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Preschool Director Monica Woods

Monica is our Program Developer/Lead Educator and she has been with us since summer staff orientation back in late May 2017. She whole-heartedly believes that children should have the opportunity to connect to the outdoors and is astounded at how everything she has done up until this point has prepared her for this amazing opportunity.

Monica is a native Texan, but got here as fast as she could. She moved to Little Rock in 2008, after falling in love with it while visiting family here for many years. She loves to surprise outsiders with stories of some of the beautiful places here, but always stops short from telling all she knows because she would really like for Arkansas to remain a secret.

She has two children, Tristan and Lucia, whom she chooses to spend time with above just about anyone else, and never takes for granted the gift of being a parent.

After backcountry guiding for several years in Colorado and Wyoming, nine years in the classroom and ten years homeschooling her own kids, Monica then tutored dyslexic students at Catholic High School before serving in her current position at Lake Nixon. Monica is an avid rock climber and often enjoys climbing in Northwest Arkansas, as well as in other parts of the U.S.

After doing her own research into outdoor preschools for many years, Monica could not be more excited to have this chance to provide this nature immersion experience for young children right here in Little Rock. You can email Monica at mwoods@2bclr.com.

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Educator/Camp Director Marie Brakebill

Ms. Marie's ties to Lake Nixon and to Second Baptist Church are true and deep. In addition to her role as a full-time teacher at Lake Nixon Outdoor Preschool, Marie has served as Assistant Director for the Lake Nixon Summer Day Camp for the last 22 years.

Ms. Marie was born in Louisiana and has lived in Arkansas since 1986. She has been married to her husband, Charles, for 39 wonderful years and has three children and six grandchildren. She began her teaching career 24 years ago when her children first entered preschool, and it wasn't long before she realized she had found her calling in teaching. Marie went on to earn an Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education and continues to be as enthusiastic about education today as she was when she began.

In addition to her love of reading, Ms. Marie enjoys walking and has finished the Little Rock Half Marathon. The Lake Nixon Outdoor Center is proud to have such a dedicated and hard working individual as part of our team!

Ms. Marie's favorite Bible verse: "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me." -Phil. 4:13

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Preschool Teacher Matthew Burnett

Serving as a part-time teacher, Mr. Matthew is a wonderful addition to the Lake Nixon Outdoor Preschool family. Matthew was born in Mississippi and grew up in Southern Arkansas. He has been married to his wife Brittany for 2 years. Before taking on his role as a teacher, Matthew worked at Lake Nixon's Summer camp as a substitute counselor.

Mr. Matthew is an Actor and Technician in local theaters like Murry's Dinner Playhouse and the Arkansas Repertory Theater. He has performed both with and for children many times in his Acting career and the transition to teacher was a natural one. He loves bringing his artistic know-how into the classroom by helping the kids act out thier favorite stories. Matthew has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre from Henderson State University.

Matthew considers himself to be a storyteller and life-long student. His favorite Bible verse: "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord : and he delighteth in his way."

Psalms 37:23 KJV

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FAQ How has Outdoor Preschool changed in response to COVID-19?

After going into "hibernation" in March 2020, due to COVID-19 precautions, Outdoor Preschool restarted on July 1, 2020 in a new format, and with numerous new health protocols, but retaining the heart of what has always made our program special.

Students are now grouped into stable "pods" of no more than six. These "pods" (with animal names, like the "Bobcats" and the "Black Bears") have their own dedicated indoor space (for inclement weather, rest/nap time, and a break from the sun and heat of summer), their own bathroom, and their own snack/lunch area. All students have their temperatures taken each morning, and parents much answer COVID-19 related screening questions before dropping off their little one from school.

Preschoolers do not wear masks but teachers do. Teachers also have additional PPE near at hand (for example, nitrile gloves to use during snack time and bathroom breaks when little ones need additional help).

One of the unanticipated blessings of this unusual and difficult year has been the chance for Outdoor Preschool to explore an even larger area of the Lake Nixon Outdoor Center. With Lake Nixon Summer Day Camp not operating this summer, more indoor space has been available as well.

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FAQ Who Can Attend Outdoor Preschool?

The Lake Nixon Outdoor Preschool is an all-weather learning community for children, ages 3-5. We welcome your child into our program as soon as he or she is able to use the bathroom independently.

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FAQ When Can I Visit the Outdoor Preschool?

Meet the teachers, visit the indoor and outdoor classrooms and find out what Outdoor Preschool is all about! Due to great community interest and support, meetings are arranged into small group tours.

Please call (501-228-0202) or email Monica Woods as soon as possible to arrange a tour.

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FAQ What if it’s Raining or Cold Outside?

Your preschooler’s safety is our primary concern and we will constantly monitor weather, especially on stormy and/or very cold days. We want your preschooler to be safe, always, and we also want to stress the importance of a true outdoor experience. Preschooler's outdoor time will be reduced when windchill temperatures are in the upper 20's, and the heat index is over 100 degrees. Rain suites are used when it is an especially wet and rainy day.

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FAQ What About Meals and Snacks?

Families are asked to supply their preschooler with a lunch and two healthy snacks each day. Lake Nixon Outdoor Preschool will provide milk or a milk alternative to each preschooler during snack times. We encourage families to supply their children's food in packages he or she will be able to independently open themselves.

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FAQ When is Parent Orientation?

Registered preschoolers and families will need to attend the Lake Nixon Outdoor Preschool Orientation at the Lake Nixon Outdoor Center prior to school beginning. Our next Orientation will be August 27th.

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FAQ What is the daily schedule?

Our daily schedule is:
7:00am - 8:15am Morning Extended Care*
8:15am Drop Off
8:30am School Begins
8:30am - 11:30am Morning Outdoor Excursion (Snack at 9am)
11:30am - 12:00pm Lunch
12:00pm - 1:30pm Rest Time
1:30pm - 2:45pm Afternoon Outdoor Excursion (Snack at 2pm)
3:00pm School Ends
3:00pm - 3:15pm Pick Up
3:15pm - 6:00pm Afternoon Extended Care*
*Additional fees apply for Extended Care options

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FAQ What additional teaching resources will be used?

Our program draws from many resources. These include: North American Reggio Emilia Alliance, Conscious Discipline, North American Association of Environmental Education, Schoolyard Habitats, National Wildlife Federation, Growing Up Wild, Arkansas Game and Fish, Arkansas Environmental Education Association, and the Natural Start Alliance.

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FAQ What local partnerships does the preschool work with?

We have working partnerships with: River Valley Horticulture, Green Corner Store, Arkansas Heritage Quail Habitat, Wings Over Arkansas, and the Native Plant Society.

Education in its Natural State

Outdoor Preschool

Lake Nixon Outdoor Preschool is an all-weather learning community for children ages 3-5 that features opportunities for daily exploration in a beautiful, diverse outdoor setting.

Our program follows a Forest Kindergarten model of nature immersion with emphasis on natural rhythms, seasonal changes, and the natural sciences. 

*For information about our new school format in response to COVID-19, please see the FAQ section below.*

Learning Philosophy:

We encourage and build on each child’s innate sense of wonder by guiding preschoolers with an inquiry-based teaching style. This builds autonomy as well as critical thinking and problem solving skills. Teachers work with each family to develop appropriate learning plans. 

Children learn to be self-motivated, cooperative, respectful, grateful, and aware of their impact on the earth during their experiences with us. Outdoor adventures in all weather conditions facilitate healthy risk-taking. Our days include immersion in varied natural areas, helping to build a child’s sense of place in the world.

Social-Emotional Growth:

Experience in the outdoors builds confidence and strengthens students’ social and emotional growth. By learning to take acceptable risks, preschoolers’ pride, self-worth, and perseverance also grows.

“My child loves LNOP! He would live outdoors if we would let him. He can not wait to see his ‘school family’ every morning and never wants to leave in the afternoons. I love that he is learning to be independent and improve his communication skills. It is also pretty amazing to watch his creativity and curiosity flourish in a natural setting.”

— Preschool Parent

Community in the Outdoors:

We encourage families to build positive attitudes toward all weather possibilities, since, in a child’s mind, there is no “bad” weather, only endless opportunities to learn and play. Our teachers help families choose the appropriate clothing for children, so they will always be comfortable out-of-doors, and we provide . We also help families embrace the dirt and mess that comes with the fierce curiosity of a child blessed with daily nature immersion.

It is crucial for us to create places of learning where children are encouraged in their love of the natural world and inspired to gain more knowledge of it.

“In the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we are taught.”— Baba Dioum

Tuition and Fees:

  • 5-day/week (Monday through Friday): $650/month
  • 3-day/week (M/W/F): $475/month
  • 2-day/week (T/Th): $350/month

There is also a $200 annual supply fee.

**We are currently working to increase our scholarship funds so that, soon, income-based financial assistance is available.**

Email Director Monica Woods at mwoods@2bclr.com or call 501-744-8897 for more information!

The benefits of being outside of the “box.”

It is no secret that children need to be outside; that it is a right, not a privilege, and that they thrive when able to do so. It has also been shown that children who are able to play for long periods of time outdoors are happy and confident, as well as better prepared for future academic work. The Lake Nixon Outdoor Preschool will provide your child with learning opportunities not found in traditional settings. Our program provides the benefits of an outdoor preschool while ensuring that your child develops and practices age appropriate skills.

LNOP makes local news!

FAQ

Scroll through our list of commonly asked questions and please feel free to shoot us an email with any other questions you may have.

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FAQ How has Outdoor Preschool changed in response to COVID-19?

After going into "hibernation" in March 2020, due to COVID-19 precautions, Outdoor Preschool restarted o…

Learn more
FAQ Who Can Attend Outdoor Preschool?

The Lake Nixon Outdoor Preschool is an all-weather learning community for children, ages 3-5. We welcome…

Learn more
FAQ When Can I Visit the Outdoor Preschool?

Meet the teachers, visit the indoor and outdoor classrooms and find out what Outdoor Preschool is all ab…

Learn more
FAQ What if it’s Raining or Cold Outside?

Your preschooler’s safety is our primary concern and we will constantly monitor weather, especially on…

Learn more
FAQ What About Meals and Snacks?

Families are asked to supply their preschooler with a lunch and two healthy snacks each day. Lake Nixon …

Learn more
FAQ When is Parent Orientation?

Registered preschoolers and families will need to attend the Lake Nixon Outdoor Preschool Orientation at…

Learn more
FAQ What is the daily schedule?

Our daily schedule is: 7:00am - 8:15am Morning Extended Care* 8:15am Drop Off 8:30am School Begins 8:30a…

Learn more
FAQ What additional teaching resources will be used?

Our program draws from many resources. These include: North American Reggio Emilia Alliance, Conscious D…

Learn more
FAQ What local partnerships does the preschool work with?

We have working partnerships with: River Valley Horticulture, Green Corner Store, Arkansas Heritage Quai…

Learn more

Our Staff

Our educational team is a combination of traditionally certified state educators, nontraditional teachers, and other staff bringing a diversity of skills. Learn more below:

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Preschool Director Monica Woods

Monica is our Program Developer/Lead Educator and she has been with us since summer staff orientation back in late May 2017. She w…

Learn more
Educator/Camp Director Marie Brakebill

Ms. Marie's ties to Lake Nixon and to Second Baptist Church are true and deep. In addition to her role as a full-time teacher at …

Learn more
Preschool Teacher Matthew Burnett

Serving as a part-time teacher, Mr. Matthew is a wonderful addition to the Lake Nixon Outdoor Preschool family. Matthew was born i…

Learn more

© 2020 Lake Nixon Outdoor Center