Cheryl Allsbrook is known as the “Funky Monkey” teacher in her class for 2-3 year old children and their parents. She has a lovable monkey puppet as her sidekick who likes to encourage the children to dance the funky monkey with him. The very active two year olds in her class have many chances to develop a strong sense of self as they participate in group play, pretend play and independent activities. In addition to the one day classes, Cheryl also teaches a two-day early preschool class. Typically, this class is the first time the children are at school without a parent and Cheryl tries to make this important transition as stress-free as possible for both the parent and the child. The curriculum for the Early Pre-school two year old class focuses on many opportunities for the children to enhance their developmental learning and to build their confidence. Born, raised and educated in Redondo Beach, Cheryl has been teaching at the South Bay Family Tree for 23 years. She has a Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree in Child Development as well as an Adult Education Teaching Credential. Her philosophy is that children learn best in a warm, creative environment when they are allowed to grow and develop at their own pace. A favorite quote in her classroom says: “LET THEM BE LITTLE.”
Katie Brodkin has been teaching at South Bay Family Tree for over 12 years. Katie graduated from the University of Arizona with a BS in Childhood Education. After earning her California teaching credential, she taught third grade before taking a few years off to raise her four kids. Today Katie teaches a 12-18 month class guiding and supporting parents in the on-going development of their enduring and nurturing relationships with their young children. Katie believes that a strong parent-child relationship is crucial to the creation of a healthy brain. There is a massive amount of learning that children are experiencing during these early years and toddlers find a safe environment in her class to learn through discovery and play with a variety of materials. Katie and her husband are active supporters of the PTAs at their children’s elementary, middle and high schools, where they continue to give education a high priority for their family as they give their time and efforts to their local community.
Felice Greene has been teaching preschool classes for over thirty years. Twenty-one of those years have been working with the parents and their children at South Bay Family Tree. She has seen parents return with their second, third or even fourth child to her classroom. They come back because they know that their children will develop strong emotional, social and intellectual foundations in a safe and engaging environment. Children develop skills for reading and writing as well as a sense of self-worth and a desire to learn because school is fun. As a former parent in the program herself, she shares wonderful memories with the lifelong friends she met in SBFT classes. An avid animal lover, Felice may be seen walking her faithful dog, Charlie, around her Redondo Beach neighborhood.
Cara Hagemeister earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from UCLA and has lived in the South Bay for over 20 years. After working in advertising for many years, she pursued a career in education and received her multiple subject credential in 2009. Cara loves to spend time with her family traveling, swimming and watching her sons’ sports events. Cara feels a close connection with South Bay Family Tree because she participated in it with both of her children. Now, as a SBFT teacher in Transitional Kindergarten, she wants to pass along her love of the program to new families in the community. The Transitional Kindergarten class is designed for children who are age-ready to attend kindergarten but could use an extra year to gain emotional or social confidence or to gain skills in fine motor or gross motor activities. TK offers children the gift of time ― time to gain assurance and readiness skills to tackle the academics. The class utilizes Handwriting Without Tears to teach writing, the Houghton Miflin curriculum for language arts development, as well as a wide variety of hands-on learning for science and math.
Lynn Harris graduated in the first class of Early Childhood Education at Bucknell University in 1975. At the University of Illinois, she studied under Dr. Constance Kamii who had been a student of the renowned developmental psychologist, Jean Piaget. Lynn has been an early childhood and parent educator in day care centers, inner-city Chicago public schools, and parent co-op preschools. She has taught at the South Bay Family Tree since 1986. Her three young grandchildren now attend SBFT and Lynn enjoys participating in their classroom activities as often as possible. Lynn loves teaching classes for parents and their 18-24 month old children who are experiencing great advances in their development. She provides toddlers with interesting and challenging open-ended materials as well as with music and literature to engage their curious brains and encourage their rapidly expanding language development. Parents love to see their children make extraordinary discoveries. Through discussion and observation, Lynn helps parents navigate through this exciting stage in their children’s lives.
Turid King has been teaching parenting classes with the South Bay Family Tree for more than 20 years. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Olivet Nazarene University with a teaching major in home economics and a minor in Spanish. She began her career with SBFT as a parent in the program and was hired six months later as a teacher. During the current school year, Turid’s full teaching schedule includes parents and their 0-6 month olds, 7-12 month olds, 12–18 month olds, and 2-3 year olds. Parents in the 0-6 month class are learning about their babies’ growth and development. The babies are responding to music time by turning their heads toward the sound and smiling. Turid never stops being in wonder as infants who come in their mothers’ arms in the fall begin to roll over, sit, crawl, stand and then are even walking by the end of the school year. Both the walkers and the crawlers in her 7-12 month class are developing their gross motor skills climbing in the classroom and on outdoor play equipment. They are responding to their names, recognizing their favorite songs and clapping to the music. In the 12-18 month class, toddlers are learning to take turns with new friends, to follow directions with the little green frog, are learning about colors with the mouse and his colorful houses, scribbling with crayons and chalk and dancing with pompoms and scarves. Two and three year olds are engaged in a variety of learning activities where they enjoy art, music and movement, learn color, name and number recognition, experiment with sensory materials and science items, and practice gross motor skills. Turid enjoys observing and guiding parents and their children of all ages. She feels that it is important to remember that a child cannot have too many people who love them and want to help them succeed.
Growing up in the South Bay, Cindy Kringen attended Long Beach State University and earned a BA in communicative disorders. She also holds a Child Development Site Supervisor permit and a Parent Education Adult Education Credential. Cindy participated in South Bay Family Tree classes when her two daughters were young and today she counts some of her closest friends as fellow parents she met in those very classes. As a SBFT pre-kindergarten teacher for more than 13 years, Cindy’s goal is to help each child acquire knowledge and skills in physical, social, emotional and intellectual areas in order to make a smooth transition to kindergarten. Through hands-on learning activities that focus on subjects such as rocks and minerals, volcanoes, the solar system, dinosaurs, Native Americans and Pilgrims, children are encouraged to be curious and creative. They learn to be thinkers as they become mini geologists, astronauts, paleontologists, biologists and historians. The happy and confident four-year-olds know that their busy days are not complete without singing, dancing, reading together and outside free play.
A native of Redondo Beach, Carmel Madonna graduated from Aviation High School and El Camino College where she received an AA degree in Early Childhood Education. She also earned a teaching credential in Parent Education and has been teaching since 1991. At South Bay Family Tree, Carmel teaches a 3-4 preschool class, Outdoors as a Classroom and the Do Re Mi music classes. Starting on the first day of school, Carmel strives to know and understand each child’s level of cognitive, social and physical development in order to provide them with developmentally appropriate activities. Her class of 3-4 year old children is full of active learners who gain knowledge and skills through many hands-on activities, ranging from art to science to fine-motor development. Carmel grew up in a musical family and she believes that participation in musical activities ― singing, listening, moving to the rhythm ― provides joyful activities with many benefits for children. Music stimulates brain development, helps children learn to focus and become good listeners and lays a strong foundation for learning to read.
Gabriele Palmer has been on the South Bay Family Tree staff for over 16 years. After working five years as a teaching assistant, she felt that early education was her calling and earned her teaching credential through UCLA. Gabriele’s two children were once SBFT preschoolers and are currently enrolled in classes with their own children. Gabriele loves helping families with parenting techniques as well as providing them and their 3-4 year old children with a nurturing and enriching preschool experience. Fun learning goes on daily in her class. In the fall, children may be seen mixing yellow and red paint to find orange for their paper pumpkins. In the winter, children will sculpt three dimensional snowmen using cornstarch and shaving cream. At the science area, they will investigate what happens when they try to lift an ice cube with or without salt. Each activity-filled day always includes time for music and movement, a nutritious snack, story time and outside play.
Susan Robinson has been a teacher at South Bay Family Tree for fourteen years. Her teaching career began at a Head Start Preschool in Illinois. A search for adventure led her to California and a return to school to earn her Multi-Subject Teaching Credential and Language Development Specialist certificate. Susan taught second grade in the Hawthorne School District until she decided to stay home with her daughter. When she was ready to return to work, SBFT was the perfect fit for her. She began teaching the 18-24 month class and added the sibling class a couple of years later. Her Thursday morning sibling class offers a diverse environment where children of all ages play and learn together. Parents have a wonderful opportunity to attend a class as a family and the children learn about cooperative play which extends to their relationships at home. There is singing, dancing and moving to music as well as a variety of fun and interesting activities that are developmentally appropriate to engage and inspire the children and their parents. In her spare time, Susan might be found hiking Mt. Baldy, participating in one of the Avon Walks to End Breast Cancer or biking around the Palos Verdes hills.
Caryn Steese has been a South Bay Family Tree teacher for twenty years. Prior to her teaching position, Caryn was an instructional assistant as well as a parent who participated in many classes with both of her daughters. Cooking is one of Caryn’s passions and she enjoys trying new recipes and serving them to her family and friends. Several years ago she built on her interest in healthy meals and developed a new class called Food Fun which eventually grew into the current Mini Chefs ― Sensational Snacks class. In addition to this food preparation class, Caryn also teaches an early preschool class and an art fun class. The children in her classes explore, create and learn by playing and engaging in a variety of activities. In the block corner, they are forming a strong foundation for understanding math and science concepts. The sensory table encourages children to experiment with different substances such as salt, birdseed, water, sand and goop (cornstarch and water) as they pour, sift, mix and mold. Music, movement and literacy are all important parts of the school day. Caryn loves to see the children’s progression as they recognize the letters of the alphabet, their written names as well as the written names of their classmates. Caryn continually strives to offer children a safe, fun and positive learning environment so that they can develop skills at their own pace.
I attended SBFT with all three of my children from infancy through the preschool program. I cannot say enough amazing things about this program. I love the way each age level naturally evolves for their development. The teachers helped shape my children's introduction into elementary school. They had an easy, wonderful transition into Kindergarten and they are now all straight A students thriving in school academically and socially.
The program is developmental based, and it's great because parents are there to assist in the centers. The ratio of adults to children is the best. In the 2 year old class, we enjoyed crafts, talked about important topics for that age group and introduced the kids to circle time and enjoying more of a "schedule". In the 3 and 4 year-old classes, the calendar was planned ahead and the lessons were perfect for the kids. The teachers are caring, nurturing, funny and energetic. They are proactive if they see a problem with a child in the classroom and handle things professionally. I was amazed how quickly they would intervene just sensing a potential dispute between two children and how quickly they resolved the situation.
SBFT's mantra is "be safe and be kind". I still use those words with my kiddos. We will always hold SBFT close to our hearts. I learned so much and recommend it to everyone I meet. My children still talk about how much they love their preschool teachers!
Danielle, parent of Lilly, Jake and Ben