About Us

The Origins Mission

Historically, status quo pre-k and public school education has been geared towards the employment-focused academic skill sets, excluding the kind of education which can assist children in recognizing and comprehending the world around them. While the problem with the public education system is vast, the problems of society and the environment are even more dire. We are a world out of balance. Our physical and social environments are in a state of emergency.

Our philosophy is that a holistic sustainable education should create the container for children to both acquire and practice thinking skills, communication skills, and tools for emotional regulation. It should nurture children’s innate sense of caring for, and about, nature and all its inhabitants, while supporting and modeling choices and decisions that are grounded in both an Earth and human-centered ethic that celebrates diversity and does not exploit or exclude.

We foster eco-literacy by giving children:

• The opportunity to participate in varied learning experiences integrating many knowledge areas.
• The opportunity for unstructured time – time “to be” and to contemplate, in a natural setting.
• The opportunity to observe changes in an environment over time.
• The opportunity to play a valued part in real life activities (e.g. gardening, cooking, building, caring for animals, producing art)
• The opportunity to develop collaborative, investigative and critical thinking skills.
• Exposure to multiple languages and rich diversity.
• Encouragement of a sense of wonder about the natural world.
• Multiple learning experiences that focus on sustainability and the beginning development of eco-consciousness.
• Exposure to biomimicry, a rich framework for teaching that can be used to address a wide range of topics and environmental literacy – all with a hopeful message that encourages students to be positive agents for change in the world.*

It is this combination of academics combined with mindfulness and our eco-conscious approach that makes Origins Curriculum truly unique. Designed for classroom teachers and home educators, Origins offers preschool curriculum for teachers and families of children ages 3 – 5 and a homeschool curriculum for children ages kindergarten through 6th grade. We also offer supplemental curriculum for kids in middle school and high school as well.

Our lesson plans are based on 3 essential understandings:

The opportunity to participate in varied learning experiences integrating many knowledge areas.

• That the Earth is a living body of interconnected patterns of relationships,
• That by knowing natures’ ways we can learn more about who we are and how we are part of nature and,
• That mindfulness is a way for us to know ourselves and experience our belonging to the Earth.

With these principles in mind, we are embarking on a new paradigm of education… to not only give children a strong academic foundation, but to support the philosophies and ideals that will create a generation of emotionally healthy people who value the wise use of resources, cultural diversity, gender equality and a sense of democracy.

Join us as we change the world, one child at a time!

*Kolan, Padmaja & Madhumathi, Prof. Ecoliteracy- Role of Childhood Education.
*Biomimicry Institute

Internal

Who Are We?

External

Who Lives Here?

Metaphysical

What's Happening?

Interconnection

How are we Connected?

Team

Genevieve de Alva
Founder, Creator and Author

Genevieve has over 25 years experience in early childhood education. Searching unsuccessfully for quality childcare when her daughter was a toddler led her to start her own preschool through ASUM while attending University. She majored in Environmental Journalism and received her CDA credentials as well as her Preschool Teaching Certification, then founded and ran Advantage Academic Preschool on the Flathead Reservation from 2002-2008.

Genevieve then accepted a position as the Executive Director of the non-profit Sustainable Business Council where she advanced the vision of helping Missoula become a prosperous, collaborative community that fulfills the promise of the triple bottom line: a healthy society, economy, and environment by promoting a vibrant local economy built on sustainable practices. She was among the first fellowship cohort with the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, a two-year program designed for leaders who are advancing the development of healthy, equitable local economies. Local Economy Fellows are selected based on their vision, their leadership, and their role as strategic connectors, supporters, and influencers of local entrepreneurs and their businesses. Whether leading entrepreneur networks, community business incubators, or regional economic development initiatives, they are practical champions of new ways of doing business and organizing economies that work for all.

After 4 years at the helm of SBC, Genevieve decided to combine her passion for teaching children with her expertise in the principles of sustainability with the opening of Origins Education in 2011. By supporting children in fostering a solid intellectual, emotional, social and physical connection to the earth, Genevieve believes that we develop an understanding of our place in the eco-systems of life as well as gaining a love for life-long learning. She created a eco-literacy and mindfulness curriculum that is both play-based and place-based and is honored to teach young children about the earth, it’s fascinating cycles and how to respect and care for it and all of its inhabitants.

Genevieve is passionate about the environment, organic food, gardening, photography, mindfulness and music. When not watching over the magic happening at Origins she is spending time with her family enjoying all the beauty that western Montana offers.

Ashley Reloba
Creative Director and Contributing Author

Ashley is a licensed K-12 art teacher and artist originally from the San Francisco Bay Area and Red Lodge, Montana respectively. Ashley has lived in Missoula for the past 10 years and received a Bachelor’s of Fine Art in painting and art education along with her Montana Class 2 Teaching License, from the University of Montana in 2017.

Ashley’s teaching pedagogy is rooted in social-emotional learning, student-student-center learning, and cross-curricular learning. Her focus is to teach to the whole child—building confidence and empowering learners who go on to become global citizens. She strives to meet a child where they’re at and helping them to grow academically, emotionally, socially, and physically. Ashley has been fortunate to assume the position of an assistant teacher at the Children’s Center, a docent for the Missoula Art Museum, a live-in nanny for two Missoula families, a guest artist and volunteer for the Zootown Arts Community Center, and a substitute teacher and paraprofessional for Missoula County Public Schools.

In her free time when she’s not creating art, she enjoys playing in nature, cooking, music, yoga, design, and travel. Miss Ashley values cultivating and sharing her path to wellness with everyone around her.

 

Sam McConnell
Social Media Manager & Preschool Curriculum Assistant

Sam is a certified Kids Yoga & Healing Arts guide offering the magic of nature and mindfulness to families within East Valley, Arizona. She is the owner of Mindful Child Project, a working children’s author, conscious parenting coach, and holistically minded content creator. With certifications in Marketing and Management she uses her creative skills to develop graphic design and content writing that connect deeply and authentically.

Sam designs her content and offerings in a very whole-centered manner with concentrations in social-emotional learning, mindfulness, environmental consciousness, and healing arts. Her aspiration is to connect with the audience genuinely and profoundly. 

When she’s not content creating or teaching healing classes, you may find her climbing mountains, playing her ukulele, reading science fiction novels, spending time with her children, or cuddling with her cats and bearded dragon. 

Amanda Steffes
Preschool Lesson Plan Developer & Contributing Author

Amanda had the opportunity to work in various preschool settings, from a large centers with 35 students in a class, to a small, in-home center with 10 students.  From her experiences, she has formed a mindful, informed, and holistic approach to teaching preschool-aged children.  Amanda values social emotional development and communication skills while keeping academic preparedness in mind. She strive to create content that is developmentally appropriate and inclusive for all types of learners.  

 

Melissa Brent, M.E.d
Preschool Lesson Plan Developer & Contributing Author

Melissa is a Licensed Professional Educator with 7+ years of experience managing classrooms of 30+ students. She is an expert at creating, developing and implementing curriculum that encourages both academic achievement as well as social-emotional growth. Melissa earned her Bachelors in Elementary Education and then went on to obtain her Masters in Early Childhood Education and has worked for years in classrooms at both the preschool and early elementary grade levels. Striving to find out everything she could about the way children engage with education, Melissa has dedicated the most recent years of her career to researching child development and creating lessons that prioritize classroom relationships and social emotional wellness, and before joining the Origins family, she was the Curriculum Coordinator for an online early education platform focused on social and emotional development at the pre-k level. Using play as the driving force, Melissa hopes to encourage fun, excitement, and a lifelong love for learning in Origins students. Living in the North Carolina mountains with her husband, her toddler and her dog, Melissa finds her zen in books, iced coffee, and Mr. Sketch markers.

Erin Montgomery, M.Ed.
Homeschool Developer & Contributing Author 

Erin is a CELTA-Certified ESOL Instructor with over a decade of domestic and international language teaching experience. She is also a seasoned, detail-oriented content writer, copywriter and editor working for clients around the globe. 

She began her teaching journey as a counselor and curriculum designer for wilderness and environmental summer camps. In the classroom over the years, she has taught French and English to students of all ages and levels, in the US, France, Malta, and Italy. 

Before pursuing teaching and writing/editing roles full-time, Erin obtained a masters degree in urban planning, studying the cross-sections of land use and active transportation. During her tenure on an American Planning Association committee, Erin solidified her path as a writer and educator. An opportunity to live abroad took her to Europe, where she acquired CELTA certification and founded an English Services business that has been helping people speak and write more impactful English since 2012. 

Erin now calls Montana home, along with her husband and young son. She is thrilled to share her blended background supporting parents and educators on their home-education journeys.

Gena McGill, M.Ed.
Homeschool Developer & Contributing Author 

Gena is a licensed Pre-K-6 teacher and has nearly two decades of education and curriculum experience. She began her teaching journey working with Title 1 students in the Bronx, New York City. During this time, she completed her Masters of Science in Elementary Education.

She then spent time teaching English to university students and professors in Bali, Indonesia. Gena then returned to the United States and completed another Masters degree in International Education with a focus on bringing global perspectives into US curriculum. She worked as the Director of Global Education for the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area, bringing global education to over 2,000 students in the DC Metro Area.

Gena now calls Colorado home and is excited to share her passion for environmental and global education with Origins Curriculum homeschool families. 

Valerie Krex, M.Ed.
Homeschool Developer & Contributing Author 

Valerie has been engaged in teaching, learning and dynamic curriculum development for the past two decades. After she completed her undergraduate work at University of Pennsylvania where she studied Anthropology, she went on to receive a Masters of Arts in Community Studies from the University of California at Santa Cruz. From there, she went on to receive a Masters in Education from Long Island University. Valerie has a certification in secondary education students with disabilities. After spending seven years as a New York City mathematics and special education teacher, Valerie launched a career as a national math curriculum consultant. Her passion is helping children find confidence and engagement through the magic of math. Valerie lives in Missoula, Montana with her husband and her sons. When she is not writing math challenges, you will find her skiing Montana’s snow peaked mountains or swimming in its glacial fed lakes with her family. 

Juliet Pailes, M.Ed., PhD Candidate
Homeschool Contributing Author

PhD candidate Juliet has had over 35 years of experience in education. She acquired a Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development and a Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology and Counseling with an Early Childhood Emphasis, both from California State University, Northridge. She is set to graduate within a year with a PhD in Education, focusing on Curriculum and Instruction, from New Mexico State University. At NMSU Juliet is researching parent involvement in early education.

Currently located in Southern California but born in Pennsylvania, Juliet had a bi-costal childhood which helped create a love of the earth. This shaped her beliefs about eco-education and biodiversity that are woven throughout her philosophical tenets to this day.

After enjoying a career as a hands-on school-based caregiver for young children for 5 years, Juliet directed and managed three different schools for young children for another 6 years, coordinating one from the ground up. She has directed schools both large and small – ranging from 40 to 200 children. She has worked in multiage group settings, stand-alone classroom settings, academic schools, play based schools, and school district preschools.

She has mentored new directors as a Director Mentor for the California Early Childhood Mentor Program and as a Public Policy Intern for The California Association for the Education of Young Children (CAAEYC) in Sacramento, California. She spent three years as a Public Policy Chair on the board of an affiliate chapter of CAAEYC in Verdugo Hills, CA. In addition, she served as a grant writer/project coordinator for a statewide non-profit educational group, The Homeschool Association of California (HSC). Now she serves as the co-chair of the Legislative Action Workgroup within the larger, statewide, Public Policy Committee for The California Association for the Education of Young Children (CAAEYC).

Juliet has four daughters ages 20 years, 18 years, 16 years, and 11 years, and a 14-year-old son. All of them have been homeschooled since kindergarten. Two have begun college and three are still homeschooling. They have played music their entire lives and music plays a central role in her family's daily routines.

Juliet enjoys classical music, researching, hiking, yoga, and long walks with her family. Her favorite household chore is doing the laundry, which is good because she has a lot of it to do!

Juliet is most often working online grading papers, in a zoom meeting, researching, editing, or listening to music in the car with her children when traveling to or from their activities. When not doing these things, you can find her dreaming up curriculum ideas for her own children and the children she writes curriculum for.

Komodo Jones, MBA
Media Director

A natural leader and proven innovator, Komodo Jones has a special talent for seeking out and maximizing business opportunities. At 15 he turned a dish-washing job into a management position and soon after created a successful regional music promotion and production company.

Today he is a consultant utilizing his pior experience as the CEO at Media Monkeys Pro a brand engineering firm that was born from a previous venture KOJO Entertainment. His companies re- design and implement business brand strategies that help individuals, start-ups, filmmakers, entertainers and companies market their products, services, and brands to the world through social engagement and forward-thinking Internet
media.

KOJO Entertainment has helped GRAMMY and Oscar-winning artists like Patrick Williams, Al Schmitt, and Nan Schwartz promote their work and refine their brands and social marketing strategies. A recent project involved the supervision of Williams’ recent GRAMMY-nominated album, Aurora. Prior to forming KOJO Entertainment , Jones co-founded White Tigers Expressive Arts Entertainment and its sister company White Tigers Global Trade, where he served as Director of Operations, overseeing product development and international divisions in Indonesia. Jones also helped create and oversaw the Hip Hop United Project in Indonesia with corporate partner Bakrie – a project that was featured in Rolling Stone and Traxx magazines.

Jesse Brockmeyer
Branding Manager

Jesse has worked with successful brands for the past 19 years. Whether it is global companies of Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal, Don Julio, Citi Bank and Nutella, or smaller/local brands, he brings the same creative integrity to build successful brands. As a big thinker, Jesse keeps his focus and strategy on the long terms goals of a brand, while implementing the subtle details that drive a successful brand. 

 

Zachary Morris, M.ED.
Homeschool Contributor

Zach is a thought-leader in education. He is committed to the cultivation of thriving person- centered learning communities built on compassion and whole person growth. Zach supports individuals, families and organizations in creating supportive structures for people workign to make a change in themselves and in their community.

Zach is inspired by the science of how people change and why they don’t, and he aims to translate this to improve communication and awareness. His experience in the classroom ranges from the inner- city public school to rural therapeutic boarding school, from non-traditional school to individual homeschool.

Zach worked as the Director of Education of Conscious Pursuits LLC as an education consultant and coach before founding LEARN inc and Alive at Learn. He earned his BA, English/Language Arts Teacher Education from Montana State University and his MEd in Curriculum and Instruction from Arizona State University and holds a Montana Educator License.

Penelope Baquero, M.ED.
Homeschool Contributor

Penelope has been involved in a variety of education organizations and initiatives with the common thread of contributing to societal transformation. Her drive to contribute to positive change has led her to work with children, student-led organizations, nomadic eco-activism, ecovillage leadership, performance art, women’s initiatives, and working in formal and informal education, in Montana, Latin America, and Indonesia.

She earned a degree in Finance and International Relations in Colombia, her country of origin, and a masters in Integrated Arts and Education at The University of Montana, both degrees representative of her interdisciplinary profile. After three years living and working at the Green School in Bali, PeneĢlope has returned to Missoula to design and implement eco-logically minded pedagogy, curricula and artistic experiences to support the emerging movement towards ecological, regenerative consciousness.

Our Origins

Origins Education opened its first location in Missoula, Montana in 2011 and has since opened three more locations, with the 5th opening in early 2021. We serve families with infants all the way through to kindergarten.

Our mission is to nurture a sense of caring for the Earth and all its inhabitants and to support choices and decisions grounded in an Earth and human-centered ethic that celebrates diversity and does not exploit or exclude. It is this combination of our high quality kindergarten-readiness, combined with our eco-conscious approach that makes Origins Preschool truly unique.

 

We feel that there has never been a more important time to share our curriculum with the world. It is our hope that by sharing the principles and ideals that we’ve been using at all of our locations, that we can help contribute to a kinder, more sustainable world for all of us.