VISIT OR CALL4400 Beck Lane
Ringwood, IL 60072
- Renee McCauley
- Mary Fluger
- Kristin Calvert
- Katy Dishno
- Alex Borter
- Abby Burgess
- Julie Austin
- Connie McDermitt
- Melissa Wagner
- Cody Golliher
- Laura Nigro
- Bre Maher
- Danni Zak
- Jylian Pankow
- Jessica Ratzlaff
- Sarah Partridge
- Amanda Hall
- Rachel Wallace
Channeling our inner child...
We staff members at Nature's Scholars each have a story to tell; but we always try to remember that we were once children too. To learn more about each member of the team, click their name in the staff list.
Certified Food Service Manager
When I was little we didn’t live by many kids and we were new to the area so I didn’t have many friends. I played with my 5 older brothers who taught me the love of playing outside, sledding, building snow forts, ice skating, biking, swimming and games of kick the can and ghost in the graveyard.
I think that is why I love kids, they make you remember what fun it was to be a kid. They make you slow down and see life through their eyes - seeing the wonder of all the little things while outside playing, like a bug crawling, flower petals' softness, "helicopters" falling from the trees. You can see the questions in their eyes.
It’s so rewarding teaching a child to be independent, the excitement when they finally accomplish a task on their own and then having them teach another child to do the same.
Certified Food Service Manager
I was shy when I was little. I did not speak in class until the third grade. I could talk just fine, but why? You learn so much from watching. I loved hopping on our bikes with all our "gear" for the day and returning by dinner. When you return as an adult to that spot (if it’s still there), you realize, it was just a little ways from your house and mom could probably hear everything we were doing on a good breezy day (in the right direction)! Perhaps, I choose not to talk because in all our "neighborhood productions" I was the dog (or the baby). At least I got to be Toto once!
You should hear me now! I’m making up for lost time. Children need the opportunity to express themselves, whether in words, play, or experiences. With a positive attitude everything is better! A day without children is a day without sunshine.
Growing up I can remember always being outside, whether it was pretending I was a princess in the woods across the street from my house, or testing my limits while I was climbing a tree. Try and think of your favorite childhood memory… I bet you it was outside. Ask yourself, do your children have the opportunities to make those same memories?
Not only did I make memories; I learned some important lessons playing outside. I learned that if you climb a tree too high, you can’t get down, but I was so proud of myself for climbing that high. My parents never put me on top of the slide; they made me climb it myself. And if I couldn’t climb it, then that is one goal I could make for myself the next time we came to the park.
Being outside is not just about getting dirty (even though it’s fun). It’s about making memories, learning lessons, and making goals for yourself, just like you do in life.
While growing up, my mom would have to whistle for us when dinner was ready to even get us inside. As a mom myself now, I realize how important it is to have my little boy outside and exploring every little bit of the world in which we live. I am an elementary education teacher in early childhood and special education. I am so excited to be part of the Nature's Scholars team!
I am the oldest of four children - two sisters and a brother. When I was younger, my absolute favorite thing to do was to play babies. The day my first younger sister was born, all my attention and nurturing was focused onto her instead of my dolls. I have always had such an interest in helping children grow and succeed.
As I grew older I found myself trying to keep up with all my older cousins, whether it be building forts out of things we found outside or just helping feed the animals that my grandparents had on their farm. I have 24 cousins in my family - older, younger, boys and girls. My family is very close and I think that family involvement has such a great impact on a child’s education and desire for learning.
Instead of looking to famous philosophers and motivational speakers, a child is the greatest ray of inspiration. They have the ability to show you that life is unbelievably beautiful and that you should slow down and really pay attention to the simple things. Whether it be just the sound of the rain on a rooftop or the smiles on everyone’s face when they say their first word or write their name! Children appreciate everything this world presents and I think that we should start following their lead!
Almost all of my childhood memories involve being outside. If I wasn’t running around the soccer field, then I was running around the neighborhood. The standing rule was to come home when the street lights came on, but often times I was having too much fun and had to hurry home before it got too dark. After all, exploring the field behind my friend’s house, riding bikes, and playing pretend with forks and knives made out of dandelion stems was very important work.
I was not a squeamish girl growing up. I got dirty, hunted the river for “moon rocks”, played with bugs, and caught snakes in the yard. This willingness to explore and try new things is something I want to bestow to children. I want them to not be afraid of nature, to get dirty and have fun exploring new things.
As our society turns more to technology every day, I think it is important that we give our children the same benefits of playing outside that we got. While computers and video games are fun, there are just some things you can’t learn sitting in front of a screen. There is always something new to explore, a lesson to be learned, and fun to be had right outside.
Certified Food Service Manager
I grew up in Lake Zurich (back when it was a small farm town) along with my two older sisters. I spent all my days outside swimming, bike riding, climbing trees, exploring the woods and swamps for frogs, turtles and other critters. I used to bring home all kinds of animals like raccoons, ducks, geese, dogs - whatever I felt needed a home. My parents were not as excited as I was.
We spent our weekends camping all over Illinois, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Canada. I learned to fish and hunt (for food). I wasn't very fond of that. Later in life, I spent all my time on my friend's farm riding horses and playing with the baby pigs and barn cats and kittens. I currently foster kittens for a local rescue and have raised 5 kids.
As a single mom, I decided to get into child care. I enjoy kids and was able to bring my own children to work with me. It has worked out great for all of us. I am so happy to work for a company that is a compassionate about nature as I am.
I love being a teacher because I enjoy being around children. They are happy, exuberant, spontaneous and creative. An early childhood teacher lays the foundation for future learning. Children have a curiousity about the world around them. I want them to feel connected to their world and the natural wonders of it by gardening, reading outside, playing in all kinds of weather and just exploring what nature has to offer them.
I am the youngest and the only girl of four children in my family. Growing up with three brothers was not always easy for a girly girl but that never stopped me from playing catch and getting a little dirt on my hands. In fact, one of my favorite memories of playing outside was a day of nonstop rain, and when the skies finally cleared, my brother and I were ready to take on the puddles of mud. We were covered from head to toe trying to perfect the best mud pie we could! I'm pretty sure my parents weren't too happy about us tracking mud into the house, but that didn't stop me from exploring the great outdoors.
One thing I have always known about myself is the love I have for helping children grow and learn. There is something wonderful about watching the children in your care hit milestones and develop personalities right before your eyes. I couldn't imagine doing anything other than working with children. I think that it is important to use our surroundings right outside of our doors to encourage children to learn. It is how I learned and how many of our ancestors learned before us! I am excited that I can share my love for exploring outside with the children in my classroom.
My love for the outdoors has always been a major part of my life. Growing up on the banks of the Kishwaukee River, I was never without a net or fishing pole in hand. When I wasn’t tracking down frogs or biking through forest preserves in Illinois, I was exploring the forests around our cabin in Northern Wisconsin. I lived for the days where hours would disappear without notice as I dragged my little brother around on some sort of adventure, usually returning home at dusk, only to have my mom hose us off before we were allowed in the house.
As I grew older, my family fostered many children. Being around children everyday has now fostered me to want to teach children and nurture their early years. I love to see them explore nature and I love being a part of their discoveries. Being at Nature’s Scholars is a great fit for me because I can combine my love of nature and working with children!
My most vivid memories are summers in Michigan. We had a family cottage where we all gathered and embraced the glorious outdoor lake life. My sister, cousins and I would run down huge sand dunes and would pretend to be fish as we swam and played in the water. In the evenings we would see who could catch the most fireflies in a jar, and use it as a night light as we sat by a campfire and roasted marshmallows.
These experiences have followed me into my adult life. I am thrilled to teach and mentor children in a comfortable way through play and discovering the things they enjoy. It gives me great joy to see a child’s eyes light up when they experience something new, like when they laugh in delight as playdough oozes through their fingers for the very first time. It is an absolute pleasure to encourage kids to grow on a daily basis.
I grew up being obsessed with my baby dolls. I was always changing their clothes, feeding them, changing their diapers and always washing their clothes. After 4 long years of waiting, my mom had my baby brother William. I was so happy to have a baby brother and dress him up and take care of him. I was so excited to be a big sister!
My brother and I loved playing outside! We would make mud pies with my mom’s favorite flowers, dig up worms under rocks all while my dad did yard work. We would ride our bikes through mud puddles, play hide and seek in the woods, go fishing in the creek and spent our summers swimming in our pool.
Children have always been in my life. My first job was babysitting. I was able to take care of my brother, then my cousins, my neighbors, family friends’ children and anyone else who inquired. Those years led me to earn my Early Childhood Education Degree. I could not imagine my life without seeing a child’s smile light up after an accomplishment, milestone or just feeling proud. I hope I can make an impact on each child’s life throughout my career as much as they have for me!
I am the third child of four girls. Growing up being the mini me of my father was only one part of my life. The other was embracing the fondness of the outdoors. While I wasn't the girliest girl or the sporty tomboy, I was always ready for anything rugged. Tent camping, fishing, and playing in the snow were some of the favorite times of my life.
I also remember always thinking when I grow up all I want to do is teach kids. After babysitting, being a nanny, and teaching in daycares I went to school to earn a degree in family and child studies. Since then I have had a long standing career in daycare, while raising two wonderful boys. I take every opportunity I can to show those around me and my children how being outside can teach us much more than a book.
This ability to be a part of the Nature's Scholars family has been long awaited. I will surely value this opportunity to embrace the world at it's finest with all those around me.
Even as a young girl, I always had a drive to be around children. I was the one always wanting to hold the babies and follow the toddlers around. As I grew older, so did my passion to work with children! When I was old enough, I began babysitting, and even was in an early childhood program through high school. I then went on to have four beautiful children of my own! The spirit of a child is so pure and resilient, and sometimes I think I learn more from them.
I believe children are learning best when they are able to explore freely in a safe, loving, inclusive environment. What better place to learn than the great outdoors? I myself have always felt most calm and connected while outdoors. As a young girl I would go fishing with my dad, camping with my mom, and walks through the neighborhood. I currently find nothing more soothing than taking a walk in the forest.
Not only do I love to support children with their academic skills, but their social and emotional skills as well. There is nothing I enjoy more than forming deep, meaningful connections with the children, as well as their families. I look forward to each and every moment at Nature’s Scholars!
I love working at Nature's Scholars Enrichment Center because it is one of few centers that actually encourages kids to get dirty! I love being able to encourage the children to explore and learn from their natural surroundings. From smelling flowers to hopping in puddles, there is a lot that can be learned from nature.
When I was young, I was always outdoors. I would ride my four-wheeler on trails with the neighbor kids and go camping every weekend with my family. I still remember searching in the muck of the ponds for the biggest frog to enter in the frog jumping contest!
As our lives get busier, it gets harder for us to get out into nature. I love being able to help children make that connection daily. Seeing their excitement when they discover something new is what makes teaching so rewarding.
I remember when I was a child I was always outside either playing with the dogs, in the swimming pool or in the wooded area down my street. As I got older we grew our animals from just cats and dogs to cats, dogs, reptiles, variety of farm animals, to even rehabilitate baby raccoons. I would also help my dad with the garden (my dad is the one with the green thumb in the family) from turning soil over to planting to even helping him weed it. I would have to say I get the love of outdoors from my parents and the love for animals from my mom.
As I got older going through school I always loved science, especially when it came to talking about the mind. As I went through high school and college I really enjoyed my psychology classes. I always found it interesting, especially when we explored child development. Just learning about how they learn and grow mentally facinated me.
I believe those two things steered my in the direction of early childhood education. The animals taught me patience and the love of outdoors and the study of psychology left me enchanted with how the child's mind learns and grows.
School Age Aid
I am a mother of 4 and a small business owner. I have over 17 years experience in the beauty industry. I was born and raised in the area and have a love for the Midwest and all our seasons. Most recently I have been blessed to have the time to chase a lifelong dream - working with children! The running joke in the family is "you can always find me at the kids table." Life is beautiful through the eyes of a child. They truly warm and humble my heart. They fulfill my life.
In my spare time I love going to farmers markets, gardening, and antique flea markets. I am convinced I was a settler’s wife in my past life and love finding primitive and early farmhouse furniture pieces to bring back to life. I also love trying to make everything from scratch (key word “trying”). I am truly blessed to have this life and this opportunity to share my love of nature with the Nature's Scholars students.
When I was little, my mom ran an at-home daycare. During the school year, she would get all 8 of us on the bus to school, but the summers were different. We were playing outside all day, playing tag, hide-and-seek, pretending we were forest rangers and making mudpies. We had a treehouse in the backyard and we would go up into the "tower" and look out for animals and - as forest rangers - we also had to look out for forest fires. Thankfully, we never found any. The 8 of us also liked to go on nature walks to find rare plants, collect them and bring them back to the "scientist" (my mom) to determine the rarity.
The memories I have growing up outside playing, getting dirty and using our imaginations in nature played a big role in my life. I now implement that in my everyday teaching and feel that it is a great tool to use for learning and teaching our younger generation about nature and the importance of protecting our planet.