Nature’s Classroom

Teacher Heidi

Heidi Mann Heidi Mann earned a master’s degree in education from Portland State University with her research and work on early childhood and outdoor learning. She is on the cutting edge of her field. She leads parent and teacher education workshops. She is part of a growing movement of professional educators who focus on the importance of nature based learning. Heidi and her colleagues understand that there is a fundamental knowledge base which comes from experiences spent exploring our natural world.

From her earliest years running summer camps for the park and rec, to her time studying elementary education at Indiana University, to her years volunteering as a teacher on two different Native American reservation, Heidi has spent her life in education developing curricula that allows children to learn valuable life skills while engaged in fun activities. Students have so much fun stomping in puddles, hunting for animal footprints and building nature forts, they do not realize they are learning from her years of training and experience.

Having spent ten years as the director and lead teacher at a cooperative nature based outdoor preschool and kindergarten, Heidi Mann knows the value of a family oriented learning environment. Heidi collaborates with parents, neighbors, friends, and colleagues to bring your child a vast array of resources. On a given day, our Forest Friends might watch a parent spin wool or have a demonstration from a hobby bee keeper or talk to a birder from the Audubon Society. These experiences come from relationships built over time and are intentionally organized in a deep educational system that appears spontaneous and celebrates community.

Recommendations and resume available upon request.

Assistant Teacher Maddie

Maddie Cole Maddie Cole is an assistant teacher at Forest Friends. She graduated from the University of Iowa in 2012 with a B.A. in History and a Museum Studies certificate. She followed it with a Professional Development Certificate in Free-Choice Learning from Oregon State University and will be starting courses in September to earn a Master’s in Early Childhood Education through Portland State University.

Maddie has enjoyed working in many different hands-on educational settings. Internships at Living History Farms in Urbandale, IA and the City of Westminster Archives in London, UK sparked her interest in interactive, explorative learning experiences. She pursued this interest for two years as a PLAYologist and Educator at The Iowa Children’s Museum. During her time there, she led classroom outreach programs, scout events, day camps, field trips, and a monthly Nature Play program. Recently, Maddie worked at Kinderfarm Preschool in Iowa City. As a lead teacher in the pre-K classroom, she loved working with the kids on science experiments, art projects, and cooperative games. In addition to classroom activities, she and the kids cared for the barn animals, tended the garden, and rambled around the pond and fields to connect with nature.

Maddie loves everything that Forest Friends offers. We are thrilled to have her!