Dodge Nature Preschool


The mission of Dodge Nature Preschool is to provide a premier quality early childhoodenvironment and education which meets children's developmental needs, while initiating them into a lifelong, meaningful relationship with the natural world.


At Dodge Nature Preschool, we believe that children are intrinsically motivated to learn. The teaching staff promotes learning by:

- Providing an environment which encourages discovery, experimentation, and the opportunity to see the results of one's actions.

- Developing activities to encourage growth based on children's abilities and interests.

- Encouraging problem-solving and reflection by asking open-ended questions and providing information in response to children's ideas, insights, and concerns.

- Assisting children in their interactions with each other and offering opportunities for cooperative learning.

- Providing mixed-age classes to give children the opportunity to learn from and teach each other,much as it would occur naturally in multiple child families.

- Appreciating the individuality of children and families and celebrating diversity.



Dodge Nature Preschool curriculum will encourage cognitive, social, emotional, creative, physical, and linguistic growth. Daily activities include:

- Natural science experiences
- Art Activities
- Music and movement
- Language Activities
- Block-building and carpentry
- Math and manipulative activities
- Dramatic play activities
- Large and small motor activities
- Cooking and food experiences
- Sensory activities
- Self-help and health activities
(ex. dressing oneself and hand washing)



Dodge Nature Preschool offers morning or afternoon classes with the option of adding extended care hours.  Our usual teacher to child ratio is 1:6. 

Morning Classes: 8:45 am - 11:30 am
Tuesday and Thursday
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday

Afternoon Classes: 12:45 pm - 3:30pm
Tuesday and Thursday
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
Monday through Friday ( mixed-age )

Monday - Friday Extended Care Programs
Morning Bunch: 8:00 am - 8:45 am
Lunch Bunch: 11:30 am - 12:45 pm



The Dodge Nature Preschool building is designed to provide the best possible preschool environment for young children. The welcoming entrance encourages family involvement andsmooth transitions from home to school. Spacious classrooms allow for the busy, active play of preschool children, with special attention toacoustics and temperature. Open-ended equipment and supplies encourage creative and cooperative learning. The large multipurpose room provides spaces for very active play. An outdoor play area features wooden climbing structures, a log cabin, and vegetable and flower gardens.



Dodge Nature Preschool is licensed by the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS), and have received a 4 Star Parent Aware Rating from DHS. We are also accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and have Nature Explore certified classrooms.





Tuesday/Thursday program:
$3,015 per year or $335 per month

Monday/Wednesday/Friday program:
$3,915 per year or $435 per month

Monday through Friday morning program:
$6,930 per year or $770 per month

Monday through Friday morning program:
$5,625 per year or $625 per month

Lunch Bunch Fee:
$50 per month for each day of the week child attends

Morning Bunch Fee: 
$32 per month for each day of the week child attends

A non-refundable payment equal to the monthly tuition is due one week after placement notification has been given to hold placement. This payment will be applied to the May 2019 tuition. This deposit is non-refundable regardless of child's attendance. There will be no reduction in monthly tuition for days missed or days that school is closed.


A scholarship fund is available to families who may need assistance with tuition. This may be ongoing support or temporary help due to a change in circumstances for a family. If you would like to apply for a scholarship, please complete the scholarship application form and return it with your DNP enrollment application. A new request for scholarship will need to be made for each school year. Scholarship funds are made possible by parent fundraising, gifts from corporate donors, and earnings from the preschool endowment fund. Scholarship awards are granted to families who qualify until scholarship funds are no longer available. Funds are limited. Early application is recommended.


At Dodge Nature Preschool, early childhooddevelopment is at the core of our programs. Our staff has a strong background in education. They hold advanced degrees in various fields includingearly childhood education, psychology, environmental science, and art. They are certified in CPR and First Aid and have also completed numerous hours of in-service training to meet the requirements of NAEYC and state licensing. We frequently partner with local colleges and universities to place student interns and teachers in our classrooms. There are two teachers and one assistant teacher in each classroom. Our high teacher-to-student ratio of 3:18 allows for children's learning to take place in small, intimate groups both indoors and outdoors.



Kristin Carr, Morning & Lunch Bunch, Substitute Teacher
Kristin has worked with children since high school and began teaching at Dodge Nature Preschool in 2008.  She is an alumni parent and volunteer. She has a B.A. in Biology with minors in chemistry and math from the University of Minnesota, Morris.  Kristin also has a M.Ed. in Elementary Education from the University of Minnesota. She enjoys cooking, the outdoors, photography and spending time with her children. 


Johannah Christensen, Willow Room Teacher
Johannah has worked with young children most of her life, both in and out of school settings. She gained experience in nature education with a student teaching placement at Dodge Nature Preschool in the spring of 2016. Johannah is a graduate of the University of Northwestern, St. Paul with a degree in Early Childhood Education.


Beki Cook, Office Coordinator
Beki has been at Dodge Nature Preschool since the fall of 2016. She has a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Beki has worked as a newscast producer and in public relations. Most recently, she spent eight years teaching cake decorating classes and owning a cake decorating business.


Jennifer Elsen, Oak Room Assistant Teacher
Jennifer grew up learning from nature and enjoys sharing her appreciation with young children. She has earned a B.A. in Communications with a minor in Film at the University of St. Thomas and a M.Ed. in Natural Science and Environmental Education from Hamline University. Jennifer has worked in the Bloomington school district and at Como Park Zoo and Conservatory.


Alicia Franke, Willow Room Teacher
Alicia has a background in elementary education. After graduating from Gustavus Adolphus College she taught second grade in Duluth. Alicia joined Dodge Nature Preschool this summer and is excited to combine her love of nature with her love of teaching.


April Greibrok, Oak Room Teacher
April comes to Dodge from Fraser School where she worked in the infant through Pre-Kindergarten classroom. She has also spent time as a special education teaching assistant in the Saint Paul Public Schools. She is  working to finish her master’s degree in natural sciences and environmental education at Hamline University. April enjoys camping, hiking, canoeing, gardening, and spending time outside with her family.


Judy Moran, Spruce Room Teacher
Judy received her BA in Sociology and Masters of Arts in Teaching; Science and Inquiry from Hamline.  She has taught at Breck School and student taught at Mounds View School.  She has been an Education presenter for the University of Minnesota Raptor Center and is a Master Gardener.  She supported Bud, the Dodge Nature Center eagle, as he made his home here at Dodge.


Julie Nelson, Oak Room Teacher
Julie received her BA in Psychology from St. Olaf College, completed a Pre-K licensure program at the University of Minnesota and has completed additional graduate work in Education and Social Work. Her professional experiences include working as a teacher/director at Neighborhood House Child Care Center, working as an early intervention coordinator/teacher at Families Together Program of Lifetrack Resource, and teaching Pre-K in the St. Paul Public Schools. Julie teaches an online course through the Center for Early Education and Development, University of Minnesota and is also a published author.   


Kristenza Nelson, Spruce Room Teacher
Kristenza began teaching at Dodge Nature Preschool in 2008. Kristenza has a B.F.A. in Photography from the San Francisco Art Institute and attended the University of Minnesota Master Gardener Core Program. She has completed her Child Development Associate through the National Council of Professional Recognition, and is currently working on a Masters of Environmental Education at Hamline. A parent of two preschool alumni, Kristenza has worked extensively in gardening and as a childcare provider. She has also worked as an art and photography teacher for the Girl Scouts of Saint Croix Valley and for the YMCA.


Wesley Nugteren, Spruce Room Assistant Teacher
Wes earned his B.S. Degree in Plant Science from South Dakota State University. He has spent the past 5 years teaching children and adults as a naturalist at Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary. He grew up on a South Dakota farm and takes pride in the soil-stained crevices of his fingertips. He believes in teaching a respect for nature that is born in love rather than fear. This means smelling the earth, touching the plants, and mindfully stepping off trail to take a closer look.


Joey Schoen, Spruce Room Teacher/ Assistant Director
Joey has been a part of the team at Dodge Nature Preschool since 2003. She holds a B.A. in history from Macalester College and an M. Ed. in Early Childhood and early Childhood Special Education from the University of Minnesota. In 2014, she was the recipient of the Kate Davidson Tanner Award. Joey is involved with the Reggio-Inspired Network of Minnesota and a regular part of a "Big Body Play" discussion group.


Britney Stark, Oak Room Assistant Teacher
Britney began teaching at Dodge Nature Preschool in 2008. Britney is an alumni parent and was a volunteer at the preschool. Britney holds a B.S. in Life Science, Natural Resources from the University of Minnesota. Britney enjoys being outside and spending time with her family. Her hobbies include sketching, photography, and running.


Luzia Tavares, Willow Room Assistant Teacher
Luzia began her teaching career early as a teacher at her church. She graduated from the State University of Goias, Brazil and has 16 years of experience with kindergarten, preschool and special needs children. She is fluent in Portuguese and Spanish. She has a love for nature and outdoor life. She is eager to share her knowledge and skills with children, families and colleagues.


Melissa Tobias, Oak Room Teacher
Melissa received her Bachelor of Education from the University of Wisconsin and her Masters at Lesley University, Cambridge, MA.  She has had experience developing curriculum for children K-8 about wellness and sustainability, curriculum built around a school garden, greenhouse and schoolyard chickens. Her most recent work was at an early childhood program in New Haven, Connecticut.


Marty Watson, Director
Marty has been the Dodge Nature Preschool Director since 2008. She has a M.S. in Education from Bank Street College in New York City, and comes to Dodge from Union Congregational Weekday Nursery School in New Jersey, where she acted as the school’s director and head teacher. While in this setting she worked with the Reggio Emilia approach. Work experiences in New Jersey included directing full day childcare, founding director or an afterschool program, and Head Start Supervisor. Marty has dedicated herself to teaching others for the past thirty years, and has an extensive background educating students of all ages. Her passion for nature comes from her years growing up on a farm in Western South Dakota.




July 2018 Activities

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