Taira Restar, RSMT, director and lead teacher
Qian Wang, teacher
Stephanie Ormsby, assistant director and teacher
Taira Restar, our lead teacher, is a mother and grandmother. She and her husband live in the forest above Tomales Bay, where they are in love with the place itself.
For over 20 years, Taira has combined place-based nature education with Expressive Arts education. Her in-person workshops have taken her around the world and back to her own beloved forests and beaches of West Marin.
Taira has a masters degree in movement education, is a certified Breakthrough Parenting™ facilitator and is a registered somatic movement therapist. She is also trained as a Co-Active® coach and is a member of the California Association of Forest Schools. She has been in the field of movement-based Expressive Arts Therapy and Education for 35 years. Her FamiliesDancing! workshops were the first movement-based family offerings at San Francisco Museum Of Modern Art.
As a young mother, Taira was introduced to Waldorf education. With the help of mentors, she opened Playgarden, a Waldorf influenced preschool program which flourished for 10 years in Point Reyes Station.
In summer 2019, Taira was invited by a group of parents to open a nature-based preschool in Fairfax. Emerald Heart was born!
Over time, Emerald Heart shifted and reshaped into a place-based forest school. Qian Wang joined as a teacher. Taira and Qian believe that, now more than ever, educators and parents must live and inspire deep love for our beloved earth through place-based experiences. The future of earth is in the tiny hands of our children.
Taira and Qian met in 2013 when Qian traveled from New York to California to take a place-based workshop that Taira was co-facilitating with eco-philosopher David Abram. Since then Qian graduated in Art Therapy from College of Rochelle in New York. She worked in a Montessori infant/toddler program in New Jersey.
Qian is an outdoor enthusiast, who loves camping and hiking. More than that, she is committed to being of service to our living Earth. Qian shares her love of earth and her quiet wisdom with Emerald Heart children.
Stephanie Ormsby joined Qian and Taira in fall 2021. Stephanie is the mother of two children. Before teaching at Emerald Heart, Stephanie worked for three years as a co-op parent at The Children's Cottage Co-Op, a play-based, parent participation cooperative preschool in Larkspur. She has a MA in Communications/Psychology and is a Life/Art Process (expressive arts therapy) practitioner. Stephanie is a skillful communicator, loves children and has a deep care and respect for Mother Earth.
In fall 2022, in addition to teaching two days per week, Stephanie will help Taira behind the scenes as our Assistant Director.
Taira, Stephanie and Qian feel blessed to co-teach with the forest itself!
PORTRAIT OF TAIRA: SUSAN ADLER PHOTOGRAPHY
PORTRAIT OF QIAN: TAIRA RESTAR
PORTRAIT OF STEPHANIE: SHALOM ORMSBY PHOTOGRAPHY
Taira acknowledges eco-philosopher David Abram (Spell of the Sensuous, Becoming Animal) and iconic dancer and Expressive Arts pioneer Anna Halprin [1920-2021], both of whom have deeply impacted Taira's embodied understanding of wild nature. Taira has had the joy and honor of co-facilitating with David Abram and of co-teaching and performing with Anna Halprin, who was Taira's primary mentor for many years.
Taira Restar’s skill as a teacher of dance -- and of exuberance, body-based rapport with the breathing land -- is a wonder. It’s a delight to see how deeply students and other dancers are nourished by her generous spirit and by her mischievous, passionate, and patient craft.
-David Abram, author of Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology
Taira Restar brings deep understanding of the body and of the creative process into her work.
Taira Restar is a master facilitator, with many creative and improvisational resources at her command. She is highly skilled at responding to and balancing individual and group needs as they arise and creating an environment that is enriching for all.”
-Rebekah Driessen, Marriage Family Therapist
Taira is just like Mary Poppins.
-Sage, age 4