The outdoors is the best classroom on the planet. Nature provides us with endless learning, if we just slow down and take the time to witness what is all around us. I am very excited to spend my summer being surrounded by nature and alongside curious learners. During the school year, I’m an upper elementary teacher in the Iowa City School District and have been for the last several years. Prior to that I taught 7th graders for seven years at Clear Creek-Amana. I have an amazing wife (Brydie) and three kind, funny, and energetic kids (Henry, Violet, and Munro). In deciding to move to the farm, one of our family’s goals was to control how we live our life and not have life control us. That is why we do what we do…because it’s what we love.
My name is Brydie Criswell. I am married to a wonderful man who shares my vision of peaceful country life. I have spent the past 17 years working as a special education teacher and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. I began my career in the fall of 2000, after gaining my Master’s degree in special education with specialization in learning disabilities and behavioral disorders. From 2003 to 2008, I worked as a teacher for K-6 students exhibiting behavior challenges. From 2008 to March of 2017, I worked as a Behavior Analyst, serving kids and teachers across the Iowa City Community School District. While I loved my work and the kids I served, I dreamed of a life where I could raise and teach children in an environment that was free of stress, pressure, and instead filled with child centered learning. So, on March 11th, 2017, my family and I took a leap of faith and I resigned. Soon after, we found the property of our dreams and The Good Earth was born!
I started out my journey with the idea I’d be an artist in
graphic design but soon after earning my B.S. from Missouri
Western State University and moving to Iowa in 2006 I
decided I wanted to be outdoors more than staring at a
computer indoors. So I went to Kirkwood Community
College, completed their program in Landscape Design and
worked as a designer and assistant manager to Earl May
and Forevergreen Garden Center since 2010. After meeting
the Criswells and learning about their outdoor program for
kids, I jumped at the opportunity to be a role model for kids
to get excited about learning how amazing our little blue
I live with my husband Blake, two year old daughter Kya,
and adopted feline Ridley in Cedar Rapids IA.
Hi! My name is Nicole Upchurch. I am excited to join The Good Earth Team as the director/lead educator of TGE After School Programs. I first began my path as an educator in 2001 and plan to continue this good work as long as I am able. I have experience instructing K-6 Spanish, Songwriting/Ukulele and Outdoor Education, as well as, extensive experience in Early Childhood Education. I am a graduate of the Iowa Master Naturalist program and associate director of Family Folk Machine, an intergenerational choir based in Iowa City. In addition, I am a singer/songwriter, performing regularly with Awful Purdies and The Feralings. I live in Tiffin with my husband, Benj and our three children Harper, Béla and Waelyn. My Australian Sheperd pup, Copper, often accompanies outdoor excursions with students.