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 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. She worked there for 4 years before shifting directions into outdoor education.
Along with being the Director of Muddy Boot Prints, Miss Belva is the chair of the Earthand Gleaners Society Non-Profit Board, the SAP Non-Profit Board (that oversees the Saplings Independent Nature School) and the OELA Non-Profit Board. Belva routinely offers presentations and workshops about outdoor education to local colleges and universities throughout the year. Belva is also the Child and Nature Advisory Committee that is a working committee through Island Health that is 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 wrestling with her hand spun and hand dyed wool that she loves to create.
Sarah Eakins , Lead Teacher – Flicker/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!
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, Lead Teacher -Sandpiper Program, Co-Teacher Finches 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.
Justine Leavers, Lead Teacher – Nuthatches Program
Viewing the world through a child’s eyes is such a magical experience; the simplicity of life is brought into perspective that one may easily overlook. The fresh air and open space allows for the children’s creative moments to flow so organically..
– Miss Justine
Miss Justine has been working with children for nearly ten years, and completed the Early Childhood Education program through VCC in 2016. From working as an educator in a typical daycare setting, to nannying for families with her own daughter alongside, it is now time to return to the field with the amazing Muddy Boot Prints team!
Growing up in the Okanagan, Miss Justine was fortunate to have spent many summers camping, hiking, and swimming in lakes. She would be outside from morning until night, making forts, creating art and choreographing dances in her front yard.
Miss Justine is passionate about early learning, problem solving through play, as well as guiding children through conversations that foster resilience, empathy and their connection to the surrounding world.
Michelle McLeod, Co-Teacher – Nuthatches Program
It is a privilege to provide children the opportunities to create some of their favourite childhood memories; to taste the rain, to touch the wind and see things grow..
– Miss Michelle
Miss Michelle has been working in childcare for over ten years. She started working at a community centre in an after school care program.. Over the years, Miss Michelle has had the opportunity of working in a variety of programs; preschool, daycare, infant & toddler ,multi-age and as a summer camp counsellor. While working, Miss Michelle studied part time and completed her Early Childhood Education certification in 2016, alongside Miss Justine. Miss Michelle is excited to join the MBP family and return to work.
Miss Michelle was born and raised in Vancouver. She has an older sister and two younger brothers. Her daughter was born in April 2020. As a family or solo, Miss Michelle enjoys doing yoga, going on bike rides, taking the aqua bus, spending time with family and friends, trying new local restaurants, going out dancing & to concerts, and swimming up in Squamish.
Miss Michelle is enthusiastic about early childhood learning, building resilience and self-confidence in her students, life skills, critical thinking and celebrating our diversity.