Toddler 1s Assistant Teacher, After School Staff
Nayeli was born in border state Sonora, Mexico. She moved to Phoenix with her family at the age of thirteen. Her first language is Spanish and she is the oldest of four children. In 2009 she graduated from Central High School. After graduation she attended Phoenix Community College for two years as a part time student. This year will be Nayeli’s second year in the Toddler 1s classroon and after school program. Before working at the Seed, Nayeli was a full time volunteer kindergarten assistant for two years at Valley View Elementary. She is currently attending South Mountain Community College pursuing a degree in Elementary Education. Outside of the Seed she enjoys spending time with her family, watching movies, listening to music and doing outdoor activities. She is looking forward to an exciting year at the Seed!
Toddler 1s Assistant Teacher, After School Toddler Lead Teacher
Mindy, a native Arizonan, and 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 P.E. She quickly became the Toddler After School Lead, as well as an assistant in the Toddler 2s classroom. Last year she was the Preschool 2.5/3s Lead. This year Mindy is assisting in the Toddler 1s classroom and is returning to her role of P.E. teacher. Mindy is in the process of completing her Child Development Associate credential through the Care Courses program.
Preschool 2.5/3s Assistant Teacher
This is Vicky’s third year at the Seed. She was born in Montreal, Canada and spent her childhood in Toronto, Texas and Colorado. She completed her BA in Linguistics in 2007, and some time afterwards headed down to Bolivia to teach English, where she met her husband. They settled down in Arizona and now have Enzo, who will be in the Preschool 4s room this year. She is a native French speaker and fluent in Spanish. At the moment, Vicky is working on some programming courses and keeping up with her business. In her free time, she likes to listen to music and learn about different cultures, places and, of course, food!
Preschool 3s Assistant Teacher
Saki 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 third year in Preschool 3s. She finds balance in life through meditation, yoga, essential oils, and spending quality time with her husband David.
Preschool 4s Assistant Teacher
This is Billie’s seventh year working with Deb in the Preschool 4s class. Previous to working with Deb she spent six years working as the assistant in the PreK class. Billie grew up in Colorado and came to Tempe to attend college. Billie has two sons; Matthew, age 17, and Ethan, age 15, who are both graduates of the Seed and currently attend Arizona School for the Arts. When Billie isn’t at school she enjoys taking her dog on walks, camping and traveling with the family.
PreK Assistant Teacher, After School Toddler Lead Teacher
Deana Hernandez is a former Seed student (and was even taught by Diane, Becky and Mary). After graduating high school she ventured to Guadalajara, Mexico. While visiting a small English classroom, her passion for teaching was sparked, although her time spent at the Seed as a child has also immensely influenced her decision to pursue education as her career. Upon returning to the states, Deana had her son, Sol, and found her way back to her second home, the Seed. She’s had the pleasure to teach with Emily for two years and Lyndsy for one year in the 2.5/3s classroom, along with lead the toddler after-school program for a summer. This will be Deana’s third year assisting in the PreK. She will also be leading the toddler after school program Thursdays and Fridays as well as assisting Mindy Bender Monday through Wednesday after school, too. She is ecstatic to be part of the Seed for her fourth year and to be working with Adriana in the PreK for the first time. Deana is continuing her online studies this year and is eager to grow and learn along with the children.
K-1 Assistant Teacher, After School Staff
Sarah Rieckhoff is originally from Dearborn, Michigan and comes from a family of five children. Having three brothers and one sister, she is right in the middle. Sarah graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in Family and Human Development. She will be pursuing a Masters degree in Early Childhood Education while obtaining her teaching certification. She started at Awakening Seed a year and a half ago in the after school program. Sarah is excited to be a part of Awakening Seed School to teach and learn from the students. She enjoys traveling as well as taking care of her English bulldogs, Sandlot and Macaroni. She enjoys being outdoors and staying active.
1st/2nd Grade Assistant Teacher
Brenda has her BA in Elementary Education from Arizona State University. Once she graduated, Brenda began her teaching career at the Seed. After six years, Brenda decided to try corporate life and worked for an educational company for seven years. 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 for a second year as both staff and parent. She enjoys cooking, gardening, riding her horses, and spending time with friends and family.
3rd/4th Assistant Teacher, After School Staff
Priscilla Bendorovicz is a native Arizonan. She has an Associate’s degree in Fine Arts from Mesa Community College and a Bachelor’s degree in Art Education. She is an artist, specializing in portrait painting as well as still-life. In her free time she likes to bake, garden, go to movies and travel. Priscilla loves creating art with the kids. It brings her joy to watch them play and share her art expertise with them through projects. Her future plans are to teach secondary art and/or teach privately.
After School Staff
This is Ian’s second year working after school at The Awakening Seed. He is a former Seed student and is currently attending Arizona State University studying for a degree in Criminal Justice. In his free time he likes to go out to the movies, and play video games. He is very excited to be back for another year, and looks forward to lots of good times with the children after school.