Anita is pleased and honored to be the Director of St Mark’s School. She joined the team May 1, 2015 and feels truly blessed to work with such loving families and teachers.
Anita has been an Early Childhood Center Director for more than 20 years, with experiences including nonprofit religious schools, private preschools, and corporate preschools. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from National University, and her Masters in Educational Psychology and PhD from the University of Northern Colorado. The City Council for the City of Longmont, CO, appointed Anita to two terms on the Longmont Youth Services Advisory Board. While part of that board, she wrote grants, helped organize youth related community events, and advised the City Council on how to better serve children.
In the past Anita has coached youth soccer, bowling, and T-Ball. In her spare time she likes to read, golf, and bowl. Anita loves spending time with family, friends, and her two Papillion dogs (Lucy and Pita).
Anita is excited to work closely with you and St. Mark’s amazing staff to help your children become lifelong learners and happy, productive citizens. Her door is always open; after all, together we will do great things for the children. Anita is excited to share this journey with you. If you have any suggestions or questions for her please feel free to pop in and touch base!
Karin has been a lead teacher at St. Mark’s School in various classrooms since 2006. She is a native San Diegan, born and raised in Clairemont. Her parents emigrated to the U.S. from Norway and her family continues to have strong ties to the Norwegian culture. Karin has two adult daughters – my oldest, Stefanie, is married to Randy and they own a home together. You may already know her younger daughter; she is Ms. Amanda, also a lead teacher on staff here. Karin is an avid reader and has a black lab named Edda who was adopted from a rescue organization – she’s her baby girl and a wonderful companion.
Karin has been teaching preschool since the fall of 2000 and can say with certainty that working with young children is truly her passion. She loves the wonder, curiosity and persistence of preschoolers; it is always exciting to see them figure things out – the sky’s the limit for them! Karin earned an A.S. in Child Development from Mesa College and a B.A. in Fine Art from SDSU. She also holds a Site Supervisor Permit through the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, which allows her to mentor college students and to fill in as a preschool site supervisor, if needed. She looks for opportunities for professional development and attends workshops regularly to keep current with what’s happening in the field and to gain new inspiration. Karin is happy to be a part of this caring community of educators and families – St. Mark’s is a great place for kids!
Cheryl Liecker has been working at St. Mark’s since the 2002 – 03 school year. She is a parent of two children – both are graduates of St. Mark’s. Both children have enjoyed coming to school and participating in all that has been offered. Cheryl enjoyed experiencing early childhood education right along with them!
When she was choosing a preschool, Cheryl was impressed by the care that she observed the St. Mark’s staff giving to children. She was also impressed by the variety of activities available to each of them. Since she always enjoyed caring for children, she was happy when the opportunity came to join the loving staff. She started working as a substitute for each of the classes but had the opportunity to work in her dream room, the infant room. Working with the infants during this special time is wonderful. Cheryl enjoys being part of their lives as they grow and change.
Mrs. Janie Altmann has been teaching and still learning with children over 28 years at St. Mark’s Nursery School. We all are a family here and strive with the same goals in mind. Each day Janie is given the opportunity to play, discover and learn with young children. Yep, she couldn’t have chosen a more satisfying job than being a Prekindergarten Teacher, except being a parent!
Janie would like you to know a little about her and how she came upon this great adventure with children. Janie has always been an outdoors girl discovering something new around the next corner or under a rock! As she grew into an adult, she acquired new interests such as; riding horses, drawing and painting, photography, gardening, traveling, meeting new people and spending time with her family, and more. Janie has been married to her best friend for over 40 years! They are so proud of their two beautiful grown daughters and 5 grandchildren; and savor the moments spent together!
Janie’s adventures in teaching began with her own children and volunteering in their schools when young. She fell in love with the young children’s sense of openness, wonder and adventure. These experiences helped her develop an interest in wanting to learn more about how children tick. Janie decided to go back to school in hopes of being a kindergarten teacher. It wasn’t long after being in college Janie learned how important a child’s development is in forming their early years of growing and becoming a happy, caring and confident individual. She became more interested in early childhood education and school development. So here she is after 28 years and counting, a Prekindergarten Teacher.
Janie’s philosophy is simple. She would like every child to obtain a vital importance of themselves as a person and in the community. To know their ideas and interests are important as well as others and practice empathy towards one another. Janie provides a place for children to feel safe, important, express their feelings, gain confidence and be loved. This is created by giving them numerous opportunities to explore, learn through creativity; play and allow hands on experiences while keeping their interests in mind.
Jessica W. has been with St. Mark’s Nursery School since 2013 but has been working with young children in a professional capacity since she was just 16 years old. In high school she began learning about child development through her school’s child development vocational program and began working after school as a classroom assistant. Born and raised in Massachusetts, Jessica moved to San Diego with her daughter Rohan in 2008 and has called Pacific Beach her home ever since. Once settled, Jessica began to finish her child development coursework at Grossmont College while working as a substitute in various San Diego preschools before discovering St. Mark’s. What she loves most about working with young children is not just their innate love of learning but also having the profound ability to make a positive difference in the life of a child. In addition to teaching, Jessica enjoys writing, running, crafting, going to the beach, cooking, and anything involving the outdoors. Jessica feels St. Mark’s staff and families are an extension of her own family and she looks forward to helping your children grow!
Kalia Vue has been working with St Mark’s Nursery and Preschool since October 2010. She is the eldest daughter but the second oldest of eight children. She was born in San Diego, Ca. then moved to Wisconsin during the summer of 1994. Kalia returned to San Diego during the summer of 2010.
Kalia’s first experience working with young children was in 2001 as an Assistant Teacher through the AmeriCorps – V.I.S.T.A. Program which helped children from low income families. After working with that program she knew she wanted to work with other teachers and young children in a childcare environment. Kalia worked and volunteered with a non-profit organization at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse for the next three years as a tutor for children ranging from elementary school to high school. While going to school from 2005-2007 she worked as a teacher’s assistant in a childcare facility. Kalia graduated from Western Technical College, March 2007, with an Associate Degree in Instructional Assistant. After completing school she was able to gain more experience as a Paraprofessional in a Pre-K classroom.
Kalia has the utmost respect for the teachers, students, and parents whom she has worked with and cannot express her gratitude to all the people who are involved with St. Mark’s School. She will continue to provide a loving, caring, educational and FUN environment for all the children she works with.
Ky Kingston has been working in early childhood education since 1994. While living in Washington State she was able to earn her Child Development Associates Credential in an on-the-job training program. Ky returned to San Diego in the summer of 2000 when she found St. Mark’s School and began assisting here that September. Her experiences have included all age groups from infants through school-age, but she has found that working with nursery school children is most rewarding.
Ky’s own children Pearl, Trey, Ruby, and Jade, had the biggest influence on her decision to work with children. They are the ones that bring out the best in her. Using the knowledge she has gained through her education, her experiences, and being a parent she hopes to make a difference in a child’s life. That makes her work very worthwhile. Ky just loves children, and they are very important to her. She wants to do all she can to help them learn.
Her goals for herself and the children at St. Mark’s are to do the absolute best to provide for them, using her best judgment to guide them so they will have happy and productive lives. Ky’s goals for our parents are to help them support and enjoy the opportunities available for these children.
Maribel Romo Tistoj is the new lead teacher in the Toddler Room. She is very excited to be part of this classroom and be able to work with your child.
Maribel has been married for almost 27 years and has 3 adult children. Two of her children are in the US Army. One of her boys just came back from Poland after being gone for 1 year, her other child is currently stationed in Oklahoma and visits every few months. The youngest child is currently attending college with a major in child development and is working at St. Mark’s as well. Besides Maribel’s 3 beautiful children she has 3 granddaughters. Her family also includes 3 dogs, all rescued dogs whom she loves with all her heart. Maribel started in this field as a parent volunteer and worked her way up to where she is now.
Maribel has 55 units in Child Development, including infant & toddlers and Children with special needs development and curriculum from San Diego City College, Southwestern college and California State University, Hayward. She currently holds a Site supervisor permit and an Associate Degree in Child Development. Maribel has worked with children ages 6 weeks to 5 years for more than 15 years. She also has experience working with school aged children up to 3rd grade. Maribel is very passionate about what she does and loves to learn from the children. She feels school should be a place where children feel safe, comfortable and loved for them to learn.
Maribel wants to get to know each one of the children and their family. She is very excited to take on this journey.
Patty Harris has served as the lead teacher in a variety of our programs. She began teaching at St. Mark’s Nursery School in the fall of 1995, originally working with Geri & Lupe in the Parents Day Out program teaching our Toddlers. Patty has worked with all ranges of preschool ages and in different classrooms. She is now the lead teacher in room 8 working with the Pre-K Children. She’s had the unique pleasure of teaching a few of her own Parents Day Out “graduates” when they moved into the nursery school. Patty began her child development career as a junior in high school, participating as a ROP student. She realized early how much she enjoyed working with young children. After graduating, she went to San Diego Mesa College where she earned an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Development and a B.A. in Early Childhood Education from National University in 2011. Patty has two amazing children who are both St. Mark’s grads. She finds pleasure in reading, watching movies, and joining fellowship at her church. She really enjoys working with young children. “I love their sense of humor, their common sense, their openness, their creativity, and their energy. I learn something new about life and about myself from them every day.”
Ali Clingerman has been working at St. Marks since the fall of 2002. She was born and raised in Fairfax, California in Marin County. Ali loved growing up around the water and Mt. Tamalpais. She graduated with an Early Childhood Major from the College of Marin and completed her B.A. in Child Development from San Diego State. Ali has a married son.
Children are very important to Ali. She enjoys their uniqueness and the gifts they give to the world! Ali is very proud to be a part of the St. Mark’s staff.
Claudia Luevanos believes it is an honor to be working for St. Mark’s Nursery School. She is very excited to be here can’t wait to see what the future unfolds. Claudia joins us as an Assistant Teacher and other school support.
Claudia was born in Tijuana Mexico and moved to San Diego at the age of ten along with her parents and younger brother. This has been her home ever since and she would not have it any other way. Claudia currently lives in South Park with her daughter, Destiny. Since a very young age she knew teaching was what she wanted to do. Claudia was inspired at the age of five by an amazing Kindergarten teacher, whose name she still remembers. The Kindergarten teacher’s passion, love, patience and devotion reflected through everything she did and has made an impact on Claudia. Claudia has always been involved in this field in one way or another. Her previous experiences include youth church leader, math tutor, personal child care provider and Summer Camp counselor. Before joining St. Mark’s Nursery School, she gained a four-year experience working for Nierman Preschool, a private institution based on Jewish traditions and teaching.
Claudia continues to further her education and is currently attending San Diego City College. She is near to finish her General Education which will then allow her to transfer to San Diego State. Claudia will accomplish a bachelor’s in teaching and a minor in Spanish. She absolutely loves her job and is very grateful for the opportunity to work at St. Mark’s. Claudia knows each child is an individual and is looking forward to learning with them.
In her spare time, she enjoys baking with her daughter, writing, painting and doing arts and crafts. Long walks at the beach are her getaway but also enjoys blowing off some steam lifting weights at the gym. Claudia has developed a passion for traveling and someday hopes to backpack through New Zealand and watch the Northern Lights in Alaska.
Debbie Y. was born and raised in San Diego, California. Debbie is the seventh child of eight children and the youngest daughter. She loves being an auntie and spending her time with her nieces and nephews. Debbie attended Mesa College and discovered her love for children. She soon earned her Associate of Science Degree in Child Development. Debbie started her journey with St. Mark’s Nursery School in November of 2016 as an assistant teacher in the infant and toddler room. She enjoys her time teaching, caring, loving, and watching the children grow as unique individuals. She is excited to start her day with warm hugs and end her day with warm hugs filling her heart with love. Debbie appreciates the parent’s trust and support as they leave their children in the care of the St. Mark’s staff. Debbie looks forward to learning, growing, and continuing her journey with the children, parents, and staff.
Hai Duy Pham has had many experiences working with young children before joining St. Mark’s School. He was an elementary teacher since 1984 in Vietnam. He taught children from kindergarten through 5th grade there. Hai loved working with the students. They had time to play soccer and volleyball and also swam in the ocean, camped, and fished in the summer. They went to the countryside to learn about natural life. Hai also volunteered in Youth With a Mission Primary School in Thailand as a supervisor.
When Hai came to the United States he started back to school. First, he worked on his English then took courses including Early Childhood Education. He completed his major in June 2004. To get more experience Hai volunteered in several programs including St. Therese Parish Preschool, Green Elementary School, and Head Start Skill Center as an Assistant Teacher.
Hai really enjoys his family. He met his wife in college. Her name is Loan. They were married in 1997. She is a supervisor for quality control in a medical supply company for the hospital. In 1999 they welcomed their son, Hung. Hung is currently attending Clairemont High School.
Hai has a good time working with the students and staff at St. Mark’s School. He tries hard to do the best for the students as he would for his own son. Hai learns from them as well. Students have taught him many things: to be patient, understanding, loving, caring, attentive, creative, and more.
Hai’s time at St. Mark’s School makes him remember when he was a teacher in his country. He is very happy and has been learning a lot. Hai wants to thank the staff at St. Mark’s School. They have given him a chance to work with children, learn from them, and be successful in his career. He looks forward to knowing the parents as well.
Irma Leyva was born in Cuba and immigrated to San Diego in 1995. She is the mother of two daughters, Jennie Perez and Carolyn Perez. Irma started to work for St. Mark’s School as a Teacher Assistant in Room 8 August 2012. She has been caring for children since 2008 working as a Residential Care Worker at Polinsky Children Center. The opportunity to work with children and families is the best and most rewarding job to her. There is nothing more gratifying than witnessing a young child learn something new and knowing she was a driving force behind that growth. Her goal is to continue growing as a professional to give the children at St. Mark’s the best possible learning experiences to help them develop and get ready not only for kindergarten but for life.
Jamie Schmidt has been a consistent substitute teacher at St. Marks since October 2019. She loves California. Jamie spent ten years away in Massachusetts and thought it was gorgeous but cold. She likes her water non-frozen, likes to swim, walk on the sand, and visit aquariums. Jamie has been working with children for about 15 years. Jamie studied child development at Palomar College earning an Associates of Arts in Social Sciences. She has a passion for the arts that comes out both at home and in working with children. Jamie is a big fan of inclusion and seeks to adapt classrooms to meet the needs of all children wherever possible. She is glad to be part of this awesome team and we are equally happy having her here!
Natasja was raised in Indiana and moved to San Diego for college. She has her B.A. in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences with a minor in Psychology and has taken several Child Development courses. She previously worked at St. Mark’s from 2016-2017 in Room 1 as an assistant teacher for Miss Cheryl. Over the past 3 years, she has been a lab manager at a neuroscience lab studying language with the deaf community at SDSU. She has several years of volunteering experience with children of all ages at art schools, orphanages, and migrant shelters. Working with children has tremendously influenced her aspirations and future career goals. In the future, she seeks to get her M.A. and become Speech-Art Therapist that assists young children with disabilities and speech impediments that suffer from communication barriers. She feels that through art and play, young children are able to learn and develop the appropriate skills to effectively communicate with others. Natasja enjoys being outdoors and staying active by hiking, camping, bike riding, and swimming at the beach. During her free time, she enjoys reading, gardening, arts and crafts, and cooking at home. Natasja loves working with the toddlers and is very excited to be back working with her St. Mark’s family!
Paula Rivera joined the St. Mark’s family in November 2020 as an Assistant Teacher in Room 4. She is the oldest of her siblings and grew up helping take care of them. As a result, Paula felt like their momma and big sister. She always loved playing with them, talking with them, and the most important part, taking care of them. In 2018 Paula had the opportunity to work in another childcare center. She knew then that her passion were the children and started taking courses in Child Development. Paula is completing her Associates Degree at City College with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education. She is happy because she knows this is what she wants for her career. Paula is committed to always doing her best and to get better each day.
Rachel Leavell was born and raised in San Diego. She discovered her love for children through Child Development ROP. Rachel is a proud graduate of Madison High School and has completed over 24 units in Early Childhood Education. She thinks it is special her oldest son graduated from Madison High School as well. He is now a college graduate and holds an English degree from Stanford. Rachel’s other two children are making their way through elementary school. Rachel has been a nanny, homeschool educator, and most recently an infant/toddler teacher. She loves the simple things in life like the beach, nature, trees, long walks, dogs and most of all children! You might find her at the local library with her children and stacks of books waiting to check out. Rachel’s love for children’s books helps her communicate with children of all ages. She loves seeing that “I got it” look on their faces. It could be the new word they learn or the memory they share with a smile. Rachel started at St. Mark’s Preschool the fall of 2017 and is honored to be here. Everyday she says her thanks for the wonderful community she is involved with here at St. Mark’s.
It was with great pleasure that Rocky Brown finds herself among your children here at St. Mark’s, for many years, It is an honor to be part of the fine reputation that this school holds among many communities. After teaching in the early childhood field for nearly thirty years, she has been blessed with the opportunity to be a part of the St. Mark’s family.
Rocky grew up among her Italian family in Chicago. She enjoyed a wonderful, colorful, and cultural childhood there with many well-kept memories. Rocky moved to San Diego to attend college and graduated from San Diego State University with a B.A. in Psychology. She has been happily married since 1984 and blessed with a daughter and son.
Being a preschool teacher was a perfect way for her to be near her own children while doing what she loves most. Some of her passions (besides being here) are having dinners with her family, enjoying tranquility from her garden, and advocating for breast cancer awareness.
Rosi Tistoj started her time at St. Mark’s in the spring of 2019. She started as a substitute teacher and was then brought on as an assistant teacher. Rosi has been working with children since the age of 15. She is a student at Southwestern College studying Child Development.
Rosi has a fur baby named Rey who is her best friend! Rosi loves working with children and feels like she learns as much from them as they do from her!
Sheri Cook joined the St. Mark’s family as an Assistant Teacher in 2004 and had the opportunity to work with our different age groups. In 2012 Sheri moved north requiring her to leave and pursue other options. We were both excited when she moved back to Clairemont in 2020 and was able to join our team again!
Sheri has an Associate Degree in Liberal Arts with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education. As an Assistant Teacher in the toddler room, she feels lucky to work with the children every day. Understanding that the children make her laugh and are so real, Sheri enjoys getting to know each of their individual personalities. In her spare time Sheri likes to spend time with her daughter, a St. Mark’s graduate, and taking walks with her dogs.