founder and lead teacher
A midwest native, I grew up romping in the deciduous forests around our family home and swimming along the shores of Lake Erie. In the fall of 1999, I attended Ohio University in Athens, Ohio and graduated with a degree in Early Childhood Education. Subsequent years were spent teaching in small democratic based elementary schools, working on farms and in bakeries, and traveling a fair bit around our country from Maine to Maui. In 2008, I found Portland and decided to stay. I first taught Kindergarten and then preschool at Trillium Public Charter School. After three years with Trillium I took a one year sabbatical and lived at Yasodhara Ashram in the Kootenay Mountains of British Columbia - studying yogic philosophy and practicing karma yoga. Upon returning to Portland, I taught preschool at Helen Gordon Child Development Center and simultaneously attended Portland State University to receive my Masters in Sustainability Leadership, Policy and Education.
It’s been my dream to open a preschool built on the foundation that play is at the core of childhood. Since the dream was conceived I’ve spent the better part of these past years preparing for this by learning skills and trades that allow me to feel capable of directing a preschool that I can proudly stand behind. One where children are encouraged to create their own theories of the world, spend time in the ecological environment around them and learn how to navigate conflict with compassion and awareness. One where families feel a part of a greater community. And one where teachers, families and children know they are held and supported by one another.
I grew up in Houston, TX surrounded by diverse culture and art. I was a curious kid who wanted to know the how and the why of things. This insatiable curiosity, and involvement in the arts led me to pursue a degree in theatre, where I could continue to explore my imagination. I graduated Texas State University with a BFA in Acting in 2015. I worked in Austin, TX as a nanny for three years. With siblings who are now in high school, I grew up helping to raise them, so working with kids was a natural fit. While in Austin, I was a part of a grassroots theatre company where I gained skills in creation and collaboration. I moved to Portland in 2017 and worked with Trackers Earth as a lead instructor for 4-6 year olds. Days were spent exploring nature; identifying plants, learning the safety around carving and making a fire, using our imaginations through storytelling and fostering self-care and community. When summer camp ended, as it always does, I began working at Art4Life, a non-profit multicultural arts program that provides before and after school care for K-5 in Portland public schools. Within a year I became a head teacher at the Chief Joseph Elementary A4L program. Here I worked to create a safe and engaging learning space following PBIS standards. I was able to manage individual students needs with inclusivity practices, and facilitated skill-building and exploration of art and performance with cultural context. Through project based learning we explored art of many mediums from all over the world. I’ve collaborated with my students to create films, mixed-media murals, movement and performance pieces, installation art, and to construct puppets, write songs, and develop their own independent work. When creating with the kids I focus on the process, and figuring out how we can work together to bring their ideas to life.
I believe that my own artistry thrives when working with children, and in turn I am able to bring that passion and creativity to my teaching. In my personal life I spend a lot of time in observation. I enjoy hiking through the forest with my pup, sitting by a body of water, visiting museums, seeing live music and plays, and people watching in a coffee shop. This incubation time is huge to my creative process and fuels my ability to fully engage when I’m creating, performing, teaching and playing!
Throughout my life I’ve had many teachers who’ve encouraged my curiosity and gave me the freedom to play. This has impacted the person I am today and I aspire to do the same for my students. I look forward to growing and learning with the community at PPP.
You may see Ashley Clown around. She loves singing, goats, climbing trees, cicada shells, funny voices, looking at the sky, digging in the dirt and smelling flowers. She dislikes hiccups and people touching her nose without asking.
My educational journey has been eclectic; a mix of homeschool, public school, private, unschooling, a gap year in South Africa and most recently an alternative college called Wayfinding Academy that brought me from the Black Hills of South Dakota to the Pacific Northwest in 2016. I have always been drawn to education that engages the head, hand and heart, cultivates nurturing relationships, and provides multiple lens for seeing and understanding our world and find that I thrive when I get to co-create these types of learning experiences with others.
I’ve been working with young folks in some capacity for as long as I can remember; as a nanny, caregiver at a childcare center, preschool assistant for a school in South Africa and a Montessori school here in PDX, and dance instructor. I am so grateful for the lessons in slowing down, curiosity, creativity and kindness that I’ve learned alongside my young friends over the years and look forward to the year ahead at PPP as we explore what it means to be human together.
When I’m not geeking out about holistic, anti-bias/anti racist, embodied education models and theories, I enjoy dancing, reading, hiking, attending local events and spending time with friends and my partner Rich.
I was born and raised in the Pacific NW. I really enjoy living in the city, and being moments away from nature. I love trees, plants, animals, fresh air, biking, karaoke, cooking, trying new things, exploring, and baking!
I started my career in the human service field, where I explored a number of settings. I’ve worked with children with autism, a youth shelter, a crisis hotline, and for Services to Children and Families. I have a big heart and try to always make a positive impact.
I am the second oldest child in a family of 8 children, so it’s part of my fabric to help others, be a strong role model, and be of service.
I have a beautiful seven year old girl of my own. She is my beacon, I am her rock. I feel so blessed to get to be her mother. I’m not really sure who teaches each other the most.
I’ve earned my associates in human services, and my BA in psychology; then braving to fulfill a lifetime dream, attended pastry school. I’ve spent the last decade-plus, as a professional pastry baker, creating joy through food. In January, after much deliberation, I hung up the professional apron strings, and returned to working with children.
I’ve been working with infants and toddlers this year, helping them grow, nurturing their inherent wisdom, and feeling at peace with my place back in the field. I want to continue to learn and share, and provide guidance, and a safety net for young children to thrive.
Pup of Wonder
Ollie is a mini Australian Shepherd pup. His birthday is February 27th, 2019. He’s at school with us teaching and learning a couple to a few days a week and has been learning the ropes of the preschool classroom since he was nine weeks old. He loves playing with other doggies, chasing our chickens (to their dismay), snuggling with his moms (Meg + Kristi) and not getting too wet while by water.
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