The design of our learning environments and educational philosophies are inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education. As such, we believe that all children are capable, competent and eager to learn. Children will always seek out connections that are personal and meaningful to them. This is learned through play, small group projects, dialogue and reflection with peers and adults, documentation of big ideas, and ample time for exploration.
Our teachers are experienced and educated in Reggio Emilia philosophy. Teachers consider themselves to be partners in the process of learning, and meet regularly to discuss the ongoing, emerging, deepening curriculum at the school.
Eve Fein is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Operations and Resource Development for Community Roots Academy (CRA). Additionally she serves as the Executive Director of Community Roots Foundation. Driven by her passion for education Ms. Fein co-founded Community Roots Academy and was instrumental in the opening of Community Seedlings Preschool. Prior to her experience at CRA she was the head of Morasha Jewish Day School for 18 years. Ms. Fein holds a Bachelor of Arts from UCLA and a Master’s Degree in Jewish Educational Leadership from Hebrew Union College. Ms. Fein has lived in South Orange County for over 20 years where she and her husband raised their two children.
Carrie Conti Fetter is the co-founder and Director of Community Seedlings Preschool. Carrie has always had a love of children and a passion for Early Childhood Education. Her mission is to give children the best possible care and enrichment experiences that will last a lifetime! In her professional career she has worked with many non-profit organizations including Laura’s House, a Domestic Violence Shelter where she implemented a successful therapeutic preschool for the children living in the program. Carrie also was the Executive Director for the Beach Cities YMCA in San Clemente where she oversaw all programs including childcare, Y-Guides, campaign management, yearly operating budget, and served on the board. From 2011-2015 Carrie served as Director of Children’s Programs at Community Roots Academy. She developed and ran the Community Care Club Childcare program at CRA’s campus for CRA students, as well as all after school classes, camps and clubs. Carrie earned a Bachelor of Science from California State University Long Beach in Human and Child Development. She has also continued her education in both Management as well as the study of Reggio-Emilia Philosophy. Carrie is a second generation CA native, and has lived in South Orange County for the last 25 years.
Lindie Sherrill is the Assistant Director and has more than two decades of experience working with young children. First running a small family daycare for thirteen years while raising her own three children, who are now 30, 28, and 24. When she relocated to Northern California, she was exposed to Reggio Emilia approach and decided to further her education in early childhood. She spent the next seven years, working in Reggio inspired schools in the Bay Area. When she returned to Southern California, she was grateful to find Community Seedlings Preschool, which enabled her to continue to grow as a Reggio educator. Lindie believes that early childhood is a unique and meaningful stage of life. She is committed to supporting children’s creative capacity and engaging them in rich experiences driven by their individual interests.
Andrea Knudsen has taken on the role of Curriculum Specialist (or Pedagogista, using the term from the educators of Reggio Emilia) at Community Seedlings. Andrea oversees curriculum development, documentation of children’s work, ideas and theories, as well as offering continuing education opportunities to the teaching staff at Seedlings. Carrie Fetter, Eve Fein and Andrea collaborate on the long term professional development goals for staff, ensuring that the children at Seedlings have teachers who are current in their understanding of both child development in general, and the work of the Reggio Emilia educators in particular. Andrea also specializes in environmental design for children’s spaces, both indoors and out, and has collaborated with Seedlings staff in the design and development of all indoor classrooms and studios and outdoor classroom spaces at Seedlings. She brings over 30 years of teaching experience to the role of Pedagogista. She is an Adjunct faculty member in the Fullerton College Child Development and Educational Studies department, working with students through a number of courses, including the Reggio Emilia course, Environments for Early Childhood and various curriculum classes along with Student Teaching.
Desiree Robles is the Outdoor & S.T.E.M Specialist for Community Seedling Preschool. Her journey as an educator, with the support of many influential mentors, has led her to a community that she could have only imagined. Miss Robles works in the school’s new S.T.E.M Lab where 60 students and their teachers flow in and out of the space to explore, create, think and grow as a community. Her educational experiences, passion for lifelong learning and her foundational values in the constructivist pedagogy, helps guide other educators and support their endeavors in making learning visible and meaningful. She also teaches as an Adjunct Instructor at Fullerton College for the Child Development & Educational Studies Department.
Kumiko Kato is our Atelierista and has been a preschool educator for over fifteen years in both Japan and the US. Kumiko is the co-founder of OC Reggio roundtable. She worked at the Growing Place in Santa Monica for eight years, which has been implementing Reggio Emilia philosophy for over twenty five years. Furthering her Reggio education, Kumiko joined study groups in Italy, Oregon, and Arizona. Kumiko loves nature and has an extensive background in gardening. She was a California mentor teacher and has mentored student teachers affiliated with local community colleges. Kumiko is very excited to be a part of the Community Seedlings community and looks forward to sharing her Reggio expertise with the rest of the team. Currently, she is enrolled in a MA program in University of Colorado Denver where they partner with local Reggio school.
Michelle Nazzareno is a native New Yorker. She holds a Masters in Clinical Art Therapy & Mental Health Counseling. She finds Art Therapy to be an astoundingly powerful magnet that draws people in to express themselves in ways that talk therapy may limit. She believes that art is universal and has no boundaries in its ability to communicate the unspoken word. She has had the ability to work with various populations diagnosed on the DSM-5 throughout her career thus far. Since her move to Southern California four years ago, she has had the opportunity to develop several programs all utilizing Art Therapy. Michelle has been teaching in early childhood for over ten years and has been the Naturalist for Community Seedlings for the past two years. Her love of art and nature has emerged into a playful curriculum centered around the love for our children and gardens.
Gloria Devries has been working with young children for over 14 years and is currently a CA Mentor teacher. Gloria started as a parent volunteer at her son’s preschool which led her to early childhood classes at Saddleback College. After Saddleback she taught in a preschool setting for 9 years as well as an after school program. “I believe children are viewed as competent, curious, full of knowledge, potential, and interested in connecting to the world around them. As a teacher, we must encourage to facilitate the child’s learning by planning experiences based on the child’s interests.”
Sydnee Lambert has worked as a Preschool Teacher and Interned at the South Orange County Community College District, along with Nannying for several families while completing her Associate of Science Degree in Early Childhood Education from Saddleback College. She has been influenced early on by many teachers and mentors in the Reggio Emilia Philosophy. Sydnee enjoys art, gardening and outdoor classroom experiences with children. Her desire is to really see children and support them to feel accepted, unique and capable in their discoveries and creativity with open-ended experiences that are in the interest of the child.
Sarah McConville has been teaching in early childhood for over 11 years and is currently a CA Mentor teacher. She began her career at California State University of Long Beach. While she was completing her Bachelors in Child Development, Sarah worked in the toddler room at the Child and Family Center on campus. After she graduated, Sarah got a job at a Reggio inspired preschool in Fountain Valley called Hilltop Preschool. She was there for 6 years before coming to Community Seedlings. Sarah is inspired by the Reggio philosophy as it allows children to expand their minds through hands on experiences based on their individual interests.
Betsy Fuller has taught in a preschool setting for 15 years, and has been the activities director and “camp mom” at Summer Soul Surf Camp in San Clemente for the past 12 years. She received her Bachelors of Science in Child and Adolescent Development from Cal State University Fullerton, and is also a certified Music Together teacher. She believes that working with children allows her to be in a constant state of growth. In addition, she is passionate about honoring the intrinsic creativity and capability that all children possess. She believes that learning does not happen in a linear process, but in a spiral progression, and considers herself to be partners with the children in the process of learning.
Dana Simler brings over ten years of teaching Pre-K and co-directing experience to Community Roots Academy. Along with her passion and devotion to early childhood education, Dana has a Bachelor of Arts in English with a dual depth in Cultural Diversity and Arts and Letters. She is a long time resident of San Clemente where she resides with her husband and two boys, Owen and Milo. Dana is committed to our program here at Community Seedlings Preschool where she claims “everyday has endless potential and the possibilities for learning are around every corner.”
Mary Alberico has been an Early Childhood Educator for 45 years. When her own children were small she became interested in ECE and began studying and working in the field. What began as an interest turned into a passion and ultimately a fulfilling career. She has just ended her 40th year at a local preschool in San Juan Capistrano and has happily joined the team here at Community Seedlings Preschool. She is embracing our philosophy, love of nature and creativity.
My name is Ana Kircher, I grew up in Mexico and have lived in South Orange County for 12 years with my husband and my two lovely children Akira and Breslin.
In 2018 I started my path in Early Childhood Development at Saddleback College where I have obtained my Associate teacher Certificate and am currently studying to obtain my Associate of Science Degree in Early Childhood Development. Along with my studies and work, I have attended many webinars and conferences oriented toward working in inclusive environments and increasing communication with children and families.
When I came to Community Seedlings Preschool I was impressed with their philosophy and how children interact with their environment, peers and adults. I am a strong believer that children learn by experiencing, exploring and creating. When you give them the tools they need and hear what they have to say, you give them freedom to grow and learn with confidence. I am committed to support children’s curiosity and develop plans that stem from their interests and to creating environments where children and their families feel welcome.
Johnna Kennamore grew up in Burlingame, CA in my early years and then lived in South Lake Tahoe, CA in my teen years. I received my Bachelor degree in Social Welfare from U.C. Berkeley and completed my Early Childhood units at Saddleback College. Johnna has two wonderful children Alessandra, 21 and Mitchell, 19. After being a substitute teacher in elementary schools in Northern California while my children were young, she moved to Orange County and started teaching preschool in 2006. Johnna has been teaching for 13 years! She is always excited to enter the doors at Community Seedlings and watch the children learn and flourish in an aspiring environment. Johnna always looks forward to seeing the happy faces of each child while we explore the world of cooking in my afternoon class.