Mountain Teachers

Naoko (she/her)

Naoko (she/her)

I was born and raised in Japan and moved to the United States in 2003 to experience a different culture. My original plan was to stay here for 6 months. Obviously 6 months wasn’t long enough so I extended for another 6 months. 12 months soon became over a decade and Seattle became my American hometown, and I’ve been living here ever since. I finished my education in Tokyo in 2001 to receive a degree in Linguistics and a teaching certificate. I’ve been teaching for 20 years for a variety of ages, from young children to adults, in all kinds of different classroom settings, both in Japan and the United States. My journey of working in the early childhood field started in 2008 when I received a position at an international preschool in Seattle. Since then I’ve been enjoying learning with the learners and discovering new things through young children’s eyes.  Outside of the classroom, I enjoy spending time in the backyard with my family, watching my children playing with the chickens, harvesting some beautiful vegetables my husband grew, or planning our next world trip “someday”.

Michelle (she/her)

Michelle (she/her)

I hail originally from New Zealand – I was raised and nurtured by a loud and proud albeit small extended family. I was fortunate to have my maternal grandparents right around the corner and spent literally half my childhood in their home – a valuable experience that I still draw upon in my day-to-day life. Family life revolved around eating, drinking and talking together – all those family stories passed down from one generation to the next…

I have worked with young children and their families for most of my adult life and feel more passionate and grounded in my teaching work as I get older. I have been working at Hilltop since 2010.

In my work with preschoolers I like to focus on the social and emotional development of each and every child. I believe that a socially healthy and emotionally resilient child will become a natural, inquisitive and emboldened learner. My teaching practices are driven by my values around identity, community and social justice.

Outside of work I enjoy gardening, thrift store shopping, eating out and watching movies and I’ve never found a cheese or a pair of Camper shoes I didn’t like.

Ellie (she/her)

Ellie (she/her)

Hello! My name is Elizabeth Dawson (Ellie), and I’m a proud Pacific North westerner! Although I’m originally from Portland, OR, I’ve enjoyed living in Seattle on and off for the past nine years. Throughout my career as an educator, I’ve had the honor and privilege of teaching two year olds, fifth graders, and many ages in between! I’ve been at Hilltop a total of six years.

I am so excited to be a Mountain Room teacher. My favorite thing about being in the classroom is the day to day connection I have with the children, their families, and my fellow teachers. We learn and grow alongside one another, and everyone is transformed by the end of the school year. When I’m not teaching, I enjoy spending time with my husband Jason and toddler Elsie Joy, rooting hard for the Seahawks on Sundays, and listening to the waves on any beach I can get to on a regular basis. Looking forward to a wonderful year with the Mountain Room community!