Staff

We are fortunate to have a fantastic staff team here at Secret Garden which form part of our wider community. A community of friends, families, children, directors, staff and volunteers. Everyone contributes and everyone is valued.

If you would like to read more about being involved with the nursery in some way then please head over to our Get Involved page.

Sarah-Jane Latto - Nursery Manager

Sarah is a local lass and her family home is in the nursery’s neighbouring village, Collessie. Her earliest childhood memory is of collecting the wiggly worms that she found in the field while tattie picking on her great aunts farm. Sarah believes that it is because of this memory (and many like it) that she has developed a passion for the natural world. Sarah studied Ecology at the University of Edinburgh and afterwards worked as Education Manager at Aigas Field Centre in the Scottish Highlands – enjoying engaging with children of all ages. In 2015 she completed a MSc in Outdoor Environmental and Sustainability Education at the University of Edinburgh and through that course discovered the wonders of the early years! Since then she has worked for Wild Sparks Outdoor Play and now the Secret Garden. In her spare time Sarah enjoys walking along the beach, baking cakes and visiting new places.

Vicky Hobba
Administration Manager & Woods Practitioner

Vicky qualified as an early years educator and a student welfare worker in Australia where she lived for 14 years before returning home to Scotland. She also has a background in environmental law and education administration and has trained and facilitated various personal growth and emergency preparedness courses for adults and children. Vicky has embraced a peaceful parenting philosophy with her own children, pet rats and cat and is excited to be learning about the Hand in Hand approach used at the Secret Garden. Following a fairly wild childhood exploring Scottish woodlands and an adulthood delighting in the native animals and bush tucker of Australia, Vicky is grateful for the opportunity to help children immerse themselves in nature at the Secret Garden.

Naomi Ellis-Morton - Senior Woods Practitioner

Naomi lives locally in Collessie and has a background in Design and Art Therapy, she also enjoys being outdoors and the inspiration nature brings. Having been one of the first Secret Garden Directors and seeing her own children thrive at the nursery Naomi finds it very fulfilling to be a permanent member of staff and share in the unique experience the children have. 

 

Anna Kinross - Senior Woods Practitioner

As well as being a Secret Garden woods practitioner Anna is also an ex-Secret Garden parent with a strong commitment to giving all children opportunities to play and learn outside in nature.  When not working or playing in the woods Anna is a keen gardener and food grower, and helps organise the nursery garden for us. She has an interest in plant medicine and loves to spend time outside foraging and connecting with the plants. She also works as a feltmaker and has made some beautiful pieces including a forest scene wall-hanging which is currently on display in our office. Anna is currently working towards her SVQ in Children and Young People.

 

Karen Valentine - Woods Practitioner

Karen has been a Forest School Leader for over 10 years, working with primary and pre-school children across Fife. As a member of of West Fife OWL (Outdoor and Woodland Learning) Group, she helps promote learning and playing outdoors to schools and nurseries. Karen loves being outdoors, whether it is in the beautiful Secret Garden woods, walking her dog, climbing mountains or playing golf. She also enjoys growing vegetables in her garden and helping out with the nursery garden too. 

 

Louise Durrant -Training Facilitator

Louise has been inspired by and involved in the Secret Garden since its beginnings. She started as a Secret Garden parent, with both her children attending the nursery, then worked as a woods practitioner with many wonderful children over the course of 6 years.  Louise also enjoys working with adults and facilitates Secret Garden “In the Woods” workshops for practitioners, educators and other people interested in the practice and workings of the Secret Garden. Louise is a certified instructor of Hand in Hand Parenting, and loves teaching the listening tools that are used by Secret Garden practitioners to both parents and educators. Louise is currently home educating her almost teenage daughter, continuing to learn loads about education, nature, play, parenting and young people. At Secret Garden Louise relishes her role in training, staff mentoring, and workshop facilitation. Louise believes in meeting people where they are at and working with whatever they bring. Louise is also a Director of the Secret Garden.


Mazz Brown - Woods Practitioner

Mazz grew up involved with an educational camping charity with an emphasis on ‘learning by doing and teaching by being,’ a philosophy that she believes has been instrumental in steering her personal and professional life, as well as instilling in her a love of the outdoors. Mazz has worked in several urban nurseries as a support assistant, which has reinforced her belief that promoting play in a natural setting is the way to go, having been fortunate enough to experience this for herself! Mazz has fond memories of running amok in various beautiful sites around the UK and is thrilled to be able to faciliate similar experiences for the children of the Secret Garden. Her other hobbies include creative writing and yoga, both of which are greatly improved by regular forays into the wild places around her home in Dundee. Mazz is currently working towards her SVQ in children and young people. 

Laura McDonald - Woods Practitioner

Laura started in the sessional team in August 2019 and is a qualified Early Years Practitioner. Laura has a background in IT but embarked on a change of career after her son was born and she was struck by the importance of a child’s experiences in their early years. Laura practices a gentle / respectful parenting philosophy at home and fully embraces the nurturing ethos of the Secret Garden. Laura enjoys the freedom of being outdoors and spends as much of her spare time as possible in nature with her partner, son and rescue Greyhound.

 

Yolanda Vico-Tienda - Woods Practitioner

Yolanda is from a seaside town in Costa Brava, in Catalonia. She has been living in Cupar since 2019, when she started as a volunteer at the Secret Garden. She was very surprised to discover an education setting such as the Secret Garden with this amazing approach, having nature as the teacher. She enthusiastically joined the team in 2020. Yolanda is qualified as an early years educator and primary teacher and specialises in technology and expressive arts. She has more than 10 years of experience working with children, with ages ranging from 2 years old to young adults. She has been an actress in theatre plays for babies and young children! In her spare time Yolanda enjoys cooking, arts & crafts and combines the things that she loves the most: hiking and photography, meanwhile she keeps discovering Scotland. She is a big fan of animals and has two cats at home: Leia & Tama.

 

Claire McGarrie - Sessional Practitioner

Claire has a lifelong passion for nature and a particular love of trees and woodland.  Perhaps she has elf blood?  She simply loves being outside in her natural environment with other woodland-loving human beings; tending to their needs and helping to facilitate their personal expansion through free play. Helping to create a safe space which nurtures a child’s growth but at the same time allows for the expression of fun. For several years now Claire has also worked as a Natural Therapist and has run her own meditation and healing retreats and workshops. She has learnt through this work that both adults and children alike learn best when they feel happy and safe. Claire is an ex nursery parent and her daughter spent several years in the woods at the Secret Garden. 

 

Emma Brown - Sessional Practitioner

Emma has over ten years experience working with young children as a Primary teacher and formerly working in child health. Growing up in Fife , Emma has fond memories of playing in the woods and fields near her family home where she developed a connection to the natural environment as a place to explore, play and learn. As a Secret  Garden parent, she has witnessed the positive impact the outdoor nursery experience has had on her daughter’s personal development. Having listened to her daughter’s stories of the fun she has in the woods, Emma started volunteering at the nursery and since August 2019 has joined the staff team. 
 
 

Ellie McKay - Sessional Practitioner

Ellie is a fourth-year student on the Outdoor Education and Learning (BA) Hons Degree at Perth College UHI. She is interested in a career in the Outdoor Learning environment working with early years and primary age children in particular. Ellie has volunteered with the Secret Garden since 2019 and joined the sessional team at the end of 2020. She has lived in Fife her whole life and has been lucky enough to have been brought up always outdoors and exploring. In her spare time, she enjoys kayaking around the coast of Fife, dabbling in photography and exploring her local woodlands with her three spaniels.