In Mud Workshop 2020

In Mud: Nature-based Early Childhood Education

In Mud has adapted to a modified, virtual format. Join faculty from the Teton Science Schools to learn more about nature-based and Reggio Emilia-inspired teaching and learning.

Get inspired to work with children in our natural environments through this virtual workshop!

Join our keynote speaker and faculty from the Teton Science Schools to learn about and discuss nature-based, place-based and project-based inspired teaching and learning.

By February 1, 2021, we will update the materials with our keynote presentation and workshop options.
Participants will be asked to sign-up in advance for workshop sessions. We anticipate sign-up for workshop sessions will open on April 14, 2021.

You will receive more information from tlc@tetonscience.org prior to the event – including information about signing up for workshop sessions and the Zoom link.

Anticipated Agenda:

9:30-9:40 – Welcome & Opening
9:40-10:20 – Keynote
10:20-10:35- Q and A
10:35-10:45 – Break
10:45 – 11:15 – Workshop A with presentation & discussion
11:15-11:20 am – Break
11:20 – 11:50 – Workshop B with presentation & discussion
11:50-12 – Closing


Cultivating Connection: Using the Community-as-Campus to build immersive learning experiences for young children with Ayana Verdi

The Verdi EcoSchool is the first Urban Farm School in the southeastern United States and the only school of its kind in the state of Florida. Serving children from 3 – 15 years of age, EcoSchool students learn to view themselves as the single most powerful resource within their community. Join EcoSchool Founder, Ayana Verdi, for an exciting exploration of a day in the life of a student at this place and project-based community school.

Meet Our Keynote Speaker: Ayana Verdi

Ayana VerdiIn 2016, Ayana Verdi established Verdi EcoSchool to provide hands-on educational experiences for children in the historic Eau Gallie Arts District in Melbourne, Fla. Created, originally, to offer enrichment options for homeschool families, the Verdi EcoSchool quickly grew to become the first K-8 urban farm school in the southeastern United States. As part of the educational program, the classroom extended to unique settings: exploring the waters of the local Indian River Lagoon, learning about restorative agriculture on a community garden and creating replicas of ancient First Nations tools in ceramics classes at the Foosaner Art Museum and Education Center.

Ayana was awarded the prestigious Drexel Fund Fellowship in 2019 and is extending the successful K-8 program by founding a new high school model which incorporates hands-on, immersive learning through practical, real-world internships. The high school will continue to build on the foundations of the urban farm school which emphasizes understanding ecology, community partnerships, and individualized learning. In addition, the high school will feature partnerships with universities and other institutions working to cultivate sustainable agriculture and protect the environment.

Ayana’s educational and professional journey has included studies in both the United States and New Zealand as she pursued a degree in Veterinary Medicine while operating a canine wellness spa in New York City. Inspired by the nature-based school her son attended while she lived and studied in New Zealand, Ayana is committed to cultivating community based and environmentally aware educational options for children.


Mountain Academy Faculty of Teton Science Schools will facilitate 6 mini-workshops to inspire and engage participants in a discussion.

Picture Book Provocations
Erin Solomon

Discover ways that some of our favorite picture books can provoke explorations in and with nature and be the beginning of an adventure! Provocations will focus on different mediums that could be explored through various books to learn about nature. Come prepared to engage in a literary discussion!

Erin Solomon, Head of Early Childhood for TSS, has over 15 years of experience teaching and learning about the Reggio Emilia philosophy and implemented nature-based experiences for young children with a degree in Early Childhood Education.

Exploring Sounds in Nature
Paige Fisher

Discover how a year long exploration of sounds in nature can lead to a deeper understanding of the natural world and self for children as they experience the world around them through their sense of hearing. This session will not only explain the unfolding of this project but will specifically focus on the questions, provocations and materials provided to children to further their interests and curiosities around sounds.

Paige Fisher, Preschool Faculty, is an alumna of the TSS graduate program and in her fifth year of teaching.

Crash Course in Risky Play
Erin Tanzer

Why oh why must these tiny people try these risky things?! Short answer – because they must in order to learn and to grow. Let’s explore the types of risky play that children are inherently drawn to and the strategies we can use to understand and support them better.

Erin Tanzer, is a former TSS Faculty member and current adjunct instructor for the College of Early and Special Education at Boise State University and the Early Childhood Education Program at the College of Southern Idaho.

Outside in Any Weather
Caitlin Davis 

How can we leverage outdoor play to teach young children independence, bodily autonomy, and confidence? Come ready to discuss real world scenarios and discover just how well preschool children can care for themselves outside, in any weather.

Caitlin Davis, Preschool Faculty, has five years of teaching experience with Mountain Academy.

The Impacts of Project Based Learning
Katie O’Connell

This will be an overview of Project-based Learning through the viewpoint of Kindergarten and 1st grade students in two projects past and current! We will explore the Project-based Learning Gold Standards and relate each of those standards to these projects and some projects of your own.

Katie O’Connell, K-1 Faculty, is also an alumna of the TSS graduate program and in her second year of teaching for Mountain Academy.

Discovering Life All Year
Katie Rose Griffith

Simple ways to cultivate a love and connection to the natural world all year long. 

Katie Rose Griffith is our Farm & Garden Coordinator and Pre-K to 8th Faculty, and holds a Masters Degree from Goddard College with an endorsement in Early Childhood Education, Birth to 8 years old.