Amiko Learning Center is committed to building a rich community by welcoming families of all backgrounds.

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.

Mission

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.

Core Values

Collaboration and Autonomy

We work together to make choices about what and how we learn, so the knowledge we build is personally meaningful.

Responsibility and Goals

We develop responsibility and persistence to plan and achieve challenging goals, with accountability to ourselves and to our community.

Evidence and Sharing

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.

Relationships and Empathy

Our collaborative community, built from diverse perspectives, strengthens our learning experiences and helps us to develop empathetic understanding.

Our Approach

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.

Our Team

Jenna Chew

Literacy Guide

Jenna has dedicated the last 15 years to working alongside children. While completing her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Newbury College in Boston, MA, Jenna spent time as a private caregiver. It was then that she first discovered her passion for child development and the learning process. After moving to Rochester, NY to be closer to her family, Jenna pursued her love of learning even further by receiving her Master’s Degree in Inclusive Early Childhood Education from Nazareth College. It was then that Jenna developed her excitement for child-centered and curiosity-driven learning experiences. Jenna used her passion for creating intentional learning environments to open Hippity Hip, an eco-friendly indoor community playspace for families with young children. She also spent nearly 5 years homeschooling her own 2 children, ages 9 and 6 years old.

Having grown up on a hobby farm in the rural Southern Tier hills of NY, Jenna has a deep love for nature and the outdoors. In her free time she enjoys traveling to her off-grid tiny cabin, identifying native plants, and homesteading in the city. Tending to her gardens, making herbal remedies, raising backyard poultry, and baking sourdough bread are some of her most favorite things to do. Jenna considers herself a lifelong learner, forever expanding her repertoire of knowledge through her interests!

Maeve Cullinane

Guide

Maeve Cullinane has been a learner and teacher in student-directed education for most of her life. She participated in an alternative democratic high school, graduated from Hampshire College, which is known for its experiential and research-based learning, led a cooperative nursery school in her neighborhood, and after receiving her Masters Degree in Elementary Education, she taught at Cobblestone School for many years. In 2005, she switched to Museum Education and has been on the staff of many local institutions. She has been an asset to Amiko as we’ve grown, guiding courses including Literacy, Young Researchers Club, Geography and Map Skills, as well as Voting in America: The Fight for the Right. 

Jennifer Green, Director

Research, Drawing and Painting, Art, Stop Motion Animation, and Forest School Guide

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 Lauzon, Ph.D.

Program Coordinator and Forest School, Science, and Environmental Education 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. 

Moss Layne

Environmental Education Guide

Moss has taught ecology and environmental science through an ethnobotanical lens since middle school, and earned her dual degree in Environmental Biology and Writing in 2019. In the marsh or the museum, she brings the plants to the people through storytelling and hands-on science. Adventures in conservation fieldwork, curriculum writing, gardening for schools and communities, and science education for the classroom and the forest have developed her interest in immersive programs to empower young nature enthusiasts to connect their skills to science and tell their own stories. Her faith in civic ecology, indigenous rematriation, and community-led environmental justice fuels a cheerful determination to make science and nature education accessible and relevant to all ages and backgrounds. Her favorite plant to sprout from seed is a mango. 

Moss is certified in Basic Life Support as well as the DEC’s Project WILD and Project Aquatic WILD curricula. Her science journalism has appeared in various newspapers in Seneca and Allegany counties, and she is a member of the 2019 cohort of Plant Humanities scholars at Harvard University’s Dumbarton Oaks. Her pronouns are she/they/he.

Jordan Forrest Miller

Guide

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 are currently a PhD Candidate 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 join the Amiko team! 

Sara Shaw

Guide

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.

Our Board

Joshua Murphy

Interim President

A native to the Greater Rochester area, Joshua has built his career at the intersection of education and social/environmental justice. After a standard public school K-12 experience, Joshua took two formal gap years (one in Latin America and one in the U.S.) during which he developed life skills, new perspectives, and a passion for experiential education. While studying Psychology (B.A.) at SUNY Geneseo, Joshua focused on learning and adolescent development and held roles as both an intern with the Office of Sustainability and an ambassador with the Center for Integrative Learning. Joshua has served as an employee and board member in the non-profit sector for nearly 10 years; over the course of this time, he has also earned a Master’s Degree in Education Entrepreneurship from the University of Pennsylvania and volunteered full time as an Academic Advisor and Rochester AmeriCorps member supporting RCSD Middle and High School students through Monroe Community College’s Liberty Partnerships program. Today, Joshua is a Training and Employment Manager in PathStone Corporation’s Reentry division, where he leverages his skills to connect young adults to new opportunities.

Kate Felluca

Secretary

Kate is an attorney with Evans Fox LLP, where she focuses her practice on commercial real estate and business law.  She has two school-age children and enjoys biking, gardening, and birdwatching.

Jennifer Green

Executive Director

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.

Lisa Ernst-Suess

Lisa is grateful for the opportunity to be part of the Amiko Learning Center from the beginning and can’t wait to watch it grow. She is an adoptive mom, foster parent, and social justice advocate. She studied elementary education and child psychology at St. Bonaventure University and then worked with a childcare center to create and run a school-age program.

Suzie Syta Gutierrez