Director & Teacher:  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.

 

 

 

 

nada picAtelierista (Art Teacher)/ Curriculum Specialist: Nada Martin 

Hi, my name is Nada Martin and I am excited take on the role of Atelierista at Mixed Greens! I studied Art at Occidental College in Los Angeles and at the University of California at Berkeley. After completing my BA in the Practice of Art at Berkeley, I continued my education at various institutions in the Bay Area with a focus in Early Childhood Education, and earned my Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from San Francisco State University. I have familiarity and practice with many modes and methods of education, including training in the fluid, constructivist, and experiential Reggio Emilia approach. I have had a 20+ year career in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. I am passionately committed to educating the whole child; heart, body and mind, while fostering critical thinking, independence, compassion, and a lifelong love of learning.

I especially love sharing nature and doing art with children.  It is serendipitous that Heather and I have found each other because we share a common formative influence on our philosophy about the education of young children. We both devoted part of our careers to working at the same preschool in Mill Valley; however, our paths did not cross until we both came to be in Santa Rosa!

 I am of Lebanese and Anglo American descent (Lebanese dad, Anglo mom).  I grew up in the Middle East and Europe, and came to the U.S. during summer trips to visit my mother’s family, and, eventually, for college.  I live in Santa Rosa with my husband, Tony, our son, Dante, our playful mutt, Darwin, and our laid-back turtle, Slider.

 

 

 

 

 

Organic Gardening Teacher: Shona Vargas-Smith shona

Hi, My name is Shona. I have been at Mixed Greens for four years, initially focusing on Science and Math, and moving in to the Garden last year, where I enjoy blending Science experiments and Earth learning!

My daughter India goes to the French American Charter School. I believe that everyone should know two or more languages, and I think it’s silly that America only requires English.  As an SRFACS mama, I also supervise the Walking School Bus for the Camp Ever Greens kids coming over from the French American Charter School!

I have a Bachelors Degree in Cultural Anthropology and Liberal Arts that I received from San Francisco State. I also have a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential from Sonoma State. After getting these credentials I realized that my heart is in young children. I love to see their excitement of coming to school and learning new things. I love to witness the big stages of a child’s life such as learning to talk or not needing to wear diapers anymore. I get to learn new things everyday, but at a child’s perspective…And that gets me excited to come to work everyday!

I have been a vegetarian most of my life and have always eaten lots of vegetables. Eating mixed greens almost everyday…I am excited to be introducing veggies to kids and have them try new things. I have a garden at home that includes veggies year round, native plants, and many kinds of fruit trees.

When I am teaching the kids I like to incorporate a lot of art and books into what we are learning. Don’t surprised if you hear of a crazy science experiment, I love to do those too! I believe that people should always try and learn new things…Working at Mixed Greens allows me to do that!

 

 

 

 

Environments 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 am the Environmental Teacher at the Farmstead Campus and enjoy spending as much time as possible at the Hoen (OG) campus as well!

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!

 

 

 

 

Heather & Violet

Garden 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. I am now enjoying being a Seedlings co-teacher at our Farmstead campus.  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!

 

 

 

guadalupeColors 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.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Movement 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!

 

 

 

 

Substitute Teacher: Laura Baird

Hi, my name is Laura Baird and I was the Organic Gardening teacher before taking some time off to have my baby Leah…she and I are so excited to now return to the Mix, I as a substitute Teacher, and she as a brand new visiting Mixed Greener!  My degree is in Social Science with a double minor in Environmental Sciences and Early Childhood Education.  I also hold a Child Development Associate Teacher Certificate.

The Reggio Emilia approach to learning and teaching has always been my favorite model, and working in the garden has always been something I’ve loved doing, so I am excited to blend these two passions.  I have a garden of my own where I love to grow things to eat.  I have always loved eating from the earth and think it’s important to show children the impact they can make by doing the same!

 I have been working with children for as long as I can remember.  I started with the YMCA and worked with their Healthy Kids and After School program for many years before taking a position as the 24 Hour Fitness Kids’ Club supervisor.   I was also a nanny before having my own son, Nash, who recently graduated from the Farmstead campus.  I have had the pleasure of being a mom while doing part-time Family Social Work.  I am so excited to get my hands dirty and teach the children all about gardening and the environment!

 

 

 

Substitute 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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

graceSubstitute Teacher – Grace McKenna
 
Hello, my name is Grace McKenna, and I am happy to be a Counselor at Camp EverGreens, and now a sub at Mixed Greens!  I recently graduated from ArtQuest at Santa Rosa High School.  I spend at lot of time taking care of my three younger siblings, two Mixed Greens alum, and one new baby!  I aim to one day become an elementary school teacher.  I’m very grateful to have this opportunity to get experience for my future career.  I am a big animal fan and I have a Boston Terrier named Stallone.  I look forward to spending lots of fun time at Mixed Greens and Camp Ever Greens!

 

 

Substitute Teacher:  Megan Izen 

Hi, I’m Megan and I am so grateful to be part of the Mixed Greens community, especially opening the new Lia Lane location! 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 conside

 

amyNutrition / Rainbow Greens: Amy Hudgens

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

Website: busybeenutrition.com

 

 

Music (& other fun Mess Making): Russ Scarola

Russ is the papa of Mixed Greens alum, Jenner, and of current Mixed Greens rock star, 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.