Meet Our Leadership
Jean Lomino, Ph.D.
Jean has been an educator for over 40 years and holds a Ph.D. in Leadership with an emphasis in Environmental Education. She spent many years as a classroom teacher for grades K-8, using outdoor education as the framework for her teaching.She was the Director of Education for the Chattanooga Nature Center, 2002-2005 and from 2005-2013 Executive Director. During her last two years in that position she managed the merger of Reflection Riding and the Chattanooga Nature Center, Jean received training from the Wildlife Conservation Society at the Bronx Zoo and also attended Harvard Business School’s Executive Education program. She was a founding member of the board of directors for Ivy Academy, the first outdoor charter school in Hamilton County. Since 2000 Jean has been an adjunct professor for the graduate program in Outdoor Teacher Education at Southern Adventist University. For the past three years she has also worked as an outdoor education consultant and teacher trainer and has been a presenter at city, state and regional conferences.
Jean attended Forest Kindergarten Teacher Training at Cedarsong Nature School, in Washington, one of the first Forest Kindergarten programs in the United States. She has recently returned from a two-month assignment in Guangzhou, China as a Forest Kindergarten consultant for Lions Education at their No Boundaries Forest Kindergarten. She has also trained dozens of Forest Kindergarten teachers since 2015 and established the Southern Association of Forest Kindergarten Teachers.
Director of Admissions and Office Manager
Julie is our Director of Admissions and Office Manager. She graduated in 2002, from Southern Adventist University with a B.S. in Family Studies. After college, she moved to Atlanta and worked for a family with 3 boys for 13 years. She moved back to Chattanooga in 2015 and became a nanny for three wonderful families here. She also spent time working as a preschool teacher at Good Shepherd School on Lookout Mountain. Julie is a lover of the outdoors; you can find her hiking, camping, and spending time with friends and family during her free time.
Preschool Manager and Teacher
Nancy was born and raised in a small town in northeast Ohio on Lake Erie. After running a dance studio for almost 20 years Nancy earned her associate degree in Early Childhood Education and operated a successful preschool for three years. In Wilmore, KY she worked in an elementary school and an alternative high school for many years. In Chattanooga she became acquainted with Wauhatchie Forest Kindergarten when her grandson was attending. Nancy became very impressed with the forest school concept. She has been married for 45 years with two children and two grandsons.
Communications and Marketing Manager
Stephanie earned her Associate of Science degree with a focus in education. Her ideas of innovative, quality education have evolved through her experiences mothering three children: a daughter in college, one in high school, and her youngest son, whom she homeschools. Stephanie’s love of nature began with her first hike, and she enjoys spending her free time in creative pursuits—crafting, puzzles, refurbishing secondhand items and general tinkering.
Meet Our Teachers
Michelle Zegarra is an avid gardener whose family has deep connections to northwest Georgia. She is a native Spanish speaker, born in Peru. Michelle worked at Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga for 15 years as a Certified Nursing Assistant and Clerk in the critical care units. Her love of the outdoors and simple play in nature, along with multiple artistic talents, make Michelle a natural caregiver for children. Michelle is a trained Forest Kindergarten facilitator and is in her third year of inspiring children in mindfulness and creativity
Kayla was born and raised in Nashville and moved to Chattanooga to attend the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She graduated with a Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education and Special Education. In Nashville she taught intervention for grades K-5, but the mountains and the outdoors were calling. She got married and moved back to Chattanooga. Kayla taught 2nd grade in Hamilton County and preschool for children with special needs. She came to Wauhatchie in 2016 because she wanted to guide children as they explore all that nature has to offer. When she’s not teaching, she enjoys climbing, hiking, camping, and being outside.
Rebecca grew up raising horses and teaching riding in the Red River Valley in North Texas. She left for the other side of the river to pursue a degree in Elementary Education with a focus in Special Education and a minor in Spanish from Southeastern Oklahoma State University. After graduation, Rebecca left for Western Honduras to serve as a Youth Development and Public Health Specialist with Peace Corps from 2007-2009. She then taught in a self-contained Autism classroom in Texas, got married and had a baby, cris-crossed the country, and finally fell in love with Chattanooga and settled in. She says that teaching Forest School at Wauhatchie is, "better than the best job I could have ever imagined - I love teaching, I love kids, I love nature. Here I can bring everything to the table and teach in the best ways I know how."
Annie was born in raised in Chattanooga, TN. She attended The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a minor in Spanish. She has worked with children for the last seven years as a daycare worker and babysitter. Annie grew up living on the Tennessee River and loves the outdoors. She enjoys camping with friends and family, fishing, kayaking, tubing, hiking, and anything else that involves being outside.
Brittany is an avid hiker, writer, and lifelong nature lover who is passionate about helping children connect to the outdoors. She received her B.A. in Psychology and her M.S. in Holistic Child Development from Lee University, and spent 2 years as an AmeriCorps VISTA and VISTA Leader. In addition to teaching forest preschool, she is the programs director for the Chattanooga Audubon Society. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, kayaking, reading, and hanging out with her husband and dog.
Sam has a degree in elementary education from Bryan College in Dayton, TN. Right out of college, she taught first grade for two years at a traditional school in Nigeria. When she returned to the US, she taught at two outdoor schools, one on Lookout Mountain and the other in Southern California. She connects with nature through hiking, gardening, fishing, and keeping eyes and ears out for living creatures everywhere! She is excited to be at Wauhatchie because outdoor spaces have always been where she has learned the most. Sam says, “the forest has so much to teach us about ourselves and others.”
Diana currently manages the sustainability project at Lookout Lake, a private, 50 acre nature reserve in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She met meet Jean Lomino in 2014 when her grandson was enrolled in The Learning center at Lookout Lake. Together they founded Wauhatchie School, and she has been a Forest Kindergarten and Forest Homeschool facilitator ever since. Diana is a graduate of Arts Educational School of London and she studied art at Parsons School of Design. She is currently enrolled in The New School for Social Research for Healthier Materials and Sustainable Buildings, and in the spring will study Permaculture Design with Oregon State University. Diana is a certified Pilates instructor, teaches children’s yoga, and has over 12 years experience as a dance teacher for students of all ages. When not in the woods or in the studio she enjoys spending time and traveling with her husband and two sons.
Growing up in the Tennessee mountains, Crystal spent more time outdoors than in. Now, as an adult, hiking or backpacking through the woods and exploring nature with her husband and three children is still where she prefers to spends her free time. Crystal currently has an associates degree in science and is pursuing her BS in Psychology. She has also spent the last 17 years working with children in some capacity; tutoring, babysitting, volunteering with the preschool and elementary students, and has worked as an MDO classroom teacher for the last several years, as well as for an elementary summer program. She has a deep love for children, teaching and all things nature, which is what drew her to Wauhatchie School.
Lover of art, rocks, and the sun. Erin earned her bachelors degree from UTC studying Spanish and Geography. She worked as a nanny for five young children throughout her college years. Outside of her time at Wauhatchie, she works full-time at High Point Climbing Gym.If you could choose one word to describe her, it would be wanderlust. She loves to travel, loves to climb, and loves to draw. Her passion to explore has allowed her unparalleled opportunities.
Mandy grew up in Pensacola, Florida where she spent most of her childhood on the water. She moved to Georgia and earned a degree in Industrial Design from the Savannah College of Art and Design with a focus on designing toys and educational tools for children. After graduating, she worked at Brain Balance, a company dedicated to helping children with academic, behavioral, and social disorders through a non-medical program. Her love of hiking, camping, and the outdoors brought her to Chattanooga on vacation where she learned of the Wauhatchie Forest School. This will be her first year living in Chattanooga and she is extremely excited to explore and teach the forest kindergarten/first grade students all that nature has to offer.
Kaitlyn was born and raised in Utah, but she and her husband recently moved to Chattanooga. She has been adventuring in the outdoors her whole life and especially enjoys hiking, backpacking, canyoneering and paddle boarding. Kaitlyn received a degree from Southern Utah University in Parks, Recreation and Tourism with an emphasis in Education. She worked as a rafting guide on the Colorado River and spent three years working in Wilderness Therapy with at-risk youth. Kaitlyn is a certified Wilderness First Responder and has a strong background in primitive and survival skills.
Bruno is a Portuguese-South African teacher, artist, and outdoorsman. He holds a Bachelor's degree in fine arts and a post-graduate certificate in education from University of the Witwatersrand. Bruno has 10+ years of teaching experience as an elementary school art teacher at St. John’s Preparatory School and as a lecturer at College of Digital Photography in Johannesburg. Now living in Chattanooga, Bruno is an Outdoor School Instructor at REI leading climbing and paddling classes and is a guest art instructor at local organizations, including Townsend Atelier and the Hunter Museum of Art. Bruno holds certifications from the American Mountain Guide Association, American Canoe Association, and the National Outdoor Leadership School. Outside of work, Bruno pursues his own art and is an avid fly fisherman.
Meet our Board of Directors
Johnny is passionate about Wauhatchie School because it presents the kind of learning environment he would have blossomed with as a child. Growing up with ADHD, the educational environment was more restrictive than inspiring. He had the pleasure of serving as a Volunteer, Teacher, Teacher Trainer, Development Coordinator, and currently Board President of Wauhatchie. In his free time he enjoys mountain biking, flyfishing, reading naturalist journals, and spending the time with his wife and son.
Richard received an Associate of Science Degree in Forestry and Recreation and Wildlife Management. He has a BS in Business and Organizational Management and a Master’s Degree in Outdoor Teacher Education. He has served as president of the Maine Arborists Association and was a member of the National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council. He was Executive Director of the Chattanooga Audubon Society and taught science several years at Chattanooga School of Liberal Arts. Richard is also the author of three books: Natural Pattern Forms, Natural Stonescapes and Landscaping Makes Sense.Richard’s other pursuits include designing Japanese Gardens and consulting for Green Industry.
Meghan is an accountant working for a family office in Chattanooga. She moved from West Virginia 14 years ago to finish her degree and raise her daughter. Meghan is now Jean Lomino’s daughter-in-law and has a son, Cian, who will soon be three years old. Another son is due in August. Meghan enrolled Cian at Lookout Learning Center as an infant because she was impressed with Diana’s focus on providing a natural childcare setting that was hard to find elsewhere. Meghan says, “I am so looking forward to the expansion of those ideas at our new Wauhatchie School and all of the opportunities it brings to my family and to Chattanooga!”
Jean has been an educator for over 30 years and holds a Ph.D. in Leadership with an emphasis in Environmental Education. She was the Director of Education for the Chattanooga Nature Center, 2002-2005 and from 2005-2013 Executive Director. During her last two years in that position she managed the merger of Reflection Riding and the Chattanooga Nature Center, Jean received training from the Wildlife Conservation Society at the Bronx Zoo and also attended Harvard Business School’s Executive Education program. She was a founding member of the board of directors for Ivy Academy, the first outdoor charter school in Hamilton County. Since 2000 Jean has been an adjunct professor for the graduate program in Outdoor Teacher Education at Southern Adventist University.
Randi has been an educator for the last 16 years in the elementary classroom. Graduating with a BS degree in Elementary Education, Randi has been fortunate to find a career that is also her passion. In addition to being a literacy teacher in the elementary classroom, Randi also serves as the Curriculum/Accreditation Coordinator and Literacy Coach for St. Peter’s Episcopal School. Serving as a board member for Wauhatchie was the perfect way to connect her love for education, being immersed in nature, and growing inquisitive lifelong learners. “Watching students at Wauhatchie reminds us that learning should be connected to the natural world around us. The students have the opportunity to grow from a curriculum that naturally integrates literacy, math, science, and history with the land and seasons around them. When you take the walls of a classroom away and replace it with the freedom and openness of the forest, learning naturally comes through exploration and inquiry. I feel so fortunate to be able to support Wauhatchie and its mission to connect future generations with nature.”
For the past 12 years, Joseph has been an entrepreneur specializing in video production, photography, branding, and marketing strategies for corporate businesses and non-profits. Some of his clients include: Airbnb, CNN, the Atlanta Ballet, Bosch Europe, AARP, Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center, and the Chalmer's Center for Economic Development. In addition, he owns and operates a wedding photo and video company called Cinderella Wedding Co.. Joseph holds a Masters of Arts in Christian Thought from Gordon Conwell and lives with his wife and three kids in Chattanooga, TN. You can see his work at http://josephschlabs.com/.
Amanda hails from Savannah, Georgia and moved with her family to Chattanooga in 2018. The DiSanzas were initially attracted to the area by its vibrance for outdoor life and great Internet service, but it was their daughter’s admittance to Wauhatchie School that clinched their decision. Now a homeschooling mom, Amanda’s professional and educational background are primarily in fine arts and arts education. Previously she served as Vice President of the board of Directors for Explorers Montessori in Savannah, GA.
Growing up the child of trappers, Amanda was in the woods from her earliest days—first riding in her parents’ pack baskets and later independently exploring—and the woods is still her favorite place to be. Amanda believes time spent in the wild world is vital for reminding humans that we ARE part of the natural world, not something separate. Time in the forest develops children’s senses and gives them a particular confidence and compassion that has no other source—and that is what makes her so excited about Wauhatchie School.