Lead Teacher Anna Diem
My roots originate in the fertile soils of Michigan on a small farm, where I had the freedom to explore the forest and lakes surrounding my childhood. This contributed to my inquisitive nature and connection to the natural world. Summers spent as a camp counselor and regularly caring for young children led me to a life devoted to child study. I continued to build my foundation in child development at Western Michigan University with undergraduate degrees in Speech Language Pathology & Audiology and Elementary Education, and my graduate degree in Speech Language Pathology.
I branched into the Gorge in 2000 to serve young children with communication needs in the Hood River Valley, where my heart and family have grown ever since. I am a speech-language pathologist specializing in early childhood with a focus on parent-child relationships. I recognize that attuned relationships are essential for true learning. Providing individual therapy to children with communication needs developed my keen awareness of children’s innate curiosity and motivation to connect. I delight in the creativity and artistry involved in following a child’s lead, building on strengths, while planting new seeds through questions and observations.
Ihave worked in many environments, including homes, preschools, elementary schools and private clinics. I love facilitating children’s growth through play and inquiry, and view natural materials and outdoor environments as partners in this process. I am committed to enhancing learning through play and exploration in the natural world.
My growth rings reveal over 25 years observing, nurturing and discovering alongside children and parents. My passion for inspiring children’s learning and journey into mothering prompted me to create a preschool based in the Reggio Emilia philosophy in 2014. I then transitioned into homeschooling my two young children and pursued my work as a speech language pathologist in a private clinic. I believe children possess a natural instinct to play, communicate and grow holistically when their ideas are given space and guided by patient, loving adults.
As I shed my leaves each year, I embrace the slower pace of nature and honor the universality of human connections through story, music and movement. I rejuvenate by reading with my children, creating with my hands, spending time in nature hiking, biking, skiing, and dancing with family and friends. I aspire to nurture compassionate, creative individuals within our community.
Co-Teacher/Director: Claire Jensen
I grew up in the beautiful rocky mountains of Boulder, Colorado, and attended the University of Colorado, receiving my BA in Religious Studies. Because religious studies is an interdisciplinary endeavor, my education was highly varied. My interests led me to the exploration of non-violent traditions, embodiment and experience, sign language, environmental design of learning spaces and the biophilia hypothesis. Because my own childhood included a close connection to nature, I am fascinated by ecopsychology and in particular how it applies to nurturing children’s relationship with the more than human world.
I taught in the older preschool classroom at Joyful Noise-Metro Kids in Portland, OR, where I was first exposed to Reggio Emilia and was deeply inspired by the highly intentional and open environment which so clearly nurtured children’s natural play instincts. I have worked in private child care, led children’s camp and volunteered in a number of different settings including middle school science classrooms, afterschool programs in rural Nicaragua and orphanages in India.
I moved to the PNW with my partner in 2014. I received my MSc degree in Global Health from NUNM, during which time I traveled abroad in Central America and Africa and was able to explore the intersections of my varied passions- environmental and social justice, human rights, sociocultural anthropology and sustainability. I completed my thesis project in Tanzania, where I spent four months working directly with at-risk children and youth.
While I have worked in many different fields, motherhood was always my true calling. My husband, August, and I have two wonderful young children, Asa and Femka. Parenthood is my spiritual path, my children are my greatest teachers, presenting me with new challenges every day and forever schooling me in the art of simply being. There was a time in my life when I believed I needed to travel, to overhaul global health systems, to “save the world” from the top down. But I have come to believe that the greatest work I can do in this world is raise a future generation to be kind, curious, connected and self-aware. I believe in this way, we can change the world from the inside out.
I myself attended a small Buddhist preschool, my experiences at which laid the foundation of who I am. Feeling the importance of these early years, I opened Dragonfly Play School with the intention to merge nature and play based education within a spiritually diverse community.
I believe that teaching is a living, breathing art form, and I feel so privileged to witness the innate wisdom of children when allowed to explore the world on their own terms.
Alongside teaching in the classroom and running the admin side of Dragonfly, I am the Retreat Center director at Trout Lake Abbey. In Sept of 2022, I began a teacher certification course with Hand in Hand Parenting, sometimes referred to as connection based parenting. I have used the suite of Hand in Hand tools in my own family for years and hope to share these directly with other parents in the future.