Our Educators



Sarah-Luella Baker

Founder 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 ten years from this initial vision, into a community where children feel seen, families feel included, and teachers feel inspired to learn alongside children.

For twenty-three years 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. As I embrace my emerging role of mentor to teachers, I continue to learn about the world of early childhood education as it pertains to my role and my passions. I have led many trainings and workshops in ECE in both our schools and our greater community. 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 Fall of 2020, I embarked on a journey to better understand the psycho-physical development of young children through the study of Body Mind Centering. Over the course of the next two years I will be studying with BMC teachers in Germany, Rhode Island, NYC and Oregon to become certified as an Infant Developmental Movement Educator.

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 director. Exposure to the arts throughout one’s educational journey 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 and collaborators, who continue to teach me about growth, change, passion, and community. You can learn more about my stage work here.

During my early teaching years, I became aware of the constructivist theory of learning. Since then, I have combined my arts background with the philosophies of Social Constructivism, the schools of Reggio Emilia, and most recently 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 fulfillment; and families connecting to each other and discovering new ways of viewing their children and themselves. The experience continues to be incredibly motivating- full of magic, surprise, and surrender. I continue to enjoy a long calling of being with children, their families, and other teachers who care deeply about children and our impact as educators on the world.

Alisha Hughes

Program Director and Teacher, 8th 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.

Katee Foxx

Atelierista and Teacher, 4th 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, 2nd 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.

Shannon Vasilev

Teacher, 1st year at TTPS

I have wanted to be a preschool teacher for as long as I can remember. I have a very vivid memory of my preschool experience and the teachers that guided me. It was such a magical and inspiring time for learning and discovery. I remember my own teacher’s kindness and compassion and wanted to be that person for someone else. My early childhood journey began when I attended Naropa University, a buddhist inspired college where I learned about different teaching approaches and how to bring a sense of mindfulness into the classroom. I also worked at multiple farms and ranches across the country, taught children with disabilities to ride horses, and learned about sustainable farming and permaculture. Afterwards, I moved back to Los Angeles and was hired as behaviorist for children with emotional disorders and other disabilities.

When I finished my training at Los Angeles City College in Early Childhood Education, I was hired immediately by a local preschool in Los Angeles, CA. I was promoted to art director and co taught for one year at Plymouth school. This school was very traditional and my dreams lied in working at an alternative school, a Reggio inspired school. At the end of that year I was offered a position at the Sunshine Shack Preschool- a Reggio-inspired school in LA. By the end of the year I ran the toddler program and felt confident as a Reggio teacher. My partner was offered a job in Portland last summer, and although I loved my position, we ended up moving to Portland. I found Tulip Tree Preschool, and was overjoyed! This is my first year here and I hope there are many more to come!