Meet the faculty & staff at awakening seed school
Makenna McMillan | Classroom Assistant
Chelsea Rusing | Toddler 1s Assistant Teacher
About Chelsea: This is Chelsea’s first year at the Seed, and she is looking forward to digging in her roots and bringing her magic to the school. She is an Arizona native, growing up in Scottsdale, as a tree climbing, fort building, big sister, animal loving, free spirit. She has always loved children, the arts, adventure, nature, exploration, and finding the best way to build a fort. Chelsea was the director of a Phoenix art gallery and has fifteen years experience as a nanny.
Education: Chelsea has a bachelor’s degree in Art History from Arizona State University.
Free Time: Chelsea loves hiking, camping, the great outdoors, creating art, reading, adventures, journaling, healthy cooking, traveling, playing games and all types of sports…..all with her boyfriend and best friend, Scott! They have two furry side kicks, Pete and Moose.
Nicole Plehn | PreK Assistant Teacher
Jessie Coyle | 3rd/4th Grade Assistant Teacher/After School
About Jessie: Jessie is an Awakening Seed alumnus and Seed parent. Her son, Zeek, attended Awakening Seed until kindergarten and is now entering into 6th grade at Tempe Academy of International Studies. Her daughter, Bella, is entering kindergarten at The Seed and her son, Tobias, is in Andrew’s Preschool 3s class. She has been teaching since 2010 whenever she wasn’t staying home with her children and foster children. She currently lives in Tempe with her husband of 13 years, Daniel, and her three children.
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies, Northern Arizona University.
Free Time: Her family loves to be active outside, hike, swim, read, adventure, play games and go to church.
Darlene Cardon | Early 3s Assistant Teacher
Mary Vaughan | Preschool 3s Assistant Teacher
About Mary: Mary grew up in Tempe. She and her husbandhave been married for 30 years and have three grown children. She has worked in preschools since 2005 and is so happy to have found the Awakening Seed School, where she will be starting her fourth year. She loves to sing and read with the children, plus get messy with glue and glitter and explore and play in the garden areas.
Education: Mary graduated from Marcos de Niza High School in Tempe, and then Arizona State University.
Free Time: In her free time Mary loves to cook, write, and travel.
Emily Richeal | Toddler 1s Assistant Teacher, After School Staff
About Emily: Emily is a 2017 high school graduate. 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. She is the first second generation alum to be on the Seed staff. 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: Emily is a 2017 high school graduate. She is currently working on her Child Development Associate credential and hopes to go to college to become a teacher in the future.
Free Time: In her free time Emily likes to be with friends, go on hikes, and eat food.
Ashley Ruiz | 1st/2nd Assistant Teacher, After School Toddler Lead
About Ashley: This is Ashley’s third 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 the lead in the toddler after school program and assisting for a second year in the 1st/2nd grade classroom.
Emily Cleveland | Toddler 2s Assistant Teacher, After School
About Emily: Emily has lived in Tempe her whole life. She discovered her passion for becoming a teacher by interning at the Seed summer art camp during the summers. As an intern, she could not wait until she was able to become a teacher.
Education: Emily graduated from Tempe Preparatory Academy in the spring of 2016 and is now attending Mesa Community College to receive her degree in early childhood development. She is thrilled to be working in the Toddler 2s and after school program this year!
Free time: In her free time Emily enjoys hanging out with her friends, spending time with family, going on bike rides, and hiking.
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 third year at the Seed as the K-1 assistant and after school staff member. Cylie served as the interim after school director during summers 2017 and 2018, and the 2017-2018 school year. She is looking forward to spending time laughing and learning with the students. 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.
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 seventh 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.
Yolanda Ruiz | Substitute 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 seventh 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 relationship between 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.