Kim Simpson – she/her (currently on parental leave)

Kim is a director, founder and teacher at Free Spirit Forest and Nature School. Growing up in Collingwood, it’s no wonder she has always had a heart for playing outside and appreciating the great outdoors. She graduated from Brock University’s Health and Physical Education Program, where she developed a deep understanding of play-based learning. She completed a Bachelor of Education in Outdoor Ecological and Experiential Education at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay. Through this program, she learned the significant influence that meaningful outdoor, experiential education and Nature-connection can have on the whole-child, and how essential it is for the development of today’s youth.  This set her on the trail to become a certified Forest and Nature School Practitioner.

Kim’s love for being outside extends into many past work experiences. She has spent summers planting trees across Canada, working as a guide and camp counselor throughout Ontario, and has supported youth in various outdoor therapeutic settings.  In her free time, she enjoys camping, gardening, and being on the water. You can usually find her wandering slowly through the forest with her two daughters.

Matt Simpson – he/him

Matt Simpson is a director and founder of Free Spirit Forest and Nature School.  He has dedicated his life to working with children and is passionate for the outdoors and its use in empowering students through meaningful experiences.  He graduated from Lakehead University with degrees in Outdoor Recreation and Geography, as well as a BEd in Outdoor Ecological and Experiential Education.  He is a graduate of the NOLS Outdoor Educator program and a certified Forest and Nature School teacher with Forest School Canada.

Matt has spent years in mentor roles both in and out of the classroom, here and abroad (South Korea and Ghana).  He has worked in various settings as a camp counselor, outdoor guide, and extensively as a project leader with Katimavik all across Canada.  He is a new father of two girls and now more than ever understands the importance of nurturing connection with Self, Others and Nature.  You can usually find him hiking local trails, paddling local rivers or simply just listening to the birds!  

Matt McManee – he/him

Matt is a teacher at our Collingwood School and while he grew up in nearby Anten Mills he has lived all over Ontario teaching at different outdoor centers and camps.  He went to Nipissing university earning his Bachelors of Environmental Geography and Bachelors of Education.  Matt has loads of experience backcountry camping as a guide and has worked with youth of many diverse backgrounds and upbringings.  He has a knack for making big complicated tasks seem smaller and manageable.

In the past Matt has medaled in the Mattawa River Race, a 64km canoe race with 14 portages; gone on a dozen backcountry winter camping trips, sleeping under a tarp; and currently runs his own seasonal business that employs 12 people.  Matt’s hobbies include hiking, paddling and the occasional bike ride.  His favourite place to paddle is the Nottawasaga River.

Aislinn Harrison – she/her

Aislinn is a teacher at our Collingwood location. She completed her Bachelor of Education at Lakehead University and found Free Spirit FNS while conducting field research for her Masters of Education. After her experience with FNS she was hooked, falling in love with Forest School, the FNS team, and the endless opportunities for learning and personal growth. Aislinn teaches grade 8 in Meaford part time and is over the moon to be rejoining the FNS team this year.

Aislinn loves to travel and to be outdoors. She has had the opportunity to live and work abroad in Ireland and China. During her free time you can usually find her hiking a local trail with her toddler and dog leading the way. Growing up on Georgian Bay has also given her a deep love of all things water. She loves a good swim, boat ride, or sup on the bay. Aislinn is also an avid snowboarder and loves to x-country ski and snowshoe in the winter months.

Robyn Daykin – she/her

Robyn is a teacher at our Wasaga Beach School.  She graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University with a degree in Global Studies and English.  She completed her Bachelor of Education at the University of Toronto and is an Ontario Certified Teacher.  Robyn is currently completing the course to become a certified Forest and Nature School Practitioner through Forest School Canada. 

Robyn has taught children in a range of environments including schools in Northern Alberta, a Haitian refugee village in the Dominican Republic, and SickKids Hospital in Toronto.  Robyn worked as an environmental educator leading field trips at the Tiny Marsh Provincial Wildlife Area.  It was this experience that made her decide that she wanted to continue teaching (and learning) outdoors!  In her free time, Robyn enjoys hiking, snowshoeing, camping and working in her vegetable garden.  She loves being active in/on the water, but also appreciates relaxing on the shore.  You can usually find her hiking – you may see her finishing up another section of the Bruce Trail! 

Kelly McColgan – he/him

Kelly is a teacher at our schools in Meaford and Collingwood. He is an Ontario Certified Teacher, having received his Bachelor of Education degree from Lakehead University.

He has fond memories of camping as a Boy Scout, canoe tripping in summer camp, and exploring his Grandfather’s apple orchard in Clarksburg as a child; and he wants to pass on the appreciation for the outdoors to the next generation.

In his spare time you can find him out on the trail exploring, climbing things, and spotting forest creatures!

Taylor Surette – she/her

Taylor is a teacher at our Collingwood and Wasaga Schools.  She has years of experience working with kids in summer camps, oversea missions, teaching swimming/lifeguarding and through individualized outdoor education scenarios. After completing an environment-based program with an outdoor leadership focus, her love for nature, outdoor leadership, and introducing the beauty and gift that nature is to the next generation flourished. Being placed in leadership roles and learning skills from Project WILD has equipped her to teach children how to learn and play in nature to the fullest. Taylor excels at instructing within the context of relationships, enriching the educational experiences of students.

In her free time, you can find Taylor near the water, hiking in the forest or rock climbing! She also loves to bring out a ukulele or guitar around a campfire every once in a while!

Travis Schreyer – he/him

Travis Schreyer is very fortunate to have grown up in Wasaga Beach and the surrounding area, with its bounty of outdoor activities. With so much to experience, he quickly fell in love with nature and exploring the world.  Rock climbing is his passion and it has taken him all around the globe to from Colorado to Thailand.

Growing up in a world of constant technological innovations, he has witnessed and experienced first hand how simple it is to disconnect from the outdoors. Working with children in various outdoor adventure camps has given him the opportunity to introduce and encourage kids to explore and uncover all that the outdoors has to offer.   He knows that now is more important than ever to foster these Nature connections and is overjoyed to be a mentor with FSFNS.  He is a natural with kids, a strong leader and role model and values above all instilling a sense of wonder, self- discovery and curiosity.  In his free time you can find him at the local crag!

Michelle Cioci – she/her

Michelle Cioci grew up in Newmarket, and spent most of her time going on countless camping and canoeing adventures with her family. Eventually, this led her to Thunder Bay where she completed an Honours Bachelor of Outdoor Recreation at Lakehead University. The unique experiences she gained from her time there, reinforced her passion for facilitating meaningful experiences in the natural world – experiences free from the pressures of societal norms, that people left feeling better connected with themselves and a lasting impression and connection to place.

Michelle has an incredible amount of experience working with students in the outdoors and is on her way to being a certified FNS practitioner.  She has a deep love for the outdoors, a true joy for working with kids and truly understands the importance of community and deep nature connection.  You can usually find her rock climbing (something she’s been doing for almost a decade now!) somewhere in the valley or at the gym – or if the timing is perfect, crossing paths on an epic backcountry trip! 

 

Laura Grant – she/her

Laura is a teacher at our Collingwood School.  She grew up on a farm in Meaford, hiking the Bruce trail in her backyard, and has always loved the outdoors! She graduated from the University of Guelph with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a minor in Family and Child Studies. She has worked with children and youth from all walks of life and in all different settings since she was 12 years old. Passionate about cultivating children’s knowledge and awareness, and with their emotional intelligence in mind, she is a wonderful mentor and guide for young people.
Laura has hiked up to Machu Picchu twice because she is in absolute awe of it! In her free time, she enjoys rock climbing, camping, and hiking. You can usually find her walking with her kids on local trails, or playing and exploring in her own backyard!