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Meet the Gazebo School Park Teachers

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.

Jessica Tamayo, Gazebo School Park Director

Jessica first came to Esalen to be a Gazebo intern, inspired by the unique philosophy and magical setting of the program. During the "un-learning" process that unfolded, her foundations as a Waldorf Early Childhood teacher were transformed as she was given the opportunity to tune in to the living moment and meet the child in his experience. Jessica is especially grateful for the way Janet Lederman (Gazebo founder) created a space where adults were encouraged to trust the child's process, allowing children to develop freely and fully through self-directed play and engagement with the earth and each other. She is passionate about sharing the Gazebo experience with students, educators, and families, and looks forward to creating opportunities for collaboration in the fields of early childhood education and human development.

Sofia Snavely
Gazebo School Park Teacher

Sofia, born a child of mischief and wonder, arrived at Gazebo as an intern and has ever since been merrily entwined and at home within the explorative space of the park. It was the goats who first captivated her, baa-ing to her deep childhood passion for nurturing animals and her dream to weave human development with animal stewardship. She earned a degree in Child Development and Psychology at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and expanded her learning at the University of Copenhagen. She has experience cultivating elementary school garden programs and specializes in behavioral therapy for children with Autism. Sofia brings to Gazebo a broad perspective of the child and a rooted appreciation for the natural world and all of its creatures as the true teacher.

Haley Seefeldt, Gazebo School Park Teacher

Haley was raised on a family ranch in Big Sur. She first came to Gazebo as a “Tree” in aspirations of becoming a Gazebo Teacher. It was love at first sight when she stepped over the hay bales and into the Park. She saw the respect and care that the teachers had for the children, as well as, the natural beauty of the School. It was not long after her visit in spring of 2014 that she became a teacher. She studied at Monterey Peninsula College and majored in Early Childhood Education. Her focus was and is respectful engagement with young children. She is very passionate about her work at the Gazebo and enjoys building and taking care of the land with the children.


Tyler Nelson
Gazebo School Park Teacher

Tyler first came to Gazebo as a 1-year-old student, as his mother and father have worked at Esalen Institute for a quarter century. He “graduated” from Gazebo school, and was educated in Big Sur and Carmel school systems. The essence of the Gazebo philosophy runs in Tyler’s veins, and his time at the school as a child contributes greatly to his teaching style and perspectives of life. Caring for children is ingrained in his being from his early childhood, and he is deeply passionate about giving back to his community as well as helping children and families. He earned a degree in Child and Family development from San Diego State University, where he taught at an early education program for three years. Much like his colleagues, Tyler shares a great desire to help raise children to their full potential and become individuals who can change the world for the better.

Fletcher Tucker, Gazebo School Park Teacher

Fletcher Tucker was raised in Pacific Grove and spent much of his childhood hiking the trails of Big Sur and camping-out in the sublime wilderness. Although this beautiful and powerful place has loomed large in his life, Fletcher did not come to live in Big Sur until 2010. A year-long apprenticeship in Esalen's Farm & Garden called Fletcher home to roost and further deepened his love and connection to this land. During his tenure at Esalen, Fletcher also formed on ongoing relationship with Gestalt, and this form of inquiry and communication has become a primary practice in his life. Upon completing the comprehensive apprenticeship in organic/relational agriculture Fletcher was offered a position at Captain Cooper Elementary as the Garden Teacher / Garden Manager. Fletcher served in this capacity for five years – tending to the plants and soil, and the in-born sparks of stewardship within Big Sur's youngest citizens. In addition to his passionate interest in organic agriculture and the natural world, Fletcher is deeply invested in the creative process which he explores daily through his own music, visual art, and writing.

Penny Vieregge, Health & Safety Consultant

Penny is Gazebo’s amazing, seasoned (87 years young this year!) first aide health and safety educator. She comes to Gazebo once a week to teach children their own confidence and competency in gathering knowledge and skills in mindful healthy habits, and first aid assistance for helping others and self. The Focus class also includes Kindergarten Prep skills as well as the basics of classroom behavior. She earned a BA from College of the Pacific, majoring in Speech and early education as a minor. She was the Red Cross Disaster Liaison for the Big Sur Area, Liaison Officer of the fire brigade, founder and Commander of the cliff rescue unit. She was Instructor/trainer for Red Cross CPR and First Aide teachers.

Photo credit, below: Kyle Evans


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