Meet the Teacher

My path towards early childhood education began in my own childhood, playing in my grandparents’ gardens, mucking around in the creek, hiding under the lilac bushes, catching toads, and singing folk songs at summer camp.  I attended Reed College, here in Portland, and The Evergreen State College, in Olympia, Washington, where I studied education.  In 1998 I completed my Master’s Degree in Special Education at the University of New Mexico.

I have been an educator since 1991, first in elementary school, and through the transforming experience of parenting my daughter and son.   I have worked in early childhood education since 2005 and founded The Understory in 2008.

Other sides of me: I speak Spanish, I am trained in CPR and First Aid, I have an extensive knowledge of plants and animals of the Pacific Northwest, and I am an experienced gardener. I sing in a women’s choir, I love to explore wild natural places, and there is usually a jar of something fermenting on my kitchen counter.  My daughter and son are college students.

I bring patience and playfulness, wisdom and humor, experience and curiosity into my teaching.  I strive to listen closely, see and respond with empathy, and to balance stability and flexibility.

Mia Yang

family in a place they love

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Mia Pisano and her children, then and now

What is an understory?

The understory is the complex community of plants, animals, fungi, lichens, mosses, and micro-organisms that occupies the habitat below a mature forest. It is the nursery where young forest trees sprout and grow. It is a rich and fascinating place, and most people walk right over the understory without noticing all the life happening below knee-level.