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The Team

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Rhianna Schlief

Director & After School Adventure Lead

Rhianna has been teaching in both the public and private education worlds as a licensed elementary and middle school teacher for eleven years. After completing her student teaching abroad at the British School of the Netherlands, she achieved her Bachelor's and Master's in Education from James Madison University. She began her teaching career in Alleghany County, Virginia in 2012. In 2016, she and her husband moved abroad to teach at American Pacific International School in Thailand for two years, followed by four years at the American School of Warsaw, Poland.

 

This variety of teaching experiences helped define the philosophy and mission of the Blue Ridge Outdoor School which is to ensure the student comes first and to provide an inclusive environment with outdoor learning and experiential opportunities.  

 

After moving back to Lexington, VA with her husband and three children, and exploring all that Rockbridge County and the surrounding areas have to to offer, she realized that this area would be the perfect location for an outdoor school environment. 

Having experienced from childhood the joy and opportunities of the outdoors, she has come to value and appreciate how important spending time outdoors is to our physical and mental well being.  Introducing many diverse nature experiences early in childhood inspires a lifelong familiarity and comfortability with engaging the outdoors. The natural  learning setting offers students an even playing field where every child can discover their own strengths and feel successful while learning. 

Kristina Janjic

Pre School Teacher

Born and raised on a farm in Zimbabwe, with roots tracing back to Denmark, nature has always been my sanctuary. I'm Kristina, a passionate educator with a diverse background in teaching and a deep-seated love for the great outdoors. 

I have spent four years as a Montessori preschool teacher, discovering my love for teaching children and fostering young minds. However, it was during a pivotal break, after my daughters were born, that my connection with nature blossomed. During my time as a stay-at-home mom of twins, there was a profound sense of peace that came from spending our days outside, whether it was a walk, playing in our creek or exploring in the woods.

Prior to my teaching career, I embarked on a thrilling adventure as a scuba diving instructor, exploring the globe from the turquoise waters of Thailand to the vibrant reefs of Zanzibar. It was amidst these breathtaking landscapes that I discovered the transformative power of experiential learning and the boundless potential of outdoor education. I met my husband while living on the island of Cozumel, Mexico after which we worked in Sri Lanka & Fiji as dive center managers. After a decade of teaching as a dive instructor I decided to switch gears and became a Montessori teacher. In 2018, we moved to his hometown Lexington where we decided to put down roots and start our family. 

Now, as a certified outdoor teacher with ERAFANS I am poised to embark on this new adventure. With a firm belief in the transformative power of nature-based education, I am dedicated to nurturing curious minds, fostering resilience, and instilling a lifelong love for the great outdoors.

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Amy Newhall

Pre School Teacher

Amy is an environmentalist with a deep passion for connecting children with nature and helping them to develop a sincere love for the Earth. Growing up in Rhode Island, Amy spent her childhood immersed in outdoor adventures, from making mud cakes and climbing trees, to exploring life in ponds and playing in the snow. These formative experiences ignited her fascination with plants and animals, and instilled in her a profound connection to the natural world.

A long time advocate of nature-based learning, Amy received her Nature-Based Teacher Certification from the Eastern Region Association of Forest and Nature Schools. She has spent the last 10 years as a Montessori preschool teacher, where she guided her students in developing an appreciation for the Earth's gifts and the importance of environmental stewardship.  Amy is trained and certified in Wilderness First Aid and adult/child CPR.  With over 20 years of experience working with small and large animals as a Veterinary Technician, Amy brings a wealth of knowledge and understanding about animals and the relationships that we need to form with them for a happy, harmonious existence.

Amy moved to the area 22 years ago after visiting some friends who had moved here and fell in love with the area. In her free time, Amy enjoys hiking, gardening, foraging wild edibles, practicing yoga, raising chickens, and adventuring with her friends and family. She resides on the Maury River in Rockbridge Baths with her husband, two children ages 17 and 14, a dog, and three cats.  

Amy is dedicated to providing enriching experiences that inspire children to connect with nature and thrive in the outdoor environment. She firmly believes in the importance of nature-based education for fostering a lifelong love and appreciation for the environment in young learners.

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