Hello! I am Amber Marsolek, the owner and director at Duluth Forest Kinderhaus. My husband Seth and I live in Duluth with our three wonderfully active boys (Owen, 14; Alden, 12; Remington, 6) and our fluffy furball of a dog, Willow. We spend our warm months of the year playing [a lot of] baseball, traveling, relaxing at the cabin, mountain biking, and spending time near the water. During the cooler months, you will find us at the hockey rink, hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and spending time in the nearest sauna. As entrepreneurs, my husband and I value putting our talents, education, heart and soul into what we do everyday; he with his civil survey/engineering business and competitive baseball program, and me with this forest school program. Life is busy and happy and we wouldn't have it any other way! I graduated from the University of Minnesota-Duluth in 2005 with a concentration in Sociology/Elementary Education. Shortly thereafter, I accepted a paralegal position and after eight years in the legal field, knew I needed to get back into education. I subsequently earned my Graduate Teaching License in 2013 and Master of Science in Teaching in 2014 from St. Scholastica. I went on to teach kindergarten for several years and eventually landed myself in the role of a kindergarten nature enrichment teacher. Through that opportunity, I became completely engulfed by using nature as a teacher and was inspired to learn more about nature play and its necessary role in children's lives. Research into forest schooling furthered my passion as I realized that this style of education is best practice - a far cry from my experiences inside the classroom. Through my Masters research, it became very clear how the environment and experiences within, during the early childhood period, lay the groundwork for all the years ahead. Recognizing the need for this type of program at the primary level helped my vision of Kinderhaus become a reality.
During the 2016-17 school year, I facilitated the transition and teaching of Wandering Roots Nature School in Proctor, MN. Taking the opportunity to teach at the preschool level allowed me to deepen my knowledge and insight into the development leading up to the kindergarten year.
After a summer of serious construction and program development, Kinderhaus entered into its inaugural year in 2017. To be a business owner and an educator is entirely more fulfilling than I could have ever imagined. These little people remind me everyday about the wonder and magic that is childhood and how fascinating the natural world is when we let it lead our way. Over the last six years, I’ve had the unique and wonderful opportunity to be a part of the Duluth Nature Play Collaborative. This group consists of area nature preschool teachers and involved community members that seek to educate, inspire, connect, and advocate for nature play for young children in Duluth, MN. You can find the Collaborative on Facebook.
EDUCATIONAL guide/ENRICHMENT LEAD -- bree schultz
Hello! My name is Bree Schultz and I reside in Two Harbors, Mn with my husband and pets, Pippin and Penny. I began my experience at Duluth Forest Kinderhaus in the fall of 2018 as Ms. Amber’s assistant guide. Prior to arriving, I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Superior in 2011 receiving a Master of Arts in Art Therapy and through a two year practicum experience I interned at several Duluth sites with both children and adults with disabilities. After graduation, I was hired on as an Arts Coordinator at an organization for adults with disabilities applying my therapy practice, advocating and supporting the artists.
I gained such fulfillment and purpose in introducing art to people of all ages, I realized my heart was leading me towards working with underserved youth. I spent a year as a promise fellow through the Minnesota Alliance for Youth at the Boys and Girls Club of the Northland. Overall, some of the best experiences were planning and taking youth on backpacking excursions up the North Shore. Discovering that not all youth have these opportunities but once they do….....they showed remarkable changes into their perspective and understanding on nature and asking, when can we go back!
After my time at the after school program, I applied to be an assistant teacher at the early childhood center which grew into becoming a lead teacher. The Duluth Nature Play Collaborative came onto my radar when I began researching nature-based play and then met Ms. Amber and her incredible philosophy.
As a child, I grew up hugging the trees, touching the moss, smelling the fungi, saving the turtles and squishing the mud below my bare feet and honestly is my life work; giving children time in nature. There is no question that every child should have these opportunities: using their imaginations, their senses, be trusted to take risks, build an appreciation for all living beings…...and just being a child!
EDUCATIONAL GUIDE -- EMILY LIND
Hello! My name is Emily Lind. I am excited to meet you and make discoveries in nature with your child! For preschool age children, my education philosophy is building confidence in nature. Children build confidence by spending a lot of time outdoors, and having the freedom to use their imagination, curiosity, and social interactions to choose their own adventures. This recipe leads to very creative ideas and incredibly resilient children!
I grew up in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for my Bachelor’s Degree in Wildlife Ecology. My love of birds kept me in the field for a few years after college studying unique and threatened birds such as the Kirtland’s Warbler and Greater-sage Grouse. My love for research morphed into a love for education while working at Beaver Creek Reserve in Fall Creek, Wisconsin. I studied the plants and wildlife of Wisconsin with enthusiastic citizen scientists of all ages. The best part of my job was educating the public at our bird banding station. Young children marveled at holding a chickadee and hearing their quick heartbeats! In 2019, I received my Master of Science in Environmental Education at Southern Oregon University. While I loved the mountains and conifer diversity of the west, my fiancé and I missed life in the Midwest. We made our way to Duluth with our scruffy terrier in September 2020 when I began working for the Marsolek family. I enjoyed five months guiding their son Remington through his Spanish Immersion kindergarten program before transitioning to my position here at Kinderhaus. In my free time, I enjoy being outdoors birding, hiking, kayaking, swimming, gardening, and cross country skiing. I also love to bake, read and write, macramé, and work on projects around my house.
Music specialist -- KIM CURTIS-MONSON
Hello friends! My name is Kim. I began my musical journey at the young age of 12 when I taught myself how to play the guitar. My father was a musician and singer, so after his passing it encouraged me to carry on his love of classic country music. I now perform with my husband in a band called the Fish Heads where I sing, play guitar, bass, mandolin, and ukulele. We cover many genres of music from the 1940s through current pop chart hits including bluegrass and classic country and rock. I attended the University of Minnesota Duluth for graphic design and art, performing in local coffee houses playing folk music.
My journey with music in educational settings began with working ECFE in Hermantown, then with Edison Schools grades K-8, where I worked in special education. I also became the music specialist teaching music and choir as well as directed holiday performances with students. I then worked at Harbor City International School with grades 9-12 in special education. I used my art background there by doing set design artistry for the musicals. I still perform for area schools having concerts geared toward the young. Some of my summers have been spent working with youth on artistic/musical activities at the Minnesota Bluegrass festivals. I am also a visual artist and singer-songwriter.