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.

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 Park as a Nature Interpreter. She has also worked with the Museum of Science and Technology as well as various other educational programs in the Outaouais region.





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 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.”


Teacher: Penny Moran

Background:  BA, B.Ed (Geography and Physical Education), Standard First Aid – Level C and CPR

Penny has a strong passion for our environment and loves spending time being active outdoors.  Over the years Penny has participated in a variety of outdoor adventures from sailing on Tall Ships, rock climbing, and camping, but her favorite activities are hiking, canoeing, biking and snowshoeing.

Penny has spent the past 10 years in the field of Education working for 8 years in the Thames Valley District School Board.  Penny never missed a chance to take her Geography students outside as she recognizes the value of hands-on experience.  A few years ago she moved to Newfoundland and Labrador where she worked for an Environmental Non Profit organization.  Here she focused on Climate Change education and outreach where she worked with students from Kindergarten to grade 12.  She recently moved back to the area and is very excited to share her love of the outdoors with Chelsea Forest School.


Teacher: Aja Burt

Background: B.Sc. (Environmental Science, Minor in Biology), ECE,  Standard First Aid – Level C and CPR

Aja grew up moving around the East Coast and Ontario as a child of military parents. The longest stretch of time she spent in one place was a pivotal period in her youth in Labrador. The woods were her playground and her solace, providing calm she could draw on later when she had moved to the city.

Aja was introduced to the Forest School Movement through Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods while completing her BSc in Environmental Science. She had worked with children and youth since she herself was one and was pleased to find a community that shared in the values of deep uninterrupted outdoor play. She became an Early Childhood Educator to continue in the field and was welcomed by Chelsea Forest School after moving to the area.