Clare Nugent

I lift up my eyes to the mountains-where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

-Psalm 121:1-2

I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief...For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

- Wendell Berry

Clare was born in Franklin, Tennessee. After marrying, she set off for the West Coast, and was blessed with two boys. Her husband’s work moved them to Boston, where her eyes were opened to the delightful world of literary giants such as Louisa May Alcott, Longfellow, Thoreau and Hawthorne and naturalist writers like Anna Botsford Comstock, Rachel Carson and Thornton Burgess. 


Home educating her boys allowed many hours of exploration of historical sites, authors homes and their stomping grounds and nature journaling in the wild woods and along the rocky coasts of Maine and New Hampshire. It was in New England that the idea of “nature education” took flight. Partnering with preschools, museums, home school groups and various organizations, she was able to

develop and teach comprehensive nature programs with an emphasis on observation, literature, art, music and movement.


Widowed in 2010 and needing the loving support of her family, she moved back to Tennessee with the opportunity to buy a small farm and the dream of Ferntop Nature Preschool was born. Clare runs the first licensed nature preschool in the Southeast and is excited to be a part of a growing field of early childhood education with an emphasis on the natural world as the classroom. Her program spends the majority of their day outside and in the forest and uses the happenings of nature and the interests of the children as a springboard for exploration and learning


Clare has 18 years experience teaching young children. Her favorite teaching jobs have been at Reggio Emilia inspired preschools; The Children’s Center at Groton, in Groton, MA and Spring Hollow Early Learning Center in Franklin, TN. She received her music and movement training with Musikgarten in New York whose curriculum revolves  
around poetry, creative storytelling and the themes of nature. She is currently working towards completing her degree in Early Childhood Education with her sights on a masters of Nature Pedagogy. She has trained with trailblazers such as Claire Warden, the founder of the first nature kindergartens in Scotland and Erin Kenny from Cedarsong Nature School in Washington State. She is a certified Tennessee naturalist and is passionate about connecting children to the natural world in creative and purposeful ways. 

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7731 Fernvale Road | Fairview, TN 37062

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