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 OAK Educator:
I live in Petaluma with my husband, daughter, and dogs, Charlie & Laguna. 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 Director permit through the State of California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. I have worked with preschool children for over 15 plus 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 children. I want the children to feel safe, confident, and capable of exploring the world around them.
Holly Berends, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, and WILLOW Educator:
I’ve had the great pleasure of working at Curious Minds since the summer of 2016, in both the Oak and Willow classes. Since then, I have been married and had two children; one of whom has been attending CMLC for the past two years. Needless to say, the CMLC Community is like my family and I am so grateful to be working in a job with the most incredible community!
Before starting at Curious Minds, I spent several years working in several different of areas of education; as an English tutor, a reading tutor, and working with the SF Boys Chorus to name a few. My husband and I also taught English in Korea for three years together, working with elementary aged children. After working with the younger children for 3 years, I realized my passion was in Early Childhood Education and took classes through UCLA, receiving a certificate in ECE before moving back to the States. I look forward to working in the Willow class again this year! It’s always so much fun to be a part of children’s young lives, and an honor to support families in their development.
Lisa Berardi, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, and OAK Educator:
Before I chose the path of educating, I had the opportunity to stay at home with my three children during their formative years. After having been a room parent in my son Ryan’s class, I decided that this is where my passion blossomed. I returned to school and study towards my degree in early childhood education. I received my ECE Certificate from the College of Marin and North America Montessori Certificate of diploma. I have worked in a variety of educational settings; Special Education, 2nd-grade, Kindergarten, and Preschool, finally settling in with toddlers at Ross Academy Montessori Preschool I was an educator there for eight years, prior to coming to Curious Minds Learning Center. I have always felt children are a wonder and joy. They have always brought happiness into my life. Their curiosity and awe are what keeps my desire to educate 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 children find exciting, one that keeps their minds engaged and involved in the world around them.
Jessica Robello, WILLOW Educator/Aftercare:
I am delighted to return to Curious Minds for my second full school year with a wonderful community! During my initial educational experience in Denver, Colorado, at Regis University, I studied Sociology with a special interest in Nonprofit Management. This gave me the opportunity to connect with schools and families in the community. Once I returned to San Rafael, I began my early childhood journey with school-aged children at Dixie Children’s Center at Dixie Elementary School. I had the delight of working with preschool-aged children at Arts in the Garden School in Petaluma, where I love creating a space that allows each child to feel safe to fully express themselves without judgment and room to expand beyond their current understanding. The possibility that lives in each child’s eyes as they absorb every moment, encourages my own aspirations of learning in and outside of the classroom! I love to dabble in my own creative expression through dancing, music, writing, and my newest love of floral arrangements. More often than not, you can find my dog-child, 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!
Devon Febbraio, OAK Educator/Aftercare:
I have had the pleasure of working in the early childhood education field for five years now, and am excited to transition to the Oak Class with many of last year’s Willows. I am originally from Newtown, Connecticut, and have had the joy of living in many states before making San Francisco my home in 2021. I have a background in English and Spanish from Florida Gulf Coast University, and in addition to teaching preschool, I have worked in middle school classrooms as an ESL tutor. My mission as a preschool teacher is to create a safe, playful space where children are encouraged to create, explore, and ask questions. I enjoy bringing my love of books and storytelling into the classroom, and inspiring a love of reading in others. Outside of school, I try to spend much of my time outdoors and in nature. I’m excited to continue my teaching career with Curious Minds, and I look forward to a wonderful school year ahead.
Rachel Glas, WILLOW/OAK Assistant Educator/Aftercare:
Hi! My name is Rachel Glas and I am a third year educator at Curious Minds Learning Center. I will be assisting in both classes, so that will make for a wonderful year. 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 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 skills in the classroom. In my spare time, I enjoy being outdoors and exploring nature, baking, traveling and spending time with my boyfriend, family, and friends.