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 & Flowers 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 earned my Master’s degree in Education with an emphasis in Early Childhood from 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!
Sprouts Teacher: Kristina Anderson
My name is Kris and I’m thrilled to join the Mixed Greens family! As an undergraduate, I studied Art History and Studio Art at Oberlin College. In my junior year, I lived an art lover’s dream and studied abroad in Siena, Italy. As I traveled around Italy and Europe, I frequently got misty-eyed seeing some of my very favorite works of art and cathedrals.
After graduating in 2012, I started working with kids in elementary school gardens in Los Angeles, and found myself endlessly curious about how to grow as a teacher and gardener. I began taking classes about child development and education, and also trained as a Master Gardener and Permaculture Designer. I completed my Certificate in Early Childhood Education in 2016, and then a Masters in Teaching program in 2018.
The more I learned, the more I felt that the best practices I saw in Early Childhood settings represented some of the most important, exciting ideas about teaching kids of all ages. I saw over and over in school gardens just how much my students benefitted from hands-on learning experiences that allowed them to explore and discover things for themselves. I loved being a part of how many ideas sparked when their innate curiosity and unique interests were celebrated and encouraged. The opportunity to now teach and learn at a school like Mixed Greens is such a dream come true for me. I’m so grateful to work with such a passionate, like-minded group of educators.
Outside of teaching, I love gardening at home, hiking with my dog Milo, camping, cooking, making art, going to art shows and museums, and traveling. In 2016, I got to go back to Siena, Italy with my dad and introduce him to my beloved Italian host parents. I’m dreaming of another trip to Siena sometime soon!
Seedlings & Gymnastics 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!
Organic Gardening Teacher: Kimberly Barbosa Soeiro
Hi! My name is Kimberly Barbosa Soeiro (Miss Kimmie). I’m a graduate of Sonoma State University and Mills College, and a student of herbalism and permaculture. I have previously worked in non-profit organizations, designing and implementing youth programs focusing on health, nutrition, and social justice. One of these programs is the well-known Active Play Every Day program that runs throughout Sonoma County, and encourages children to engage in active recess to promote motor skill growth and interpersonal development. I studied Permaculture Design at the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, and received training at the OAEC’s School Garden Teacher program, where I gained skills related to age appropriate lessons about seed-keeping, soil biology, movement and mindfulness, biodiversity, and organic practices. In my free time, I regularly volunteer at organic farms, gardens, wildlife stewardship programs, and enjoy tending to orchards, gardens, pigs, chickens, and maintaining a wildlife corridor at my home ranch. I am thrilled to be a part of Mixed Greens, and happy to learn and share with people of all ages and abilities!
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 11 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 & Spanish Specialist: 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. 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!
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. Most recently, I completed Spanish Immersion Teacher Training with the fabulous Guadalupe at Colors of Spanish (our long time Spanish teacher) and I have had so much fun sharing what I’ve learned and putting my own twist on our Spanish program here at Mixed Greens!
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 5 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!
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!
Floater Teacher: Laura Baird
Hello my name is Laura Baird, I am married with 2 children (one is a Mixed Greens grad :)) Born and raised in Sonoma County, I am a true country girl! I’ve always loved working with children, starting at the YMCA at age 18. I earned my AA in Social and Environmental Sciences, and also an Associate Teacher certificate. I love to teach about nature and the outdoors, and I have a passion for the Earth!
Floater Teacher: Lauren Johnson
Hi, my name is Lauren Johnson and I am so happy to be a part of the Mixed Greens Family! I recently graduated high school and I’ve been taking care of children and infants for over four 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.
Spanish Teacher: Maestra Ofelia
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: 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!
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!
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.
Music Maker: Ian Wilkerson
Ian Wilkerson is a Board Certified Music Therapist who has refined his musical skills through years of practice, extensive study and performance. A person-centered therapy provider, he specializes in supporting creativity, self-expression and self-empowerment through music. Ian is the founder of Bay Area Music Therapy LLC, and he is also a passionate singer/songwriter and founder of the band Infinite Frequency.
Ian received a Bachelors of Music with dual majors in Music Therapy and Songwriting from Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. Before graduating with honors, he sat as President of the Board for the New England Region Music Therapy Association for Students. In addition, he worked as a therapist while completing a series of five practica and an extensive internship at the Community Music Center of Boston. Ian was faculty Music Therapist at the Community Music Center in San Francisco from 2012-2016, and the Music Therapy Coordinator from 2016-2017. Ian is an active member of the American Music Therapy Association (AMTA), and he is a trained REMO HealthRHYTHMS Facilitator.
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Ian grew up in Santa Rosa. He is a singer/songwriter and guitar player, recording and performing original compositions. His music can be heard at http://www.ianfranklinmusic.com. Ian is the son of a Reichian therapist and comes from a family of healers. As such, Ian works from a holistic perspective and integrates breath-work into his music therapy sessions when appropriate. Furthermore, he specializes in helping people find their own unique and empowered voices through improvisation and songwriting. Ian facilitates one-on-one songwriting sessions as well as group sessions. His principle instruments are guitar and voice, however, he also integrates bass guitar, piano, drums and other instruments into much of the work he does. He provides both music therapy and instruction to all individuals, and focuses on abilities and client preferences to meet the individual’s needs. Additionally, he received his certification training in Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT) from the Center for Biomedical Research in Music (CBRM) at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO. Ian has a broad spectrum of experience within his professional life, including work in the following fields: Children and Adults with Special Needs, Skilled Nursing/Hospice, Corporate Wellness and Team Building, Psychiatric, and Pediatric.