Meet the OMFS Team of Forest School Educators…
MELANIE VAN PYPEN:
OMFS FOUNDER, DIRECTOR
Melanie is a Forest School Practitioner who finds her greatest joy simply being in the outdoors! She grew up here in Simcoe County playing in her own backyard forest and exploring with her family. After completing her Bachelor of Kinesiology at Lakehead University, she travelled to the far north where she lived, learned, and explored for some time.
In Yukon she worked as a kinesiologist teaching communication and behavioural strategies to young children with special needs. Concepts of child-led education, intrinsic motivation and play-based learning were the foundations on which she built her practice. Melanie studied Native Studies at the University of Alaska and worked at the university as an outdoor adventure guide, leading people of all ages to many incredible wilderness locations. It was here she began her family and spent her days in a remote part of the north, gardening, living off-grid, and adventuring the wilds of this majestic land.
Drawn back to the lakes and forests of Ontario, Melanie turned her attention to homeschooling her two young children and began studying Waldorf, Montessori, and Forest School educational philosophies. She spent time working with a local midwifery practice, leading workshops for parents, and teaching babywearing groups regularly. Melanie is a certified children’s (and adult) yoga teacher with experience teaching in school settings, children’s homes, and, of course, in the outdoors! As the founder and lead-educator at Oro-Medonte Forest School, Melanie teaches with a passion for being in the outdoors, hoping the forest school movement will spark an appreciation for all things wild in the next generation.
Melanie, her husband and their two adventurous children have lived in Oro-Medonte for over a decade and spend their free time canoe tripping, rock climbing, skiing, mountain biking and simply exploring the forests that surround them. When not at Forest School, she can be found walking under a full moon, wandering at the pace of her own children, and sitting under a tree, feeling the peace that it provides. She feels strongly that children are the cornerstone of our future, and exploring alongside children as they play, learn and connect to nature is a gift she is grateful to offer to this community.
Jacqui is an Early Childhood Educator with a diverse background. She grew up in the Muskoka area, spending her free time exploring outside and creating art. She also holds a diploma from Sault College in Parks and Outdoor Recreation. While living in northern Ontario, she deepened a childhood love of field botany and all things plant related.
She has worked and volunteered for local land trust organizations and grassroots ecological farms. She believes deeply in the connection of people to nature through food.
She spent many years on Vancouver Island, exploring the forests; gardening; working in various childcare capacities; and teaching adult fitness and children’s yoga.
She aspires always to share her enthusiasm for the natural world with young children and, to encourage a life-long connection to nature.
When she’s not at forest school, she is hiking, snowshoeing, foraging, or learning a new skill.
Michelle is a Lakehead University graduate who pursued Outdoor Recreation in Thunder Bay. Her goal is to facilitate positive experiences in the outdoors for children to foster a deeper connection to nature that will grow with them throughout their lives. This connection can help transition to a more environmentally focused society as we move into the future, this transition will be led by children. She deeply believes in connection to place and the stories hidden within landscapes, something she focused on while living in Thunder Bay.
Michelle grew up camping, skiing and exploring outside with her family all over Ontario. Now she pursues her own outdoor passions, which include just about every type of activity you can ask for, but especially her one true love of over 10 years – rock climbing. She shares her passions with children not only by being a Forest School teacher throughout the school year, but also being a climbing coach and guide.
When Michelle isn’t out exploring or working in the community, she lives in the Blue Mountains with her Dog and Cat. She believes that you are never too old to play and have fun and that we should all let our inner child out to explore and wonder.
Nancy’s passion for the outdoors started with her introduction to Outdoor Education Programs in elementary school. The adventures and experiences presented to her by the educators guided her toward a career path that would allow her to enjoy the outdoors. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Forest Resource Management at UofT and UBC and she worked for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources for several years, traveling to all reaches of the province. As rewarding as her job was, she knew that she wanted to inspire children to love nature as much as she did. She completed her Bachelor of Education at UBC and has taught for over 25 years, in the Northwest Territories and Ontario, always incorporating outdoor learning and inquiry opportunities into her programming.
She has recently completed the Ontario Master Naturalist Program at Lakehead University and is currently completing her Forest School Practioner’s Course. She has shared many outdoor adventures with her family, hiking, biking, XC skiing, canoeing, camping across Canada and continues to actively explore the outdoor spaces in Oro-Medonte as well as volunteering with the Friends of the Copeland, Bioblitz and Nature Conservancy events. She looks forward to exploring and learning with the children and helping them develop a lifelong relationship with nature.
Bio coming soon…
Forest School Teacher Training
Our aim is to encourage all OMFS teachers to take part in the Forest School Canada Practitioners course, a forest school teacher training course that has been developed to build strong, cohesive, and reputable forest school communities of practice across Canada. They also offer other relevant courses and workshops which our teachers will prioritize, staying up to date with current practice.
OMFS will be a host site for the Practitioners course in Fall 2020 – for more information and to register for this course, please visit http://childnature.ca/forest-school-canada/
Registration for this course is done through Forest School Canada, registration opens on June 1, 2020 at 10:00am – please contact their organization with your questions etc.