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Who We Are

Dancing Sol History:
My wife Matty and I founded Dancing Sol in 2008, but it has been many years in the making.

Matty Maxwell has over 20 years of experience teaching young children. She received her Masters in Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education at the University of Oregon. She worked as an educational and behavior consultant with EC CARES. Through this agency she supported parents and teachers in the Eugene/Springfield community to help young children succeed to their highest potential. Before moving to Eugene, Matty was a lead teacher for toddlers in a child development center, she was a Special Education Teacher in a Life Skills Program in Portland. She was a Preschool Teacher and a Special Education Teacher in Washington State. She taught sign language to children from age 3-9 years old. She worked on a Native American Reservation, providing support to families and young children. All these experiences have helped her to see what an amazing difference can be made in the lives of young children. She realizes how important it is to work with children when they are young, because it is this early education that becomes the foundation for all later learning. She has taught me to look at the whole child, in all areas of development; physical, emotional, intellectual, and social.

As a parent of two boys, she realizes what an important and difficult job it is to raise children. It is a job that requires support from a community. Her mission is to not only create an amazing early childhood program that nurtures the spirit of the child, that connects children to nature, and helps them connect with the greater community, but to create a supporting environment for all families who have diverse social and cultural needs. The people who know the child best, the parents, are also the child’s very first and very best teacher.

I bring to Dancing Sol my training in outdoor living skills and nature awareness, along with an intuitive sense of connecting with children. I was a child of 14 when I taught my first class of children. In college during the early ’90s I created and taught an environmental ed. curriculum to grade-schoolers, and worked in a group home teaching teens with Autism. Since moving to Eugene, and following the birth of our first son Aiden, I rediscovered the importance of connecting children with nature. Teaching grade-schoolers at Mt. Pisgah Arboretum confirmed my excitement of, and commitment to, deepening children’s roots in nature. In 2005, after the birth of my second son, Rowen, my family moved up to Washington state where I enrolled in Wilderness Awareness School’s year-long intensive adult Residential Program. During that year I also taught at their Roots & Wings nature program for preschool-aged children. Following my graduation from Wilderness Awareness School, I taught at their summer camps and family day programs, focusing on gaining a more thorough understanding of how to develop a highly effective curriculum for creating deep connections with nature.

I bring these skills back to Eugene, and teach children aged 3-5 in our own nine month pre-school program at Dancing Sol. In 2009 I founded Whole Earth Nature School to connect grade-school aged kids with nature in a deep and meaningful way. Through Whole Earth Nature School we mentor hundreds of children in nature every year. All of our summer nature camps are now taught through Whole Earth Nature School, and are designed for children ages 4 through 16. As you might have guessed, nothing fuels me quite like working with kids in nature!

Matty and I are really excited to be able to combine our common interests in teaching, with our own specializations, and create a program for children which we think is completely unique. Through games and fun exploration, children in our program are mentored in a ‘whole earth’ approach to nature, learning about individual elements such as what animals and plants are native to our area, as well as ecological aspects that link all of these elements together. Children are also mentored from a ‘whole child’ perspective, addressing all areas of human development including their physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs. Our time outside connecting with nature is supported by time in the classroom where kids will be able to explore their relationship with nature and community through stories, music, art and more. And of course, we co-create the curriculum with the children, as their unique interests lend direction to our day’s experiences and learning.

We thank you for your interest in Dancing Sol!

-Rees Maxwell