Our Forest School Certified Staff

Certified Forest School Educators

Our Teaching Director, Michelle Hegge, has completed the Level 3 Forest School Practioner’s Qualifications. This involved a lengthy process of developing a sound pedagogical practice, understanding and being able to perform risk assessments, both in advance and on the fly, developing skills in woodland management and ecological assessment, as well as practical skills in tool use, fire making, and knots. She has thorough understanding of child-led, inquiry based learning. Laura Leet is currently completing the certification course.

Director/Teacher: Michelle Hegge

Background: BSc Honours (Biology-specialization Ecology), B.Ed , Forest School Practitioner Level 3, Standard First Aid-Level C and CPR

Michelle is the driving force behind all we do here at CCNS. For the past 20 years, Michelle has infused her love of nature and background in Biology into both the program and the classroom. During the summer months, you can often find Michelle working for the Friends of Gatineau Prk as a Nature Interpreter. She has also worked with the Museum of Science and Technology as well as various other educational programs in the Ottawa area.

Michelle is a teacher in the Senior and School age class.




Teacher: Laura Leet

Background: BScH (Environmental Science), B.Ed, Currently taking the Forest School Practioners course, Standard First Aid and CPR-C

Laura has always loved being outdoors and has turned this love into a career! After studying environmental science Laura started working for different environmental groups around Ottawa developing and presenting workshops on environmental themes. Educating both children and adults on how to live more sustainably. Realizing she missed working primarily with children; and wanting to learn more about education she went back to school and started her B.Ed with a focus on incorporating environmental topics into the curriculum. After graduating she went on to supply teach for both the OCDSB, and OCSB boards in Ottawa. Laura has always tired to find ways to incorporate outdoor learning into her teaching. As she started to learn more about Forest School she knew that this was a form of education for her. Laura was lucky enough to get a spot in the Forest and Nature School Practitioners course this fall, and will be a certified Forest School instructor in the spring. She is excited to be applying what she is learning in her studies first hand at the Chelsea Forest School. When not out in the forest you can find Laura educating and connecting University of Ottawa students on environmental topics, supply teaching in Ottawa, and sitting on the board of the Ontario Society for Environmental Education.


Interesting Facts:

  • I was born and raised vegetarian.
  • I have two little brothers 4 and 7 years old (5 (Mar), and 8 (Jan) in the new year)
  • I grew up in Toronto
  • I got my first car at 28 (wish I could have held out longer)
  • My sister lives in Australia

Laura is a teacher in the Senior, School age and Full Day Four.

Teacher: Christine Mattimoe

Background: BSc (Env.), B.Ed., Standard First Aid-Level C and CPR

Christine is strongly influenced by her childhood in rural West-Africa where she freely played outdoors every day.  Some of her favourite childhood memories, that she enjoys reliving with her two boys, are climbing trees, jumping in mud puddles, listening to crickets on a hot summer evening, and reading a good book on the veranda on a rainy day.  In her teen years, Christine fed her love of nature and developed her leadership skills through involvement in Girl Guides, summer camps and wilderness canoe trips. She studied Environmental Science and has considerable experience in nature interpretation and outdoor education.  This led her to a career in teaching.  She taught 6 years at public and private elementary schools before taking a break to raise a family.  A teacher at heart with a passion for nature and a connection with music, Christine keeps herself pleasantly occupied leading preschool music programs in the community and out of her home. Christine’s past-times include gardening, camping, canoeing, biking, cross-country skiing, travelling, learning foreign languages, singing and exploring the forest with her boys.  Christine leads the bilingual Family Drop-in program and is eager to promote the value of a Forest School education.  She strongly believes that meaningful exposure to the wonders of nature should be accessible to all.

In the words of Richard Louv, author of “Last Child in the Woods”, “Every child needs nature. Not just the ones with parents who appreciate nature. Not only those of a certain economic class or culture or set of abilities. Every child.”

Christine is the teacher of the Junior class.

Harry Nowell

Background:  BA (Western), B.Ed. (UOttawa), Standard First Aid and CPR; Currently enrolled in the Forest School Practitioner’s Course.

Harry has been teaching in the outdoors since the early 1990s and working with youth at organizations like Outward Bound since 1994.

He has worked as a commercial photographer working for well known clients while two agencies licensed his commercial art globally. With his love of teaching, Harry developed photography and arts programming for schools, adults and government/industry through HarryNowell.com.

His “Watershed” artwork follows his passion for the outdoors as he photographs the Chelsea Creek Watershed – a project that spans 16 years so far. Harry often shoots on a home-made, plywood, 22kg camera. The work has attracted the attention of galleries, media – including CBC. Harry offers workshops, tours and talks around the “Watershed” body of work.

Harry also teaches elementary grades for the Ottawa Carleton District School Board.

He lives beside Gatineau Park wilderness with his wife, son and faithful dog. In his spare time he skis, bikes and paddles.

Harry is a teacher in the Full Day School Age Program