Odette Alina - Director

odette

Originally from Oregon, GGHF Curious by Nature School’s Director has a

background in environmental and science education, early childhood education, and a profession in development. She is the mother of two energetic, nature-loving boys.

Odette holds a B.S. in Health Sciences and a Minor in Biology from Linfield College in Portland.

Prior to moving to the Gig Harbor area in 2005, she worked with Kindering, a nonprofit neurodevelopmental center in the Bellevue area that provides therapies, special education, and counseling services for children with special needs and their families.

As director, Odette is the primary contact point for parent, staff, and volunteer communications. Additionally, she maintains record systems, assures regulatory compliance, conducts staff training and assessments, will facilitate development of the long-term plans for GGHF Curious by Nature School, and work with the School’s Board on other aspects of development, including special event planning and grants.

“I am passionate about teaching and learning with children and am honored for the opportunity to be part of something that is so much bigger than me. Helping our children acquire values and strong connections with nature that will make a difference in their learning, and develop key critical thinking skills that they can rely on throughout their lives, both as individuals and as citizens of their communities, is fundamental to the future and an important responsibility.”

 

nikkiNikki Gant – Toddler Teacher

Some people call me Nik, 3 special boys call me Mom, and now that I have joined the GGHF Curious by Nature Team as the Toddler teacher I get to be Miss Nikki! I began my journey on the beaches and in the pinelands of Southern New Jersey in a neighborhood where I could play outside until the streetlights came on. I fell in love with storms, trees, the ocean, and the fireflies!

My passion for the outdoors and science lead me to join the Army and earn my A.S. as a Medical Laboratory Technician. I spent many nights under the stars training in the rain, wind, and sand. Thirteen years ago my travels brought me here to Washington State. The splendor of the Great North West just took my breath away. I am proud to now call WA home.

After becoming a mother I took a good long look at the way children and nature have begun to separate. I spent many days bringing nature art projects to the children at Geiger Montessori School but I knew I wanted to do more. I earned my BA in Environmental Studies from the University of Washington and followed it up by earning my Massage Therapist license to balance out my studies.

Now here I am at this gem of a school tucked away in beautiful Gig Harbor! I am thrilled to come in everyday and see these wonderful young faces eager to explore their world. I truly enjoy being part of a community that still believes kids need to get out into nature. I look forward to every discovery and adventure this special place has to offer.

amanda-200x300Amanda Pedrelli – Toddler Assistant

I am so blessed and thankful to be a part of Curious by Nature School, and have the opportunity to guide and support the growth of children in our community! In August of 2010, my family moved to Gig Harbor from Napa, California, and I have fallen in love with it the 6 years we’ve been here. Washington is such a beautiful place! I graduated from Gig Harbor High School in 2015 and am now working towards a degree in Child Psychology with a minor in Education and the goal of becoming an Elementary School Teacher. Throughout high school and into college I worked in childcare, getting to know many wonderful families in the Harbor and expanding my knowledge and experience, which led me to this wonderful school! One of my passions, outside of education, is the ocean. My favorite ways to spend leisure time is beach combing, tide pool searching, and learning new things about the ocean and the world it holds. Some other pastimes I have are learning the ukulele, going on hikes and exploring new areas, archery, watching movies and playing games with friends. I am excited to create, experience and grow as part of Curious by Nature School!

Deborah toney
Deborah Toney-Preschool Teacher

I am very excited to join the GGHF Curious By Nature School. I am a graduate of Western Washington University and traveled the world as an Air Force kid and then as an Air Force wife. All of those many moves helped me to realize how beautiful the Puget Sound is and how lucky we are to have it in our backyard!

My experience includes teaching preschool in various states as well as serving as a preschool Director in Anchorage, Alaska. I have been a member of the National Association for the Education of the Young Child for many years and am currently working on getting my ECE credential. The Reggio Emilia philosophy of early childhood education is something I have been studying and utilizing throughout my career, and I’m thrilled to join a program with this philosophy.

When I’m not playing pirates in the classroom, I am trying to keep up with my 3 boys, chasing one of my chickens or gardening! As a Pierce County Master Gardener I love to teach earth science in the classroom, especially how to grow your own veggies. I also recently received my PADI scuba certification and I’m excited for the opportunity to teach my students about our beautiful Puget Sound!

janeth-200x300Janeth Sullivan – Preschool Assistant

Janeth has lived in Gig Harbor, her husband’s hometown, since 1997. Her children are graduates of Peninsula High School. Janeth holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the National College of Business and Arts in the Philippines and has been a professional childcare provider for over 20 years. She assists Miss Deborah in the Preschool classroom.

 

 

jasmine-200x300Jasmine Jelsema – PreK Teacher

I am honored to learn, play, and grow among children! I enjoy creating positive environments through sharing my passion for Spanish, yoga, music, art, traveling, storytelling and gardening. Learning through experience is very important to me. Discovering a curiosity of the world we live allows for learning and excitement in every aspect of life! I am originally from Michigan, and moved to Olympia in 2012 to study public health at Evergreen State College. My journey in early childhood education began while teaching at the Evergreen Child Care Center and Mini-Skool Early Learning Center. I’ve worked with children of all backgrounds and abilities from infants to school-age. Since 2013, I was the lead teacher at Foxglove Farm Preschool in Olympia, an early learning program inspired by Waldorf, Montessori, and Reggio Emilia philosophies. At Foxglove, I helped instill the love of mother nature, farm and animal life to children ages 1 to 6. I am excited to create, experience and grow as part of Curious by Nature School!

Miss DebbieDebra Page – PreK Assistant

I am so excited to join the GGHF Curious By Nature School. I am married and a mother of 2 daughters, ages 10 and 4. I grew up in a largely agricultural area of California and have always enjoyed the outdoors. As a child, I raised farm animals and field crops in 4-H and FFA. As a young adult, I studied agronomy and animal science. I have a Bachelors of Science in Business Information Systems and a Masters in Business Administration.

I balance my love of the outdoors with a passion for the arts. I have been active in community choirs and as a soloist. I performed in many plays and musicals, in both amateur and professional theatre. My mother was an art teacher and passed the love of visual arts to me as well. I hope to share this in the classroom to incorporate the sensory experience of art to enrich children’s learning.

I am thrilled to be joining the wonderful team here at GGHF Curious By Nature School.

cecilia-200x300Cecilia Sullivan-Graydon - PreK Assistant

I am a new, returning assistant teacher here at Curious By Nature School and very happy for the opportunity. In 2011, I was a co-teacher for Pre-K class and also part time with Pre-K and Toddler. I am dedicated, nurturing and love kids and they like me too. I look forward to creating a positive early learning experience for your child. My teaching experience began as a para-educator for grades K-6 in Peninsula School District. Inspired, I continued my education at Western Washington University receiving a BA in Human Services and Education. For 12 years, my passion has leaned towards experiential education in the expressive arts with young children and mature adults in community settings with the Dale Chihuly Foundation, City of University Place and Tacoma Community College.