Educators

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.

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Pam Harris, DIRECTOR:

A third generation Californian, my passion for the early childhood education field did not hit until I had my own daughters in the 1980′s. My prior career in the horticulture field inspired my love of nature, knowledge of plants, and nurturing young sprouts. After obtaining my B.A. in Child Development at SFSU and working for 22 years on the peninsula (Menlo Park, Palo Alto), I had the wonderful opportunity to move to Marin county to oversee the operation of Stretch the Imagination, and now Curious Minds Learning Center. My interest in the Reggio Emilia philosophy began in the early 1990′s, and after attending two separate weeks of study in Italy and many conferences and workshops across the United States, I am even more passionate about the rights of children and families and enjoy being a source of support as children begin their first school experience away from the arms of their family. I enjoy mentoring educators and feel fortunate to find quality teachers to help guide our students in their explorations.

In my spare time I enjoy riding my Vespa, traveling, and exploring the medium of watercolor.

CMLC pic
Jacki Akins, WILLOW educator:

I live in Petaluma with my husband, daughter and small fluffy dog, Jake. 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, and assist Pam in administrative duties. I have worked with young children for over 10 years and I found that everyday has new surprises.
Through my years working with young children, I find that they come into the 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 thrive on creating a developmentally appropriate environment/curriculum that focuses on the whole development of a child. I want the children to feel safe, confident and capable to explore the world around them.

DawnDawn Robinson, WILLOW educator:

I live in Marin County, with my family, near the redwood trees of beautiful Mount Tamalpias. I often think of this lovely place as being like the Shire, from J.R.R. Tolkien’s stories. My years of study in early childhood education have included teaching (and learning!) in Marin schools, with kids of all ages, as well as study and training in Reggio Emillia, in Montessori, and in Waldorf teaching philosophies. My life-long passion for literature and language led me to study at Dominican University of San Rafael, and, after getting a B.A. in English Lit. with a writing emphasis, I went on to study in their Single Subject English teaching credential for two years. Preschool folk continued to embody so much of the creative spark and joy of learning, though; even as I went on to teach older kids, and to get an MFA in Creative Writing, I continued teaching preschool, for the fun of it. My joy in teaching in the preschool classroom lies in finding out how a child sees the world, and in working with the group to create a community of kids who have fun, who innovate, who reach out to their world in compassionate, brave ways. I am so happy to be joining the Curious Minds team of educators!

Jen Reynolds
Jennifer Reynolds, OAK and After Care:
I live in Fairfax with my husband, John, our creative, 10 year old daughter, Piper, and our sweet cat, Wilma. We feel so lucky to be surrounded by nature and believe that we must do all we can to care for our environment. There are many things that I get a kick out of, such as quilting, baking desserts, solving puzzles of all kinds and taking hikes. I think that the library is an amazing invention, that all things space-related are astounding and that insects and animals are jaw-droppingly fascinating. And I adore books too, especially children’s books.

I have returned to the field of early childhood education after almost 20 years, in which time I received my master’s degree in Clinical Psychology, became an MFT and joined the Marin Early Childhood Mental Health Consultants team. For many years I helped teachers and parents gather around very young children who needed support and understanding and I worked with preschool centers to improve their quality of care. I also have a background in drama and children’s theater. I am delighted to be entering my third year teaching here at CMLC.

Holly

Holly Berends, OAK and Aftercare teacher:
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.

Two years ago I moved back to Marin after living in South Korea for two years teaching English, and got married! Working as a teacher at an Elementary School confirmed my passion for working with children and I am so thrilled to be entering my second year at CMLC and continuing to sharing that passion. I love to watch curious young minds work and help foster their sense of imagination and wonder.
In my free time I enjoy experimenting with cooking, I practice yoga, and try to get outside as much as possible!

Lisa bioLisa Berardi, Willow Teacher

I am the proud mother of three wonderful children and a lifelong resident of Marin County. I attended College of Marin after which time I joined the work force, spending my time in banking and advertising.  I married my husband 30 years ago and am still enjoying our time together now that we are empty nesters.  After staying home with my children during their formative years I decided to rejoin the work force.  A friend of mine told me about a job available at my children’s school, St. Anselm’s.  I applied and have been engaged in teaching ever since.  I have worked in a variety of settings:  2ND grade, Special Education, Kindergarten and Preschool, finally settling in with toddlers.  For the past 8 years, I was a Montessori preschool teacher.  During that time, I returned to school and received my ECE Certification and NAMC Teacher Diploma.

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 a joy and happiness to my life.  Their curiosity and awe is 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.  My desire is to create an environment that the children find exciting, and one that keeps their minds engaged and involved in the world around them.

 

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