for many schools across Sonoma County.  My undergraduate degree is in Psychology from Barnard College, Columbia University with advanced trainings in Early Childhood Education, conflict resolution, and creative expression.   

A good day is when I get to dance, sing, sit quietly in nature, and play with others or all of the above!  I look forward to getting to know your children and your families!  Look for me at Parent Ed nights and Mornings with Maria on the playgrounds at the schools throughout the year.  You can also feel free to check out my websites for more info on my services: CreativeParentingCenter.com orCreativeCo-Parenting.com