The Santa Cruz Forest School
The Santa Cruz Forest School

Amanda Bell

Director of Santa Cruz Forest School, Amanda connects with children through a spirit of respect and listening.  She loves slowing down on the trails, kneeling to see the environment from the child's perspective, naming and identifying plants together, and never asking anyone to hurry.  

 

She developed her love of the outdoors at an early age on family camping trips to the Current River in southeast Missouri.  She fondly remembers  swimming and tubing in the river and playing with her cousins in the July heat, and never wanting to leave.

During college, Amanda studied geology, the field trips being her favorite part.  She was fortunate to explore many parts of the country-from the National Parks in the desert southwest to glacier-covered mountains in Alaska to coral reefs in the Florida Keys-all from the perspective of learning about the natural environment and geologic history.  She brings her love of science to the children at the Santa Cruz Forest School in a natural, wonder-inspired way.

After college she worked at a natural foods co-op, a hands-on science museum, and in the elementary schools of Ohio.  After her first child was born, she worked from home teaching Environmental Science online.


In addition to being outdoors, Amanda loves caring for animals and reading novels.  She's grateful to her supportive husband and two growing kids for her inspiration.  

 

 

 

Ra Birhan

Ra’s work is an embodiment of play that synergizes from having a profound understanding of the importance of holistic learning; and the foundation is spiritually based from the divine heart.


His ever-developing talents orbit around the theme of allowing play to be intrinsically expressed for every living form.

    
One of those talents is expressed fragrantly as a botanical perfumer, which started unfolding when he was 16 years old.  Interestingly, both of his biological parents also found a connection to the immersive world of fragrance when they were 16.

 

He has been working as a preschool teacher since 2004.  The very young child appears as if he or she is constantly in an omnipresent state of creative expression.  In this way, children can be looked at as spiritual guides.  

 

Ra had holistic adventures throughout the years as a practitioner of both acupressure and aromatherapy within a framework of sound. Ra incorporates daily meditation with Qigong and Yoga using subtle personality from different ancient cultural beliefs.  As Ra’s life’s multi-dimensionally intergenerational curriculum unfolds, the formless within the form is manifested as light.


Ra believes that for us to increase a deeper connection with the infinite, we must try immersing with all of the magnificent subtle aspects of nature: especially within the forest, ocean, and in both the day and night skies.  Nature itself, in all its grace and glory is the original teacher to listen to and learn from.

 

Alice Palacio

Alice approaches her work with children through a practice of deep listening, relating to nature, and love and respect.

 
She has found the most accesible classroom for learning to be right outside, amongst nature.
 
Always close to the land, she and her husband have ventured from Felton and Bonny Doon to Kettle Falls and Spokane, WA and back to Felton again.  This venturing included five months traveling with their two horses and mule.  This time living on the trail and experiencing the world alongside her horse brought her to that profound realization that our best teachers are at hand.  Listen to the ravens, follow the trail of the squirrel, climb the trunk of a tree...there is so much waiting to reveal itself to you. 
 
Alice has worked with children from newborn to teen as nanny, mentor, and teacher.  She co-created an afterschool program for girls in Kathmandu, Nepal called Herstories, which sought to help students explore and expand creativity and self-confidence through the arts. 
 
After becoming a massage therapist in 2005, she began her training in craniosacral therapy.  This training has come to influence her interaction with children (and how she approaches many aspects of her life) by finding new ways to listen beyond the scope of her ears.  In this way she can hold the appropriate and supportive space for those in her care to thrive.
 
In her spare time, Alice enjoys being Auntie to many, feeding the hungry mouths of horses, hiking, sitting at creeks, swimming in rivers, expanding her working knowledge of herbs, singing in community, traveling and maintaining her private bodywork practice.
 

Aliza Hubbs

Aliza has been teaching art in a classroom setting for 5 years, and is now looking forward to spending time exploring the possibilities of a school with no walls. She has an AS in horticulture from Cabrillo College and a BA in art from UCSC, along with a substitute teaching credential.  She is the mother of a 6 year old son who has high functioning autism, where she has gained most of her early childhood education and experience. She has also taken workshops and courses in positive discipline, and takes an active interest in nonviolent communication. She is first aid and CPR certified.

The SC Forest School first called to Aliza when her son was in preschool, and she came with him to every class to give him the social support he needed. She felt very much at home in the company of the forest, the kids, the teachers, and the parents of other forest school kids. As a teacher she hopes to bring kindness, compassion, creativity, and a sense of sovereignty within safe boundaries for the kids in forest school to learn, grow, and flourish.

When she’s not working or hanging out with her family Aliza paints and exhibits her art locally. She also loves to garden and grow food, cook food, eat food, go for bike rides, swims in the ocean, and has a daily practice of yoga and qigong.

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