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A leaf

About Willow Oak 

A leaf
The playground being built

Willow Oak Preschool was founded in 2022, after seeing a gap in outdoor childcare settings in the Triangle area. Post-pandemic, the need for safe outdoor spaces to play, learn, and grow is larger than ever. We saw the perfect opportunity to turn what was once the playground and home for four children, into a schoolyard for others to explore, create, learn, and celebrate their childhood. My parents, Bob and Samantha Austin purchased the property in 1993, built the foundation for the playground under our hundred year old Willow Oak tree in 1998 (see photo!), and have worked tirelessly with me over the past year to turn this space into the new adventure that is Willow Oak Preschool. 

Owner & Lead Teacher

Hi! My name is Miss Gabby and I am so excited to be the lead teacher at Willow Oak Preschool. My journey with education began on this exact playground, where I spent my childhood embracing my natural disposition as a teacher doing what we do best: playing school! Fast forward to 2023, and I have been involved in the childcare and education industry for over ten years working as an au pair internationally, teaching a covid pod preschool, and most recently lead Transitional Kindergarden teacher of an outdoor Waldorf school.  Additionally, I received my undergraduate degree and teaching license from UNCW in education, and in 2019, I obtained my masters from Birkbeck College of London in Education, Power, and Social Change.


Although I have worked with children of many different ages, I have found my heart is with preschoolers. I love the joy, laughter, and the never ending question of why? that comes with teaching this wonderful and magical age! I believe that the silliest songs are the best ones, a cardboard box can be a creative masterpiece, and that mud kitchens make the best cakes! I hope your children will find as much happiness in this space as I have as they attend Willow Oak Preschool, and I am so excited to begin this journey with your family! 

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