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ENC Nature Preschool Team

Vanessa Sener ENC Nature Preschool Director

email me | 949-629-1044 ext. 201

Vanessa, an Orange County native, attributes her enduring love for the natural world to the formative years she spent exploring the beauty of her hometown, San Clemente.

With a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Pacific Oaks College, Vanessa brings over two decades of expertise as an inclusive Early Years Educator to the Nature Preschool.

Embarking on her ENC journey before the Nature Preschool’s opening, Vanessa was ENC member and transitioned to Camp Naturalist, progressing within the organization, she ascended to key positions as Curriculum Coordinator and Lead Nature Teacher in the Bear Classroom.

Throughout her career, Vanessa has cultivated lasting connections with children, fostering a strong sense of self through play-based, child-led philosophies. Her approach encompasses providing unconditional acceptance, creating inspirational learning experiences, promoting independence, and encouraging reflective engagement.

Vanessa has established a strong foundation for collaboration and leadership, demonstrating her dedication as a mentor in early years education. She is a member of NAEYC and serves on the board of the Orange County Association for the Education of Young Children (OCAEYC), an NAEYC affiliate.

Kendra Azure ENC Nature Preschool Assistant Director

email me | 949-629-1044 ext. 202

Kendra discovered her passion for outdoor education while living and working in the Czech Republic. She believes in designing learning environments that support discovery, creativity, and allow individuals the freedom to cultivate their passions and skills. She strongly believes that nature is an essential model for building healthy systems, relationships, and interdependent communities. 

Kendra received her MEd from Antioch University, NE with a focus in Nature-Based and Place-Based Early Childhood Education. This is her 10th year working in ECE, and in that time she has served as Lead Teacher, Curriculum Coordinator, National Geographic Certified Educator, Tinkergarten Leader, Preschool – 1st grade teacher, and Co-Founder and Director of Education of an early-elementary school in Orange County.

 

In her free time, Kendra enjoys being immersed in nature, traveling, singing, yoga, endlessly reading about education, and pondering educational & philosophical existentialism.

Kathy Satchell Enrollment and Program Administrator

email me | 949-629-1044 ext. 200

With over 35 years in Early Childhood Education, Kathy has dedicated her expertise to children from Toddlers to Pre-K. Her last 25 years have been marked by significant contributions in an administrative capacity.

Serving as the essential glue for the Nature Preschool, Kathy has been an integral part of the team since its inception.Having earned a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education with a minor in Sociology from California State University Fullerton, Kathy is grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with an outstanding community that shares a deep passion for both nature and children.

Growing up in the serene mountain community of Wrightwood, Kathy found herself surrounded by nature, fostering a childhood filled with immersive outdoor activities. From exploring the wooded trails to embracing the tranquility of the mountains, her upbringing in this quaint locale shaped a connection to the natural world.

Kathy finds joy in camping with her husband and two daughters, taking walks with her dogs, and immersing herself in creative crafting projects. Refugio State Beach holds a special place in her heart, as it’s her family’s cherished spot for spending Thanksgiving.

Garden Specialist at ENC Nature Preschool

The Garden Specialist at ENC Nature Preschool spends time with children daily. Children work directly in the soil and garden, strengthening their connection and understanding of the physical world around them. The seasonal transformation that happens in a garden sparks immeasurable learning. Children engage in hands-on experiences, developing a genuine understanding of cause and effect, growth, living, dying and decay. They also develop an insightful understanding of life cycles. This is seen in both plants and animals – from seed to eating or composting, or from egg to larva to pupa to adult. Children learn which plants and animals can be garden helpers or garden harmers and are dutiful with protecting the garden from what might cause harm. Children experience the colorful world of fruits and vegetables by planting, transplanting, harvesting, preparing, and tasting the foods that they’ve helped to grow. Our Garden Specialist bridges connections from home to school by asking children about their home experiences with gardening, cooking, and composting. Through these conversations, children grow a profound respect and love with not only the garden, but the entirety of nature. Nothing is more magical than seeing children explore the meaningful dynamics of a garden! “If kids don’t touch and experience nature, why would they want to save it?”

Devon Kate O’Connor Nature Teacher, Class 1 “Tortoise Classroom”

Devon was born and raised in Ireland where she completed her Bachelor of Science degree before moving to the United States. She has been working with children ages 2-5 for 8 years and has a passion for language development and nurturing independence. When she’s not in the classroom she can be found playing on multiple sports teams, trying out new vegan recipes, or learning something new!

Chavely Morales Martinez Nature Teacher, Class 1, “Tortoise Classroom”

Chavely Morales Martinez received an Associates degree in Early Childhood Education while working in childcare. During her 6 years of teaching she has worked with children between the ages of 2-6. After finishing her degree she transferred to Humboldt State to studying Environmental Studies with an emphasis in Community Organizing. When she is not working, she loves to spend time with her family that lives in Northern California. She also loves to spend time on the road exploring new places!

Emily Pavlik Nature Teacher, Class 1 “Tortoise Classroom”

Emily has been in the Early Childhood Education field for 5 years. She graduated from Orange Coast College with an associate degree and a certificate in Early Childhood Childhood education. She is currently completing her BA at Cal State Fullerton as an Early Childhood major. While at the Nature Center, Emily enjoys hiking in the redwoods, creating music, and engaging in art and paint activities. In her free time, Emily loves reading, traveling, going to spin, and doing yoga.

Emma Ripplinger Nature Teacher, Class 2, “Coyote Classroom”

Emma is thrilled to be a part of the ENC team! She has been teaching preschool in various capacities for the last 8 years and has loved and learned from each experience. Emma received her BA in Education Sciences, with minors in Psychology and Social Behavior and Philosophy, from UC Irvine in 2018 and she has a M.A. in Early Childhood Development from Pacific Oaks College of Education. Working with children is, in her opinion, the most rewarding occupation out there! She strives to be her best self for her students, at all times. Both teaching and nature are fundamental passions of Emma’s, and she attributes this to her parents – her mom the educator and her dad the hiker. Emma was quite literally raised hugging trees, searching for bears in the mountains, and in wonderful classrooms all over! When she’s not teaching, she can be found hiking, splashing in the ocean, or playing rugby! Emma loves being a part of our incredible school and its mission.

Hannah Knott  Nature Teacher, Class 2, “Coyote Classroom”

Hannah is an OC native who loves good coffee, being active, and exploring our beautiful planet!

Hannah’s passion for nurturing young children with her whole child approach to teaching inspires us all! She has been serving the needs of children within her community for nearly a decade in a variety of roles. Before joining the ENC family, she gained a wealth of knowledge from working as a Lead Teacher and as an Assistant Director of a nearby after-school care program. 

Hannah is currently pursuing a degree in Child Development Education (CDE) at Orange Coast College and earning a Teacher Certificate.

In her free time, Hannah enjoys doing a variety of outdoor activities such as hiking, backpacking, and camping with her friends and family. When she’s not out adventuring, Hannah also enjoys painting, reading, and enjoying live music. 

Hannah is passionate about environmental conservation, volunteering in her community, and advocating for our future generations!

Bri Talbot Guest Nature Teacher

Bri is excited to combine her passion for early childhood education with her love for the outdoors! Holding an Associate’s Degree in Social/Behavior Sciences near her hometown in Palmdale, California, she has returned to Orange Coast College to further her studies in Early Childhood Education.

Before joining the ENC, Bri excelled as the Lead Teacher in another local program, realizing her lifelong dream of working with children. Growing up, she spent every summer on camping adventures across California with her family, fostering a deep appreciation for the great outdoors. Bri aspires to explore all National Parks one day.

Beyond her professional and academic pursuits, Bri finds joy in painting, reading, geocaching, swimming, and collecting seashells. She cherishes moments with her family and their four dogs, creating a fulfilling blend of outdoor exploration and creative hobbies.

Kaylee Hoff Nature Teacher, Class 3 “Bear Classroom

Kaylee is an Orange County native and currently lives in Huntington Beach with her husband and their dog. She has worked with children in some capacity for the last 15 years. She coached youth sports during high school and after high school she coached high school basketball for 2 years. She then went on to work with people with disabilities and enjoyed that for several years. Kaylee now is finishing her BA in Early Childhood Education at National University and will graduate May 2022. Over the last two years Kaylee has worked with children who are on the autism spectrum and has experience in ABA. She has a passion for working with our newest members of society and enjoys being outdoors. She believes hands-on experiences are the best way for children to learn. She also believes nature is the best learning environment for young children and is excited to be part of the ENC community. Kelsey compares her teaching strategy to that of a gardener. Seeds will be planted, and we must create the best environment for each individual child to grow. In her spare time, you can find Kaylee camping, cooking, gardening or at a concert. She is excited to be at the ENC Nature Preschool in the Bear Classroom, supporting each child on their education journey.

Kelsey Defeo Nature Teacher, Class 3 “Bear Classroom”

Kelsey has a deep passion for Early Childhood Education, as well as the outdoors, nature, and all living beings. She graduated from California State University of Fullerton with a B.S. in Child and Adolescent Studies and is currently working towards Master’s in Education in Curriculum and Instruction from University of San Diego.

In her free time, she can be found spending time with her boyfriend and cats, adventuring outdoors, going to sporting events, hiking, going to the beach or pool, trying out new restaurants, and doing puzzles.

Amanda Willson Nature Teacher, Class 3 “Bear Classroom”

Amanda has loved every minute of her 6 years of teaching! She attended Orange Coast College and received an Associates in Science degree in Early Childhood Education. She has a Child Development Teacher Certificate and Permit, and her added experience helps her feel confident in guiding and teaching young children. Amanda is heavily art influenced in multiple medias, specifically in ceramics which she loves bringing into the classroom. She has a love for animals, enjoys being in nature, and is excited to share its beauty and importance with children.

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” -George Bernard Shaw

Sara Hannon Nature Teacher, Class 3 “Bear Classroom”

Sara is a California native with a love for the outdoors and education. She completed her Associate Degree in Behavioral Science at Saddleback College and a Bachelor Degree in Child Development at California State University Fullerton. Since hearing about nature education as an undergrad, she dreamed of working in a nature preschool one day. She is new to a classroom setting but no stranger to working with preschoolers and kindergarteners. In her free time, Sara loves spending time with family, antiquing, or finding a new trail to explore.

Keely HareGuest Nature Teacher”

Keely, a native of Orange, CA is about to finish an Associate Degree at Orange Coast College this Spring. Following this milestone, she plans to pursue further studies at a university. With seven years of experience working with children aged 0-8, she is deeply committed to nurturing the social and emotional growth of young ones. Keely firmly believes that emotions and needs underlie every behavior. In her leisure time, she indulges in activities like collaging, painting, yoga, movie-watching, and having picnics with friends.

Araceli Martinez “Guest Nature Teacher”

Araceli graduated from California State University, Long Beach with a BA degree in Child Development and Family Studies. She has over 18 years experience educating young children. Araceli enjoys being part of children’s growth and development. Her hobbies include hiking, scrapbooking, traveling and all things Disney.

Nicolle Callan “Guest Nature Teacher”

Nicolle is a Southern California Native outdoor enthusiast and considers herself a lifelong learner. She received her Bachelors in Sociology from California State University of Long Beach, and she has continued her studies in the Early Childhood Development Program at OCC.

In her spare time, Nicolle enjoys spending time with her husband, 2 children and friends. Her best memories are adventures of camping, hiking, exploring, and searching for the best tacos in the world. The central coast of California is her happy place which she tries to venture to, at least once a year.

Lacée De Grasse  “Guest Nature Teacher”

Lacée De Grasse is a preschool teacher by day and a writer and artist by night. With a playful ease and deep love for empowering children, she enjoys making creatively rich environments where children are free to be themselves.

She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Family and Consumer Science from California State University of Long Beach and is working towards her Lead Teacher Certification through the Early Childhood Development Program at Orange Coast Community College.

In her free time, Lacée enjoys writing poetry, painting, thrifting, and spending time with the people she loves. She finds endless inspiration through the natural world and believes children, like a garden, must be tended to with love and watered daily with encouragement in order to fully blossom.

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