Each Gazebo teacher brings unique expertise and talent to the group. This diversity is a living example of one of Esalen’s founding premises: The true appreciation of differences. Gazebo teachers are dedicated to honest, clear communication and empowered choices in any situation. Teachers and interns are continually working on their own growth process, mirrored by the children, in which they learn about themselves as people and professionals.
This self-reflection is an important part of our work at the school in order for us to be effective guides for the developing children.
Gazebo teachers are respectful, sensitive, and caring. They utilize the essential skills of humor, joy, and patience. They lovingly guide the children in their care and ensure a feeling of success and accomplishment, which are very important for a child during early stages of development. They are able to perceive the whole child and how his or her parts come together to generate an integrated being.
January Handl, Gazebo Park School Head Teacher and Program Director
In addition to 25 years experience working as a parent educator and preschool teacher/director, mostly in parent cooperatives, January “is the mother of two grown amazing beings!”
“Gazebo Park School caught my heart about 4 years ago, as the philosophy of emergent, outdoor eco-curriculum and the Gestalt lens of trusting children's own learning process resonated with all I had experienced as the best learning environments for young children. I am thrilled to be in a community of learners and the possibilities of human potential nurtured from the very earliest years of development.”
Young children have been a main focus and enjoyment in my life for over ten years.
I began my experience by studying Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Wisconsin. Since then I have continued to deepen my knowledge through classes in early childhood education, horticulture, and permaculture, all while teaching at several preschools. At Gazebo Park School I have the opportunity to explore and share all of these skills as we play and grow together while practicing land stewardship and animal care in an outdoor setting. I am so grateful for all of the amazing families I have had the chance to meet here and I look forward to welcoming many more children to Gazebo in the future!
Jasmine Star Bangoura
I am blessed to be a teacher at the Gazebo Park School. I was born at Esalen and grew up being here with my mom, Peggy Horan, who has worked on the Esalen massage crew for years. I myself went to Gazebo, so I know what a magical experience it can be for children.
I began working with children in the arts through my work as a dancer, poet, and artist. I taught music and dance in public schools in Jamaica on a literacy project with the Great Shape Organization. I later worked with at-risk youth at Farnham House after school program in Connecticut through 5Rhythms Reachout™. I completed my BA in English and writing at Southern Oregon University. During that time I worked as a teacher’s aid at Walker Elementary School.
Since I love teaching and working with children, I earned a Master’s degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education at Oregon State University. I then worked at Big Sur Charter School. Since I have practiced massage therapy and been a dancer for many years, I began to see how my experiences working in movement and healing arts can be connected through education. Having grown up in Big Sur and having the opportunity to come back now as a teacher is coming full circle for me.
Penny has been with Esalen since 1964 and is an 84 year old Gazebo teacher of First Aid/Emergency Behavior and Health and Safety. The young child is in a stage of development characterized by a search for patterns that have a useful outcome. By encouraging the child's functional awareness of the environment, assisted by didactic structural guides, we help the child to sidestep the passive mode of waiting for the universe to make things better; to come into awareness of a personal ability to respond positively and effectively in emergency situations and to perceive patterns and permanent concepts which can be held in mind to guide through surroundings that are always changing.