The Director

A bit about Heather:

After a childhood in Miami, FL, full of babysitting and tutoring, I carried my love of children and teaching into college as I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of Central Florida in 2000.  While in Orlando, I taught in a Varying Exceptionalities Pre-Kindergarten, as well as in a mainstream Public Kindergarten classroom.  During college, and for the first four years that I lived in San Francisco, I was a nanny and loved the close interaction with the families and children that I was blessed to be able to work with.  However, the call of the classroom returned me to teaching and I finished my years in San Francisco teaching at a wonderful preschool, employing the methodologies of the Reggio Emilia Early Childhood Education child-directed approach, which I had studied in college as well as in Reggio Emilia, Italy.

After returning to Florida and blessedly becoming a mother, I decided I could not miss a moment of time with my sons Jadon and Dax, so I chose to stay at home with them; but I also could not stay away from my love of teaching and being with children, so I decided to open a Family Child Care Home in order to do it all at once!  Thus brought about the ABC (Ashton Black Creative) Center, a licensed Day Care facility, that I owned, operated, and enjoyed for 2 years in Ft. Lauderdale.  During that time, I achieved my CA Child Development Site Supervisor Permit, and we returned to the Bay Area in 2010 to fulfill our dream of opening a mixed-age green preschool!  In 2019, we welcomed our third son, Jasper, and we are so happy to add yet another sprout to our Mix ♥

In 2004, I earned a Child Development Master Teacher Credential in California to add to my Multiple Subject Teaching Credential earned in Florida, and have also completed postgraduate coursework in Early Childhood Special Education and Educational Administration at the City College of San Francisco and UC Santa Cruz.  Soon after opening the first Mixed Greens, I earned my Program Director Permit, the highest Child Development credential offered by the CA Commission on Teacher Credentialing.   Additionally, I am a member of the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance (NAREA), the Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (AEOE), and the Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI), and of course, am certified in Pediatric CPR and First Aid.  I have also been a presenting member of the Innovative Teacher Project, and enjoy continued participation with that network in order to remain abreast of the most current Best Practices in Early Childhood Education.  in 2015,  I became a California Early Childhood Mentor Teacher to help prepare and enrich new teachers from SSU and SRJC and others in my field as we strive to create the highest quality Early Childhood Education experience for as many children as possible!

After searching through so many school site possibilities, and much frustration due to the institutional feel of most of what we were finding, we stumbled upon what we felt was a perfect place in Santa Rosa in 2010. Regarding environment as one of a child’s many teachers, I feel that we have been truly blessed with our “OG” campus, a beautiful beginning place for us all to grow, learn, and play together; however, being residential, we were stuck at a very low capacity for a long time, and very limited in our ability to share our program with the many folks who wanted to join our crew. Finally, after years of searching (and years of waiting for many families), we found another amazing site in which to expand our community.  We were thrilled to incorporate our facility at the Farmstead on Lia Lane into the Mix in 2017, and have been so blessed with that beautiful campus and the opportunity to serve even more local children!  Our Greens community continued to grow, as did our waitlist, and we are so very happy to have been invited by Congregation Ner Shalom to share their amazing space in Cotati so that we can again expand our services in Fall of 2021…how wonderful to get to grow our program as we all grow together in so many ways!

I am so grateful that my husband Andrew has devoted so much of his time and talents to this collaborative project – building all of our beautiful furniture and structures that make our sites so special (not to mention all the behind the scenes support to make our business successful).  Through his business, Pure Black Inc, we are blessed with custom installations at all of our sites, making each space truly unique and perfect for our children and environments.  We have had so much fun building our green dreams with these schools and are so honored by the beautiful community we have become.  I so look forward to enjoying the wonder of childhood with your family, at any or all of our fabulous Green programs!  Thank you for being a part of the fun!

With Sincere Gratitude,

Heather Ashton Black