MAP Teachers

Kindergarten/1st grade: Tim Heth

  • 18 years as RVSD MAP teacher (founding teacher, originally of the RVSD Innovative Learning Community)
  • 36 years teaching experience (including Teacher Corps in Louisville, KY; San Francisco Unified School District child development centers and Visitacion Valley; Tenderloin senior programs; Chinatown)
  • 5 years as MAP parent (1 more year to go!)
Kindergarten/1st grade: Rebecca Wicker
  • 9 years as RVSD Multi-Age Program teacher
  • 23 years teaching experience (including founding member of The Mountain School in Corte Madera; founding member of The Novato Charter School; Marin Primary in Larkspur; Home Preschool in Fairfax)
  • 2 years as MAP parent (4 more years to go!)
2nd /3rd Grade: Emily Korrell
  • 4 years as RVSD MAP teacher
  • 15 years teaching experience (including 1st -6th grade classroom teacher; resource teacher, special education program aide; K-12 substitute teacher; educator at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.)
2nd /3rd Grade: Erika Smith
  • 10 years as RVSD MAP teacher
  • 20 years teaching experience (assistant director at DayCaring Preschool in Fairfax)
  • 6 years as MAP parent

4th/5th Grade: Chris Lyons
  • 8 years as RVSD MAP teacher
  • 18 years teaching experience (including Dixie School in San Rafael)
  • 10 years as MAP parent

4th/5th Grade: Nina Watson
  • 12 years as RVSD MAP teacher
  • 1 year as MAP parent (5 more years to go!)

Teacher Statements


Tim Heth (K/1st grade teacher)

I believe young children are innately creative, and that their creativity continues to flourish when they pursue their own interests and ideas. I believe a child’s school experience should integrate literacy and mathematical skills, science, visual and performing arts, outdoor education, and play in a holistic curriculum that will excite and engage each child.

Here is how this looked one recent day in my classroom: I proposed that the children construct boats to float in a big puddle outside our classroom. Students excitedly gathered materials for each to make their own boat in their own way. One student asked if, instead of making a boat, she could study the puddle. With boat building and testing going on all around her, this kindergartner proceeded to sit by the puddle and write for 45 minutes, filling several pages with her observations.

Whether we are studying our local environment, prehistoric humans, or the Middle Ages, together we make the classroom come alive during every unit. When we use all our senses and our whole bodies to live what we are learning, the learning stays with us long afterward.

Our class has performed a homegrown 45-minute production of The Wizard of Oz every year for the past ten years. This is a somewhat unusual endeavor for a team of five-, six- and seven-year olds, but we do it anyway and have so much fun. Lots of learning happens along the way. Each child—not the teacher—chooses his or her own role. Some years we have four Dorothy’s, three wicked witches, and two cowardly lions. Every year is different. The children learn the script by reading it with their partners, and are very motivated by the challenge of taking on reading at that level. Bringing this story to life also involves memorizing, moving, singing, teamwork, artwork, problem solving, and patience. Older children help the younger children, and work hard to achieve a group goal together. They overcome fears in order to perform in front of their peers and parents. They support each other and say their lines in unison with the other players who share their role. They look forward to doing it again the following year, and returning in future years to fill in on “big kid” roles as a Kansas tornado, flying monkey or member of the stage crew. Their accomplishment fills them with confidence and sticks with them.

“Mr. Tim corrects our children without shaming, listens to and respects their point of view, and allows them to work at their own pace. In a world that’s speeding up and pushing kids to conform, Mr. Tim provides a safe place for children to develop at their own pace, take risks, be inspired by their world and immerse themselves in learning, whether it’s the twenty songs of the crow in our own backyard, or crossing space and time to inhabit the Middle Ages.” — Kim D’Arcy, parent

Rebecca WickerRebecca Wicker (K/1st grade teacher)

I believe that a successful teacher shines when they are able to treasure the wonder and magic of the young child while offering an interesting, challenging, and differentiated curriculum that engages students and meets the multi-intelligences found in each individual. The beauty of MAP is the freedom it affords me to gather the best of my Waldorf and Montessori training to weave together the perfect patchwork for each set of students I have the pleasure to teach.

Some of the greatest gifts I have received in MAP are the relationships I have forged with my students and their families: these bonds often become life-long relationships as we create a true community and support one another in the classroom and in life. Take for example when parents banded together to care for the young babies of returning MAP teachers, enabling them to go back to the classroom. We call upon one another to help care for each other; it truly takes a village.

“I have really enjoyed reflecting on the powerful and meaningful learning that occurred in Ms. Rebecca’s class this year. We are all so fortunate that our children have had such an amazing experience. I am grateful for this community, the talented teachers, and the generous/supportive/wonderful parents. Thank you!” —Amy Ferhart, parent

Emily Korrell
Emily Korrell (2nd /3rd Grade teacher)

Teaching has always been a part of my life’s journey. As a child, I could be found “teaching” my three younger sisters in our “school” in the basement. As an adult, I transformed my childhood playtime role into my profession. Since 1998, I have worked extensively in kindergarten through sixth grade classrooms in Virginia, Maryland, New Hampshire, and California. As an educator at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., I had the opportunity research, develop, and recently publish the interactive book, Awesome Adventures at the Smithsonian: The Official Kids Guide to the Smithsonian Institution.

I teach because I love nothing more than igniting a passion for learning in children. It is the greatest challenge and the greatest joy to figure out how to bring learning to life for each student. For me, this means I must know my students as individuals and I must know my subject matter deeply.

One of my favorite ways to teach is through the use of storytelling. I have found that there is an interesting story behind just about everything in life—you just have to dig a bit to find it. Once you do, you can reel in any learner with your tale!

I also find theater to be one of the greatest teaching tools in the classroom. To provide children with the opportunity to express themselves through singing, acting, and dancing opens up a whole new world for many of them. I have seen students blossom in ways I never expected by giving them access to a stage. Personally, I can’t think of a more interesting way to spend my days!

“Ms. Emily has found the perfect balance between buttoned up and relaxed. She establishes clear boundaries while allowing room for exploration, and is serious and silly in equal measure. She is book smart, heart smart, and an incredible writer, actress and singer! What more do second and third graders need?” — Terry Rivera, parent

Erika Smith
Erika Smith (2nd /3rd Grade teacher)

I love teaching and supporting young children. While at DayCaring Preschool, I was inspired to see the world through the eyes of the young child, and that changed my life forever. I helped children learn to navigate social interactions, express their emotions, explore their creativity, communicate their desires, and make smart choices — all important aspects of being a successful human being in our world. I then decided to take on the challenge of earning a teaching credential and working with older students in an academic setting. I was fortunate enough to land my dream job of working in the MAP program, where my son was already enrolled. I am passionate about helping young children develop and learn in all different areas — social, emotional, physical, and academic.

I am originally from Kansas City, Missouri, where I earned a BA in Theatre with emphasis in vocal performance. I love to sing, dance, and perform plays with my students, and incorporate the visual arts as well. I have been trained at the Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University, and am committed to helping children thrive as readers and writers in a classroom rich with wonderful children’s literature and children’s own stories. I love to see students enjoy a good read-aloud, read a book on their own, and apply what we learn about good stories to their own writing in class.

I am also trained in Project-Based Learning, and I believe that children learn best when they are interested, when their learning is based in the real world, when they enjoy what they’re doing, and when the material is just challenging enough. I love to provide opportunities for children to get excited, do research, have hands-on experiences, and apply their learning in many different ways.

I recently participated in training focused on childhood creativity, and have since been incorporating exciting new components into my everyday teaching: my classroom is a place where children collaborate, communicate, take risks, are active, and explore in a nurturing, flexible environment.

I also have a passion for social justice, and I believe that second- and third-grade children are at a unique time in their lives when they are ready to learn about civil and human rights, which we explore through stories, conversations, lessons, and service projects that benefit local and international groups.

“Erika has a special way of being energetic and calm at the same time, turning lessons into games and songs and keeping the mood of the classroom fun but under control. She creates a space where children of all academic and emotional levels feel safe, cared for and respected. I appreciate her focus on community service and social justice, helping the kids to look outside of themselves and their own experiences and encouraging them to be compassionate, responsible people.” — Liz Pisco, parent

lyons_200x300Chris Lyons (4th /5th Grade teacher)

Since starting teaching in 1990, I have taught every grade from kindergarten through fifth, in two different schools, in seven different classrooms, with eight different principals. I have outlived lots of educational fads and acronyms and pendulum swings, but all those distractions aside, the thing that has endured is that I love learning with children.

I find that I learn as much from my students as they learn from me! And we learn a lot together. I am always amazed at how each year the combination of individual students and the situations in which we find ourselves create a completely unique dynamic, never to be replicated. The last couple of weeks of every school year I find myself savoring the last moments I have with that class. Even though I’ll have half the same students the next year, I know they’ll be a year older, new students will join us, and we’ll be off on new learning adventures.

I also love learning with adults, which is why I feel so fortunate to have found the Multi-Age Program. I have never worked with a group of teachers who are so passionate, devoted, and consistent in philosophy as my colleagues. We love to talk and debate and share and support one another, and it’s great to be part of such a dynamic group.

I also cherish the relationships I’ve formed with the parents of students I have taught, as well as the parents of other children in our program. Together with the children, we are a community of learners, supporting and encouraging each other.

One of my favorite things we do in my class is to learn about Fort Ross, a former Russian settlement on the northern California coast. The students learn about sea otters, whose pelts the Russians craved, about Russian culture, about the Aleuts who were employed as hunters, about the Kashaya Pomo who worked at the fort, and about how they all related to the Spanish missions, which were in California at the same time. The students each research a real person who lived at Fort Ross, and take on his or her persona. They apply for “jobs” at the settlement, and learn a Russian song and folk dance. Then we spend two days at Fort Ross, dressed in costume, doing the roles they’ve learned about and practiced. Parents are very much involved in the preparation, planning, and experience of the trip (including night watch!), and I repeatedly hear that they find it to be an incredible learning experience as well.

“As our son says, ‘Ms. Chris holds the space for us while giving it to us at the same time.’ Chris has an instinct that she diligently complements with every professional opportunity she can find to give her students a safe and contained place to push themselves to see what they can do on their own. This is very hard to do well.

My family has had the honor of having Ms. Chris teach both our son and daughter through K/1 and 4/5. The unique opportunity of being a parent volunteer in a teacher’s class provides a very clear and unfiltered view of what goes on. As a teacher myself, I am continually astounded at the passion and joy Chris brings to the classroom as well as both an immediate and long-term vision in her lesson plans. I often take notes after volunteering to improve my own skills as a teacher. She holds and conveys the wisdom of a veteran educator while remaining excited and open to what the profession, technology, and her own students have to offer. Chris is the best of the traditional we don’t want to lose and the best of the forward thinking we want to incorporate in education. It inspires me and our children every single day.”
— Charis Denison, parent

Nina Watson
Nina Watson (4th /5th Grade teacher)
I grew up in San Anselmo, and was a Ross Valley School District student. My undergraduate studies took me to Barnard College in New York City. I love the energy and creative arts in New York City. It was there I continued my love and study of dance. When I can I incorporate my love of dance into teaching, whether it is a field trip to Alvin Ailey, teaching Latin dancing, or learning about Isadora Duncan.

After a year abroad in England, I spent some time living and working in Canterbury, Kent. When I returned to California, I received my teaching credential from Dominican University, where I was fortunate enough to do my student teaching in the ILC (Innovative Learning Community) program and Manor, which is now MAP.

Teaching is where I belong. It allows me to be a consummate learner, to be creative, and to solve problems in this ever-changing world. I believe each child is capable of learning, and of teaching others. We all possess questions, interests, and capabilities that need to be honored and supported.

In 2005 I began my work in reading and writing workshop with Lucy Calkins at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College. Reading and writing are integral skills for life: reading for knowledge, for new understandings, for passion and creativity, and writing to communicate knowledge, new understandings, and express our creative selves. I strive to give my students every opportunity to share their knowledge through student-designed lessons they design, implement, evaluate, and reflect on.