We believe that the power of empathetic practices, critical thinking skills, and close relationships are built upon connections with people who have diverse perspectives, beliefs, traditions, identities, and cultures. We promote the development of meaningful relationships and learning with small class sizes (1:7-9) and practices that support learners to significantly impact what and how they learn.
While we welcome volunteer support for some tasks, there is no required volunteering commitment.
The mission of Amiko Learning Center is to support young people to build knowledge in ways that promote collaboration and autonomy, so they can understand the complexity of our world, to make informed decisions and generate innovative ideas, while acting with empathy for others.
We work together to make choices about what and how we learn, so the knowledge we build is personally meaningful.
We develop responsibility and persistence to plan and achieve challenging goals, with accountability to ourselves and to our community.
We create evidence of our learning in a variety of ways, including photography and written means, to enhance our learning process, facilitate reflection, and to share with others, in person, and in digital spaces.
Our collaborative community, built from diverse perspectives, strengthens our learning experiences and helps us to develop empathetic understanding.
The learning center is guided by research that supports people to have empowering learning experiences by promoting autonomy and collaboration. Instead of grades, guides facilitate assessment by providing and encouraging specific and helpful feedback from self-reflection, peers, other guides, and community members. We contribute to our community by documenting our learning and creating artifacts that can be shared with others. Courses are designed to be relevant by aligning activities with longer-term goals, creating connections beyond the learning center, and honoring engagement as the driving force behind learning.
Jennifer has a Masters degree in Art Education from Nazareth College where she earned the Excellence in Art Education Award. She is earning a PhD in Teaching and Curriculum at the University of Rochester, where her research interests center on student autonomy and collaboration. To investigate educational opportunities that support learners to make meaningful decisions about their learning, she visited 14 learning centers throughout the Northeast before launching Amiko. These visits and her academic efforts have inspired the development of Amiko. Previously, she served as the Assistant Head of School at the Montessori School of Rochester, Forest School Guide for the Earthworks Institute and Rochester Museum and Science Center, and owner of Flower of Life Gardening. Jennifer has two young children and enjoys cooking and hiking. Jennifer is certified in Wilderness First Aid and is a NYS licensed Hiking and Camping Guide.
Rebecca is an earth scientist and environmental educator with a passion for improving science education. After starting her PhD in Earth Science at Duke University, she realized she loved talking to people about science more than doing scientific research. Soon after, she began teaching field trip programs at a local botanical garden and would go on to do over 300 hours of science outreach while in graduate school. She has been a Certified Interpretive Guide since 2014 and a Certified Environmental Educator since 2018. Her PhD research focused on how coastal ecosystems evolve over long timescales in response to changes in climate and other factors like land use. Specifically, she used computer modeling to study how the plants living in places like salt marshes and river deltas interact with the movement of water and sediment to shape those ecosystems.
Since moving to Rochester, Rebecca has worked as the Outdoor Programs Coordinator for Girl Scouts of WNY, an Instructor for Snapology of Pittsford, and an Educator for the RMSC’s Cumming Nature Center. She is excited to join the Amiko team because she is passionate about the Center’s mission. In her teaching, she aims to help learners build a connection to the subject so that they will be motivated to learn more with the ultimate goals of increased science literacy and informed decision-making. Her favorite thing about living in Western NY is all the waterfalls! In her free time, she enjoys hiking, baking cookies and cupcakes, and working in her garden. Rebecca is certified in Wilderness First Aid.
Janean Shedd is an outdoor educator, with a B.S. in Special Education, and an additional teaching certificate in Early Childhood Ed at Marywood University. Her life-path took her to a daycare in St. Louis, a volunteer construction crew in eastern Kentucky, and to a public school setting in Massachusetts. The bulk of the last 13 years, however, she has spent teaching middle and high school students in outdoor classroom settings with Nature’s Classroom and The Walden Project-NY. With Walden, in addition to being one of two instructors, she helped establish and run the service learning portion of the program. Since moving to the Fingerlakes four years ago, she has fallen in love with the hills and, even more so, with the community of folks that live in them. In addition to being good folks, she also feels like in the Fingerlakes region, more than other spaces, there seems to be progress towards making outdoor education accessible to all students, which is, in her opinion, as it should be!
Jordan Forrest Miller completed their MA from Georgia State University’s Institute for Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies in 2016 and their BSEd in Kinesiology from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in 2013. They earned a PhD in Sociology at Georgia State University. In their dissertation, they use an intersectional lens to explore public health implications of YouTube videos created by transgender individuals.
In addition to their extensive trans health and digital media research, they have taught and facilitated discussions in a variety of contexts, including summer camps, cultural competency workshops, medical school trainings, conferences, and at the college level. In this work, they strive to harness the brilliance of the collective by providing space for students to ground into their somatic experience and express themselves in a respectful environment. They are Wilderness First Aid certified and have been trained in feminist pedagogy.
Jordan has also been an active organizer in the Southern region for over a decade, collaborating with social justice focused organizations to uplift the lived experiences of marginalized communities. Outside of research, teaching, and organizing, Jordan enjoys playing flute, crocheting, cuddling with their cat Sirius, reading science fiction, water coloring, and doing yoga. As a new arrival to the Rochester area as of October 2021, they are excited to be on the Amiko team!
Sara Shaw has a strong background in education and the arts and is fascinated by the relationship between our inner wellbeing and our environment. After graduating from SUNY Geneseo, Sara spent the first 12 years of her professional career as an elementary teacher teaching in a variety of settings, including the rural Adirondacks, the city of Rochester, and in a private, alternative school.
With a passion for teaching and learning through the arts, and a drive towards making a difference in how we teach our children to think, Sara transitioned into museum education/administration where she designed innovative curriculum and honed her educational philosophy. Sara has worked as Director of Education at Strong National Museum of Play, Director and Art Teacher at Cobblestone School, Manager of Formal Programs at Seneca Park Zoo, and Senior Director of Programs at the Genesee Country Village and Museum.
Sara is a nature lover that enjoys skiing, hiking, biking and skating. She has two cats, two grown children, and an innate ability to find beauty in everything around her. Sara is certified in Wilderness First Aid.
Jennifer has a Masters degree in Art Education from Nazareth College where she earned the Excellence in Art Education Award. She is earning a PhD in Teaching and Curriculum at the University of Rochester, where her research interests center on student autonomy and collaboration. To investigate educational opportunities that support learners to make meaningful decisions about their learning, she visited 14 learning centers throughout the Northeast. These visits and her academic efforts have inspired the development of Amiko. Previously, she served as the Assistant Head of School at the Montessori School of Rochester, Forest School Guide for the Earthworks Institute and Rochester Museum and Science Center, and owner of Flower of Life Gardening. Jennifer has two young children and enjoys cooking and hiking.
Sarah Shaw has a Master’s degree in TESOL from Nazareth College and has worked with kids and adult students of all ages in various types of environments. Sarah loves organizing projects, is a collaborative problem solver and is passionate about implementing efficient workflows. When she isn’t supporting the Amiko team as a board member, you can find her spending time with her family snowboarding, or exploring a new hiking trail with her dog Charlie.
Dawn earned her Master of Urban Planning degree from Hunter College and worked as a Transportation Planner for the New York City Transportation Authority for 10 years before moving with her wife and then 2 year old to Rochester in summer 2017. In Rochester she became a full-time stay at home mom and began homeschooling her child at the beginning of his first grade year. Amiko was tremendously helpful and important that first year. Knowing how unique and wonderful Amiko’s programming is, Dawn decided to join the board to help it continue its unique programming well into the future.
Tom grew up as a homeschooled student and currently homeschools his children. He is also an artist and has a Bachelors in Interdisciplinary Arts for Children from SUNY Brockport as well as an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts. He’s worked for over 15 years in various educational settings, including integrated preschool programs and K-6 schools. Tom’s primary interest is Arts-Integrated Curriculum, and he has created and facilitated collaborative Arts-Integration programs in K-6 settings, focused on synthesizing drama and visual art into other classroom learning. Tom also facilitated Arts-Integrated learning experiences as an Adjunct Professor in SUNY Brockport’s Arts for Children Program. Tom is passionate about education being student-centered, and responsive to student’s social-emotional and creative needs and interests. Amiko Learning Center embodies so much of what he loves about learning and working with children, and he is eager to support Amiko as it continues to be a vital part of Rochester’s educational story.