Our Staff

Lead Kindergarten Teacher – Madeline Miller

Madeline was born and raised here in Portland, Oregon and grew up exploring our region’s beautiful mountains, rivers, forest, and coast.

Madeline’s love for outdoor education began in high school while teaching as an Outdoor School Student Leader, and ever since she has worked to connect people to the more-than-human world. She attended Northwestern University and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology with a minor in Environmental Studies. After serving two years with the Confluence Environmental Center AmeriCorps program, she returned to school for a Master’s in Educational Leadership and Policy, with a focus in Leadership for Sustainability Education, at Portland State University.

Madeline taught in elementary school gardens for five years, three of those with the nonprofit Grow Portland, and she recently became a certified teacher. She joined the Trackers family this summer as a Managing Coordinator and is excited to get to know the Forest School community. Madeline enjoys the magical moments people can have connecting with nature, whether than be in a garden, on a forest trail, or on a neighborhood stroll. When she is not teaching, you can find Madeline puttering around in her backyard garden, creating some kind of fermented concoction, bird watching, or playing with her springer spaniel, Millie.

Lead First Grade Teacher & Literacy Specialist– Jessa Moody

Jessa’s roots spread from the deep woods of Downeast Maine, the natural areas of Central Florida, the cities of Madrid, Spain and Santiago, Chile, the island of Taiwan and the Pacific Northwest.  Her educator journey began at the ripe age of 12 where she taught young kids how to figure skate and fell in love with sharing her skills. This love of teaching sparked her to pursue a degree in Elementary Education with concentrations in math and outdoor education from the University of Maine. Since 2011 she has found joy with the laughter and curiosity of the ever-growing first grade mind. Her personal love of reading (give her a good mystery novel recommendation any day) and training in brain-based teaching led her to earn her Master’s degree in Reading Education from the University of South Florida in 2015 where her primary research was in the connection of language comprehension and outdoor education. As curious as her students, Jessa embarked on a journey to explore and immerse herself in places where English was not the first language. Her travels to over 60 countries and teaching of English as a foreign language brought her back to the U.S. eager to share her experiences and world connections.

In 2019, Jessa found the Trackers Earth family and its Mariners guild where she teaches fishing, foraging, boating, and other ways of the waters during the summer. The tales of Captain J-Hook can be heard throughout the summer when the waters are warmest. From portaging canoes in Northern Maine, to sea kayaking in the Florida Everglades, to catching Bluegill in Blue Lake, among countless other nature experiences fostered her continued love for nature and helping students make similar nature connections has been her mission.

Jessa has continued her career with Trackers Earth by teaching its 1st Graders at Portland Forest School ever since. With her Oregon Teaching License and Literacy Specialist background she has been supporting her students and community in data-driven experiential learning bundled with structured literacy. The world is truly the best classroom! Teacher Wizard Jessa loves taking her Brave Monsters on adventures to navigate our world, grow kind communities, and confidently adapt to our ever changing environments.

Lead Second Grade Teacher – Emily Dillinger

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!

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.

Instructional Coach & First Grade Teaching Assistant – Laura Mosier

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 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 – Dale Williams

Dale 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, Dale asked to be enrolled in the local Taekwon Do studio. Dale’s mother begrudgingly complied and, after ten years, this resulted in her becoming an assistant instructor. Three blackbelts later, Dale gained a lifelong passion for teaching.

In 2011 Dale 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, Dale 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, Dale picked up a minor in Environmental Science and earned a certificate of Adventure Leadership after various mountaineering, rock climbing and backpacking experiences. Once graduated, Dale moved to Portland (with family dog, Malcolm) to assist in horticultural pathology and chemical profiling.

Since returning to outdoor education in 2019 Dale has been awestruck by the influence the natural world can have on learning experiences and communities. Dale holds 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 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 General Manager – 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 PrincipalRachel Sip

Rachel grew up on 88 acres of forestland that her parents cared for in rural Linn County, Oregon where she caught crawdads, collected petrified wood, climbed trees, and slowly gained the confidence to jump off the Hannah Covered Bridge rope swing.  

In college, Rachel studied Psychology, Anthropology, and Special Education. She also worked as a camp counselor, drove a tractor, calibrated spreaders, and was a store clerk. After college, Rachel taught special education in Beaverton.  In 2005 she left the Metro area to live, work, and start a family on the Oregon Coast.  She found a passion for alternative education when she became a teacher at Wilson River School in Tillamook, then program director, and then principal. While at WRS, she restructured pregnant and parenting services to be inclusive, developed project-based cross-curricular teaching teams, and community partnerships.  In 2018, she returned to Beaverton as Principal of Pre-K through age-21 alternative programs.

When the pandemic hit in 2020 the Sips decided to start visiting a plot of undeveloped forestland they own near  the coast.  Fast forward a few years and they will tell you that their address is in Beaverton, but their Home is in the woods in Nehalem. Friends and family often join to camp, play, build forts, explore, swing and zipline, shoot arrows, and cook on the campfire.  She loves being part of a school whose foundation is built around interdisciplinary academics and connection to the natural world.  

Forest School Assistant PrincipalElaine Kinchen

Elaine spent their formative years both attending Star Trek conventions and living with a radical primitive skills community in the woods before receiving their 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. They now divides their time between teaching art classes and administrative duties as the Assistant Principal managing operational logistics. Elaine loves watching students realize their own competency. They are excited to be part of a program that connects people to the earth through hands-on experiences.