Meet the experienced teachers and staff at Nature Discovery Christian School that provide excellent Christ-centered academic education.
Matt has lived many places including Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, and Georgia, but he was raised and spent most of his childhood in Florida. In addition to playing soccer competitively for 14 years, he coached girls’ soccer for kids under ten. He was also involved with YMCA youth programs. Matt attended the University of West Florida in Pensacola and majored in Environmental Science. He has taken numerous environmental education classes as part of his major. In 1998, Matt moved to Oregon with his wife, Heather, and worked at the Wood Gallery on Newport’s bayfront. While on the coast, Matt also taught Sunday School for first through third graders at the Siletz First Baptist Church.
In 2000, Matt and his wife started Nature Discovery Christian School out of their dedication and desire for children to creatively channel their natural curiosity for science and have the opportunity to attend a unique Christian school that not only teaches the basics, but also fosters a love for God and the natural environment. The school was moved to Eugene, OR in 2006 after out-growing the Toledo, OR site, which had classrooms for pre-kindergarten through second grade. Upon relocating, the school has grown in size each year. Nature Discovery Christian School is now educating children from pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade.
Heather was raised and spent her entire childhood in a small town in Missouri. Like Matt, she had a strong love for animals and the outdoors and knew she wanted a career that would develop those interests. During high school, she worked as a vet tech and spent her summers teaching swimming lessons to preschool and elementary age children. She attended the University of West Florida as a marine biology major and graduated with both a B.S. in Marine Biology and a B.A. in Psychology. In college, she worked as a lab teaching assistant for several zoology classes, as an intern at the Gulf Breeze Zoo, and as a vet tech. After college, she was employed by the Verona School District in Missouri as a Special Education Teacher. Heather also spent time substitute teaching at many schools in the southwest Missouri area.
Upon moving to Oregon, she worked at Hillside Day School as a preschool teacher and also coordinated and taught the kindergarten enrichment program. She taught Sunday School for first through third graders at Siletz First Baptist Church. In the summer, she taught Vacation Bible School for the same age group. She was also employed at the Oregon Coast Aquarium where she worked as part of the education staff. She wrote the curriculum and taught science camps for children from the preschool to high school age. It was during this job that she decided that she wanted to combine her love of teaching with her love of science and decided to work with her husband on a business venture that would allow them to share their love of science with children. Heather enjoys teaching the children at Nature Discovery Christian School about God and nature, and feels blessed that her own four boys attend, too.
Cianna grew up in Lakewood, California. While pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in Peace Studies, she was given the opportunity to study in Israel. It was there, while working as a teacher at Deheishe Refugee Camp, that Cianna decided to seek a career in Education. After graduating from Chapman University, she began her Postgraduate Studies in the Credentials Program at CSU Dominguez Hills. During her studies, she started working as a First Grade teacher at St. Timothy Lutheran School. After four years, Cianna felt called to the public school system in Los Angeles. She began a new journey as a First and Second Grade teacher at Winter Gardens Elementary School.
In August, 2000, Cianna moved to Eugene, Oregon with her family. During this transition Cianna chose to stay at home with her two small children until they were comfortable with their new environment. In 2007 Cianna decided to go back in to teaching and helped pilot a new First Grade program at Good Samaritan School in Corvallis. In the summer of 2014, Good Samaritan Elementary School closed, bringing Cianna to NDCS. She is passionate about science and has extensive training in Engineering, Elementary and Lego Robotics. As an elementary school teacher, Cianna strives to assist students in forming a strong framework to be effective citizens. She encourages collaboration, inquiry, and a desire for lifelong learning in her students. Her goal is to design a classroom setting that encourages investigation and the practices of asking strong and purposeful questions.
Amie was born in New Jersey and has also lived in Florida. She moved to Oregon in 2015. Amie has been teaching since 2007 in many different positions, including substitute, paraprofessional, camp counselor and in-home teaching. She also spent four years as a Boys and Girls Club site coordinator in Florida. She loves singing, sewing, making jewelry and paper crafts. Her 17 year old son Aidan will be a senior at Churchill High School. Her fiance, Josh is becoming an airline pilot.
Amie was raised in the church, her grandmother served as minister at Mountain Lakes Community Church in New Jersey since Amie was a small child. Amie got her start in the career of teaching from leading Sunday school at a Presbyterian church as a teenager. In the classroom Amie is fun, flexible and hands on! She believes each child is unique and deserves love and respect. She believes a well-planned classroom and parent-teacher communication is crucial. Amie takes advantage of every “teachable moment”! Amie is very excited and honored to hold the position of 3rd-4th grade teacher here at Nature Discovery Christian School.
Mrs. Llewellyn enjoys camping, fishing, board games, taking walks on a cool summer evening … the simplicity of spending time with her family. Her education career started in Wisconsin, moved to California, and finally landed in Eugene, Oregon. She was obtaining her transfer degree through LCC when a family emergency called her back to Wisconsin. During that time she obtained an Educational Assistant position at Holmen School District working with the Special Education Department. While living in Wisconsin her husband proposed; hence, a move back to Eugene. Sue Ann and Chris have been married for 28 years. They have six children, four grandchildren, and another on the way this summer!
As their children grew so did her desire to teach her own children. She developed and opened a daycare-preschool, Joyful Noise. When her children became school age Meadow Creek (a homeschool help) was birthed. As their children entered middle school Meadow Creek became Meadow Creek Academy (grades 1-12), and their children with others graduated high school with academic honors through this private Christian school. Sue Ann taught as a substitute teacher at a private school in Creswell in 2012. The following 4 years she taught grades 3-4-5 and 4-5-6 (blended classrooms). She has worked as a team member with the local school district developing IEP’s for students with learning or behavioral challenges. Throughout the school year and summer months Sue Ann offers tutoring assistance to children.
She delights in her students and likes to have fun in her classroom. It is her desire to always be teaching children and helping them find their own delights. It is music to her ears when she hears a student say, “Wow, that was fun!”, and it piques their interest to learn more.
Mrs. Burton was born in Northern California but moved to Oregon at the age of four. She grew up in North Bend and then moved to Eugene to attend the University of Oregon where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in education with minors in history, French, and special education. She then earned her Master’s degree in curriculum and instruction with concentrations in reading and Bible literacy from Concordia University. She has taught in private Christian schools and at a charter school. She has also done independent tutoring and home-schooled her three sons for a while. She was involved in the Boy Scouts for about 20 years. She likes cooking, sewing, and reading, and camping. She is involved in her church’s missions group, and she has been an American Civil War re-enactor since 1995. Her philosophy of education is that “All children can learn. As teachers, it is our responsibility to find out how each child learns and to adapt our teaching to meet each child’s needs.”
Katie was raised on the southern Oregon coast. From childhood she has had a passion for God, nature, and teaching. Katie’s father is an avid gardener, and her mother is a rock hound. Both encouraged their children to look at nature with both joy and scientific inquiry.
Science experiments, camping, hiking, gardening, cooking, and crafting were standard fare in the early lives of Katie and her three sisters.
In 2005, Katie moved to Eugene to enter college and pursue a degree in medicine. Although she enjoyed the sciences, an experience of study abroad led her to shift her focus to Asian Studies. In 2009 she graduated with a BA in Japanese, with a strong background in environmental studies. Katie worked in early childhood education before returning to school to earn a Master’s of Education.
In the past seven years, Katie has taught infant through pre-kindergarten as well as middle and high school. She has also taught Sunday school at her local church. Her educational philosophy is to encourage students to pursue their curiosities and encourage them in a love for learning and confidence in their capabilities.
Outside of work, Katie lives in rural lane county with her husband and two young children. Her family enjoys reading, gardening, baking, crafting, music and going on adventures.
Brandon McPherson was born in Pennsylvania and moved to the Willamette Valley, where his father was raised, when he was 2 years old. He was homeschooled by his parents and participated in Bethel school district Home Source through 8th grade. In 9th grade he started classes at LCC and recieved his GED later that year. He was also teaching swimming lessons and doing physical therapy for children with disabilities at this time. In 2011 he recieved his Nursing certification from Salem ITT after spending several years traveling and volunteering abroad. He did some work in Hospice and later as a charge nurse in a facility specializing in adults with traumatic brain injury. Brandon is multilingual and passionate about teaching and language aquisition. He has spent part of his career teaching English as a second language. He is interested in botany and loves animals of all kinds and he likes to share his knowledge and interest with young learners. At NCDS he teaches pre-k and and afterschool care and tries to include nature themes in his classes. He believes in giving children the freedom to be creative and encourages thinking outside the box.
Mrs. Darling was born and raised in the Willamette Valley, but lived in central Washington for 15 years before returning to Oregon to be closer to family. She has been a lover and follower of Jesus since she was a child. She has been married for over 20 years and has two teenage sons who she happily homeschooled for many years before transitioning to NDCS. Her hobbies include singing, 1940’s swing dancing, photography, steampunk design, and tinkering with technology. She is also actively involved in Boy Scouts with her two sons.
We appreciate your interest in Nature Discovery Christian School. Please contact us if you have questions or would like to schedule a tour.