About Us

Greenbelt Academy and Early Learning Centre is brought to you by:

Tiffany Tierney, RECE
Director of School Age Programs

Tiffany is a Registered Early Childhood Educator and Forest School Practitioner who has gained experience working in Kindergarten classrooms with the DSBN and preschools throughout the Niagara region. Tiffany followed her passion for Environmentalism, Nature, and Education to join forces with like-minded educators to support the Child & Nature movement and offer Nature-based education to their community. She is a Certified Yoga Instructor and an advocate for living a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Tiffany is excited to share her love of the outdoors while inspiring children to gain knowledge, empathy, and confidence through the world around them, helping them to grow into adults that care for the Environment and their Community.

Joelle Kanakis, RECE
Director of Preschool Programs

Joelle has always been drawn Nature and the outdoors which started when she was young, spending time outdoors with her three younger sisters going on backyard adventures or spending time in the summer camping with her family. It wasn’t until she became a mother that she really saw the importance of sharing this love of Nature with her two daughters. Staying home for 6 years to raise them and opening a successful home daycare during this time, she successfully incorporated nature in her program for learning, arts and crafts with the children in her care. While completing her Early Childhood Education Diploma in 2018 she was drawn to a space where Education and the natural environment overlap. Joelle is excited to be an Educator for the Preschool programs at Greenbelt Academy and Early Learning Centre where she will continue to develop lifelong connections to the natural world for the children in her program.

Jaclyn Giesbrecht, OCT
Director of Operations

Jackie is an Ontario Certified Teacher and Forest School Practitioner, with a background in History and English, and experience with outdoor education. She started working with children as a day camp instructor and program facilitator, which then led her to pursue her passion to become an educator. She has a passion for teaching outdoors, and engages with students in a genuine way while recognizing the learning/teaching opportunities that occur in such a rich and diverse setting. She hopes that Greenbelt Academy and Early Learning Centre will inspire young minds to take an avid interest in nature, which will then open up various avenues for learning and inquiry.

Filomena Barilla, OCT, NAMC Montessori certified
Grade 1/2 Educator

Filomena is an Ontario Certified Teacher that majored in Visual Fine Arts and minored in Art History and has a background in Canadian History. From an early age, Filomena was found with a crayon, marker, or paintbrush in her hand colouring and painting anywhere and everywhere. When she was not making art, she was outside playing in the mud and climbing trees. Her love for everything outdoors came from her Father who grew up on a farm and instilled the importance of caring for plants and trees. Growing up in a rural part of Southern Ontario Filomena considered herself fortunate to have been able to have access to large fields and forests to play and explore in. After studying at Brock and Lakehead University Filomena started her teaching career with the Niagara School Board and went on to get her Special Education certificate and worked for the Children’s Aid Society of Haldimand Norfolk. It is here where she saw the benefits of being able to work one on one with a child and see how each child can grow and learn despite having to overcome tremendous adversity. Filomena moved on and continued to grow as an educator working in daycares as a preschool, toddler and infant teacher and then transitioned into Montessori learning eventually getting her Montessori teaching diploma. Filomena is also a certified Yoga Instructor and is excited to be a part of a community that incorporates imagination and creativity through outdoor learning and exploration.

Miss Gundeep, RECE
Preschool Room Educator

Gundeep is a Registered Eary Childhood Educator (RECE) and graduated from Niagara College in 2020. She is originally from India and moved to Canada to pursue further education and a career.

She loves nature, adventure and has a background in farming. She also volunteered at different places and did English tutoring for kids in India. She likes planning activities, spending her time exploring nature with the children in the preschool program. It reminds her of childhood memories where she and her siblings used to play outdoors.

Miss Leanne, RECE
Toddler Room Educator

Leanne is a registered Early Childhood Educator, graduated from Niagara College in 2017. She has additional education, with an honours bachelor degree in Child and Youth Studies. With education in diverse populations, abilities, and mental health, she is passionate about working with all children. Her hobbies include hiking, swimming, and being surrounded by loved ones and her cat! As a child, her interaction with nature started with camping trips with family, exploring the environment. As she grew older, she became more interested and passionate about protecting the environment and giving children the opportunity to be immersed in nature. Working at Greenbelt Academy is important for Leanne as she can model and teach the significance of being in nature and looking after our planet.

Mr. Scott, BA
School-Aged Programs Educator

Scott has always been interested in the natural environment. From a young age he spent most of his time exploring, building forts, and hiking on the escarpment. Scott first started working with children by volunteering as a junior summer camp instructor at Ball’s Falls Conservation Area, after falling in love with the mix between the history of the park and the beauty of the falls and escarpment. He would later become a day camp instructor and program facilitator there while he attended McMaster University where he majored in History and minored in Geography. Scott took his passions for education and history and attended Fleming College where he received a Graduate Certificate in Museum Management and Curatorship which focused on every aspect of museum work but was most interested in the Education and Interpretive programming side of the program. After graduating he proceeded to work at multiple museums in their educational departments. Through his museum experiences he was able to lead and create educational programs based on curriculum set in alternative learning environments. Scott also began to work at a nature school helping with their camps and school field trips. It was through these opportunities that he realized the importance of nature-based, inquiry-based, and play-based education. He believes that Greenbelt Academy and Early Learning Centre will help inspire children to take a lifelong interest with nature and learning.

Miss Jess, OCT
Toddler Room Educator

Miss Jess is a Ontario Certified Teacher with a background in Psychology and Anthropology. Jess has always had a passion for teaching and learning with children. She completed her Bachelor of Education at Lakehead University in Orillia and during that time worked at an early learning centre. Jess began her work with children supporting at a daycare from a young age. Jess spent time working for the Tim Hortons Memorial Camp where her love for outdoor education blossomed. Kayaking, hiking, swimming and exploring forests are her favourite hobbies. Jess believes outdoor education and forest play is a beautiful opportunity for children to connect and learn from their natural environment and community.

Miss Teresa, RECE
Preschool Room Educator

Ms. Teresa is a RECE, with a Bachelors of Arts and Sciences from the University of Guelph. She is bilingual, speaking French and English, and loves to share her love of language with the children under her care. She is passionate about educating and empowering young people, and is so excited to be a part of a team dedicated to the growth and wellbeing of children. Teresa fondly remembers hiking and camping with her family growing up, and believes that this access to natural spaces at a young age was instrumental to her growth, strengthening her independence and empathy. She loves to sing, dance, act, play the ukulele, and go for hikes with her husband and their dog, Boone. She is so excited to be a part of the Greenbelt Team!

Ms Leanne

Miss Leanne (Ms L)
Toddler Room Educator

Miss L is a Mom of two and has always loved working with children. From teaching dance to being a Brownie leader, to running a home daycare, working in daycares and owning a dance studio.

From an early age, Ms L enjoyed being outside, camping, hiking, gardening and taking her dogs for long walks.

She is excited to be a part of the ”Seeds” program, and looks forward to exploring with the students, and watching them be inspired by the outdoors.