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Home > About Us > Teachers   
Teachers

Montecito employs a teaching staff of 30 professionals comprised of Teachers, and Assistant Teachers. The administrative staff consists of the Director, Curriculum Coordinator, Finance Officer, Office Manager, Receptionist, and Bookkeeper.

Teachers
In addition to their academic credentials in Early Childhood Education, teachers are chosen on the basis of their ability to relate to young children, establish a supportive rapport with the children and parents, and their ability to provide a meaningful learning experience.

Assistants
Our assistants come to us from a variety of backgrounds.  Some are working toward becoming preschool teachers themselves, some are mothers or grandmothers of Montecito students and alumni, while others are retired elementary school teachers.  No matter their background, all of our teachers and assistants are warm, enthusiastic individuals who are sensitive to children and their needs.

Carmen Gilman

Carmen Gilman jjoined Montecito in October, 2012, as our newest member of our drop-in Enrichment team!  She joined Miss Alicia and Miss Louise for 5 afternoons per week.  Carmen has been working as a teacher for about 20 years.  She has worked as a teacher in preschool and  K-5th settings, and as a Parent Educator in San Jose.  Her background is in Psychology and Child Development and she is currently working on a Certificate for Early Intervention and Special Needs.  She is very happy to be a part of Montecito and to support our programs and the learning enrichment for the students.  She strongly believes that not only meeting the child’s individual needs is important, but that it is also important to work together with every family to support each child’s optimal development and learning. 

Thanh Goolish
Thanh joined our staff as an assistant in 2004, after both of her children graduated from Montecito to attend Oak Elementary School, where Thanh volunteers as a teaching assistant in the classroom. Thanh has 30 Early Childhood Education units and is continuing her education to earn her Bachelor of Arts in Child Development. Prior to coming to the U.S. from Vietnam, Thanh earned her Bachelor of Arts in Education from the University of Saigon and taught gifted children at the elementary school level there. She also worked for two years as an Assistant Instructor and tutor at San Diego City College where she earned an Associates Degree in Human Biology. Thanh believes that teachers are very important in a child’s life, because their attitudes and behaviors will affect the child’s development through young adulthood and beyond. Therefore, she is committed to be a good model demonstrating professionalism, dedication, compassion, and insight as an educator – and to be a lifetime learner herself.

 Liz Knepler

Teacher Liz joined Montecito this year in 2012, and she teachers our morning and afternoon fours classes (including "Kinder Prep") with Teacher Rebecca in the Blue Room.  Most of her working life has been directly with children.   Liz feels she was born to teach, as both of my parents were university professors and one of her two sisters is currently a teacher as well.  Liz enjoys helping develop the minds of a much younger crowd.  She speaks French and can understand basic Spanish.  She has attended countless trainings and workshops dealing with early childhood and continues to take numerous interesting classes at several local colleges.  Teacher Liz' interest in working with young children began as a teenager when, together with a friend, she created and ran a summer day camp.  With up to 12 three-(3) to seven (7)-year-old participants, they spent most of their time outside, as Liz lived next to a park in Chicago.  This, along with a variety of other later jobs, put Liz through college where she obtained a BA in Cultural Anthropology and French.  Since she finished the degree early,  Liz decided to take a break from school and worked for The National Opinion Research Center before moving to the West Coast.   She continued to work in social research but also started volunteering, and then working, for a local YMCA.  As she began to have her own children, Liz realized that working with young people was what she wanted to do.  She has not stopped since. In her 20 years with the YMCA, Liz developed, ran, and taught in many different types of children’s programs.  After her two (2) girls became more independent, she decided to try teaching in a low income community where the focus was on getting children ready to be successful in Kindergarten.  She had a wonderful classroom there for seven (7) years until their state funding was cut.  Then, Liz spent a year teaching at one of the Google Children’s Centers.  Teacher Liz is ery excited to be given the opportunity to join the community here at Montecito, and she feels it is a special place.  Teacher Liz feels he has found a new home here, and she looks forward to becoming a partner with all of us at Montecito in the early education of all of our children.

 
Edith Manalo
An elementary school teacher for 13 years, Edith has also taught preschool in the Philippines for 10 years. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from the Centro Escolar University in Manila in the Philippines. She also completed 18 units of course work and earned a certificate of Preschool Education from Philippine Normal College. In July, 2001, Edith received a certificate in Child Day Care Management and an equivalent of 23.75 additional Early Childhood Education units. Edith has shared her life long interest in children’s literature with Montecito since 1998. She also works part-time at the Mountain View Public Library. Edith endears all of us with her lovely, joyful manner and quiet dignity.

Paula Meeker
Paula Meeker has been at Montecito since 1998. She teaches two-, three-, and four-year-olds. She started at Montecito as an assistant and became a teacher in January 2001 after completing 18 Early Childhood Education  units at De Anza College. Paula’s two sons both graduated from Montecito more than 20 years ago. After raising her sons, she came to Montecito to play and work. Paula also helps care for our animals and our garden. Before motherhood, Paula worked in the medical field as a phlebotomist, EKG, and PFT technician.

Bina Mehta
Bina Mehta joined us in 2010 as an Assistant Teacher.  She earned a Bachelors in Accounting from Bombay University in 1989.  After moving to the US in 1992, she attended the University of California at Santa Cruz and completed her Bachelors degree in Computer Science.  Since then, Bina has been substitute teaching in programs involving young children.  She loves working with young children and decided to pursue early childhood education as a career in the early nineties.  Currently, she is pursuing her Preschool Education Certification and has completed 21 ECE units from De Anza College.  Bina loves music, painting, arts and crafts, and dancing.  She is also very talented at henna, and has worked at many of Montecito's events creating beautiful henna designs.

 Louise Miller
Louise is one of our long-time Montecito Moms who joined our staff as an assistant in 2000, after her daughter attended our school. Louise is from Great Britain and delights us with her charming accent and her marvelous sense of humor. She provided childcare for a family before she had her second child.  She has proved to be a capable and warm assistant and is well liked by parents, children and staff members.


Terry Quirimit
“Mrs Q.” came to Montecito as a teacher in 2000 from Onizuka Child Development Center where she received excellent references from her supervisors. Prior to coming to Montecito, she worked with young children for twenty-four and a half years. Before that, she taught for three years at Rainbow Bridge Preschool in San Jose. She also taught Kindergarten through First grade in the Philippines and has a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from the University of Santo Tomas in the Philippines. She also has completed 15 units in Special Education at the Manuel Quezon University in Manila and 18 units in Early Childhood Education from the University of Santo Tomas in the Philippines. She has an irrepressible spirit and is a bright light on our campus. Terry is especially known for her ability to relate to each child on an individual basis. Terry has continued to demonstrate her commitment to her own professional growth by participating in workshops and training seminars.

Rebecca Richardson
We are so pleased that Rebecca joined us in the fall of 1999. Prior to joining our family, Rebecca was a teacher at Onizuka Child Development Center for three years. She has 30 units in Early Childhood Education from DeAnza College.  She came to us highly recommended, especially by the parents of her former students. Her warmth and compassion are a plus in the classroom. A teacher of many talents, she teaches two-year-olds and four-year-olds in addition to sharing her insight into curriculum development.

Rupal Shah
Rupal joined us in the fall of 2003 as a volunteer as part of a class in Early Childhood Education. She enjoyed being here so much she decided to stay, and began assisting in a fours class in March 2004. Since that time, Rupal has become a beloved teacher to our three- and four-year-olds. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and 19 Early Childhood Education units. She adapted easily to our program and we are delighted she decided to join our staff!

 

Shahnaz Shaikh

Miss Shahnaz came to Montecito in November of 2004 as a substitute teacher.  Shortly thereafter, she joined the regular staff as a Teacher's Assistant in our three-& four-year-old classes, and now she works in the Young Fives/Pre-K class with Teacher Gina. Since 2004, Miss Shahnaz has earned a Teacher's Assistant Certificate and she has completed 17 Early Childhood Education units at Foothill College.   She also has volunteered at the San Jose State University Child Development Center as part of her coursework in Early Childhood Education.  Shahnaz has a passion working with children and feels it is a very rewarding experience to engage with them and teach them, because she is able to  help them express their creativity while providing a fun, safe and caring environment in which to learn and grow.   Miss Shahnaz truly believes in Montecito's teaching philosophy and enjoys having both of her grandchildren attend as well!

Alicia Sledge

Alicia joined Montecito in 2008 as an assistant in our threes program. She is the life coach of five, and a former owner of her own child care facility. Alicia’s extensive background in child care and development spans 30 years. We are thrilled to have her share her experience with us.

Gina Souza

Gina Souza joined Montecito as a Teacher in August, 2013.  In the spring of 2013, she volunteered and interned in the Yellow Room (AM threes), so she was able to get to know the children and teachers.  Gina also worked during the Summer 2013 in our fun Music & Magic camp and substituted in our wonderful Summer programs.  Gina's work with children began 15 years ago, when she was a substitute Teacher's Aassistant in a long- term position for the San Mateo County Department of Education.  For 5 years, Gina worked for the San Carlos School District with children ages 3 to 5, and in a Pre-K Special Day Class, which was a play-based program.  While working in San Carlos, she spent one(1)  year as the afternoon Teacher in the toddler room at Happy Campers Child Care Center.  She also spent two (2) years with the Campbell School District, working with children with severe to moderate autism in the K-2ndgrade age group.   Gina has certificates from the Bev Bos workshop “Good Stuff for Kids” and the Santa Clara Unified School District's “No Child Left Behind Act of 2002”.   In addition she has attended many workshops and training programs to develop specific chlid development skills.  Currently, Gina has 39 units in Child Development and will complete her Associates Degree in Child Development in the Spring of 2014.   Along the way, she has followed other career paths and opportunities, but Gina's true passion has always been working with children.  Gina not only loves working with children, but she is very receptive to and in tune with their needs and she creates many opportunities to learn in a playful atmosphere. 

 Shashi Varma
Shashi joined us the summer of 2010 as a teacher in Kids Klub. Her background in early childhood education began in her home country of India, and continues at De Anza College, from where she has 26 Early Childhood Education units and is pursuing her Associate of Arts degree. Like many of our teaching staff, Shashi’s passion for working with children stems from the experience she had when her daughter began preschool in 1999, when the Director of her daughter’s school invited her to join their staff. We are delighted that Shashi is bringing her passion to our Kids Klub drop in program.

Ria Villareal

Ria is one of the newest teachers to join our Montecito team as of August 2013.  She has 18 units in Early Childhood Development from De Anza and Foothill College.   Ria also taught at a summer program for school-aged children from low-income households.  The summer program was intended to prepare children for the next grade level.  Ria became interested in early child development while observing her eldest child reach developmental milestones in her preschool program.  She figured she could help children achieve their potential if they have age-appropriate activities and models.  Ria has a child in the yellow room and her eldest is a first grader.  Outside of Montecito, Ria teaches religious studies for children at her local congregation and enjoys hiking with her family.  She is fluent in Filipino/Tagalog, proficient in Spanish and has working knowledge of Cebuano, a Filipino dialect.  She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish from U.C. Irvine.   Ria loves working with children, she loves working with her co-teachers and connecting with the children in the Blue Room morning fours class, and she looks forward to more training to make learning fun for them!

 Sarah White
Sarah came to Montecito in 2001 as an assistant in our Lunch program. Since then, she has become a cherished assistant to teachers in both the three- and four-year-old programs. Sarah hails from Great Britain and her warmth and willingness to lend a hand make her loved by children and staff alike.

Helen Wilbur
Helen is a model assistant whose enthusiasm and energy never fail. She is always cheerful and upbeat and develops close bonds with all of the children in her classes. She helps train new assistants and assists in both three- and four-year old classes. We are truly thankful for her loyal dedication to us – and her world famous hugs.

Abbie Xiangbin

Miss Abbie grew up in Shanghai, China and is fluent in Mandarin and English.  At age 21, she became a flight attendant for a British airline and subsequently spent over 10 years traveling around the world before finally settling down in California.  She joined Montecito in August 2013 with 21 child development units to start her career as an educator.  She is very passionate about teaching and truly enjoys interacting with children.  Miss Abbie works in the Blue Room with the 5 morning four-year-olds and she has bonded very closely with these children.  She has an Assistant Teacher Permit in Child Development, with enough units to be a prescohol teacher; and she aspires to eventually become a Teacher at Montecito.   Miss Abbie continues to take additional classes with the goal of obtaining aTeacher Permit, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Child Development.   She is a real asset to her teaching team and a valuable member of the Montecito community and family.

Montecito School 1468 Grant Road, Los Altos, California 94024 (650) 968-5957