Co-Director & Lead Teacher Older Group
Megan Dusablon grew up in Vermont and cherishes her memories of playing outside with her siblings and neighborhood friends making mud donuts, climbing trees, drawing and swimming. Growing up, her family cared for many creatures, sparking her fascination with animals large and small. It is on and off trails, crossing creeks and playing in the snow in Vermont where her nature connection began. Megan believes that these early, positive outdoor experiences are crucial in developing a connection to nature and a lasting love for the Earth. Outside, children are free to explore their imaginations and challenge their physical capabilities, building confidence, creativity and resiliency. Megan has worked with children since 2006. She received a BFA from Lesley University where she studied printmaking. She moved to San Francisco in 2008 and attained her Early Childhood Education credentials. After working as an atelierista (art studio teacher) in a Reggio-inspired school, Megan was immediately drawn to the approach and philosophy of Reggio Emilia, holding the child at the center of learning. Megan and her husband are thrilled that their daughter spent her preschool years in the forest, and look forward to their son joining Spire School.
Co-Director & Lead Teacher Older Group
Ilana Israel was born and raised in Santa Monica, California. She has fond memories of playing outside as a child and feels fortunate to have had those experiences, exploring and enjoying the outdoors with her parents and brothers. Ilana moved to Northern California in 2008 to pursue her education. While attending school, she worked in preschool settings, many of which were inspired by the Reggio-Emilia approach out of Italy. She quickly saw the value in play based learning and what it means to support a child’s social-emotional development. After teaching with Megan Dusablon for a few years, they co-founded Parks Plus Creation in 2013. Ilana strongly believes in respecting each child as an individual and supporting them in opportunities of risk management and discovery in the outdoor classroom. One of her favorite things about teaching outdoors is seeing the children’s independence grow through navigating the natural world. She holds a B.A. in Child and Adolescent Development and has worked with preschool age children and their families since 2004.
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Mark Samples was born and raised in Southern California, spending every moment he could on the beaches of San Diego, in the mountains of San Bernardino or anywhere he could find a lake and someone to take him to it. Mark attributes his love of being outside, peaceful and mindful of his surroundings, to the lessons and guidance of his grandpa, who taught him about waves, ropes, and all things sharp and pointy. Mark has been working with children of all ages for most of his adult life in the classroom, at camps, in nonprofit youth development programs, as a member of the US Peace Corps in Panama, and in his home as a full-time parent. Without a doubt, his deepest learnings have come from squatting down, looking into the eyes of children and having chats out in nature. Those moments, feet lodged soundly in the dirt, mud, grass or sand, are where he has found the profound displays of joy, frustration, kindness, sadness and hope that we all aspire to truly feel in this life. In addition, Mark brings with him to Spire School the lessons from his training as a California credentialed teacher, as well as a Masters of Social Work from the School of Social Welfare at UC Berkeley.
Lead Teacher TK Group
Kelly Morton is born and raised in the Bay Area, with a deep love and connection to the unique natural diversity of Northern California. She spent her childhood exploring the diverse habitats of each Bay Area park and open space; listening to the waves crash of the pacific ocean, staring up through the branches of redwoods, and imagining what it would feel like to be small enough to sit inside a wildflower. After graduating with a BA in Art History and Museum Studies, she pursued opportunities in informal education in the museum world. Kelly has completed coursework in Early Childhood Education and since 2010, has been facilitating and developing environmental programming for young children inspired by Reggio Emilia philosophy and emergent curriculum; each of which hold the child at the center of their learning as they explore and take risks in the world around them. She believes that our environment is the most dynamic teacher we could ask for, ever present, ever changing; and that children are, instinctively investigators, navigators, and interpreters of our natural world. Kelly joined the Parks Plus Team in September 2014 and this truly is her dream job.
Assistant Teacher TK Group
Aidan Wahl was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. As a child, Aidan remembers playing with her goat and chickens and how her parents always made sure that there was a strong sense of nature and adventure in her home. She received her B.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of Vermont, where her love of the outdoors truly blossomed. After her four years in Vermont, Aidan moved to San Francisco and began working as a garden educator where she was able to combine her love of teaching with her passion for environmental studies. Aidan has worked with children for 8 years and comes from a long line of educators. While teaching in the garden, she experienced first hand how nature inspires students to be more independent, imaginative, and observant. She is excited to continue cultivating curiosity and independence with children in nature. When Aidan isn’t teaching, she loves to garden, bake, and roller skate in Golden Gate Park!
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Liz Sea comes to us from North Carolina where she grew up exploring nature almost every day. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Environmental Science from UNC Asheville and a Graduate degree in Animal Behavior and Conservation from Hunter College. Her love for the outdoors matches her passion for working with children. She has worked in Early Childhood Education settings for over 8 years including preschool, elementary school, teaching English in South America, and tutoring refugee and immigrant children in North Carolina. She is committed to utilizing education as a tool to create a more equitable future for our planet and its people.
Lead Teacher Younger Group
Kristyn Lum is a San Francisco native with a deep affinity for play-based learning and outdoor exploration. From some of her early experiences of camping and climbing, tending to her garden, digging for “fossils” at the park and collecting treasures at the beach, she feels fortunate to have been able to experience the many opportunities for risk-taking, wonder, and independence that nature so graciously provides. She graduated from San Diego State University with a B.S. in Child and Family Development with an emphasis on Family Development. Throughout her time at San Diego State University, she had the pleasure of being able to incorporate some of her passions in life with her work out in the field—from teaching youth about environmental conservation with Ms. Smarty-Plants (at the Water Conservation Garden) to promoting local resources that build healthy families and communities with the San Diego Trauma Informed Guide Team. She hopes to create safe and conducive environments that model education as it fits the individual and believes that there is no single approach for every person. She has been inspired by children’s curiosity and wonder, and maintains the notion that what makes an individual unique is also what makes our society whole. Through nature, children feel empowered by respect, self-sufficiency, and are given the freedom to engage and thrive in their community. When she’s not directly working with children and families, she can be found in her kitchen cooking, spending time painting, outside gardening or making her way to the nearest forest.
Assistant Teacher Younger Group
Sarah Tomkins was born in Swindon, England and moved with her family to Los Gatos, California when she was 3 years old. She feels lucky to have grown up in two very different landscapes, spending her childhood exploring the beaches and mountains of the California coast as well as enjoying summers back in England playing in the fields and streams of the countryside. Sarah moved to San Francisco 8 years ago and is so grateful to call this beautiful city home. She obtained a B.A. in Child and Adolescent Development with an emphasis on Early Childhood Education from San Francisco State University in 2016. She has worked with young children in various environments, including with Jumpstart for Young Children, as both an Au Pair and Nanny for many families, and as a Preschool Teacher at a play-based center in Bernal Heights. After taking some time to travel and work abroad, Sarah realized the positive impact of following our natural instinct to explore and couldn’t be happier to have the outdoors as her new classroom. Sarah is passionate about forming meaningful relationships with children and aims to guide their learning through play. She loves the infinite possibilities outdoor education provides for them and is so excited to join the Spire School community this year!
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Rahma Benotmane was born in Virginia then moved to Hawaii when she was 10 years old. The change from colorful seasons to the sandy shores of O’ahu opened her eyes to the diversity of flora and fauna. She enjoyed her time outside riding bikes in the forest, hiking muddy waterfalls, and playing in the surf. Learning about the environment as a child sparked her interest in working in education and conservation. In 2016 she moved to San Francisco to pursue her education and graduated in 2020 with a BA in Environmental Studies. Along the way she has worked with children as a tutor, mentor, and support staff at schools all over San Francisco. Working with diverse groups of children she has learned much about racial justice and trauma. As an educator she hopes to inspire in children an excitement and deep appreciation for nature.
Angela Ross grew up on the East Coast and has lived in San Francisco since 2009. Her true passion in life is planning and organizing anything – from the mundane to the extraordinary. She also loves traveling, hiking, camping, and being at the beach. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology from NYU and a Nutrition Consultant Certification from Bauman College in Berkeley. She has worked as a Tour Manager for international orchestras, an Event Manager for corporate events across Australia, Asia, and India, an Administrative & Marketing Manager for an eco-resort in Belize, and for the last 8 years operated her own business as a Nutrition & Wellness Coach. She was introduced to Parks Plus Creation in 2017 after joining a Chickadee Class with her son, she has been obsessed ever since! She is thrilled to bring her organizational and administrative skills to the PPC team to help them manage their systems and programs, and assist families as they learn about the wonders of forest school.