Paul McDermott and his spirit guide Sasquatch are the mentors who facilitate the experience at The Woods. Paul is an educator/mentor with over 20 years of experience working with children and families. He currently studies with, and is mentored by, the 8 Shields Institute; having just completed nine months of growth within their Art of Mentoring Leadership course, he is now extending his journey into their Village Builder program.
Paul’s earliest memories of connecting to his natural world are sleeping under the stars and camping near the waters of Cayuga Lake in the Iroquois Nation.
As a young child, Paul’s greatest comfort and greatest sense of adventure came from scampering around the woods near his home and finding magical creeks and hidden dens.
As an adult, Paul has played on six continents, and has gotten to walk through desert, jungle, and tundra. When Paul decided his passion was to explore education, he got his teaching credential from Humboldt State University among the ancestral Redwoods of California. Before moving to Oakland, California to understand the urban dynamic of learning, he spent a year in Japan teaching English to high school kids and a month in a Colombian jungle teaching Spanish to an indigenous family.
Paul taught fourth, fifth and first grades during his eleven years in Oakland. He brought his love of nature connection with him by creating and facilitating an outdoor club (as a Sierra Club Inner City Outings trip leader) with monthly hikes and an end-of-year camp out. He took his fourth and fifth graders on a yearly three day trip to the Headlands Institute in the Marin Headlands. And he worked with the Save the Bay organization to educate and participate in restoration projects around the San Francisco Bay.
Paul understands that much of the success his students found was a direct result of the connection they were able to develop with their natural world and the powerful whole-child impact that this connection had on them as learners.
Soon after Paul’s two daughters were born, he and Shawna (his awesome wife), decided that they were inspired to relocate to a place that could offer a slower pace of life and inspiring natural beauty… in August of 2014 they found a home in Alpine, Oregon, and a community of beautiful people twenty-five minutes away in Corvallis.
The vision and the reality of The Woods Free School began to take shape and form during their first year on their five acre space. In July of 2015 Paul had the opportunity to attend a week-long Art of Mentoring workshop offered by the Wilderness Awareness School in Duvall, Washington. He returned home to Alpine holding joyful harmony with the natural cycle, feeling deeply rooted to his ancestral elders, and excited to be one of the many mentors guiding the great visions and roots of our children.