Sally is a perpetual learner, and she often attends conferences and workshops to further her own learning and ideas. Recently she attended Talking and Thinking Floorbook workshops and participated in a six day Nature Pedagogy course with the International Education Consultant Claire Warden, which have inspired her and has greatly influenced much of her work.
Sally also draws influences from principles of Reggio Emilia and Rudolf Steiner education. Reggio Emilia where the environment does the talking and the educators’ role is to deepen thinking. Rudolf Steiner where the child’s imagination and sense of wonder is fostered through stories, songs, creative play, interaction with nature, through authentic experiences, and involvement with natural materials.
Sally has presented at Nature Play SA conferences and initiated and facilitated two statewide nature play conferences. She has worked with educators and architects sharing her ideas about outdoor environment design to stimulate children’s imagination and curiosity. Her recent work has included supporting staff teams in nature pedagogy, including literacy and numeracy and STEM, working with children in a natural way and inspiring leaders to engage in and with nature.
Sally most enjoys consulting in partnership with staff teams through an inquiry approach to lead, inspire and stretch their thinking to enrich pedagogy practices. Coupled with her spirited passion for nature, she brings a great knowledge and experience to her work.
Sally Cook is the founder of Natural Connections for Learning. She is an accomplished teacher with over 40 years experience in working in the South Australian education system. She is very passionate about creating nature based learning and environments to engage and inspire young children.
Sally spent 13 years as the Director of Grove Kindergarten in Eastwood, where she developed the outdoor learning area into an engaging nature play space and led the staff team, children and parents into this world. In 2015, Sally was selected as a finalist in the Excellence in Public Education Awards. She received the EchO award for Excellence as Early Childhood advocate in 2016, which honours past, present and future work of the teaching profession, across all sectors of schooling in SA.
Sally enjoys sharing her knowledge and has published a number of articles about the importance of nature in learning, both within Australia and internationally. In New Zealand her article entitled “The Natural World in the 21st Century. We’re Bringing Nature Back.” was published in 2014. In 2016, a contingency of educators and journalists from Singapore visited Grove Kindergarten. As a result of their visit, Sally was invited to write an article for publication. "Grove Kindergarten Learning Outside -- Natural Learning Environments" describes the benefits of child centred thinking and planning, balanced with intentional planning, playing outdoors with and in nature.
Since 2013, Grove Kindergarten has been involved in the Early Childhood Organisation Conferences where educators have visited the centre to explore inspiring learning spaces, experience an engaging nature play environment and share pedagogy ideas.