Colleen Smith, Director, Teacher
Born and raised in Yakima, Colleen’s favorite memories from childhood revolve around playing outside with her brothers. Now, with three children of her own, she is passionate about getting every child around the 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, learning 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. Post graduation, 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, she graduated from Cedarsong Nature School’s Forest Kindergarten Teacher certification program.
Colleen lives in Yakima with her husband Patrick, daughter Caroline (10), son Luke (4), daughter Keira (9 mo.), and dog Barley. Outside of Sol Shine, Colleen can be found teaching yoga around town, reading the latest book club read, SUPing the Yakima River, or skiing at White Pass.
Elizabeth Shakespear, Lead 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. Spending time outside every day is a priority for Elizabeth, in all weather conditions, and her heart is right here in this beautiful valley.
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, beekeeping, or spending time with friends and family.
Beka Pruitt, Teacher
Beka teaches alongside Elizabeth on Tuesdays and Thursdays. With a passion for art and everything nature, she inspires students to explore their creativity while playing at Sol Shine.
Not only does Beka teach, she is continuing her own education at Central Washington University as a full-time student. Beka is the mom of two wonderful teenagers, loves practicing yoga, playing with her dog, and spending time outside.
Danny Schuppe, Substitute Teacher
Danny is our new substitute teacher. He currently also works as a para professional for the Yakima School District and as a Nature Day Camp counselor at the Yakima Arboretum in the summer time.
Danny grew up in Yakima, loves being outdoors, and finds working with kids fun and rewarding. He is considering a degree in teaching and we’ll certainly be encouraging that!