Vanessa “Nessie” Sener ENC Nature Preschool Director
email me | 949-629-1044 ext. 201
Vanessa is a native to Orange County who grew up as an outdoor enthusiast, swimming off the shores and roaming the suburban wilds of her beloved hometown, San Clemente. She holds a BA in Early Childhood Education from Pacific Oaks School of Education and brings over twenty years of experience as an inclusive Early Years Educator to the Nature Preschool. Vanessa came from the Irvine Child Development Center where she served as a staff representative on their Board of Directors, participated in the Irvine Pre-K/TK/K Articulation Committee and has been a longstanding member of National Association for the Education of Young Children as well as the Orange County Association for the Education of Young Children. Vanessa has been with the Nature Preschool since its inception as an ENC member and Camp Naturalist, continuing on as our Curriculum Coordinator and Lead Nature Teacher in the Bear Classroom. She is a dedicated and passionate advocate for children. She has spent her career teaching and sharing her compassion, love, and respect for all living things nurturing a connection with the natural world. She has constructed lasting, impactful relationships with children by helping them build a strong sense of self and offering unconditional acceptance, inspirational learning experiences, independence, and reflective engagement developed through a play-based, child-led philosophy.
Devan Upchurch Nature Preschool Assistant Director
email me | 949-629-1044 ext. 202
Devan has been working in the field of Early Childhood Education for over 10 years and has also been an Early Childhood instructor at Orange Coast College for over four years. She has a BA degree in Child and Adolescent Development and a MA degree in Leadership in Early Childhood Education. She strongly believes all children actively learn through messy, hands on explorations of their natural world and through the strong relationships with their caregivers and peers. She strives to help children develop a love and appreciation for the natural world around them. Growing up in Orange County allowed her to develop a fond love for the ocean and hiking. In her free time, she enjoys reading, camping, cooking and swimming.
Kathy Satchell Enrollment and Program Administrator
email me | 949-629-1044 ext. 200
Kathy has been in the field of Early Childhood Education for over 30 years. She has worked with children from Toddlers to Pre-K and has spent the last 20 years in administration. She earned her BS degree in Early Childhood Education with a minor in Sociology from California State University Fullerton. She feels very fortunate to be working with an amazing group of nature and child loving people. Kathy grew up in the small mountain community of Wrightwood, where she spent a lot of time in all kinds of outdoor activities. Kathy loves to spend time camping with her husband and 2 daughters, walking her dogs and doing creative crafty projects. Her favorite camping spot is Refugio State Beach where her family spends almost every Thanksgiving.
Emma Ripplinger Lead Teacher, Class 3 “Bears”
Emma is thrilled to be a part of the Bear Classroom! She has been teaching preschool in various capacities for the last 6 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 nearly completed her 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 is very excited to be a part of our incredible school and its mission.
Amanda Wilson Nature Teacher, Class 3 “Bears”
Amanda has loved every minute of her 4 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
Kelsey Defeo Nature Teacher, Class 3 “Bears”
Hi, I’m Kelsey! I enjoy hiking, the beach, being active, and good food! I have completed my Teacher Permit and I am currently continuing my education to get my Master Teacher Permit and BA in Early Childhood. I have worked with children in various capacities for over 15 years and have been working in a Preschool setting for the last 3 years. Nature is my happy place and teaching young children is my dream job. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to bring those two things together!
Gianna Shreve Nature Teacher, Class 2 “Coyotes”
Gianna earned her BA in Child Development and Family Studies from California State University Long Beach. She has enjoyed teaching preschool aged children for the past five years. Gianna grew up on a farm in Montana during her early years and appreciates the value of introducing children to the beauty of nature. She loves snowboarding, hiking, camping and spending time at the beach.
Lexi McCardle Nature Teacher Class 2 “Coyotes”
Lexi was born and raised in Eastside Costa Mesa and grew up exploring at the ENC. She studied Psychology at California State University, Chico and is currently pursuing her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential through National University with the goal of becoming an elementary school teacher. She has worked with children in various settings since 2012. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family, going to the beach, camping, snowboarding and hanging out with her boyfriend and their adorable golden retriever Sadie. “I am extremely excited to begin my journey and join the amazing team here at the ENC Nature Preschool!”
Amber Durham Lead Nature Teacher, Class 1 “Tortoise”
Amber is a Nature Teacher in the Tortoise classroom at the ENC Nature Preschool. She has been in the Early Childhood Education field for 6 years and has worked with children from infancy to five years old. She graduated from Pacific Oaks College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education with a specialization in Trauma. Amber is an advocate for children, nature, and animals, and believes every child should have the opportunity to fall in love with nature, experience animal interactions, and become planet protectors. In her spare time, she enjoys attending concerts, crafting, Vegan cooking, gardening, and hiking.
Devon Kate O’Connor Nature Teacher, Class 1 “Tortoise”
Devon is the newest addition to our Tortoise Class! She 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 7 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!
Larissa Hacke Nature Teacher, Class 1 “Tortoise”
Larissa has been in the Early Childhood Education field for 5 years. She graduated from Orange Coast College with an Associates Degree and a Certificate in Infant and Toddler Development. She has five years of experience working in the toddler classroom of a local preschool. In the fall she will be continuing her education, pursuing a BA in Infant and Adolescent Development at Cal State Fullerton. Larissa will also be a teacher in the Tortoise Room at the ENC Nature Preschool. Larissa loves to explore nature and all of the learning opportunities it holds for children. She is a big kid at heart!
Anne Schupak Nature Teacher, Class 1 “Tortoise”
Anne has been working in the early childhood field for 25 years and can’t imagine doing anything else. She has a BA in Psychology from Sonoma State and completed her early childhood units at Orange Coast College. Working at the ENC Nature Preschool is a dream come true for Anne. She grew up in the area and is a Newport Harbor High School graduate. “I have very fond memories of visiting the ENC and taking my children there,” said Anne. “I love being outside and learning about nature and then sharing that knowledge with the children.” Anne’s hobbies include sailing, hiking, gardening, skiing, kayaking and playing pickle ball.
Emily Pavlik Assistant Nature Teacher
Hi, my name is Emily and I will be taking over Araceli’s position on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s. I studied Early Childhood Education at Orange Coast College getting my Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education, and am currently studying at Cal State Fullerton to get my BA in Child and Adolescent Development. After graduating from Orange Coast College, I took some time off and went abroad to Australia to travel and nanny. In my free time I love traveling, surfing, roller skating, spending time with friends, and reading. I am always up to try something new and pick up new hobbies. I’m very excited to get to know you and your children, and welcoming me to the ENC!
Araceli Martinez Assistant 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.
Chloe Hovorka Guest Teacher
Chloe is an Orange County native living in Costa Mesa with her family and their beloved dog, Roxy. She is currently completing a BS degree in Child Development at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (online). Chloe first began working with kids as a beach volleyball coach in high school. Upon starting college, Chloe majored in Environmental Science and taught 1st and 2nd graders Environmental Science lessons through a program called Sprout Up. She soon realized her passion for working with kids and changed her major to Child Development! She is very excited to be working in an environment that allows her to use her love of natural sciences as a learning foundation for educating young children- watching them grow as confident scientists!
Ingrid Mariano Guest Teacher
Ingrid is a Southern California native who has worked in theme park operations and management for over 15 years including Disneyland, Boomers, and Knott’s Berry Farm. Her love of working with children led her to transition to the field of early childhood education and she will be receiving her AS in Child Development from Irvine Valley College by the end of 2021. She has a background in biology, geology, and business management from first attending Cal State Fullerton prior to her theme park career. In her free time, she enjoys taking her six nieces and nephews on educational adventures, hiking local trails, travelling to National Parks, playing video games with her husband, and solving her way through escape rooms with her super sleuth friends.
Board of Directors
Rick Wandrocke, President
Chris Bosley, V.P. Finance / Treasurer
Bob Kelly, co-V.P. Education and Site
Robert House, co-V.P. Education and Site
Arthur Jeppe, V.P. Board Governance
Christopher Blank, Secretary