Meet the faculty & staff at awakening seed school
Emily Richeal | After School, Substitute Teacher
About Emily: Emily is finishing her final semester of high school. She attended the Seed from time she was 18 months old through 5th grade. Emily was one of the original toddlers in the Seed’s toddler program, taught by her mom, Sarah Balluff, and Kerri Tornow. The most important thing that Awakening Seed brought her is friendships and how to be respectful. Emily is still friends with some of her classmates from the Seed. She likes working at the Seed because everyone is really friendly and exciting to be around.
Education: After completing high school, Emily plans to go to college to become a teacher.
Free Time: In her free time Emily likes to be with friends, go on hikes, and eat food.
Gabbi Horst | 1st/2nd Grade Assistant Teacher
About Gabbi: Gabbi was born and raised in the Valley of the Sun. She knew that teaching was her calling from a young age. She has worked as a nanny and has spent several years in different classrooms as a volunteer and for practicum experiences. She believes that her diverse experiences have helped her grow as an educator immensely. She finds joy in working with children, watching them learn and grow. She is inspired by their honest and open minds that are full of infinite creativity and possibility. She feels fortunate to have found a school that provides such rich learning opportunities and loves being a part of the Seed community. She looks forward to continuing work and play alongside children throughout their learning experiences.
Education: Gabbi earned her Associates in Arts from Mesa Community College in 2014 along with an Arizona General Education Certificate. She will be graduating from Northern Arizona University in December of 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education with an early childhood endorsement.
Free Time: Gabbi enjoys being outdoors, traveling, and spending time with family and friends. She loves coffee, U of A baseball, making art, listening to music, and roadtrips. Over long weekends and breaks, you can usually find her relaxing at the beach or exploring in the forests up north.
Ashley Ruiz | Pre K Assistant Teacher, After School
About Ashley: This is Ashley’s first year working at the Seed. She has always found joy and laughter when it comes to engaging with children. She was very young when she learned how to take care of children and their needs in education. Since then, she’s come to learn that there is no greater feeling than to see the impact you have on the kids with whom you have grow close. Ashley is very excited to be a part of the after school program and lending her assistance with subbing.
Cylie Krenkel | K-1 Assistant Teacher, After School
About Cylie: Cylie is the second oldest of nine kids, six boys and three girls. Cylie has worked with children as a daycare assistant, a nanny, and as a teacher’s assistant in a special needs classroom. This is Cylie’s first year at the Seed and first year being in the Toddler 1’s room. She is looking forward to spending time laughing and learning with the toddlers. She is a hands-on learning who is always willing to learn and take on anything new. She enjoys teaching children as well as learning from them.
Education: Cylie is pursuing a degree in education, as she wants to become a teacher one day herself.
Free Time: In her free time Cylie enjoys camping, hiking, fishing, and spending time with family and her husband, Josh.
Hanna Beels-Barfoot | Early 3s Assistant Teacher, After School
About Hanna: Hanna grew up in Tempe and discovered the joy of working with kids at a young age. While in school, she experienced the excitement of the Seed summer art camp working as an assistant. While living in Flagstaff she worked at a Montessori school where she fell in love with elementary school learning. Last year she returned back to the Seed and was pleased to fill a position as the second assistant in the Toddler 1 classroom. This year she moved up with many kids from the toddler room to Lyndsy’s Early 3s class. She is excited to play, garden and explore.
Education: Hanna graduated from NAU in May 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in speech and hearing sciences. In the spring of 2017 she will be graduating with a second bachelor’s degree in elementary education, as well as completing her Arizona teaching certification.
Free time: Hanna loves finding hole-in-the-wall coffee shops, cooking and gardening. When she’s not working or doing homework, she enjoys running and camping with her husband and their two dogs.
Lisa Gatchalian | 3rd/4th Assistant Teacher, After School
About Lisa: Lisa will continue as the assistant teacher this year in the 3rd/4th grade classroom. She worked in Major League Baseball for ten years prior to staying home with her young children. Her son, Ashton, is in Brenda’s first grade class, and her daughter, Gwenyth, is in the Preschool 3s. Lisa enjoys working with children and has worked on and off with them since she began babysitting in junior high school.
Missy Green | PreK Assistant Teacher, After School
About her: Missy was born in Killeen, Texas, and moved to Flagstaff, Arizona, with her family when she was seven. Most of her family still resides in Texas but she does have some family in Arkansas, which is where she gets her love for the Arkansas Razorbacks. This is Missy’s second year at the Seed and in the PreK classroom. Before finding the Seed, Missy taught at Rockhouse Preschool in Flagstaff. She also worked for Universal Cheerleaders Association teaching summer cheerleading camps all over the west coast for eight years. During that time she coached cheer at Flagstaff High School. While being here at the Seed her love for teaching and education has grown and she is thankful for the opportunity to work here and with such great teachers.
Education: Missy is in the process of finishing her bachelor’s degree in early childhood/elementary education at Northern Arizona University through the distant learning program.
Free Time: In her free time you can find Missy at the gym, out exploring, or at the movies.
Helen Mendizabal | Toddler 1s Assistant Teacher
About Helen: Helen was born in Guatemala, but she’s lived in Arizona since she was seven years old. Throughout her life, Helen has worked with children in many ways, as a nanny, in infant care, and working with kids with special needs.
Education: Helen is working on her associate’s degree in early childhood education and eventually plans to pursue a B.A. in early education.
Free time: Helen enjoys reading, playing video games and spending time with her husband, Estevan, and her 16-year-old dog, Mimi.
Saki Nabeshima | Preschool 4s Assistant Teacher
About Saki: Saki unexpectedly fell in love with the world of early childhood education during a 12-month internship at a transitional housing program, offering preschool music and movement classes. Her passion for sensibly nurturing young minds and souls has developed through teaching in early childhood classrooms since 2006. This is Saki’s fifth year at the Seed.
Education: Saki received her master’s degree in theology from Valparaiso University in 2005 and her bachelor’s degree in music from Hastings College in 2002. She has received extensive training in early childhood music education from Musikgarten, 95-hour children’s yoga teacher training, and 200-hr yoga teacher training from Desert Song.
Free time: Saki finds balance in life through yoga, essential oils, and spending quality time with her husband David.
Kristen Ruiz | P. E., Classroom Substitute
About Kristen: Kristen started at The Seed as our office manager in January 2010. To accommodate her busy life as a mom and student, she made the change to being our in-house classroom substitute. She is excited to start another great year at the Seed. She and her husband have two children: Izak, who is in the 1st/2nd grade class, and Brynlee, who is in the Toddler 2s. Prior to working at the Seed, Kristen was a licensed massage therapist and took one year off to stay home with Izak. She has experience in business management, as well as extensive organizational skills and a passion for disinfecting.
Education: Kristen received her Certificate of Completion in Massage Therapy from Chandler Gilbert Community College in 2008. She is currently working on her undergrad in applied biological sciences and plans to apply to a physician assistant program in the future.
Free time: Kristen loves reading, hiking, camping, and most of all spending as much time with her family as possible.
Yolanda Ruiz | Toddler 1s Assistant Teacher
About Yolanda: Yolanda was born and raised in Valencia, Spain and has lived in Phoenix since 2001. She speaks five languages, as many Europeans do, and loves the adventure of traveling. Yolanda has been to many places around the world, including Peru, Paris, Central America, Europe, Indonesia, Morocco, and China. This is her fifth year as a staff member and she is the parent of a Seed alum. She heard of the Seed through friends and the first things she noticed were the close relation with the staff and students, the gardening, recycling, compost, and the respect and love of the caring teachers. Yolanda hopes to contribute to the school environment through her rich multicultural experiences.
Education: Yolanda graduated in industrial design in Valencia and has a bachelor’s degree in hotel management from University of Nevada Las Vegas. She is currently working on her Child Development Associate credential.
Free time: Yolanda enjoys cooking, skiing, organizing trips, painting, restaurants, been in the board of directors of the Giant Schnauzer Rescue, and spending time with family, friends and pets.