We are a team of dedicated Forest School Practitioners who strongly believe in the benefits of children learning and playing in outdoor environments on a regular basis.
OMFS FOUNDER, DIRECTOR
Lindsay is a Forest School Practitioner with strong enthusiasm for outdoor play and learning. After completing her Bachelor of Natural Science at Lakehead University, Lindsay headed west where she spent 5 years working as an outdoor educator at the Rocky Mountain YMCA near Canmore, Alberta. She explored the mountains on skis, bike and with her trusty pack and hiking boots. It was here under the towering watch of the great Yamnuska Mountain that Lindsay learned the immense value of teaching and learning in nature.
Lindsay returned to Lakehead University where she earned her Bachelor of Education and soon afterward began teaching primary students in Calgary, Alberta. During her time teaching in the classroom, Lindsay learned that choice, personal interest, collaboration with others and learning about relevant, real life events were all integral aspects of a child’s educational journey. And then….something drew her back to the forests…of Ontario where she co-founded Oro-Medonte Forest School and now works as a lead educator.
Lindsay is a mother of two young girls who both have a profound curiosity for the natural world. As a family, they enjoy camping, exploring, tree climbing, biking, gardening and skiing. She believes wholeheartedly in the personal strength, the sense of peace, the everlasting wonder and the wisdom that can be gained when children have the opportunity to spend time learning in the outdoors from an early age.
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 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 gained a profound appreciation for the wisdom of indigenous people. She 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 co-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 a curiosity for all things wild in the next generation.
Melanie, her husband and their two adventurous children have lived in Oro-Medonte for the past 10 years 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 off field botany and all things plant related.
She has worked and volunteered for local land trust organizations and grassroots ecological farms. She believe 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.
Candice has been a leader and nurturer since the day her younger brother and sister were born. Candice always thought she was teaching her siblings as they played alongside each other throughout the seasons, but now, as an open-minded educator, she realizes that they were learning alongside each other the entire time. This is the flawless magic of learning which Candice truly believes in and the key to Forest School; when you’re so captivated by something without even realizing the knowledge which you’ve gained!
Candice‘s official career in education began in her hometown, Huntsville, Ontario, and through travel, she has also experienced teaching within an International School setting in Bangkok, Thailand; in the forests of Chelsea, Quebec; in Canada’s capital city, Ottawa, Ontario; and most recently, in Simcoe County. Candice has been teaching in the education field for over ten years in a variety of roles, including: Tutoring, Respite Care Provider, Camp Director, Educational Assistant, Occasional Teacher, Classroom Teacher, Outdoor Education Instructor and Forest School Educator.
Candice became a Forest School Practitioner within the last year. She led the PD Day and Summer School Programs at Chelsea Forest School, as well as independently led sessions at the Ottawa Carleton District School Board Outdoor Education Centres. Candice is an advocate of the Forest School child-led and inquiry-based philosophy as it naturally draws out children’s curiosity and makes learning both fun and meaningful. Candice is committed to connecting children with nature in her lifetime so they can benefit, like herself, from the multiple advantages which learning in the outdoors provides!
Jenn is an outdoor enthusiast who lives on a hobby farm just outside Elmvale. She takes solace in the peace and space country living brings, spending more time out and about on her property than inside. When in doubt, you can find her and her children out in the paddock with the ponies!
Jenn has an undying love of learning. Ever since she can remember, she has wanted to share that love with others through the role of teaching. Growing up she taught at many horseback riding and other sports camps. After high school she attended York University, Durham College, and Sir Sandford Fleming College. She earned a diploma in Business Operations and then took some time to travel abroad and reconnect with the natural world. After backpacking the eastern coast of Australia, Jenn came back to Ontario where she started a family and decided to venture back into the post-secondary world, earning her Bachelor of Arts and Science and Bachelor of Education degrees at Lakehead University.
The desire to inspire and share her love of learning coupled with her love of the outdoors brought Jenn into the realm of Forest School Education and she hasn’t looked back. She witnesses everyday with her own children the benefits of spending time outdoors. She believes in the value of discovery, as seen in child-led, inquiry-based and experiential learning, and aspires to offer the freedom and space for such learning to as many children as she can reach.
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.