Nature's Schoolhouse Team
Caring & Dedicated
Director // Lead Teacher
Ms Nicole is our Director and the founder of our school. Her youngest son was the driving force that led her to leave her career in technology and website operations, and open Nature's Schoolhouse. After guiding her three older children through the public and charter school systems, she knew her youngest son (and the entire community) needed something different. She is now committed to helping children explore and learn in a supportive, stress-free environment.
Nicole studied Journalism and Psychology at the University of Akron in her home state of Ohio, and is certified in School Administration. She moved to the Austin area in 2008 and enjoys spending time at all the local parks, lakes, rivers, and streams.
Nothing brings her more happiness than seeing the growth and evolution of our students.
Ms Kacie is our most tenured Lead Teacher. She graduated from Texas State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and is certified to teach Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, and English as a Second Language.
Kacie has long been a lover of nature and has always sought to share that love through education. This desire has led her down the alternative route of education. As she completed her schooling, she began to research different means of alternative education alongside her coursework, and she still likes to dedicate some of her spare time towards reading books of educational philosophers and alternative education practices. She also likes to dedicate time to rock climbing, gardening, writing, and playing the guitar.
Ms Gwen is currently the Lead Teacher for our Lower Elementary cohort. She brings a wealth of experience and passion to our community, having honed her skills as a preschool teacher, where she excelled in fostering a nurturing and creative learning environment. She is currently completing her teacher certification alongside her Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education
Gwen's approach to teaching is grounded in her belief that every child is a unique individual who deserves a tailored and engaging educational journey. She believes in fostering a classroom environment where students are encouraged to explore their voices and embrace their individuality.
Outside the classroom, Gwen's enthusiasm extends to the world of dance. She has not only competed state-wide but also enjoys sharing her dance expertise with her students, adding another dimension to her dynamic approach.
Student Success Coordinator
Ms Keli is our Student Success Coordinator, and works with every student who enters our school. She is a graduate of the University of St. Thomas in Houston, TX, and has a B.A. in Liberal Arts and Communication. She has over 15 years of experience working with children from infancy through high school, including those with varying mental and physical disabilities.
Keli is also a mother to 3 children who enjoys coffee, hiking, wacky accessories, and true crime stories in her personal time.
Fridays in the Park PE Coach
Coach Brandon and his wife, Jessica, own Sweat Athletics in Austin, where Brandon grew up. He attended Texas State University where he played basketball and earned his B.S. in Exercise Sports Science. After graduating, Brandon spent the next three years traveling the world playing professional basketball and experiencing global wellness trends.
Coach Brandon loves to spend time with his wife, Jessica, son Grayson, and their three dogs. Together they hike, swim, tear up the playground, and take family walks.
Fridays in the Park Coordinator
Katie Van Tiem
Katie graduated from the University of Notre Dame and received her M.A. in Pastoral Counseling from Loyola University Chicago. She works locally as a psychotherapist and is a registered yoga teacher and former challenge course facilitator. She feels incredibly grateful for the part-time program at Nature's Schoolhouse that serves her 2 daughters, and she's especially excited about this year's Fridays in the Park. She aims to provide learners with ample opportunities to connect deeply to nature and one another.
Marcie Tomayko, RN
Marcie is our School Nurse and Garden Coordinator. She enjoys working with the children outside and encouraging them to pave their own path. She is always spearheading some sort of project around our schoolhouse, whether it's building an outdoor sink, constructing a chicken coop, trimming tree branches so the kids can play in the shade, or reorganizing the gardens
As a mother of three girls, Sarah understands the importance of a nurturing classroom environment. She volunteered extensively within our school community before joining our team officially, giving her insight into the unique needs of our young learners.
Additionally, Sarah is passionate about yoga, rock climbing, hiking and simply spending time in nature,