Our professional and experienced team of teachers works collaboratively to provide a secure, stimulating, nurturing and developmentally appropriate environment. They are experts in the field of child growth and development and most have been with our school for many years.
All teachers and assistants are college graduates and meet or exceed Early Childhood Education state requirements. Several have master’s degrees and/or teaching credentials. Our staff participates in continuing education on an annual basis. The teacher/student ratio is one to seven.
Our 2018-2019 Staff
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 13 years. Beth joined the St. Francis staff in the summer of 2017 and is the head teacher in Room A with our youngest children and the assistant teacher in the Spanish enrichment class. 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 teen-aged children.
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. 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.
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 8 years as a Montessori Preschool Teacher in Guatemala, special education at the elementary school level, and 20 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 aslo teachers the Spanish and Cooking enrichment classes. She enjoys cooking and baking, jewelry making, painting, music, and traveling.
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 will be the Head Pre-K Teacher in Room D beginning in the fall of 2019. She has a BA in English LIterature from Villanova Univeristy 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 and home instruction and elementary school teacher. Her 2 children attended St. Francis.
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 7 years and has been a Pre-K teacher at St. Francis for 9 years. She currently teaches our oldest children in the Pre-K program (4 year olds) - our Transitional Kindergarten. Her 2 children attended St. Francis. Shoshannah enjoys photography and her work is often on display at the preschool.
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 chidlren from infants to kindergarten age for 8 years years before joining our staff. Her hobbies include cooking, reading and photography.
Assistant Teacher Room A: Marianne Thoma
Marianne joined St. Francis Preschool’s staff in the summer of 2018 as an Assistant Teacher in Room A. She is a graduate of De Anza College with a major in Child Development. Marianne has been teaching for 39 plus years in the Early Childhood field working in various types of programs, parent co-operatives, private schools as well as Head Start. In addition to working with young children and their families she was a mentor teacher for the Children’s Health Council in Palo Alto. In her free time Marianne enjoys reading, traveling and spending time with her grandchildren, family and friends.
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.
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 6 years of pre-school teaching experience at Ross Valley Preschool and at Little Mountain Preschool in Sleepy Hollow, a program she helped to develop. Caroline has since enjoyed time off to raise her own 4 children, but returned to the ECE field here at St. Francis in 2018. Her younger daughter and both of her sons attended St Francis.
Assistant Teacher Pre-K Classes: Cheryl Brandt
Cheryl began her work at St. Francis in the spring of 2019. She has a BA in Psychology and an Associate degree in Accounting from Millersville University. Cheryl has lived in several states over the years, including Pennsylvania where she taught preschool for several years. She also has over 20 years experience as a Sunday School teacher, working with children from preschool through 5th grade. She discovered a love for cooking when living in New Orleans, but also enjoys reading and hiking.
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 6 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.