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The Team

Who We Are

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Monica Woods

Preschool Director

Monica is our Preschool Director and she has been with us since May 2017, when LNOP was just an idea. She whole-heartedly believes that children should have the opportunity to connect to the outdoors and is grateful that everything she has done up until this point has prepared her for this amazing opportunity.

Monica is a native Texan and moved to Little Rock in 2008, after falling in love with it while visiting family here for many years. She is constantly discovering new and beautiful places here in Arkansas. 

She has two 'big kids,' Tristan and Lucia, and she counts being a parent as one of life's greatest adventures and blessings.

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 for two years before serving in her current position at Lake Nixon. She loves climbing, backpacking, hiking, reading, gardening and playing music. She is excited to never stop learning and she loves to explore new places, in and out of Arkansas.

Monica is a proud board member with the Arkansas Environmental Education Association. She has completed certifications through the Forest School Teacher Institute and the Eastern Regional Association of Forest and Nature Schools in order to bring quality nature-based education to central Arkansas.

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.

501-744-8897

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Marie Brakebill

Lead Teacher

How long have you worked for LNOP? 4 years

Where are you from? Louisiana 

 

How long have you lived in Little Rock? 36 years

 

What brought you to Little Rock? Married a man from LR

Who is your immediate family? Husband-Charles, daughter-Erin, son-Cody, son-Jon.

What is your education background? Associate in Early Childhood Education. I worked at Second Baptist childcare center downtown from 1986-1995, St. Edwards Catholic School Preschool from 1996-2018, and LNOP since February of 2018.

What made you want to work at LNOP? Monica Woods.

 

What is your favorite part of teaching at LNOP? Seeing how excited our Littles can get during an exploring day at the Outdoor Classroom, and then watching their reactions after discovering facts about their exploration.

What do you like to do outside work? I like to walk, piddle in the yard, and watch the Travs play baseball on a Sunday afternoon. 

Anything else you’d like to add? LNOP is one of the best, self-satisfying places I’ve ever worked.

Matthew Burnett

ASSISTANT TEACHER 

How long have you worked for LNOP? 

I originally worked at Lake Nixon from 2019-2021. I've recently returned this November.

Where are you from? 

Prattvsille, AR

How long have you lived in Little Rock?

Since 2017

What brought you to Little Rock?

The theatre industry; I worked professionally as an actor/technician from 2017-2020

Who is your immediate family?

My wife, Brittany, and our cat, Itana.

What is your education background?

 I graduated from Henderson State University with a BA in Theatre. I've been teaching since 2019

What made you want to work at LNOP?

I loved working outside at the summer camp and I jumped at the opportunity to teach kids year round.

What is your favorite part of teaching at LNOP?

Being outside and seeing the kids grow in a natural environment.

What do you like to do outside work?

I go backpacking and play Dungeons and Dragons 

Anything else you'd like to add?

I love reading for learning and fun, and I love reading to the kids!

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Ashlyn Talley

PRESCHOOL TEACHER

How long have you worked for LNOP? Since July of 2022

 

Where are you from? I grew up in northeast Texas.

What brought you to Little Rock? I moved to Little Rock to be closer to family.

Who is your immediate family? I live with my grandmother and my cat, Mamba. My mom and stepdad live on the same street, and I visit them almost everyday. 

 

What is your education background?  I initially went to college to pursue theatre, and later I found Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) and began to learn about farming through direct hands-on-experience. My WWOOFing and farm intern pursuits led me to a Quaker based and Montessori inspired boarding school with a robust outdoor program for 7th-9th graders in North Carolina. I worked for a year as a teaching intern, and my desire for a full-time position there inspired me to attend Sterling College in Craftsbury Common, VT. There I earned a degree in Agroecology with a minor in Education Studies. Following commencement, I redirected my attention to inner work, and worked and lived at a meditation retreat center for a year. While there, I felt drawn to working in the education field again. After leaving the retreat center, I worked at a Waldorf birth-3 center for just shy of three years before moving to AR.

What made you want to work at LNOP? I value outdoor experiential education because it provides children with more opportunities to learn about themselves and develop their own identity in the context of a caring community while also helping them learn about their surrounding environment.

 

What is your favorite part of teaching at LNOP? I came into my position at LNOP with such excitement and inspiration, and initially my favorite part of working here was that my excitement and my ideas were readily met with enthusiastic receptivity. Since then, my favorite part of teaching at LNOP has been getting to know so many amazing young individuals and witnessing their innate and insatiable curiosity. I love seeing them both discover the tiny beauties and surprises of nature while also discovering how to use kind and compassionate language to express their boundaries and make requests to meet their needs. 

What do you like to do outside of teaching? My hobbies include daydreaming about a future in a homesteading intentional community, DIYing, hiking, learning about herbal medicine and spiritual/emotional healing and transformation, and playing with my cat, Mamba. More recently, my free time has been spent nesting in my new home and reconnecting with my family who I’ve been away from for about a decade.

Arlo Stebbing

Preschool Teacher

How long have you worked for LNOP? I’ve worked for LNOP in various capacities since the summer of 2018.

 

Where are you from? I’m from Oak Park, Illinois

How long have you lived in Little Rock? I’ve lived in Little Rock since 2018

What brought you to Little Rock? I moved to Little Rock after college to participate in the City Year Americorps program and never left. 

 

Who is your immediate family? My younger sister, Amelia, and my parents live in Chicago. My only family here are my 2 tarantulas and my cat, Oregano. 

 

What is your education background? I graduated from Hendrix College in 2018 with a BA, majoring in Classics. I worked as a City Year Corps member and team leader at J.A. Fair High School from 2018-2020. In 2020 I started teaching at Lake Nixon. I’ve also worked as a private history and linguistics teacher and a personal tutor on the side. 

 

What made you want to work at LNOP? I wanted to work at LNOP because I had never heard of outdoor preschool before and I was fascinated by the concept. Once I saw it in action, I was completely hooked and sincerely believe it’s the best form of early childhood education. 

 

What is your favorite part of teaching at LNOP? My favorite part of teaching at LNOP is getting to discover the wonders of the natural world along with the children. I’ve always been an indoorsy person, so I’ve gotten to share many first-time experiences and develop outdoor skills at the same time as the students.

 

What do you like to do outside work? Outside of work I’m an avid player of Magic: the Gathering, I read sci-fi/fantasy novels, and I watch a lot of anime. 

 

Anything else you’d like to add? Put spiders outside instead of killing them, start with “I’ll try” instead of “I can’t,” and talk to children not at them.

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Andy Black

LAKE NIXON OUTDOOR CENTER
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Andy came to the Lake Nixon Outdoor Center in May of 2019. Andy is married to Jennifer, who is currently an online instructor for the Baylor University School of Social Work. They have enjoyed settling in at Lake Nixon with their three young children, Jonathan, Micah, and Hannah.

Andy has a diverse background, both in terms of previous roles and in terms of geography. He has been the program director of a community development organization, a history and religious studies professor, and a hospice chaplain. Most recently, he worked to coordinate efforts to reduce food insecurity as the Lubbock Regional Director for the Texas Hunger Initiative. He has degrees from Baylor University (History and Church-State Studies), Truett Theological Seminary (M.Div.), and the University of Dayton (Ph.D. in Theology).

Andy spent about a decade growing up in Wyoming, where he developed a deep and lasting love for the outdoors. He has family roots in Oklahoma and Mississippi, and so it seemed fitting for him to split the difference and settle in the Natural State.

 

Andy enjoys hiking and biking, reading and writing, playing and listening to music, and cheering for the Baylor Bears. When he was younger, he enjoyed regular games of pickup basketball and ultimate frisbee. These days, most of his exercise takes the form of chasing kids or simply exploring all the nooks and crannies of Lake Nixon's 230 acres.

As Executive Director at Lake Nixon Andy works to support existing programs (especially the Outdoor Preschool and Summer Day Camp) and to grow partnerships so that Lake Nixon can provide year-round opportunities for recreation, education, and sanctuary for all kinds of people. At a fundamental level, Andy sees Lake Nixon as a tremendous gift allowing 2BC to extend and deepen its ministry by welcoming neighbors, from near and far, into a space where God’s “beloved community” can be glimpsed and even grown.

Mike Simmons

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR/DAY CAMP DIRECTOR

Mike has 25 years’ experience in the camping and outdoor education field and has a passion for helping people realize the best in themselves. He is involved in a number of professional organizations related to outdoor education. He is certified as a challenge (ropes) course facilitator and lifeguard as well as an experienced Wilderness First Aid, and Leave No Trace instructor.

Mike has lived and worked in a wide variety of locations. Mike obtained a degree in Recreation Management from the University of Montana. He has worked at camps in North Carolina, New England, Canada and Arkansas. He taught at a boarding school in Vicksburg MS for 6 years.

Mike has lived in Little Rock since 2006. He is married to Rene, who works in healthcare. They have 4 teenage children, 2 boys and 2 girls. The eldest two are in college and the younger two are still in high school. Mike enjoys staying active, spending time with his energetic family and being outside.

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