Toni Lane Founder/ Operations Director/ Mentor I have worked with Toni since 2008 and WSI is a reality because of her temperament, talents, knowledge, experiences, and vision. Toni’s past work included being a manager at Novell running an international education team, an owner of a high powered real estate firm brokering opulent homes, she founded and owned a full service brokerage firm again handling executive housing in Danville. She held positions of responsibility and leadership on professional and philanthropic organizations and brought those organizations to a much higher level of service. She has done the same with WSI and WEF. Toni is a person of great integrity, work ethic, professionalism, a person that strives for perfection and in every detail. She believes that what we do here truly does make a difference in the children’s lives, that the most important task for little kids is to learn to play and explore, she is nurturing to the youngest kids, believes that teens should have the opportunity to have the skills to run a successful business if they so choose. She leads by example and expects a high level of professionalism and ethics from staff and teens alike. Toni is currently a professional member of the American Camp Association and a member of their accreditation visiting team; she continues her education as a business owner and educational professional. Toni has sponsored kids whos families are in need to attend both the school and the camps. We are lucky to have her leading this team
Brian has an impressive resume, the education behind him with a BA in industrial arts from Long Beach State, MS in agriculture science from Cal Poly Pomona, completed the Regenerative Design Nature Awareness at Regenerative Design Institute, and is continuing his education and research. He has been spending much of his time learning what happens when we learn, how we learn and develop talent, what actually goes on in the brain, nerve bundles, nerve endings, and muscles. He has k-12 teaching credentials in agricultural science, industrial arts and technology, and vocational education. Brian has a 35 year career in industry and education and a long list of skills and interests, of which he continues growing and learning from on a daily basis.
What is important is to see his passion about getting kids to connect to nature, to themselves, to their ancestors. He is stalwart that kids need room to grow and grow having undirected and unstructured free play, by finding their edges, their fears, the end of their skill set and pulling the kids past these in a safe way, in an environment full of celebration and culture. He does not teach but mentors, believing that all learning is self-taught; he will model, answering questions by asking more questions, guiding them on a journey to learn what they are passionate about. When you are around Brian you will not hear him say “kids be quiet you need to learn what I have to say. “ No, you will hear kids saying “Brian what are you doing?” “Can you show me how?” One day I saw him spin a coal to life the way I have seen him do it a hundred times before, he pulled some leaves from his pocket rolled it into a ball the size of a robin’s egg and gently nudged a glowing speck into the nest and nurse the tiny ember into a warming camp fire. This is a wow for the kids, it grabs something primal in them. A boy asked him “what is that plant I saw you pull from your pocket?” Brian did not give the child the name of the plant but reached into his pocket and gave the young man a sample saying, “it is really good for making a tiny coal get bigger” and then ask “Doesn’t it have a cool smell?” "What does it smell like?' “What do the leaves look like?” “There is a bit of stem how does it feel when you roll it between your fingers?” “How would you describe the color?” “Have you ever seen anything like it as we have been hiking?” If Brian was to simply give the answer, mugwart, it would have been forgotten. In the way we he has them learn the children own their education, and remember it a life time.
As long as I have known Brian a big part of what he does is gives to those that need his time. He continues to volunteer teach in Haiti, China, and the US. He teaches teachers how he teaches, farmers how he farms, he has taught kids how to learn. He has taught in orphanages, churches, community groups, and conferences. He also is a volunteer teacher for California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Brian has sponsored kids whos families are in need to attend both the school and the camps.
Reanna is better known by WSI participants as Cub. She was first a member of our summer staff in 2008. Educated at CSU Humboldt she is an accomplished artist in various media and a very creative program director. She has a love for medieval history and a key creator of one of the most memorable summer camps. She is loved by the students and respected by the staff. She will be mentoring in the areas of art, stage design, costume, history, and primitive skills.
Our K-9's are certified through Therapy Dogs International. Dolly and Taft both love visiting with the kids while reading, visiting with Hospice patients and their families, as well as senior living centers. Our visits put smiles on faces and wags on tails. They help at our camps with kids that may be homesick and at the school being read to by students shy about their reading.
WSI staff treat my son like he is not a kid but a person. He stands taller at the end of each week.
Erica mother of MJ
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
― Benjamin Franklin
A quality institution of learning is not made with bricks and mortar but the people that reside in it. Our students make deep connections to nature and develop memories they will never forget, doing real work, in a classroom they love, with mentors that do not judge them just guide them to mastery.