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Miss Belva reading a book to the children

Belva Stone—Director/Founder, Co-Teacher Flicker Program

Exploring the outdoors through the eyes of a child is one of the most inspiring things.”
–Miss Belva

Miss Belva has been working with children for 20 years. She spent 12 years as a private nanny specializing in children aged 0-5yrs. During the latter portion of that time, she studied at VCC to get her Early Childhood Education certificate. In 2010 Miss Belva accepted her first preschool teaching job at a traditional Montessori school where she met Miss Pat! She worked there for 4 years before shifting directions and assisted in developing an outdoor preschool program in Vancouver.

Having grown up in the countryside, Miss Belva has a deep love for nature and the outdoors. Regardless of the weather, her mother ensured that her and her two brothers got outside every day to explore what was around them. Because of this, one of her deep rooted philosophies is that children must get outside everyday, regardless of the weather. Exploring the outdoors through the eyes of a child is one of the most inspiring things to Miss Belva as often times, children spot things or find true joy in things that adults miss—like puddle jumping! Their curiosity and sense of constant wonder is what intrigues her most about working with children because they show her that there is always something more to learn, see and discover.

Along with being the Director of Muddy Boot Prints, Miss Belva also teaches and subs for Fresh Air Learning on the North Shore. She has led their Friendly Forest Program for children on the autism spectrum and their care givers as well as their Parent and Tot Program. Belva also offers presentations and workshops on outdoor education to local colleges and universities. Belva is also on an advisory committee of folks who are working towards getting outdoor education licensed in British Columbia.

When Belva isn’t teaching, presenting or doing admin work, she can be found with her fingers in the dirt of one of her many garden beds, or spinning and dyeing wool or even knitting with her spun and dyed wool.

Sarah Eakins , Lead Teacher – Flicker/Goldenears/Finches Programs

When we take away the walls and invite nature to be one of our teachers, we come closer to viewing the world through the eyes of children and truly experiencing the wonder of simple things.
– Miss Sarah

Miss Sarah completed her Early Childhood Education certification through Vancouver Community College in 2007 and is a passionate lifelong learner. She has over twenty years experience of working and learning alongside children, including nearly ten years building her own family child care program while raising her two young children.

Miss Sarah’s teaching style is rooted deeply in respectful communication and appreciation for each child as a unique individual.  She believes that this approach provides each child with the freedom to develop individual interests and skills in an atmosphere of joyful learning and growth through active play and exploration.

With her love of the outdoors and her playful nature, Sarah has found great joy in her work with children: “When we take away the walls and invite nature to be one of our teachers, we come closer to viewing the world through the eyes of children and truly experiencing the wonder of simple things.”

Miss Sarah attributes her strong connection with the outdoors to a childhood spent helping in the garden, going on family picnics, and camping trips, and spending summers at the lake. She finds peace in nature and still can’t resist a picnic!

Miss Iuliana smiling with mountains and nature behind her

Iuliana Banack Tapia, Co-Teacher- Sandpiper Program

Working alongside children outside just feels so natural to me as I share a similar awe of life as they do.
– Miss Iuliana

Miss Iuliana (You-lee-ana) is very excited to join the Muddy Boot Prints team. She has spent a year working for the YMCA doing after school care and realized that her passions lay with the younger children. On weekends she has been volunteering with children from lower income families leading them in outdoor adventures.

For the last 10 winters, Iuliana has been teaching kids with special needs to ski on Grouse Mountain.

Iuliana has a passion for working with kids and has always gravitated towards being around children. It comes naturally to her as her father is in outdoor education and has shown her how special being outside and learning outside is.

Miss Iuliana is very excited to be a part of the Muddy Boot Prints Team!

Debbie Leboe Photo

Debbie Leboe, Lead Teacher -Sandpiper Program

Being outdoors in nature allows for authentic cooperative play, children have the space and freedom to follow their own interests and the environment becomes our classroom.
– Miss Debbie

Miss Debbie has been working in Canada as an educator for 10 years. Her childhood was spent on a small mystical Island in the Irish sea surrounded by beaches and covered in woodland. She spent her days outside exploring and playing. Her love of nature continued when she came to Vancouver 20 years ago and was so mesmerized by the beauty of BC she settled here.

She trained as an elementary teacher in the UK and has continued her journey as she became an ESL teacher in Vancouver in 2015. Over the years Debbie has worked as a private tutor and in Vancouver community centres as an instructor with preschool aged children.

She was inspired by the play based approach she discovered in her children’s parent participation preschool and her recent volunteer work in outdoor preschools opened her eyes to the opportunities afforded when learning is taken outside.

Debbie is currently studying ECE at Langara College and is thrilled to be part of MBP and exploring outdoors this year.

In her spare time in the Summer you can find Debbie in her garden or at the beach paddling in her canoe and in the Winter she will be up in the mountains.

Photo of Miss Danijela

Danijela Dreskai, Co-Teacher- Flicker Program

Sometimes the best toys for children are found in nature as they inspire a keen sense of curiosity and imagination.
Miss Danijela

Miss Danijela was a primary school teacher in her hometown in Serbia for 6 years before moving to Vancouver to be with her husband and start a family. Miss Danijela owned and operated a family childcare out of her home for 7 years in East Vancouver.

Miss Danijela enrolled her son in Muddy Boots 2 years ago as she was inspired by the use of outdoor play to build connections to the environment. She loved hearing stories her son would tell her of his adventures during the day and through this she appreciated that the children were able to immerse themselves into the various communities around them during their time in the program. When she was asked to join the team of educators, she happily accepted!!

Currently Miss Danijela is obtaining her Assistant License in ECE through VCC and has completed both her Responsible Adult Course and Guiding Children’s Behavior course. She looks forward to continually adding to her B.A through continued studies as well as hands on learning.

In her spare time you can find her hiking and biking with her family, and tending her garden with her son.