Natural Start Preschool

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"Teaching children about the natural world should be seen as
one of the most important events in their lives."
-Thomas Berry, The Dream of the Earth

About Us


                         Teacher Bios 2016-2017 School Year

The goal of Natural Start Preschool’s teachers and staff is to create a warm, nurturing learning environment that offers young children daily opportunities to explore nature and provides them with a unique, hands-on learning program designed to build a solid foundation for future school experiences. Our staff are certified in First Aid and CPR and have passed a Washington State background check. Our student/teacher ratios are typically 1:7 and never less than 1:10. 

Stephanie Hoener
Preschool Director and Co-Founder
Classroom Teacher

Stephanie is a Naturopathic Physician specializing in pediatrics and family medicine. She graduated from Bastyr University in Seattle and has spent the past 18 years working with children and teaching families about health and nutrition. As one of the co-founders of Natural Start Preschool, Stephanie is passionate about fostering young children's learning and development through age-appropriate curriculum, outdoor exploration and play, and daily interactions with the natural world. She considers it an immense privilege to be able to experience each child's innate sense of wonder and curiosity come alive as they explore the forests and meadow surrounding our preschool, learn about insects and animals, plant seeds in the garden, and discover the other natural habitats of our preschool home. Stephanie lives in Bellevue (where she also grew up!) and is an avid hiker, gardener, and birdwatcher. She has a wonderful 11-year-old son with whom she loves playing football, going to parks, traveling, and sharing a variety of outdoor adventures. In her spare time, she also enjoys reading, knitting, archery, cooking healthy meals, spending time with family and friends, and going on long nature walks.


Jenny Chandra
Co-Lead Teacher (Tue/Thu), Explorers Classroom

Jenny is a certified Elementary Education teacher with a background in primary education. She has worked with children, as both a teacher and a nanny, for the past ten years. Jenny is passionate about age-appropriate teaching practices that meet children where they are. In her spare time, she loves to read, cook, create (especially scrapbooking, soap making, and knitting!) and spend time with her friends and family. She enjoys working in her yard, visiting bookstores, and going on as many picnics as possible. She lives in Redmond with her husband and young son, along with a cat, dog, and a coop full of chickens.

Victoria Remer
Co-Lead Teacher (Mon/Wed/Fri), Explorers Classroom

Victoria grew up in Michigan, where she developed an appreciation for the outdoors throughout the four seasons. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and has teaching experience from preschool up through the middle school level. This is Victoria’s fourth year at NSP, and when she’s not teaching preschool, she enjoys volunteering at her boys’ elementary school, hiking, traveling, gardening, and playing the guitar. Victoria lives in Issaquah with her husband David and sons David and Dane.

Mirsa Perez
Assistant Teacher, Explorers Classroom

Mirsa received her Bachelor's Degree (Cum Laude) in Early Childhood Education at Trinity Lutheran College. Her work with young children has included volunteering at V.I.B.E.S., Lake Sammamish Foursquare Church preschool, and Acorn Learning Center (an urban nature school). Mirsa loves spending time with children because of their curiosity and their unique perspective on the world. She has lived in Bellevue for the past 11 years and considers it her hometown. Because her father took their family out every week, Mirsa grew up exploring and playing in different natural environments that helped foster her love for nature. She has one son, Danny (age 4), with whom she enjoys playing and exploring the outdoors. Some of their favorite activities are creating "mud kitchens", watching the stars and clouds, rolling down hills, gardening, observing ants, looking for "beautiful" rocks, playing in the rain, and jumping in puddles! When not playing, Mirsa enjoys reading, singing, listening to music, hiking, wrestling, skateboarding, plucking her violin, and knitting.

Kerry Glassburn
Assistant Teacher (Mon/Wed), Explorers Classroom

Kerry has been working with young children in various settings for the past 14 years.  She loves spending time with preschoolers because of their curiosity and authenticity – they just say whatever is on their minds!  She grew up appreciating nature in Colorado and then moved to the Pacific Northwest to attend the University of Washington (go Huskies!), where she decided it felt like home.  She now lives in Kirkland with her husband and daughter, two cats and four chickens.  She enjoys photography, traveling, gardening, camping and reading, and enjoys sharing those passions with her students.

Hayley Martin
Lead Teacher, Junior Explorers Classroom

Hayley is thrilled to be joining Natural Start Preschool this year! After graduating with a B.A. in Elementary Education, she has taught in a variety of settings but has found her true passion in being a preschool teacher. She believes that all children are natural-born scientists, conducting experiments to discover more about their world every day, and therefore her responsibility as a preschool teacher is to nurture that powerful curiosity. Aside from being a teacher, Hayley is also a recreational reader and traveler who enjoys going for nature walks and hikes, spending time with her family and friends, and browsing thrift stores for lost treasures. She currently lives in Bellevue with her husband and their three cats.

Sandra Dash
Assistant Teacher, Junior Explorers Classroom

Sandra was born and raised in Bellevue and has been married for 16 years to a retired Special Forces soldier. She has two children, Breanna (age 10) and Braeden (age 7). Sandra has worked with young children for many years and has completed coursework in Early Childhood Education. She is certified in First Aid and CPR. Sandra is passionate about health, nutrition, and leading a healthy lifestyle. Her favorite pastimes include music, running, hiking, CrossFit, swimming, biking, and playing outdoors with her children.

Amy Buerman
Assistant Teacher (Mon/Wed), Junior Explorers Classroom
Amy was raised on a farm in Nebraska and then attended the University of Minnesota. She graduated with a degree in Psychology with a focus in Child Psychology. Before becoming a stay-at-home mom, Amy worked as a college enrollment trainer and manager at a university. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to spend time reading, playing, and exploring the great outdoors with preschoolers. She is a born nature lover and spends time hiking, backpacking, camping, and exploring our beautiful mountains with her family. She also enjoys running, reading, playing the piano, and spending time with family and friends.

Elizabeth Kerns
Assistant Teacher (Tue/Thu), Junior Explorers Classroom
Elizabeth was born outside an Army base in Georgia, where her Army Officer father was stationed. She subsequently grew up in many places and has lived in nine states and three countries. She loves the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest, which she and her family have called home for the past five years. As a child, Elizabeth was encouraged to enjoy the outdoors, and exploring nature was deemed just as important as studying for school. She and her husband, two children, and miniature-Dachshund have frequent adventures hiking in the mountains and combing beaches for sea shells. Elizabeth was a Registered Nurse before becoming a full-time mom. She is an artist at heart and loves creating through knitting, sketching, gardening, and cooking. Elizabeth and her family reside in Bellevue.

Meri McDougall
Assistant Teacher (Fri), Junior Explorers Classroom

Meri grew up in San Diego, CA and has two boys, ages 13 and 8. She and her family recently moved to Washington State, where her husband is originally from. When Meri's now 13-year-old son was diagnosed with an intellectual disability at age 18 months, she began her journey of learning about child development. She has worked as an aide in both general and special education in several school districts and has worked with students from preschool age to high school. Meri's education consists of an AA in Liberal Arts and a BA in Early Childhood Education with a concentration in Early Childhood Administration. Meri enjoys volunteering, especially for Salmon Days, disability organizations, the YMCA, and her boys' schools. Her favorite things to do are eating out, watching movies, and continuing to learn more about early childhood education through new science experiments, songs, games, art, and movement. Being outdoors is important to Meri because it helps her to balance her mind and body. Meri says, "I love helping children grow and create because they also help me to grow and create".  

Katy Berg
Substitute Teacher

Katy has been working with young children for a number of years, both as a teacher and nanny. She has also been a competitive jumproper for 16 years, having won both national and world championship titles. Katy has been teaching jumprope for over 7 years and recently took on the role of Assistant Coach for her jumprope team, Hot Dog USA. She has traveled nationally and internationally, hosting jumprope competitions and teaching workshops, including trips to Bermuda and Kenya where she worked with street children to run a jumprope workshop and competition. Katy is also a full-time student in the Radiation Therapy program at Bellevue College and hopes to one day be able to help children with cancer. Katy enjoys spending time with her family and working out at the gym. Her favorite thing to do outside is to go for long walks (rain or shine!). She also enjoys hiking. Katy lives in Kirkland with her parents and 2 dogs. 



Natural Start Preschool
Bellevue, Washington

Natural Start Preschool focuses on the whole child through creative explorations in nature,
art, music, play and Kindergarten readiness activities.