Enjoying the view and engaging in conversation after a long hike


*Create a school life where children absorb the many health, cognitive and social benefits of the great outdoors.
*Empower children to feel connected to their community and protective of their world.
*Infuse academic learning through exploration and non-rigorous routines.
*Employ caring educators with dual experience in the natural sciences and social-emotional development.
*Develop a program where parents can feel assured knowing that their children are connecting with nature, developing friends and receiving exceptional care from involved teachers.

In nature, children learn to take risks, overcome fears, make new friends, regulate emotions, and create imaginary worlds.
Angela Hanscom
Balanced and Barefoot

Program Director

Marie Harper is the founder of Heart Rock Forest School. She is a certified Outdoor Classroom Project Specialist with Level III training. She holds a California Child Development Director Permit and Dual Masters in Human Development and Early Childhood Studies from Walden University and Pacific Oaks. She has over twenty years of experience working with children. After many  years working inside the classroom and trying to get the children to thrive outdoors, she decided to develop her own nature-based program. She is a trusted teacher in the Pasadena and surrounding neighborhood communities and has guided children of all ages on educational hikes and community explorations. 

Marie Harper

Susan Peterson


Susan Peterson has worked as an Associate Teacher for more than 20 years at the Child Educational Center with children 8 weeks old - school age. She has studied child development at Glendale College and has attended numerous conferences and workshops pertaining to child development. Susan is a mother of four grown children, and grandmother of three. In her free time, she likes to hike, play with her three dogs, and visit her grandchildren as often as possible.

“A part of my love with working with children is the true relationships you create with them. I have learned when you truly respect a child, they feel safe and know they can rely on you to help meet their needs. And when you have that in a relationship trust is built."

Helene Skantzikas

Substitute Teacher

Helene Skantzikas is an associate teacher, single mom of a 10 year old, and French expat who’s passionate about young children, play-based early childhood education and human development and learning in general. Helene got a Bachelor’s Degree in Film Studies in Paris, then moved to California where she spent 20 years working as a translator, before going back to school to obtain her Early Childhood Education Certificate 2 years ago. She has worked at The Waverly School in the preschool program [and volunteered in the elementary school between 2016 and 2020] and has been assisting at Heart Rock Forest School since January 2021. In addition to teaching, Helene loves parenting, cooking, hiking, camping and foraging. 

Nancy Sable

Substitute Teacher

Nancy has been working with children since the age of 16. She has an AA in Liberal Arts, an AS in Child Development Administration, has a Certificate of Completion for RIE - Resources for Infant Educarers. and was taught by Magda Gerber!! Nancy has attended numerous conferences and workshops all pertaining to Child development. 

Nancy has worked as an Assistant, Associate, Lead Teacher, and Preschool Director at public, private, non-profit and Montessori schools over the past 30 years.

"I believe my role with children is that of a facilitator. I want to watch children and see what they are interested in and help them build on it (even if that means staying out of the way.) I believe children learn best through play, and I trust their own abilities to dictate, by their own interests, a plan for their educational journey." 

All teachers are vaccinated and CPR certified