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    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 (12), son Luke (6), daughter Keira (2), 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, Substitute 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. 


    Danny Schuppe, Teaching Aide

    For Danny, the Yakima Area Arboretum feels like home. He spent a great deal of his childhood exploring and playing on the grounds (hey, that's what happens when your mom is the director). 


    After graduating from high school Danny, started working at the Arboretum's “Nature Day Camp”. Here, he discovered his love for working with children. This discovery lead to him working as a Para-educator in the Yakima School District.


    Over the past few years of working at the arboretum Danny has found a real interest in insects. One of his goals is to catalog all of the insects that can be found on grounds. Many of the bugs he’s been able to identify are thanks to our very own preschoolers who turn out to be great bug finders.


    When Danny isn’t at Sol Shine or searching for bugs, he’ll probably be camping, spending time with friends, hiking, or attempting to whittle something.


    Jonna Flores, Student Teacher

    After years spent traveling and living around the world, Jonna and her family have settled in Yakima, captivated by the beauty of Washington state as well as the limitless adventures it offers. 


    Although she has moved often, she has never lost her love of caring for children. This is evident as she is currently working towards a degree in Human Development with a focus on Early Childhood Education through Washington State University. 


    Some of her hobbies include spending time with family and friends, knitting up something cozy, reading a good book, and beating her partner at chess. Otherwise, she stays busy homeschooling her children (9, 11, and 14) and working on her own studies. 

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