Staff

Angie Garcia

Angie Garcia

Executive Director & Owner

Since July 2004

I am the owner and director of Escuela Viva. I started Escuela Viva July 2004. Being a part of so many small peoples lives brings me a tremendous amount of joy and I can’t believe that I get to be with so many wonderful children on a daily basis. When I am not at Escuela Viva, you can find me baking, riding my bike, reading, traveling or just hanging out at home with my family, which includes my partner Brad, our four children (Owen, Mayah, Ruby, and Eddie), our two dogs (Sophia and Maisy), our cat (Douglas) and Lizzy the lizard. Thank you for sharing your wonderful children with our school community!
Laralei Vander Putten-Kane

Laralei Vander Putten-Kane

Pine Street Site Director

Since December 2005

Believes children enrich our lives.
Believes in enriching the lives of our children.

Over 14 years of experience working with young children.
Continuous education and trainings with the following:
Mother of two (Oliver 18 and Logan 15 as of 2019)
Portland Community College
Mount Hood Community College (MCC&R)
Professional Development Escuela Viva

Laralei grew up in Colorado. Wanting a little more exploration of the country, she also ended up living in Hawaii, California, Florida, and Georgia. She eventually landed in Oregon in 1993 and knew she had found her “forever” home. She had long been working in the hospitality industry, but after having her two children, she realized that creating more quality time in their world would not only benefit them, but her as well.

Laralei has been with the Escuela Viva family almost since its inception. First as a parent, then a volunteer, and finally as a teacher.  Her experience in all aspects of the school has given her a great opportunity to experience all the ins and outs of being a creative part of a loving community. Both her children, son Oliver and daughter Logan, began their preschool experience back in 2004 with Escuela Viva and have both graduated into outside grade school programs. Laralei continues to educate herself, her family and the community with the great team at Escuela Viva. She now enjoys her current role as the administrative assistant, and as an auxiliary support to the teachers, and children. She lives in the North Portland Cathedral Park area (almost 20 years) where she shares a home with husband Kevin, her children and their many small creatures. She likes to adventure around town, visit family and friends, dance, eat, and play. She enjoys every minute..rain or shine.

Kathleen Nani Nauta

Kathleen Nani Nauta

Pre-K Teacher - Pumas

Since August 2014

Nani is excited to be joining the Escuela Viva family.  She has an A.A degree in Early Childhood Education and has been a preschool teacher for over 23 years. In 2007, she left Mentor Graphic Child Development Center after 13 years to return to school. In 2008, she received her B.S. in Social Science. Her emphasis was on ECE and Environment studies with young children. Nani has been involved with OAEYC (Oregon Association for the Education of Young Children) for over 20 years.

Nani is also a mom and a widow.  Her daughter Kelsey is 23 and is currently in China teaching English to kindergarteners.  Her son Ryan is 32 and has provided Nani with 2 lovely grandchildren. Currently she lives in Lake Oswego with a big dog and two cats. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, gardening, photography, reading and watching movies.Some of the things she loves teaching children include, respect for the environment, diversity, music appreciation and sign language.

Nani looks forward to being a part of your child and family’s journey. She believes that together we can plant powerful seeds of wisdom, knowledge and compassion in children’s minds.

Susana Montano

Susana Montano

Pumas Teacher

I started in the early educational world 18 years ago, working as a registered and certified home childcare provider for migrant families. After that, I studied English as a second language and got into college classes in early childhood and education. I graduated in June 2018 with an Associate Applied Science Degree. I am currently a student at Mt. Hood Community College working on my transfer degree and I plan on finishing my degree at Eastern Oregon University. I am passionate about learning, and I believe that being a professional teacher is a life long learning process. For this reason, I will continue my studies and earn a bachelor degree in elementary education. I love teaching, I enjoy sharing learning spaces. I understand the education as a shared system of learning between students, professors, and families.

My favorite hobbies include learning, reading, and sharing moments with my family. I love creativity, and creating things with my hands. I love spending time in nature, and learning to play an instrument is one of my dreams.

Eloisa Julian-Ramirez

Eloisa Julian-Ramirez

Angelitos Teacher

Since June 2014

I was born in Mexico City and when I was 15 years old, my parents decided to move to Oregon. I have lived in Oregon most of my life. I love working with young children. My children have inspired me to be an educator in early childhood. I have three children; Ivan (18), Adriana (16), and Stephanie (11).

Working with young children has been very rewarding for me. Knowing that my job is to help children achieve their full potential and to help them feel happier and better about themselves encourages me to be more passionate and build the endurance to handle whatever challenges come with sensitivity, love, patience, and a lot of understanding.

When I am not working, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. We like to spend time together and enjoy nature. We go out for walks with our dog, Snowball, or just stay home and cook together while we watch a good movie.

I began working at Escuela Viva in June 2014 and it feels like it was just yesterday. I hope to continue working in this community school and keep learning to be a better teacher each day.

Jesenia Flores

Jesenia Flores

Angelitos Teacher

My name is Jesenia (Jesse) and I have been working in the early child care setting for over 8 years. I love to motivate and engage children’s minds to keep learning and be excited to be their own individual while maintaining a loving and caring atmosphere. When I’m not busy in a classroom setting I love to explore new places and try new things with family and friends. My hobbies are playing keyboards with my band, salsa dancing, and spending quality time with family. I am super excited to become a part of the Escuela Viva family and community and help your kiddos grow and learn new exciting things.

Martha San Juan

Martha San Juan

Early Preschool Teacher - Estrellitas

Since 2013

I am from Oaxaca, Mexico. I have worked at Escuela Viva since 2013, and I have worked with every age group. I am currently working in the early preschool classroom, the Estrellitas. I love to support children’s learning through play and art. In fact, it is interesting to hear from children’s curiosity about what they discover every day. I enjoy what they share, and observing their interactions with classmates and adults. I enjoy adding vocabulary words, comments, and questions to extend their interests. By doing this, I know that they are learning the most important areas of development. When I am not working at Escuela Viva, I love to explore nature while hiking with my family and friends.

Erica Ryan

Erica Ryan

Infant & Toddler Program Assistant

I was born in Portland, Oregon. My first visit to Mexico was at the age of 5. By the age of 14 my family was living in Mexico permanently.

About 4 years ago, I decided to move back to Oregon to pursue a higher education and colder weather. After working a few jobs, I realized that I had a passion for working with children and teaching the Spanish language. I have 3 years experience as a preschool Assistant Spanish teacher and now I would like to focus on working with infants and toddlers. I am working on an Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education at Portland Community College.

Glenna Reyes

Glenna Reyes

Lead Infant/Toddler Teacher - Cachorros

Since 2009

I grew up in Chicago, IL as a heritage Spanish speaker. I began working at Escuela Viva as a sub while pursuing my undergraduate degree in 2009 and I have been a part of the EV community as a teacher, sub, assistant and volunteer on and off for about 10 years. I have a passion and love for early childhood education and the Escuela Viva philosophy. Here, I am able to empower and teach children to be in control of their own learning. I love to use a variety of expressive arts like music, dance, dramatic play and creative arts and crafts to give the children a variety of tools to explore and learn about their friends and the world around them. My hobbies include beach fun, painting, drawing, singing, cooking, dancing and reusing recycled materials.  I’m ecstatic to share my joy, laughter, creativity, kindness, and youthful spirit with children, families and my co-workers.

Richelle Van Dusen

Richelle Van Dusen

Tortuguitas Teacher

I was born and raised in southern Oregon and have spent the last 7 years in Portland. I graduated from Portland State University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Spanish Language and International Relations. I love children, animals, making art, and being active! When I’m not at Escuela Viva, I love teaching Yoga, spending time with my cat and dog, and exploring nature!

Dalia Arcos

Dalia Arcos

Tortuguitas Teacher
I am a wife and mother of four children and two dogs. I volunteered as a Sunday school teacher in my church for six years, and then was nanny of two girls for five years. Most recently, I was a volunteer in a congregation of Jews and non-Jews Kehilat Hamashiah in Portland for two years. In this role I helped as an assistant to teach Torah and Hebrew. I also volunteered in the Catholic Catholic Charities program for three years, helping Hispanics fill out tax papers. While working at Escuela Viva since September 2019, I am also studying for my CDA. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to learn all the lessons that children will teach you and to give a lot of love and respect to each parent and child.
Sarah Scherling

Sarah Scherling

Sapitos Teacher

Since April 2019

Hello Families!

My name is Sarah and I am excited to be joining the Sapitos classroom here at Escuela Viva! A Portland native myself, I grew up in the gorgeous Pacific Northwest, getting muddy and growing with the seasons just like your little ones do! I have obtained a BS in Psychology and over ten years of experience working with children in various settings. English is my native language, so I have been learning a lot from fellow teachers and students! In fact, I believe that if we’re open, our greatest teachers in life can be the youngest among us.

Beyond ensuring a safe, caring, and stimulating environment, I am committed to developing each child’s independence and self-esteem. I believe that children learn best when they are encouraged to communicate their feelings and needs. I have fostered that type of environment by implementing age- and developmentally-appropriate activities, encouraging exploration, and providing positive behavioral feedback in a consistent, warm, and affectionate manner. I am passionate about integrating holistic activities such as meditative movement and live music activities into my teaching and care of children. I feel very honored to be apart of a team that helps guide your children through their discovery of self and the world around them.

Carmen Padron

Carmen Padron

Cachorros Teacher

Since August 2016

Carmen Figueroa was born on April 18th, 1990 in the city of Camaguey, Cuba. Since her earlier years of life she reflected an aptitude towards excellence and responsibility which was evident by her determination to follow her dreams despite the restrictions of her countries.

She learned about her passion at an early age when she had to take care of her younger twin brothers because her parents were working professionals. In other words, she became the babysitter of the family.In 2014 Carmen successfully graduated with an accounting degree from Candido Gonzalez Vocational School in her hometown. While she was simultaneously finishing her degree and completing her accounting internship at Villa Azucar, Carmen explored her dream of becoming a teacher by seeking an opportunity to work at Manuel Sabalo Child Day Care Center. Right after being accepted she completed 2 years of working experience in this school.

After several months of striving to arrive to the dreamed land of United States going through difficulties, she enrolled in Mount Hood Community College to pursue a Child Care Teaching certificate. Now she is grateful to be part of Escuela Viva where every children individuality is celebrated.

Marisol Paredes-Torres

Marisol Paredes-Torres

Cachorros Teacher

Hello everyone! My name is Marisol Paredes-Torres and I am excited to join the Escuela Viva Community! I look forward to working with the children in the Cachorros/Sapitos classroom and getting to know everyone at Escuela Viva. I was born and raised here in Portland, Oregon. My parents are from Guanajuato, Mexico and they have taught me so much about my culture and the beautiful Spanish language. I realized that working with children is my passion when my little sister was born and I was able to care for her while my parents worked full time. SInce then I knew what I wanted to go to college for and the career I wanted to pursue. I graduated from Mount Hood Community College in 2017 with an Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education. I have several years of experience working with children as young as 3 months and as old as 12 years. I’ve been an Infant/Toddler Teacher, an Elementary Educational Assistant, and an Assistant Director for an in home daycare. 

When working with children I love to sing in Spanish and be active. I enjoy being able to share my native language with children and my culture as well. I believe that all children deserve respect and should be given various opportunities to explore in a safe and engaging environment. I enjoy setting up developmentally and age appropriate activities for children to express themselves and to help them learn more about their world. During my free time I enjoy shopping, watching movies, cooking, and going on dates with my husband.

Maria Gloria Luna

Maria Gloria Luna

Floater Teacher

Since June 2016

Gloria Luna was born in Mexico. She graduated from college in Mexico with a degree in business. She came to Oregon in 2002 and moved to Portland in 2003. She is the mom of two daughters: Ivette, 14, and Emily, 6 years old.

She ran an in-home childcare for 7 years and taught Spanish and arts and crafts. She loves when children feel happy and enjoy life. She loves being with children because they are full of energy and their imaginations are huge. She has volunteered in different elementary schools like Rosa Parks and M L C.

She worked at the Clarendon Early Learning Center where she helped organize kindergarten readiness activities for caregivers in North Portland. Her goal is to return to college and get a Master’s in Teaching. She is very passionate in her work and she doesn’t like to leave things half way done.

She loves to play and explore the new possibilities of happiness with her daughters. She enjoys exercise, music, dance, exploring and the beach. She started to work at Escuela Viva because she knows she can give a lot and it’s her next step to success and she knows she can make it happen.

Virginia “Vicky” Velarde

Virginia “Vicky” Velarde

Floater Teacher

Since April 2016

Virginia was born and raised in Mexico. he arrived in Portland two years ago with her daughter Gloria and husband John. She graduated from High School and went two years to Community College in Texas. Her goal is to go back to school and get her Child Development Associate (CDA). Read Less

Virginia was first turned on to child care when she volunteered at her daughter’ s daycare. She found that she loved to spend time with children. She has now been working with children for the last eight years in different classrooms and at different centers.

Virginia likes to cook Mexican food, read books for professional development purposes (how best to support children) and exercise. She enjoys Zumba, Yoga and hikes. She is excited to be working at Escuela Viva because she feels at home here.

Maria Ramirez

Maria Ramirez

Sapitos Teaching Assistant

I am 23 years old and a native Spanish speaker. I am the oldest of 6. I also have a daughter named Naydyn who will be 8 in December. I’ve been a sub for Escuela Viva since March of 2019. I’ve also subbed at In A Child’s Path and Wild Lilac. I’m really excited to be a part of such a close community. When I’m not at Escuela Viva, you’ll find me at home with Naydyn helping her with homework or watching a film. Naydyn and I often travel to Mexico. Most of our family lives in a state called Puebla. We also enjoy camping. (Fun Fact: Both Naydyn and I were born at the OHSU hospital in Portland). We love the rain, so going for walks in the rain is our thing. Overall I can be very silly when it comes to hanging out with children. I really do enjoy being around them. I always leave Escuela Viva with the biggest smile on my face!

Irma Kavanaugh

Irma Kavanaugh

Substitute Teacher

I am a recent Portland transport, having grown up in Chicago. My first job was at a bookstore, where I specialized in the children’s section. I worked as a teacher’s aide for a year and half, then went on to alternate between the nonprofit sector and private childcare. The three main families I nannied for employed me for 5-7 years each, and I still exchange Christmas cards with them. My home has been shared with almost 300 foster cats and dogs, including some special needs animals. Currently I am pursuing my Bachelors, double majoring in Psychology and Child, Youth, and Family Studies and I hope to become a Certified Family Life Educator. I am a big believer in high quality early education, NAEYC, and Reggio Emilia. I am excited to join the Escuela Viva community, work with young children and their families again, and to practice my Spanish daily.

My two musically gifted step-sons keep me and my partner busy outside of work and school. The family enjoys volunteering with Friends of Trees and the YWCA when we get a free Saturday. Our cat prefers when they stay home so he can sleep in someone’s lap. 

Marisol Pichardo Barrales

Marisol Pichardo Barrales

Kitchen Coordinator

I’m Marisol Pichardo Barrales. I was born in Oaxaca, Mexico. My family is the greatest gift that God has given me. In 2014, I participated as a volunteer in Sacajawea Head Start. At that time, my interest in working with children began. Read Less

I’m a pastry chef at heart! Thanks to this skill, I was invited to share pastry classes with parents and children from Albina Early Head Start schools.
In April 2016 I had the opportunity to work at Escuela Viva as an assistant in the class of Angelitos and Estrellitas. At the moment, I am supporting the Cachorros and Sapitos classes. I currently attend Maywood Campus, with the aim of continuing to learn and, in the not too distant future, to be able to fulfill my goals.
Soy Marisol Pichardo Barrales. Nací en Oaxaca México. Mi familia son el regalo más grande que Dios me han dado. En el año 2014 participé como voluntaria en Sacajawea Head Start. En ese momento inició mi interés de trabajar con niños. !Soy repostera de Corazon! Gracias a esta habilidad fui invitada a compartir clases de reposteria a padres y niños de las escuelas Albina Early Head Start.
En Abril de 2016 tuve la oportunidad de trabajar en Escuela Viva como asistente en la clase de Angelitos y Estrellitas. Por el momento estoy apoyando a las clases de Cachorros y Sapitos. Actualmente asisto a Maywood Campus, con la finalidad de seguir aprendiendo y en un futuro no muy lejano poder cumplir mis metas.
Birk Simmons Hansen

Birk Simmons Hansen

I am a Portland native, returning home after a few years spent in places less lovely. I bridged from tutoring & nannying into teaching preschool a few years ago, and was immediately sold. I love working in early childhood education, dearly – to the exclusion of, really, any other line of work. The opportunity to equip children for exploring the world & their interests, while enriching their self-confidence and understanding is, to me, greater than any other.

I teach with a focus on engaging each student, uniquely and attentively. Aiming not to instruct your child in some pre-defined curriculum, but, rather, to get to know them, and construct from there, according to their input, a method of information and development tailored best for each child.

Creativity, cooperation, awareness, exuberance, and joy-in-learning are the vital traits toward which I aspire in the classroom. We will dance, sing, build, design, listen, learn, and explore, together. I so look forward to meeting you and your child!

Pilar Moran

Pilar Moran

Mariposas Teacher

Hello, my name is Pili and I am the teacher in the Mariposas classroom. This is my first year at Escuela Viva and I am extremely grateful to be part of this amazing team.

I was born in Mexico and moved to Portland when I was fifteen years old. I am a single mom of a thirteen year old daughter and is my goal to make her proud and a successful woman in life.

I’ve been working with children for the past six years, last two with infants. Before working with infants I was working in a preschool classroom with 20 children ranging in ages from 3-5 for about four years. In working with children from 0-5 years I have experienced and been able to receive training on a variety of topics, including working with children with autism, behavioral challenges, down syndrome, helping with potty training etc. I am very excited to keep growing in the field of Early Childhood Education. I have a Child Development Associates (CDA). My goal is to enroll soon to get an Associate’s degree.

In my free time, because I am a very active person, I like to keep myself busy all the time. I am currently taking yoga classes, but I also enjoy to dance, cooking and spending time with my family.

I look forward to continuing to have a positive impact on the children’s growth and to new discoveries with an amazing team of teachers. I believe that children are our future and I will work with them to help build their confidence while they play.

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