Jean Lomino, founder and lead instructor of the Forest School Teacher Institute spent 40 years as an educator, and from 2002-2014 was Director of Education then Executive Director of Chattanooga Arboretum & Nature Center. She received her doctorate in Leadership with a focus in environmental education and has been an adjunct professor for the MS Ed in Outdoor Education at Southern Adventist University since 2000. She completed Forest Kindergarten teacher training at Cedarsong Nature School in Washington in 2015, and returned to establish Wauhatchie School, the first Forest Kindergarten in Tennessee, with co-founder Diana Rowell. Jean has trained over 100 FK teachers in the US, and in 2017 was a teacher trainer and consultant at No Boundaries Forest Kindergarten in Guangzhou, China. She has recently collaborated with Dr. Jiyoun Shin, from Sahmyook University in Seoul, to study character development in FK, and has been invited to make a presentation at the Korean Forest Kindergarten Association Symposium in Seoul this June.
Carl holds a Ph.D. in Science Education. He was a classroom teacher for 20 years and since 1993 has been a professor at Southern Adventist University. He is the founder of the Outdoor Education Master’s Degree program at the university that includes a Bachelor’s degree in Outdoor Leadership and a Master’s Degree in Outdoor Teacher Education. He is currently Graduate Dean at SAU. His pastimes include traveling, birding, photography and all things nature.
Dr. Shin is Chair of the Early Childhood Education Department at Sahmyook University in Seoul, South Korea. She is the founder and principal of Sahmyook University Lab Forest Kindergarten, Vice-Chair of the Korean Forest Kindergarten Association and Director of the Korea Forest Education Research Center. She has published numerous research studies and has authored three books about Forest Kindergarten. Last year she was a visiting scholar in the US and collaborated with Jean Lomino on research into character development in Forest Kindergarten.
Jim is McKee Chair of Excellence in Learning at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. A learning facilitator for 43 years, he has taught at all levels of formal education and has served as director of state and federal programs in education. Jim has provided consulting services to the governments of Canada, the United States, Abu Dhabi, Bermuda, Japan, and Lithuania, as well as educational systems in Brazil, Jamaica, Norway, the Philippines, and the West Indies, and as well to school systems throughout North America. He holds a doctorate in Educational Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin.
Amina is the founder and director of the Blooming Good Kids Nature School in Cape Town, South Africa. She is also an artist, poet and writer, with her first children's book being published later this year. She initially studied engineering, but with her passion for people and creativity she worked for 23 years in visitor attractions in recruitment, staff training & management, PR & sales, project management, family events and children’s clubs. She currently manages the communications portfolio and serves on the South African National Board of the More to Life Foundation, a global educational NPO that offers transformational courses.
Matt Harris is the current Coordinator of Innovation for Walker County Schools in Georgia. Previously, Harris served as principal of Gilbert Elementary School in Lafayette, GA for six years. During his tenure, Gilbert Elementary became a Georgia Department of Education STEM Certified School and a USDOE Green Ribbon School. Gilbert Elementary is home to the first Forest Kindergarten in a traditional public school.
Bonnie Cretton, Founder and director of Woodsong Forest School, the first Forest Kindergarten in Cleveland, TN, has a deep appreciation for all living things and is equally passionate about education. She taught middle and high school social studies for eight years, sponsoring extra-curricular organizations and international trips, most of which had a focus on service learning. From 2011-2013 she was an exchange teacher in Uganda and then hosted Ugandan educators here at home. Bonnie served as an adjunct professor in the College of Education at Lee University and worked as a university supervisor for student teachers. She received her Level 3 Forest Kindergarten Master Teacher Certification through Wauhatchie School’s Forest Teacher Training program with Jean Lomino.
Ryan is the Founder and Director of Thrive Forest School located at Creasey Mahan Nature Preserve in Louisville, Kentucky. Thrive is Louisville's first forest preschool, serving families of all backgrounds and garnering press recognition locally and nationally. Ryan gained his forest school training under programs at Wauhatchie School and Cedarsong, with Jean Lomino as his mentor. Prior to founding Thrive, Ryan was co-founder and CEO of the social impact brand This Saves Lives, which donates emergency food aid to children in need around the world through the sale of products in the U.S.
Leslie Arnold serves as the Naturalist for LaGrange County Parks and Recreation in northeast Indiana. For approximately fifteen years, Leslie's time as a naturalist has taken her across Indiana, working in several different city, county, and state parks. She is passionate about connecting people, especially school children, with nature. Her favorite season is maple syrup field trip season! Leslie is also a dedicated butterfly monitor for the Michigan Butterfly Network and North American Butterfly Association. Leslie is looking forward to helping current and prospective Forest School Teachers awaken their inner naturalist and become more comfortable interpreting the outdoors. She loves her husband Craig, two sons Bridger and Jake, kitty May, and their wrap-around porch with a view of the lake.