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 Hegge

Michelle Hegge

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 Ottawa area.

Michelle is the English teacher in the Senior and Mixed classes.







Teacher: Laura Leet

Background: BSc Honours (Environmental Science), B.Ed, Currently taking the Forest School Practitioner 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.

Laura is the French teacher in the Senior and Mixed classes.


Teacher: Christine Mattimoe

Background: BSc (Environmental Science), B.Ed, Standard First Aid and Level C CPR and AED

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, PD day programs and afterschool programs. She is eager to promote the value of a Forest School education and 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.”