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Nice to Meet You!

Joshua - Teacher, Director, Founder


Teacher Josh grew up in the rural backwoods of Northern New York State. Their favorite thing to do as a kid was going camping with their grandparents in the Adirondack Mountains. After earning a 4 year degree in Innovation and Entrepreneurship from Clarkson University, Joshua spent 5 years working in the tech sector. 

Though Joshua made progress paying off student loans and lived comfortably, they couldn't continue doing work that they didn't find personally meaningful. Joshua decided to make a big change and earned their TESOL certification and began teaching ESL. Joshua spent years starting classes at 4AM working with over 500 students across China. After only a few days teaching, Joshua knew that working with kids was going to be their life's work.


Joshua spent several years working at a local nature based program where they directly worked with dozens of children and made connections with local families. Joshua earned their Child Development Associates Credential (CDA) while working full time. Joshua is proud to have worked in early ed, both in person and online, over the course of the pandemic. 

​"Its hard to pick a single favorite part of this work. One of the them is being able to give children the gift of time. Sometimes children need 30 minutes to figure out how to put on their own shoes, its rewarding and therapeutic to sit with children while they make progress in their own time and then to get to experience children celebrate their achievement. I also love building provocations. The culture and learning arc of each individual and each class requires unique learning tools and materials. I love being able to integrate sculpture and woodworking into my work life and see the joy and wonder as children play with a toy or play area that I made for them.

Kara - Teacher



Teacher Kara grew up in Connecticut and has been providing childcare since she was a babysitter for her neighbors in middle school. Kara attended Smith College where they studied sociology and Spanish, and worked at a daycare for 1-5 year olds while getting this degree. She moved to Maine after graduating and worked as an Americorps VISTA in the Portland Public Schools Multicultural and Multilingual Center, working to support Early English Learners. After this, Kara continued to work as a nanny while she obtained her Masters in Social Work at the University of New England. 


For years Kara worked as a community social worker, organizing legal clinics for Mainers with low incomes, taking hotline calls from victims of domestic violence, and volunteering at Preble Street Homeless Shelters, the Portland Housing Authority, and more. Kara loves being of service to their community and during the pandemic came back to working as a childcare provider, which is work that has always fed her heart. She especially loves making music and identifying birds and plants with little ones, and feels honored to be a part of nurturing the precious young ones in our community. Kara brings a trauma-informed, strengths-based perspective to their work as a teacher, and is so excited to be at her dream job here at Fairy Forest. 

Ela Ray - Teacher


Teacher Ela was born in Poland and raised in Germany. As a child, she loved to be outdoors, especially on her grandparents’ farm, where she helped by feeding the farm animals and harvesting the crops. But her favorite thing was exploring the surrounding hills and forests with her cousins while letting their imaginations run free.

Teacher Ela grew up in Poland until her tenth birthday, when she moved to Germany. She quickly learned German with the help of some amazing, caring teachers. While in Germany, she earned her associate degree, then completed a three-year vocational training program to become a bookbinder, and finally attended the Johannes Gutenberg University where she earned a Master of Arts degree in History of Art and Book and Media Studies.

Teacher Ela’s path to teaching began when she taught incoming U.S. soldiers about German language and culture as a Headstart instructor for Central Texas College. Ela also taught Art History as an adjunct professor at Schiller International University in Heidelberg. When she moved to Washington State, she volunteered at the Tacoma Art Museum as a docent, primarily leading school groups through exhibition rooms. While interacting with children of all ages, Ela quickly realized she loved working with young children. She knew she wanted to make her career as a preschool teacher.

Since 2011, teacher Ela has been moving around a lot, all the while working in children’s education. She held the positions of teacher’s assistant, and preschool lead teacher in Washington State, Hawaii, and Arizona. Only a year into her new profession, teacher Ela obtained her Preschool Child Development Associate Credential.

The feeling of accomplishment and meaning in one’s everyday life can be found in early education for teacher Ela. To teacher Ela, the small and big victories are equally important, whether it is seeing a child feel proud after trying something for the first time or gaining a child’s trust after a challenging moment.

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Laura - Teacher


Laura was born and raised in Maine. Growing up her favorite thing to do was to be outside playing and exploring. But most of all she loved spending time at her neighbor’s farm with horses. After graduating from high school, she went directly into the workforce and a few years later got married. Laura and her husband David started a family right away, having 2 daughters. She continued her work as an administrative assistant until the birth of her youngest daughter. This is when she made the decision to leave her job to stay home as a full time mom. She loved it so much that she decided to make childcare her career.

Renovations to a garage were made and Handprints and Hugs Childcare and Preschool was open for business. For the next 12 years, Teacher Laura lived her dream job. Directing and operating Handprints and Hugs was simply put, a joy. “Providing the children in my care with a place to feel safe, play and be creative helped them not only gain confidence but gave them a place to have fun and laugh every day.” When Handprints and Hugs closed in 2004 Laura went back to office work, assisting her husband, David with the startup of his plumbing and heating business. Fast forward 20 years, ACH Plumbing and Heating is still in operation. But has now switched gears from a busy full-time company to part-time. With the slowdown of the plumbing company Laura has decided to go back to what she loves, working with children, which has brought her to Fairy Forest. These days she still loves spending most of her time outside exploring. She is now a grandmother, cares for her own horses, loves camping, hiking and crafting.

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