Samantha Dionne Director - Sweet Peas Valencia, Sweet Peas Potrero
Samantha completed a degree in Child Development at Chico State University in 1997. After graduation, she moved to the Bay Area to continue her education and to teach preschool at Hoover Children's Center in San Mateo. In December of 1999, Samantha earned her teaching credential and for the next five years went on to teach Kindergarten at Westlake Elementary School and The Hilldale School, both in Daly City. Samantha holds a California Child Development Permit and enjoys continued professional development at a variety of different Bay Area schools. Being at the beginning of a child's educational experience is both exciting and inspiring to Samantha. Sweet Peas was created shortly after the birth of her first son as Samantha decided to create a family based preschool where children are both nurtured and stimulated, a place where she would want her own children to be if they were in someone else's care. Her vision to offer this kind of nurturing learning environment was what inspired her to create multiple locations for Sweet Peas and she feels blessed to work with so many wonderful families through their children's formative years.
Joshua Jackson Assistant Director - Sweet Peas Valencia, Sweet Peas Potrero
I was born and raised in Vallejo, and honestly love the city’s charm and potential. In my free time, I try to occupy myself with cooking, baking, roller skating and anything that involves the outdoors! I try to experience everything to find more of what interests me. This led me to become a Liberal Studies major at Arizona State University. As an assistant director, it gives me the opportunity to share my experiences, guide others and most importantly provide a safe and fun environment for children to explore their interests. I have been in the ECE field for six years total. Starting back in 2012 as an assistant teacher and managed to work my way to center director level. Through this time, I find it is vital to be respectful of individuality and to maintain a positive outcome on all situations. I am looking forward to creating memories and enhancing your child’s growth!
Angelica Le Blanc Teacher - Sweet Peas Potrero
Angelica Le Blanc is a loving teacher who worked for 7 years at Genentech’s Child Development Center first as a substitute teacher, a teacher and then finally as a lead teacher. She has had the privilege of working with children ranging from the ages of 6 weeks to 6years old. Her curiosity for working with children came when she was in high school and had the opportunity to volunteer at a Boys & Girls Club. From there, she began to study Early Childhood Education at Skyline Community College and San Francisco State University. Immediately she knew this would be a lifetime career as her interest for educating young children grew. She currently holds several units in ECE courses and hopes to continue her education in the near future. Her passion has been to help educate children in their early years, as these are some of the most important. Her focus is to make sure that children in her care have the opportunity to learn and grow every day while being able to have fun in a safe and healthy environment. She also enjoys being able to create strong relationships with the children and their families. She likes to make sure that families always have the support they need, to ensure their child's healthy learning and growth. She is truly excited to be able to spend time with children every day in hopes that she can help enrich their lives with skills they will use for the rest of their lives.
Jennifer De Renzi Teacher - Sweet Peas Potrero
Jennifer has been working with children of all ages in various capacities since 1997. She spent her first few years as a teaching assistant in special education elementary and high school classrooms. She received a degree in psychology and holistic health from San Francisco State and after completing college she worked as a Therapeutic Behavior Specialist for mental health services in San Francisco. In this role she worked 1:1 with at-risk children who had learning disabilities, psychological disorders and emotional disturbances due to trauma. Witnessing children suffering at such profound levels deepened her interest and studies of health and healing. At this time she began to practice Yoga very seriously. This then led her to become a Wilderness Backpacking Teacher for both adults and at-risk youth. She co-facilitated long treks into the wilderness in which she cultivated environmental education and facilitated group activities. She began a Waldorf Teacher training in 2006 to deepen her work in the area of child development. Since then she has been a director of an afterschool program for four years and a nursery teacher for the last two years. She believes all children should be afforded the opportunity to become who they truly are. As a teacher she meets each child with love and true attention. Her interests include swing dance, human development, rock climbing, playing soccer, baseball, and playing with her three-year old son.
Becca Palmer Teacher - Sweet Peas Potrero
Rebecca has been working with children for 5 years all over the Bay Area; From teaching swim lessons at the JCC to nannying for families. She worked at Glen Park Elementary School as an after school teacher for the last year and a half and she also teaches Irish Dancing to kids on the weekends. Becca became interested in Child Development when she started babysitting in High school which prompted her to start child development classes at City College of San Francisco. In the future she would like to pass her Celta exam to teach English to kids in countries that do not have those resources that are needed. Becca is bilingual in English and Greek and currently learning Arabic and French. She likes to bring this gift of language to her work with children because language is so important to building relationships. Becca believes it's not only important to build relationships with children but to also build relationships with the parents. In Becca's teaching she also believes that a healthy active lifestyle for children will help them thrive in their environment.
Catherine Hegdahl Transitional Kindergarten Teacher - Sweet Peas Potrero
Catherine June Hegdahl is a native of the Bay Area. She has been working with children since 2001. From her humble beginning working as a student assistant at Skyline College Children Center, she knew instantly that she had a natural ability to connect with children and help nurture a love of life long learning for young children. This inspired Catherine to study and obtain an Associate of Science Degree in Early Childhood Education from Skyline Community College as well as acquire a Site Supervisor permit from the State of California. Currently Catherine has been taking classes to foster her own love of continued learning by taking courses that focus on Child Development: Appreciating Diversity in conjunction with Violence Intervention. Catherine on her free time enjoys cooking, reading, traveling, watching K.Q.E.D. and working out. Catherine loves taking walking adventures across the city and peninsula and really enjoys peddling her little heart out at her local Soul Cycle studio.
Lauren Nourse Art Specialist - Sweet Peas Potrero
Lauren graduated with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts Degree, as well as a minor in Psychology and Specialization in Art Therapy at Keystone College, La Plume Pennsylvania. Lauren took Child Development classes as well as participating in onsite observations at local schools. At Keystone College, she was a member and vice president of the Chapter of Art Education where she collaborated with other students to create several mini art classes for both high school and elementary students at a local museum. Lauren also was a former ceramic instructor at the Abington Art studio, Clark’s summit, Pennsylvania. She participated in the expansion of “The Pottery Corner”. Lauren provided lesson plans and instructed to a variety of different children age groups to bring more art opportunity to a local community. Lauren loves to work in a nurturing environment to watch children grow, develop new milestones, and observes that they are not only learning from us, but we as teachers are learning from the children. For the last four years Lauren was a floater, co-teacher and then the Art Specialists at Kinder Care in San Jose California. She adores being a part of children’s success. Lauren hopes to inspire creativity in the children she cares for, but feels passionately that they are the ones who inspire her.
Heather O'Malley Lead Teacher - Sweet Peas Valencia
Heather was raised in Southern California and attended school at Orange Coast Community College. She moved to San Francisco in 2005 and worked retail, then property management for many years but knew it wasn't her passion. After working a few times as a substitute teacher at Sweet Peas West, Heather knew she had found her calling in life. Heather worked for almost a year at Sweet Peas East as an Assistant Teacher and is so excited to become a Lead Teacher at Sweet Peas West! Heather continues to take Early Childhood Education classes. Heather brings a palpable positivity and warmth to any room she enters and she cares deeply for the happiness and well being of all her students.
Simone Radliff Teacher - Sweet Peas Valencia
Simone Radliff is completing her final year as a Political Science undergraduate at San Francisco State University where she works closely with professors, researching ways to make the education system more critically minded and community oriented. She is excited to work at Sweet Peas Preschool because it marks the beginning of her lifelong career as an educator. After graduating from SFSU she will seek a PhD from UC Berkeley in Education and continue her research. She ultimately aspires to start a nonprofit after school program to teach critical thinking and community building to students of all ages. Simone's patient and loving nature helps create the ideal environment for the education and enrichment of Sweet Peas students.
Anna McGrew Art Specialist - Sweet Peas Valencia
Anna graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in Art and minoring in Education. In high school she was a volunteer art teacher for children ages 8-10 in a program called The Art Exchange in Long Beach, California, where she and other volunteers designed different art projects suited to the varying needs and abilities of the students. In pursuit of her Education minor, she participated as a teaching assistant in a kindergarten class at Bayview Elementary School in Santa Cruz, California. It was during this time that she realized that she enjoyed working with children this age, she loves to see them grow with each passing day and develop their personalities while learning with their friends. After this experience, she also participated in a program called The Art Initiative, in which she visited the Santa Cruz County Jail once a week to teach pre-planned mixed media art projects. The initiative showed her that learning art at all levels and at any age can make a huge difference in a person’s life. All of these experiences showed her that creativity and learning different art practices can function not only as a means of expression but of emotional and mental development as well, and that they are essential in early childhood development.