Our Educators



Sarah-Luella Baker

Owner and Consulting Director

The world needs educational systems that honor both the individual and the collective, and that teach us how to cooperate, collaborate, and love one another. Tulip Tree has grown in the past eight years from this initial vision, into a community where children feel seen, families feel included, and teachers feel inspired to learn alongside children.

For over two decades, I have been a teacher, co-learner, director, and artist in many different educational settings. Before opening Tulip Tree in 2010, I worked in private and public schools in Portland, the Bay Area, and Salt Lake City. I am a life-long learner, and continuing education is very important to me. As I embrace my role of mentor to teachers, I continue to learn about best practices of teaching through attending conferences, workshops, and educational offerings. In fall of 2016, I traveled with other Tulip Tree educators to the town of Reggio Emilia, Italy to see first-hand the wonder of their early learning environments. In my current educational journey, I am embarking on a four-year training in the Alexander Technique with Robyn Avalon at the Contemporary Alexander School. I am also currently a student in somatic exploration, music, and movement with various teachers in the Portland community.

I have an MFA and a BFA in performing arts. My background in fine arts profoundly impacts the work that I do as an educator and mentor. Exposure to the arts throughout one’s life is paramount to leading a life full of creativity, fostering collaborative prowess, developing an understanding of difference, and being open and willing to accept change as a positive force. My arts background has greatly influenced my ability to remain flexible, and to be a creative problem-solver. I owe much gratitude to my incredible artistic mentors, who continue to teach me about growth, change, passion, and difference. My recent explorations in the arts have led me back into the choreographic process with local artists and musicians; and I am a current artist-in-residence at New Expressive Works in SE Portland.

During my early teaching years, I became aware of the constructivist theory of learning. Since then, I have combined my arts background with the approaches of Social Constructivism and Reggio Emilia, and then the Anti-Bias Approach to Early Childhood Education. I have been witness to children making connections and forming knowledge; teachers learning alongside children and celebrating their fulfillments; and families connecting to each other and discovering new ways of viewing their children and themselves. The experience is incredibly motivating- full of magic, surprise, and surrender. I continue to revel in bearing witness to the growth of young children, their families, and teachers who care deeply about children and our impact as educators on the world.

Download my complete resume in PDF form, here.

Alisha Hughes

Program Director and Teacher, 7th year at TTPS

Being a teacher is one of my greatest joys in life. As the oldest of 6 siblings, taking care of young children has always been a part of my life. Prior to working at Tulip Tree Preschool I attended Portland State University, where I received a BA in Liberal Studies with a focus on women, gender and sexuality studies, education and many forms of art. Throughout my time at PSU, I worked as a student teacher at Helen Gordon Child Development Center. There I became familiar with and inspired by the ideas from the schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy. It was amazing to see the beauty of what could happen when the image of the child was an image of strength, capability, curiosity, knowledge and potential.

When I graduated from PSU, I knew I wanted to work at a preschool that had a similar image of the child. I was beyond excited to find Tulip Tree Preschool. I have been learning and growing alongside the school as a teacher ever since! This year will be my 7th year as a teacher at Tulip Tree Preschool, and my first year as program director. As I step into this new role, I feel excited to learn and grow with the school in a new way. I bring with me my passion for working alongside children through play, exploration and experimentation, my commitment to anti-bias education and social justice, my desire to help guide the work of other early childhood educators and my deep love for this school.

Amber Gallagher

Food and Garden Coordinator, 4th year at TTPS

I have always had a passion for teaching. I began my first teaching job as a teenager, instructing dog training classes. It wasn’t long before I realized that teaching the children in my clients’ families was my favorite part of the job. Majoring in Early Education and Family Studies at PCC has taught me what an incredible and crucial time the first 5-6 years are in a child’s life. It has since been a passion of mine to create an environment where children feel safe and supported, so they can explore and thrive in the classroom.

I have worked in Early Childhood classrooms with infants up to age 5 since 2013. During those years, I have been lucky enough to experience many different teaching styles and classroom philosophies. I feel as though Reggio Emilia and the RIE philosophies stand out, because the main focus centers in on respect: for the child, the environment, and the community. It’s important to me that each child is supported in a way that respects and acknowledges their individuality, while also challenging them to learn and grow.

Katee Foxx

Preschool Atelierista and Teacher, 3rd year at TTPS

Growing up as the oldest sibling in a large family, I had a lot of experience from a young age with child-rearing. I pursued babysitting and camp counseling in my teen years, but did not know at the time that I would be a teacher. I wanted to study environmental sciences and philosophy and obtained a BA from Humboldt State University in Religious Studies. It was when I had a daughter of my own that I started delving deeply into researching many educational philosophies for early learning and discovered a passion.

I spent 4 years teaching at the Early Childhood Center at The Berkeley School in Berkeley, CA. I was a lead teacher, directed their after-school program, assisted with administrative work, and lead the outdoor studies. I have taken courses through UC Santa Cruz LifeLab, YMCA Wilderness Leadership Corps training, Montessori Teacher Training, and participated in professional development through The Edible Schoolyard, and Stanford’s Bing Lab School. I have also participated in an intensive anti-bias curriculum training though the national SEED program. In my free time I like to garden, hike, bake, dance, sing, play my ukulele, and explore the world with my partner and my daughter.

Kerry Dillingham

Teacher, 1st year at TTPS

I have been working with children since I was fresh out of college. I answered an ad for a classroom assistant at a local elementary school. It only took a few hours of watching the seasoned teachers to realize that I finally knew what I wanted to be when I “grew up”. Teaching, for me, is a reciprocal relationship. I am here to provide guidance and support to the children and they, without fail, give it back tenfold. In our discoveries together I hope to inspire them to ask why and how. I am determined to help them find the answers to all the questions they may have and maybe get some of my own questions answered along the way.

Previous to Tulip Tree, I was working for Childroots, a local childcare center, where I started as a teacher and spent the last three years as their preschool specialist, managing three preschool classrooms. I learned a lot from working with so many talented teachers but missed being in the classroom and collaborating with the children. I spent a great deal of my time there advising teachers on how to implement emergent curriculum into the classroom. I hope to bring my passion for inquiry to this amazing team of teachers and learn even more from this community of educators, students and families.