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Taira Restar, RSMT, director and lead teacher
Qian Wang, assistant teacher
Stephanie Ormsby, assistant 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 co-taught with eco-philosopher David Abram (Becoming Animal) and with Expressive Arts pioneer Anna Halprin (Returning Home),  both of whom have deeply impacted Taira's embodied understanding of wild nature.

 

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 many 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 our assistant 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 facilitating. 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, who love her!  

The newest member of our teaching team is Stephanie Ormsby, who joins Qian and Taira on Tuesdays. 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. 

 

Taira, Stephanie and Qian feel blessed to work together. 

Claire Sawyer, guest teacher

Claire was born and raised in west Marin. She has a deep love for and understanding of the nature of her home place. She enjoys guiding children into care for Mother Earth and into care of their bodies through yoga. Claire is a talented artist and is often inspired by nature's beauty.

Taira is thrilled to welcome Claire as an Emerald Heart guest teacher. Taira was Claire's first preschool teacher. When Taira and Claire are not brainstorming on ideas for Emerald Heart, you can find them playing and wild harvesting in the woods. 

Ruby Raye Clarke, administrative assistant

Emerald Heart is fortunate to be supported by Ruby Clarke, who is a student at Wesleyan University. Ruby grew up in Point Reyes and is still very active in community life. 

Ruby and Taira go way back. Taira was Ruby's preschool teacher. Throughout middle school and high school, Ruby participated in Girls' Night Out, a monthly group that Taira facilitated.