Owner, Director, and Instructor
In 2014, Bekah grew passionate about outdoor preschools as she completed her college degree in Outdoor Leadership at North Greenville University. Her passion for seeing children thrive outdoors grew strong when she and her husband had their daughter, Ellie, in 2016. Ellie was fully immersed in the outdoors shortly after her first birthday as she rode on her parents back for 6 months on the Appalachian Trail as the first baby to thru hike the AT. In 2018, the family immersed Ellie outdoors again on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. From Canada to Mexico they pulled Ellie through the mountains, valleys, and deserts. Bekah has seen how a little one will flourish and thrive through extended outdoor play, and is looking forward to immersing more children outdoors through the forest school. Additionally, Bekah is a Wilderness First Responder, a former Hike it Baby Ambassador, and is currently working towards becoming a Certified Virginia Master Naturalist. She has 8 years of outdoor guiding experience across the country serving youth to senior adults from the Carolinas, to the coast of Virginia, to the Pacific Northwest states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. Bekah has over 500 logged days and nights of backcountry travel, and over 300 of those are with children. Your children are in good hands!
Hello! I’m Jessica Gillespie, a 9 year resident of Roanoke and mother of two girls, Madelyn (7) and Eliana (3). My husband and I moved here after falling in love with the beautiful mountain scenery and family friendly atmosphere, and I am so thrilled to be a part of Roanoke’s first 100% outdoor preschool. As a licensed teacher with experience in both public and private school I have seen first hand how much children benefit from spending time outdoors and how many unique skills can be gained from a child led and natural environment. I am trained and certified in Wilderness First Aid and Child/Adult CPR. I look forward to watching your children gain confidence, learn and enjoy the wondrous world around them!
According to “Blue Ridge Outdoors” magazine, Roanoke was the top “place to raise an outdoor family," and now we have a 100% outdoor school! As a Roanoker, born and raised, I am so proud to be a part of this amazing growth in the valley. For almost a decade I have been working with and alongside kids. From tutoring, guiding greenhouse or garden tours, teaching swim lessons, to story-time at a local library, I have always thoroughly enjoyed being in the company of children. I’m a mom to two awesome gals, one of which will be in forest preschool! Apart from being a mom, I recently became certified to be a community herbalist through Blue Ridge School of Herbal Medicine in Asheville, NC. Through the herbal program, I obtained a good foundation on how to forage, properly identify plants, make medicine, and perform herbal first aid. I am also trained and certified in Wilderness First Aid and child/adult CPR. It has been a long term goal of mine to incorporate my love for a natural lifestyle with my love for working with kids, and well, what better way than through Valley Forest School!
Krista graduated with a BS in Special Education: Interdisciplinary Studies from Liberty University. Since then Krista has worked in public schools as a therapeutic day treatment counselor where she quickly recognized the importance of outdoor education for academic and mental health well-being. Krista values wonder, beauty, and curiosity in all education. She believes, given the proper environment, all children can flourish beautifully through exercising their natural abilities to learn and love learning. Krista developed a love for the outdoors as she grew up hiking, camping, and biking with her family. She was a lifeguard for four years and taught swimming lessons for three. Krista is also trained and certified in Wilderness First And and adult/child CPR. Krista is married and has two boys. She has been homeschooling for three years and tutoring for two. Krista and her boys are ecstatic about embarking on this exciting new adventure!
Bio coming soon!