Welcome to the first Annual Creekside / Squaw Valley Prep “The Great Paint” Community Service Project!


June 8, 2018 from 9am – 1pm – We will be helping the US Forest Service restore the natural beauty of Donner Summit by painting over the graffiti on the EXTERIOR of the train tunnels. (Don’t worry, the impressive interior art is preserved, only the exteriors of the sheds that disturb the natural landscape are removed each year.)


Just sign your child up! 9am – 1pm on Donner Summit June 8th. PLEASE SIGN UP HERE. Then…. Show up! If you are an an adult and willing to either chaperone kids to help keep us safe up there – OR just bring a snack or beverage to share with the volunteers – please put it in the notes.


Our kids and our school benefit greatly from donations and discounts from the parents and professional community around us, as well as the benefits of the incredible natural landscape and environment we use as our playground. The Creekside / Squaw Valley Prep enrichment program gives the kids the opportunity to RECEIVE (education, activity, skills, and entertainment from this community) but also the opportunity to participate and GIVE BACK to the community and environment that takes care of us. It is very difficult to find meaningful, hands-on projects that really make a difference that are appropriate to this age group and we are very lucky to have this opportunity, thanks to the trust of the USFS and the generosity of Kelly Brothers Painting.

Fall 5th – 8th Grade Friday Adventures


Our middle school enrichment is an experiential learning program themed on outdoor adventureenvironmental stewardship and local community service.  We offer field trips and activities including a day of ropes course and orienteering, rock climbing on the Via Ferrata, kayaking, mountain biking, yoga. Our indoor series will have instruction in 3D arts, hands on science, dance and community service themed classes. Each semester’s offerings vary depending on availability of programming….

IMPORTANT UPDATE October 9th, 2018:

Our outdoor field trips have concluded and we are holding enrichment at the Truckee Veteran’s Hall. If you are a semester subscriber, this part of enrichment is included. If you are not a full semester subscriber, you can pay by check either $280 for the series of 8, or $175 for the final five (November / December). I’m sorry but we are unable to offer individual daily drop-in rates or pro-rate if you don’t plan to attend them all.

Fall Adventures


Code of Conduct

Waiver for September 7th Activity

Kindergarten – Farms and Food

Teacher: Olivia Cushing, former Science and Outdoor Education Coordinator at Incline Elementary.
Theme: Farms and Food
Field trip: River Farm, Reno, Oct 17
I was born and raised in a small town in Northern New Hampshire. I earned my degree in Environmental Conservation and Sustainability from the University of New Hampshire and moved out to Tahoe to explore the West. Soon after my move I accepted a position with AmeriCorps as the Coordinator of the Science and Outdoor Education Program at the Incline Elementary School. It was a fun filled year of doing what I love in the classroom in a beautiful place that I am happy to call home.
I am so excited to share my roots in sustainable farming and an appreciation for our environment with the newest students at Creekside Charter School, and my background in science and outdoor education will provide a fun, structured environment for them to thrive in.
Friday Science Enrichment for kindergarten will be farms and food themed, with a strong focus on hands-on science and exploration. Students will learn where their food comes from, how it grows and changes, and why it is good for you! We will explore patterns in nature, what plants and animals need to survive and how they can change their environments. We will be journaling, working on reading and writing skills, connecting science and art, planting, cooking, and more! I am looking forward to a great year!
Field Trip Form

1st Grade – Pioneer Life

Teacher: Bethany Lund, taught for Creekside Enrichment and other programs for many years
Theme: Pioneer Life
Field trip: TBA, Sept 26

Course Description
This year the 1st grade will have the wonderful opportunity to study “Pioneer Life” in a hands on and playful fashion. We will be looking at many aspects of “Pioneer Life” by a variety of techniques. There will be studies of food where we will have the opportunity to make food in the manner that pioneers did. We will study the types of animals pioneers raised and how they benefitted from them. We will explore clothing and hand sewing. There will be new games to learn that were played during the pioneer time period. Blacksmithing/tin snipping techniques will be studied. We will examine jobs that were performed by adults and children and we will have plenty of journaling time so that the students can look back to see what they learned over the 13 weeks of enrichment. It will be a great chance to explore an educational topic in a memorable way.

Bethany Lund has a BA in Liberal Arts from UC Santa Cruz, with an emphasis on photography and design. Since graduating she has worked in many aspects of art instruction and teaching with children and adults alike. In the past few years, Bethany has been working with Creekside Charter as an enrichment teacher for grades K­6th, most recently teaching claymation animation for 3rd­6th grade. Bethany has a passion for teaching children “outside the box” concepts and is very excited to work with the 1st grade at Creekside Charter this year to help encourage creative thinking and broadening concepts that the students will continue to use outside of the classroom.

Field trip Form

Download (DOCX, 14KB)

2nd Grade – Water World

Water World! 

2nd grade, Creekside Charter School Enrichment

Instructors: Michelle McCay-Moran and Katrina Smolen


Instructor Bios:

A bilingual teacher of 25 years and a BA graduate in International Relations with Minors in Anthropology and Spanish, Michelle has taught environmental education, both in the US and abroad.  She holds a Master’s Degree in Cultural Anthropology specializing in Environmental Anthropology with research and thesis work focused on land and water use in urban and rural Mexico.  She is a long-time environmentalist and political activist.  Her passion for the natural environment and contemporary environmental issues facing our planet guide her to creative ways of teaching and engaging people of all ages in these themes as a top priority in her career.  Michelle has enjoyed heading up outdoor ed classes the last few years working with Creekside Enrichment Fridays as well as the Gateway environmental education program on Donner Summit teaching kids aged K-12 outdoor ed through history, biology, geology, archaeology and culture in our local Tahoe region.

Katrina Smolen comes to us as an expert hydrologist and watershed and ecosystem consultant for Squaw Valley, Donner Summit and the Tahoe region for more than 10 years.  She holds a BS in Geology with a Minor in Biology in her undergraduate studies and a Master’s Degree in Hydrology with research specializing in water quality management and wildlife enhancement in the Trout Creek watershed in South Lake Tahoe.  At present, Katrina works as an accomplished hydrology consultant specializing in land use and watershed management and her studies and extensive professional experience lend absolute authenticity and expert knowledge to our search for the inner workings of our local watershed, geology and environment.  Her passion for all things nature through her own work as a local hydrologist in the Tahoe region support our curriculum with invaluable information and experiences for our studies.  We are so fortunate to have her join our class!  THANK YOU Katrina!


Class Description:

Water World! will be a hands-on environmental/outdoor Education class for our 2nd graders at Creekside Charter and we have a fun-filled and action-packed semester of Fridays planned.  So, grab your backpack, hiking boots and water bottle and get ready to take off and dive into the world of water!

This class will focus on the many aspects of water in our local environment, including watershed, geology, biology, water cycle, precipitation, water storage and evaporation, conservation and just plain ‘ol fun with H20!  We will encourage and challenge students with experiential learning and inquiry-based experiments supported by a deepening of information and validation by experts in the field in our own backyard– our exceptional home in and around beautiful Lake Tahoe!

Please be prepared to send your child with the appropriate gear on a weekly basis for enrichment Fridays.  Students will need sturdy shoes for hiking, weather appropriate clothes (layers please!), a big lunch with healthy snacks and a water bottle. *Please note we will not plan to spend long periods of time outdoors in foul weather– but we WILL go out and study the effects of precipitation in our local environment as they occur around us.

PLEASE NOTE: After our first few Friday sessions we will head out into the field in the Tahoe basin to put our basic water knowledge to the test on Friday, Oct 3rd from 9:15-1:45 (leaving from and returning to the Rideout Community Center enrichment class site).  We will need parent volunteers to help us drive and chaperone. Please contact Michelle at or 530-559-5348 if you are able to join us as a parent volunteer for the day.  We will need a number of parent drivers to make this trip happen as that is our only means of transport.  We plan on a full day’s adventure at the lake, a watershed site visit and fieldwork.  Please be prepared to pack the following for your child (and yourself if you’ll be joining us): a hearty and healthy lunch (including snack), weather appropriate gear, sturdy shoes, sunscreen to reapply if needed (please apply in the morning before school!), a full water bottle.  Any field guides for local flora and fauna, and a camera and or binoculars may be included as desired but be sure all items are labeled with your child’s name!  We are hoping for a $0 cost trip.  Location and details are TBA.

In this class we are also planning to host afternoons with a variety of specialty teachers and guest speakers to enhance themes of water through art, legos, yoga, community guest experts and non-profit representatives from in and around Lake Tahoe.  We are so excited to share this wonderful opportunity with your children at enrichment this Fall– please feel free to drop in and join us!  Many days we will be in the field in the mornings so be ready to depart shortly after 9:00 if you’d like to get in on the adventure!

In water and wonder,

Michelle and Katrina

3rd Grade – Sierra Scientists

The focus of the Sierra Scientists program is to encourage science inquiry from students and give them a field or classroom experience to answer it.

Field trip: November 7, Taylor Creek in South Shore for the salmon spawn


Mary Ellen Benier
Co-founder and co-director of Headwaters Science Institute.   She holds a BA in Biology/Environmental Studies from University of California, Santa Cruz.  She has worked as an environmental education guide for seven years  balancing that with substitute teaching K-12 in the local school district.  For fun she coaches a middle school Nordic ski team and tries to get in as much play time outside, skiing, running and biking.  She hopes to inspire students to be curious about natural processes in order to foster a deeper appreciation of our environment.
Spencer Eusden
Co-founder and co-director of Headwaters Science Institute. Spencer graduated from Bowdoin College in 2012 majoring in Biology with a coordinate major in Environmental Studies. His thesis helped demonstrate the ability of a terrestrial scanning laser to quantify leaf photoprotective mechanisms and made a case that this technique can be scaled to three dimensions. This will be his third year of working in outdoor education.
Megan Seifert
Co-founder and co-director of Headwaters Science Institute. She holds a PhD in zoology from Washington State University and has worked for seven years in the field of environmental education. She brings a passion for science and the outdoors and hopes to bring real inquiry based science to students across the US.  In her free time Megan enjoys Nordic skiing, running, and playing with her family in the Sierra.

Download (DOCX, 13KB)


Field Trip Form

Download (DOCX, 15KB)

4th Grade – Myth Busters

Teacher: Eric Mann, taught science for us last year, and is an aide at Creekside and SVP
Theme: Myth Busters
Field trip: Discovery Museum, Reno (visit and class: ), Oct 24

Class Description

If you haven’t seen it, Mythbusters is a science television show on the Discovery Channel in which the hosts use their version of the scientific method to bust (or prove correct) myths, rumors, or other unanswered questions. Their model is:








In our class, we will use a combination of writing, math, and science to bust myths. For most of the classes, we will bust Mr. Eric’s myths together. Towards the end of the class, students will be able to split into groups to bust their own myths (with lots of guidance from Mr. Eric). Games, crafts, and social studies (there were lots of mad scientists that made great and not-so-great discoveries) will also be included in the curriculum.


I was born in Boulder, CO, and I have a bachelor’s in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from UC Santa Cruz. I spent a lot of time during and after college working at a natural reserve where I did plant restoration, worked in a bio-acoustics lab, tracked mammals, and re-located Elephant Seals. I moved to North Lake Tahoe in 2012 and since then I have worked for Creekside Charter and Squaw Prep. I have taught 4th-7th grade science and PE, substitute taught K-10th grades, and worked as an aide for 5th grade/SVP. During the summer I am the co-director of a summer camp in Truckee. I love teaching science and I am SO excited to start the Mythbusters class!

Field Trip Form

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5th/6th Grade – Fox Walkers

Field trip: Mai-du Tribe/Multicultural festival, Yuba River, Oct 10

Course Description

As a Fox Walker, your child will gain hands-on instruction in the ancient arts of wilderness survival, animal tracking, and nature awareness. Our Fox Walkers curriculum subtly engages students in a spontaneous flow of interactive learning opportunities that:

Strengthen powers of concentration, observation, and endurance
Provide access to deep reservoirs of self-confidence and self-knowing
Cultivate intimate, respect-full relationships between students, the Earth, and all who dwell upon her
Empower, inspire, and prepare students to become active, responsible caretakers of the Earth

Please be prepared to be outside with proper clothing, layered form warm and cold temps, Earth tone clothes, and clothing that can get dirty.
Day pack is good to have with water bottle, lunch, snack, and extra clothes.
No electronic devices.
Great to have 10 minutes to meet Parents and see if they have any questions on first day.
Field Trip; Friday October 10th to Indigenous People’s Days at Sycamore Ranch, Browns Valley on the Yuba River. All day field trip.


Rick Berry began with the Tracker School in 1986 at the age of 15, and has been teaching these skills for the past 20 years. Rick spent two years in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey as a care-taker for the Tracker School, testing and refining his tracking and survival skills. Rick taught with both Tom Brown, Jr. and Jon Young through the Tracker School’s Coyote Camps, and moved on to serve seven years as Director of The Children of the Earth Foundation.
Today, Rick lives in the Sierra foothills of Northern California where he shares Grandfather’s dynamic teachings and philosophy of living as one with the Earth through 4 Elements Earth Education and its Fox Walkers program for school-aged children.

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