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: J.J. Johnson
My name is J.J. and I am incredibly grateful to be a part of the Mixed Greens community! My love for working with children began in high school, when I started teaching dance classes to some aspiring ballerinas who, little did they know, were really the ones inspiring me. Motivated to continue down the path of teaching, I found myself in the Early Childhood Studies program at Sonoma State University. I was quickly drawn to the professional field of Early Childhood, and am continually inspired by the individuals who make up this valuable community. Working in various classrooms throughout my time at SSU allowed my appreciation and passion to grow even more. After receiving my Bachelors in Early Childhood Studies in 2017, I spent a year teaching at My Gym Children’s Fitness Center here in Santa Rosa. I loved being able to help provide a place where children and families could play, learn, and grow together. I believe the value of play should take an active role in children’s learning and that education should emerge from children’s own interests.
When being introduced to Mixed Greens, I immediately knew I had found a community that shares my values and beliefs. It is important to me to create an environment where every child feels safe and supported. I believe it is only then that we can teach the whole child and help shape them to be life long learners. It is with so much joy that I get to be here at Mixed Greens and I am so excited to be a part of this wonderful family!
Sprouts Teacher: Elizabeth Espinosa-Ouks (Lizzie)
Flowers Teacher: Katia Filatov
Hi, my name is Katia Filatov and I am so excited to be a part of the Mixed Greens community! I earned my Bachelor’s in Psychology with an emphasis in Developmental Psychology from UC Davis. To complete the emphasis, I enjoyed coursework on infant development, including physical, social/emotional, and memory development in infants and toddlers. I transferred to UC Davis from SRJC, and I’m happy to be back home in Sonoma County!
My passion for child development began when I was still a kid—at 13 years old! Throughout the years I’ve worked with children in various ways. I’ve been a babysitter, nanny, tennis coach, camp counselor, after-school teacher, and a preschool teacher. During my two years at UC Davis, I worked at a local preschool as the afternoon teacher in the Toddler Room.
It is so incredibly rewarding to be a part of your little ones’ lives and watch them grow. Early childhood is a very special and important part of life, both from developmental and creative perspectives. It is a time of wonder, magic, curiosity, exploration, and friendship. When I first visited Mixed Greens, I saw an environment that fostered all those wonderful traits of early childhood, and shared them between children, parents and families, teachers, and nature.
Outside of teaching, I enjoy reading, writing, hiking, and spending lots of time with my family and friends. I also love hanging out with with my three guinea pigs: Nilla, Chai, and Toffee, who also enjoy visiting Mixed Greens! I am so grateful that I get the chance to be a part of this community!
Atelierista: Morgan Pizana
“Every child is an artist, the problem is how to remain an artist once they grow up.” – Pablo Picasso
Hi everyone, my name is Morgan and I am overjoyed to be a part of the Mixed Greens family! I grew up in a big family that doubled in size when I turned 6 and my mother opened her in-home daycare. I believe that my love for teaching blossomed from there. From diapers to arts & crafts, I was my mom’s right hand lady and loved coming home from school to see my little buddies waiting for me!
When I was 15, I got my first job as a camp counselor with a nature based summer camp in Point Reyes Station. There, I learned how important artistic freedom, as well as building a connection to Mother Earth, is for little humans.
During this enlightenment, I began taking an abundance of art classes at Sonoma State University, Santa Rosa JC, and many local art seminars. I spent 4 summers with my small friends and eventually became the Assistant Director, where I was able to step behind the wheel and use my heart and values to ensure an unforgettable summer for my campers.
From water color fun, building flower crowns, foraging for treasures, and creating magical fairy gardens, there are no limits to what we can do to spark the artist in all of us!
When I’m not teaching (or have a paintbrush in my hand), I enjoy keeping my body moving with yoga, hiking, and kayaking! I also love creating memories with family, friends, and my sweet dog Clyde. I anticipate an amazing school year and am looking forward to starting this journey with all of you!
Organic Gardening Teacher: Courtney Hunter
Hi there, I’m Courtney Hunter, the Organic Garden Teacher at the Farmstead campus for Mixed Greens. 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!
Environmentalism Teacher: Emily Sims (fresh off the PCT!)
Assistant 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 two 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: Mollye Field
Hey friends, I’m Mollye! I am thrilled to be the Atelierista at the Hoen campus, and enjoy some afternoons at Lia as well. Art has always been a significant part of my life, and I strive to add creativity wherever I can. When I was young, I took every opportunity to turn an assignment into an art project. I took photography classes in high school and college and earned an AA in Art History in 2019. I’ve walked many paths in life and have acquired skills in various subjects and mediums along the way.
From 2012 to 2013, I studied theater arts, with an emphasis on makeup design and application. I received a Makeup Arts Certificate and designed the hair and makeup for a few shows, including Beauty and the Beast, Legally Blonde, and Les Misérables, for which I won an award. Theater brought me to cosmetology school, where I trained in esthetics and became licensed in 2016. Between 2014 and 2017, I worked at Disneyland and the Disney Store, where I interacted with children and made their days more magical. In 2018 I was the front desk associate and a Certified Tourism Ambassador for the Charles Schulz Museum. I volunteered at the Sonoma County Museum in 2019, assisting a local artist in making alebrijes with children and teens for a Día de Los Muertos exhibit. During this time, I discovered my love of working with and teaching children.
I’ve been working with children in an ECE environment since 2019 and believe I have finally found my true calling in life. I earned my degree in Child Development at the JC and plan to transfer to SSU to continue my Child Development and Psychology studies. My goals as a teacher are to encourage children to try new things and not be afraid of failing or making mistakes. I want to inspire creativity and
curiosity. Let’s have fun, make messes, and ask questions! I’m looking forward to meeting your children and helping them learn, grow, and become the best they can be! PS: I’ll be the one with the pink hair. =)
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: Heather Becker
Hello, my name is Heather Becker and I am so happy to be joining 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!
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!
Camp Ever Greens Counselor / Substitute Teacher : Cole Brady
Howdy! My name’s Cole Brady, and I’m very much looking forward to continuing my time at Camp Ever Greens and Mixed Greens! I’m currently working my way through college to become a music teacher/working musician. I have a passion for playing the drums, I’ve been playing them for about eight and a half years without an end in sight. You may have seen me and my band playing at Mixed Greens Art from the Start! I have been babysitting 3 kids (10 and under) of a family friend for the past few years, and have spent a whole lot of time with them. Whenever I see them, we spend our time together doing anything outdoors. From playing tag to jumping on a trampoline… sometimes a music lesson sneaks in too; whatever we decide to do it’s guaranteed fun! My mom is an elementary school teacher, and from a young age I frequently helped her out in the classroom. It has sparked my interest in teaching and getting to know more about kids and how they see the world. In the future, I hope to combine my passion for music and education/creativity to enhance my skills for a career in teaching. I’m excited for another year at Camp Ever Greens & Mixed Greens…I have nothing but high hopes!
Substitute Teacher : Raynee Jervan
Hello! My name is Raynee Jervan and I am very excited about being a part of 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’m currently working 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: Bridget Laugesen
Hi everyone! My name is Bridget and I’m so excited to be joining 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: Mahagony Walker (Mo)
Family Connections Coordinator: Maria Freebairn-Smith
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
Hi there! My name is Jerolyn and I am, without a doubt, excited to be a part of the Mixed Greens family! I am from the Sacramento area and currently go to school at Sonoma State University with a focus in Elementary Teaching. Working with kids for the past 2 years has led me to a pivotal moment in my teaching journey, which is why I chose the path of working with children. I’ve learned so much from these kiddos, I hope that I can have the same effect on them as they do for me! Being a part of the lives of this upcoming generation is so exciting to me; sharing my values, interests, and culture. I am incredibly grateful to have this opportunity at Mixed Greens to expand and mold the minds of these children! Some things about me: I love being out in nature, whether that’s going on a hike or going to the beach, it gives me peace of mind…I also enjoy going to the gym, reading books, and going out with friends!