Hi!! My name is Tracy Doughtie. In 2012, The Forest Ridge School became its mission to provide high quality child care services to the community of Wellsboro in a family home environment as Tracy Doughtie's Child Development Center. In 2016, we extended our commitment to nature immersion experiences for all children 6 weeks to 12 years through The Forest Ridge School. We are a home-based program where families are our main focus. This includes not only the families we serve but our own family as well. I am the mother of three boys, who love to help the children in our program to learn. My husband also actively participates in the program as a substitute.
As the owner, director and teacher of The Forest Ridge School, I value life-long learning. I also believe that a family learning environment is best for early learners. Creating a warm, nurturing home learning environment where children feel safe to learn and take risks is my main goal. I studied Biology and Psychology at Dickinson College and Franklin Marshall College before receiving my bachelor's degree from West Virginia University Institute of Technology. In addition, I studied in the masters of business administration program at Western Carolina University. Most recently, I received my M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education at West Chester University. In addition, I have also received my PA Director Credential, which involves additional professional development in Early Childhood Education and program management. Currently, I am attending Drexel University for a M.S. in Teaching, Learning and Curriculum with PA PreK-4 teaching certification.
My husband works as a Forester with the PA Department of Natural Resources (DCNR). He received a B.A. in English from Shippensburg University and a B.S. in Forestry from Penn State University.
Our program participates in the Keystone STARS Program as a STAR 4 Family Child Care Home. Keystone STARS is an initiative of Pennsylvania's Department of Human Services' (formerly DPW) Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) to improve, support and recognize the continuous quality improvement efforts of early learning programs in Pennsylvania.
Most recently, we initiated an early childhood educator networking group to provide additional resources to this unique group of professionals in Pennsylvania.
My Teaching Portfolio:
Click HERE to view my teaching portfolio. Please note that this is a work-in-progress as I complete my M.S. at Drexel University.
Why Nature Immersion?
Outdoor adventures have always been a part of my life including camping, backpacking, and being a whitewater kayaker and river guide. My favorite childhood memories include extensive, unstructured outdoor play time that included nature exploration, snow play, ice skating, swimming and fishing in our family's two ponds, chasing butterflies, catching bugs, gardening with my family, and climbing trees.
In raising my own three boys, I began to realize that childhood activities had changed. I felt like childhood was being threatened by technology and I was determined to expose my own children to outdoor, nature related activities like I had experienced not only so that they could develop a deeper appreciation for the natural world around them but so that they could experience the freedoms, richness, timelessness, and spirituality that nature provides. I wanted to expose them to outdoor activities so that they can reap all of the benefits nature has to offer and become stewards to the environment around them.
Because of my young family, my passion for early childhood education and my love of nature, I began focusing my professional development on nature-based learning in early childhood such as Growing Up Wild, and courses through Penn State's Better Kid Care that were nature-based. Examples include Gardening With Kids, Outdoor Explore, and Backyard Science. It was these courses that opened my eyes to the possibility of children learning through a different educational model: a more hands-on approach of learning that is not bounded by walls but endless when in nature. In return, when I started my M.Ed. program through West Chester University, I took advantage of every opportunity available to me to learn more about nature-based education. During this journey, I became more and more determined to implement this model of education into my own family childcare program. I started slowly changing the way I approached early learning, the curricula I used, the materials and activities available and the environment children interacted with in my program.