West has served many roles at Rainbow over the years. From lead teacher of second and third and multiage classrooms, to the professional development coordinator and mentor teacher and now as Rainbow Community School’s curriculum coordinator and development director and Rainbow Institute’s Director of Operations. As a lifelong learner, these varied opportunities have yielded much personal and professional growth, increased enthusiasm and connection to Rainbow’s unique model and philosophy as well as continual interest and motivation to support Rainbow’s growth.
West also brings with her a decade of teaching natural sciences and environmental education to children of all ages. West first became interested in teaching while working with children in environmental education centers and camps. Her own love of the natural world and her joy in sharing this world with children inspired her to pursue a teaching career that used “nature’s theater” as a primary learning environment. Much of West’s own education took place in nature’s classroom where she studied the unique ecosystems of the Appalachian region and the southeastern Barrier Islands, the western United States, and New Zealand.
West’s educational philosophy is anchored in place based and experiential learning. She works to nurture a love of learning by fostering in students deep connections to themselves, their community, and the natural world around them. She strongly believes that direct, authentic and meaningful experience is the primary stepping stone to understanding.
West holds a Bachelors Degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Studies from the University of the South, a Graduate Certificate in Environmental Education from the Teton Science Schools, a Master’s of Education from Montana State University, a school administration license from Appalachian State University, and a graduate certificate in non-profit management from Duke University. She also won WNC’s Best of the Best Teacher – 2nd place in 2012 and 1st place in 2013!
West is also an avid rock climber and travels nationally and internationally with her dog, Willow to climb. West is also a competitive bodybuilder and loves to trail run, cycle, paddle board and backpack.
Did you know West was interviewed by Dr. Bob Hanna on Asheville FM? You can listen to an excerpt of her interview where she discusses her blog and her approach to education.
Here’s West and other Ashoka change leaders on a panel at the SXSWedu 2106 conference in Austin.
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You can reach her at: West.Willmore@rainbowlearning.org