Lead Forest Kinder Teacher
Andrea Hector grew up in Martinez, California where she spent most of her childhood exploring the hills beyond her family’s home and in her father’s garden. The importance of growing her own food and becoming nourished through nature was introduced to her early on. She has spent over 12 years working with young children in various settings. It wasn’t until after she graduated college at Sonoma State University that she realized she could integrate her passion for working with young children and the natural world. She spent an additional three years getting her Masters in Early Childhood Education and Environmental Education, specializing in garden-based learning. During this time she worked at a Reggio Inspired school both as a teacher and a garden coordinator where she implemented a small composting program and taught the children about gardening and the importance of growing and harvesting their own food. In 2016, she learned that a local Waldorf school was hiring for a Kindergarten teacher and found herself teaching in a Waldorf Kindergarten for two years, under the mentorship of several trained Waldorf teachers. She enjoys combining her passion for Waldorf principles and her love of providing outdoor instruction for young children where they can explore the natural world in its entirety. As a trained teacher in the Reggio Emilia Approach, she is also deeply passionate about inquiry based learning and supporting children’s interests through open ended exploration. She brings her expertise in early childhood and outdoor education as the Lead Forest Kindergarten Teacher. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her husband and three daughters, Asilee, Fiona and Marleigh. They focus on gardening, hiking, camping and all things homemade!
Assistant Grades Teacher
Jessica has been a Bay Area resident most of her life. As a child she was an avid diver and swimmer, and although she was really good at both sports, she always felt like something was missing. Nature was missing! At age 13 she moved to the country and got a horse-- that is when she really came to life. On her horse, she was able to experience the wonders of the world outside the city, navigating the hills and valleys without a compass or phone. Working with rescue dogs, she has been able to see what a great teacher she is with big and small animals. Studying animals, nature and human impact led her to join the Future Farmers of America (FFA) where she learned leadership and teaching skills. From assistant vet work and lifeguarding, to dance and water polo, Jessica was eager to find her true calling. When she found the folks at Wild Oak, she knew she was home. She can combine all her experiences to help show children the wonder and beauty of learning in nature.
Kris Abraham was born and raised in the Oakland, San Pablo Bay Area. Always a curious adventurer who enjoyed physical challenges, her passion for being outdoors was nurtured spending much free time exploring Wild Cat Canyon, Tilden, and Briones Regional Parks. Kris has always been interested in people, appreciating learning about individual differences, and many cultures.
Kris has always had the gift of being a Jill-of-all-trades, which led to her meeting her husband of 28 years. They value family strongly and were passionate about raising their 4 grown children (2 sons and 2 daughters). Those years would include co-oping at The Secret Garden and then Creative Play Center. Little did she know then that this seemingly random financially-based decision would be forever life changing for Kris personally.
Kris discovered a love for child development and psychology, obtaining both her Parent Education Credential and Preschool Teaching Permit, all while pregnant with her third child. She served on the Board and co-oped while homeschooling her eldest (who had been struggling in school due to what Kris and her husband learned was a shared learning difference).
Soon after, Kris was hired to teach at both Creative Play Center (CPC) and The Secret Garden, eventually becoming Director for CPC. In the following years, Kris’ studies included learning differences, brain development, positive discipline, nutrition -whole foods, and women’s studies. Additionally, she taught 2 years at Crossroads, a high school for teen mothers.
After twenty years teaching, Kris is very ready to be a curious adventurer and follow her love for the outdoors and education at Wild Oak!
Assistant Forest Kinder Teacher
Lia has been in education for the last 25 years and her experiences in education range from outdoor school counselor to Montessori in-home childcare. She has a Master’s degree in Education, an Association Montessori Internationale (AMI) certification at the 3–6 year old level, and was a certified public school teacher for the state of Wisconsin. She was born and raised in Portland, Oregon, but for the last nine years called Milwaukee, Wisconsin home. During this time she was the lead guide of a Montessori primary classroom in the Milwaukee Public School district. With a bustling classroom of 28–30 three to six year olds, daily life was full of challenges and joy! When her family started to grow, she left the public school system and invited children into her home for Montessori in the Home childcare. Two years ago she had the opportunity to bring Tinkergarten, an outdoor play program, into Wisconsin. Throughout all of the wonderful and varied weather that Wisconsin experiences year-round, she led outdoor play classes for children 18 months–5 years old and their caregivers. Both of mher sons attended these classes with her. She excited for this next part of our journey. Her and her family love getting outside—playing, exploring, gardening, going to farmer’s markets, eating good food, and biking. They are beyond thrilled to be coming home to the West Coast and the mountains, water, and plant life. She is looking forward to getting to know the families that make up Wild Oak, to serve this community, and to share in the beautiful journey of discovery and learning.
Meryn Gruhn Di Tullio
Born in Michigan, but raised in Switzerland, France, New Mexico, and California, Meryn Gruhn Di Tullio has also spent extended time in Canada, Morocco, South Africa, and Lesotho. Her life has been spent mostly outdoors, camping, and hiking. She holds an Associate Degree in International Relations from Schiller International University, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Academy of Art University. She is an accomplished painter and sculptor, performer, cellist, award-winning singer/songwriter, composer, and session musician. While Meryn has 20+ years teaching experience in public, private, one on one, and as a homeschool vendor, she finds great joy in creating engaging experiential curriculum that covers more than one subject at a time. She is passionate about our interconnection to Nature
Vanessa is a Virgo who grew up in Berkeley with her mom, sister, bunny and many cats. After spending the last 13 years in Texas studying midwifery, having babies and discovering the wonders of Waldorf Education, she is thrilled to be back in California. As a founding family of a young alternative education school in Houston, TX she has spent the last several years midwifing young Waldorf schools and is so honored to have the opportunity to begin the next chapter back home with Wild Oak. Her husband, Gilbert, and children (Lila in First, Pascual in Fourth, and Miles in Seventh grade) are also grateful to have this community as we journey through life as a homeschooling family. When she is not chasing kids or animals, she loves to read and meet new people. One of her favorite quotes is "Friends are the family we chose".