Teachers and Staff

All our teachers are well educated in early childhood education and believe in the power of children.  They are all experts at inspiring children toward a lifelong love of learning in all aspects of their development.  Our teachers and staff are men (over 40%) and women who come from many different cultures and backgrounds.

Aaron – Head Teacher, Nursery School
Teaching at Step One since 2000, Aaron has been an Early Childhood Educator since 1996.  He began teaching in the town of Orange, continued in San Francisco, and then the East Bay where he found Step One and ‘fell in love’.  He engages deeply with children through literature and music, and he sings and plays guitar with them daily.

Alexis – Head Teacher, 2 Year Old Program
Alexis started at Step One as a student in 1983 in the 2 year old program, and happily decided to return in 2003.  She has been Head Teacher in the 2 year old program since 2008.  She attended UCLA, studying both Political Science and African American Studies.

Amalie – Teacher, Nursery School
Amalie began teaching at age 18 at the same preschool she attended as a child.  At age 21 she moved to the Bay Area as a teacher intern.  Her tenure at Step One started in 1991 as a substitute teacher and she has been teaching in Room 2 for most of the past 20 years.  She is a talented artist and brings her enthusiasm for drawing to the classroom.

Amy – Teacher, Arts Enrichment Program
After a decade of working as a professional chef in Milwaukee, Amy decided to pursue a career working with children. Amy joined Step One in 2015 and has completed her Early Childhood Education certification through Contra Costa College.

Angie – Head Teacher, Nursery School
Angie began working with young children during summer sessions at her mom’s former preschool in Albany and then began substitute teaching in the area and at Step One. Angie has worked at Step One full-time since 1999.  “Step One is a very special place to me.  It’s a supportive, talented, diverse group of people who ooze with commitment to teaching young children.  I knew this was the place where I wanted to stay for a long time.”

Anthony – Head Teacher, Nursery School
Anthony began working in Early Childhood Education in 1991 and worked at several large and small child development programs before joining Step One in 2005.  He dedicates many extra hours to enriching the outside environment at Step One and is also passionate about our work in anti-bias education.

Ayla – Teacher, Nursery School
Ayla joined the Step One faculty in 2015. Ayla grew up in Brooklyn, NY and received her Bachelor’s Degree in Bilingual Education from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her experiences extend from working at theater camps in NYC, volunteering at an orphanage in Peru, teaching art, music and Spanish for a K-12 in Alaska and most recently teaching at a preschool in Brooklyn, NY.

Carolyn – Community and Events Coordinator
Carolyn has been working in non-profit education for over 18 years. She’s managed capital and annual campaigns, auctions, stewardship programs and other Development projects. She found her passion for fundraising while searching for creative ways to fund two youth programs she created and directed in the Bay Area. Aside from supporting Step One School, Carolyn is also managing an alumni program for a local non-profit school, and continues to volunteer for non-profit organizations. She earned her BA in Legal Studies at UC Berkeley, with a minor in Administration of Justice.

Daniel – Administrative Assistant
Daniel has worked part-time in the front office since 2001 and has a successful private practice as an acupuncturist.

Eric – Teacher, 2 Year Old Program
Teaching since 1999, Eric has been an integral part of the 2 year old program at Step One since 2002.  He brings his musical prowess to his work, and can be found playing guitar, singing, and dancing with the children on a regular basis.

Gina – Teacher, Arts Enrichment Program
Gina received her BA in Psychology at UC Berkeley and afterwards spent a few years pursuing a career in sustainable food systems. Gina brings her passion for good food into her teaching. Gina fell in love with Step One and began substitute teaching here after working for two Step One families as a nanny in 2013.

Ika – Teacher, Nursery School
Ika started as a substitute teacher at Step One and has worked almost continually here as a teacher since 1991.  In her over 40 years’ experience, both in her native Brazil and in the U.S., she has been a child care provider, elementary school teacher, and a teacher of music, drama, arts and crafts, and physical education.  She has a teaching credential from Brazil, and two additional years of study in Education and Child Development at the Federal University in Brazil.    She teaches Portuguese and Brazilian dance and is a professional dancer and director of Aquarela Dance Group in Berkeley.

Laura – Teacher, Nursery School
Laura started working at Step One in 2012 and has quickly become an integral part of our community. Laura received her B.S. in Microbiology from New York University and a B.A. in Human Development with a specialty in Early Childhood Education from Pacific Oaks College. Laura is currently pursuing her Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education and Development from Pacific Oaks College.

Leticia – Teacher, Nursery School
Leticia worked as a nanny for 20 years and came to Step One first as a parent, and more recently as a substitute teacher in 2010.  She continues to study Early Childhood Education and Child Development at Contra Costa College, and she incorporates Spanish into her daily interactions with the children.

Lilly – Teacher, Arts Enrichment Program
Lilly has been at Step One School, first as a Substitute Teacher, and then full-time since 2001.  She immigrated to America from her native Peru in 1982, where she worked with Downs Syndrome children.  She studied at California Nanny College in Sacramento and worked in various childcare development programs before finding Step One.  She also enjoys teaching the children introductory Spanish.

Lolla  – Financial Controller
Lolla joined Step One in 2009 as Financial Controller, bringing more than 10 years of accounting and finance experience to the school.  In her “prior life” she was a Controller for software companies in Palo Alto and Oakland.  Her first language is Russian.

Maria – Head Teacher, Arts Enrichment Program
Born in Barcelona, Spain, where she majored in Interior Design, Maria soon discovered that her passion was working with young children.  She realized how important it is for children to be introduced to art at an early age, and she’s been instrumental in developing Step One’s Late Afternoon Art Program.  She also speaks and teaches Spanish to the children, introducing them to new words every day.  Maria has been at Step One School since 1997.

Marisa – Office Manager
Marisa started working at Step One in 2011 and in her spare time devotes herself to a variety of volunteer opportunities including tutoring elementary age students in reading. Marisa received her Bachelor’s Degree from San Francisco State University in Art History.

Raquel – Teacher, 2 Year Old Program
Raquel has been working in the field of Early Childhood Education since 1999.  She enrolled her son at Step One from 2008 to 2010, then later joined Step One’s faculty in 2012.  Alongside her study of Early Childhood Education at Contra Costa College, she is very interested in diversity and inclusion issues, and she incorporates Spanish into her teaching role.

Rosie – Teacher, Nursery School
Rosie attended college at UC Santa Cruz, where she studied African and US History and minored in Education. During her time at UCSC Rosie studied abroad in Ghana and is now Executive Board Secretary of the Ghana Educational Collaborative. Rosie spent 2 years working for AmeriCorps, where she served as an afterschool teacher in East Oakland followed by 2 years of teaching at Rockridge Little School. Rosie’s love for learning lead her to the Bay Area Teacher Training Institute (BATTI) where she earned a Masters in Education and teaching credential while she worked as a First Grade Teaching Assistant at Prospect Sierra School. 

Susana – Program Director
Susana joined the Step One team in July 2013. She received a B.A. in Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley and an Ed.M. from Harvard University. As a graduate student she worked as a Play Therapist for children in a Boston Head Start program. She has also worked at Habitot Children’s Museum, developing parent education programs and leading parent-child  playgroups. Most recently she worked for the Life is Good Playmakers, supporting preschool teachers in implementing therapeutic play into their classrooms, with a focus on children who have experienced trauma or stress.

Stacey – Program Specialist and Enrollment Coordinator
Stacey joined the office team in 1996 and has filled various roles over the years. Stacey has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA from Mills College in Early Childhood Education. She worked as a preschool teacher and Director for 10 years in Oakland before coming to Step One.

Steve – Teacher, Transitional Kindergarten
Steve has been teaching at Step One School since 1999 after working in several preschools and with the East Bay Conservation Corps.    He has been a Co-Teacher in the Transitional Kindergarten program since 2003.  A Piedmont native, Steve earned his BS degree in Science, Health and Living Systems from JFK University.

Tina – Administrative Assistant
Tina began working at Step One in the 80s and her two children both attended Step One in the

Zakiya – Permanent Substitute
Zakiya has subbed at Step One since 2015 and became Permanent Substitute in 2018. She previously worked at Willard Middle School as a garden teacher and Roots Academy in East Oakland as a 7th grade girls counselor.  One of her biggest passions is music and DJ’s around the bay area with an all women vinyl collective.  

Zeena – Teacher, Transitional Kindergarten
Zeena has been a significant presence at Step One School since 1986.  She attended UC Berkeley, is fluent in Spanish, and is an avid reader of fiction and non-fiction.  She has dedicated the bulk of her long career to Step One families and continues to be in contact with many former students.

From The Beginning…..
Charlie  (Teacher 1983-2014)
Charlie retired from Step One School in August 2014 after being an Early Childhood Educator for over 37 years, and at Step One School since 1983.  For many of Step One’s early years Charlie was the only male teacher, but he attracted a following, and now Step One has 9 men among its faculty of 20.
Lisa (Co-Founder and Co-Director 1981-1985)
Lisa’s strong vision for what Step One could be propelled the school forward in its early years, such that we were able to move into our current site in 1983.  She helped develop the Twos program before she journeyed  on to the Wright Institute to develop her psychotherapy practice in Marin County.
Eric (Co-Director 1986-2008)
Eric was a teacher, Assistant Director, and finally Co-Director for many of Step One’s formative years.  Among many other notable accomplishments, he was the originator of Step One’s famous annual campout.  Eric retired from Step One in 2008 and continues to work in the field of Education Management.
Katie (1985-2002)
Katie was Head Teacher in Room 4 for many years, delighting in music, gardening and cooking, and the preschooler’s scientific mind.  She trained a number of teachers who were embarking on their Early Childhood Education careers, several of whom are now Head Teachers at Step One.  She retired in 2002 and moved with her husband to the East coast to be closer to her family.
Gege (Teacher, 1983-2011)
Gege was one of the founders of our Transitional Kindergarten program and her gifted teaching, creativity, and hugs are greatly missed.
Cynthia (Teacher and Afternoon Director, 1998-2018)
Cynthia taught and directed in the field of Early Childhood Education for over 30 years, working at Step One since 1998.   For many years she gracefully balanced the dual roles of teacher (in the late afternoon) and administrator.