Finding Her Spot in the Nest
By Frances Sanchez
Last month, the Cibolo Center for Conservation celebrated the grand opening of the new Nest Nature School Campus on Herff Farm. We welcomed so many new members to the Cibolo family. Many of our new students, families, and staff are new to the Texas Hill Country too.
Founded in 1989, the Cibolo Center for Conservation has long been in the heart of Boerne, connecting our community with nature and inspiring us to fall in love with our land, water, and wildlife. Since 2016, the Cibolo has provided exceptional early childhood education through the Nest Nature School to foster young children in their full spectrum of development, inspire life-long learners, and instill a sense of wonder in the natural world.
Katie Heiser is a new lead teacher at the Nest Nature School. Katie was born in Northern California before moving to the state of Washington. She said teaching found her during a transitional period of her life and has been in love with it ever since. She has been living in the area for a few months but had visited Texas before acquiring her position at the Nest.
You will find Katie on hikes with her students on any given day, watching them learn to climb logs for the first time or sitting on the ground for storytime. One of Katie’s favorite things about teaching is watching a child hit significant milestones in his or her development.
“What I enjoy about teaching is not knowing what every day is going to hold for me. I love watching each child arrive in the morning with new abilities and experiences from the previous day they came,” said Katie.
We recently caught up with Katie to see what her experience has been like so far at the Nest and in the Texas Hill Country.
Q. How did you find out about the Nest Nature School?
A. I found the Nest Nature School through a Google search. When I found out I was moving to Texas, I spent a lot of time researching schools I wanted to work for and ensuring it was the right fit.
Q. What excited you the most about moving to Texas? Have you visited before?
A. The most exciting factor about moving to Texas was honestly the Nest Nature School. I was very excited about this next chapter of my career and felt that the Cibolo Center for Conservation was going to provide me with a lot of growth and knowledge. Before arriving in Texas at the end of August, I had visited in March and explored New Braunfels, San Antonio, and nearby cities.
Q. What do you like the most about the Nest Nature School campus and its students?
A. The Nest campus, albeit is brand new and beautiful, you can still feel the humbleness of everyone who has been at the school from the beginning when it was run in an auditorium at the Cibolo Nature Center. The campus was designed intentionally by people who understand children and love play, and you feel that walking through the campus. Every play space provides so much opportunity for imagination, developmental skills, and a love for nature.
What I enjoy most about the students at the Nest is how different each child’s background is. Some children have had preschool experience, some haven’t, and some are returning Nest kids. It creates a lot of fun experiences when getting to know each other! It has been amazing to see each child grow from the first week of school to where we are now. Friendships have blossomed, children are out of their shells, and they are already mastering new skills.
Q. What do you want people to know about the Nest Nature School that is not already known?
A. The Nest is deeply cared for by the children, the community, and everyone involved. During my first week of training, I had moments where tears formed in my eyes listening to Sarah, Linda, and Margaret speak because of what they are doing for everyone in this organization. I felt seen, heard, and surrounded by people who felt like family in just a short amount of time.
The Nest believes in education for their teachers and ensures they are being taken care of, which I cherish. The Nest is a place where children are deeply cared for in a developmentally appropriate way. Every toy, play space, and hike is designed to enrich children’s lives, and I am so proud to be involved! I believe in developmentally appropriate practices for early childhood education, and it was something I wasn’t going to compromise when searching for employment at a preschool. When I found the Nest, I knew I wasn’t settling for less, but I was settling at home!