Our Staff

Our professional and experienced team of teachers works collaboratively to provide a secure, stimulating, nurturing and developmentally appropriate early children education environment. They are highly trained in the field of child growth and development.  Many of our staff have children who attended St.Francis. All teachers are college graduates and meet or exceed Early Childhood Education state requirements. Several have Masters degrees and/or teaching credentials. Our staff participates in continuing education on an annual basis. The teacher/student ratio is one to seven.

Director: Jesse Parish

Jesse joined the St. Francis community in the spring of 2020. She has been committed to the field of Early Childhood Education for over 15 years.  Jesse has 5 years experience as a Director and prides herself in strong community values.
She grew up in Novato and has a BS in Sociology and a MA in Early Childhood Education from Sonoma State University. In her coursework, Jesse specialized in anti-bias education, with an emphasis on empathy development.

Jesse is devoted to cultivating educational environments that allow children to thrive holistically; physically, socially, emotionally, and cognitively to ensure that independence, self-esteem and a joy of learning are established.

On a personal note, Jesse loves nature, travel, and animals of all shapes and sizes. She lives in Sonoma County with her rescue dog David.

Pre-K/TK Teacher Room E: Shoshannah Vorhies

Shoshannah Vorhies has a BA in Liberal Studies from Sonoma State University, a Multiple Subject Elementary Teaching Credential from Dominican University, and a California Site Supervisor Child Development Permit.  She taught K, 1st, and 2nd grade for seven years and has been a Pre-K teacher at St. Francis for 10 years.  She currently serves as the Co-Program Coordinator and also teaches our oldest children in the Pre-K program (4 year-olds) - our Transitional Kindergarten. Her two children attended St. Francis.  Shoshannah enjoys photography and her work is often on display at the preschool.

Pre-K Head Teacher Room D: Gretchen Tara

Gretchen joined the St. Francis staff in the fall of 2017 as the Pre-K Assistant Teacher and is now our Head Pre-K Teacher in Room D. She has a BA in English Literature from Villanova University and a Master's degree in Elementary Education from Chestnut Hill College in Pennsylvania. A teacher since 1990, Gretchen has taught preschool through college. Most recently, she has worked for the Novato Unified School District as a preschool early intervention specialist, home instruction, and elementary school teacher. Her two children attended St. Francis.

Pre-K Head Teacher Room C: Rosa Mendez

Rosa Mendez has a BA in Interior Design and a Preschool Teacher Diploma from the University of San Carlos in Guatemala.  She completed additional Early Childhood Education studies at SRJC and holds an Associate Teacher Child Development Permit from the State of California. She is currently working on her California Child Development Teacher Permit.  Her teaching experience includes eight years as a Montessori Preschool Teacher in Guatemala, special education at the elementary school level, and 21 years at St. Francis.  During this time, she worked in both Younger, Pre-K, and Enrichment classes, as well as developed our Spanish Enrichment class. Rosa is currently the Head Teacher of our youngest Pre-K class. She also teachers the Spanish and Cooking enrichment classes. She enjoys cooking and baking, jewelry making, painting, music, and traveling.

Younger Class Head Teacher Room B: Melissa Fortney

Melissa has a BA in Child and Adolescent Development from San Francisco State University. She has several years of experience teaching preschool and has been working with young children since 1998. She joined our staff in the summer of 2018 and teaches the older children in the Younger class. She is also an assistant in the afternoon Art class. Melissa lives in Novato with her family and is the mother of two school-age sons. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering at her children’s school, kayaking, hiking, and reading.

Younger Class Head Teacher Room A: Beth Mason

Beth Mason has a BA in Sociology from Vanderbilt University and a State of California Child Development Teacher Permit. She has been teaching preschool for 14 years. Beth joined the St. Francis staff in the summer of 2017. She is our Co-Program Coordinator and the Head Teacher in Room A with our youngest children. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, bird-watching, camping and learning to paddle board. She currently lives in Petaluma with her husband and two teenage children.

Head Teacher Time for Twos: Corlett Osbourne

Corlett Osbourne joined the St. Francis staff in the summer of 2017 as an Assistant Teacher and became the Head Teacher in Time for Twos and the Art Explorer and Movement enrichment classes in 2018. She has a BA in Sociology from Sonoma State University and a California Child Development Teacher Permit. Corlett taught preschool children from infants to kindergarten age for 9 years before joining our staff. Her hobbies include cooking, reading, and photography.

Assistant Teacher Room B MWF: Angela McCoy

Angela has a BA in Communication from St. Mary’s College. She worked in marketing for 14 years before becoming a full-time stay-at-home mom. In 2018, Angela completed her Early Childhood Education coursework at College of Marin. Both of her children attended St. Francis and she served on the school's Advisory Board during their enrollment. In her free time, Angela enjoys volunteering at her children’s school, taking yoga classes, and spending time with her family. She joined our staff as an Assistant Teacher in Room B in the summer of 2019 and is also the Assistant Teacher in the afternoon Spanish class.

Assistant Teacher Room B TTH: Caroline Smith

Caroline earned her BA in Psychology from the University of the Pacific where she majored in Applied Behavior Analysis. Her Early Childhood Education (ECE) background began with volunteer work at Ross Valley Preschool and continued with ECE classes at the College of Marin and Santa Rosa JC. She has 7 years of preschool teaching experience at Ross Valley Preschool and at Little Mountain Preschool in Sleepy Hollow, a program she helped to develop. Caroline has since enjoyed the time off to raise her own four children, but returned to the ECE field here at St. Francis in 2018 as an Assistant Teacher in Room B. Her younger daughter and both of her sons attended St Francis.

Pre-K Assistant Teacher: Ting Nice

Ting joined our staff in the fall of 2019 as the Pre-K and Cooking Class Teaching Assistant. She has a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and a Master’s degree in Social Work from San Francisco State University.  Her professional background includes several years of teaching experience in preschool and afterschool programs as well.  She also worked as a case manager for The Regional Center of the East Bay. In Ting’s spare time, she likes to make music, garden, go trail running, and hike with her husband and 4 year old son.

Assistant Teacher Room A: Melanie Young

Melanie is our new Assistant Teacher in Room A, joining our staff in January 2020. She did her teacher training at San Jacinto College in southern California and recently moved here with her family. Melanie has been working in the Early Childhood Education field since she was in high school. She has over 11 years of experience as a preschool teacher and director. Melanie has three children and enjoys scrapbooking and event planning.

Administrative Assistant: Laurie Friedman

Laurie Friedman has a BS in Nursing from San Diego State University and is a registered nurse in the state of California. She also holds a California Child Development Associate Teacher Permit. Laurie has over 15 years of nursing experience in pediatrics, neonatal intensive care, and emergency transport services. At St. Francis for 7 years, she is our Administrative Assistant. She has also worked as a float teacher and Enrichment Class Assistant Teacher. Laurie enjoys gardening and restoring old furniture.
St. Francis Preschool - Novato, CA