Meet the Garden Art Studio Staff

Amanda Rose Hopkins - Director

Amanda Rose Hopkins

B.A. Fine Art UC. Santa Cruz

Completed Training in Elementary Education

I feel so grateful to have the opportunity to work with children from many walks of life! I have been working with children for six years in elementary schools, after school programs, summer camps, and preschools. It is truly meaningful to get to use these experiences to teach your children! I am most inspired when watching children unleash their abundant creativity while making art. I believe children learn best through experience in an environment where they feel connected to others and part of a larger community. An important part of being part of a community is feeling that you are recognized for who you are and where you come from. That is why I encourage children to bring in family pictures, and share their life and home culture with the community of the Garden Art Studio After School Program. Students can then recognize similarities and differences between their families and others. I believe it takes a village to raise a child, thus I am committed to bringing together a diverse group of educators and childcare providers with parent collaboration to expose students to adult's who can inspire them and connect to them.

When I was a child I was blessed with the opportunity to be raised in the redwoods on the Mendocino coast, where I was able to hide amongst mossy logs and pick huckleberries. My Mother, a true green thumb, exposed me to landscape gardening and horticulture.

My heartfelt intention is to bring your kids in contact with nature as well as provide a space, materials and guidance for children to unleash their creativity in many forms. These forms can take many shapes: tinkering, music, building, painting, dancing, drawing, sculpture, gardening, etc... Through getting to know and love different children I have learned that nothing compares to a child's creativity and natural imagination. We as adult creative types can learn much from the playful experimentation of children. That is why I am working to offer a dance of structure and freedom where children are offered the space and resources to really delve into creative activities.

Margaret Fitzgibbon - Lead Teacher

Margaret Fitzgibbon

I have been working with children for a large portion of my life, starting with babysitting as a preteen, all the way up to working as an Assistant Teacher and Art Instructor at Reach School. I spent five Summers assisting in a Theater Camp with retired Reach educator, Sarah Voorhies.

I also have experience working directly with the Toolbox Project. After moving back to Sebastopol after several years of travel in India, Greece and across the Northwest, I secured an internship at the Toolbox Project. There I had the opportunity to work directly with the founder of Toolbox, Mark Colin and as a result gain exposure to the essence of the social-emotional curriculum. I started the process of fulfilling my general education requirements at the SRJC, and was able to use what I learned in child development, education, and psychology classes directly in the classroom. It was a wonderful way to learn hands-on.

Shortly after, I got a job at the Reach School in Sebastopol working in their K-2 integrated classroom with Sarah Voorhies. Looking back, I could not be more grateful for this experience. I learned how to form relationships with parents and communicate with them about their students, how to better manage large groups of young children, how to mediate conflicts between students, and I learned that I love teaching art!

I am so happy to be rejoining the community at Reach and I look forward to getting to know your child!

Joana Mondragon - Teacher and Chef

Joana Mondragon

As the oldest sister in a big family I have been mothering children for ten years. I also have a young son of my own who I love deeply. I have a passion for cooking wonderful creations that kids love such as pancakes and fruit shishkabobs. I am very crafty and a hands on person who is capable in a multiple range of arenas from interior home improvements, to painting faces, to making pine cone turkeys I can do it all! I love each child and once I get to know them they find a place in my heart.