Aspen Academy - A progressive preschool in the heart of Central Oregon

Teresa L. Ashford, M.S.
– Owner, Director, & Head Teacher -

I am a native Oregonian; my childhood was spent growing up in Bend. After spending time living in Corvallis and Portland, I am excited to have returned to Bend to open a progressive preschool. I have been teaching (and learning from) children and adults for the past 19 years.

In addition to having a Masters degree in Human Development and Family Sciences, I have spent over ten years working with children and families; in a Montessori setting, in a laboratory school setting at Oregon State University’s (OSU) Child Development Center (CDC), as a Parent and Family Educator, as a trainer to in-home family child care providers, and as the lead teacher at a parent-cooperative preschool. Over the past nine years, I have also made multiple presentations at early childhood conferences throughout Washington and Oregon on topics related to curriculum and communication with preschoolers. I am currently teaching continuing education workshops for child care providers in Central Oregon through NeighborImpact's Child Care Resources and am an Oregon Registry Master Trainer. Topics have included kindergarten readiness, communication with children and families, and the importance of "process over product."

In addition to my direct work with children and families, I worked as an instructor at Washington State University Vancouver from 2004 to 2010 teaching for their Human Development and Education departments. I have taught classes such as: infant and child development, advanced adolescent development, seminar in early childhood education, families in poverty, and child abuse and neglect. In addition, I continue to teach an infant and child development class on-line through WSU’s Online Degree Program and for Oregon State University's Cascades Campus. 

I strive to make it a personal mission to foster awareness and respect for the environment in the children and families who attend Aspen Academy.  A favorite activity of many children is “junk art.” Junk art consists of the types of materials one would put out for recycling and multi-colored masking tape. Children construct elaborate creations with wrapping paper tubes, empty yogurt tubs, cardboard, and anything else one can think of. While working on fine motor, cognitive, and social skills, children are learning the values of reducing, reusing, and recycling.

Another example stems from hand-washing time. Children often want to take upwards of 10 paper towels to dry their hands! At the beginning of the school year we have a circle time that focuses on how to wash one’s hands, but we also spend time discussing how paper towels are made from trees. It is always rewarding to see children in the bathroom reminding their friends, “Hey! Only take one or two towels! They are made from trees!”

In addition to feeling passionately about conservation, I also strongly adhere to an anti-bias multicultural curriculum approach. For example, children learn that men and women can both be firefighters (rather than just firemen), through our use of language awareness in the classroom. Children can look around at the classroom décor and see not only themselves and their families, but a multitude of people representing diverse abilities, ethnicities, races, genders, and family types.

Aside from my work with children and families, I do manage to have a life outside of the preschool setting!  I strive to spend most of my free time outdoors engaging in activities like gardening, bike riding, camping, hiking, and photography.

Aspen Academy is my vision of a school community where all children and families feel included, connected, and celebrated.  I am looking forward to a wonderful school year with your family!

Kristin Rodriguez-Beekman
- Assistant Teacher - 
 
Originally from Southern California, I have had the pleasure of living in the beautiful state of Oregon for more than 20 years. Before having children, I was a Deschutes County 911 dispatcher for over eight years. While working full-time, I attended college to earn my degree in Human Development and Early Childhood Education. Before I was able to finish school, I gave birth to an intelligent & energetic “little” boy (all 9.1 lbs of him). In 2008, my husband and I decided it was best that I stay home full-time to raise our children.

My first child began attending Aspen Academy in 2011 and five years later, my youngest is moving on to kindergarten. Over the past five years, I’ve had numerous opportunities to volunteer and substitute teach in the classroom.  Being at the school has been a great opportunity and I look forward to continue working with the many wonderful families and staff of Aspen Academy.
 
I am a strong believer in empowering children in who they are meant to be. Given the right tools; children will become competent, resourceful and confident beings.  When I have a free minute, I enjoy running & hiking with my Australian Shepherd (Bella), reading, cooking and spending time with my extended family.

Stefany Cunningham, B.S.
- Assistant Teacher - 
 
Stefany Cunningham graduated summa cum laudefrom OSU-Cascades where her areas of study were kinesiology, early childhood development & education, and psychology. She enjoys sewing, reading, hiking, and spending time with her husband of eight years and their three-year-old son. She was born and raised in Bend, Oregon. Stefany shares she feels grateful to have this opportunity to be a part of a preschool that is strengthening the community by promoting equity, valuing diversity, and respecting the environment.



Peggy Ashford, B.S.
- Volunteer -
I’m a third generation Oregonian living in Central Oregon for the last 40 years.  I live with my husband of 47 years and have two grown daughters who live in Bend as well.  I have a Bachelors of Science in Child Development/Family Life from Oregon State University (OSU).  In the past, I have worked with Department of Children Services, providing Early Childhood Development workshops to caseworkers in the Willamette Valley.   I was also employed with a Certified Public Accounting firm in Hood River, to document and evaluate child care programs in Central Oregon.

Living in Central Oregon, I have volunteered with numerous youth development programs, which include but are not limited to 4-H and J Bar J Youth Services.  I have served twelve years on the Pacific Northwest 4-H Horse Management team, which oversees program curriculum and publications.  In addition, I have worked with 4-Hers in horse project areas, and youth leadership at the local and state level for the last 27 years.  I served on the J Bar J Youth services board for six years, three of which I was Board Chair.
Central Oregon brings many opportunities for fishing, hiking, golfing and my newest adventure, kayaking.   At home on the farm, I’m busy caretaking my three horses, two dogs, one cat, and of course, I have 4 chickens and 1 rooster.  In the fall, our family can be found enjoying OSU football games.  I can proudly say I have either ridden or hiked most of the trails in the Central Cascades.

I have always and will continue to have a passion for children, teaching them through practical learning to become self-directing, contributing members of their local and global communities.
 

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