About Us

Burlington Forest Preschool began as a licensed program in the fall of 2013. We moved to the Ethan Allen Homestead park in the fall of 2014, and have happily been here since! We operate full time and have three indoor classrooms, lots of covered outdoor space, and enjoy free rein of nearly 300 acres within the park. 


 Meet the Teachers

Nicole Mandeville – Owner, Director, and Substitute Teacher

Nicole is a licensed teacher with a B.S. in Early Childhood Education, and taught preschool in several settings after graduating from UVM in 2008. After experiencing multiple approaches to implementing a preschool curriculum, she began to look for a new program to join, one where children could regularly connect with the natural world. Eventually, she realized there wasn’t one in the Burlington area! In 2013, Nicole and her previous co-owner started the school. Nicole’s favorite moments with children are those where their ideas and questions come through to inspire the learning of the group. In her free time, Nicole enjoys creating, cooking, reading, traveling, paddling, and hiking.

Rachel Popoli – Teacher

IMG_5468Rachel is a licensed teacher who has been teaching in Vermont for the past 14 years, and has been with BFP since 2018.  She obtained a B.S. in Elementary Education from Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, and a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction at Union Institute and University in Montpelier, VT.  She has a strong passion for holistic education while incorporating yoga, movement, music, art, health, and multiculturalism. When she is not spending time with preschool explorers, Rachel may be found: hiking, SUP (stand up paddle boarding), eating delicious food, traveling, and/or spending time with her husband, 2 little girls, and cat.  

Erica Wilson – Teacher

0118181932Erica graduated from UVM in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies, and then consistently found herself working in childcare settings. In 2015, she moved to NH and earned her MEd in Elementary and Early Childhood Education from Antioch University New England. Studying education at Antioch allowed her to incorporate her interests in the environment with her interests in education, and started with BFP in 2018. She enjoys working with children because of the “aha” moments of when something clicks for the first time! In her spare time she enjoys bicycling, hiking, reading, baking, and cooking.


Sage Ryan – Teacher

Sage is so happy to be part of the Burlington Forest School community ! She is originally from Washington D.C. and graduated from UVM in 2019 with her license and B.S. in Early Childhood Education. In her time at UVM, she focused on the importance of offering young children opportunities to build relationships with the natural world. Sage has presented her research about the benefits of free play in nature in early childhood settings and the teacher’s role in creating those opportunities for children. She believes that our environmental status and early childhood education are critically intertwined with one another, and feels lucky to be able to support children in creating meaningful experiences within those contexts that they can carry with them throughout their lives. She finds great joy in working alongside children in building empathy, compassion, and deeper understanding of the natural world. Sage is an active outdoors-woman and enjoys exploring the infinite affordances of the outdoors with children and in her free time.

Mary Goggin – Teacher

Mary was born in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California and spent her childhood climbing, swimming, raising chickens, going on treasure hunts and hikes, gardening with her family.

In 2014 she earned two Associate degrees at Folsom Lake Community College; one in Psychology and another in Interdisciplinary Studies- Social and Behavioral Sciences. She also earned two teaching certificates in Early Childhood Education. Mary transferred to Humboldt SU where she eventually achieved a BS in Psychology with an emphasis in Child Development. Mary has 7 years experience working with young children. Most recently, she was the site supervisor and lead teacher at a Waldorf inspired preschool where she integrated place-based, seasonal, child-directed curriculum for over 50 families and their children.

In her free time, she enjoys gardening, hiking, reading, home improvement projects, cooking and textile handwork. Mary is thrilled to be part of the Forest Preschool community and looks forward to the coming school year with all the children and their families!

Olivia Philip – Teacher

Olivia is super excited to be joining the Burlington Forest Preschool family in the new PreK/Kindergarten classroom! She is a Vermont native and grew up in Royalton, VT.  She graduated from Champlain College in 2017 and received her B.S. in Early Ed/ Elementary Education. She is licensed to teach Pre-K – 6th grade. She enjoys traveling and discovering the beauty of this amazing planet we inhabit! Olivia spent time after college backpacking through several countries in Europe.  After returning, she found her niche age group working in two different preschool settings. This past year she spent traveling up the east coastline of Australia and between the North and South Island of New Zealand. She believes there is so much we can learn from the exploration of the natural world and is happy to be a part of a school that shares those values.  In her free time, you can find her doing yoga, rollerblading, hiking, kayaking, snowboarding, and hanging out with friends and family.

Sydney Foster – Teacher

Sydney is glad to be joining the Burlington Forest Preschool team! She graduated from the University of Vermont in 2015 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Ecological Agriculture and a strong interest in sustainability education. Afterward, she found herself in a multitude of garden and farm-based educator roles, eventually realizing her passion for bringing nature-based education to the youngest of minds. She obtained her Master’s in Early Childhood Education and has been a preschool teacher for the past four years. Sydney believes learning in nature provides children with a tangible connection to the natural world and fosters a sense of compassion, confidence, and belonging. When not teaching, you can most often find Sydney enjoying nature on her own through snacking on veggies from the garden, riding her horse through wooded trails, or floating in beautiful Lake Champlain!

Sarah McLellan – Assistant Teacher

Sarah is very excited to be part of the forest school community. After a long stint of working in wildlife biology and environmental education, she received her masters degree in early education from Boston University’s Wheelock College and spent some time teaching preschool in Boston. Sarah believes children learn best when given the opportunity to take an active role in their education and explore their interests in an environment that encourages creativity of all kinds. She believes that a teacher’s role is to model empathy and curiosity, to act as a guide, to reflect on the day to day, and be constantly learning and adjusting to provide the best environment and opportunities for the students. She values the opportunity at BFP to collaborate with educators, families, and students to create a learning environment where we all thrive!

Allison Plummer – Assistant Teacher

Allison is a recent 2020 graduate from Saint Michael’s College with a B.A. in environmental studies, and a M.A. in teaching for elementary education. Her love for the environment started in Maine, where she’s originally from, and only grew when she moved to Vermont 5 years ago. Allison spends a majority of her time outdoors, either gardening, hiking, swimming, biking, or practicing yoga. Her passion for outdoor education has been the foundation for her teaching philosophy. She enjoys sharing her passions through exploring and learning from our natural environment in meaningful ways with children, and loves being able to work alongside children who are curious, inquisitive, creative, and up for any adventure to discover what learning opportunities our environment has to offer!


Parent Testimonials

IMG_6076“If you or a friend are looking for a stellar preschool, you should check out Burlington Forest Preschool at Ethan Allen Homestead. They go hiking, catch frogs, come home muddy and happy. Early education that actually lets kids experience risks that every other program we have seen has worked to eliminate. And our little man loves it.” – Joanna E.

IMG_7275“We feel so lucky to have our son at such an incredible school. It is a wonderful, welcoming program that really brings out the best in him. The location is so ideal, and the kids thrive being outside, active, and able to explore. The program definitely taps into kids’ natural curiosity… our son comes home every day eager to share what he’s discovered at school. We love the positive attitude he walks away with! Can’t wait to send our younger son next year!” – Cayenne M.

IMG_0799 (2)Burlington Forest Preschool has provided our daughter with an amazing opportunity for creative learning, adventure and outdoor experience; a foundation that will benefit her for life.  She comes home with a huge smile, full of stories about the new, exciting things that she learned and explored that day.” – Jonna J.

“My son LOVES going to school every day. The teachers are amazing and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of parents to be involved with. I could not say enough great things about the school and experiences we have had with them.” – Shannon R.



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