Nature School – About Us

Our outdoor school launched in September 2016, born from a dream & a prayer. The school started as The Preschool at Camp Albemarle, offering 2 day and 3 day preschool classes along with Sprouts class for homeschool students age 5 and 6. In April 2018, our name changed to Nature School at Camp Albemarle to better reflect program offerings. Nature School expanded in Fall 2021 to offer full day private school classes for grades K-4th. Our program is unique in that we use the natural world to promote learning & growth in your child. Students spend the entire class outside, in all seasons. Camp Albemarle is located on 29 acres of open grass and wooded areas and is bordered by Bogue Sound. Each class has a "base camp" to start and end their day but learning, play and exploration happens in all areas of camp property.

Program Philosophy

  • Sharing God’s love through His creation.
  • Connecting students to nature to inspire appreciation for the natural world.
  • Providing a safe environment to encourage exploration and learning.
  • Promoting wellness through active play.
  • Assisting students in their interactions with each other to promote cooperative learning and encourage problem-solving.
  • Developing activities that are focused on the individuality, abilities, and interests of each student.

Our Staff

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Heather Estep Lavinder

Nature School Director 
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Heather serves Camp Albemarle as Nature School Director. Heather’s love for the ocean and passion for children brought her to North Carolina. After graduating from Coastal Carolina University in South Carolina with her Bachelor’s in Marine Science and a double minor in biology and psychology, she worked as a Special Activities Instructor at the North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. She has attended various nature-based preschool training including the Nature Preschool Institute at Chippewa Nature Center, The Cedarsong Way Teacher Training, and professional development through The Eastern Region Association of Forest and Nature Schools (ERAFANS). Heather is blessed to combine her love for children, our planet, and God into one amazing job and is excited to get children active outdoors and surrounded by nature. She enjoys volunteering, watching sunrises and sunsets, and crafting.

Preschool Teachers

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Jennifer (Jenn) Edwards

5 Day Preschool Lead Teacher
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Jenn was born in Florida but has spent most of her life in Eastern NC. Her true calling is working with children and she has volunteered and trained with various faith-based organizations as well as with the Boy Scouts of America. Jenn is a certified nature-based teacher through ERAFANS and has completed professional development through Project Learning Tree and Mindstretchers Academy and is certified in Conscious Discipline. Jenn is most passionate about facilitating wonder-based play and making enduring connections with children, inspiring them to shine. She is deepening her understanding of the benefits of outdoor learning and is particularly interested in the connection between time spent outdoors and improved mental health. Outside of work, Jenn enjoys spending time with her family - her husband is a certified EMT, she has two sons, and she homeschools her youngest. As a family, they enjoy exploring, scouting, camping and volunteering in the community.

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Sharon Fulcher

2 & 3 Day Lead Preschool Teacher & Guidance Counselor 
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Sharon has lived in NC all her life feeling the pull of the ocean like a great orbiting moon. The beach is home, the sea spray her oxygen. She graduated from East Carolina University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Child Development and Family Relations and went on to receive a Master’s degree in Special Education and a Master’s degree in Counseling Education. Her greatest pleasure has come from teaching children. Throughout her college years and beyond she was a camp counselor and assistant director at Camp Don Lee in Arapahoe. Those experiences as a student of nature and then a counselor helped her share a love of the outdoors and all its wonders.  Sharon retired once after 4 years teaching special education and then 28 years as an elementary school counselor and found it was not something she was particularly pleased with. The ocean’s waves have thrown her back on shore to return to what she loves – children laughing and learning. Outside of work, Sharon cherishes her time with her husband and grown daughter, traveling, camping and living in this little heaven on earth we call the Crystal Coast.

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Stephanie Beasley

2 & 3 Day Preschool Lead Teacher 
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Stephanie recently moved to Carteret County from Greensboro and loves exploring her new coastal environment with her family. Stephanie has her Bachelor’s degree in Exercise and Sports Science from the UNC-Greensboro. Her concentration focused on designing children’s activity programs that developed the whole child. She previously served as Youth Program Director in Greensboro, gaining over 20 years of experience in children’s programming. Outside of work, Stephanie can often be found with her husband, their 2 children and 3 dogs at the beach or walking around local nature trails. She also is a huge Disney fanatic and enjoys taking year trips to Disney World.

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Elizabeth (Tibby) Barefoot

5 Day Preschool Supporting Teacher & School Nurse
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Elizabeth moved to Carteret County in 2017 when she and her husband decided to make their dream of living at the Crystal Coast a reality. Tibby grew up in Charlotte and spent 15 ears of her life in Raleigh after attending NC State University where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Zoology and Biology. She also has a BS in Nursing. Tibby has worked as an RN in labor & delivery and post-partum, allergy and asthma, and pediatrics. In her free time, she loves spending time outdoors with her husband and two kids, running, baking and watching her husband and son fish. Tibby fell in love with Nature School after seeing her son thrive in their preschool program. She’s excited to be a part of kids growing and learning in an environment that allows them to be creative and to see God’s creation firsthand.

 

 

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Jamie Davis-Williams

2 & 3 Day Preschool Supporting Teacher 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bethany Cordero

2 & 3 Day Preschool Supporting Teacher 
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Bethany was born and raised in Forsyth County but spent her vacations in Emerald Isle and dreamed of calling the beach home. In 2013 this dream became a reality as she and her husband moved to Carteret County to start a family. Bethany has her Bachelor’s degree in Business Marketing with a minor in Psychology and a teaching certification in Elementary Education from UNCW. After spending a few years in the business world, Bethany followed God’s leading to make a switch to teaching and has taught 1st, 2nd, and 5th grades as well as been an academic interventionist, until her children were born. Bethany feels blessed to be able to send her boys to a faith-based and nature-centered school and is excited to join the staff after years as a Nature School parent. Outside of work, Bethany and her family are very involved in their church, and they love spending time together as a family. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, boating, paddleboarding, reading, biking and family game nights.

Lower School Teachers

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Ann-Marie Robinson

Kindergarten Lead Teacher
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Ann-Marie was born and raised in Carteret County. After graduating from West Carteret, she attended NC State earning a degree in Psychology while obtaining her Elementary Education Certification from Meredith College. After returning to Carteret County, she married her high school sweetheart and began her teaching career at Morehead Middle School teaching math. After her oldest daughter was born and Bogue Sound Elementary opened, she transferred to teach first grade and later kindergarten. Three years later, her youngest daughter was born. She is retiring after 20 years from Carteret County Schools to follow God’s direction to teach in a Christian-based setting. She is active in children’s ministry at her church and has taken children’s ministry classes through Campbell University, as well as completed nature-based professional development through ERAFANS. Ann-Marie is also certified in Conscious Discipline. Outside of work and ministry, she loves boating and kayaking here at home and camping in the mountains. She is excited to see where God is leading her in this new chapter of her life.

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Jacqueline Arthur

Kindergarten Supporting Teacher & Art Teacher
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Jacqueline was born and raised in Carteret County. She graduated from West Carteret High School then attended UNC Pembroke and East Carolina University studying art and elementary education with an emphasis in reading. Being an artist, Jacqueline loves sharing her passion of art with students. She spent many of her teenage and college age years babysitting, nannying, and working in the nursery at church before beginning her career in education. Watching her mother as a teacher, she knew she wanted to follow in her footsteps but not in a traditional classroom, so she’s excited for this next step in her career in a place she feels she fits in best. Outside of work, she loves animals (horses and dogs specifically) and spending time outdoors with them. Jacqueline is trained in Conscious Discipline.

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Katie Andrews

Program Development Coordinator and 1st Grade Lead Teacher 
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Katie moved from NY six years ago after many summers spent visiting her grandparents in New Bern and is happy to call Eastern NC home. She graduated from The State University of NY at Albany with a BA in English and is a certified nature-based teacher through The Eastern Region Association of Forest and Nature Schools. Katie has completed professional development through Mindstretchers Academy, Project Learning Tree, and Antioch University. She has over a decade’s worth of experience working with children of all ages and developmental abilities in diverse settings. Additionally, Katie is trained in Conscious Discipline and Responsive Classroom. She is halfway through her Master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction. Katie is passionate about expanding nature-based educational opportunities beyond the preschool years. In her free time, she enjoys exploring the outdoors and camping with her family, reading, good coffee and baking bread.

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Michael Grantham

2nd Grade Lead Teacher
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Michael has lived in Eastern NC his whole life. He graduated from East Carolina University with a BS in Business Management and he is currently serving in the NC Army National Guard. He has worked in the private and public sectors of education for over 7 years and has also been teaching for over 20 years through the Boy Scouts and swimming lessons. Michael is proudly an Eagle Scout. Michael has his initial teaching certification through the Association of Christian Schools International and is certified in Conscious Discipline. In his free time he enjoys spending time with his family, cooking, offshore fishing and bowling. He loves teaching outside where students’ attention spans are increased and more learning can happen than by being in a classroom all day.

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Chrissy Hassell

3rd Grade Lead Teacher
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Chrissy was born in Florence, SC but has spent most of her life in NC. She moved to Morehead City in 2007 and soon after earned her Associate’s degree from Carteret Community College. She then pursued a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education through East Carolina University while working as a preschool teacher. After earning her degree, Chrissy began work at Morehead City Primary School where she taught 3rd grade for five years. She is trained in Conscious Discipline and Responsive Classroom.  Chrissy and her husband Josh have two kids who both be attend Nature School. She enjoys reading, writing and running and is very active in her church. Chrissy holds God, church and serving others close to her heart. She is grateful for God leading her to Nature School, first for her children and now for herself as a teacher.

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Cheyenne Mendoza

1st and 2nd Grade Supporting Teacher
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Cheyenne was born in the small town of Thomaston, Georgia but she grew up here on the Crystal Coast and considers both places home. She graduated from UNCW with her bachelor’s degree in Spanish. She enjoys learning new languages and is fluent in both Spanish and English. Cheyenne was a homeschool student for most of grade school and because of this, she had the opportunity to work with children in a teaching role from a young age. She has a deep love and appreciation for nature, God and teaching. She is so grateful to be able to work in an environment that encourages growth in all three. Cheyenne has completed professional development through ERAFANS and is certified in Conscious Discipline. In her free time, Cheyenne enjoys hiking and going on adventures with her family, reading, photography, learning the violin and volunteering in her church’s children’s ministry.

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Info Coming Soon

4th/5th Grade Lead Teacher 

Bio Coming Soon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Kaliegh Blevins

3rd-5th Grade Supporting Teacher
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Kaliegh arrived to NC in 2020 by way of Kodiak, AK, joining the Nature School team soon after her move as a preschool and Sprouts supporting teacher. Before her move she spent several years teaching special education in Alaska and is an avid lover of the outdoors. Kaliegh loves that nature school is not like a typical classroom and was drawn to this mode of education because of how being outside in nature inspires her teaching and promotes feelings of wellness. Her goal is to learn more teaching strategies that will have her students hooked and wanting to learn more. Outside of work, she loves coffee, hiking, fishing and foraging with her family, as well as cooking and baking for family and friends.

Homeschool Program Teachers

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Kelly Justice

Sprouts Lead Teacher
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Kelly grew up in Wilson, NC and spent her weekends and summers here on the coast. She graduated from East Carolina University with a B.S. in Finance and worked in accounting and finance until she and her husband were blessed with their two amazing girls. They moved to Carteret County for the small-town life and she became a stay-at-home mom and then a homeschool mom. Kelly spends her days with her girls learning, playing with their Boxer puppy, hiking nature trails, gardening, cooking and baking, doing arts and crafts, singing and playing music and enjoying each other’s company.  Kelly is also a Girl Scout Troop leader of 19 precious girls and is passionate about teaching them important life skills, how to enjoy and care for nature, to be good citizens and to be courageous and strong. She has a lifelong passion for learning and is currently improving her Spanish, guitar playing and growing her green thumb.

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Elise Souders

Eco Explorers Lead Teacher
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Elise has a Master's in Biology from Miami University and a BS in Marine Science from Rider University. She has previously worked at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, the Ocean Institute, and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Elise is passionate about science, nature, and art and is excited to find ways to merge all of these interests at Nature School. Outside of work, Elise enjoys spending time with her husband, son, and two dogs having adventures.

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Rachel Page

Sprouts Supporting Teacher
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Rachel graduated from the University of NC at Charlotte with a major in English and a minor in linguistics. She has previously worked with children on the autism spectrum for over three years, however after having her own child she decided a change of pace was needed and found Nature School. Rachel is eager to dive into the nature school way, combining her passion for the outdoors and working with children. In her free time, she enjoys biking, kayaking, and camping with her husband and son.

 

 

 

 

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Elijah Rosado

Eco Explorers Supporting Teacher
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Elijah was born and raised in Eastern North Carolina. He loves teaching and has spent years helping children learn and be more excited about learning. Elijah comes from a church background, where he has helped teach Sunday school, as well as Vacation Bible School classes. One of the things that he is most excited for is being able to help children experience wonder and be excited about nature and learning. When Elijah isn’t at work, he loves quality time with friends, road trips, sightseeing, and is passionate about cooking.