Meag Diamond is a Cedarsong certified Forest Kindergarten teacher. For 17 years she has taught in the public and private school environments in Washington and in Lagos, Nigeria. Before starting Chavitos she spent six years at a local public Montessori school as a Lower Elementary Teacher (grades 1-3). Meag holds her National Board Certification in Literacy and also possesses a Montessori certification. When she saw her older son's love for nature she started to think creatively about a solution that would get both of them into the woods together more often. Now she has witnessed the powerful magic of the forest with her 6 year old. Chano has been in the forest since he was one month old and it's hard to get him to come inside.
Meag (she/her/hers) directs both programs and teaches Social Justice and Literacy at the K-8 program.
She speaks basic Spanish.
Meag is passionate about plant medicine and social justice. She has started growing herbal medicine in her wild garden and uses them in her home apothecary. Her and Jose have started to tend to land and have been learning to align with the lands vision and destiny. This year she has started to dream about how to help others start their own schools and is writing a book to share her ideas.
Chavitos Guides for 2023-2024
Jose Estrada is originally from Guatemala where he spent six years teaching physical education and coaching soccer, lacrosse and swimming. For four years he worked at Safe Passage where he worked with some of Guatemala's neediest children. It was here where he met Meag who was volunteering for a week. His passion is to incorporate play and recreation into education with an emphasis on exploring nature in our diverse community. Jose and his children Keats and Chano love to learn through cooking simply, fixing broken things, and building new invitation to play at their home, farm and forest.
He has been drawn to the Waldorf philosophy and has started his teacher training. This is his third year studying with this program.
Jose (he/him/his) teaches full days at the preschool in September-May and is a Native Spanish speaker.
Rosi Miller/Good, originates from the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Previously, the Director of a nature based summer camp, “Zestful Gardens Farm Camp”; Currently your administrative assistant for Chavitos on the Farm! She also sits on the board for 2 non-profit community health clinics: “Hearth Naturopathic Medicine”, and “Vashon Island Midwifery”.
Building healthy communities, by facilitating the growth of healthy “whole-hearted” families, has been at the center her work in the community, and her deepest dedicated work as a parent!
3 words to describe Rosi: quiet, creative, compassionate…(and “cats”, lets throw that in too!) She loves animals, drinks jasmine tea in the mornings, is a novice herbalist, bee-keeper and backpacker, and loves to get crafty. She enjoys her sweet, out-door loving family, and has been dedicated to facilitating growth mindset, social-emotional learning and nature education both personally and professionally.
Rosi (she,her,hers) is our K-8 admin.
Magdalen (Maggie) Folkman (she/her) is looking forward to joining Chavitos this year! Formerly from Cleveland Heights, Ohio, by way of West Seattle (two years,) NYC (five years) and now back to the PNW-this time residing in Tacoma (since April 2021) with her family (partner, Chris, three year old, Arlo, and lovable, but crotchety Boston Terrier dog, Ivy.) She received her undergraduate degree in early childhood education and has taught Montessori, helped create hands-on activities for little ones at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and led educational tours on rooftop farms in NYC. After leaving the educational space to commit to full-time farming (Hey First Light Farm and Early Bird Farm! Out in WA)- in addition to an amazing permaculture certificate course in Costa Rica, she completed her masters in Environmental Policy, while becoming a first time mom at the height of Covid in NYC. That time shifted her priorities to slowing down as much as possible and finding moments of joy (gardening, making her home cozy and warm, and adventuring with her family.) Intrigued/interested in environmental justice, Food sovereignty/food justice, and horticulture therapy. Excited to be a part of a warm and nurturing environment that fosters play and hands-on exploration and learning!
Maggie (she,her,hers) teaches mornings at the preschool
Blair (she, her, hers)
Teaches afternoons at the preschool.
Blair Eather (she/her/hers) grew up, and currently resides, in North End Tacoma; she’s happy to be only a hop, skip and a jump from Chavitos. She came into this world a nature and animal enthusiast and that enthusiasm hasn't lessened over the years.
She received a certification in Early Childhood Education with an emphasis in special needs from Tacoma Community College. Prior to joining the Chavitos team, she briefly provided therapy for autistic children in home and school settings. Blair herself is autistic and is open to sharing about her personal autistic experience, her previous work experience, or answering any questions regarding autism. Directly following the departure from that career path, she began teaching at a Montessori school, where she spent a year at.
A few of her favorite things are flowers, “psithurism” (the sound of wind through the trees), forest bathing, regularly hiking Point Defiance Park and Fort Steilacoom Park, soaking up the sun and the sights, sounds and smells of the surf along the Oregon Coast, capturing idyllic moments from behind a camera lens, time traveling via reading and watching period dramas, and greeting every dog and cat that crosses her path.
Mark Walker has enjoyed teaching for high school students of Michigan, university students of Indiana, and college students here in Washington, all through natural science and nutrition courses. Notably, Mark and his wife Gaby also shared these sciences and many health care services with approximately 500 students in the Mchinji District of Malawi, Africa in 2010.
Before their son, Francisco, was born in 2011, Mark and Gaby experienced as much of the world as they could, visiting several European and African nations through friend or volunteer connections. Other travels often include spending time with family and friends in many states of Mexico. When in Washington, the family enjoys the garden, music, studying, ice hockey, Tae Kwon Do, and as many outdoor activities as possible.
Prior to the Covid-19 closures, Mark was an assistant teacher in the Chavitos forest while Meag’s family lived and worked in Guatemala. All of these experiences have shaped him for the exciting opportunity to learn with the elementary children of Chavitos Nature School once again. Mark is thankful for all of the people he has known in the Chavitos Community so far, anticipating a wonderfully productive and positive school year.
Erin (She/her/hers) teaches electives and math at the K-8 program.
Erin Soper grew up in rural Tacoma on a small farm. Thanks to family camping trips and Girl Scout adventures, she discovered her love of environmental education early on. She has been teaching in traditional and outdoor classrooms, facilitating programs for all ages, and mentoring educators for over 20 years. Erin is most proud of the groundbreaking work she has done for nature preschools in Michigan and Washington. She holds a BAE Interdisciplinary Child Development, K-8 Teaching Certificate, and Early Childhood Education Endorsement. Erin lived, studied, and explored within the North Cascades National Park while becoming a Northwest Naturalist, earning a Certificate of Leadership and Nonprofit Administration, and completing her MEd Environmental Education.
Erin lives with her partner, Pennie, and their ever-growing family. Erin loves living near mountains and saltwater, sleeping in tents, geocaching, and reading in hammocks.
Mark (he/him/his) teaches electives at the K-8 program. He is a Spanish speaker.
Lupe Avila was born in Mexico City and immigrated to Washington state when she was 2 with her mom & siblings. She has a passion for guiding kids and helping them grow emotionally. She would describe her self as a mother to all, who makes sure learning is fun and silly. Seeing kids grow and learn through laughter and play in a safe place is what brings peace and joy to her heart and soul.
Lupe and her husband Alex are both fluent in Spanish. They share two amazing kids, two dogs and have started their homeschooling journey this year.
In their down time they like to ride bikes in their neighborhood, play and watch baseball, sit around lots of bonfires cooking carne asadas, and drinking her husband & daughters secret recipe ponchè in the winters with their families.
Lupe (she/her/hers) teaches Spanish at the K-8 program. She is a native Spanish speaker.
Jeff (he/him/his) teaches marimba on Tuesday/Thursday at the K-8 program. He is a Spanish speaker.
Jeff Brahe started learning Zimbabwean-style marimba as a child in 1997, following the tradition brought to the U.S. by Dumisani Maraire. Over the following decades, he has learned from and worked with numerous Zimbabwean and American musical greats, including the late Cosmas Magaya. In 2010, he graduated from the University of Puget Sound with a B.A. in Music, focusing on composition and bass clarinet.
Jeff is the founder of Jekesa Marimba Studio in Tacoma, where he teaches classes and private lessons. He also directs marimba programs at Immanuel Presbyterian Church and St. Mark's Lutheran Church by The Narrows, and teaches marimba at the Hazelwood School.
Through teaching and sharing African music in the U.S., Jeff strives to increase awareness of the African origins of virtually all forms of American popular music. He hopes that this awareness can have a positive impact on our increasingly divided society.