Meet Our Educators
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Maddy Hay is an experienced educator who uses her knowledge and passion for the environment to fuel creative ideas and projects!
Maddy has her Master of Arts in Creative and Innovative Education and Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education from Georgia State University. As a certified elementary educator, she's worked with children and other educators to develop creative and culturally relevant opportunities, including project-based learning and creating a community garden. She deeply values children's thinking and brings compassion in helping children explore a sense of place and connectedness to their surroundings.
Maddy has also worked as a farmer on an organic women-owned farm in South Atlanta as well as in community development where she utilized her knowledge of nature’s intelligence to lead a time to drive innovative thinking and planning.
Maddy loves creating music with her partner, trees, traveling, and gardening in a community.
Angela is a dynamic educator and passionate about sharing nature with children of all ages. She's been working with children for over 15 years. She was born and raised in the flat fields of Indiana. This is where her love of art and nature began, leading her to become a master naturalist.
As a young adult she attended Saint Francis College where she studied Commercial/Fine Art. In 2000 she moved to Georgia and chose to study education at University of North Georgia. After raising her two daughters as a stay at home mom she began working at Elachee Nature and Science center in 2007. She gained experience in many roles from camp counselor, animal curator, event planner, and naturalist. In 2014 she started as the lead teacher when Elachee opened their Nature Academy Preschool. She continued to grow and develop eight years and is extraordinarily proud of what she accomplished.
Angela has lived in Dahlonega for 4 years now and loves all that north Georgia has to offer. In her free time she enjoys hiking and exploring trails in Georgia, tending to her vegetable and flower garden, and finding ways to express creativity through different mediums of art. She likes to always be creating something.
Jacinda was born and raised in Jamaica and migrated to New York shortly after turning 18. It was here that she spent her time diving deep into her passions that included teaching and learning alongside young children, event planning, and training in the gym.
Prior to joining Trailblazers, Jacinda taught in the 2s and 3s program at the Blue School in Lower Manhattan, New York. It was through her work here that she developed a strong appreciation for Project based Emergent curriculum Learning and developed a DEIJ program for the youngest set of children alongside her fellow teachers. She has also spent the last 4 summers in the Catskills working as a nanny at Timber Lake West sleepaway camp. Spending two months of the year in nature, building relationships with people from all over the world and diving into all that camp has to offer has been the highlight of her early twenties.
Jacinda enjoys long hikes, dancing as a form of creative expression, planning, reading, and exploring food.
Yarrow Koning is a creative, multifaceted facilitator and educator with over a decade of experience in the non-profit sector. Born and raised in the midwest, Yarrow relocated to Atlanta in their early twenties, where they fell in love with the people and ecology of the Southeast. Throughout their professional life, Yarrow has worked in communications, community development, and non-formal education for youth and adults. Recently, they completed the Master of Education in Environmental Education program at Florida Atlantic University. Simultaneously, they acted as a graduate teaching assistant for the Pine Jog Environmental Education Center, designing and delivering nature-based educational programming for elementary and high school students. Yarrow is especially passionate about educational approaches that center equity, agency, and care for human communities and the more-than-human world.
In their personal life, Yarrow enjoys co-creating educational and recreational spaces that connect people more deeply to the natural world. They can often be found hiking in Georgia's beautiful forests, watching the birds in their backyard, helping their partner in the garden, or relaxing with their cat Percy.
Emma Kate is an experienced early childhood and environmental educator who is devoted to sharing her passion for the environment with youth in order to create a more sustainable future through experiential education. She developed her deep love for the outdoors while hiking, camping, and spending time at Smith and Lay Lake in her home state of Alabama, where she received her Bachelors of Science degree with a major in Environmental Science at the University of Alabama in 2021. Throughout her career, she has worked with many conservation-based youth development programs as a summer camp counselor at the YMCA summer camp, a trail and forestry crew leader for TeamWorks, and most recently as an eeCorps Environmental Educator at Bluff Lake Nature Center in Denver, Colorado. Emma Kate has committed her career to increasing the accessibility of outdoor experiences for students of diverse backgrounds, and the mission that guides her career is to foster a sense of connection and belonging between students, their community, and the environment that surrounds them, as well as reinforce to them that they have a place in nature. In her free time, Emma Kate is looking forward to reconnecting to the natural spaces of the Southeast, hiking, reading nature-based books, and spending time with her husband and cats.
Amy’s love of the outdoors and how nature worked propelled her to pursue a B.S. in Geography (physical and technical emphasis) from UGA in 1999. Later she returned to UGA for her certification in Operational Meteorology. While in school, Amy had the opportunity to work for the National Weather Service. Once she had her children and began homeschooling, Amy became involved with local homeschool co-ops and hybrids teaching math and science. She believes that math should be fun, and students should be able to see how math works in the world around them.
For the past 15 years, Amy has been a homeschool mom, teacher, and mentor. She has always loved the outdoors, and being outside was an essential part of homeschooling her children. In her free time, she enjoys hiking with her kids, reading books, working in the garden, and playing the flute. Amy, her husband, two kids, and two dogs have called Buford home for the past eight years.
Joey is an artist and educator who brings his inquisitive passion for learning and play from the stage to the classroom. He believes art offers an often-overlooked avenue for creating engaging and immersive learning experiences that meet learners where they are, guiding them toward one of the most important components of education: learning how they learn.
As an artist, Joey has worked on professional stages in Georgia, South Carolina, Ohio, and Texas, bringing his collaborative experience and creativity to the classroom. He began his journey as an educator working with preschoolers before attaining his Bachelor's degree in English, where he focused on how stories are built, how they survive over time, and why we tell them. He’s since taught high school Spanish for beginner and intermediate learners, English to non-native speakers virtually to students in China, and worked with theatre communities cultivating Theatre for (and by) Young Audiences.
Joey is currently finishing his Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing with a focus on writing for the stage and screen at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. When he’s not working, Joey loves cooking, playing with his dogs, going to the theatre, and of course, writing in one of the hundreds of notebooks he avidly collects.