Helen Mendizabal

Toddler 1s Assistant Teacher, Toddler After School Lead Teacher

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.  Additionally, Helen is the lead for the toddler after school program. 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 husband, Estevan, and her 15-year-old dog, Mimi.

Hanna Beels-Barfoot

Toddler 1s Assistant Teacher, After School

Hanna B-BHanna grew up in Tempe and discovered the joy of working with kids at a young age. She graduated from NAU in May 2014 with a Bachelors Degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences. While attending NAU, she worked as an assistant and got to experience the excitement of the Seed summer art camp. She worked as an assistant teacher at a Montessori school in Flagstaff last year where her eyes were opened to the world of independent learning. In the Spring of 2015 she decided to go back to get a second Bachelors in Elementary Education. While she attends school she is so excited to be a part of the Toddler 1s classroom and re-join the encouraging, nurturing community of Awakening Seed. While she’s not working or doing homework she enjoys running and camping with her fiancé, Justin, and their two dogs.

Yolanda Ruiz

Early 3s Assistant Teacher

IMG_3319Yolanda was born and raised in Valencia, Spain.  She graduated in industrial design in Valencia and has a B.S. in hotel management from University of Nevada Las Vegas. Yolanda 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, Indonesia and China. This is her third year as 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 big open areas, the gardening and caring teachers, recycling, compost, and the respect and love. Yolanda hopes to contribute to the school environment through her rich multicultural experiences.  In her free time she enjoys cooking, skiing, organizing trips, restaurants, and spending time with family, friends and pets. She is currently working on her Child Development Associate credential.

Deana Hernandez

Preschool 3s Assistant Teacher

Deana12Deana is a former Seed. This is her fifth year working as an assistant. She’s previously assisted the PreK for three years and a year in the Early 3s classroom, as well as lead the toddler after school program.  Deana is excited to be working in the 3s classroom this year with Sarah. While she’s not at work, Deana enjoys playing with her two boys, biking, hiking, reading and spending time with family.  She’s extremely happy to be a part of the Seed’s unique 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.

Mary Martori

1st/2nd Assistant Teacher, After School

IMG_7306Mary returns to Awakening Seed and her hometown of Phoenix after living in Los Angeles for five years, where she earned her BA in Psychology from Antioch University. A former yoga instructor, Mary’s college internship as a teacher’s assistant reignited her passion for teaching and expanded her love and appreciation for learning. In between working in the first and second grade class and studying for the GRE’s, Mary spends her time painting, playing with her dog, June, practicing yoga, and devouring books. She is inspired by the fearless, unharnessed creativity of children, and her favorite part of working at The Seed is witnessing compassion and curiosity in action.

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.