My name is Gail Huffman and I am so excited to be your child’s new preschool teacher at St. Mark’s preschool. I am looking forward to meeting all the families and sharing some fun experiences with you and your child as they begin their academic journey. Here is some information about my background. I moved to San Diego thirty years ago from The San Francisco Bay area, as a student. I am married and have two adult children. My B.A. is in Human Development with an emphasis in Early childhood Development. I love music and art and I incorporate both in my curriculum. To keep in step with the play-based philosophy of St. Marks, I will introduce letter and number recognition through activities that involve the use of movement and hands on activities that are engaging and entertaining. This will help in associating sounds to letters.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
As a Classroom Curriculum Coordinator also known as Triple C’s; I will be assisting our amazing teachers by providing support, guidance, and resources that will align with our school philosophy and the social-emotional development of the children in our care. When I am not in the classroom I will be working along side the administration team as a liaison between the board and teaching staff.
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.
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.