We are passionate about creating nourishing experiences and environments for children to learn and to grow.

Meet the Teachers

Vanessa Lee
Founder & Director

Vanessa is an island girl and nature lover by heart. She was born and raised in Sidney, BC and has always had a love for the outdoors. Vanessa developed a yearning to teach at a young age and has experience teaching in a wide variety of settings

Strongly inspired by the Reggio Emilia Philosophy, Vanessa entered into the Early Childhood Care and Education Program at Capilano University in 2006. After completing the program, she was presented with a unique opportunity to work alongside one of her mentors in a school specialized in children’s literature and art. Not long after, Vanessa completed her 200-hour yoga teacher training which sparked a life-changing trip to India that continues to inspire her teachings to date.

Over the past ten years, Vanessa has worked with both the Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland communities. In Vancouver Vanessa taught in both preschool and Montessori settings as well as shared Storyoga with nearby communities.

Vanessa opened Storyoga Preschool in 2012 and has since expanded to open a second location alongside her husband at McTavish Academy or Art. Vanessa’s passion for creating nourishing environments for children to grow is evident in both of her preschool spaces. Vanessa feels blessed to be anchored in such an incredible community of families and is grateful for the ongoing support. “It takes a village” and she is thankful for everyone who continues to be a part of the Storyoga village.

Vanessa is also a mother to a future Storyogi and has an appreciation now more than ever for quality childcare. Watching her own daughter grow and interact with the world has become a catalyst to continue to create beautiful and nourishing environments for children, parents, and educators to call home.

Erin Houston
Program Manager & Certified Yoga Instructor

Erin was born and raised in Victoria, BC and shares a strong love for yoga and the outdoors. She started practising yoga at a young age and has always had a desire to work with children. After entering into the Early Learning and Care Program at Camosun College in 2012, Erin had the opportunity to student teach at Storyoga Preschool as a third practicum placement. It was a natural fit for Erin having grown up exposed to a yogic lifestyle and she was quick to call Storyoga home.

After graduating with a Diploma in Early Learning and Care and completing her Infant and Toddler as well as Special Needs Certifications, Erin was offered a position at Storyoga and has become an integral part of the teaching team.

Erin is passionate about creating meaningful relationships between children, teachers, and families and understands the importance of doing so. Erin finds joy in making connections and setting the stage for a love of learning to take place.

Erin recently completed her Iyengar Yoga Teacher Training and has taken the lead on our Goddess Girls camps, classes and retreats. These opportunities to work with young girls holds a special place in her heart and she is grateful to be part part of their journey as they grow into strong, capable young women.

Erin feels blessed to be part of the Storyoga community and looks forward to being part of it for many years to come.

Sandy Buyze
Program Manager

Sandy lives in North Saanich and moved from Salt Spring Island where she raised her children and taught preschool in the oldest one-room schoolhouse in BC. Her philosophy of early learning is influenced by both the Montessori and Reggio Emilia approaches with a strong emphasis on the natural outdoor environment and all that it has to offer to support children’s wellbeing and development.

Sandy is passionate about connecting children with nature and viewing the forest as an outdoor classroom. Every Wednesday and Friday mornings you’ll find her, as well as her forest teaching partner, in the forest with a small group of Storyoga children for Wilderness Wednesday and Forest Friday – it is in the woodlands that children can move, explore and discover at their own pace, connecting to the natural world.

Sandy loves children’s books, storytelling and songs; she is also passionate about creating aesthetically inviting setups in the classroom that invite children into play in a peaceful and mindful way. She is inspired by young children’s inherent love of learning and trusts in their strong and infinite capabilities.

Sandy loves spending time with her family; she loves being outdoors hiking in the woods, cycling, playing in her garden and being out on the water in her kayak. She is passionate about reading and taking the time to enjoy the every day. moments that life offers us.

Sandy first met Vanessa when she came over to Salt Spring Island several years ago to offer Storyoga with the preschool children that she taught there. She is grateful each day to be a part of the Storyoga teaching team.

Jen Medak
Early Childhood Educator & Certified Yoga Instructor

Jennifer grew up in Vancouver and has recently made the island her new home. After completing the ECCE program at Capilano University in 2001, Jennifer became part of the teaching team and eventually Director of Little Ark Preschool in Vancouver, where she stayed for almost ten years.

Strongly inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy, and under Jennifer’s leadership, Little Ark became a leading edge school in the Vancouver early childhood community and the Reggio Emilia Network. Over the following six years Jennifer went on to teach and direct at other schools in Vancouver including the Vancouver Child Study Centre, Tom Thumb Preschool, Little People Preschool and Fresh Ayre Daycare in Squamish.

Jennifer’s teaching has always been inspired by her love of nature, art, music, and children’s literature. Bringing yoga into the classroom was something that came naturally for her after completing her 200 hour teacher training in Costa Rica in 2011.

Aside from teaching children’s yoga in the classroom, Jennifer also teaches local classes and workshops, mother & child yoga and art retreats and in the last few years has been traveling to festivals in Bali, New Mexico, Oregon and here in BC, leading storytelling yoga workshops.

Jennifer is passionate about creating community in the classroom through fostering meaningful relationships with children and families, creating a beautiful and thoughtful learning environment and allowing children time and space to explore, investigate, take risks, create and discover.

In her spare time, Jennifer is an avid surfer and mountain biker,and is a lover of music, travel, art and cooking. She is extremely honoured and excited to be part of the Storyoga team.

Emily Mann
Early Childhood Educator & Children’s Yoga Instructor

Born and raised on Vancouver Island, Emily has a deep appreciation and connection to the outdoors. Specifically living in the West Saanich area of the island, it has given Emily an understanding of how integral nature is to the connection of community and family. She takes that love and appreciation for nature and uses it in her daily practice with children through song, dance, and art.

Emily’s interest in working with children began at a young age, when she would watch her mother and aunt work within their home-run daycares. She admired watching the two strongest women in her life be so dedicated in making each child feel comfortable and loved. Since then she knew she wanted to get into the field of childcare.

Emily entered the Early Learning and Care program at Camosun College in 2016, where she was able to gain the knowledge needed to turn that passion into a career. This diploma program taught her the importance of being a positive, guiding figure in young children’s lives, and supporting each child with their own unique self-expression. Each Practicum that Emily worked in during this program has given her unique ways of teaching that she is able to blend into her own. Now graduated with a Diploma in Early learning and Care, including an Infant Toddler specialty, Emily is eager to use her fresh perspective within the classroom.

After meeting Vanessa and visiting Storyoga, Emily knew that it was a perfect fit, aligning with her own philosophy of childcare. Emily not only sees her own values being taught within the Storyoga classroom, she also feels that strong sense of family and community that she was always looking for.

Susi McMillan
Early Childhood Educator Assistant & Forest School Practitioner

Born and raised in Germany, Susi has had an artistic flair since childhood. She entered the workforce in Germany with a BA in Economics and Marketing as an events manager and remained in this field for 10 years. Sensing that there was more to life than working in the corporate world for a mega-company she took a trip around the world to see what she could see. The result of the trip was, she met her future Canadian husband and moved to Canada. Starting in Vancouver, Susi was a very active member of the German Children’s Playgroup and created unforgettable family events for the community’s families. She also helped create a weekly German Kindergarten.

After her move to the Island she initiated environmental activities at her daughter’s elementary and middle schools, which still run to this day.

Now, with 2 teenagers, Susi searched for the perfect fit to share her energy and enthusiasm for nature, art and children. This led into working as an Early Childhood Educator assistant and has recently embarked on the adventure of becoming a Forest School practitioner.

Susi has worked with infant toddlers, pre-school aged children, elementary and middle school children. Her passion to support the child’s connection to nature, sense of wonder and imagination is her magic touch.

Susi met Vanessa when she signed up her youngest daughter at the age of 4 to Vanessa’s Storyoga classes. Now her daughter is 14 and participates in Teenage yoga retreats.

Through the years it became clear that Susi and Vanessa’s path will cross one day. When Susi started working as an Early Childhood Educator Assistant, it was just a matter of time.. that Vanessa and her worked together.

Marisa Amato
Early Childhood Educator

Born and raised in the small costal town of Powell River, Marisa has grown up surrounded by nature. Her love of nature and natural materials fit in with the Storyoga philosophy and centre. Marisa is passionate about supporting and scaffolding children’s ideas and interests.

Marisa is very excited to bring her love and appreciation for nature into the Storyoga classroom as this centre fits so well with her personal philosophy. Marisa has always had a love for children and knew that she wanted work with children from a young age.

Marisa completed the ECE program at Camosun College in 2019. Marisa completed her first practicum at Storyoga in 2018 and fell in love with the centre and the philosophy. She is very excited to back at this centre.

In her spare time Marisa enjoys hiking, camping and exploring this beautiful island.

Karen Rodden
Early Childhood Educator

Karen grew up in Richmond in the multi-cultural fishing community of Steveston. A childhood full of adventure, imaginative play, travel, and fostered curiosity, led her to have a deep appreciation for the creative power of children. From a young age she was inspired to express her creativity and love of animals through stories, drawing, and artwork. It wasn’t until motherhood that Karen’s focus shifted from the arts to the early years.

In 2010 Karen and her young family moved to Victoria where they welcomed their second daughter. Eventually they settled in the Brentwood Bay/Saanichton area where they could have a small hobby farm. Karen enrolled at Northern Lights College and began her hands-on journey to become an Early Childhood Educator.

Right from the start Karen knew she wanted to learn with Storyoga and sought out Vanessa for a practicum. Both her daughters had attended Storyoga camps and loved them! In the Storyoga philosophy Karen saw reflected many of her personal and professional beliefs around early childhood: a deep connection to nature, community, family, and an inclusive, respectful practice in a quality environment. Her third practicum began with Erin at the Storyoga Preschool – and she never left!

Karen continues to enjoy working alongside the wonderful Storyoga staff and families. She is constantly inspired and challenged by global early childhood practice, emergent curriculum and the rights of the child, and reconciliation through connection to community and the mother nature. Karen completed her Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care in December 2019 and received her Early Childhood Educator Certificate in January 2019. Currently she is pursuing a degree in Child and Youth Care. In her spare time Karen loves to be with family, she enjoys reading, painting, cooking, and traveling near and far.

Chantelle Halvorson
Early Childhood Educator Assistant

Born and raised in Interior BC, Chantelle moved to Victoria at a young age when her mother began her masters in special education at UVic. Since then Chantelle has been proud to live, work, and play in the beautiful city of Victoria BC.

Chantelle has a strong environmental background: she received her bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science at the UVic and then pivoted to study Architecture and Building Technology at BCIT where she specialized in green roofs and solar energy.

She then worked at an electrical engineering firm in Victoria as an office coordinator until she discovered her passion for child care and began working towards getting her ECE certification. Her passions include plants, yoga, being outdoors, travel, sustainability, beautiful spaces, and spending time with loved ones.

Chantelle was drawn to Storyoga’s nature based curriculum, love of yoga, and state of the art center, as well as the strong women that are clearly so passionate about working there.


What Kids are saying
  • “Once upon a time there was a little girl named Mattea and she always liked to go to Storyoga. The little girl had so much fun at Storyoga that she even didn’t want to leave.” ~ Mattea, 4
  • “She reads us stories and we colour. I love drawing inside the shapes – and about Vanessa, I love her!” ~ Darien, 4
  • I like doing the downward dog and the pom – pom blessing. I like yoga because it is good for your body and we learn about nature.” ~ Lucas, 6
  • “I like the stories Vanessa read to us, and I liked doing Namaste Mountain.” ~ Renee, 6
What Parents are saying
  • “I heard about your classes and camps from several of the Sidney Preschool moms. I’ve talked to quite a few people about your classes at Strongstart, Preschool, and in Logan’s Kindergarten and I have never heard a bad thing. You should be really proud of the strong reputation you have built in your small community.” ~ Joscelyn, Sidney BC
  • “Kaylee absolutely loves the class and you also. We have tried a few after-school things before and she has never been enthusiastic about them. With this yoga she comes home and can’t wait to show us what she is learning. Thanks for all the energy you put into it.” ~ Sarah Paulson, Sidney BC
What Teachers are saying
  • “Hi Vanessa. Thanks so much for having me. I felt so comfortable… a sense of coming home or at least inspiration for the type of environment I want to be involved with. Out of all the centres I visited, yours was the most beautiful in so many ways, especially the vibration of peace.” ~ Yvonne MacKenzie, Pender Island BC
  • “Vanessa’s interactive storytelling, wide use of colorful, playful props and the brilliant way in which she engages children in yoga poses was a hit with the children in our program! Thank you Vanessa for exposing our children to yoga in such a fun, positive way.” ~ Lori, Victoria BC