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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.