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Meet the Staff

Shawna Thompson

Executive Director


I started Sunbeam in 2020 to give children and families a safe, interconnected, healing and joyful outdoor learning experience, during a stressful time in our culture. I am a mother of two children (5 and 7). I have worked with children for 25 years. I was privileged to be a founding teacher at some of the most innovative and excellent schools in San Francisco.

Throughout my career, I’ve cultivated a passion for weaving outdoor excursions with a hands-on learning curriculum, nurturing opportunities for children to solve real problems using real tools. I have extensive training and experience in Reggio Emilia-inspired pedagogy, language and literacy, emergent inquiry-based learning, parent participation, and the importance of play and choice (two human rights; both are foundational to our development!).

Additionally, I have facilitated workshops for parents and educators, contributed writings to two published early childhood education books, and co-authored a handbook as a start-up guide and training manual for a forest preschool.  My mission is to strengthen our nonprofit outreach to better advocate for the rights and wellbeing of children and families.

Ida Marte

Enrichment Programs Director

Hello, I am Ida, a passionate assistant at Sunbeam Nature School. My life revolves around my love for reading, collecting books, enjoying baseball, and indulging in outdoor activities. With nine years of experience working with children, I've had the privilege of contributing to their growth in various educational settings, including REI, Waldorf schools, kids' playrooms, and early education programs. Being trilingual in Spanish, French, and English allows me to connect with a diverse range of children and families and their understanding. My journey into the world of education began when I was just 14 years old in the Dominican Republic. There, I founded and promoted a literacy program, which, within months, grew to become a nationwide effort to combat illiteracy. Years later, I commenced on another mission by starting the first mobile library in underserved neighborhoods, providing children with access to many books when they had no access to books. I am proud to share that 23 years have passed by and the program is still running strong. Today, I continue my advocacy for education in Petaluma. I'm also a proud mother of a 5-year-old son, who has taught me that the quality of the people around your children profoundly impacts their lives, both in the short term and in the long run.


Raquel Macias

School-Age Programs Director & Administrative Assistant

I  joined Sunbeam as an assistant teacher in May of 2021. It has been a pleasure to learn how to operate a nature school. I have worked with children in my family since my teen years, giving me valuable experience and insight into child development.  I have also worked at a daycare as an infant and toddler lead teacher.  I am a mother of a beautiful, smart, and loving infant who has helped me learn to be a parent. I am excitedly learning everyday with my baby and with the children that I work with at Sunbeam.

I am a graduate from Sonoma State University with a BA in Early Childhood Studies and concentration in Child Development. 

One of the things that I love about working with children is seeing how observant they are and how much they can learn with their environment. I love seeing their smiles and hearing their giggles everyday! During hard days, the children here at Sunbeam Nature School have made me feel happy! I love facilitating creative projects inspired by nature, especially fairy worlds.

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