Teachers

Claire Koukoutsakis

Director
3's Teacher

The heart and soul of MVPNS. Her knowledge, twenty years of experience, and wisdom resonate in every aspect of our school, and they reflect her life-long passion for children and building community. Her high emotional intelligence and dedication to the profession of early childhood education greatly benefit both our children and our school community. Claire began teaching at MVPNS in 1990 and became Director in 2007.

She is also a Child Development Instructor at Foothill College and Founder of Foothill’s Mentor Teacher program, where she guides student teachers in the best practices of early childhood education. She has presented workshops at national, state, and local conferences on a variety of early child care and education topics. She also coordinates the Foothill College Child Development Training Consortium, and was awarded the Mountain View-Los Altos Adult Education Excellence in Teaching Award in 2006.

Claire has a B.A. in Child Development from Chico State University and has completed the Master of Arts units in Human Development from Pacific Oaks College. Her warmth and professionalism with children and parents provide a comforting beginning to school. Her modeling of team work and respect are invaluable to the parent participation experience. She is famous for her hugs, humor, and radiant smiles, and for making everyone feel cared for and loved.

Diane Hart

Parent & Child Director
Toddler Teacher
2's Teacher

Started teaching at Parent Observation in 2000, becoming the director in 2008, and teaches parent and child classes for 18-month-old to 3-year-old children. Diane studied social welfare and earned a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential at U.C. Berkeley and an MA in Special Education at Santa Clara University. She has continued her education by taking Child Development classes.

Diane’s lucky enough to make a living doing what she enjoys most, which is helping children be confident in a classroom setting and in making new parents confident as parents. It’s this critical time for both the child and the parents that Diane finds the most rewarding component to her career; it’s when imaginations and language develop, where a child learns to participate in a group, develops confidence, learns to share, and makes their first friends. Parents and children alike are lucky to share in Diane’s warmth, compassion, and expertise.

Shannon Wilkowski

Joined MVPNS as the Toddler Thursday PM Teacher in 2016. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist. Her experience includes school counselor, behavior specialist, substitute teacher and coaching for Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports. Shannon holds a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology from Santa Clara University and a Bachelor degree in Psychology from University of Puget Sound.

“I love working with the youngest members of our school community because they grow in so many ways during our year together: socially, emotionally, and physically. It is so exciting to see the children grow comfortable and confident in their new school.”

Mindy Lieberman

2's Teacher

Joined Parent Observation as a teacher in 2008. She received her BA and Teaching Credential from San Jose State University, and taught middle school for seven years.

Mindy continued her studies by taking Child Development classes at Foothill College while raising two children and finds herself today surrounded by children and coworkers who find her enthusiasm and compassion contagious. Always warm and disarming, Mindy is a constant source of reassurance for new parents.

Sristi Sapkota

2's Teacher

Joined MVPNS as an assistant teacher in the 2’s PM class in 2015. Before moving to the US, Sristi was a Math and Science teacher at a boarding school in Nepal. She has a Masters degree in Zoology and holds a court appointed special advocate certification. During the last two years, she has been taking Child Development Units at Foothill College. “Working with children is fun and makes me happy. I admire their honesty, creativity, imagination, innocence, smiles, energy and curiosity. The most rewarding part is when I see them growing up every day with their achievements of new skills. I also learn from the children every day which helps me be a better person. As a teacher I would like to build their trust and be their friend.”

Susan Pence

2's Assistant Teacher

“What’s past is prologue” wrote William Shakespeare in The Tempest, channeling Susan. A former co-op child, Susan started working at a co-op after graduating from U.C. Santa Cruz. After starting a family, she returned to the world of co-op programs as a parent. Along the way, she earned a multiple subject teaching credential and a Ed.M. from C.S.U. Hayward. T Susan continues to fulfill her co-op destiny by starting as an assistant teacher at MVPNS, where her background in studio art and experience leading Music Together classes help contribute to the rich sensory environment.

Cindy Flynn

Joined MVPNS as a teacher of the MWF PM 3’s class in 2016. She has a Master of Social Work from Rutgers University, a Bachelor degree in Sociology from Kalamazoo College, and Early Childhood Education Certificate from Foothill College. Before moving to California, she started a Reggio Emilia inspired preschool in Chicago, where she also worked as a preschool director and curriculum development specialist. Her interests include taking Stanford Continuing Studies Courses, peer counseling, hiking, yoga, reading, and spending time with her family and her dog Elsa. Cindy loves introducing new ideas to children and working along side them to explore what they want to learn the most. "I believe children highly value having a teacher who listens and deeply cares about their questions, tears, fears and joys. I feel so fortunate being there for them and being able to have these important and meaningful conversations."

Wilma Chu

3's Assistant Teacher

Joined MVPNS in 2007 as an assistant teacher. She has a B.S. from Loma Linda University and earned Early Childhood units from Foothill College. Wilma's passion for early childhood education developed while she was a parent at MVPNS with her two daughters. Wilma enjoys sharing the wonder of nature with children -- whether nurturing pumpkins in the garden, raising silk worms, or caring for the school guinea pig. Wilma’s exuberance, warmth, and outgoing personality help children overcome separation anxiety and plunge into preschool. Both parents and children look forward to lively conversations and lots of learning with Teacher Wilma, who daily shares her gift of making each person she meets feel special.

Rachel Martensson

4's Teacher

Joined the MVPNS teaching team as a teacher in August 2009. She received her A.A. in Child Development from Foothill College. She has operated her own family child care center, been a nanny, and worked as an assistant teacher at a child care. Prior to her career focus on preschool education, she was an English teacher at the community college level. She earned a B.A. in English and an M.Ed. in English Education from the University of Florida.

Through Rachel’s sense of wonder and love for learning she emphasizes the importance of children becoming active participants in their own learning through exploration, questioning, and investigation. Children and parents love Rachel for her intuitive and compassionate manner, her artistic creativity, her earnestness, and her love of music. She recently learned to play the ukulele.

Danielle Cannon

Danielle’s lifelong dream is to win an Olympic medal and/or become a kindergarten teacher, not necessarily in that order. She has over six years of experience working with children as a nanny and as a preschool teacher, and is currently studying Child Development at Foothill College. Danielle first came to MVPNS as a student teacher in 2013, and jumped at the chance to join the regular teaching team as an assistant teacher when the opportunity arose this year (her warmth and intuitive way with children made the enthusiasm mutual). She enjoys the collaborative nature of teaching preschool, and adds, “I enjoy watching babies turn into real people (almost), and learn to communicate their feelings, desires, and interests…I love it!”

Marie Faust Evitt

4/5's Teacher

Teaching at MVPNS since 2001, Marie delights in helping children make discoveries about themselves, friendships and the natural world. She encourages children to ask questions and explore possible answers while building both academic and social skills. Marie’s heartfelt enthusiasm is contagious, and her endless supply of creative curriculum ideas ensures an exceptionally rich learning environment.

Marie’s book of educational activities based on the MVPNS curriculum won the Learning Magazine 2011 Teachers’ Choice Award. She presents workshops based on the book, Thinking BIG, Learning BIG: Connecting Science, Math, Literacy and Language in Early Childhood at national, state and local conferences. Prior to teaching, Marie worked as a freelance journalist, writing articles on child development, parenting and education for national magazines such as Parents, Child, Parenting, and Family Fun. Marie has a B.A. in English from the University of Rochester, an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Missouri, and Early Childhood Education units from Foothill College. Children and parents in her classes enjoy thinking, learning, laughing and loving BIG.