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.”
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 a Lead Teacher in Room 4, 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.
Room 5 / Floater
Working with children has always been a passion of Audra’s. She was fortunate to have been an at-home mom to her two sons, Jordan, and Kyle. When Audra’s youngest child started school full time, she began working part-time at the local library and taking child development courses to eventually become a preschool teacher. Audra enjoys sharing her love of books and reading with her students and they seem to love it as well! She feels so lucky to be part of such a warm and welcoming school and grateful for the opportunity to be a positive influence in children’s’ lives. “In what other occupation are you greeted with hugs and smiles each day?” Audra does her best to provide a nurturing, loving environment where children can learn and experience new challenges that will help build their confidence while they play.
Bella W. joined the St. Mark’s Nursery School team July 2021 and has worked in Early Childhood Education for over 3 years. Bella grew up in the Sacramento/Bay area and has recently moved to San Diego. She is attending San Diego City College to finish her AA degree. Bella will then transfer to SDSU to complete her BA in Education. Bella loves working with children and animals and finds joy seeing all the children’s smiling faces. Bella has a dog named Violet, a cat, and two horses. In her spare time, she enjoys her family, time at the beach, and visiting National Parks!
Carolina Valadez was born and raised in sunny San Diego, California. She is the youngest sibling out of three and is the only girl. Straight out of high school, she went to Southwestern College and obtained her Associates Degree in Child Development. Carolina decided to further her education and is currently working on her bachelor’s degree from Point Loma Nazarene University. She is beginning her journey as an assistant teacher here at St. Marks as of July 19, 2021. Carolina is excited to start her days off with smiles and warm welcomes. She looks forward to learning and creating relationships with the children, parents and staff.
Dariane was born and raised here in San Diego, California. Under certain circumstances, Dariane’s grandparents took her in at the age of six and became her legal guardians. She is beyond grateful that her grandparents were able to provide a stable, loving and enriched environment to grow up in. They provided her with a rich upbringing that allowed her to realize her passions of theatre, dance, and the performing arts. These became pivotal in her childhood at San Diego Junior Theatre as a student taking classes, attending camps, and performing in main stage productions for the San Diego community. She became a teacher’s aide for this program and later a dance teacher and fell in love with teaching children.
Dariane studied at San Diego Mesa College for four years. She earned four teaching certificates, an AA degree in Child Development and a certificate of performance in Dance. She has been an active babysitter for many years and takes pride in teaching life skills to her cousin who has Autism. Dariane has also volunteered her time at the Autism Tree Project Foundation assisting in various events and lending a hand in their adaptive dance classes.
Dariane is currently studying to earn a BA in Child Development with an emphasis in Theater Arts at San Diego Sate University. One day, Dariane would like to pursue teaching kindergarten or 1st grade and incorporate the arts into her work.
She has been working at St. Mark’s Nursery Preschool as a substitute for three years in every classroom. Through her time working with children, she is in constant awe of how much both she and the students grow. Dariane feels fortunate to be given the opportunity to work full time in room 4.
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!
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!