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: 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!
Seedlings Teacher: Katia Filatov
Hi, my name is Katia Filatov and I am so excited to join the Mixed Greens community! I recently received 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 may also visit to Mixed Greens! I am so grateful that I get the chance to be a part of this community, and I can’t wait to meet everyone!
Flowers Teacher: Mahagony Walker
Organic Gardening Teacher: Rachel Finton
My name is Rachel Finton and this is my seventh year as an educator. I have my Master’s Degree in Teaching and Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from the University of Southern California. I have taught Kindergarten through Second Grade, K-6 Music, and founded a home-based Waldorf Preschool when my daughter Emma was born. I am currently enrolled in Sophia Institute’s Online Waldorf Teacher Training Program and look forward to applying all that I am learning in my studies to the Garden Teacher position. I have a passion for the natural world and enjoy caring for our home garden. Learning about the local wild edible plants and how to care for the different varieties of fruits/vegetables in each season brings me so much joy! To teach children how to grow their own organic food and become self-sustainable is a lifelong journey, where we learn and grow together. I am thrilled to be a part of Mixed Greens Preschool and to bring my unique skills to life in the garden!
Atelierista: Jessica Crosier
Hello, my name is Jessica Crosier and I am incredibly excited to have the opportunity to join the Mixed Greens family as your Atelierista. I was first drawn to working with children after my first 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 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 and have learned so much from each experience, and look forward to continuing to grow.
Growing up in Sonoma County, I have established a great appreciation and passion for exploring the outdoors and caring for our environment. I enjoy hiking with my pup Mia, biking, gardening, swimming, climbing, and all things outdoors. As the Atelierista, I hope to create activities that encourage children’s curiosity and passion for the natural world.
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 artistic work, or any other form of creative expression they feel fit. I am so happy to be joining the Mixed Greens family and am looking forward to meeting everyone and getting the chance to watch and grow alongside your little ones!
Teacher: Emily Sims
Teacher: Lauren Johnson
Hi, my name is Lauren Johnson and I am so happy to be a part of the Mixed Greens Family! I’m currently taking classes toward becoming a teacher 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.
Teacher: Courtney Hunter
Hi everyone, I’m Courtney Hunter, and I’m very excited to be a part of the Mixed Greens team! I’ve been working with kids for the past 15 years as a preschool teacher, nanny, summer camp counselor, field trip teacher, and Camp Ever Greens Counselor. 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: Kyla Guinon
Hi there! My name is Kyla Guinon and I am a fourth year at Sonoma State University. I am majoring in Human Development and double minoring in Early Childhood studies and Biology. I am originally from the Peninsula in the Bay Area. Since I was 16 I have been lucky enough to have many opportunities where I got to work with children. I have worked as a swim coach, swim instructor, lifeguard, and camp counselor. Something fun I do at Sonoma State is that I am on the Equestrian Team. Some of my passions include surfing and swimming.
Substitute Teacher: JD Oppermann
Hello, my name is Gustav James David Oppermann VI (but you can call me “JD” 🙂) My interest in early childhood began, as many of our defining moments do, with tragedy. In 2013 I was in a car accident that put me in a coma for 3 months and in-patient at Washington Hospital Center for another 4. Though I had been in college before the accident, it was only as a patient recovering from Traumatic Brain Injury that I was first exposed to the budding science of neuroplasticity. In the proceeding years of recovery, I had the unique opportunity to witness the power of the human mind to adapt, learn and grow!
Today, I have a bachelors in Early Childhood Education and will be approaching my 4th year as a preschool teacher! Guiding my practice, I graciously apply the lessons I learned in recovery to support and nurture children in their lives, valuing and appreciating the nuance of each child’s unique development and journey. I hope to stay at Mixed Greens as long as I can, squeezing in as many hours in the classroom as possible before I head off to a PhD program. Looking forward to meeting everyone and growing smarter, stronger, kinder and wiser together!
Substitute Teacher & Camp Ever Greens Counselor – Cole Brady
Howdy! My name’s Cole Brady, and I’m very much looking forward to starting work at Camp Ever Greens and Mixed Greens! I’m 20 years old and 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 two 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 this year at Camp Evergreens & Mixed Greens, I have nothing but high hopes!
Substitute Teacher: Nikki Preston
Hello! My name is Nikki Joanne Preston, Ed.D., also known as NJo. I raised three children with a focus on stimulating their imaginations and creative abilities through a variety of art and nature projects. My expertise lies in being able to enhance the learning abilities of children by introducing them to creative curricula and programs focused on special educational strategies to improve the development of sensory/perceptual-motor skills, language, cognition, and memory.
I hold my M.A. Education in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership and Management from Alliant International University, San Diego, California. My goals in becoming a teacher/tutor is to engage and inspire children to love learning and to develop and implement lessons that develop the child’s understanding of the subject matter. It is important to listen to the needs and concerns of the child and the parent(s)
It is with great passion for learning and education that I approach every day with the values of modesty, integrity, responsibility, awareness, initiation, and perhaps most importantly, collaboration. It is the ability to motivate and collaborate with children, parents, team members, and leaders to accomplish results that could not be otherwise that I pride myself in the most.
Hello, my name is Grace McKenna, and I am happy to be a Counselor at Camp EverGreens, and a sub at Mixed Greens! I have been working at Camp Evergreens for about six years now and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it! I am currently in school to become an elementary school teacher. This job has definitely done nothing but reassure my career goal. I spend a lot of time with my three younger siblings,(10 and under) two of which went to Mixed Greens. I love them to the moon and back; if not for my siblings I never would have been introduced to the Mixed Greens family. I’m looking forward to the crafts, games, learning experiences, and activities that are to come this year!
I’m a huge animal fan, in my freetime I love spending time with my two Boston Terriers Stallone and Shumway! If I’m not out walking the dogs I’m thinking of new crafts and activities that can be done at Camp Evergreens.
Environmental Teacher: Cam West
(In person program on hold due to Covid – Cam will be providing Distance Learning via Zoom!)
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!
Spanish Teacher: Maestra Ofelia (program on hold due to Covid)
Ofelia is originally from Nicaragua and arrived in Sonoma County in 2018, where she is journeying through the adventure of raising a bilingual family with young children. Through Colors of Spanish, and as a provider of Preschool Spanish to a number of Santa Rosa preschools, she is enjoying the sharing of Latin American culture and history to the next generation of multi-cultural and bilingual Californians. You can often find her at local Spanish Story Times – either as a provider or participant as she further develops her skills as a language leading instructor and mother.
Substitute Teacher: Kathy Kuula
Hello! My name is Kathy Kuula. I grew up mostly in Sonoma County, but also attended school in Mexico and France. I have certificates in Child Development and Floral Design from Santa Rosa Junior College, and attained a BA in Anthropology from Sonoma State University. I have over 10 years preschool teaching experience as well as 17 years floral experience and I am currently certified in Pediatric CPR/First Aid/AED. I am the mother of a wonderful 20 year old daughter. I discovered Mixed Greens when my two nieces attended the Hoen Avenue Campus. I look forward to working with you and your children to prepare them for their future!