TODDLER & PRIMARY FACULTY

TODDLER FACULTY (ages 18-36 months)

EVELYN MARTINEZ
Toddler Program Coordinator
Bilingual Lead Teacher, Little Steps Toddler Class

Evelyn Martinez joined the Spring Hill School in 2009. After studying child development and earning Associate Teacher Credentials, she completed her Montessori training with master Montessori teacher and mentors, as well as a teaching internship at Santa Rosa Junior College. Evelyn is a native Spanish speaker and fluent in English, and she introduces her young students to Spanish with consistent conversation in the classroom. Evelyn is an experienced, talented, and committed teacher who deeply cares about her students. She has been integral to the nurturing and loving environment that is so important in the Toddler classroom. Evelyn provides the consistency, care, love, and structure that our toddlers need to ensure that they have a positive, first-time school experience. She has created trusted relationships with her students’ parents through her respectful and caring interactions and her detailed communication each day. She is much loved by her students and their parents. Evelyn enjoys spending time with her husband and her son, Alan, a Spring Hill student.

REINA STARKE
Assistant Teacher, Little Steps Toddler Class

Reina Starke joined the Spring Hill faculty in 1992.  She has been an important part of the Spring Hill community for many years as a member of the administrative team, an Elementary after-school program teacher, a classroom substitute teacher, and a teacher in Spring Hill’s Toddler program. Reina’s mother was Spring Hill’s office manager when she was growing up, and when Reina welcomed her first child, she began working alongside her mother as an after-school teacher. With her mother’s passing in 2014, she is committed to carrying on her legacy of creating a warm and fun educational environment for the children of our community. Reina lives in Petaluma with her husband and two of her three daughters, all Spring Hill alumni. When she’s not with her Spring Hill family or her young granddaughters (one of whom is a Spring Hill student), Reina enjoys long walks, reading, and spending time at the beach.

EVA GARCIA
Bilingual  Lead Teacher, Little Stars Toddler Class

Eva Garcia joined the Spring Hill faculty team in 2011.  As a bilingual teacher, she has worked with both Primary (ages 3–6) and Toddler (ages 18–36 months) students at Spring Hill. She earned an Associate Teacher Credential from Santa Rosa Junior College and is currently continuing her education in child development. Eva has a graceful and gentle teaching approach, encouraging her young students to feel secure and eager to learn, and she engages children in all areas. A native Spanish speaker and fluent in English, her conversational Spanish in the classroom and group lessons enable children to develop a crucial foundation for language learning. In addition to teaching in the classroom, Eva has led classes and performances at Spring Hill in Ballet Folklorico (folkloric dance) for preschool age children. Prior to joining Spring Hill, Eva was a program coordinator with the Boys and Girls Club, where she designed and directed programs, activities, and art projects for young children. Eva and her husband live in Petaluma.

KRYSTEL BECERRA-ALFARO
Bilingual Assistant Teacher, Little Stars Toddler Class

Krystel Becerra-Alfaro joined the Spring Hill faculty in 2019. Krystel has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with a minor in Early Childhood Education. She is a native Spanish speaker and fluent in English. Krystel is an experienced teacher and has worked in classroom settings with preschool age children, as well as in kindergarten and 1st grade classrooms, over the past five years. We are glad to welcome Krystel back to the Spring Hill team. She was previously a member of our team and taught in both our Toddler and Primary programs. Krystel is committed to her students and their families. Our toddlers love Krystel’s warm and caring disposition and parents appreciate her kind, soft-spoken nature.

MARIANNE RIDDLE
Music Teacher

Marianne Riddle is Spring Hill’s Toddler program music teacher. She has been bringing music to Spring Hill’s toddlers since 2017. Marianne is a Group Empowerment Drum Circle Facilitator and Early Childhood Music Educator. She is the founder of Adventures in Rhythm, a rhythm-based music program for all ages and abilities in Petaluma. With creativity, experience and a lifelong devotion to music, Marianne positively supports people of all ages and abilities along their journey of music making. Marianne is an authorized HealthRHYTHMS facilitator, trained by Dr. Barry Bittman, MD and Christine Stevens, MSW, MA, MT-BC. HealthRHYTHMS is a research-based group drumming protocol which has demonstrated biological and psycho-social benefits. The drum is used as a tool for communication and personal expression, and Health RHYTHMS reduces stress, improves mood and boosts the immune system.

PRIMARY FACULTY (ages 3-5 years)

BARBARA PAPPAS
Lead Teacher, Bluebirds Primary Class & Mommy/Daddy & Me Instructor

Barbara joined the Spring Hill faculty team in 2014. She has been a master Montessori early childhood educator since 1991. She received her Primary Montessori teaching credential in 2002 at Golden Gate San Francisco Montessori training center from Dr. Ursula Thrush, who created and inspired early childhood teaching training centers to advance peace education and social justice in their classrooms and communities. Barbara carries Dr. Montessori and Dr. Ursula Thrush’s mission and vision for global peace through children’s education in her everyday teaching and practices by believing in the potential and gift of each child to create a better future for all.  Barbara, a native of Germany, came to the US as a physical therapist. She continued her training at the Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) program Kaiser Hospital, Vallejo in 1985, and worked in physical therapy until she discovered Montessori and decided to pursue a passionate career as a Lead Montessori educator. One of Barbara’s favorite topics is parenting education. She is the founder of Sonoma Parenting 101 focusing on mindful parenting topics and children’s storytelling, so if you can catch her between classes, start up a conversation about positive discipline, family values, sibling dynamics, or setting routines and habits by modeling. Barbara is a devoted mom to Dustin and Nick, her two adult sons.

SUSAN DALTON GUZMAN
Associate Teacher & Spanish Teacher
Bluebirds Primary Class

 Susan joined the Spring Hill faculty team in  2016. Susan holds a degree in Early Childhood Education from Santa Barbara City College as well as a California Child Development Teacher Permit and Site Supervisor Credential. Susan is a fluent Spanish speaker and offers her students an engaging introduction to Spanish and the opportunity to build Spanish language skills each day. Prior to joining the faculty at The Spring Hill School, Susan was the director and owner of her own preschool for 10 years, where Spanish language and multicultural activities were her focus. She also spent seven years as a Lead Teacher and Program Manager and two years as a Site Supervisor at North Bay Children’s Center. She has volunteered as an assistant coach for Sonoma County Girls on the Run and is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. In her free time, Susan enjoys practicing yoga, hiking, kayaking, bicycling, and being out in nature with her husband Larry, son Morgen, and daughter Maya.

CATHERINE McCRACKEN-JONES
Lead Teacher
Marvelous Minds Primary Class

Catherin McCracken-Jones is the Lead Teacher in the Marvelous Minds class. She joined Spring Hill in 2020. Catherine is a certified Positive Discipline Parent & Classroom Educator and Trainer through the Positive Discipline Association. She has 25 years of experience in early childhood education as both a teacher and director. Previous to joining Spring Hill, Catherine was with the Santa Rosa Co-op Preschool as a teacher and then Director. Additionally, she taught Positive Discipline classes to parents and mentored teachers. Catherine has been a presenter for the Sonoma County Early Learner’s Conference at Sonoma State University. She has a passion for helping families and classrooms build a strong foundation of mutual respect. Catherine enjoys spending time with her family, dog, and two cats.

CLARA MUNOZ
Bilingual Assistant Teacher
Primary Class

Clara joined the Spring Hill faculty in 2018. She is a native Spanish speaker, fluent in both Spanish and English, and holds an Associate Teacher Certificate from Santa Rosa Junior College. She has worked with young children from infant to age 5 since 2009. Her experience ranges from home childcare to Loma Vista Elementary School in Petaluma.

Clara integrates conversational Spanish with an engaging curriculum and uses bilingual skills to create a positive and supportive learning environment. She loves working with children and is the mom of three busy children: son Ittai, daughter Sarah, and son Zair. She enjoys cooking, camping, playing volleyball and, most important, spending time with her family.

FABIOLA ESTRADA
Outdoor & Garden Education Coordinator
& Bilingual Floating Teacher

Fabiola is an experienced teacher and outdoor program educator who has been a member of the Spring Hill faculty since 2014. A native Spanish speaker, she offers an excellent bilingual program to her students, bringing Spanish to life in a natural “real world” manner. Fabiola integrates conversational Spanish with an engaging outdoor curriculum, offering students a rich learning experience. Fabiola’s positive energy always brightens the days of her students and everyone around her. She is a passionate early childhood educator and celebrates the joy her students find in their work. Fabiola has extensive outdoor education training and creates a welcoming and secure environment, giving children the confidence to explore, play, and learn. She enjoys spending time outside of school with her family.

ROSA (ROSIE) RUIZ
Primary Program Bilingual Aftercare Coordinator

Rosie, a native Spanish speaker who is also fluent in English, has worked in early childhood education for ten years. She has an Associate Teacher Certificate and CNA certification (Certified Nursing Assistant). She also has a TALLK project certificate (Teacher Acquiring Language Learner Knowledge), a program that provides preschool teachers with training and coaching in specific strategies for interacting with English learner children to best support language acquisition.

Rosie is passionate about promoting children’s desire to read and write, and she focuses on engaging her young students in acquiring age-appropriate language skills. She brings to her students and colleagues a perennial positive outlook and good humor in approaching teaching and life. She is devoted to her young students and offers them a loving environment each day. She values the trusted relationships she develops with parents. Rosie’s greatest joys are her sons Anthony and George and her husband Tony. She loves spending time with her family, cooking for them, and cheering for her sons and husband when they play their favorite sport—soccer. An animal lover, she enjoys walking her five dogs and caring for her farm animals.

PABLO RODRIGUEZ
Music Specialist

Pablo Rodriguez is a well-known singer, guitarist, and teacher in the North Bay area. He has performed in a wide variety of styles including classical, Brazilian music, jazz, gospel, pop, and Eastern European music. He has collaborated for years with songwriters, poets, dancers, choirs, and multi-media artists in many venues. He is an experienced teacher both in classroom and private instruction.