WHAT IF LEARNING AND PLAY AREN’T TWO SEPARATE THINGS?
"Play is an active form of learning that unites the mind, body, and spirit.”
–National Association for the Education of Young Children
"I would build forts in the stinging nettles, walk the worn paths that curled through the woods and create hideouts among the bushes."
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During my early childhood days my family life was very chaotic and dysfunctional. When I was 5 my parents separated, and we had to move to a small town in East Tennessee to live with my grandmother. While living there and not fully understanding what was happening, I was drawn to play in the woods and creeks by myself to seek solace. After 2 years of living there my parents decided to get back together and we moved back to Chattanooga. The next 6 years were very volatile, and I would seek solitude and peace in the woods across the street from my house. I would build forts in the stinging nettles, walk the worn paths that curled through the woods and create hideouts among the bushes. This was my escape from the craziness that was going on within my home. It was not until I read Richard Louv’s book Last Child in the Woods that I realized that I had been drawn into nature on those occasions by the Creator to get healing and comfort.
I have been an educator now for over 35 years. I have spent all these years primarily as a physical education teacher for grades K-4. Over the last 7 years I have been introducing outdoor education to all students I have taught. I have built and introduced a raised bed garden to my school. I have also planned and built a nature playground on both the upper grade playground and the pre-school and kindergarten playgrounds.
This has led me to attend numerous conferences and training on this subject. I have attended Forest Kindergarten Teacher Training at Cedarsong Nature School, in Vashon Island, Washington. Cedarsong is one of the first Forest Kindergarten programs in the United States. I also attended Children Learning with Nature Institute at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
I completed training at the Wauhatchie Forest School in Chattanooga with Dr. Jean Lomino, PH.D. I have also completed the Forest School Training Institute’s Forest Teacher training as well as the Forest Director training.
These trainings have provided the knowledge and encouragement to pursue my own school.
WonderWoods Nature School is my dream coming to reality.
My wife and I have lived in Franklin for the past 27 years and we have two beautiful daughters who are both teachers. We have been married for 35 years and attend Grace Chapel in Leipers Fork. We welcomed our first grandchild into this world in June of 2020. We are also the caregivers to Mowgli and Tilly, our two dogs. We enjoy walking and hiking for exercise.