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/Atelierista (Art 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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blossoms Teacher & Organic Gardening Lead: Vivian Jacinto

Hola! My name is Vivian Jacinto, I am so excited to be part of Mixed Greens’ growing community as a Garden & Core teacher. I started my work with children ten years ago, and have worked in many different settings from nanny, to private centers, and federally funded preschools. While working with children, I received my Bachelors in Early Childhood Education from Sonoma State University. I am here to truly learn and observe alongside the children as we explore what this world has to offer. 

My greatest passion is nature-based teaching, where being outdoors teaches us life skills from gardening, cooking, leadership, empathy, creativity, and much more. Nature-Based Teaching focuses on protection of Earth and our Human System…our goal is just that here at Mixed Greens Shalom, and I am excited to take on the responsibility of our Garden. I have always been an avid gardener; however, when the pandemic hit, my chef partner was out of the kitchen and I was out of the classroom…so we took our food and gardening knowledge and built a No Till, Organic 1/2 acre farm, where we continue to grow over 30 different crops for our family and community. With that being said, I am committed to getting us dirty this year and can’t wait to see what our garden here can provide us and our families!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sprouts Co-Teacher:  Lauren Johnson

Hi, my name is Lauren Johnson and I am so happy to have been a part of the Mixed Greens Family for a few years now! I’m completed my Early Childhood Education training at the SRJC and have been taking care of children and infants for over five 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!

Sprouts Co-Teacher: Rae Jeanne McDonald

My name is Rae Jeanne McDonald and I am very happy and excited to be joining 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 look forward to getting back to the work that I have loved for so many years, and to getting to know the children and families of Mixed Greens! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Assistant 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Assistant Teacher: Kathryn Haidinyak

Heyo!! My name is Kathryn and I’m so excited to be joining 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!

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Substitute Teacher: Mahagony Walker (Mo)

Greetings friends! Everyone knows me as Miss Mo but my grown up name is Mahagony. I’m a returning Mixed Greener (was part of the opening crew of Lia Lane) and am thrilled to be back in the fam! After an escape to So Cal a year ago and a maternity leave, the universe has brought me and my new son Amonte back this community to continue building connections with these awesome families. I have 6 years of experience working with tiny humans from infancy through school age, but early childhood is where my heart lies. 
My education thus far comes from Santa Rosa Junior College, and my love for children began with raising my niece. I enjoy being a positive influence in children’s lives and take pride in sharing my culture, values, and interests with them. I believe that all children are capable and competent enough to make responsible decisions for themselves, and my job as a teacher is to be there to facilitate, challenge, and expand on their thoughts while making sure they execute their plans safely and with fun, of course!
When I’m not with children, I spend my time working on my personal training and online accessory business. I also enjoy spending time with my boyfriend and his Chihuahua, doing anything outdoors. I love a good read, farmers markets, avocados, cold beer, local wine, and new beauty products. Thank you for reading, I’m really looking forward to learning more about all the new and returning families this upcoming school year, and until then I send big hugs, a lot of love, and positive vibes to all!