The Teacher and Founder
Magdalena Cabrera founded Leaping Lizards Nature Awareness Preschool in the summer of 1988. Having received her Masters of Social Welfare with an emphasis in children and families from UC Berkeley, she decided to combine her clinical skills with her passion for the natural world. The combination has been a resounding success as the allure of the program has grown steadily over the years. In 1993, Magdalena met and began training with Patty Wiplfer, founder and director of Hand in Hand, a local non-profit organization that supports children and families to have stronger emotional connection (handinhandparenting.org). Magdalena became a certified Hand in Hand instructor in December of 2005 and continues to teach classes and collaborate with the organization. Magdalena has two grown children both of whom participated in her preschool program and have gone on to graduate from Stanford University and Brown University. In addition to her expertise in dealing with children in a holistic way, Magdalena enriches her classes with her musical talents as guitar and ukulele player and singer.
Magdalena began Leaping Lizards Nature Awareness Preschool as a way to serve her community while balancing the responsibilities of being a single mother. While her son was enrolled in a similar outdoor nature school, Magdalena realized that she could form her own program by using the basic principles and making various, major improvements. She did just that. The school is licensed and insured as required by California State Law. Magdalena is CPR and First Aid trained, which is required by state law for family childcare providers. The school began with a Monday – Wednesday – Friday class offering for the first few years and later began to offer two preschool programs: a Monday – Wednesday – Friday class and a Tuesday – Thursday class. Over time, as each year of preschool graduates prepared to enroll in kindergarten and their stay at Leaping Lizards came to a close, the parents pleaded with Magdalena to offer a kindergarten class. In the fall of 1997, the first kindergarten after school Tuesday class had its initiation with “graduates” from the preschool. In the fall of 2003, Magdalena expanded her offerings to include a Wednesday afternoon first grade class which continues to date. The preschool offering has shifted from the two and three day offerings to two two-day-a-week classes.
Leaping Lizards Nature Awareness Preschool and after school classes serve the mid-peninsula area with families traveling from as far away as San Jose, Portola Valley, San Carlos, Belmont and Woodside in order to have their children benefit from the program. Needless to say, Palo Alto, Mountain View, Menlo Park, Redwood City, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Cupertino, Sunnyvale and Atherton are all draw areas for the classes at Leaping Lizards.