Meet Our Educators

Kate Dawson – Early Childhood Educator, Bachelor of Education

Kate Dawson as a child, Terra Nova Nature SchoolKate spent her childhood catching frogs, digging for clay, and building snow forts in the prairie grasslands of Saskatchewan, where her empathy and appreciation for First Nations culture was nurtured by the hoop dancing, drumming, and beadwork of the Cree peoples. Social history and geography continue to be among her passions.

Kate brings a wealth of experience from her previous employment as an Early Childhood Educator with UBC Childcare Services, PACE Program, the Richmond School District, and as an Instructor in Early Childhood Education programs. Kate also loves working with families in her role as an Art Educator at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Inspired by the schools of Reggio Emilia, Kate has a keen interest in an educational practice that builds community through collaboration. She enjoys reading, researching, and journaling as ways of critically reflecting upon her teaching and her life.

Kate lives with her husband, three children, three cats, two fish, and a bin of worms. Her family loves to eat locally, and tends a community garden plot at Terra Nova. One day Kate would like to complete a Masters degree and a marathon, learn to speak Italian, and make more art.


Emily Vera – Early Childhood Educator, Special Needs, Bachelor of Fine Arts

Emily Vera as a child, Terra Nova Nature School EducatorEmily spent many of her childhood years exploring the forest behind her rural house, creating elaborate stories of shipwrecked families, forest fairies and witches. Making snow forts, investigating life within her pond and feeding cows down the road were part of the freedom of her childhood. These early memories have inspired her lifelong passion for the outdoors and a commitment to share it with others.

Having worked in the field of Early Childhood Education for over 20 years, Emily has found a way to weave her passion for children, nature, and art together to create a supportive and exciting learning environment for children. Developing a sense of place, creating strong community and learning to respect the natural world are central in Emily’s teaching philosophy.

Hobbies including bee keeping, fermenting, natural art, and cooking have led to good stories and strong connections with a diverse community of creative and inspiring people. Fueled by these experiences, Emily continues to seek out opportunities that integrate the past, present, and future of sustainable living and creative expression. A mother of two children studying abroad, Emily lives with her husband in their now quiet home in Steveston, BC.


Heidi Ziegler – Early Childhood Educator Assistant

Heidi Ziegler as a child, Terra Nova Nature School Educator AssistantHeidi spent her childhood weekends with her family, walking amongst many parks and dykes of  Richmond, while summers were spent in campgrounds near the Okanagan. It was during these times that Heidi developed her sense of wonder and appreciation for the natural world and all its creatures, great and small.

Heidi has spent the past 13 years working with children in a variety of child care centres and positions, the last four years as the head supervisor of an out of school care program.  Inspired by the availability of fruits, vegetables, herbs and grains in the lower mainland, Heidi has introduced children to healthy and nutritious eating. She enjoys cooking with children, from the safe handling of food,  to the proper use of kitchen tools. While living in Victoria B.C, Heidi had the opportunity to participate in a number of community projects that united people across generations. These initiatives led her to a new understanding and appreciation for the importance of community, and the amazing role that young children can play in it.

Heidi is driven by personal experience and hands on exploration.  She hopes to inspire children and families to discover, through their own personal experiences at the Terra Nova Nature School, a passion for the earth and its abundance.

Heidi is an artist at heart with a penchant for staying up late to breathe in the night air and get lost in space while star gazing. She one day hopes to travel along the coast of Ireland to see the sunset on a different horizon.


Tricia Booker – Early Childhood Educator

Tricia Booker as a child, Terra Nova Nature School EducatorTricia’s fondest memories of growing up in Richmond are of playing kick the can, hide and seek, skating on the Terra Nova ponds in the winter, and picking blackberries in her back yard with her Dad. Her summers were spent playing basketball, and camping throughout British Columbia with her family. Tricia is motivated by the outdoor environment,  and she is excited to be sharing that passion with the children and families of Terra Nova Nature School.

Tricia has loved her past 13 years of employment as an Early Childhood Educator working with children of all abilities at Thompson Community Centre, Dino-mites Preschool, and with the Richmond School District as an on-call Strong Start Facilitator.

Tricia enjoys cooking, running, and exploring her neighbourhood with her family. She lives with her husband, two daughters, and her cat Lulu.

Misuzu Chiu – Early Childhood Educator

MisuzuMisuzu grew up in a rural area surrounded by mountains in Japan. She loved helping her family in the rice field, and much of summer was spent catching grasshoppers, finding tadpoles and frogs, lying in the field cloud gazing, and watching fireflies put on a magical show. She also enjoyed visiting farms owned by her relatives where she helped to grow various crops and take care of the livestock. Through these experiences, she learned where the food came from, and developed appreciation for food and the natural world around her.

Misuzu taught English to young children in Japan before moving to Canada. After working as an early childhood educator/ infant & toddler educator, she spent the last several years staying home with her two daughters. She is very excited about working with young children again and welcomes the opportunity to be here at Terra Nova Nature School.

Misuzu lives with her husband, two daughters, and two dogs. She likes doing crafts with her children and playing the ukulele. Inspired by the little gardeners at Terra Nova Nature School, she is slowly building her own vegetable garden at home.

Shantelle Allard – Early Childhood Educator

Shantelle spent her early years exploring her neighbourhood in North Bay, ON with her brother and ten cousins. She found her environment to be an ever changing treat for the senses; whether it was the sound of grasshoppers in the tall, dry summer grass swaying in the breeze, the earthy smell of a nearby creek brimming with new life in the spring, or the feel of newly fallen snow on her tongue. These slow days spent playing and exploring outside created a deep connection to and respect for the natural world around her.

Shantelle spent her teenage summers teaching children’s swimming lessons in the often-chilly spring fed lake, which cemented her love of working with children in the outdoors. She pursued post secondary education in Environmental Studies and spent her summers working at nature camps in Ottawa. She seeks to foster a connection between children and nature through shared experiences of time to run, play, sit, touch, plant, harvest, sustain, and contribute to the small patch of earth we all share.

She moved to British Columbia nearly 15 years ago and continues to learn more about the ecology and longer growing season of the ‘wet’ coast. She loves to dabble in baking, gardening, knitting, weaving and aspires to take voice lessons and learn to keep bees. She is always looking for ways to slow down and enjoys leisurely strolls with her husband, two children and sometimes, their cat.

Next: See Terra Nova Nature School photos