View maps & get directions to the Schuylkill Center.

Get Directions to the Schuylkill Center

 Nature Preschool Staff

Marilyn Tinari
Interim Director of Early Childhood Education

Marilyn Tinari was the Head of the Middle School for Girls, encompassing grades five through eight, at Springside School (now Springside Chestnut Hill Academy) from 1992 through 2014. Prior to her work at Springside, Marilyn was a fifth/sixth grade teacher at Oak Lane Day School, where she previously oversaw the program in the Reading Lab there. Her experience includes writing and teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in education at Chestnut Hill College. Outside of the school sector, Marilyn served as Education Director of the Jenkintown Center for Learning, a private enterprise, providing individualized remedial reading programs from early elementary through adult levels. Currently, Marilyn is a lecturer in the Mid Career Doctoral Program in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. Marilyn is experienced in independent school and non-profit governance, having served as President of the Gladwyne Montessori Board of Trustees and Chair of the Governance Committee of Elmwood Park Zoo.

After receiving a BA is Psychology, Marilyn earned a Master of Education degree with a core in Reading (leading to Reading Specialist certification) from Arcadia University. She received a doctorate in Educational and Organizational Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania in 2009.

Ann Ward
Kindergarten Teacher

As a compassionate early childhood educator and passionate advocate for children and nature, Ann joins Nature Preschool with thirty years experience in early childhood education. As a master teacher with extensive experience in Quaker education, Ann's own love of the natural world is reflected in her dedication to emergent, nature-based programming (design and implementation) for young children. Ann graduated summa cum laude with her Masters of Education in Early Childhood Education from West Chester University in 2013 after completing action research in early learning and loose parts nature play. Ann is founder and lead educator of Winged Wonders Education, a live monarch butterfly educational program reconnecting people with the natural world one butterfly at a time. Ann also has served as a workshop presenter for educators, administrators, and families on the benefits to children of nature play. Collaborating with early childhood educators using nature as a lens for inspiring plan and learning in natural contexts has been a dream of Ann's for a long time. Being a part of Nature Preschool at the Schuylkill Center feels like a homecoming for Ann.

Caitlin "Sunshine" Ott
Kindergarten Teacher

"I choose to go by the name sunshine whenever I meet someone new. The reason being is...
It was my nickname in kindergarten.
It symbolizes the trust and gratitude we must hold for each day in order to survive.
It is a reminder reflecting the importance of children being empowered to share their light."
Teacher Sunshine’s educational philosophy is rooted in manifesting empathy as a means of survival. Sunshine was always obsessed with making things, collecting treasure, and all things wild. She attended The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and earned a degree in Sculpture with a minor in Printmaking. Through the Philadelphia Art in Education Partnership, she earned a Teaching Artist Certification from The University of the Arts. Sunshine has been teaching art to the Philadelphia youth for the past 4 years. While going to school she taught poetry, experimental art and performance at the Taller Puertorriqueno Community Center. Once graduated, she taught visual arts for a STEAM afterschool program in Philadelphia public schools. Sunshine believes in using found and recycled materials as much as possible to encourage the development of resiliency amongst students. Now Sunshine creates environmentally sustainable and therapeutic sculpture. She loves to study mindfulness, primitive & survival skills, geology, human & animal psychology, indigenous wisdoms and plant medicine.

Katie Lutzker
Preschool Teacher

Katie graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a writing degree and a desire to work with food and people. She joined AmeriCorps after graduating, where she worked at an urban agriculture nonprofit with high school students on a one-acre farm. Since that experience, Katie knew she wanted to be in outdoor education. Katie has worked as a farmer, a baker, a gardener, and a substitute teacher for students of all ages. Katie loves native plants, insects, gardening, supporting local food, cooking, baking, natural building, and being outside. She is looking forward to bringing these elements into the Sassafras class for the 2019-2020 school year.

Rose Hammerman
Preschool Teacher

Rose discovered the Schuylkill Center perusing the internet while driving East across the country after leaving the Bay Area where she lived for 15 years. Rose completed her B.A. in Community Education from Goddard College in Plainfield, VT with her thesis focused on Adventure Playgrounds and the benefits of child development in natural surroundings. The Schuylkill Center provides the perfect theory-to-practice environment where she is our outdoor/ forest teacher which supports her philosophy of the benefits of child development in nature. Rose's background in early childhood education was formed through her studies as well as her previous 14 years spent as a daycare teacher, nanny, and postnatal yoga teacher. Above all, Rose is an avid believer in play being the caveat to teach compassion, empathy, and community to foster caring growth in young children and families.

Leigh Ashbrook
Preschool Teacher

Leigh brings a wealth of teaching experience to Nature Preschool, having taught 1st/2nd grade for 20 years in a small progressive, child-centered school, followed by more years as a long-term substitute teacher in elementary science classrooms, kindergarten and preschool classrooms. Leigh has also been an environmental educator at The Schuylkill Center since 2004, after completing her master's degree in environmental education at Arcadia University. While she loves all aspects of the natural world, Leigh is especially moved and fascinated by birds. Her passion for birds has frequently inspired interest in the avian world in young children. Leigh firmly believes that when children are immersed in the natural world, they are best able to develop their natural and intellectual curiosity, their social and emotional skills, as well as their fine and gross motor skills. Spending time exploring the woods and observing all aspects of their environment inspires a love of the natural world and a desire to become stewards of the earth. Leigh is thrilled to be a part of the Nature Preschool.

Natalie Martin
Preschool Teacher

Natalie is a kind, caring, and compassionate educator who has a deep fascination with the ways in which people make connections with each other and the ways in which these connections can be facilitated through nature, music, and sport. Her diverse experiences as an educator include working as a soccer coach, a cello teacher, an ESL teacher, a camp counselor, and an early childhood music teacher. Working in such a variety of positions have given her a broad and complex understanding of different pedagogies and learning styles. Natalie also brings horticultural and agricultural knowledge into the classroom through her experiences working at Haverford College Arboretum, Tranquil Lake Nursery, and Morning Glory Farm. It brings her so much joy to teach in an early education environment with the natural world as both physical classroom and subject matter.

Ben Cohen
Preschool Teacher

Ben Cohen is an environmental educator with a background in environmental science, literature, and human geography. He has worked as a Farm-based educator, an assistant Montessori guide, and recently the Schuylkill Center's summer program. Ben is particularly interested in plants, agriculture, and foraging, but is also interested in amphibians and all organisms great and small. Currently, Ben is enrolled in a Geography and Urban Studies masters program at Temple University, where his research focuses on understanding the myriad ways that people and societies conceptualize nature and their place in it. Ben enjoys hiking, reading, and playing banjo, and is very excited for this coming year.

Kat Miles
Preschool Teacher

Kathryn graduated from Dickinson College with a degree in Environmental Studies and a minor in Studio Art. While in college, she worked on an organic vegetable farm and afterwards she hiked the Appalachian Trail. Her experiences have helped her to understand the valuable role that nature-based education has in promoting compassion, kindness, curiosity, and imagination in both children and adults! She has previously taught through the lens of agriculture and food and she's thrilled to continue her journey of working with children in the outdoors. She hopes to pass on her love of nature and inspire others to respect and care about the world around them.

Jess Rich
Preschool Teacher

Jess began her early childhood teaching career after graduating from Rowan University. While teaching science in an arts preschool in Philadelphia, she developed and implemented a Mindfulness Meditation program for students. She brought those skills to the Schuylkill Center beginning as a summer camp counselor, and continued on to join the Nature Preschool team. Having earned a Nature Therapy Guide license through the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy, she delights in applying mindfulness-based nature exploration to her teaching practices. She is looking forward to teaching the Sycamore class, and experiencing outdoor wonders with her students.

Seraiah Robinson
Preschool Teacher

Growing up in a rural town in New Jersey, the woods were Seraiah's playground. It was discovering rocks and minerals, climbing trees, and creative play with friends that really kept her occupied outside. Seraiah also has a strong passion for music as a whole and plays the guitar, piano, and percussion instruments. She greatly enjoys the musical sounds of nature as they would often put her to sleep as child. She went on to receive an Associate's Degree in Physical Sciences and is currently finishing a degree in Geology. Seraiah believes that it is important for every child to develop their own unique connection to nature and takes great joy in helping them facilitate their own great outdoor experiences.

Susan Marcosson
Preschool Teacher

Ms. Marcosson has been working as a mentor/educator with our after school programs, summer camps, and Nature Preschool since 2004. Prior to joining Schuylkill Center staff, Ms. Marcosson was a part-time environmental educator with Awbury Arboretum from 2000 to 2008. She is also an advisor at Villanova University for the Cultural Film and Lecture Series Program. Ms. Marcosson graduated from Miami Norland High School in Miami, Florida. She loves engaging children in outdoor play and exploring the natural world. Her caring for others even took her to SEPTA Paratransit where she drove older people and those with disabilities to just about any place they wanted to go. She likes to think of all children as her grandchildren and she gives them the love and encouragement each deserves.

Christiana French-Franco
Preschool Teacher
Christiana comes to us from the Southern New Jersey Perinatal Cooperative, a child and maternal healthcare agency in Camden, New Jersey, where she taught a parenting program to families. She believes in learning through play and exploration, partnering with parents and the community, and facilitating the connection between children and the natural world around them. Christiana has always been in awe of the intuitive connection children have with nature and animals. Christiana earned her degree in Health Sciences and Nutrition in 2013 and is currently pursuing her Master's degree from West Chester University in Environmental Health. Christiana finds the most joy in experiencing nature through running and hiking. She recently completed her first full marathon and is an aspiring trail runner. She spends her free time cooking, traveling, running, fostering cats, and walking dogs. Christiana lives in South Philadelphia with her partner, their five cats, and their dog Brutus.

Nathalie Borozny

Nathalie is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati and holds a Master's degree in Early Childhood Education. Her service to children and their families include classroom teaching, infants, toddlers, preschoolers; management and leadership of diverse programs from neighborhoods at risk to a center for P&G near their corporate headquarters; University teaching at Millersville University (PA); and review and monitoring of programs for the Federal government.
"I'm enjoying the opportunity to bring more of the Reggio Emilia ideas to Nature Preschool. Since my study visit to this program in Northern Italy and the opportunity to meet one of the founders, I've come to understand the emotional and intellectual strengths children bring to their lives every day."

For more information or to schedule a tour, call 215-853-6145 or email

Copyright ©2021 The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy.
8480 Hagy's Mill Road | Philadelphia, PA 19128 | Phone: 215-482-7300 | Email:
Wildlife Clinic: 304 Port Royal Avenue | Philadelphia, PA 19128 | Phone: 215-482-7300 x option 2 | Email:

Site By: Tuscano Studios

Tuscano Studios