Sara Otis

Founder / Director

Sara has a deep passion to connect with nature and help young people do the same. With a degree in intercultural education, Sara has spent time guiding young people in many different contexts and places, including Mexico and Colombia. During post grad studies in Counseling, she latched onto the healing power of nature for people. After obtaining her forest school certification in Seattle Washington, she founded Knox Forest School with a passion to make this education available to Knoxville’s youth. Sara is the mother of three. A closet ornithologist. Friend of owls. Admirer of coyote and fox. And an ardent appreciator of Mary Oliver.


Lyndsey DaSilva

Lead Teacher

Lyndsey has devoted her time to working with children of all ages in a variety of settings over the past decade. She completed her Assistance to Infancy Montessori Training at The Montessori Institute in Denver, CO and her Master's Degree in Montessori Education from Loyola University in Baltimore, MD. She brings an eagerness to help children access a deep connection to themselves, the natural world, and those around them.


Kayla MacLaughlin


Kayla attended UT where she studied Child and Family Studies and worked with Emerald Youth Foundation. She went on to work in the non-profit world in Denver, Co before returning to Knoxville. She is married with three small kids, two of which have attended and loved KFS. She values how being in the woods creates space for thriving, creativity, and physical development. She enthusiastically enjoys seeing their proud and excited faces when they’ve done something they were convinced they could never do.


Stephen Otis

Founder / Public Relations

Stephen has a great passion for trails, journeys and creative flow. He has eighteen years experience in education, having worked in schools in Boston, Bogota, and Knoxville. With a degree in Anthropology from Wheaton College and a Master’s in History from Gordon-Conwell, he brings a passion for learning and culture. Stephen is an avid hiker, with over 4,000 miles logged, including a thru hike of the Appalachian Trail and a summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. He enjoys instilling in kids (of all ages!) a sense of adventure and joie de vivre.