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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 served for nearly four years in the school leadership Master's degree program at Florida Atlantic University providing professional development for school principals and university instructors. 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). 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.



Director of Curriculum & Instruction
Lead Facilitator


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 ( 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.


Pau Bajos

Teaching Assistant & Administrative Specialist

Christina Lucas

Instructional Facilitator

Christina has grown up in Delray Beach and is a passionate and nurturing educator. She holds a Bachelor's degree from Florida
Atlantic University in General Studies and Early Childhood Education, and she earned the Certificate of Early Childhood Environmental Education from FAU in 2021. Christina loves animals, and she enjoys gardening, hiking, and cooking.


Pau studied Psychology at Universidad la Salle México. She has more than 3 years of experience in Human Resources. During her career, Pau worked with children of different ages, and she credits much learning and enrichment to them. She has participated in different internships performing observation, analysis, evaluation, and development comparison for children from the ages of 6 to 9 years old. She has also practiced psychomotor, language, and cognitive stimulation for children from the ages of 2 to 3 years old. Pau has realized that what she enjoys most about her work with children is seeing them express their genuine feelings and emotions about the world around them.


Viviana Garcia


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. She earned her Level 1 ERAFANS in 2021. Previously, she worked at Sunflower Creative Arts where she honed her skills in child-led approaches in an outdoor setting.


Alicia Persichetti

Aftercare and Art Facilitator

Alicia, a New Zealand native, has resided in Florida since 2017. Her childhood in New Zealand cultivated a passion for nature-based play, environmental sustainability, and a respect for the Earth and its creatures. Alicia has a Bachelor of Arts and a Post Graduate Certificate in Applied Linguistics with a focus on Language Teaching. She has lived and worked in Chile, Spain, Poland, and the United States. Her interest in nature-based education expanded after the births of her two children and seeing the positive effects of playing and learning in nature. Along with spending time with her family, Alicia enjoys traveling, reading, creating art, and swimming.

Salwa Mansour

Instructional Facilitator

Salwa graduated from the American University of Beirut with a BA in English Literature and an MA in Transnational American Studies. She presented her MA thesis at conferences in both Albuquerque and Cairo. She then taught in Boston for three years before moving to Royal Palm Beach where she taught for . Growing up as a curious child in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, Salwa developed a deep connection to nature and always sought knowledge outside of her structured classes. 

Kristi Brock

Reading Facilitator

Since teaching is an absolute passion of Kristi's, she is incredibly excited to have arrived home at Cocoplum! Kristi has been a teacher for 20+ years with a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University and she has experience teaching in public, private, and micro schools. Most of her teaching career was in a small town in Indiana where she was born and raised. Kristi is a mother of two, and she values the curiosity and joy of childhood. She enjoys spending time running, traveling, and hiking with her husband, children, and their chocolate lab, Leia. 

Marisol Castro


"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).

We're hiring!

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? Apply here. Then send email your resume and cover letter to

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