Colleen Smith, Director, Teacher
Born and raised in Yakima, Colleen Smith’s favorite memories from childhood all revolve around playing outside with her brothers. Now, with children of her own, she is passionate about getting every child around our valley in the outdoors as much as possible.
In 2007 Colleen graduated from the University of Montana with a B.A. in Biology. Post college, she became a guide for Missoula Outdoor Learning Adventures. It was here that she discovered her love for getting kids outside and immersed in nature. Not only were the kids in the programs experiencing big adventures, but gaining confidence, developing relationships, and learning life-skills.
This love for teaching inspired her to enroll and complete a residency-based Master in Teaching degree program. She taught 2nd grade, 3rd grade and 5th grade math and science at public elementary schools around the Yakima Valley. In the fall of 2017, after taking some time off from teaching to stay home with kids, she graduated from Cedarsong Nature School’s Forest Kindergarten Teacher certification program.
Colleen lives in Yakima with her husband Patrick, daughter Caroline (8), son Luke (3), and dog Barley. Outside of Sol Shine, Colleen can be found teaching yoga around town, reading the latest book club read, SUPing the Yakima, or skiing at White Pass.
Elizabeth Watt, Teacher
Elizabeth grew up playing outside day and night along with her many brothers and sister, thanks to an avid outdoorsman father and a nature loving mother, both of whom made it clear that most of life's important lessons could be learned through experiences in nature.
A passion for the outdoors and adventure took Elizabeth to exploring all 48 contiguous states in the U.S., visiting every major National Park, summiting many of the gorgeous mountain peaks in the West, and climbing many of the best rock climbing destinations spanning our country. Elizabeth was privileged to be able to spend three months exploring and studying the natural wonders of Australia where she worked on organic farms and nature reserves, and after that, was fortunate to get to explore Paraguay, Chile, Patagonia, and South Africa. Spending time outside every day is a priority for Elizabeth, in all weather conditions, and her heart is right here in this beautiful valley. Washington is one of the most geographically diverse and beautiful states, we are all lucky to live here.
Elizabeth received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Western Washington University in 2008. She taught Kindergarten and first grade as well as mixed age special education groups until 2016 when she began to transition away from teaching in public schools out of desire to find a more holistic approach to education, such as the Cedarsong model at Sol Shine Nature Preschool.
Elizabeth is also a certified health coach, mindfulness and meditation instructor, and yoga teacher. She is the mother of one daughter and lives in Naches. When she’s not teaching and learning at Sol Shine, Elizabeth will be found teaching classes at the YMCA, Yoga Collective, playing outside in her favorite places, reading a good book, or spending time with friends and family. She is also learning the art of beekeeping so you may see her swollen up occasionally as a result of bee stings.