Our Staff

Lead Kindergarten Teacher – Kaiya Hatcher

Kaiya hails from California where she spent her childhood years split between the concrete jungle of Oakland and the forest near Lake Tahoe. In the city she would always seek connections to nature, playing in her mother’s garden with their chickens, going camping, and spending lots of time in local parks. But as soon as she was back in the forest she knew this was where she truly belongs.

In college Kaiya studied fiber arts and specialized in embroidery and natural dyes. She loves the slow methodical nature of both of these processes. Kaiya was particularly drawn to how natural dyes connected her to nature, giving her lots of opportunities to go outside foraging dye plants in the woods and harvest neighborhood weeds for her dye pot. She also appreciated how the dye process connected her to her food, using every part of her produce by saving food scraps to make beautiful colors.

After working in summer camps and after school programs for 6 years Kaiya got her MFA in curriculum and instruction from Bay Area Teacher Training Institute. During this time she began cultivating a strong foundation around social justice education and social emotional learning, both of which form the backbone of her teaching practice. She is particularly committed to modeling risk taking, dismantling the pressures of perfectionism and embracing the life long process of learning with her students. Kaiya still does natural dyes and loves to teach her students about plant chemistry through the magical alchemy of dying.

When not in the forest or making textiles Kaiya loves playing with her kitten Sochi, practicing yoga and mindfulness, making music and doing South Indian dance.

Kindergarten Assistant Teacher – Emily Dillinger

Rachel grew up in Flint Michigan where she spent her days on her family’s patch of Growing up on the edge of the Allegheny National Forest in Wilcox, Pennsylvania, Emily spent her formative years exploring the outdoors with her mother, who is a middle school science teacher, and her father, who is a forester. These experiences were so formative to who she is today that she chose to pursue a career in outdoor education so that she can help to facilitate that same type of passion for the outdoors through experiential learning. Her teaching philosophy is that through allowing free exploration and discovery time within age-appropriate boundaries, curiosity will be able to take hold of the student and lead them to discovering their own passions and excitements surrounding the natural world.

She recently graduated from the Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Resource Management and a minor in Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management. Throughout her college career, she spent her time teaching Outdoor School and summer camp programming in the heart of Pennsylvania with Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center. In addition to teaching, she has been guiding backpacking, hiking, and white-water trips in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Olympic National Park over the last few years. Her passions in the natural world include foraging, puddle stomping, sustainable outdoor living, sunrise admiring, and exploring new places. Any day outdoors is a day well spent!

Lower Grades Assistant Teacher – Brandi Boyett

Brandi hails from the great and distant land of Iowa (and promises that it’s not all corn), but for seven years now, and many more to come, has made Portland her home.

She began her career in education in 2016 with an eye-opening summer as a lead instructor at Trackers Earth. She had always known kids were awesome and teaching was worthwhile, but throw in the woods and suddenly it felt this was how teaching was meant to be.

This feeling led Brandi to seek out further ways to teach in the forest, so she became and instructor at Outdoor School during the school year as well as teaching in and helping to develop the Mazama Mountain Science School winter program, and returning to instruct at Trackers at every opportunity. She also eagerly enrolled in Trackers’ year-long adult program to increase her outdoor knowledge and abilities.

After nearly three years in these communities, Brandi decided it was time to further her own education. So, armed with her experience in the woods, a bachelor’s in Philosophy, and a lot of enthusiasm, she returned to school to earn her master’s in elementary education from Portland State University.

Brandi is a nerd on many fronts, including cartoons, View-Master, depression glass, Jurassic Park, and jewelry-making. In her free time, she seeks the sun and various art projects (often together). She is thrilled to be joining the Portland Forest School community and looking forward to seeing what the rest of the year will bring!

Lower Grades Teaching Assistant – Julian Varah-Sikes

Julian is a lifelong enthusiast of, what we call in the business, the Great Outside. He loves science, botany, and the marine sciences most of all. He has spent countless seasons working for the Northwest Service Academy’s Outdoor School Program as a Field Instructor and with Trackers Earth as a Lead Guide. His four years with Trackers Earth has earned him the moniker of “Jack of all Trades”, able to lead kayaking one day, rock climbing the next, and archery to finish off a week! In his spare time Julian, delves into the world of nonfiction and nature documentaries Julian has been an Outdoor Education professional for nearly ten years now, and nothing makes him happier than sharing his knowledge and experience with others (but especially my students!). As he states, “Exploration is my game, and discovery is my middle name! I can’t wait to share a year with my friends at Forest School.”

Lead First Grade Teacher & Literacy Specialist– Jessa Moody

 Jessa studied Elementary Education at the University of Maine and Reading education at the University of South Florida. She has been teaching elementary aged students for the last 8 years. After spending some time abroad learning about new cultures, she came back to the U.S. to focus on teaching students about the natural world.  Jessa loves fishing, hiking, crafting, reading and spending as much time as possible outdoors.

Instructional Coach & First Grade Teaching Assistant – Laura Mosier

Laura hails from SoCal Orange County, Newberg Oregon, Poitiers France, and Portland Oregon. She has been a career teacher across a number of fields and in two countries. In France, she taught English at the University of Poitiers for some ten years and earned a pre-doctorate in British and American Literature and Language. Once returned to Oregon, she taught motorcycling for the State of Oregon with Team Oregon for six years before entering the public high school world where she has taught French language and culture since 2008.

This past summer, Laura turned her attention toward teaching yet another of her passions: the outdoors. She joined the Trackers Earth family as a summer camp instructor and taught berry picking and exploration, the Rovers, the Rangers Stealth and Archery, and the School of Magic. Growing up in Oregon nurtured her connection and love for Nature and adventuring the outdoors; she canoed and rafted many of the region’s rivers, fished off its coast, camped along its lakes, and rambled through its forests on trails and snowy runs.

Laura enhances our beloved Portland Forest School with her expertise in teaching literacy, and lifelong collection of best practices at the highest levels; in 2014, she earned her certification from the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards. She has served as a Lead and Trainer of the SIOP Model (Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol) in service as mentor to her peers.

She holds a firm belief that there is no better practice to deliver genuine learning than in the real world and Forest School is leading education in aligning children with their natural desire to discover their world in Nature. This combination of genuine experiential learning flourishes in the natural setting of our outdoor environments where exploration leads to lived learning and skills acquired to solve real problems and discover new ecosystems that inform who we are and who we grow to become.

Lead Second Grade Teacher – Bailey Williams

Bailey grew up along a gully near Vernonia, Oregon, with a mashery of farm animals and a strong passion for adventure and guinea pigs. For her eighth birthday, Bailey asked to be enrolled in the local Taekwon Do studio. Bailey’s mother begrudgingly complied and, after ten years, this resulted in her becoming an assistant instructor. Three blackbelts later, Bailey gained a lifelong passion for teaching.

In 2011 Bailey joined the Trackers Earth Teen program and from the age of fifteen spent the rest of her schooling summers bounding barefoot through the forests of Marmot valley. Inspired by medicinal plants that can be found growing in sidewalk cracks, Bailey left for Oregon State University to earn a BA in Botany Plant Pathology. While there, she found fascinating work with USDA’s Foliar Pathology unit working on pesticide resistant Powdery Mildew in wine vineyards across the PNW. Along the way, Bailey picked up a minor in Environmental Science and earned a certificate of Adventure Leadership after various mountaineering, rock climbing and backpacking experiences. Once graduated, Bailey moved to Portland (with family dog, Malcolm) to assist in horticultural pathology and chemical profiling.
Since returning to outdoor education in 2019 Bailey has been awestruck by the influence the natural world can have on learning experiences and communities. You might have seen her as one of our most consistent and talented substitute Forest School Teachers last school year 2019-20. Bailey was the Forest School’s Lead Teacher Assistant for the 2nd/3rd Grade last year and is just wrapping up another summer with Tracker’s Earth as the Site Director at 3 Creeks Natural Area.

State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Resource Management and a minor in Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management. Throughout her college career, she spent her time teaching Outdoor School and summer camp programming in the heart of Pennsylvania with Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center. In addition to teaching, she has been guiding backpacking, hiking, and white-water trips in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Olympic National Park over the last few years. Her passions in the natural world include foraging, puddle stomping, sustainable outdoor living, sunrise admiring, and exploring new places. Any day outdoors is a day well spent!

Lead Third Grade Teacher – Brian Leonard

Brian grew up among the blue oaks and manzanitas of his family farm in Northern California. His childhood was spent getting lost, building forts out of sticks, and being mentored by a pride of house cats. Hmm, upon reflection that is mostly how he spends his time now as well.

Sandwiched between his childhood and the present, Brian took many exciting turns and advances in his journey toward the Portland Forest School. He studied geology at the University of Oregon, which cemented his love of physical science and took him to some of the most dynamic places on Earth. His creative writing fuels his joie de vivre and he has earned several local awards for screenwriting.

Brian’s studies in education at Concordia University expanded and honed his teaching skills and his experiences teaching middle school Integrated Science and high school Physics gave him an outlet to share his fascinations with young people. He also completed the Forest School Teacher Training adult program at Trackers and believes that nature can be the best teacher if you know how to listen to its lessons.

Brian is continually mesmerized by the rocks beneath his feet, the stars above his head, and all of the wonderful people living between.

Lead Fourth Grade Teacher – Alex Logan

Alexander grew up in the wilderness of Southern Oregon, splitting his time between rural Applegate and Medford. An accomplished scout, outdoor education has been integral to his life since childhood.
After moving to Portland in 2012, Alex has worked various jobs in the outdoor industry, completing an outdoor guide mentorship program through Portland State University and becoming a whitewater rafting guide, overnight backpacking guide, and more recently, a Coordinator Guide for Trackers Earth. He holds a B.S. in Sociology and a Master’s of Education in Leadership for Sustainability Ed.

His teaching philosophy is enhanced by the following theories: embodied learning, transformative education, and critical pedagogy. Embodied learning utilizes tactile and sensory education to break down the barrier between our bodies and our places. He believes that connection to place and body is crucial if we want to educate the whole person. His goal is to transform education to be more holistic, sustainable, and compassionate. He leads a sustainable urban farming project with Lane Middle school through the Learning Gardens Lab, with the purpose being to connect students with their food, cultivate a relationship with the Earth, themselves, and their peers. He believes that outdoor education is essential, not only because it gets children outside and learning with their hands, but because it actively works to address socioeconomic, racial, and educational disparities. His philosophy is that outdoor education and sustainability pedagogy create meaningful experiences for students that facilitate their personal development and autonomy, connection to their environment and community, and gives a voice to non-dominant perspectives.

In his free time, he can be found reading a good book in a hammock outdoors, skiing, climbing, and crafting.

Lead Fifth Grade Teacher – Kyle Golden

Kyle was raised in the farmlands of the Willamette Valley where he often found himself riding bikes through fields and forest or taking care of all forms of animals, domestic and wild. His family fostered a deep reverence for nature’s intricate connections and delicate balance and provided the freedom to explore it’s wonders.

After earning his Bachelor’s of Science in Biology from Southern Oregon University, Kyle spent several seasons at Northwest Outdoor Science School as a Field Instructor. Mostly focused on curriculum in the animals and earth sciences. To Kyle something isn’t worth doing unless it’s fun. Outdoor education has become a very good fit and allowed him vital space to create educational game experiences. That thirst to explore got the better of Kyle in 2017 when he launched himself (almost exactly) to the other side of the planet to teach Biology and Chemistry in Tanzania as a two year Peace Corps service. To Kyle there is immense value in experiencing different ways of life and he loves to share stories from his time in East Africa. Upon his return Kyle spent time as a Ranger with the U.S. Forest Service and this past summer as a Lead Guide, which brought him to teaching 5th Grade at Portland Forest School.

When not playing in the forest Kyle can be found playing at home. He loves creating stories with friends at the D&D table, making art, and practicing his marksmanship with his longbow.

Lead Sixth Grade Teacher – Christine Fleener

Christine grew up in Illinois living an extremely midwestern existence running through cornfields and pouncing on fireflies. Her favorite bird song is the Red-Winged Blackbird because they sound like tiny robots. Herfavorite smells are prairie grasses and dry leaves. She studied Astronomy and Anthropology at the University of Illinois and earned her PhD in Comparative Human Development and Behavioral Biology at the University of Chicago. As an undergrad, she conducted research on stellar formation and on the ecology and evolution of reptiles, insects, and grass species. As a grad student, she lived in Puerto Rico researching a population of rhesus monkeys at the Cayo Santiago Biological Field Station and founded a nonprofit dog rescue there called Punta Santiago Dogs that has helped her community care for and relocate over 200 animals!

Christine also designs games, puzzles, and immersive experiences that motivate more intimate interactions with the environment and others and introduce different perspectives and approaches to problem solving. You can find her organizing local Puzzled Pint events on the second Tuesday of every month, portraying her bardic forest gnome Nyxel in various RPGs, playing sad songs on her violin, or wandering up the tallest mountains she can find. Qapla’!

Lead Seventh Grade Teacher – Michelle Cordell

Michelle was born and raised in Olympia, Washington exploring the woods and the rocky shore of the Puget Sound. Like the salmon who start their life here but venture far from home, Michelle has traveled far from home to learn and grow. She studied economics and Spanish at Colorado College and spent her summers kayak guiding in Southeast Alaska before spending four years in Thailand working as a field instructor, logistics manager, and curriculum developer for university and high school level programs that explored the relationship between culture and ecology. Like the salmon, Michelle came back home to the PNW in summer 2019 and began working for Trackers Earth as a Coordinator for summer in Vancouver and has spent the last year at Trackers Earth teaching homeschool, coordinating the outdoor leadership apprenticeship, and managing the Trackers Earth custom programs. This included planning field trips for schools and creating a unique five day Outdoor School program for a local middle school. Michelle has loved helping make it possible for kids to safely reconnect with others and the more than human world this summer for camp in Portland. When Michelle is not playing in the forest, on the water, or on snowy hilltops she can be found drawing, sewing, and making collages with fresh produce.

Lead Eighth Grade Teacher – Ian Moore

Ian has been teaching with Trackers since 2012 and as a Forest School Teacher since 2018. Raised in the Rocky Mountains, he set out to work, teach, and educate in the informal outdoor setting provided by the wonders of the Pacific Northwest. Ian holds a BA in Environmental Science through Marylhurst University and has taught for many outdoor education programs.

Forest School Principal – Ian Abraham

Ian has been teaching within the Portland Metropolitan area since 1999. He holds an MA in Environment and Community through Antioch University and has taught for many outdoor education programs, including M.E.S.D. Outdoor School, Cascadia Wild, Wolftree Inc., Tryon Creek and the Oregon Zoo. He spent the last 13 years at Portland Audubon as an Environmental Educator, Camp Director, and the Youth Programs Manager.

His passions lie in the arts and science of bird language and wilderness living skills. Ian views the vision of Forest School as the present and future role model for academics wherein students learn Oregon core curriculum standards through immersive outdoor skills. He is excited to support the massive amount of talent that the Forest School teachers bring to each and every day while also supporting the parents that trust him, and the school, with their child’s academic experience.

Forest School Vice-PrincipalElaine Kinchen

Elaine spent her formative years both attending Star Trek conventions and living with a radical primitive skills community in the woods before receiving her degree in Cultural Anthropology with honors from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Elaine has been with Trackers since 2012 teaching and directing a variety of Trackers programs ranging from archery to ceramics to bookkeeping. She now divides her time between teaching art classes and administrative duties as the Vice Principal managing operational logistics. She loves watching students realize their own competency. Elaine is excited to be part of a program that connects people to the earth through hands-on experiences.