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.
One of the PM teachers, David joined Playmates in the Fall of 2013. David graduated with honors and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Manhattanville College, including a semester abroad in Firenze, Italy. His second major was in philosophy, with extended investigations into psychology, religion, anthropology, and mythology.
David has lived in New England, California, Vermont, and Manhattan and is an accomplished woodworker, designer, and builder. After becoming a full time father of two children in 2002, David became active in a neighborhood, parent-led group called “Preschool on the Planet,” which still exists today in Inwood, NY.
David returned to San Francisco in 2006 and enrolled in Rocky Mountain Participation Nursery School. There, his understanding and investigations of children and child development matured. Serving on the Board as the Parent Ed chair in 2009 led him to return to City College of San Francisco to formally study Early Childhood Education and Child Development, with an emphasis on play-based learning and brain development. He is currently enrolled in The Master’s Program for Early Childhood Education at San Francisco State University. David’s intention is to work with parents and children, to discover how to incorporate, what is truly important to them, with their children’s true nature, and how to advocate for their children throughout life. He asks that we remember, “We are not just raising children, we are raising future adults.” What world will they inherit? How can we prepare them for this? David’s answer is, “we can’t, but we can discover who each child is, what each child’s gifts are, what kind of learners they are, and let them know that whatever the future holds, they can plug those qualities into it.” David firmly believes that society starts in preschool. That the work we do here lasts a lifetime, and he is honored to be a part of that important and precious process.
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.
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.
“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 of San Francisco 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.
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.
Michelle San Roman
Michelle is one of our Extended Care teachers and she joined the Playmates staff during the Summer of 2013. Michelle previously worked with children in a social services environment with at risk teenage boys in foster care. Most recently she’s been working independently providing childcare, pet sitting services, and personal assistant duties to clients throughout
the Bay Area.
She loves being part of every child’s journey at Playmates and craves the infectious laughter, the boundless energy and the wonderful “out of the mouths of babes” quotes.
Benjamin joined Playmates in Fall 2013 as one of the PM teachers. A native Californian, Benjamin grew up in balmy San Diego before moving up to San Francisco. He began working with kids at a young age, babysitting his younger brothers and the others children in the neighborhood. In college, Benjamin started a summer job as preschool assistant/after school teacher, a job that shaped his resolve to go into the field of Early Childhood Education. After receiving his degree in Child Development, he worked for the Waldorf School of San Diego while attending classes at the Waldorf teacher training program. With ten years of experience in play-based and Waldorf curriculum, Benjamin is very excited to be a part of a wonderful community and school.
When not working, Benjamin enjoys finding time to play his tuba or having friends over to play board games.