Helen Mendizabal

Toddler 1s Assistant Teacher, After School

HelenHelen came to Awakening Seed three years ago. During that time she was a  sub and assisted in the Toddler 1s class, which is her current position. Throughout her life, she has worked with children in a broad spectrum of ways, including nannying, infant care, and special needs. Helen was born in Guatemala, but has lived in Arizona since she was seven years old. She is currently working on her Associates in Early Childhood Education and will continue to pursue a BA in Early Education. Helen hopes to continue having a positive and nurturing impact in the lives of young children. During her free time, Helen enjoys reading, video games, spending time with her fiance, Estevan, and her 15-year-old dog, Mimi.

Kaylee Becher

Early 3s Assistant Teacher

KayleeKaylee 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.  After a year long hiatus, Kaylee came back at the Seed to assist Deb in the Pre4s and is now assisting in the Early 3s. She and her family feel as though they’ve found their village again within the school’s diverse community and have grown to love the Seed as their home away from home.

Mellisa Johnson

Preschool 3s Assistant Teacher

IMG_8061Mellisa Johnson is original from Canton, Michigan, and moved to the Phoenix area in 2011. During her internship at Walt Disney World in 2009, she met her husband, Andy, and they have started a life together in the Valley. She recently graduated from Chandler-Gilbert Community College with an Associate’s in Arts degree and is currently working on her Elementary Education degree at Northern Arizona University. Mellisa has over 330 hours of field experience with volunteering at schools in multiple districts here in the Valley. She received the Promising Teacher of the Year Award in 2014 and is excited to live up to that expectation here at the Seed. While not in school, she enjoys reading, mountain biking, and spending time with friends and family. Mellisa is ecstatic to learn and develop right along with the Preschool 3s and to be a part of the Seed community.

Saki Nabeshima

Preschool 4s Assistant Teacher

Saki12Saki received her Masters in Theology from Valparaiso University (2005), and her Bachelors in Music from Hastings College (2002). She has received extensive training in early childhood music from Musikgarten, and 95-hour Children’s Yoga Teacher Training from Desert Song. In August 2014, Saki completed her 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training. Saki unexpectedly fell in love with the world of early childhood education during her 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 Terrific Twos and Thriving Threes as a preschool teacher since 2006. This is Saki’s fourth year at the Seed, this year in the Preschool 4s after three years in Preschool 3s. She finds balance in life through meditation, yoga, essential oils, and spending quality time with her husband David.

Missy Green

PreK Assistant Teacher, After School Toddlers

MissyMissy was born in Killeen, Texas, and moved to Flagstaff with her family when she was seven.  She is currently in her last two semesters at Northern Arizona University to receive her Bachelors degree in early childhood education.  This is her first year at the Seed and she has worked with kids since she was old enough to and even taught cheer camps for kids in the summer for eight years.  Missy is excited to be assisting in the PreK classroom and hopes this can help her grow into a great teacher.  Teaching is something she is very passionate about.

Mary Vaughan

K-1 Assistant Teacher

Mary Vaughan Mary Vaughan will be assisting in the K-1 classroom this year. Born in Illinois, she moved to Tempe when she was ten. She graduated from Marcos de Niza High School, then attended ASU where she earned her B.A. in English. She loves to cook, write, read, hike and travel with her family. She is a docent at Phoenix Art Museum. For the past year she has been a Thursday morning Children’s Reader at Changing Hands Bookstore. Mary was a stay-at-home mom for many years but loved volunteering at her children’s schools. Mary has taught in Threes, Fours, and Pre-K classes at Temple Emanuel, Desert Sun, and Dayspring preschools in recent years. She came to Awakening Seed so she’d have a place to do the Hokey Pokey and play with glitter.

Michelle Blagg-Catone

Ist/2nd Assistant Teacher

IMG_4258After graduating from high school in Tokyo, Japan, Michelle Blagg-Catone moved back to her hometown of Hudson, Ohio.  She began attending Kent State University, eventually earning her BA in psychology. Here, she met her husband George and began her career working with individuals with disabilities, first working in a residential environment.  They moved to Pittsburgh (George’s hometown) where Michelle worked at the Blind Association.  Ultimately, they moved west, where Michelle coached teens and young adults in an employment internship program with the City of Phoenix. When her family began to expand, she sought a loving and nurturing environment for her children and landed at The Seed.  All three of Michelle’s children, Sydney (17), Max (15), and Leo (8) have attended Awakening Seed at some point in their educations. Michelle assisted and then co-lead the Preschool 4s class, assisted in Kindergarten and PreK, and is now assisting in the 1st/2nd grade classroom.

Lisa Gatchalian

3rd/4th Assistant Teacher, After School

IMG_3290Lisa grew up in Tempe and made the trek down to Tucson for college at the University of Arizona, where she studied political science and business administration and met her husband, Savin. She worked in Major League Baseball (Rockies and D-backs) for ten years prior to staying home with her young children, Ashton and Gwenyth. She is a freelance graphic designer on occasion. Starting the school year as a substitute at the Seed, Lisa has taken on the role of assistant teacher in the 3rd/4th grade classroom. Her son, Ashton, is in kindergarten, and her daughter, Gwenyth, is in the Toddler 2s. Lisa has worked on and off with young children since she was a babysitter in junior high school. Lisa and her family enjoy museums, the zoo, spending time at the gym, and are proud to be part of the Seed community.

Emma Taylor

After School

Emma TaylorEmma is very proud to have completed the entire life cycle of a Seed, as a former student, then intern, and now a staff member. She was born in Tucson and has lived in St. Louis, Missouri and The Netherlands. She is currently studying at ASU with a double major in Psychology and Global Health, with plans to attend nursing school post graduation. She has a passion for theater, reading, and watching films. She is so excited to have found a place at the Seed!

Gavin Anderson

After School

Gavin Gavin Anderson is a senior at McClintock High School and a Seed alum.  He  started working with kids about three years ago as an intern at a summer camp where he attended as a kid. Every year he waited for summer so he could get back to work. Now he has a job in the after school program at a school he went to as a kid and he could not be happier. Some of his favorite things are hanging out with his little brother (a current Seed), seeing his friends, and his car, which is his pride and joy.