Staff

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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.
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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!
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Gaby Zagorin Teacher - Sweet Peas Potrero
Gaby is a San Francisco native, she has been working with children since 2005. In high school, Gaby was a summer camp counselor and a babysitter. During her college years, Gaby spent two years as a lead gymnastics instructor at a local recreation center in San Mateo. Before Gaby’s transition to Sweet Peas, Gaby spent three years working in the ABA field as a Behavioral Therapist providing 1:1 therapy to children with autism spectrum disorders at home, schools, and in their community. She worked with students ages 1-13 with autism and other developmental delays. Gaby adores every aspect of teaching and has realized in her years that children can teach us as much as we teach them, she loves kids and it fills her heart with joy to watch them grow. Gaby is passionate about working with pre school aged children and being apart of each one of their success stories. Gaby holds several ECE units and has plans on continuing her education in early childhood education. Gaby enjoys traveling to different countries with her Fiancé, hiking, working out, and hanging out with her two dogs during her free time.
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Raine Richard Art Specialist - Sweet Peas Potrero
Raine is a Bay Area native, and has been working professionally with children of all ages since the age of fifteen. Having loved her time as a babysitter during her high school years, she naturally gravitated toward childcare in college. With a variety of experiences as a daycare assistant, party entertainer, and art teacher, Raine was able to tie in her passion for art with childcare and education. She loves teaching children about the countless ways to use different artistic mediums, and is always inspired by the resulting creativity and individuality that shines through each child's artwork. Ensuring that children feel comfortable and supported while expressing themselves is her top priority and she hopes that her influence extends outside of the classroom as well. Raine graduated from Diablo Valley College in May 2019 with an Associate's degree in Art History, and aims to continue her education in both art and child development at a local university. In her free time she enjoys reading, cooking, drawing, and spending time with her four younger siblings.
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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.
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Lauren Nourse Teacher - Sweet Peas Valencia
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.
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Sara Knight Art Specialist - Sweet Peas Valencia
Sara was born and raised in the East bay, moving to San Francisco in 2009. In 2013 she graduated from San Francisco State University with a BFA in Studio Art with a focus in Painting. In 2018 she graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute with an MFA in Studio Art with a focus in Textiles, Sculpture and Performance work. While in grad school Sara realized that art education was her passion. After a short stint at SFMOMA in their visitor services team Sara comes to Sweet Peas with the excitement of how art can transform lives, communication and how we learn.
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Mia Ciccarelli Teacher - Sweet Peas Valencia
Mia Ciccarelli graduated from Chico State University in May of 2019 with a major in Liberal Studies and a minor in Special Education. She has been a nanny for multiple families since the age of 14 which is where her love for children began. Guiding children through daily challenges of life and helping them become loving and wholesome human beings is her passion. She is currently enrolled in ECE classes at Skyline Community College to further her knowledge in the field of educating children and she has spent an extensive amounts of time volunteering in elementary school and special education classrooms. Her hobbies include yoga, painting or any kind of art activity, and hiking in beautiful nature spots! Mia loves to bring nature into the classroom with activities that use all of the child’s senses at once to gain the full learning experience. Mia is so excited to be teaching young children and helping foster their social and emotional wellness!