Leadership and Administration

Head of School

Megan Patterson

Megan Patterson is the Founder and Executive Director of Worldmind, an outdoor-based, non-profit independent school in Denver. While working on her graduate degree, Megan discovered the outdoor-based model of learning and development. After teaching in public school settings all over the world for several years and conducting extensive research on the outdoor-based model of education, she knew this was the type of learning environment she wanted for children in Denver, including her own son whom she saw thriving in an outdoor environment.

As part of her graduate thesis, Megan formed a group of passionate community members who came together to develop Worldmind and bring the outdoor-based education movement to the Greater Denver Area.

In 2015, Megan opened Worldmind as a child and caregiver outdoor-based enrichment program. From 2018-2020, Megan and Worldmind led the first outdoor-based preschool and kindergarten pilot program with the State of Colorado in order to create state-wide licensure for outdoor-based preschool education programs. The success of this pilot has led to the outdoor-based preschool and kindergarten licensure for ages 3-6.

In August 2020, Megan expanded Worldmind to include an elementary school for students K-5. In August 2021, 6th grade was added, and 7th and 8th grades will be available starting in August 2022. Worldmind students experience small group learning in an outdoor setting with a strong foundation in social emotional learning (SEL) and a curricular focus on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math). Worldmind supports students as they, “take care of themselves, each other, and the environment.”

Megan enjoys hiking, backpacking, and camping with her son and two dogs.

Watch Megan’s Tedx Talk: “The Nature of Education”

Creative Director

Tori Price

Tori is from Atlanta, GA and moved to Denver at the beginning of 2020. She received her bachelor’s degree from Furman University in Psychology (with a minor in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality studies) and is passionate about mental health and the positive effects that nature, art, mindfulness, and yoga have on the well-being of humans — no matter the age.

Tori has worked with children of all ages since 2004 and began her teaching journey in 2014 through managing a children’s art studio. Since then, she has taught as an assistant teacher in two preschools, led the youth program at a community art center, and taught drawing classes to children in after-school programs. She also spent 5 years volunteering and working as an administrative assistant and art teacher with a non-profit that provides art therapy-based programming to impoverished and homeless children around the world; she has had the honor of creating and leading empowering art experiences for children in both Atlanta and in Ethiopia.

Tori loves bringing nature, mindfulness, and social & emotional learning into her art curriculum to help expand the minds and hearts of children, guiding them in building confidence, curiosity, imagination, self-esteem, and self-expression, and helping them to see the unique beauty in themselves and in the natural world around them.

In her personal life, Tori enjoys creating and selling her vibrant nature-inspired paintings, leading mindful art experiences for women, practicing and teaching yoga, and spending time outside to appreciate the wonders of our natural world.

[email protected]

Emotional and Physical Safety Director & Homeschool Enrichment Teacher

Caroline Griesel

Caroline began at Worldmind as a parent in the Child and Caregiver program. After apprenticing for two years, she became a lead teacher, leading Worldmind programs such as the Child and Caregiver program and the Homeschool Enrichment program. Upon completing a Level 3 Forest School Certification from the Forest School Association in the UK, she began teaching Forest School programs for Worldmind Preparatory School and Worldmind’s kindergarten class. In 2021, she took on the role of Director of Emotional and Physical Safety at Worldmind, guiding Worldmind staff in their endeavors to maintain safety in all facets.

Caroline’s future goals include expanding Worldmind’s educator training program, expanding her knowledge of trauma-informed education, and gaining her preschool director qualification. Inspired by her childhood fishing and collecting shells on the beach of Galveston, Texas, she hopes to make a lifelong connection to nature and self-exploration and learning through nature available to anyone.

Caroline holds a bachelor’s in Zoology with a focus on Entomology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She has 8 years of experience in education, including teaching children’s English classes in Japan and being a para-professional in public schools. She also spent some time in Ecotourism, researching ecological relationships between ants and sea birds and guiding kayak tours to the research site.

Caroline is an amateur naturalist and adventurer who loves stargazing, bushcraft, and curating her collection of rocks and minerals.

[email protected]

Worldmind Early Education Teachers

Preschool Teacher

Cheyenne Stokas

Cheyenne was raised in the mountains of Taos, New Mexico, and spent her free time camping, skiing, hiking, and swimming with her family. These early adventures, instilled a deep love for the outdoors. Growing up, Cheyenne found that she was dyslexic young and after struggling in a traditional school setting, moved to small, alternative classrooms, where she found success in learning.

Since moving to Denver in 2011, Cheyenne has earned her B.A. in Fashion Design, worked as a seamstress, and fallen in love with rock climbing. She has always loved working with children. She has taught skiing to children ages 3-5, worked as a teacher’s aide, and been a nanny. She is excited to put her energy into fostering the inherent curiosity of our students, through learning in the outdoors, creating community, and developing social-emotional skills.

[email protected]

Preschool Teacher

Taylor Emanuelson

Taylor was born and raised in the Denver Metro area, where she fell in love with the mountains and anything outdoors. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Environmental & Sustainable Studies with a Biological Sciences minor in December 2020 and intends on using her degree to help advocate for the planet while teaching the coming generations the importance of the natural world. With her experience throughout her childcare career as a nanny for multiple families, an after school care instructor, a summer camp manager, a preschool teacher, and a vocal instructor, she is ecstatic to continue her career at Worldmind to help guide the curious minds of little ones!

During her free time, Taylor loves hiking, singing, camping, reading, spending time with friends and families, and of course exploring. She hopes the intention, gratitude, happiness, and empathy in which she leads her life will be passed on to the students at Worldmind!

[email protected]

Preschool Teacher

Amanda Henry

Amanda was born and raised in Gothenburg, Sweden. Being a student of an outdoor/inquiry-based environment herself, she feels grateful to have encountered the Reggio Emilia approach at an early age and is passionate about passing on that experience to others. Amanda’s career in early childhood education began at the Scandinavian School of Jersey City, a Reggio Emilia inspired preschool with a strong connection to nature and the outdoors. Amanda attended the Reggio Emilia International Study Group with a few other members of Scandi in the fall of 2019, and she is currently pursuing a degree in Sociology to further her understanding human behavior.

In addition to Sweden and the US, Amanda has lived in Japan and Berlin. Diving and the ocean brought her to Hawaii, where she met her husband. They have recently moved to Denver from New Jersey and are thrilled to get to know Colorado and return to skiing, which has always been a part of Amanda’s life. She has also set her sights on learning how to horseback ride.

[email protected]

Preschool Teacher

Olivia Downs

Olivia hails from a lakeshore in the wooded expanse of Upstate New York, where they cultivated a passion for the magic of beetled undergrowth, dappled sunlight through trees, and all else that the natural world has to offer. They carried that passion through an Environmental Studies and English interdisciplinary major from St. Lawrence University and focused in particular on sustainability; they studied urban sustainability in Boston, Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Hamburg, as well as rural sustainability while living on a farm a few miles off campus.

During school, Olivia spent summers lifeguarding and teaching at a camp on their lake; they united their schooling with their love of teaching and entered the wonderful world of environmental and outdoor education. They have taught students about the maintenance of one of the world’s last remaining pine bush ecosystems, the riparian ecosystem and unique history of Denver’s own South Platte River, and natural and scientific wonders then and now, far and wide with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Most recently, Olivia has been practicing a Reggio-Emilia approach as a preschool teacher in downtown Denver for several years, and they love the brightness and spirit of this age.

In their free time, Olivia enjoys the outdoors through hiking and camping trips, and they especially love swimming, boating, and paddleboarding. They love playing music (and own three ukuleles, a viola and a five-string fiddle to show for it), reading and writing, and spending time with friends–usually playing board games or weaving stories together in D&D!

[email protected]

Preschool Teacher

Nicholas Mounton

Nicholas was born and raised here in occupied Arapaho and Cheyenne territory, in the valleys and plains below the front range of the Rocky Mountains. They grew up playing outside and observing the web of life that thrived in their childhood backyard and along the ditch behind the neighborhood. After studying Forestry at Colorado State University, Nicholas decided to spend a majority of their time outside. This time was spent in gardens behind preschools, on farms and homesteads while teaching farm skills and garden ecology, and in the wilderness as a guide for youth, supporting them as they learned about Ecology, Biology, Botany, and interpersonal and emotional skills. Learning, teaching, and being with Nature and with young humans is what brought Nicholas to Worldmind. They are thrilled to be a part of the Worldmind team to empower youth to be compassionate, caring, and motivated members of the web of life.

[email protected]

Preschool Teacher

Martina Pfender

Martina immigrated with her family of four from Germany in 2012 to live and work in Denver. After working at the Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus and being responsible for the outdoor exhibit “Joy Park”, she expanded her agency teaching science for middle school students in Eagle County, led the Outdoor Summer Camp in Steamboat Springs, and returned to Denver fall of 2021.

Martina is a scientist, environmental educator, and social justice advocate with a diploma (equivalent to a master’s degree) in Geo-ecology, an interdisciplinary degree in all fields of science. Her educational background is deeply rooted in early childhood, playwork and inquiry, and place-based learning. She inspires — especially young learners — to love nature and to support stewardship to save our planet and believes that all people belong outdoors and will benefit from being there. Martina feels honored to teach at Worldmind and loves everything the school stands for.

In her free time, Martina spends as much time as possible outdoors. She enjoys hiking, cycling, skiing, camping, rock climbing, competing in triathlons, ultimate frisbee, and using solo backpacking as a strategy for healing.

[email protected]

Kindergarten Teacher

Xaelel Allen-Caballero 

Originally from Upstate New York, Xaelel (Shylel), received her bachelor’s in Environmental Science and Psychology from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. She knew from an early age that being in nature had of positive effect on her mental health and well-being. Intrigued to learn more, she decided to continue her education focusing on how the natural world was formed, in the hopes to learn more about sustainability and stewardship. Continuing her studies, she became increasingly passionate about combining her love of nature with her love of understanding the human mind and body. This is where she learned and fell in love with the Forest School model and the emphasis it has on free play and positive improvements nature has on sensory development in young children.

She started her career in education teaching a SPLASH course on ‘Earth Art’ at MIT and later as The Assistant Schools Manager for an environmental education program in NY. She has done extensive research on agricultural water pollution, spent a year researching native bat species in Massachusetts, and spent five months conducting fieldwork in geology at the University of Otago in Dunedin, NZ.

Xaelel is passionate about being a forever learner in life and views education as a multidimensional platform that houses immense opportunity for both the student and educator. She is continuously learning from her students every day and believes that allowing children space for creativity and wonder in the outdoors can facilitate learning about natural systems, promote ecological ethics, and inspire leadership in life and for the environment.

[email protected]

Kindergarten Teacher

Arrianna Juliette 

Arri grew up in San Diego with a house that had a small wooded area and a meadow right across the street. She would spend hours outside building forts and collecting caterpillars. Having this amazing area in nature to play in every day made a huge impact on her life; she feels that her connection to nature and wildlife was grown in that meadow.

Many years later, Arri graduated from San Francisco State University with a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology. Her favorite classes were ones focused on primates. She loves animals and found it very interesting to learn about just how similar we still are to other Great Apes.

Throughout Arri’s adult life she has worked with children, from being a nanny to a camp counselor. She finds joy in teaching children about wildlife and the environment. Arri’s biggest passion is environmental education, and she fundamentally believes that to save our planet we have to properly educate the next generation about climate change. This means not just stating the problems they will face, but giving them
solutions as well.

Arri moved from San Diego to Denver over the summer of 2021. While she misses the magical beaches in San Diego, she loves to explore the city and the mountains in Denver.

[email protected]

Worldmind Preparatory School Teachers

1st-2nd Grade Teacher

Justin Way

After returning home from one of his trips abroad, Justin decided to return to graduate school and earn a master’s degree in Early Childhood and Childhood Education. While there, he began to question the methods and structures utilized in the traditional American classroom. In doing so, the concepts of nature deficit disorder, nature and forest schools, and nature Rx began to take root as solutions to many of the flaws the traditional school system exhibits. Then, after moving to Denver with his wife, Jillian, and working in DPS for a year, Justin moved to position with the city of Aurora where he developed, coordinated, and taught a nature-based program for overlooked and underserved youth, families, and communities in Aurora and East Denver. Now, he is excited and ready to fulfill his dream of working in the nature school setting with a great school such as Worldmind.

In his personal life, Justin enjoys traveling, hiking, birding, spending time with his wife, family and friends, playing guitar, reading, climbing, and doing yoga. Justin tries to live a vibrant and balanced life full of fun, happiness, and love that he hopes his students feel every day. Happy trails!

[email protected]

1st-2nd Grade Teacher

Jennifer Baker

K-6 Connecticut Certified Teacher for the past fifteen years, Jen has taught math and science at the middle school level and has been immersed in teaching math to K-1 through the Russian School of Mathematics. Her own educational journey is soundly based in a public alternative pilot grade school program that emphasized service, social action, and experiential learning, where their days were spent in exploration and child-led learning. She attended a public high school and graduated with a degree in Outdoor and Environmental Education from Prescott College in 1991.

During her parenting years, she facilitated her two children’s educational path using inspirations from John Holt, John Taylor Gatto, and the homeschooling community. After receiving her MS.Ed from the University of Bridgeport in 2008, she taught 7th-8th grade science in a parochial school, then entered the public school system as a grade 7 special education assistant, followed by grade 6 science/math for 5 years. At this time in her career, she returns to what matters most: connecting children to themselves, their community, and nature through experiential activities, discovery, and reflection.

[email protected]

1st-2nd Grade Teacher

Nora Silva

Nora grew up in upstate New York and seacoast New Hampshire. She was homeschooled until the age of 14 and took part in a nature-based enrichment program for several years. She attended Hamilton College, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Literature and French/Francophone Studies. While at Hamilton, Nora worked in the college’s outdoor leadership center, where she learned more about experiential learning and outdoor education. After graduating, she moved to Denver and taught Pre-Kindergarten for over two years. She completed an alternative licensure program through CU Denver and earned her Colorado teaching license in Early Childhood Education (Ages 0-8) in 2020. Nora strives for a classroom environment that supports the development of each child as an individual who brings their own set of strengths to the classroom community. Nora is delighted to be part of the Worldmind community and is excited to continue guiding and supporting students in their learning journeys.

[email protected]

Floating & 1st-2nd Grade Teacher

Eric Binkley

Eric grew up in Golden, CO where he spent his time skateboarding and playing music with friends. At the University of Colorado in Boulder, he received a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and a certification in secondary education.

Despite his accreditation in junior and high school education, he found his true joy after accepting a position in a Montessori early childhood education program in 2014. Since then, he’s enjoyed a broad experience working in many ECE classrooms and received a license in Early Childhood Education through the American Montessori Society in 2018. Through support roles, musical education, special education, and classroom leadership, Eric has enjoyed building relationships and enriching the lives of all the young people he’s met!

Eric found his connection to the outdoor world through botany. Understanding the native flora in his natural surroundings has become a passionate pursuit. Eric enjoys identification, seed collection, and gardening with enthusiastic attention to native ecology and pollinators. Eric also maintains a small business creating miniature indoor living landscapes simulating local natural spaces.

When he’s not contributing to the growth of young people, Eric’s favorite things to do are taking long walks and playing with plants.

[email protected]

Middle & Upper Elementary Math Teacher

Scott Levi

Scott is proud to be from Denver. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Northern Arizona University and a master’s degree in Teaching from the University of Northern Colorado with an endorsement in elementary education. After working in both state and national politics, he found his next public service calling via education. He started out teaching chess and frisbee after school, became a substitute teacher for Cherry Creek School District, then worked for two years as a Denver Math Fellow teaching middle school math intervention in Denver Public Schools. Camping, backpacking, and other positive outdoor experiences proved vital to his formative years; they instilled in him both a respect for sustainable adventuring and a deep appreciation for Mother Earth. Equity and mathematics are especially important to Scott, and he perseveres to inspire the next generation of lifelong learners to think critically and resourcefully about global and local issues.

In his free time, Scott enjoys cycling, disc golfing, ultimate frisbee, playing Dungeons and Dragons, and developing computer programs with his lifelong friends online.

[email protected]

4th-6th Grade Teacher

Amy Snodgrass

Amy holds a master’s degree in Secondary English Education and a bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Creative Writing. She began her career in education by volunteering with creative writing programs in Oregon School for the Deaf and Oregon State Penitentiary. She worked as an assistant teacher in Dallas, Texas before finding her home in Denver, where she spent four years teaching fifth grade reading. In addition to English Language Arts, she has experience teaching music, creative writing, and art. Amy is a proponent of the Forest School model because she believes the best education fosters curiosity and confidence in learners. She is passionate about project-based curriculum design that fosters strong habits of discussion through both shared readings and choice texts.

She spends her time reading, practicing yoga, playing cooperative board games, hiking, writing poetry, and illustrating comics and graphic novels.

[email protected]

Upper Elementary Science Teacher

Nicholas Mounton

Nicholas was born and raised here in occupied Arapaho and Cheyenne territory, in the valleys and plains below the front range of the Rocky Mountains. They grew up playing outside and observing the web of life that thrived in their childhood backyard and along the ditch behind the neighborhood. After studying Forestry at Colorado State University, Nicholas decided to spend a majority of their time outside. This time was spent in gardens behind preschools, on farms and homesteads while teaching farm skills and garden ecology, and in the wilderness as a guide for youth, supporting them as they learned about Ecology, Biology, Botany, and interpersonal and emotional skills. Learning, teaching, and being with Nature and with young humans is what brought Nicholas to Worldmind. They are thrilled to be a part of the Worldmind team to empower youth to be compassionate, caring, and motivated members of the web of life.

[email protected]

Employment

Worldmind is hiring for preschool through 8th grade teaching positions. A Colorado teaching license or ECE certification is required. Outdoor/environmental education background desired. Please send a resume to Executive Director/Founder Megan Patterson to apply: [email protected]