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 & Sprouts Teacher: Olivia DeMarais
Hi, my name is Olivia and I am really excited to be a part of the Mixed Greens Community! I hold a Site Supervisor Permit and absolutely love working with children! I graduated from Chico State, 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!
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.
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.
Seedlings Co-Teacher: Catherine McCracken-Jones
Hi there! My name is Catherine McCracken-Jones, and I am a Certified Positive Discipline Parent & Classroom Educator and Trainer through the Positive Discipline Association. I live in Santa Rosa, California with my family, dog and two cats.
I have 25 years of experience Early Childhood Education as both a Teacher and Director. While working for the Santa Rosa Education Cooperative, umbrella for the Santa Rosa Co-op Preschool & K-8 Independent Charter school, I learned about this wonderful thing called Positive Discipline… I obtained my initial training and started teaching Positive Discipline to families in 2003. I can’t imagine doing anything more rewarding!
I worked for the SREC for 18 years and sadly, it had to close it’s doors in 2016 due to lack of a permanent site. While with the SREC, I was the Director of the preschool as well as the childcare for 8 years. Before that I was one of the preschool teachers. I also taught Positive Discipline classes to the parents of all age groups as well as mentored teachers. While the school closing was a blow, it opened another door of opportunity to start my own Positive Discipline business.
I was a Presenter for the Sonoma County Early Learner’s Conference at Sonoma State University in 2015 and 2017, and have a passion for helping families and classrooms build a strong foundations of Mutual Respect. I am so excited to join the Mixed Greens team and community!
Seedlings Co-Teacher: Heather Harrison
Hi there, my name is Heather Harrison. I am more than thrilled to be a part of this amazing community of Mixed Greens! I completed teacher training hours at Mixed Greens years ago, and have been the Director/Counselor at Camp Ever Greens and a substitue at Mixed Greens for about 3 years now. 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 favorite activities. I have also had an extreme connection with animals, always training my dogs’ basic obedience and specialty tricks as well. I was 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 earned my Child Development teaching certificate from SRJC. 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!
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 (Art Teacher): 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 9 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 three 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!
Environmental Teacher: 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 every day 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 am currently working towards my Child Development degree through Theoria College.
I enjoy the privilege of assisting children in therapeutic horseback riding, and love introducing Mixed Greens kids to animals right in our own backyard. 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!
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 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!
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!
Teacher: Rosa Grant
Hi, my name is Rosa and I have taught in the educational field for 20 years. I have my Bachelors in Early Childhood Education with a Special Education emphasis. I have completed most of my MA course work in Early Education / Special Education in Moderate / Severe. I have worked as a babysitter, nanny, Aide in Special Education classroom, Todddler Teacher for 9 years and Infant Teacher for 3 years at the SRJC Children’s Center and the last two years as a preschool teacher and substitute. I am so happy to join Mixed Greens, as I really feel it is a good match with all it has to offer, in line with my views on education for children, where extended play is utilized as the best kind of learning, where creative and artistic endeavors are encouraged and scaffolded, and where outdoors and the environment are a priority!
In my personal life, I love traveling, road trips, and any body of water, but especially the ocean as I grew up right by the beach and it is just home for me. I enjoy walks, parks, music and concerts, and outings as a family. I love animals of all kinds! I am creative, love reading, love dancing and trying to acquire new languages! I speak some Spanish.
Our little family has a Siamese cat named Sassy and three fish: Itsy Bitsy glow fish, Big Fat fish and NimNim the Beta. My children: Miari 4, and Micah 3, my bonus children Killian 15, and Lukah 18, and Dad Rico Johan and myself make up our family. I am excited to get to know you and yours!
Substitute Teacher: Courtney Hunter
Hi everyone, I’m Courtney Hunter, and I’m very excited to join the staff over here at Mixed Greens! I’ve been working with kids for the past 15 years as a preschool teacher, nanny, summer camp counselor, and field trip teacher. In 2008 I received my AA in Child Development at the SRJC right here in Sonoma County where I was born and raised.
Being a part of a young child’s learning experience is an incredible gift and learning lesson for all involved! Taking time to slow down and explore our curiosity about the natural world, 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 gardening, creating visual art + music, traveling as much of the globe as possible, and volunteering in my community. I look forward to meeting you all and continuing this learning journey together!
Substitute Teacher: 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!
Hi, I’m Megan and I am so grateful to be part of the Mixed Greens community! 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 (who is also a Mixed Greener), and when I have a free moment, I’m usually experimenting in the kitchen.
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. Guadalupe has been bringing Colors of Spanish to Mixed Greens since 2012 and is a much loved member of our community. 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.
Happy Feet Soccer: Coach Jonny
Jonathan grew up in Northwest Indiana where he played soccer since he could walk. He was selected to the Olympic Development Program at ages 12 & 13. This gave him the opportunity to go and play the beautiful game in Italy, England, Whales, and Costa Rica at a young age. When he got into high school, he made the Chicago Fire Academy team, a youth professional club. After competing nationally, he then transferred to Sonoma State University to finish out his collegiate athletic career. During that time, he was named All Conference Honorable Mention, as a sophomore.
While being a collegiate soccer player, Jonathan would coach the high school aged Identification Camps, as well as assist with the youth camps. Jonathan now coaches for HappyFeet Soccer, where he loves his job of introducing the game of soccer to preschool children. He considers himself fortunate to pass on his love for the game through coaching!
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
Music (& other fun Mess Making): Russ Scarola
Russ is the papa of Mixed Greens alum, Jenner and 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.