top of page

Our Story

Tammy Fenster

Special Educator K-12 
Endorsement, Adapted Curriculum 
Communication Practitioner

84E20776-5871-499E-BFB3-A17AB4D59310_edi

About Tammy:

  • Educator specialized in adapted curriculum, communication, reframing behavior, Autism, and Down syndrome

  • Parent of 3 diverse children with lables: Down syndrome, Speech-Language Impairment, Dyslexia, and ADHD

  • Experienced in Multimodal Communication: Certified in Assistive Technology

  • Trained in Spelling to Communicate (S2C)

  • Natural Play Therapy Practitioner

  • Mindfulness and Heartfulness Practitioner

  • Volunteer at Wings of Hope, Horse Therapy Program

  • Enjoys baking and has a love of animals and gardening!​

My dream began early in my educational career as I walked the property of a beautiful Vermont country farm. The young child in me imagined and my curiosity ignited with excitement. I envisioned a school where children are free to be, engaged in learning, surrounded by nature, and connected to what makes their hearts sing. Reflecting on the traditional education model of sitting at desks all day surrounded by concrete walls, grades determining success, and conforming to society led my heart towards seeking alternative choices.

14 years prior to that day on the farm, I became a new parent and given the gift of a beautiful child with Down syndrome. I faced this new experience with bravery, love, and dedication. When my daughter entered kindergarten, I surrendered my trust to the education system. With limited communication, she acted out and became known as a "behavior child" who faced suspension in 1st grade. Her confusion and trauma began, as did my journey in parent advocacy. I felt at odds, outside the towering walls of the systems' cirlce, with strong evidence for distrust.  My decision to gain employment at a local elementary school as a one-to-one behavior aide brought me inside their circle. My observations and experiences confirmed my inner knowing, and at the same time, I realized my purpose. I enrolled in graduate school and acquired special education certification. My goal was to show the system a heart-centered way. 

Two years after my daughter was born, I was gifted a son, who also experienced challenges in the education system. His second-grade teacher communicated his laziness as he performed minimal work. Homework caused many nights of tears. By 3rd grade, he was given a diagnosis of ADHD and anxiety, which qualified him for services. I listened to my heart and placed him in a private Waldorf School. This teaching model helped his overall development as a human being. By 6th grade, he no longer met the requirements for special education. Given a wholistic learning environment with a focus on creative and critical thinking, he developed intellectually, emotionally, socially, and discovered his artistic strengths. Currently, he is excelling in a four-year art college. Public education would have hurt him and held him back from developing his strengths and self-confidence that he has today.

After years of teaching in public and private schools where the system drained my mental, emotional, and physical well-being, I made the choice to walk away. The system's focus is not about heart-centered education. It's time to break the norms and create the vision that came to me years ago on the farm in Vermont. 

My daughter is flourishing and communication continues to evolve since graduating high school. The system didn't consider her heart in education, but now she is able to follow her passions and interests through working with horses and creating art.

Lynn-Ellin Zeigler

Special Educator
Communication Practitioner

linkedin.jpg

Ever since I was a little girl, I always felt a bit different. I had trouble making friends with kids my own age and gravitated toward my parents’ friends instead - getting invited to adult dinner parties where I would talk politics and philosophy while taking bites of my chicken tenders. I was your quintessential bookworm and teacher’s pet all the way through high school. I made straight A’s, was enrolled in a gifted program and then specialty center, and was always “a pleasure to have in class” on my report card. But underneath the honor roll certificates and the frequent accolades, I was struggling more than anyone knew. I had a brain that was wired differently - prone to overstimulation, anxiety, and executive dysfunction. While I could eventually show up with little preparation and ace whatever test was before me, I would use any excuse to leave class in the process. My mind was constantly racing, I hated sitting still, and I was either bored or overwhelmed - or both at once. When I looked around me, I felt as though everyone had been given a manual for life - explaining social skills, calming strategies, and how to be a "normal" person - and I must have been out sick that day. 

 

It wasn’t until my early adulthood that I started to mingle with like-minded people, and I learned about neurodiversity: the idea that different people have different kinds of brains, and those differences help keep the world spinning! I have a brain that is great at writing, understanding big concepts, and practicing empathy with anyone I meet - but I needed to learn strategies to help with my organization, my time management, and my anxiety. 

 

While I was still discovering myself, I found I felt the most at peace in nature. On the top of a mountain peak, staring out past the trees, I was always reminded of my place in this vast, beautiful world, even when it felt like I didn’t fit it. At Mosaic Pathways, I aim to be the mentor that I needed when I was young - someone to say “you are exactly who you are meant to be.” I dream of a world where school is not synonymous with grades and standardized testing, but instead with personal growth. A place where a child learns about their strengths and abilities, while also learning strategies that will enable them to reach their greatest potential as they move through adulthood. Through my journey to find myself, I likewise found a supportive community, a love of the natural world, and a passion for thinking “outside of the box.” Now, it’s my turn to help guide the next generation of exceptional minds through their own personal journey of self-discovery.

About Lynn-Ellin:
 

  • Richmond born and bred!

  • Studied psychology at Christopher Newport University (I did my senior thesis on the therapeutic benefits of nature!)

  • Master's in Special Education from George Mason University

  • Proud daughter of a special education teacher of 30+ years (and former Teacher of the Year)

  • Communication Regulation Partner specialized in communication using letterboards.

  • Years of experience in (and passion for) different types of alternative and augmentative communication (AAC)

  • Loves to paint, write poetry, and play guitar 

  • Cat person (but I love dogs too!)

bottom of page