New 5 Year Old Program Starting September 2022!

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Meet the Team

Erin Houston
Deep Cove 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.

 

Sandra Buyze
McTavish Academy 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.

 

Cheyenne Hinds
Deep Cove Assistant Manager

Originally from North Eastern British Columbia Cheyenne relocated to Victoria in 2008

then settled on the Saanich Peninsula in 2010 where she currently lives with her husband and two sons. Much of Cheyenne’s youth was spent on a large ranch in the rugged wilderness and she spent much of her time immersed in nature which was ignited her love of nature and greatly influences her philosophy.

Cheyenne also spent time living on Northern Vancouver Island and felt deeply connected to the west coast of BC. Cheyenne began her career in childcare as a support worker in early learning environments while completing her Social Work Diploma but her roots in caring for children began at age 11 when she worked as a mother’s helper and quickly became enthralled with children and supporting their holistic development.

After moving to Victoria Cheyenne continued to work as a support worker and began to take on more educator duties within that role.

In 2013 Cheyenne began her Early childhood educator certification with Northern Lights College. She was granted recognition for much of her previous education and experience in early learning environments and completed some course work and practicum traditionally. This program introduced Cheyenne to Reggio Emilia philosophy and pedagogy which continues to influence her practice today.

After completing her ECE certification in early 2014 she actively sought a childcare program that was both nature and Reggio based and that would give her an opportunity to delve into her philosophy. She spent the next two years managing a nature daycare in Royal Oak investigating mud, mushroom, indigenous and invasive plants, entanglements in nature, and colonialism in her childcare program in the Blenkinsop Valley. This was supported by a research project she participated in with the University of Victoria.

After the birth of her sons Cheyenne has juggled the role of mother and part-time educator on the Peninsula but nowhere felt quite like home. After connecting with Vanessa and viewing Storyoga Cheyenne realized what that missing piece was. Cheyenne is thrilled to have an opportunity to work in such a beautiful environment with such a strong focus on nature and influenced by Reggio. Cheyenne is even more excited for her youngest son joining her at Storyoga while her oldest attends Sidney school.

Brynn Jones
Director of Administration

Brynn has deep roots on the Peninsula, being a 5th generation resident, and considers herself profoundly grounded in her community. In 2010, her family purchased a 1925 home in North Saanich that they named “Sundrop Cottage”. It was later discovered that the land and home were Brynn’s great-great grandparents’. Brynn adores her heritage home and spends every chance she can dreaming about, designing, creating, and tending Sundrop’s garden.

Brynn’s two children, now young adults, started with Storyoga at its inception. Her family have been strong supporters of Storyoga’s offerings for over a decade. In addition to Storyoga, her children were heavily involved in local art and sports programs for their entire lives. Brynn had the pleasure of supporting her daughters’ pursuits by volunteering as a manager, safety person, and treasurer for their sports teams for many seasons and gained valuable insight into the inner workings of children and youth organizations.

Brynn’s administration background is founded in the construction industry, with an emphasis on exceptional management, clear policy, and refined procedures; a skill set that translates well with Storyoga’s expectation to create meaningful and quality relationships. Brynn was drawn to work with Vanessa and her team based on shared core values that contribute to creating a positive, enlightened, nourishing, and nurturing environment.

When not supporting the Storyoga community, Brynn can be found in her garden, at a gym or yoga studio, or exploring the beauty that is Vancouver Island, all in effort to pursue the joy of heart-minded living.

Marisa Amato
Early Childhood Educator & Yoga Lead

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.

 

 

Susi McMillan
Early Childhood Educator Assistant & Outdoor Lead

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.

 

Jazzy Burgess
Early Childhood Educator & Outdoor Lead

Jazzy has grown up on the island, first living in Oak Bay and then moving to North Saanich at a young age. She fosters a deep appreciation for the natural world and holds great respect for the Wsanec territory in which her home is situated upon.

Whether exploring the Peninsula, hiking the West Coast Trail, enjoying the sunset at a local beach, or playing soccer with her teammates, she embraces the gifts of where we live rain or shine! At a young age, Jazzy volunteered within her community as a summer camp leader.

This led her to coaching tots for a local soccer organization, as she has played soccer for fourteen years (ten of which as a goalie at a premiere level). Her passion and dedication for the sport has contributed to her strong work ethic and a keen sense for team building. As a coach for tots, she quickly realized her love of working with children. Being patient and present with them felt organic.

Upon graduation from French Immersion at Stelly’s high school, she pursued her Early Learning Certificate from Camosun College and was blessed to be placed at Storyoga for practicum. She is grateful to now work as an educator alongside those that have been so inspiring.

Storyoga feels like home for her, especially since her younger brother attended the preschool when her family first moved to North Saanich. It was a full-circle moment for her. Some of the values Jazzy holds as an early childhood educator include having a connection to the land we live upon, respectful mindfulness in our interactions, and creating joy through laughter.

These values transcend into kindness and a positive outlook, which she believes is an amazing foundation for any child to build upon. Jazzy looks forward to meeting and learning all about your child and to being part of the new center in Deep Cove.

 

Felix Hart
Early Childhood Educator Assistant & Music Lead

Felix grew up in the Okanagan before settling into the Victoria area in 2018. She has always has a deep connection and love for nature and animals. She believes spending time outdoors and connecting with nature is such an important part of life. Yoga is something Felix tries to maintain in her daily life and has helped her find more balance in life. She is a musician, painter and dancer. Being an artist in many forms, she’s a big supporter of self expression and feels it is so important to encourage children to express themselves freely in a way that feels good for them.

Felix has always wanted to work with children. She initially went to school to become an Art Therapist, to help those who struggle expressing themselves vocally. She took a break from school to travel. Once she had her daughter, going back to school got pushed further into the future. She feels it’s important to have a mindful and gentle approach to parenting and carries that through to her approach as a child care provider.

Felix was drawn to Storyoga because the values of Storyoga closely aligned with her own. She loves that Storyoga provides a nurturing space for children to learn and thrive. Felix is so grateful to be apart of Storyoga, working with and continuously learning from an amazing team.

Bonnie Frazer
Early Childhood Educator & Program Resource Lead

Bonnie has been in Victoria since she was two weeks old and has been loving the amazing surrounding landscape here ever since. She began her career as an ECE over 20 years ago and spent the past four years in the Sooke School District as a collaborative educator in the kindergarten classroom.

Bonnie enjoys being part of the holistic development of children, including the children, family and educators. She understands the importance of all three components to help nourish the child towards their strongest potential. She also completed the Educational Assistant Program a few years ago and has been an integral part of working as a team in the early years to ensure children have all the tools they need moving forward through the school system.

Bonnie has two sons and spends her time away from Storyoga enjoying the outdoors as much as possible. She also spends her time creating crafts with different mediums such as essential oils, macreme, felt, gemstones and wood.

Bonnie has an education in childcare and yoga and feels Storyoga is the perfect fit. She is happy she came to be part of our team

Laurel Martman
Early Childhood Educator

Since first hearing about Storyoga from family members, Laurel was immediately interested. As well as resonating with Storyoga values, such as slowing down the pace and tuning in, she’s also drawn to the collaborative and mutually supportive environment that she experienced right from her first day.

Laurel grew up on the Saanich Peninsula, in a family of five…plus a dozen chickens and two sheep! As a child, she played among tall grass, mud, and cottonwood trees. Laurel is grateful to be returning to this area again, with a strong interest to practice and grow as a childcare practitioner at Storyoga. She also loves hiking in diverse ecosystems, and visiting the ocean, or snowy places!

Laurel completed an Early Childhood Education Certificate with College of the Rockies, and is currently studying Waldorf Early Childhood Education. Through her learning, she’s become intrigued by the processes children undertake in the early years.

Laurel is so pleased to be able to contribute to the community where she grew up, by nurturing a new generation of children, and continues to discover meaning in her work, especially through connecting and building developmental relationships with young people.

She whole-heartedly enjoys sharing her interests and experiences in creative movement, nature connection, and early childhood development, while learning alongside others.

A goal of her practice is to contribute to nurturing and respectful relationships. She aims to support the children, as well as herself and her colleagues, to flourish together, in partnership with the natural world.

Laurel is delighted to be working with Storyoga and looks forward to getting acquainted with you and your child.

Kelly Anne Lahti
Early Childhood Educator

Kelly was born and raised in London Ontario. She started helping out in a child care centre when she was 14 and volunteered there every summer until she graduated high school. She then went on to complete her ECE and Infant and Toddler Diploma in Ontario before moving out west in 2000. She promised her mother that she wouldn’t stay out here long but after one glorious snow free winter she knew she would never move back.

Kelly has had the experience of working in many different child care environments throughout her last 20 years of being on the island. She has taught in many indoor and outdoor programs. She spent a few years running the parent/tot stepping up to Nature Preschool through Saanich Recreation. Currently she is teaching a few days a week here at Storyoga (which she loves) as well as teaching an outdoor program through Victoria Nature School.

Kelly resides in Victoria BC with her husband and two daughters who are 19 and 5. Their family is currently in the process of bringing a beautiful three year old girl home to live with them from India. Both girls are so excited for their new sister and Kelly loves that she gets to continue doing her favourite job in the world, being a mom.

Lisa McGrath
Early Childhood Educator Assistant

Lisa was born in Northern Ireland, where she grew up helping her parents at their horticultural centre, surrounded by plants and flowers, riding her pony, and playing outside in the green Irish Countryside. She was a young teen when her family immigrated to Canada and settled on the Saanich Peninsula. After graduating from Stelly’s Secondary School, Lisa returned to the UK before settling in Vancouver for 15 years. She pursued her passion for music and photography, completing Bachelor of Fine Art courses at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. Her love of music led to her playing and recording as a solo artist in the Vancouver music scene. She met her music partner husband in 2010, and they moved to the peninsula with their two young children in 2015.

Lisa became interested in working with families in 2009, and this initially led her to pursue certification as a birth and postpartum doula. Her strengths were relationshipbuilding and providing emotional and physical support for her clients. Her yoga practice also led her to complete 200hr Yoga Teacher Training in 2012.

Lisa’s passion for working with young children came from a personal place, as one of her children received an Autism diagnosis during their preschool years. Inspired by that journey and the deep appreciation for the individuals who supported her son and her family, she recognized that early childhood educators play an essential role in supporting young children and their families. Lisa decided to enter into the Early Learning and Care diploma program at Camosun College in 2019 on a part-time basis and is close to completion.

Lisa loves working and learning alongside children and finds the preschool environment uplifting and rewarding. She has extensive experience advocating for her child in government and private organizations and feels this experience will help support families with diverse abilities. Lisa feels passionate about sharing music and art with children, spending time in the natural environment, supporting children’s social and emotional development and values the importance of learning through play.

Both Lisa’s children attended Storyoga. Lisa loved the Storyoga environment and philosophy and is now grateful to be part of the teaching team

Testimonials

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