Our Staff

Our staff consists of talented, thoughtful, heart-centered people holding a variety of degrees ranging from associate’s degrees to master’s degrees. We are passionate, dedicated individuals who are active in a wide range of personal interests and professional development activities. All our staff members are dedicated to the lives of children and to being lifelong learners themselves. Little Owl School provides many opportunities for ongoing staff development, workshops, and professional development for our staff. All teachers are CPR/First Aid Certified, and many are members of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) in addition to the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance (NAREA). Our behind the scenes staff is comprised of a wealth of education and experience ranging from architecture, computer technology, film production, early childhood education and human resources. All these attributes bring something to enrich the Little Owl environment further.

Little Owl School staff members are fingerprinted and have received background check clearance by the Department of Social Services and the Department of Justice prior to employment.

Acorn Room

Photo of Dianna Barajas
Dianna Barajas
Educator

” The art of being happy lies in the power of extracting happiness from common things.” -Henry Ward Beecher

”The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.” -H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Dianna has been working with young children since 2010. She completed her ECE certification through Cerritos College and is looking to further her education in the field of early childhood. In 2015 she began working as a substitute for Little Owl. Dianna believes that every child has the right to be heard and the right to express themselves. She believes that children can express their way of learning and thinking through many different ways. She also believes that every child has the right to a safe environment where they can feel safe and comfortable. Dianna is thankful to have the opportunity to learn something new every day as a teacher, she feels that every day we can learn something new or learn from our mistakes.

Outside of the classroom Dianna loves to spend time with her loved ones. Dianna believes in seeking adventures and enjoys working out. She likes to go hiking and signing up for mud races.

Photo of Carroll Scott-McIntyre
Carroll Scott-McIntyre
Educator

“You gotta live a little!” -William McIntyre

My name is Carroll Scott, I’m 35 years old. I grew up in Lodi, California. I moved to Long Beach 13 years ago. I graduate this spring with an AA in early childhood development. I already have an AA in social sciences. A few of my favorite things to do is to cook, host parties, do laundry and hangout with my husband and watch horror movies. We have two dogs named Wicket and Duncan, a red eared slider named Leonard “New Boots” McGoofin, and a beta fish named Data McBarnicle. I am so happy to be a part of the Little Owl family!

Seedling Room

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Alexis Masingill
Educator

“Creative people are curious, flexible, persistent, and independent with a tremendous spirit of adventure and a love of play.” -Henri Matisse

Alexis was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. Her father was in the Navy and had the fortune of being able to grow up on both coasts of the United States. She grew up in San Francisco, Yorktown, and San Diego. Alexis initially attended Riverside Community College to study music performance and education. There she had the opportunities to travel the world, performing music and competing in drumming competitions. She went on to teach high school percussion at various schools around Southern and Northern California. In 2008, Alexis was selected to perform with an All-Female cast for a stage production that traveled all around Japan called Odyssey. When returning from this adventure Alexis knew that she wanted to pursue education in a different light. She then proceeded to attend Orange Coast College to major in Early Childhood Education.

Alexis started her preschool teaching career as a lead teacher for the PreK 3 classroom at St Anthony Elementary School in Downtown Long Beach. She later was hired at Long Beach City College as a Child Care Assistant and had the opportunity to work at both campuses for a little over 5 years. During her time there she graduated with her AA in Early Childhood Education and gained many mentors that helped mold her into the educator she is today.

Outside of her love of early childhood education, Alexis’ passions include performing with the Long Beach Community Band as their timpanist. For the past 10 years Alexis continues to coach percussion at Marina High School in Huntington Beach. She also loves going to Disneyland and Disney Cruises with her partner. She has a small dog named Lola. Alexis aspired of being a Little Owl educator for the past 6 years and is overjoyed to be part of this inspiring team.

Sprout Room

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Amber Norman
Educator

“To the degree we have love and harmony in our heart, to that degree we can give it to others.” Radhanath Swami

Amber is dedicated to progressive, respectful early childhood education. She feels honored to be an educator of children during their early years. Amber knows all children have their own learning process and is dedicated to meeting each child’s individual needs, and expanding on their interests so they may blossom into their own unique selves. She is also devoted to developing relationships with children and their families and building community at Little Owl. Amber is inspired by the innate aspiration children have for exploration and learning and is passionate about providing children with truly enriching experiences and provocations that leave plenty of space for inquiry, discovery, and individual interpretation. She also has an unwavering love for nature and believes it is imperative for children to develop an endearing relationship with the natural world. Amber has had the tremendous honor of learning from such inspiring educators as: Bev Bos, Ann Pelo, Patricia Hunter McGrath, Julianne Wurm, Lella Gandini, Amelia Gambetti, college professors at LBCC, and co-teachers, and so many more. She will always be a life-long learner. Amber has been a Little Owl teacher since 2010. She is also a Mommy of a Little Owl child, Olive. In addition to being a Little Owl teacher, Amber is a professional belly dance performer and instructor, a yoga instructor, living a Bhakti yoga lifestyle, enjoys camping, gardening, cooking vegan cuisine, family time with her husband and daughter, studying ancient Vedic texts, travel, and learning new things.

Oak Room

Olive Room

Photo of Dawn Velez
Dawn Velez
Educator

“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.” -Socrates

“You can’t fall if you don’t climb. But there’s no joy in living your whole life on the ground.” -Unknown (inspired by all the tree climbers at Little Owl)

Dawn has been working closely with children, teachers, and families in the field of early childhood development for twenty years. Twelve years were spent as a preschool teacher at the child development center at California State University, Long Beach, where she also received her Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Development. She continued her education by receiving a Masters of Arts in Human Development at Pacific Oaks in Pasadena and teaching college courses at Long Beach City College. Little Owl has been her home for the past 5 years.

Dawn’s passions include laughing with her two sons and husband, training in martial arts, learning to play musical instruments, and spending time outdoors hiking or at the beach. Her favorite activities with children involve storytelling, reading and re-telling stories through children’s theater, photography and digital slideshows, and multi-media art such as 3-D art and recycled art projects. She is drawn to risk-taking activities such as facilitating wood working and construction, sewing and finger knitting, wrestling and tumbling, and dancing and acting (yes, these can be “risk-taking” activities to perform, let loose and to be yourself in front of other people).

Dawn strives to always have the spirit of a student. Dawn cherishes her work with children because it helps her remain curious. Children provide constant inspiration to open the mind and learn alongside them.

Additional Educators

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Milly Camarena
Afternoon Educator

“Children need the freedom to appreciate the infinite resources of their hands, their eyes and their ears, the resources of forms, materials, sounds and colors.” -Loris Malaguzzi

Milly has been in the field of childhood education since 2008. Her journey began after the birth of her niece and earning a BA in Art for the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos de Lima, Peru, where is is from. Continuing her education in the U.S., Milly pursued a Master Teacher certificate, earned an Early Childhood Education Teacher Certificate with a Special Education focus at Long Beach City College while still firmly rooted to her arts practice.

Milly discovered her combined passions for working with children and art while working at the L.B. City College Child Development Center and other local preschools. She as worked at Little Owl as a sub for 2 years prior to her gaining teacher status. She believes children are social beings who need a nurturing place to imagine, create and play. She has a deep appreciation for their honesty and spontaneity and enjoys using the arts as a tool to facilitate their process in a warm and encouraging environment. Recently Milly earned a Family Development credential through the University of Connecticut Center for Study of Culture, Health and Human Development. When not working, Milly loves to spend time with her friends and family, making art, dancing, riding her bike and cooking and eating good food.

Photo of Daysi Esper
Daysi Esper
Substitute Educator
Photo of Julia Gondova Medeiros
Julia Gondova Medeiros
Substitute Educator

Kitchen & Garden

Photo of Sean Forsha
Sean Forsha
Chef/ Food Educator

Sean joined Little Owl in January 2014. Native to Long Beach, he first started cooking professionally while working towards his BA in English and Mass Media Studies at the University of Oregon. After graduation and upon the suggestion of a respected chef, Sean decided to shift gears and move to San Francisco to attend the California Culinary Academy. He lived in San Francisco for over ten years, working in many different areas of the culinary industry including stints at the venerable Greens’ restaurant and writing for the San Francisco Chronicle Food Section. Most recently, Sean spent four years in New Zealand where, while teaching kids’ cooking classes through a small cafe, he found his true calling – combining his love of cooking with his desire to teach children about the wonders and necessities of wholesome, nutritious cooking and eating.

Upon return to Long Beach in 2012, Sean has done extensive work in the community to pursue this passion, frequently lending his talents to local events and organizations such as So Cal Harvest, Spring Street Farm, and The Growing Experience. He teamed with Long Beach Community Action Partnership in the summer of 2012 to prepare healthy, farm-to-table school lunches for the 100 middle school children at the Lindbergh WRAP with astonishing results. He was a featured chef at Kids in the Kitchen, a massive community event co-sponsored by the Long Beach Junior League and the Long Beach Health Department with the goal of introducing kids and their parents to easy, delicious and nutritious recipes. He finds true joy in educating children about the importance of being aware and making the making the smartest choices possible when eating. Sean is happy to call Long Beach home again, and thrilled by the opportunity to cook for the developing and discerning palates at Little Owl Preschool.

Sean enjoys spending his off time with his wife Katie (who is also a trained chef!) and sharing their combined passions for traveling, music, and, of course, cooking with their beautiful daughter Lillian.

Photo of Shannon Weaver
Shannon Weaver
Garden Educator

“Let Nature be your teacher.” -William Wordsworth

Shannon has a strong connection and love for the community of Long Beach. She completed her BA and Elementary Education credential at CSULB and strives to continue growing personally and professionally in the field of education.

Shannon believes a child’s education should contain a collection of experiences that include the classroom, home and the community. She strives to help a child develop a relationship with the natural world that surrounds them.

Shannon cultivates a connection between the garden and the students. She believes children develop a love and respect for nature and are motivated to taste new fruits and vegetables by participating in the growing and harvesting process.

In addition to the maintaining the school and community gardens, Shannon facilitates a bi- monthly Pop-up Farmers Market to provide an authentic farmers market experience for the preschool families and community. The Little Owl market promotes eating locally grown produce.

In collaboration with the school chef, Shannon is also able to foster good nutritional habits by preparing food grown together in the garden.

Besides gardening and teaching, Shannon’s passions include watching her two sons grow, traveling with her husband, reading and practicing yoga.

Administration

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Stephanie Boggs
Director of Social Media & Marketing

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” – Mother Teresa

Stephanie grew up in Southern California and graduated from the University of California Irvine with a BA in Studio Arts and Minor in Art History. Following graduation, she followed her passion for film and television by working at a post-production editorial boutique in Santa Monica. After a few years behind the computers, she decided she wanted to try her hand at the producing role. Instantly, she found her niche and began working as an editorial and visual effect producer and executive producer for several renowned, award winning post-production houses in the Los Angeles area.

After more than decade, with her family growing, Stephanie and her husband came to the decision that she would leave the bright lights and focus on their family and community. With a happy and full heart, Stephanie began volunteering at her children’s schools and joined the Executive Board of the PTA all while she continued to feed her passion for technology in social & digital media.

Currently, Stephanie can be found running around the wonderful communities of Bixby Knolls, Wrigley, Country Club Manor and Los Cerritos, still volunteering at her children’s school, and at her home away from home, Little Owl. She keeps the community updated with what is happening at Little Owl and spreads the word world-wide about Little Owl School being a leader in Early Childhood Education.

Photo of Joyce Kaiser
Joyce Kaiser
Administrative Assistant
Photo of Christopher Lopez
Christopher Lopez
Receptionist
Photo of Grace McGlynn
Grace McGlynn
Administrative Coordinator

“Happiness depends upon ourselves.” -Aristotle

Grace graduated from CSULB with a BA in Early Childhood Education. She utilized her teaching skills at the CSULB Toddler Lab, Growing Years and the Child Development Program for the City of Carson. After being in the classroom, Grace spent the next 10 years working to improve child care environments by facilitating parent education workshops, working one on one with licensed family child care homes and developing violence prevention and character education materials for youth programs.

Grace is in awe of a child’s innate curiosity. She is inspired by their enthusiasm to learn, willingness to laugh, and excitement to explore.

Grace is happiest spending time with her husband and three sons. They enjoy traveling, camping, going to the beach, bike riding, reading, but most all – laughing together!

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Michelle Ramirez
Program Coordinator

“Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace” -Confucius

Michelle has a passion for serving children and their families. She has been working in the field of early childhood education since 2005 and has experience with a variety of curricula and demographic populations. She began volunteer work with the children in her church during her teen years and has not left her passion since. Little Owl has been her “work home” since 2010 and she has taught on both the Yellow and Green side classrooms. She has received two A.A. degrees from Cerritos College; one in General Studies and the other in Child Development. She also received a B. S. degree in Child Development from the University of La Verne in 2010. In 2014, Michelle earned her M.A. in Early Childhood Education from California State University, Long Beach.

Aside from her role at Little Owl, Michelle is part of the adjunct faculty team in the child development department at Cerritos College. She is also part of the California Early Childhood Mentor Program; it is through this program that she is able to mentor and guide future educators enrolled in the child development practicum course at Cerritos College. She shares her knowledge, insight, and experience as they work alongside her onsite at Little Owl each semester.

In Michelle’s teaching philosophy, she states; ” I believe that children are capable, confident, and unique individuals. The job of the child is to play, discover, and research the world around them. Because of the differing learning styles of children, I must take the challenge of finding multiple ways and multiple mediums that will help capture the many languages that speak to each individual. My role in facilitating the work of children is to observe children’s interest and develop ways to challenge and construct new ways of learning and exploring with the children. I am a source of knowledge, but also a co-researcher alongside the children.”

Outside of school, Michelle enjoys spending time with her friends and family. Her hobbies include gardening, watching reruns of Golden Girls and I Love Lucy, and attending her favorite sporting events with her husband.

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Darryl Redick
Curriculum Coordinator

“What we have to do now is draw out the image of the child, draw the child out of desperate situations that many children find themselves in. If we redeem the child from these difficult situations, we redeem ourselves.” -Loris Malaguzzi

Darryl sat on a baseball field. Alone. It was the spring of 2004, the end of his college baseball career. He asked himself the question, “What will I do for the rest of my life?” The answer came. “Fully realize all that you are.” A couple of weeks away from earning his Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Physical Education, Darryl realized his purpose to develop his life’s narrative and help other human beings in their journey towards self-actualization.

Darryl studied the works of many great philosophers, theorists, and others who he believed were on the same path. He found inspiration and insights in the writings of Joseph Campbell, Hermann Hesse, John Dewy, Bruce Lee, Carl Jung, and Loris Malaguzzi.

The path that he had chosen eventually led him to working with children. He helped his sisters raise his five nieces during his teen years. But when he began working in early childhood education, he learned a truth.

In 2005 Darryl began working as a Teacher Assistant for Loyola Marymount University Children’s Center. There he met Payton, Danielle, Ian, Caleb, among other children, who changed the way he looked at life. He realized children are on the same journey towards self-discovery. Darryl guided children. He helped them learn how to learn. While doing so, he realized the children were also guiding him. Every interaction he has with a child, inspires Darryl to become a better version of him. Here is the Truth; teaching is not separated from learning.

Darryl knows he needs the help of other adults in his work with children. Since 2010, several times a year, he speaks to early childhood education students and other educators. He conducts trainings and workshops on various Child Development concepts.

Darryl’s life is learning and teaching. He continues to independently study ideas in Human Development. He shares his life with others through writing and speaking.

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Jennifer Rocha
Business Manager

“You are the sum total of everything you’ve ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot – it’s all there. Everything influences each of us, and because of that I try to make sure that my experiences are positive.” -Maya Angelou

Jennifer has been working in the field of finance/business operations since 1980, having worked most of those years for Accenture, Arthur Andersen, & Senn-Delaney Management Consultants. She graduated from Mills College with a degree in Computer Science. Prior to joining Little Owl, Jennifer was a homemaker raising her boys, and volunteering at their schools, PTA, & Baseball.

She is especially delighted to contribute at Little Owl, listening to the children play, while “balancing the books!”. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading, and playing with their dog McKenzie.

Photo of Janet & Laurence Watt
Janet & Laurence Watt
Founders/ Owners/ CEO

Janet and Laurence Watt are the founders and owners of Little Owl School. Each respectively has also established and owned other successful companies such as Renew Landscape Management & King’s Road Miniatures (Laurence) and Architecture M (Janet).

Both Laurence and Janet are graduates of local universities. Janet began her college career at LBCC and continued to CSULB where she graduated with a BA in Interior Design and a Masters of Architecture from Cal State Polytechnic University, Pomona. Laurence attended LBCC where he and Janet met, then continued to Golden West Community College where he graduated with an Associates Degree in Arts & Spanish. Laurence then went on to earn a BS in Business Administration, Major Computer Information Systems from Cal State Polytechnic University, Pomona.

Being involved in the community is very important to the Watt family. Besides running several businesses, Laurence and Janet make time to give back. Previously, Laurence served as a City of Long Beach Cultural Heritage Commissioner. He currently serves on the board of the St. Barnabas Finance Committee. Janet is a founding board member of the IVA PTSA, served on the PTA boards for Los Cerritos Elementary, Intellectual Virtues Academy & Hughes Middle School, Los Cerritos Green Team Chairperson (2015 National Green Ribbon Schools Award Winner), Member of the Loyola Mother’s Guild, St. Barnabas Facilities Committee as well as an Advisory at IVA. She has also served on the Fairfield YMCA Board, Board of Health and Human Services and Long Beach Ballet board.

Little Owl was built as a place where there is value in each child’s innate ability to create, learn and build meaningful relationships with others. Laurence and Janet believe that knowledge is much more than how many facts can be remembered; it is about how a child is able to work through problems, through persistence and open-mindedness. These skills reach far beyond the classroom and shape the type of person each child has the potential to become. This approach to thinking allows each child to stretch and perform to a level that will ultimately serve them as independent and creative thinkers that can work and contribute to their community and society as a whole.

Little Owl was created as a place for children, teachers, and families to enjoy their journey of discovery and to encourage respect and stewardship for the world we share. Laurence and Janet created Little Owl to be a place full of joy, learning, and growth- a small community within a large city.

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Linda Wilson
Executive Director

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has” -Margaret Mead

Linda truly believes this quote by anthropologist, Margaret Mead. It guides her dedication in supporting a program and place for children and adults to respectfully listen, learn and grow together.

Linda has been a part of the Long Beach area child care community for over 40 years. She has an educational background from Long Beach City College and CSULB in Early Childhood Education and Anthropology. She began her teaching career at Belmont Heights Methodist Preschool. She was the director and later owner of Young Adventurers. For 30 years, this well-known school-age enrichment program served thousands of children on the McGaugh Elementary School campus in Seal Beach. Linda still treasures the continuing friendships of her former staff and families.

Linda strongly believes in professional growth and the need to be a life-long learner. She has served on the local and regional boards of The National Association for the Education of Young Children, the largest advocacy group for early childhood education in the U.S. She held a variety of positions including Long Beach Chapter President, Public Policy Chair, Programs and Publication Chair. She was part of a Reggio Emilia Study group for 12 years which received grant money to promote the philosophy through educator conferences. This group studied the philosophy of the well-respected Reggio Emilia Municipal schools in Northern Italy. She has made two trips to Italy, one on a study tour to Reggio Emilia to further her understanding, excitement and respect for the philosophy. She is currently a member of NAREA and the City of Long Beach Early Childhood Education Committee.

Linda has been a frequent presenter at local and state conferences on a number of subjects including Appropriate Environments and Curriculum for Children, Diversity and Social Justice Issues, Children’s Literature and Literacy and Staff Development.

She enjoys travel and live music with her husband, bragging about her 2 grown children, reading, book clubs and good conversation with people of all ages.