Annette has spent her career as a passionate advocate for children, families and early childhood education. She learned about Playmates many years ago when her sister was the AM Program Director and is thrilled to have the opportunity to join the Playmates cooperative community and work side-by-side with our wonderful teachers, great parents and beautiful children.
She joined the Playmates staff in 2011 after spending nine years as the Site Director for the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, Helen Diller Family Preschool. Prior to that, she spent another nine years at the Helen Diller Family Preschool in a variety of administrative and teaching roles including Lead Teacher, Summer Program Director and Assistant Director. Her interests include fostering connections between children and the natural environment, supporting children with special needs and working to support the development of children as individuals in a play based, creative environment.
In addition to her Director ‘s Permit, she holds a B.A. in Social Work with an emphasis on Child Welfare and Family Counseling and Early Childhood and Family Dynamics.
For Melissa, joining a cooperative nursery school for her own two children (now college-aged) was probably the best decision she ever made for her family. Her children benefitted from the developmentally appropriate, play-based curriculum, and she benefitted from seeing them in the context of their peers and from the wisdom of their teachers. Her family became part of a caring community that they are still benefitting from to this day. Having been involved with the co-op, she followed her kids to elementary school, where she volunteered, then subbed, and eventually taught kindergarten.
Melissa earned an elementary teaching credential with early childhood emphasis from SFSU. In her work, she tries to bridge the gap between the child development focus of ECE and the curriculum-centered approach of elementary school. She has taught the Young Five class at Playmates since 2004. Melissa deeply appreciates the freedom to teach in a way that is consistent with what she knows about how young children learn. For Melissa, every day brings new challenges and opportunities to learn from colleagues, parents, and of course the children.
“I just love the family atmosphere.” A new addition to Playmates as of summer 2007, Carrie is a natural athlete. And she brings a lively sense of action to the playground. Currently a college student at City College studying child development, Carrie’s long-term career goal is in the nursing field. Ask any Playmate child or grownup, and they’ll say they hope Carrie changes her mind and stays right here. “It’s such a caring and nurturing place for children,” says the alumnus. If you’re looking for Carrie, you won’t have to look far. Her favorite Playmates event is the annual Pumpkin Patch visit in October.
Lucy Thrupp teaches extended care with Carrie. Lucy attended Glenridge Co-op where she has great memories of playing in the mud and hiking. Lucy is Margaret’s daughter and consequently has a strong understanding of the Playmates philosophy. She began working as a substitute parent worker directly out of high school and was inspired to take the classes and take a job in extended care. Lucy loves setting up art/sensory/manipulative projects for the children, telling stories, encouraging the children to tell their own stories, and having them express themselves through music and movement. Her philosophies were greatly influenced by her childhood adventures with Young 5 teacher, Melissa Vivas’s children, as well as with those of one of Playmate’s former directors. Lucy’s love and knowledge of music was instilled in her by her musician parents who played live lullabies on violas and signed her up for violin lessons at an early age. Lucy’s interest in children’s stories can be traced back to her mother who read bedtime stories for so long that her two children were old enough for Tolkien. Lucy’s teaching style is influenced by her love of science and nature, and her strong visual arts background. Lucy is very interested in special education and brain development.
Gina began her career in early childhood during her college years, when she took a job as a teaching assistant. After college, she worked in a corporate setting in an administrative role, but missed the preschool environment, so she went back to school to study child development so that she could teach. After teaching for a number of years, she had the opportunity to help in the office, and found it enjoyable to tackle the administrative tasks within a school. After having two children of her own, Gina was offered the opportunity to work at Playmates doing the work that she enjoys in a place that she loves.
When not tending the chickens at school or chasing her own two kids around, Gina loves the arts; painting, ceramics, drawing, music, both in practice and experiencing it around her.
Tomoko Honda is the lead teacher of Playmates’ AM younger group, and is the warm soul of that program. After joining the Playmates staff in the fall of 2009, Tomoko quickly won the hearts and minds of her students. In the early part of the day, you might see her on the porch with children, helping to ease the transition from home to school. Tomoko’s experience as the mother of a high-school child, informs her teaching philosophy- a mixture of nurturing, positive discipline, and creative expression. She also believes that children need space to run and room for imaginative play to blossom, both of which are readily available at Playmates. Research from the Alliance for Childhood reflects the validity of this approach: “Numerous studies have shown that children who engage in complex socio-dramatic play develop higher levels of thinking, stronger language skills, better social skills, more empathy and more imagination than children who do not play in this way. They are also less aggressive and show more self-control. Play also lowers stress levels in children.” Tomoko has years of volunteer experience supporting families and children in a co-op school setting, and she studied early childhood development at City College of San Francisco. She originally hails from Kiryu, Japan.
One of our PM teachers, Alisa brings excitement and energy to her classroom. When asked what she loves most about Playmates, she says “It’s so refreshing! I love that children at Playmates have the freedom to be who they are and that we have everything for them to discover all about themselves, in any way they wish! ” A graduate of California Polytechnic State University in child development with a minor in psychology, Alisa has five years of preschool experience under her belt. She speaks fluent Spanish and spent a semester abroad in Costa Rica. In her free time she enjoys dance, photography, movies, and sports.
Long before Maasa joined the Playmates staff as an AM teacher, she fell in love with the program as an intern. Maasa went on to earn her degree in early childhood development with an emphasis on young child and family at San Francisco State University. Parent education is paramount to Maasa, and she believes that the level of involvement of parents at the school helps to grow stronger parent-child bonds. Most of all, she loves that at Playmates, children are allowed to get dirty–in the sandbox, through process oriented art projects, and in our gardens. A background in ballet and piano influences her teaching style, and you will often see her group singing and dancing happily at circle time. A native of Kumamoto, Japan, Maasa also teaches the children traditional Japanese songs and lore.
Maliya grew up in Santa Barbara, where she studied early childhood education, earned her teaching permit and worked as a preschool intern for two years. In 2009, she moved to San Francisco to be closer to family and after teaching at a couple different preschools in the city, finally found a home at Playmates in our PM Program. She says “the idea of parents, teachers and children coming together to support one another, to foster the healthy development of the children as individuals,” is something she’s very excited to be a part of. Her personal philosophy involves allowing children to freely explore their natural environment while facilitating opportunities to express themselves creatively, both physically and through visual arts. In her free time, Maliya enjoys creating her own art, especially painting, and exploring the outdoors.