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 through a variety of different Bay Area and National organizations. Being at the beginning of a child's educational path is both inspiring and rewarding 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 very blessed to work with so many wonderful families throughout their children's formative years.
Gaby Zagorin Administrative Assistant -
Gaby is a San Francisco native and 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 preschool 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 husband, hiking, working out, and hanging out with her son and two dogs during her free time.
Kimberly Mavis Teacher - Sweet Peas Potrero
Kimberly Mavis graduated from Brandman University in June 2017 with a Bachelor’s degree in psychology, with an emphasis in special education and a minor in mental health. Kimberly also holds an Associate Arts Teaching degree that she received from Modesto Junior College. Kimberly worked as an assistant program director for Modesto Junior College for the disability service department for 5 years. From there, Kimberly has worked in Instructional Support Services in Alameda, California, and Hayward, California. Kimberly has worked with children from the ages of 3-18 on the autism spectrum and is very passionate and patient in her work with children. Working with children has allowed Kimberly opportunities to grow not only as an educator, but as a person. Kimberly loves to work in a nurturing environment to watch children grow and develop new life and social skills. She observes that children are not only learning from us teachers, but we as teachers are learning from the children. Kimberly loves spending time with her daughter, working out, baking, paddle boarding, camping, watching basketball, and traveling in her free time.
Rebecca Wong Teacher - Sweet Peas Potrero
Rebecca is a San Francisco native and has been in the preschool teaching field for 5 years. Her passion for working with young children developed as she helped care for her younger siblings and cousins almost her whole life. Her joy in being around children and learning about them deepened as she grew up watching her aunt and grandmother shared their teaching passions. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Child and Adolescent Development with a concentration in Early Childhood and a minor in Special Education from San Francisco State University. She also holds an Associates’s degree of Science in Early Childhood Education from Skyline Community College. Rebecca enjoys every learning moment with children, as it is also an opportunity for her to learn from children. She is passionate about supporting children in realizing their fullest potential, whether it be physically, socially, or cognitively. She loves traveling, exploring hidden gems in her home city, and practicing lettering in her free time.
Alvina Lu Art Specialist - Sweet Peas Potrero
Alvina is a Bay Area native who has been working in the education field for over 6 years. She developed an interest in working with children when she took a Child Development course in high school. She continued to study early childhood education in college. She graduated from San Francisco State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Child and Adolescent Development and a minor in Special Education. Throughout her years of working in the field, she has worked with children and adolescents from the ages of 6 months to 18 year olds and has taken on various roles including teacher, school administrative assistant, art instructor, and behavioral skills therapist. Alvina finds this field to be very rewarding when she builds trusting relationships with the children and families and is able to watch her students grow. During her free time, she enjoys drawing, traveling, exploring the great outdoors, doing aerial silks, lyra, and hammock, and performing the circus for her friends and family. Alvina is excited to be part of the Sweet Peas community and hopes to continue to positively impact the children and ensure that each child reaches their fullest potential.
Jennifer De Renzi Teacher - Sweet Peas Valencia
Jennifer has been working with preK, elementary, junior high and highschool students since 1997. She has worn many hats-classroom teacher, therapeutic behavior specialist, afterschool director, preschool teacher and backpacking/wilderness guide with teens. She is currently completing her masters in school counseling at USC. She has a background in Waldorf education, psychology and holistic health. She believes that all children should be afforded the opportunity to become who they truly are. Her focus is to bring equity to students in order to remove the barriers that many of them face. 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 long road trips with her 10 year old son.
Angelica Le Blanc-Mumtaz Teacher - Sweet Peas Valencia
Angelica has been involved with the lives of children from a young age! During high school, she volunteered at the Boys & Girls Club in their after-school program. After a few visits and getting to know the children and their families, she knew that working with children was where she wanted to be! During college she decided to start taking Early Child Education courses and it became clear that she wanted to become a teacher! She began working with young children in 2006 as a substitute teacher at Bright Horizons in their infant/toddler program and then moved onto teaching preschool, which she enjoys so much. She has a number of units in ECE and dreams of continuing to further her education in the near future. Angelica began working at Sweet Peas in 2014 and feels that it’s been a great place to become a strong and confident teacher! What she loves most about this field is being able to watch the children grow and learn each day, and being able to guide them toward building their social, emotional, motor and cognitive development. Angelica truly enjoys building relationships with the children as well as their families so that we can all work as a team to provide the best care and guidance for the children during their school days! One of her favorite things to do with the children is literacy activities and she enjoys sitting with children and looking through and reading books and listening to their thoughts or questions! She loves using books as inspiration to create fun and engaging art projects too. During her free time, Angelica enjoys family time playing board games, watching movies, and especially bbq’s! Most recently spending time going for walks in the park with her husband and 7 month old Sofia has been such a joy!
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 participated 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 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 children of a variety of age groups, and brought more artistic opportunity to this local community. Lauren loves to work in a nurturing environment to watch children grow and develop new milestones. She observes that they are not only learning from us teachers, 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.
Analese Chinn Art Specialist - Sweet Peas Valencia
Analese graduated from San Diego State University School of Art + Design with a Bachelor's degree in Art, specializing in Multimedia Design and Photography. She is an artist inspired by many different mediums such as photography, fashion, and jewelry design. While Analese has spent much of her time in the art studio, she has also spent time taking care of and helping out with the children around her and in her family. She is passionate about helping children find their creative voices. Analese has been drawn to the field of education and is pursuing classes in Early Childhood. Using her new and growing knowledge of Early Childhood Education and art together, Analese hopes to provide a safe space for children where they feel free to express themselves through art and play. On an ideal day, you can find Analese swimming in the ocean, tending to her garden, playing with animals, and testing out new recipes.
Karla Guiterrez-Ruiz Assistant Teacher/ Spanish Teacher - Sweet Peas Valencia
Karla was raised in Inglewood, California and moved to San Francisco four years ago to attend San Francisco State University. She is currently in her last year of school and has grown passionate about Early Childhood Development and Education especially in low-income and working class communities. Over the years, Karla has worked with non-profit programs like Jumpstart and has volunteered in preschool classrooms in the city in efforts to gain and enrich her own education to prepare for a career as a preschool teacher. Working with children has allowed Karla opportunities to grow not only as an educator, but as a person. She aspires to have her own classroom one day where she can incorporate a bilingual curriculum for her students. As eager as she is to finish her degree, she is more eager to start her journey at Sweet Peas along with all of the amazing educators and children. Karla enjoys trying new food places in the area, rewatching all of her favorite shows, and working on her poetry in her free time.
Grace Woll Teacher - Sweet Peas Valencia
Grace grew up in the greater Sacramento area and fulfilled her dream of moving to San Francisco. She is a passionate preschool teacher who has experience working with children of many different backgrounds and abilities. She is an Early Childhood Education student working towards transferring her associate's degree to continue towards her bachelor's degree in elementary teaching. Her passion for working with children developed at a young age. Seeing her mother run an in-home daycare for eight years exposed her to nurturing and caring for children of various ages. However, her spark for teaching began as a volunteer in a special day preschool, assisting in classroom centers and children's speech and language development. Seeing the progress and development in those children pushes her to impact all children she interacts with positively. Since then, she has worked as an assistant preschool teacher with STAR Education, a nonprofit organization in Sacramento, and most recently taught as a transitional kindergarten teacher at Building Kidz in Pacifica. As an educator, she hopes to provide a fun, engaging environment where children can grow and develop their own unique identities. Grace's favorite things to do are traveling and learning about new cultures; her ideal travel destinations are anywhere warm and tropical.
Luci Anderson Assistant Teacher - Sweet Peas Valencia
Luci has recently graduated from Drew Highschool in San Francisco and will be continuing her education at UC Riverside where she plans to major in, liberal studies with an emphasis in child development. In 6th grade, Luci began working in the preschool at the San Francisco School and continued to work there throughout middle school. Starting her freshman year in high school, Luci began working for Sweet Peas during the summer. As a Sweet Peas alumna herself she loves returning to the place where her education began. When she’s not working Luci enjoys hiking, cooking, babysitting, and spending time with her friends and family.