I am a third generation educator, and have had the privilege of seeing behind the scenes in education alongside my mother, who was a K.P.S. teacher. My belief in the necessity of education that inspires, honors, supports young people’s journeys is guided by my mother, ancestors, and loved experience having gone through K12 education. I have worked both in public schools and at Kazoo School, but Kazoo has drawn me in with its open-minded and nurturing environment and staff. I feel a true sense of community here, and that is what I believe the education of our children requires. Community is the structure in which relationships and understanding exist and grow, and without which the very real and needed socio-emotional elements of our humanity are not validated. I feel at home here at Kazoo and in progressive education, and it complements my activist and organizer background. I began at Kazoo teaching the summer camp Peacemakers, which is a social justice/issues centered camp where we explore racism, ableism, classism, (hetero)sexism, homophobia, and transphobia. I still teach at least one Peacemakers camp a summer. I believe children are the future, and as such need to be listened to and believed. I am proud to be learning from my colleagues as both friends and mentors, and helping to bring my unique identities, experiences, and potential to Kazoo.
B.A. in German and English with a Secondary Education degree from Western Michigan University
B.A. in Art and Philosophy from Western Michigan University
I am thrilled to be a part of the Kazoo staff! Since 2013 I have enjoyed teaching Kazoo summer camps, assisting in Extended Day and occasionally substitute teaching Pre-K to elementary. I am a nurturer by nature. I have always loved children, watching them grow and nurturing their exploration through life. I am currently a nanny for two children I have had since 2015. I am also an active Birth Doula with Rootead Doula Collective.
In the Kalamazoo community, I have been seen and heard on stages, film and radio for over 20 years. I am passionately involved in the area’s LGBTQ community. At home I have an amazing life partner, 2 dogs and six cats, and am a lover of all animals. Life is wonderfully full.
My passion for the performing arts and the healing arts pair beautifully together with my love of nature to help educate and nurture each and every child I get to share time with. I’m really looking forward to a wonderful year with our Natural Learners.
BA in Performing Arts from Western Michigan University
All my life, I was told that people could see me as a teacher, but I couldn’t see it because I despised homework. As my spirit called for a decolonized atmosphere, I assumed schools would be a place where I had to change my expression (considering that as a student I got in trouble a lot for dress code). When I learned about Kazoo School, I was pleasantly surprised that not only was this a place where my expression is encouraged, but many people that I met through WMU and/or activism were working there too. Being an advocate for youth, especially with marginalized identities, education has always been key to open people’s minds. I’m a strong believer in applying new knowledge whenever possible, including when conversing with humans younger than me. I’ve done this with my sister who is nine years younger than me and thanks to her, I have learned to elaborate new terms and ideology based on age. Being challenged helps me grow as a person and being asked why certain things are the way they are, brings me gratitude to be able to pass down empathy to other people, especially kids. I am grateful to be able to learn and converse with all of these students.
BFA emphasis in Sculpture from Western Michigan University
BA Gender and Women’s Studies from Western Michigan University
I’m originally from DeKalb, Illinois, which is about 60 miles west of Chicago. I received my Bachelor of Science degree from Iowa State University in Child Development, with an emphasis in Preschool/Kindergarten, Preschool Handicapped and am certified to teach Kindergarten through 9th grade. I’ve had the pleasure of working professionally with children for more than twenty-five years. My volunteer work as a Child Life therapist, Optimist soccer coach, Sunday School teacher, Cub Scout leader and neighborhood activity coordinator reflects my value in the development of the whole child. In teaching, I practice the philosophy of the Reggio Emilia approach, which is consistent with the Kazoo School mission and beliefs. When you step inside my classroom, you will find the fundamentals of progressive education evident. Children are engaged in child-centered and developmentally appropriate activities. The emergent curriculum is formed from the interests of the children, and every child’s little hands and great mind is given a voice in our projects. I believe peace education, nature and environmental awareness, and value play, imagination and creativity as essential elements in the education of the young child. I invite you to visit my classroom and please, remember childhood as you enter!
Education B.S. in Child Development from Iowa State University
I’ve always loved being around and working with children, so teaching elementary school students was an easy decision. Their natural curiosity and enthusiasm brings me great joy. Once I learned about progressive education, I was hooked. It has been a goal to teach within a school that supports that method of teaching and learning, so teaching at Kazoo School is a dream come true.
I have taught in urban, rural, and suburban areas in Kalamazoo and in North Carolina, which has given me the opportunity to work with a diverse array of students. Those experiences have further solidified my commitment to progressive education. When the whole child is supported, they can move mountains.
Prior to moving to Kalamazoo in 1996, I lived and taught in Eugene, Oregon and Madison, Wisconsin. I graduated from Kalamazoo College in 1986, having completed an internship teaching at Stone Environmental Schools in Maine and Massachusetts. I received a Fulbright Scholarship for Teaching English, which took me to Strasbourg, France, where I lived and taught English to high school students at the Lycee Louis Pasteur. Upon returning to the U.S., I picked up my environmental studies interest to teach at another residential environmental school, Nature’s Classroom in Connecticut. I graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 1990 with a Master’s degree in Social Work, specializing in Children, Youth and Families, and in 1992 with a second Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. When I moved back to Kalamazoo, I began teaching at Kazoo School in a 1st/2nd grade classroom. Over the years, I have taught every level from 1st through 8th grade at Kazoo School and currently teach the 4th and 5th grade classes.
Kazoo School has been a perfect fit for my progressive teaching style and philosophy. I see students as active participants, problem solvers, and planners of their own learning. My role is to guide the children on their individual journeys as they become thoughtful problem solvers, motivated critical thinkers, active leaders, respectful collaborators, kind friends, and lifelong learners.
B.A. in Psychology from Kalamazoo College. B.A. in Elementary Education from the University of Wisconsin. M.A. in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin
I decided to enter the field of teaching after being a softball and basketball coach at two local high schools. I‘d been working for a local recreation department and was asked to coach in their high school sports program. That’s when I realized how much I enjoyed working with young people. After graduation from WMU I began working at Kazoo School, and have been here ever since!! It has been a perfect fit! I’ve had the opportunity to teach and to coach. One of the most enjoyable aspects of my job is the chance to work with every child every day in our physical education program, and this gives me the unique opportunity to establish many special relationships with families at school. My interests include: my dogs, photography, travel, gardening, reading and golfing whenever I can! I love to spend time outdoors walking my dogs and enjoying nature.
B.S. in Recreation from Western Michigan University – 1981. Second major in Physical Education (Motor Development emphasis) – 1987. M.A. in Motor Development from Western Michigan University – 1991
Making art and teaching art has been a constant thread throughout my life. I have learned more about art and myself as an artist through teaching than any other pursuit or practice. Studying and creating art helps us to see deeper into the details of nature, everyday objects and the world. Art connects us to memories and can bring a better understanding in math, science and humanities through visual learning practices. It is my great pleasure to teach art at the Kazoo School and I look forward to continuing to grow our wonderful programming.
A.A.S. Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Phi Theta Kappa BA Art Western Michigan University
As a Kazoo School alumna, being able to be a part of the current team of teachers here is a dream come true. I grew up in these halls, spending years 5 through 13 growing, learning, and becoming the person I am today. I have an innate understanding of project based learning and what we do here. One of my favorite things from my years as a student at Kazoo School were the friendships I had with students from other classes, and of different ages. In Extended Day I get to see these kinds of friendships form all the time. I know how this small environment can produce life-long family-like friendships. This community environment helped build confidence and character that has guaranteed success and happiness in everything I do. I love being a part of our students’ growth because I know that they are also gaining that same confidence and self assurance that will lead to their own success and happiness! Outside of Kazoo School I enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with friends and family outdoors.
Education BA in Spanish from Western Michigan University
Paolo Freire wrote that “Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other.” After many years of teaching writing and literature at the university level, I have come to the understanding that a sense of community and critical co-investigation are essential to a successful classroom. My hope is for students to ask questions, to engage in dialogue, and to know that their voices are important. One of my goals in the classroom is for students to take ownership of their writing and to claim a place within the classroom and within a larger community of writers, readers, and citizens. Apart from writing and reading, my interests include riding my bicycle (particularly long rides—I recently biked solo from Kalamazoo to South Haven), cooking, gardening, and kayaking.
B.A., English Moorhead State University M.A., English University of North Dakota Ph.D., English Western Michigan University
Peter Hilton claims that “The first serious error we often meet in considering the role of mathematics is the confusion of education with training.” The purpose of training is to acquire a set of “useful” skills, whereas the purpose of education is to enable the student to acquire skills, whatever they may be and whenever they may be needed. I cannot predict which technical skills a student will need in their later career, but every student will inevitably be faced with problems to solve throughout their life. My goal in the classroom is for students to know, use, and enjoy mathematics while learning to think critically, communicate effectively, and persist through challenges. My hope is for all students to confidently and creatively approach problem solving, in knowing that mathematics is for everyone. When I’m not scaling recipes with fractions in the kitchen, or computing unit prices to find the best deals in the grocery aisle, I enjoy being outdoors. My interests include hiking, camping, traveling, and learning about the world around us.
I graduated from Hope College with a degree in Biology and more importantly, with a curiosity about and passion for understanding the natural world around me. I will never forget my first sight of the Galapagos tortoise, the marine iguana, and the many other endemic species I encountered during my study abroad program to the Galapagos Islands as a student. I came to see in a very clear way how we can impact the world through science and knew that my career path would be in environmental education and field biology. My journey as a science educator has taken me all over the country, teaching in many extraordinary places such as the Barrier Island Environmental Education Center in South Carolina, The Great Smoky Mountains Institute at Tremont in Tennessee, the Catalina Island Marine Institute in California, the Massachusetts Audubon on Cape Cod, the US Fish and Wildlife Service in Minnesota, and Long Island Sound in Stamford, Connecticut. I’m very excited to now be a part of the Kazoo community and with a team of educators committed to the Kazoo mission. A native of Holland, I am thrilled to be back home in West Michigan after many years away. In my spare time, you will find me gardening, running, cooking, road tripping somewhere, paddling, and taking advantage of all of the amazing resources Michigan has to offer.
“Education is a journey, not a race.” – Rudolf Steiner “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.” – John Dewey These two quotes are my inspiration as an educator. I believe that all children need an educational space where they can feel ownership, have their thoughts heard, and their ideas respected. When you walk into a classroom, you will often see teachers actively listening to the students; writing observations; listening to the connections the children make; and documenting the important learning that is happening. Each child learns in his or her own way. The Kazoo School team feels it is our job to help each child be an intrinsically motivated learner, actively seeking knowledge. That, to us, is a Kazoo School kid. I am a Kazoo School kid. My brother entered Kazoo School halfway through his Kindergarten year – the year of my birth. My earliest memories are of the Kazoo School Community. My mom and stepdad met through Kazoo School. I have found in my life that all roads lead back, not to Rome, but to Kazoo School. Kazoo School is a wonderful place for families to grow and learn. Enjoy the journey!
B.S. in Elementary Education from Western Michigan University
Gretta Hoekstra is our Business & Office Manager. Her experience centers around nonprofit management. She previously worked at the YWCA, Ministry with Community, The Greg Jennings Foundation, and The Kalamazoo Community Foundation. Gretta is thrilled to be joining the Kazoo family!
email@example.com | Phone 269-345-3239 | Kazoo School Faculty since 2019
Loy Norrix High School, 2014
Kalamazoo Valley Community College
In my experience going through school I always found it hard to be myself. Whether if it was rules put in place, the social atmosphere, or the system itself, I didn’t think there was a place for me in school where I could learn authentically and express myself without backlash from teachers and students. Since then, working in afterschool programs and at camps, especially in places surrounded by nature, I have found new ways to educate and uplift youth that are different from my own experiences in school. I am able to think outside the box, fusing nature and education, to provide a supportive environment for kids on many different paths in life to learn and grow. It showed me the power one educator can have.
My work within theses programs are a space where learning can be molded into a new experience. Since joining the Kazoo team, I see this mentality incorporated in all we do. My goal here is to use nature and understanding as tools to give youth the space to be authentic, creative, and to learn the best way they themselves are meant to.
Mackenzie Hatfield is joining Kazoo as a classroom assistant. Mackenzie brings a wealth of experience to Kazoo! She worked at the Girl Scouts, as a Lead Preschool Teacher/Child Care Provider at the YWCA, as a teacher Gull Lake Homeschool Partnership, as a Young Adult Coordinator at The People’s Church, and as Program Director at YMCA.