Curious Minds Learning Center has educators who are carefully chosen for their passion and commitment to early childhood education. We see ourselves as researchers, facilitators and collaborators, guiding our young explorers to form, refine, and rework their current theories of the world around them.
All educators have obtained a college degree, hold at least 12 ECE units, are First Aid/CPR certified and work in a co-teaching team.
We offer internal professional development several times a year, including an intensive orientation at the beginning of each school year.
Jacki Akins, CEO/DIRECTOR and WILLOW Teacher:
I live in Petaluma with my husband, daughter, and dog, Charlie. I graduated from San Francisco State University with a BA in Child and Adolescent Development, with a concentration on the Young Child and Family. I also hold a site supervisor permit through the State of California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. I have worked with preschool children for many years, and I found that every day has new surprises. I find that children come into a world where every detail is new and exciting. As educators, we introduce this world and can support their interests and thoughts by becoming a student with them. We bring the children’s interests alive in the classroom while allowing them to experiment with each other or by themselves. I am a strong advocate for creating and maintaining relationships, community and being an active citizen. I thrive on creating a developmentally appropriate environment that focuses on the whole development of a child and acts as the third teacher. I am passionate about partnering with the families at CMLC through their navigation of preschool and the development of their child. I want the children to feel safe, confident, and capable of exploring the world around them.
Holly Berends, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR and OAK Teacher and Aftercare:
I was originally born in Seattle, Washington but didn’t stay for long! I spent my formative years in Japan and England before moving to Marin for the rest of middle school and high school. I then attended Richmond International University in London, where I studied International Relations and psychology. During this time I was also able to volunteer in Kenya and Vietnam as a teacher for orphaned and disabled children.
In the Summer of 2016 I moved back to Marin after living in South Korea for two years teaching English, and got married. We’re now expecting our first child (a girl!) in December 2018. Working at Curious Minds has been a wonderful and educational experience, confirming my passion for early childhood development on a daily basis. After working in the Oak Class for two years and spending a year in the Willow class, I am moving with some of my Willows back to the OAK class.
In my free time I enjoy experimenting with cooking, I practice yoga, and try to get outside as much as possible!
Jessica Robello, OAK educator:
I was born and raised in San Rafael by an educator! I attended Regis University in Denver, Colorado, where I studied Sociology with a special interest in Nonprofit Management, which gave me the opportunity to connect with schools and families in the community. Back in San Rafael, I began teaching at Dixie Children’s Center at Dixie Elementary School, and thus, began my early childhood experience with school-aged children. Six years later, I had the delight of working with preschool-aged children at Arts in the Garden School in Petaluma, as well as privately tutoring to develop reading, spelling, and writing skills. I love creating a space that allows each child to feel safe to fully express themselves. The possibility that lives in each child’s eyes as they absorb every moment continues to encourage my aspirations of learning every day, beyond the classroom too! I love to dabble in my own creative expression through dancing, music, and writing, just to name a few. More often than not, you can find my dog, Mowgli, by my side! We love to explore our ever-changing world by car and foot while doing our best to live sustainably to protect fragile wildlife, natural resources, and teaching our future generations to do the same!
Emma Dennett, Before/Aftercare Supervisor, WILLOW Educator:
My name is Emma and I live in Petaluma. I graduated from Chico State with a BA in Child Development. My previous work experience includes working in child development centers on U.S. military bases located in both Hawaii and Germany and working in the Child Development Lab at Chico State. Throughout my time working with younger children, I have learned that children are curious and excited to learn about the world. I am looking forward to cultivating that curiosity in a safe and nurturing environment here at ?Curious Minds Learning Center. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling the world, cooking with my friends and family, and going to the park with my dog Gabby!
Lisa Berardi, MAPLE Educator and Aftercare:
I have worked in a variety of educational settings; Special Education, 2nd-grade, Kindergarten, and Preschool, finally settling in with toddlers. I was a Montessori Preschool Teacher for eight years. During that time, I returned to school and received my Early Childhood Education Certificate from the College of Marin and North America Montessori Certificate diplomas.
I was lucky to have found my passion for teaching late in life, which, for me, is just as rewarding. Children are a wonder and bring joy and happiness to my life. Their curiosity and awe are what keeps my desire for teaching alive and flourishing. Every day with children brings a new adventure and excitement. As an educator, I appreciate their wonder and enthusiasm. I desire to create an environment that the children find exciting, and one that keeps their minds engaged and involved in the world around them.
Rachel Glas, MAPLE Educator and Aftercare:
Hi! My name is Rachel Glas and I am a new teacher at Curious Minds Learning Center. I will be in the Maple Class with teacher Lisa, and I am beyond excited! I am a relatively new teacher in the field of early childhood, about 5 years of experience, but I have a very curious mind when it comes to teaching and watching young children learn and understand their ever-changing environments. I recently graduated from San Francisco State University with a BA in Child and Adolescent Development and a minor in Special Education. While studying at SFSU, I was in a two-year intensive program called PATH where I was in school full time and working full time for preschools serving families of low-income. One of the most beneficial aspects of this program is being able to learn practical lessons in regards to theories, curriculum, and working directly with families while demonstrating those in the classroom. In my spare time, I enjoy spending time outdoors and exploring nature, baking, traveling and spending time with my boyfriend, family, and friends.