Melissa Sheppard

Founder/ 2 1/2-5 Year-Old Teacher/Family Coordinator JCC location. Melissa has her Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and Management and previously attending William Paterson University for Early Childhood Education.  She found her passion while working in daycare and preschool settings and obtained her CDA (Child Development Associate Credential).  After falling  in love with Waldorf education she and began her journey towards becoming a Waldorf Early Childhood Educator completing her Foundations Studies at The Waldorf School of Princeton and graduating from both LifeWays North America and the Sophia Institute with her ECE Teacher Certificate and Waldorf Education ECE Teacher Certification respectively.   Melissa planned to teach at the Waldorf School of Princeton but decided instead to bring nature-based education to the children in her area starting Star Child Nature School out of her home in 2017.  Melissa is a Second Level Nature Based Educator certified with the Eastern Region Association of Forest and Nature Schools (ERAFANS), a National Geographic Certified Teacher and is BLS CPR/First Aid certified.  She fully believes in the benefits of a nature immersive program and what it offers children physically and emotionally.  She founded Star Child Nature School to offer children a place they are respected, can embrace the fleeting years of childhood and connect to nature through imaginative and creative learning that develops the whole child.

Kelly DelPalazzo

  2 1/2-5 year-old Teacher/Family Coordinator Y location.  Kelly joined Star Child in 2018.  She holds her Associates of Science in Nutrition and is a Certified Holistic Health Coach graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.  Kelly is CDA (Child Development Associate Credentialed) and a First Level Nature Based Educator certified with the Eastern Region Association of Forest and Nature Schools (ERAFANS).  She is BLS CPR/First Aid certified.  A believer in the importance of the outdoors, nature and free creative play in the lives of young children, Kelly is a natural teacher bringing a nurturing and calm disposition and the ability to ask perfectly open-ended questions that promote thought, wonder and imagination.  Providing the scaffolding, her class is child-led allowing her students the space to discover, explore and create based on their interests.

Julie Moon

2 1/2-5 Year Old Class Teacher/Art Teacher Homeschool Program. Julie has been working with children for 22 years. She attended Camden County College and Rowan University earning her Associate's Degree in Elementary Education. Julie was a Teacher's Aide, Co-Teacher and Head Afternoon Supervisor at Joyful Noise Christian Preschool before staying home with her children following her desire to home educate them. While enjoying homeschooling her four children, she wanted to remain involved in the community and connect her children to others and became a Tinkergarten Instructor bringing parents and children together to explore nature simultaneously through her Tinkergarten program held at local parks. Julie has lead music classes for caregivers and children at The Artery in Medford and is on the board for the homeschooling co-op she runs for her church. Through her church she has taught mommy and me music classes, history, literature, nature and science to children 2-13 years old. She loves working with Kelly in the Pioneer program providing a framework for children to drive play-based learning and imaginative co-operation. Julie is a firm believer in the benefits of immersing children in nature and the connection to real life learning and problem solving outdoor education encourages. Julie is CPR/First Aid certified

Jennifer Armento

Environmental Educator Y and JCC locations.  Jen graduated from Rutgers Cook College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Science and concentration in Natural Resource Management and Conservation Biology. She is an ecologist, experienced wildlife biologist, holistic 27 wellness educator and a professional photographer. She has been an environmental nature educator for over 15 years and is certified in Project Learning Tree, Project W.E.T. and Project Aquatic. Jen is the founder of the Green Mommas Movement and White Hawk Wellness and is passionate about helping children and adults experience the wonders of nature and fostering a life-long connection with the world around them. She believes that nurturing the natural ways children learn helps them to develop into the well-rounded empathetic individuals they are meant to be. Jen is CPR/First Aid certified.

Bobby Grabowski

K/1st Grade Teacher/Afterschool Class Teacher.   Bobby is a free spirit who feels most grounded out in nature. Bobby attended Camden County College and Rutgers University majoring in Business Administration. He has been a part of Haddonfield Child Care since 2016 as the Site Supervision/Assistant Teacher with up to 35 children ages K-5th grade as well as supervising between 4-7 childcare workers daily. Six years ago, at Camp Creek Run, Bobby discovered how naturally working with children came to him which led to working in the Extended Day Kindergarten program of Haddonfield. Bobby is CPR/First Aid certified and has worked as a Head Counselor at Creek Run since 2014. He is ecstatic to merge his love of teaching with his passion for the outdoors teaching at Star Child

Maren Peterson-Pritzl

K/1st Grade Teacher/After School Class Teacher-Maren has been working with children for over 25 years. She has always loved the excitement and wonder that children exhibit when they are discovering their abilities. Maren has a bachelors in Early Childhood Education from Indiana University, Bloomington. While teaching, she took a special interest in teaching literacy and studied Orton-Gillingham at Fairleigh Dickinson University.   Maren enjoys spending time outdoors with her three boys ages 6,10, and 12. She also enjoys gardening, kayaking and swimming. Maren is CPR and First Aide Certified.

Hope Long

2 1/2-5 Year-Old Class Teacher.   Hope graduated from Stockton University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Studies and has been mixing her interests for childcare and environmental education ever since. Hope was an environmental educator for Project H.E.A.L where she was able to foster a greater passion for educational and creative play. Hope's love for environmental education and ability to bring out the best in each child shines though in the soft-spoken way she communicates and educates. She is excited to bring all of her past experiences to Star Child and learn from both fellow teachers and the students as she connects the children to the natural world around them. Hope is CPR/First Aid certified.

Ces Martin

 2 1/2-5 Year-Old Class Teacher/K/1st Spanish Teacher/K/1st Yoga Teacher.  As a Rider University with a Bachelor’s Degree majoring in Liberal Studies and minoring in Psychology, Ces comes to us with more than 20 years of experience working with children in varying degrees. She’s worked as a Teacher’s Assistant in daycare settings, a one-on-one Aide and eventually Program Coordinator for an inclusive recreation program for children with disabilities. Ces taught Spanish at Urban Promise summer programs for those ages 5-10 and co-led retreats for adolescents and young adults ages 11-19. Most recently she lead Spanish, Yoga, Art, Latin Dance, Junior Warriors (exercise/obstacle course training) and Music classes for children 3-10 years old. Ces is a First Level Nature Based Educator certified with the Eastern Region Association of Forest and Nature Schools (ERAFANS) and is most excited to use this training to further encourage, support and foster children’s instinctual connection and desire to explore and wonder in a natural setting. She is truly inspired and energized by teaching alongside children and does so in a fun and compassionate way. Ces is CPR/First Aid certified

Elena Woolley

2 1/2-5 Year-Old Class Teacher/K/1st Art Teacher.  Elena graduated from Rutgers University with her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Global Studies and minor in Spanish. Elena has traveled to Guatemala with Health and Healing in Guatemala a Service Learning Journey 26 through Rutgers Learning Abroad Program and to Mexico with Centro Infantil de los Angleles. Additionally, she worked with teenage girls coping with adversity through Secrets Revealed Workshops. Elena is BLS CPR/First Aid certified and has taught children in numerous capacities through the above experiences and by working as a camp counselor, assistant teacher, swim instructor, jewelry maker and yoga instructor. Elena is a passionate advocate for the healing benefits of nature; she brings a gentleness and respect for children and strives to serve as a positive role model in an accepting environment that develops creative self-expression.

Cassie Burns

2 ½-5 Year-Old Class Teacher. Cassie attended Camden County College where her studies included early education and child psychology. After college, she worked as a Project Manager helping develop and maintain registration/data collection systems for late-stage clinical trials for a clinical research organization. She has also worked as a specialist at a conference planning organization, specializing in duties on both the planning and registration side of the business. In addition to her professional work, she has also volunteered with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program having always felt an inherent ability to not only understand, but to also connect with children. After the birth of her first child, Cassie decided to take a break from her professional life and re-focus on her family. While exploring educational options for her son, she began doing research regarding different educational models and philosophies. The idea and benefits of play-based education really resonated with her and she began her search for schools that aligned with those values. In 2017, Cassie visited Star Child and instantly feel in love with Melissa’s teaching model and philosophies. With the discovery of nature-based education, Cassie began to implement these values and learning methods into her own life. Wanting to continue down this path and educate herself further to promote these values, she received her First Level Nature-Based Teacher Certification from the Eastern Region Association of Forest and Nature Schools (ERAFANS). Cassie will focus on providing a nurturing environment where children will feel comfortable expressing their true selves. While play-based learning will be an important part of her curriculum, she will also encourage your child to love and appreciate not only their own uniqueness, but also ensure they promote the same kindness towards others through their words and actions. Her students will also be taught to show love for the Earth and experience all the wonder and magic that nature has to offer. Cassie is CPR / First Aid Certified.

Corinne Cargen

2 1.2-5 Year-Old Teacher/Art Teacher Homeschool Program. Corinne is a Camden County College graduate with an Associate’s Degree in Fine Arts. She is nanny to her 5 year-old niece and they often spend time together going on nature walks and working on art projects. In her off time, Corrine enjoys film photography, gardening, jewelry-making and painting. Corrine is excited to teach the children at Star Child about the ways that art and nature are connected and to help foster in them a deep respect for the natural world, Corrinne and Julie Moon will be working together in our art program. Corinne is CPR/First Aid certified.

Jenna Montrose

K/1st Grade Teacher's Aid. Jenna is a Seneca High School 2019 graduate and is currently a junior at Rowan University with a dual major in both Elementary Education and Literacy Studies. While enrolled in Seneca’s Child Development class she was a part of the onsite preschool program. Jenna was also involved in the school’s Community Service club and was a part of Holy Eucharist’s Youth Group. In 2018 she began teaching at the Church’s Vacation Bible School working with children of varying ages. Jenna enjoys photography and baking and is looking forward to gaining more experience teaching in our unconventional setting and meeting the needs of each of the children she works with.

Allison Vogel

Child & Caregiver Teacher.  Allison attended Rider University where she played division I field hockey and focused her studies on early education and liberal arts. Her love for teaching young children began with coaching summer camps and helping guide elementary aged players both on and off the field. After taking time off from her studies to travel, she found a new love for teaching and connecting with children through the practice of yoga. In 2017, Allison completed her 200hr Yoga Teacher Training as well as 25 hours of focused study on teaching babies and children ages 0-5. Alongside her husband, she owned Zephyr Yoga studio in New Egypt where she fulfilled her passion in teaching kids yoga and meditation as well as co-facilitating a child and caregiver program called Growing Minds for young toddlers. Through the studio, they were able to offer children the opportunity to engage in hands-on activities, mindfulness and develop an early love for learning. As a mother of two toddlers, Allison has developed a deep passion for child-centered, nature-based education. She believes all children, and all humans, can thrive from spending more time immersed in nature and that children are natural learners when given the space and freedom to explore, connect with and observe their natural surroundings. Nature has proven to be the best classroom and playground for her own children as she strives to teach them about emotional and physical awareness. Allison plans to further her studies in Nature Based Education as well as continue to explore the field of conscious connection through connected play with children. She believes it is part of her life's purpose to offer any child she crosses paths with the space to feel seen, heard and loved.

Tara Long

K/1st Music Teacher. Tara is currently finishing her LAS Music Degree at Camden County College. Tara has been playing piano for 15 years and loves sharing her passion for music with children of all ages. Previously Tara has taught private piano lessons, accompanied choirs, and has performed in pitt and concert bands. Tara also enjoys going on hikes and spending time in nature. Tara is very excited to share her knowledge and love of music with her students.

Jennifer Potts

2 1/2-5 Year-Old Teacher. Jennifer has a Bachelor’s Degree in Photography and has operated a business since 2008 in the field. Making art and being around people will never get boring or outlived; however this may be the perfect timing to help guide the growth of our beautiful children, and allow them to bloom into their unique selves. Jennifer has a history of day care teaching (age 3-5), volunteering with young and old aged children/adults at Bancroft Neurohealth, and a few amazing years of babysitting three children daily. She has researched quite a but about Waldorf education, and plans to enroll in some classes, workshops and certifications in these unique ways of teaching. Jennifer has interests in natural health, iridology, gardening, animals, nature, herbology, yoga, art and all things photography of course! She has always loved children, loves to get down to their level and really listen to what they have to say, and incorporating fun into learning!


Sarah Birney

2 1/5-5 Year-Old Aid JCC and Y locations. Sarah loves being surrounded by nature and being able to share her love and passion with children.  She has been caring for little ones since she was little herself lovingly tending to children of family, friends and in day care settings.  Sarah brings her inner child to Star Child and joyously connects with our students, you'll often see her playing right along side and always with a smile.  With a natural ability to understand how children may be feeling or thinking she brings compassion and respect to the classes she is with.  While not at Star Child Sarah enjoys kayaking, camping and dancing.  She is CPR/First Aid certified and plans to major in Early Childhood Education in the near future.

Tell me and I'll forget; Show me and I may remember; Involve me and I'll  understand

Star Child School LLC staff are CPR, AED and First Aid Certified.