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Catherine M. Wallace

Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what. If you don't listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won't tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.

Catherine M. Wallace

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Acorn Village Forest School


Acorns Preschool Program

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Tracy received her BA in social science from the University of California, Irvine and finished up her masters in the Child Development department at California State University, Long Beach.  She has completed her Waldorf teacher training through the Waldorf Institute of Southern California (WISC) and the Forest Kindergarten Teacher Training through the Academy of Forest Kindergarten Teachers. Through her continuing education and in the readings of several educational theorists such as Alfie Kohn, Bev Bos, Rudolph Steiner, and Thomas Gordon; Tracy has developed a philosophy for her teaching and her school that is not commonly found.  She is married and has three sons.  She moved to Los Olivos in July 2011 and soon after fell in love with the valley.  She started Acorn Cottage/Village after her second child was born.  When not at Village, she can be found playing baseball in her front yard, hiking the trails in the valley, roaming the river, reading in her hammock, or gardening.

Emma Leach

Lead Teacher
Woodpeckers Preschool Program


Emma is a central coast native, born and raised in Lompoc. Raised by an elementary school teacher, she found her love for learning and teaching at a young age. Wildness, independence and a love for the natural earth was heavily supported throughout her childhood, and stands strong today in her methods of teaching. When she isn’t at Acorn Village, you can almost always find her in the garden, in the ocean or hiking/camping in our local backcountry. College studies were focused on Early Childhood Development and psychology, and she has been working in childcare since her early teens.

rina lange

Lead Teacher,

Saplings Kindergarten Program


Rina grew up in a small Northern California town called Kelseyville located in Lake County, CA. After high school she obtained a BA in Politics from Cal Poly Humboldt. Rina started teaching preschool age groups in 2006 at the HSU Children’s Center while in college. After graduating college, she moved down to Southern California in 2010. She continued with teaching and administration roles with Bright Horizons’ Center and the local public schools in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Rina is so thankful for her wonderful husband, Nathan, and their two lovely children. When Rina is not teaching, she loves spending time with her family, hiking, camping, running, sewing, hand embroidery, cooking, playing music with her children, and relaxing at the beach. Rina loves teaching and is excited to be apart of your child’s adventures, exploration, and discoveries with Acorn Village.

Anna Cole

Assistant Teacher

Woodpeckers Preschool Program


Anna was born and raised in Santa Barbara County. Loving the outdoors and what our California central coast has to offer. Anna comes from a long line of musical family and educator’s. To which has inspired her musical air. With passion and empathy she’s volunteered for a number of band camps, student recitals, and concert events with Certain Sparks Music in Lompoc, CA. Anna’s good nature and adaptability is always appreciated to the environment that she’s in. She has embarked on this educational journey with Acorn Village, seeking to be apart and help flourish the children of this school. Being active and active listening are constant in her life and follow her wherever she goes. As the great Bob Dylan once said, “A song is anything that can walk by itself”. Namaste 

Stephanie skoog-tran

Assistant Teacher,

Acorns Preschool Program


Stephanie is from San Jose, California and moved to Buellton six years ago with her husband, who is from Vietnam originally. Together they have two kids, ages 2 and 4. Her daughter is an Acorn, and her son will soon be a Woodpecker. As a stay-at-home mom, when life temporarily led the family to Oklahoma, Stephanie personally Forest-schooled her children with the same songs, stories and curriculum as Acorn Village, with one million thanks to Teacher Tracy. She made certain to incorporate Vietnamese songs, customs and folktales into daily learning. 


With a B.S. in Anthropology from SFSU, Stephanie understands the importance of retaining one's parent culture and language to promote tolerance, curiosity and a respect of differences. Stephanie has experience with toddlers working in a daycare for several years. She has a love of languages, horseback riding, archaeology, sewing, and skywatching.


Substitute, Former Lead Teacher


Brenda was raised on the Central Coast of California, Mom ran a daycare for the better part of 35 years and Dad worked and continues to work in the agriculture business. The trials and tribulations of being raised in that child care environment would ultimately prove to be an invaluable apprenticeship. Guiding children would turn out to be a reoccurring theme in her life from early babysitting ventures, working at the YMCA as a teacher for the afterschool and summer programs, eventually becoming a Mom and then as an assistant teacher and lead teacher at the Acorn Village. As a teenager Brenda had grand dreams of traveling the world and living a life of luxury. Throughout her 20’s while traveling the world with her partner in crime Jimmy, she found herself living a version of her teenage dream. Even though the life of luxury was replaced with life on a “shoe string” the experiences were real, vivid and life altering. Some of these moments involved experiences with children that highlighted the bond between family, community and how a child interacts with its surroundings. Fast forward to having her own child, feeling overwhelmed and underprepared she became dedicated to reading, reflecting and listening to as much information as possible about those child development ideas that most aligned with her own inner instincts. She realized early on in parenthood that community was going to play a vital role in her child’s development. It was from within that search for a community that prioritized children’s needs that she found the Acorn Village. In her free time Brenda most enjoys creating art and spending time at the beach with her husband Jimmy, son Owen, who is a Sapling and their dog Lola.

Kiri Pickering

Substitute Teacher, Former Assistant Teacher


I was born in Auckland, New Zealand and grew up with lots of time outdoors (near the ocean, on farms and in forests). I studied at the University of Auckland (civil engineering) and worked in the engineering field (construction then structural design) for several years. I took a break from engineering to travel in South East Asia, then worked a harvest season at a winery in New Zealand, where I met my husband Drew. I continued to work in wine industry for the next few years. I have lived in the Santa Ynez Valley for the past 8 years, at home with my three kids. My interests include camping, hiking, reading, playing the piano and guitar, being the best parent I can, and learning about California’s plants and animals.

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