We are pleased to announce the launch of our new blog! Our weekly posts will feature an inclusive collection of thoughts, experiences and reflections from four diverse Early Childhood professionals. Tune-in every Tuesday to connect with the thoughts of Early Childhood practitioners from varying perspectives on topics such as inclusion, nature-play, parent communication, and social emotional development.
We hope that this blog will act as a place for inspiring conversations, member engagement and personal professional growth. Please join in on the conversation by commenting on future posts and sharing with friends, families and coworkers!
Meet the Team!
Chelsea Hocker has been working as an early childhood educator for the past ten years in Josephine County. She is in her fourth year as a lead preschool teacher at Imagine That… Creative Children’s Center in Grants Pass. She previously taught kindergarten at The Dome School in Takilma, OR, where she also attended preschool and kindergarten as a child. Chelsea has a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Development from Southern Oregon University, and is an avid attendee of continuing education opportunities.
As a Southern Oregon native, Chelsea loves exploring the mountains and rivers of the Illinois and Rogue Valleys, and worked for many years as a tour guide at the Oregon Caves National Monument. As a Ranger, as a teacher, and just for her own personal amusement, Chelsea’s favorite pastime is composing songs with her ukulele.
Nicole Fravel founded, directs and teaches at Wildwood Nature School, a nature and play-based preschool in northwest Portland. She holds a Master’s of Education degree from Stanford University and an Oregon State teaching certificate. In her 24 year career in early education, Ms. Fravel has taught in public elementary schools and in Even Start and private preschools. She has also served as School Partnership Director for a non-profit consulting organization working with schools in low-income communities and as an early childhood educator at a well-regarded children’s museum, supervising programs for children under 5. In addition to creating programs for the museum floor, she created and delivered parent-child art, music, and science workshops for toddlers and preschoolers and outreach programs with nonprofit partners such as Head Start and the United Way.
Dr. Natalie Danner is an Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education at Western Oregon University in Monmouth, OR. Originally from the East Coast, Natalie comes to Western with over ten years of experience teaching young children with and without disabilities in preschool, public Pre-K, and Kindergarten settings. Her research interests include measuring the quality of inclusion in preschool classrooms, understanding the essential elements of Montessori environments for young children, and implementing early childhood laboratory schools on university campuses. In her role as a teacher educator, Natalie is honored to help future early childhood teachers achieve their professional goals. You can find Natalie at:
Cassandra Johnson has spent over seven years teaching preschool and high school students, as well as two years serving in a director capacity. She is currently in her sixth year working with preschoolers, including a year spent in Russia and a year spent with AmeriCorps in Vancouver, WA. Her favorite aspect of working with young children is seeing their expressions and hearing their explanations as they discover how their world works. She recently graduated with her M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on Early Childhood Education.
Outside of work she loves art, writing, yoga, and chai tea, and she enjoys finding ways to bring this creativity into the classroom. Perhaps this is why you’ll see her classroom filled with “loose parts” so students can use their own imagination to build inventions and create masterpieces. As much as she loves working with children, she also enjoys the administration side of education. Working closely with both teachers and parents has its challenges, but each facet of it provides learning opportunities that she can take back to her work with supporting the children in her care.