ABOUT OUR STAFF & TEACHERS
Gina Velez – Site Director
When I graduated from USF with my BA and later my JD I never imagined the turn my career would take. I knew that I wanted to be a mom and I also knew that I wanted to be able to spend as much time with my child as I could. Because of my now 21 year old, and my decision to explore a career in Early Childhood Education, I served for numerous years on the school board of her elementary and middle school, I coached her volleyball teams, and I served as a class rep all four years of her high school career. I am still actively involved with her elementary and middle school in my capacity as Athletic Director.
I’ve worked with children for 25 years now. I started out as a substitute teacher and enjoyed it so much that I went on to earn my AMS credential. I was a classroom teacher for 23 years and for 11 years I also served as Site Director.
My favorite ages to teach are the 3 and 4 year olds. They are like little sponges and absorb everything the classroom environment has to offer. Setting up a classroom is one of my favorite things to do. The first time there is a match between a material and a child is a special moment. I’ve been privileged to be a part of many of these special moments. I still remember the first child in my class who sounded out a word.
Working with parents and getting to know their families is an important part of my job. When I get to meet three generations of a family I feel particularly honored. Grandparents are an asset to our school family. Car line affords me the opportunity to get to know many of them as they drop their grandchildren off to school and pick them up in the afternoon.
It is bittersweet giving up my classroom after so many years but I do expect to continue to play a big role in each of the classroom environments.
I welcome you to stop in to my office at any time and for any reason. Ubi Caritas!
Sharyn – Head Teacher, Preschool
I have been working in the field of Early Childhood Education for over 20 years. I graduated with my BA in Psychology and started working in a Montessori school not too long after. I fell in love with the method of teaching and decided to go on to complete my Montessori credential.
I have held a variety of positions including Head of Child Care, Preschool Assistant, Toddler Teacher and Assistant Site Director. I am excited to take on the role of Head teacher in our Preschool class at Choice in Learning. I enjoy working with the 3 – 6 year old age group because they are so excited about learning and it’s wonderful to watch them grow and become more independent. I am looking forward to working with your children and helping to foster their love of learning.
Jan – Head Teacher, Prep Class
Hello. My name is Janet Ramella although I am called Jan at school. I was born in Highland Park, Illinois and raised in Illinois and California. I have a Bachelor of Science Degree, Montessori Training and a Site Supervisor Permit.
I have been married for 33 years and have 2 adult children.
I have been teaching for 31 years at various schools throughout Contra Costa County.
Although, I worked with various age groups from infant to 12 years old, my favorite age group is the 2 year olds. I love this age group because it is the discovery age and I love watching the children’s faces when they can accomplish a task. “Look I did it.”
I would like to welcome you to the Prep class at Choice in Learning.
Feel free to stop in to see me with questions, concerns or to visit with me. I look forward to getting to know you and your family.
Christine – Head of Child Care
Born, raised, and educated in NY, I relocated out here with my family in 1996 in search of sunny skies and a kid-friendly town in which to settle down. A stay-at-home mom for the first four years of my daughter’s life, I knew it was time to return to work. Children have always been my passion, even as a teenager. From babysitter to camp counselor, I’ve found myself in the company and care of children since the age of 15. The Montessori Philosophy entered my life in preschool and has never left. When the time came to find a preschool for my daughter back in 1999, I knew exactly the type of school I wanted for her. As she found her way through Prep, into Preschool, and finally PreK/K, I began working in the Preschool class as a lunch mom. In the blink of an eye, I became a sub, the sub that never left. Unsure of how or when it all happened, I became an assistant in the Preschool class, my home away from home for 14 years. Watching children grow and learn; witnessing their aha moments; and providing a loving space for them to thrive has given me some of the most fulfilling work moments ever. After all those years in the Preschool Class, I was offered the opportunity to become the Head of Child Care, a job I have loved for the past almost four years. The children teach me new things with every passing year, so I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to work at Choice in Learning Montessori School.
Manya – Assistant Teacher
Besides teaching since 1994 I also am AMS certified and have been working in Montessori schools since 1998. I am fluent in ASL and enjoy teaching sign language to children whether through music, another passion of mine, or classroom works. I design and make my own sign language materials. I believe in “following the child” and always try to find a special connection so that I can bond with them.