Hello! I am Amber Marsolek, the owner and educational guide at Duluth Forest Kinderhaus. First, I am a wife and mother. By day, my husband Seth manages a civil survey and engineering firm. He then spends his evenings coaching baseball and hockey and being involved in any other activity our boys take part in. We live in Duluth with our three wonderfully active boys (Owen, 13; Alden, 11; Remington, 5). 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, 8 years later, knew I needed to get back into education. I attended St. Scholastica and attained my Graduate Teaching License in 2013 and finally my Master of Science in Teaching in 2014. I taught kindergarten for two years and was blessed to have the opportunity to teach kindergarten outdoors at a local school. Through that opportunity, I became completely engulfed by using nature as a teacher and was inspired to learn more about nature play. I delved into learning more about forest schools and outdoor education, as it became my passion and is truly best practice. Per my Masters research, I recognized the need for this type of program at the primary level, as Duluth has a handful of thriving nature preschool programs. It is through this process, the vision of Kinderhaus became a reality.
During the 2016-17 school year, I facilitated the opening 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 teach me everyday about the wonder and magic that is childhood and how fascinating the natural world is when we let it lead our way. I have also have the unique and wonderful opportunity to be a part of the Duluth Nature Play Collaborative for the last five years. 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.
assistant guide -- 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!
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.
storytelling specialist -- LANE SCHRAUFNAGEL
My name is Lane Schraufnagel. I grew up on the outskirts of Duluth near the French River, where I learned to love spending time outdoors, especially in/near the water. I hope to help people of all ages, but especially young people, deepen their relationships with their home and environment by exploring, wondering, and much more. I believe it helps us ALL (family, friends, gardens, forests, waterways, bugs, animals, etc.) be healthier and happier when we know and care about each other. My favorite outdoor activities are swimming, singing, hiking, sharing stories, skiing, making art, climbing trees, building forts...the list goes on! I am excited to get to know you and your family in the coming months.
cooking specialist -- ZACH MCALEAR
I grew up surrounded by nature, whether it was the tidal pools on the Oregon coast, the red rock canyons of southern Utah, or the endless woods behind my house in upstate New York. I took this love of nature with me to Prescott College, where I received my degree in Environmental-Based Adventure Education. There, I learned the importance of place-based education and the tenets of experiential education, which helped me to develop my own philosophy on education, one that is guided by nature-based, self-directed learning. I am thrilled about the opportunity to work for this school, make a positive impact on your children, and cook a lot of yummy food!