Meet the faculty & staff at awakening seed school
Lyndsy Almeida | Early 3s Lead Teacher
About Lyndsy: The Seed has been Lyndsy’s home away from home since 2007 when she began her career here as an aide to a 4th grade student. She went on to assist in the Toddler 1s and Toddler 2s and has taught the Early 3s since the 2012-2013 school year, except for a year when she and her husband lived in central Mexico. She has worked with children of all ages and abilities in various settings for thirteen years and couldn’t imagine spending her days any other way. She’s found her home in the Early 3s class and couldn’t be happier to return to this magical age group! Her favorite thing about the Seed is the focus on educating children’s hearts as well as their minds.
Education: Lyndsy graduated from ASU with a bachelor’s degree in family and human development in May 2011.
Mindy Bender-Webster | PreK Lead Teacher
About Mindy: Mindy, a native Arizonan, has always had a passion for working with children. At fifteen, she was an assistant teacher at her family’s dance studio and by eighteen was teaching and choreographing for her own dance classes. In 2003, as a senior at Mountain Pointe High School, she volunteered her afternoons working in classrooms at an elementary school. Over the next few years Mindy continued her hands-on training as a classroom assistant at The Chrysalis Academy, a private school for children with autism. In 2009, she became a certified yoga instructor and in 2010 started her journey at the Seed teaching physical education. She has since been the toddler after school lead, assistant in the Toddler 2s, Preschool 2.5/3s lead and is now the PreK lead teacher.
Education: Mindy holds a Child Development Associate credential through the Care Courses program.
Free Time: In her free time Mindy likes to spend time with her husband Alex and new baby son, Easton.
Lesley Chamberlain | 3rd/4th Grade Lead Teacher
About Lesley: This is Lesley’s fifth year on staff at the Seed and her fourth year teaching the 3rd/4th grade class. She previously taught fourth grade for eight years in the Alhambra Elementary School District in Phoenix.
Education: Lesley received her M.A. in Educational Technology from Northern Arizona University and a B.A. in Elementary Education from Arizona State University. She also holds an Arizona teaching certificate with an ESL endorsement.
Free Time: Lesley and her husband, Paul, are Seed parents as well. Their daughter, Berkeley, and son, Reese, are each former Seeds and currently attend school in their Ahwatukee neighborhood. In their spare time, Lesley and her family enjoy traveling, reading, swimming, and spending time together with their two mischievous mutts, Stella and Roo.
Krina Gobster | Toddler 1s Lead Teacher
About Krina: This is Krina’s fourth year as a lead teacher. It it her second year in the Toddler 1s after two years in the Preschool 3s. Prior to teaching, she worked eight years as a lifeguard, five of which she spent teaching swimming lessons during the summers. She spent two years studying at the Seed as an intern and student teacher in both the Preschool 3s and Kindergarten classes. After being hired as an additional part-time assistant and personal assistant in the Kindergarten class, she became the assistant in the 1st/2nd grade class for one year.
Education: Krina graduated with her bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from ASU in December of 2011. She is an Arizona certified teacher.
Free time: When she’s not neck-deep in art projects with your children, Krina likes to be making a fun mess at home with her two kids. Both of her children attend the Seed. Her daughter, Georgia, is in 2nd grade and her son, Jaxen, is in the PreK room. Krina and her fiancé, Chester, take the family to Missouri each summer to enjoy some country living before returning back to this amazing school and community.
Deb Hopkins | Preschool 4s Lead Teacher
This is Deb’s 11th year as lead teacher in the Preschool 4s class. Her career at the Seed began the winter of 2004 when she was persuaded to assist in Mary Glover’s 4th/5th grade class. Her life at the Seed began when her children were young. Her son Hayden (age 15) and daughter Hannah (age 17), both proud Seed graduates, first attended the toddler class at age two, have worked at the Seed as summer interns and, recently, her daughter Hannah was hired as a Seed sub. In her former life, Deb worked as curator for many years at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art where she planned, organized and curated exhibitions and wrote about art and contemporary artists such as James Turrell, Wolfgang Laib and others. Deb’s art background influences her multi-disciplinary approach to teaching, at times turning the classroom into an immersive experience. Over the years, the preschoolers have delved into an array of subjects including the Middle Ages, food and culture of the world, the Ice Age, the Amazon rainforest, space and, most recently, dinosaurs. The Seed is her family’s second home.
Education: Deb earned her bachelor of fine arts degree in photography from the University of Arizona and has taught paper-making, book binding and photography to children and adults.
Free time: Deb has a passion for cooking, gardening, art, photography and yoga. She’s slowly learning how to play the guitar!
Jenny Limburg | Toddler 2s Co-Lead Teacher
About Jenny: Jenny grew up in Southern California and moved to Arizona in 2009 when a job opportunity brought her family to Phoenix. Jenny and her husband, Daniel, have three children: Megan, Connor, and Mallory (who is a recent Seed alum.) This will be Jenny’s twelfth year teaching preschool and her fourth year teaching in the Toddler 2 classroom. She loves the nurturing environment and creative atmosphere of the Seed.
Education: Jenny graduated from Cal State Long Beach in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in child development and family studies.
Brenda Montgomery | 1st/2nd Grade Lead Teacher
About Brenda: This is Brenda’s second year as the lead in the 1st/2nd grade class. After six years of teaching at the Seed, she decided to try corporate life. She came back to the Seed three years ago as a parent when she enrolled her son in the Toddler 2s class. Brenda is happy to be a part of the Seed family as both staff and parent.
Education: Brenda has her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Arizona State University and is an Arizona certified teacher.
Free time: Growing up in the Colorado mountains fostered Brenda’s love for the outdoors. She frequently hikes all around Arizona. She also enjoys cooking, gardening, riding her horses and spending time with friends and family.
Stephanie Peyton | Resource Coordinator
About Stephanie: Stephanie has worked at the Seed for sixteen years and has been the resource coordinator for eight years. She also has a wide range of experience teaching almost all of our grade levels. Stephanie has done extensive work with special needs children, especially those with autism spectrum disorders, ADHD, and visual impairment. She has presented her classroom model at several conferences sponsored by the Arizona Department of Education and works with the Seed teachers to support classroom management and work modifications for students with special needs. She has taught special education classes at ASU for pre-service teachers. She also serves on the board for the Foundation for Blind Children.
Education: Stephanie has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in education focusing on curriculum and instruction. She is an Arizona certified teacher.
Free time: Stephanie and her husband, Justin, have three daughters. Sarah Beth, their oldest, is in the third grade at Arcadia Neighborhood Learning Center in the Life Skills Program and Hillary is in the PreK classroom at the Seed. Their youngest, Catherine, is also at the Seed in the Toddler 1s class.
Kerri Tornow | K-1 Lead Teacher
About Kerri: Kerri, who grew up in Michigan, is the K-1 teacher. She has been part of the Seed staff since 1984. Kerri has many years of experience working with preschoolers through 2nd graders at the Seed. She also teaches art at the Seed summer art camp. Kerri enjoys children’s art and literature. Her focus is on providing a safe, happy classroom environment in which young children can explore their world and influence their own learning with rich oral expression, creative opportunities, purposeful experiences and strong social connections to their peers and teachers.
Education: Kerri graduated from ASU with a degree in art education and has an Arizona elementary certification with an early childhood endorsement.
Free time: Kerri is married to Roger. They have two sons, Andrew and Aaron. Andrew works in the field of graphic design. Aaron studied kinesiology and now works as a physical therapy technician. Both boys started their educations as Seed preschoolers and graduated from ASU. Kerri loves to draw and create crafts, as well as camp, canoe, hike and travel with her boys and their dogs.
Tatiana Vanegas | Toddler 2s Co-Lead Teacher
About Tatiana: Tatiana grew up in Mexico and moved to Phoenix fifteen years ago. Tatiana and her husband Victor have three kids: Nicolas, a 6th grader and Seed alum, Sofia, a 4rd grader, and Isabel, a kindergartener attending the Seed. This will be her seventh year on staff and her fourth year as co-lead teacher in the Toddler 2s class. She first heard of the Seed through friends and was attracted to the Seed’s nurturing and inclusive environment. Tatiana hopes to contribute to the Seed’s rich multicultural environment through her diverse background and experiences as a mother striving to raise positive bicultural and bilingual Seedlings.
Education: Tatiana has a degree in marketing from the Monterrey Institute of Technology.
Free time: Tatiana enjoys running, cooking and spending time with her family.
Kaylee Becher | Preschool 3s Co-Lead Teacher
About Kaylee: Kaylee first came to Awakening Seed in 2008. She enjoyed four years as the assistant teacher in the 3rd/4th/5th grade class before going on to teach the Preschool 3s. She and her family feel as though they’ve found their village within the school’s diverse community and have grown to love the Seed as their home away from home.
Deana Hernandez | Preschool 3s Co-Teacher, After School Toddler Lead
About Deana: Deana is a former Seed. This is her sixth year working at the Seed. She has previously assisted the PreK, Early 3s, and Preschool 3s, as well as leading the toddler after school program. Deana is excited to co-teach with Kaylee in the 3s classroom this year. She’s extremely happy to be a part of the Seed’s unique community!
Education: Deana is in the process of completing her bachelor’s degree in early childhood education through NAU.
Free time: When she’s not at work, Deana enjoys playing with her two boys, hiking, practicing yoga, and reading.