Meet our Staff
We are proud of the high quality professionals that provide the safe nurturing environment that allows our children to flourish.
Nurture and Nature meets or exceeds state standards for teacher : child ratios for all age groups, creating more opportunities for 1-on-1 attention and care.
Jennifer Blackwood - Executive Director
Education: Masters of Science in Family, Culture & Society (Wheelock College - Boston, MA)
Bachelors of Science in Child & Family Studies (University of New Hampshire - Durham,
Experience: 20+ years experience working with children in early childhood education settings
15+ years working as a Director in both non-profit and corporate ECE centers
Hobbies: Reading, crocheting, puzzles, spending time with my family, and doing anything outside!
Why I choose to work with children: Children are the key to the future! Their curiosity for the
world around them, their trusting nature, and their genuine joy for life should be cherished
and nurtured, which is what we do here at Nurture & Nature. Along with their families, it is my
goal to give young children the safe, loving, and nurturing environment to grow and develop into caring, inquisitive, compassionate, and successful humans.
Cassidy Delano - Sweetpeas Lead Qualified Teacher
Hi I’m Cassidy! I graduated from University of Maine at Farmington with my Bachelors in Early Childhood Education, and want to earn my Masters in Nature Based Education. My favorite season is fall and I love all things purple. I love long walks, the ocean, and spending time with my 8 nieces and nephews.
Cassidy's favorite quote is:
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” —Benjamin Franklin
Ann Elliott - Daisies Lead Teacher
Ann lives in Newfields with her husband, Tim, and their cat Rocky. She is an active member of the Newfields community, participating in the Newfields Garden Club, which often donates perennials and vegetable plants to Nurture and Nature. She has been a mentor in the Big Brother Big Sister program for a few boys over the past 25 years.
Ann is an American Red Cross Water Safety Instructor and Lifeguard. She has been an Arthritis Foundation Aquatic Program Instructor and Trainer, Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program Instructor, Tai Chi for Health Instructor, Aqua Zumba, and Zumba Gold Instructor.
Ann has her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Physical Education from Springfield College.
Ann's real passion is teaching children in the classroom and the swimming pool.
Ann's favorite quote is:
"Most folks are as happy as they make up their mind to be" Abraham Lincoln
Jenn Rochette - Sunflowers Lead Teacher
Jenn loves spending her free time with friends and family at the lake, paddle boarding, and sitting by a cozy bonfire.
She has an Associates degree in Early Childhood Education from Stratham Technical School. Jenn has over 25 years of experience working at Nurture and Nature with all ages of children, with her specialty being the toddler age group. She loves watching children grow and learn with excitement.
Jenn’s favorite quote is:
“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” ~ Christopher Robin, Winnie the Pooh
Amya Burton - Sunflowers Associate Teacher
I live in Dover NH with my bestfriend of 7 years. I love music, going for walks, spending quality time with my family/boyfriend of 5 years and traveling! I grew up helping with my youngest brother, as well as helping my sister with my niece and nephew who have become my best friends.
I went to St. Thomas Aquinas High School and Did one year of ECE at SNHU then took some courses at NHTI and now looking forward to taking courses at Great Bay to eventually get my degree. I would also love to get my Elementary education degree as well in the future.
Ever since I was young I was always wanting to be in a classroom teaching and helping kids grow. I love how each child is different and wants to learn as much as they can. I love growing bonds with the kids and growing friendships with them. I always want a child to be comfortable with me enough to come to me with any feelings or if they need comfort.
Amya's favorite quote is:
“Children re-invent your world for you” Sarah Sarandon
Merrilyn SanSoucie - Sunflowers Associate Teacher
Merrilyn lives in Newmarket with her husband of 45 years, Mason (her tyrant cat), and Newman (the perfect Miniature Schnauzer). She loves to take Newman for walks, work in her gardens, and read.
Merrilyn taught art at East Kingston Elementary, created quilts at many schools around NH as artist-in-residence, taught preschool aged children at Montessori of Exeter, and started my teaching career as a third grade teacher in Newfields.
Kat Ellison - Lilacs Lead Teacher
Katerina lives with her partner Dow and their cat, Arlo. She enjoys seeing live music, hiking, gardening, painting, and cooking.
Katerina graduated with her bachelor's in Psychology at the University of New Hampshire. She has experience working in childcare for three years. Before working in childcare, she was a nanny for a couple of families in the past and grew up with a younger nephew whom she would take care of often.
Katerina loves working with children because she loves seeing the growth of each child as they develop.. She also loves listening to the stories they come up with and how they are such genuine/beautiful individuals.
Katerina's favorite quote:
"Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood." -Fred Rogers
Nicole Kalway - Lilacs Associate Teacher
Nicole lives in Lebanon, Maine with her husband, two black labs, and cat. She loves spending time camping with family, going to the gym, and traveling!
She studied many different fields throughout her college career but fell in love with Early Childhood Education after starting at Nurture and Nature! Although she is new to this field of work she knows it is exactly where she belongs. She loves that every time she walks in the classroom, she is greeted with a smile, hug, and a new story from the children in her class.
Nicole’s favorite quote is:
“It takes a big heart to help shape little minds.” ~Abbie Burke C.
Caitlin DeCoster - Lilacs Associate Teacher
Caitlin loves being a Lilac teacher! She grew up in Gilmanton, NH and currently lives in Newmarket where she spends a lot of time outdoors. She was inspired to become a teacher at a nature based school after her daughter attended a nature based preschool. She have a love for animals and enjoys sharing knowledge with students...you can frequently catch her catching frogs to show children and helping children look for worms.
She likes to go for woods and beach walks to collect natural elements to add to her fairy houses. She loves working with children because each day is a different, unique, and an unpredictable adventure. She enjoys watching their personalities and confidence blossom in our center.
Caitlin's Favorite Quote is:
"I am happy out here. Dirty feet, messy hair & wild water on my skin. Out here with the wild things; this is where I belong." -Brooke Hampt
Leona Hosack - Snapdragons Associate Teacher
Leona loves to play guitar, ukulele, and tin whistle with friends, has written many original songs and used to perform professional children’s music with her husband Larry. She has three grown children and five grandchildren! She loves to take walks on the beach in Maine where she lives and collects brass bells. She has over 50 vintage bells in her collection.
Leona has a Bachelor’s degree in Visual Design/Illustration and a Teacher Certification in Art Ed. She also has thirty years of experience in the childcare field, plus many years of illustrating children’s cooks, and doing side work as a Portrait, Caricature and Silhouette Artist.
Leona’s favorite quote:
“A picture book is a small door to the enormous world of the visual arts, and they’re often the first art a young person sees.” -Tomie Depaola
Christine Belanger - Float Teacher
At Nurture and Nature we encourage scaffolded learning, creating a community atmosphere between classrooms. This allows older children to learn empathy, while empowering them to help our younger learners.