Staff

                                 

Director: Kristen Argow Heaton
Assistant Director and Toddler 1 Teacher: Ari Flauta
Toddler Teachers:  Kara Dickens
Preschool and PreK Teachers: Alexis, Mary Russell, Sarah Wait
Teachers: Jazlynn Marie Nichols, Becky
Specials: Mr. Scott The Music Man!


 

Kristen Argow Heaton

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I live in Lafayette with my husband and 2 sons (Both Active Louisville Kids!). I was born and raised in Virginia. After graduating from Virginia Tech in 1998 I worked in office management in the Washington DC area. In 2004 I followed my dream of moving to the beautiful state of Colorado and working with young children.

How long have you worked with children?

I’ve worked with children for more than 20 years. I started working in childcare while I was in high school (1992-1993) as my first after school job. I was the afternoon preschool assistant at Fairfax Montessori in Northern Virginia. While earning my Early Childhood Education Director’s Certificate, I was a lead preschool teacher and then a nanny. For the year prior to starting my first center, Active Boulder Kids (2007-2017) I served as the Primary SAC (School Age Children) Supervisor for Boulder Valley School District at Community Montessori Elementary School. That year, I was also the lead CPKP (Colorado Preschool Kindergarten Program) teacher for the spring semester at YWCA’s Children Alley.  I was the lead preschool teacher and Director at Active Boulder Kids for 7 years before becoming the director at Active Louisville Kids. Even as the director, I’m a sub, so I get to be in the classroom a lot!

What is your Educational Philosophy?

My educational philosophy is children learn best through ACTIVE exploration of their environment. Active bodies and active minds!  Children need fresh air, nature, and movement as well as positive guidance and modeling from adults. I believe in relationship-based learning and encourage all teachers to start the learning process by building trust and a secure attachment with each child.  I believe in the power of learning through play. During play, children discover their world as they explore, create, image and figure things out!

What are you most passionate about when working with kids?

Children’s sense of wonder and imagination.  When a child discovers a new talent, I get to see the delight, surprise and joy in their young faces… It’s priceless.  The endless joy that comes from the constant sound of laughter and hearing “I did it!” as they learn just how much they can actually do on their own.  Each child grows more independent and confident right before our eyes. Amazing!

Anything else you want families to know about you?

I love our community!  I’m always looking for more ways to expand our family participation and  activities. I would love any ideas you have to share! I am grateful each day for all you you!


Ari Flauta

Tell us a little about yourself.

The Lafayette area has been my home for most of my life, though I am a California transplant and do miss the beach. I am a mother of two wonderful children, my 12 year old daughter and my 9 year old enby child. My family loves music, and we are also a bunch of nerds. We play lots of board games and dress up to go to conventions.

How long have you worked with children?

I have been working with children since I was 12, and got my babysitters license through the YMCA. I started working officially in ECE 11 years ago, when my daughter was 1. From there I pursued my degree in Early Childhood Education and got a BA through Metropolitan State University of Denver. I have worked in several schools over the years, but took a couple years off of being in a classroom to be a music teacher. This is what lead me to ALK!

What is your Educational Philosophy?

I believe that children learn best with a hands on and experiential approach. Children are able to learn best when they can utilize their environment to play and explore. I work to facilitate this through a combination of art, activities, books and music.


What are you most passionate about when working with kids?

My favorite moments with children happen when I am down on the floor with them. Whether it is because we are doing art, making music, or one of them has “knocked” me down, being at their level brings us closer together and through that connection I am able to help them grow.

Anything else you want families to know about you?

I am a mermaid, but my tail only comes out when I am swimming. If you ask I can show you a picture!


Mary L. Russell

Education
  • BS in Education, with a minor in Exercise Physiology, University of Vermont
  • MS in Education, with a concentration in Educating for Sustainability, Antioch University New England
Licenses and Certificates
  • CO Elementary Teacher License, K-6
  • CO Early Childhood Educator License
  • Early Childhood Professional IV
  • Wilderness First Aid, NOLS/WMI
  • First Aid/CRP/AED, National Institute of Health

Tell us a little about yourself.

Mary moved to Colorado in 1991, from Vermont.  She loves to ski, play tennis, swim, bike, and travel by car to places near and far.  Mary has worked in the areas of recreation and education in a variety of areas and  locations around the US and the world, including California, Alaska, Germany and Italy.  Her professional experiences include working as a swim instructor/trainer and lifeguard/trainer, US developmental ski coach, snowcat operator, inline skate instructor and coach, Big Brothers Big Sisters Director, outdoor educator at a nature center in Beverly Hills, middle school science and one room school house teacher. In 2014 she began her career as a nature preschool teacher, in Carbondale, CO.  Her masters work included training by David Sobel, in Place-Based Education, and the field of nature pedagogy. Mary travelled to Rapallo, Italy in the winter and spring of 2016 to train the director of a pre-school to transition her school into a nature preschool. When she returned to the US she moved to Boulder, and before coming to ALK begin the Pre-K Out & About program, she worked at the Commerce Children’s Center with infants and toddlers.

Mary volunteers as a visitor center host and animal care provider at Luvin’ Arms Farm Sanctuary, in Erie, CO. Three of her 5 siblings live in the Boulder area, as does her step mother. She loves going to live music and comedy shows, and attending film festivals. She was a volunteer DJ at Carbondale’s KDNK Community Public Radio station, which combined her love for learning new things, music, and talking!

What is your Educational Philosophy?

I believe all children, at every age, need free time spent outdoors in their natural environment, with caregivers who provide caring guidance and support. I have always believed in children’s ability to create learning that meets their current interests, passions and ability levels. 

 What are you most passionate about when working with kids?

I am most passionate about nature and place-based education, which is rooted on the foundation of empowering children to develop their intellectual, social and physical abilities while learning to manage risks and avoid hazards of every day life. Mary is excited to continue learning and practicing her skills in place and nature-based learning, as well as sharing her knowledge and passion with the ALK community.


Alexis Sanera

Tell us a little about yourself.

I moved from Arizona as a kid and now happily call Colorado my home! I attended Northern Arizona University with a focus on elementary education before transferring to Metropolitan State University in Denver to continue my education degree with a minor in speech pathology. When I’m not spending time working or volunteering with children I love to hike and read.

How long have you been working with children?

I began working in formal childcare settings four years ago but have prior experience as a nanny and I have loved every minute of it!

What is your Educational Philosophy?

I believe in creating a secure, supportive environment that promotes positivity, acceptance and self-assurance. I also value a classroom community that encourages respect for all people and things by allowing sincere expression and having fair, consistent expectations. In agreement with our school philosophy, I see children as active learners and consider their surroundings to be the most effective teaching tool. My goal is to make learning self-motivated and enjoyable while fostering individual growth by providing developmentally appropriate experiences.

Why are you passionate about working with kids?

Working with children is very rewarding to me. Whether it’s an unexpected challenge, a funny moment, or a random hug, everyday brings something new to appreciate. Not only do I genuinely enjoy what I do but I respect the worth and value of every child that enters my classroom and I am committed to focusing on their well-being. I hope to make a difference to each and every child I encounter.


Sarah Wait

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a 23 year old Boulder native, who loves everything children and outdoors. Almost every weekend you can find me outside mountain biking, climbing, hiking, or camping. My passion for the outdoors and children has lead me to ALK. I believe it’s extremely important to teach children about the world they are apart of and all the beautiful lessons nature can offer. The best teacher is always right outside our door.

How long have you worked with children?

In 2011, I officially started my journey of childcare by working as an assistant teacher at Primrose schools. Since then I’ve had a variety of experience in childcare for over 7 years.

What is your Educational Philosophy?

My personal educational philosophy is Empowerment. In education, Empowerment involves measures designed to increase the degree of autonomy and self-determination in people in order to enable them to represent their interests in a responsible and self-determined way, acting on their own authority. It is the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights. 

I believe the more we help children step into their own power, the better the world and our children will be.

What are you most passionate about when working with kids?

My favorite part of working with children is helping them find their own inner power and learn how to use it in a respectful way. I love watching these children find their voice and see how confident they can become in using it. 

Anything else you want families to know about you? 

I love building relationships with parents and families, so we can better support the children we love on their journey through life. My doors are always open! 

“It takes a village to raise a child.”- African Proverb 


Jazlynn Marie Nichols

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a Colorado Native through and through. I grew up in Erie CO, and currently, live in Lafayette. I love Horses and being outside. I  also enjoy Photography and hanging out with my family.

How long have you worked with children?

I have been working with children for over 5 years, I started as a nanny 3 years ago in 2013, then decided to move forward in Early Childhood Education.

What is your Educational Philosophy?

I enjoy knowing that no mattered how rough a day is going children use their imagination to make something out of anything.

What are you most passionate about when working with kids?

Children are very imaginative and anything can be anything in the eyes of a child. Give a Child a pillow and they see a cloud or a trampoline.

Anything else you want families to know about you?

I have a twin brother, Jaggar, who is one of my best friends.


Kara Dickens

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m a single mom of two wonderful boys. we live in Longmont Colorado! We love to play outside together on the weekends, and play with our two cats, Sonic and Beauty, and our dog, Vader! I have lived in Colorado for 39 years, off and on, but I keep coming back because I love it so much!

How long have you worked with children?

I started working with children as a babysitter when I was younger, but have officially been in the field 3 years.

What is your Educational Philosophy?

I think that children learn best with hands on experiences, while I am working with them at their level and building from there. Hands on learning allows a child to create things in the way they want. The teacher’s job then is to guide and scaffold the children’s learning.

What are you most passionate about when working with kids?

I love working with children because I enjoy watching them grow and learn and build their confidence. It is great to see what they are able to accomplish. It feels so great to facilitate their learning and to celebrate their successes.

Anything else you want families to know about you?

I love hugs and cuddles! Christmas is my favorite holiday.


Becky Pilarcik

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I have lived in Colorado for over 40 years and love the mountains.  I live with my husband, two beautiful kids, and three goofy dogs.

How long have you worked with children?

I have been working in early childhood education for over 15 years.  I have worked in small mountain schools and large centers in the city. For two years I was owner/operator of a high quality, licensed, home child care center in Black Hawk. I also worked as a nanny for a great family for four years.  More recently I worked as a para-educator for kindergarten enrichment for Boulder Valley Schools for 3 years before coming to Active Louisville Kids.

What is your Educational Philosophy?

My education philosophy is that children learn best through hands learning and is definitely play based.   I believe in looking at children as individuals and treating them with love and respecting their differences. I have seen that children thrive when supported through new experiences,  trying new things, and learning through doing. I believe that by creating a nurturing and safe environment, children can reach their full potential and learn more about the world when they feel safe and supported.

What are you most passionate about when working with kids?

I am most passionate about creating a safe, fun,  loving environment for children to grow and learn.  I love to see them learning and mastering new ideas and growing through the stages of childhood.

Anything else you want families to know about you?

I love children, dogs, and nature.  My dream is to have a farm of miniature animals. Someday I would love to have a cabin  in the woods someday and a garden full of veggies in the yard.

 


Mr. Scott The Music Man!
Mr. Scott Medina

Every Wednesdsay morning, all year, Mr. Scott (Medina) comes in with his childlike sense of humor instruments and puppets. The kids love to sing, dance and anxiously wait to see what puppet will emerge from the Magic Music Bag to gobble up the instruments.

Mr. Scott the Music Man has been bringing is lively music classes to thousands of preschoolers for the past dozen years. Mr. Scott’s focus is on making music fun and accessible to new generations, while incorporating teaching concepts of colors, numbers, the alphabet and much more.

With his Magic Music Bag filled with instruments and puppet friends, you never know what will come next, but a healthy dose of active interaction and silliness is a sure bet! Mr. Scott offers a professionally filmed hour-long DVD concert which receives heavy rotation in many youngster’s homes; let him know if you’re interested in a copy or in a musical birthday experience the kids will long remember!