Executive Director

Melanie has 15 years of teaching and educational administration experience, during which time she was nominated by her peers for Teacher of the Year and Mentor Teacher of the Year. She holds a PhD in school leadership from Florida Atlantic University (2021), was a University Council of Educational Administration Clark Scholar (2018), and was Graduate Student of the Year of the educational leadership department at FAU (2018). Melanie serves in the school leadership Master's degree program at Florida Atlantic University providing professional development for school principals and university instructors. She earned her Master's of Education and Social Policy from Northwestern University, where she wrote a thesis on learning motivation, and a Master's of Educational Leadership from FAU. She completed her BA in Psychology and English from Notre Dame where she focused on educational, child, and adolescent psychology. Melanie likes to spend her free time with her husband and two small children in the backyard of their Delray Beach home or at the beach. Her fondest childhood memories are of family trips camping, hiking, and skiing in the mountains in her home state of Utah.

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Director of Curriculum

Fernanda has over 15 years of experience in the fields of early childhood education, international development (with a focus on human rights and peace education) and monitoring and evaluation. She has a BS in Early Childhood Education, a Master's degree in International/Intercultural Education and a Doctoral degree in Curriculum and Instruction. Fernanda has collaborated with UNESCO, WHO, INEE (Education in Emergencies), CIES (Comparative and International Education Society), and Medicines for Humanity. She has lived and worked in Mexico, France, Philippines, and the US. She is the creator of Bilingual Nature Play (#bilingualnatureplay) and Global Story Time (#globalstorytime). Fernanda is a certified nature educator by ERAFANS (www.erafans.org). She loves to spend time with her family and friends, gardening, reading, and riding her bike. One of her fondest childhood memories is hosting a radio program for children, by children, and spending time at the beach.

Viviana Garcia

Marisol Castro




Viviana Garcia was born in Colombia and moved to Florida when she was 23-years-old after finishing her degree in environmental engineering. After having two children, she became passionate about raising them with respect and about teaching. She believes respect is the best way to maintain children's passion and enthusiasm for learning. Previously, she worked at Sunflower Creative Arts where she honed her skills in child-led approaches in an outdoor setting.

"Happy children for humanity" is Marisol's motto. She is a Mexican mother of two beautiful human beings. Previously, Marisol worked as a Montessori Guide for children ages 3 to 6 at Steeple on the Beach Montessori and as a Spanish high school teacher and substitute at St. Andrew's School. She currently provides gentle parenting courses as a guide with Padres Eficaces con Entrenamiento Sistemático (PECES) (Parenting Effectively with Systematic Training).

Are you passionate about nature, play, and place-based education? Are you an advocate for child-led inquiry? Would you like to join our team? Send us an email at info@cocoplumnatureschool.org