Jim Dott will be the new upper class teacher for Fire Mountain School.

Two other teachers, Hannah Nebeker and Criss Rueda, will return to the school’s staff for the next school year.

Dott has previous elementary school teaching experience, both in Oregon and overseas. His most recent position was at an international school in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Dott, whose educational interests are nature study, writing, drama and world cultures, said he is excited to be joining the Fire Mountain School community and looks forward to sharing his love of teaching with the school’s students and families.

A big draw for Dott was the school’s small class size, as well as being able to use the surrounding forest and nearby beaches as a classroom.

In his spare time, Dott is a published poet, a “Bedtime Story” reader at Coast Community Radio and an avid gardener. He lives with his wife and daughter in Astoria.

The kindergarten and preschool program will be taught by Nebeker, who has been teaching and working with children for 15 years. Having studied classical ballet, literature and fine art, Nebeker emphasizes music, dance and visual art forms in her classes. She balances academics with community-building skills to promote confidence in her students.

Rueda returns as the teacher’s aid for preschool and kindergarten. She also will teach Spanish.

She brings a lifetime of interaction with children in a variety of different fields, including as a mountaineering guide for kids and youth in the Andes Mountains near her home of Quito, Ecuador.

An influential experience for her was her time spent working as an au pair and nanny with children in Vienna, Austria.

Fire Mountain’s former director, Barb McLaughlin, who retired in June, won’t be replaced.

“Parents and teachers will divvy up the director’s responsibilities, such as organizing fundraisers and basic operations,” said Fire Mountain parent Todd Lippold.

During the summer, Fire Mountain is offering an enrichment arts program, created by Nebeker and school parent Sarah Lippold. The day camp, which is a drop-in program, runs until Aug.15 and is open to ages 4 to 12. It runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday. Workshops are taught by local artists and musicians.

Parents can sign their children up by emailing summerenrichmentarts@gmail.com or with Sarah Lippold at 503-717-2530.

Fire Mountain School was founded in 1983 by parents seeking independent education for their children. The school is a nonprofit institution with a curriculum that focuses on interdisciplinary studies.

Students spend abundant time in creative play, outdoors, and with their own community of peers from the other classrooms.

To learn more about Fire Mountain School and its programs, call 503-436-2610.

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