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Ringwood, IL 60072
- Renee McCauley
- Mary Fluger
- Kristin Calvert
- Jennifer Ridout
- Alex Bujak
- Abby Burgess
- Julie Austin
- Brittney Thomas
- Connie McDermitt
- Jessica Catalano
- Rachel Wallace
- Melissa Bender
- Lindsey Daurio
- Kelly Watson
Channeling our inner child...
We staff members at Nature's Scholars each have a story to tell; but we always try to remember that we were once children too. To learn more about each member of the team, click their name in the staff list.
Certified Food Service Manager
When I was little we didn’t live by many kids and we were new to the area so I didn’t have many friends. I played with my 5 older brothers who taught me the love of playing outside, sledding, building snow forts, ice skating, biking, swimming and games of kick the can and ghost in the graveyard.
I think that is why I love kids, they make you remember what fun it was to be a kid. They make you slow down and see life through their eyes - seeing the wonder of all the little things while outside playing, like a bug crawling, flower petals' softness, "helicopters" falling from the trees. You can see the questions in their eyes.
It’s so rewarding teaching a child to be independent, the excitement when they finally accomplish a task on their own and then having them teach another child to do the same.
Certified Food Service Manager
I was shy when I was little. I did not speak in class until the third grade. I could talk just fine, but why? You learn so much from watching. I loved hopping on our bikes with all our "gear" for the day and returning by dinner. When you return as an adult to that spot (if it’s still there), you realize, it was just a little ways from your house and mom could probably hear everything we were doing on a good breezy day (in the right direction)! Perhaps, I choose not to talk because in all our "neighborhood productions" I was the dog (or the baby). At least I got to be Toto once!
You should hear me now! I’m making up for lost time. Children need the opportunity to express themselves, whether in words, play, or experiences. With a positive attitude everything is better! A day without children is a day without sunshine.
Growing up I can remember always being outside, whether it was pretending I was a princess in the woods across the street from my house, or testing my limits while I was climbing a tree. Try and think of your favorite childhood memory… I bet you it was outside. Ask yourself, do your children have the opportunities to make those same memories?
Not only did I make memories; I learned some important lessons playing outside. I learned that if you climb a tree too high, you can’t get down, but I was so proud of myself for climbing that high. My parents never put me on top of the slide; they made me climb it myself. And if I couldn’t climb it, then that is one goal I could make for myself the next time we came to the park.
Being outside is not just about getting dirty (even though it’s fun). It’s about making memories, learning lessons, and making goals for yourself, just like you do in life.
When I was little I loved being outside and playing school with my little brother. When it came to being outside, my mom would always have a hard time getting me back in. I was lucky enough to grow up in a neighborhood that had so many children my age. I loved to ride my bike, play with my Skip It, or get all the children together to play Red Rover.
Even in the rain I wanted to sit in a puddle and make a mud pie. When I was stuck inside, my favorite thing to do was make my brother sit at my desk and I would play school with him. I would set up my chalkboard and write letters and numbers on the board and help my brother learn them. I’m not always sure he liked that game but I was older and he mostly listened to me at that time.
Teaching has been in me for as long as I can remember. Children are little sponges who just want to soak up anything and everything they can. They are our future and I am so blessed to get to be a part of watching them grow into little individuals.
I am the oldest of four children - two sisters and a brother. When I was younger, my absolute favorite thing to do was to play babies. The day my first younger sister was born, all my attention and nurturing was focused onto her instead of my dolls. I have always had such an interest in helping children grow and succeed.
As I grew older I found myself trying to keep up with all my older cousins, whether it be building forts out of things we found outside or just helping feed the animals that my grandparents had on their farm. I have 24 cousins in my family - older, younger, boys and girls. My family is very close and I think that family involvement has such a great impact on a child’s education and desire for learning.
Instead of looking to famous philosophers and motivational speakers, a child is the greatest ray of inspiration. They have the ability to show you that life is unbelievably beautiful and that you should slow down and really pay attention to the simple things. Whether it be just the sound of the rain on a rooftop or the smiles on everyone’s face when they say their first word or write their name! Children appreciate everything this world presents and I think that we should start following their lead!
Almost all of my childhood memories involve being outside. If I wasn’t running around the soccer field, then I was running around the neighborhood. The standing rule was to come home when the street lights came on, but often times I was having too much fun and had to hurry home before it got too dark. After all, exploring the field behind my friend’s house, riding bikes, and playing pretend with forks and knives made out of dandelion stems was very important work.
I was not a squeamish girl growing up. I got dirty, hunted the river for “moon rocks”, played with bugs, and caught snakes in the yard. This willingness to explore and try new things is something I want to bestow to children. I want them to not be afraid of nature, to get dirty and have fun exploring new things.
As our society turns more to technology every day, I think it is important that we give our children the same benefits of playing outside that we got. While computers and video games are fun, there are just some things you can’t learn sitting in front of a screen. There is always something new to explore, a lesson to be learned, and fun to be had right outside.
I grew up in Lake Zurich (back when it was a small farm town) along with my two older sisters. I spent all my days outside swimming, bike riding, climbing trees, exploring the woods and swamps for frogs, turtles and other critters. I used to bring home all kinds of animals like raccoons, ducks, geese, dogs - whatever I felt needed a home. My parents were not as excited as I was.
We spent our weekends camping all over Illinois, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Canada. I learned to fish and hunt (for food). I wasn't very fond of that. Later in life, I spent all my time on my friend's farm riding horses and playing with the baby pigs and barn cats and kittens. I currently foster kittens for a local rescue and have raised 5 kids.
As a single mom, I decided to get into child care. I enjoy kids and was able to bring my own children to work with me. It has worked out great for all of us. I am so happy to work for a company that is a compassionate about nature as I am.
When I was younger whild in school, I was the shy, quiet one, just sitting in the grass, playing by myself, watching my classmates play games like kickball and tag. At home, I was the energetic kid always in the mud, picking flowers, learning to skateboard at the age of 3 by my older sister and her friends. If I wasn't the one who was falling off the board, I was the one helping the ones who did, making sure they didn't cry and got home safe.
That was until I moved to Missouri, where I would help my grandfather on the farm. I loved milking the cows, feeding the chickens, fishing, and chasing the pigs. When I wasn't helping him, I was making dreamcatchers out of sticks and bird feathers that I found around the farm with my great grandmother. Sometimes I took care of my baby cousin, my little mini-me.
Today, I want kids to be inspired, to explore their environment. I want to give them the opportunity to have a fulfilling experience in nature instead of choosing to be inside, playing video games and watching TV. I also want to teach them to interact in nature with everyday lessons.
"Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."
- Ancient Indian Proverb
I love being a teacher because I enjoy being around children. They are happy, exuberant, spontaneous and creative. An early childhood teacher lays the foundation for future learning. Children have a curiousity about the world around them. I want them to feel connected to their world and the natural wonders of it by gardening, reading outside, playing in all kinds of weather and just exploring what nature has to offer them.
For as long as I can remember, I have had a love for learning. There isn't just one way to teach or to learn, and that is what makes the experience of gaining knowledge so magical to me. Think about it, there isn't one day that goes by that we don't learn about something new! When I attain new information, I want to share it with those around me. What better place to do that than with children in a classroom?
Children WANT to learn. There is a reason for the one million questions they ask in a day. They are processing things they see, hear, and experience every day. I want to be that teacher that helps guide them to their answers while making it fun and memorable for all involved.
Joining the family at Nature's Scholars is my opportunity to help the children love learning as much as I do, if not more. This is a new experience for all of us! As a child, I played outdoors but never really took the time to appreciate nature and all of the opportunities it provides to learn new things. Being here will allow me to not only teach but to learn alongside my children. I'm excited to get dirty, make memories, ask questions, and spend my days learning.
When I was little, my mom ran an at-home daycare. During the school year, she would get all 8 of us on the but to school, but the summers were different. We were playing outside all day, playing tag, hide-and-seek, pretending we were forest rangers and making mudpies. We had a treehouse in the backyard and we would go up into the "tower" and look out for animals and - as forest rangers - we also had to look out for forest fires. Thankfully, we never found any. The 8 of us also liked to go on nature walks to find rare plants, collect them and bring them back to the "scientist" (my mom) to determine the rarity.
The memories I have growing up outside playing, getting dirty and using our imaginations in nature played a big role in my life. I now implement that in my everyday teaching and feel that it is a great tool to use for learning and teaching our younger generation about nature and the importance of protecting our planet.
I am the youngest and the only girl of four children in my family. Growing up with three brothers was not always easy for a girly girl but that never stopped me from playing catch and getting a little dirt on my hands. In fact, one of my favorite memories of playing outside was a day of nonstop rain, and when the skies finally cleared, my brother and I were ready to take on the puddles of mud. We were covered from head to toe trying to perfect the best mud pie we could! I'm pretty sure my parents weren't too happy about us tracking mud into the house, but that didn't stop me from exploring the great outdoors.
One thing I have always known about myself is the love I have for helping children grow and learn. There is something wonderful about watching the children in your care hit milestones and develop personalities right before your eyes. I couldn't imagine doing anything other than working with children. I think that it is important to use our surroundings right outside of our doors to encourage children to learn. It is how I learned and how many of our ancestors learned before us! I am excited that I can share my love for exploring outside with the children in my classroom.
My family used to call me "Blaze" when I was little. In my three-year-old mind, I was a frolicking black pony that would explore the field in front of my house. My knees would bruise from galloping down the driveway. I was the only child for a while. My imagination shot through the roof at times. Since it was just me and a few neighbor friends who lived in a world where iPads and DVR's didn't exist, I gravitated towards nature and animals. My family played a huge part in my love for the outside. Whether it was collecting rocks with my Nana, saving lost chipmunks in the window wells with my Dad or waiting until the lake froze over to take my annual winter hike with my Grandpa to look for animal tracks and treasures, it all excited me.
That's why I've fallen in love with teaching. It's exciting! Children, to me, are an escape from that everyday life that we all get caught up in. We forget to be adventurous, get dirty and step outside of our world and visit their world more. It's amazing to see them be curious and creative. I love to see their eyes light up when they see a grasshopper in the grass, or to explain to them how and why the leaves change. Wisdom begins with wonder, and magic happens when you step outside.
My favorite childhood memories are of my family and I going camping every summer. I cherished climbing trees, hiking, swimming, and gazing at the stars. When I was not camping, my summer days would be filled with swimming in our backyard pool, playing softball, going to the park, and catching fireflies at night. I spent as much time outside as I possibly could during my childhood. When winter came, I would simply exchange my swimsuit for a snowsuit and spend countless hours building elaborate igloos and sledding hills in my backyard. Nothing, not even the weather, could keep me from having fun outside.
Children are being born into a technology-based society and because of this they are missing out on the wonderful experience of simply going outside to play. Going outside to play has many benefits such as: strengthening their gross motor skills, developing their creativity, and expanding on their imagination. However, there is one benefit that truly stands out the most and one that has been forgotten: the benefit of experiencing the world through their own senses - seeing the beautiful colors in the sky, hearing the birds chirping, and feeling the wind on their faces. These are experiences that are being lost when kids stare at screens all day. As a child, my parents gave me many opportunities to experience the world with my own senses. Now it is my turn to give that opportunity to your child through my teachings.