La administración

Angie Garcia
Escuela Viva Executive Director & Owner

As Executive Director, Angie functions as a mentor, guide, resource and trainer for the Escuela Viva teaching team. Angie and Amelia (the program director) work together closely in the development of the school community and have great ambitions for the advocacy and development of quality early childhood education.  Although not a part of the daily operations, Angie is actively involved.

Angie Garcia, the founder of Escuela Viva, first and foremost is a mom to two beautiful children. Escuela Viva began when Angie could not find the type of preschool experience that she wanted for her daughter. Angie, having had many years experience in both early childhood programs like Head Start as well as experience in child care settings, felt she had a good grasp of what makes a solid nurturing preschool. July 2004, Escuela Viva opened its’ doors for the first time in her remodeled basement. Before her first child was born (2002), Angie graduated from PSU with a Bachelor of Arts in 1995 and in 1997 graduated from PSU’s Master’s of Social Work program. Angie has many years experience working with families on a number of levels from child abuse prevention, domestic violence and child welfare. Now with Escuela Viva strong and vibrant, Angie can devote her time to the school and being a mom to her daughter, Mayah and her son, Eddie.


Amelia Jane Regalado
Escuela Viva Program Director

Amelia is the onsite director involved in the oversight of the daily operations as well as program quality. 

Amelia Bio PicA native Montanan, Amelia Regalado was drawn to Oregon in 1998 when applying to schools. After five years at Southern Oregon University she received a Bachelors of Science in the Environmental Sciences and a Bachelors of Arts in Spanish Language and Culture. Her third year at SOU, she spent studying abroad in Quito, Ecuador and was certified as fluent in the Spanish language. Throughout her experience at SOU and during the time she spent living abroad in Latin America, Amelia has enjoyed a variety of experiences working with the Spanish language. She enjoyed tutoring at the high school level, teaching English to small children in Guatemala, working as a bilingual museum aid and guide in Ecuador and teaching outdoor education in Ashland, OR.

Amelia was initially drawn to Escuela Viva in June of 2005 by the opportunity to use the Spanish Language in a professional environment. Over time, a passion for the schools philosophies grew and her tie to the school’s practices became much stronger. Over the course of the years she has dedicated herself to the constant process of learning and growing along side children. She has had the opportunity to participate in a study tour to Reggio Emilia, Italy and an intensive training in the Education for Life philosophy. She believes that each and every child is a unique learner and strives to provide diverse opportunities for children in and out of the classroom.  In June of 2014, Amelia completed and received a Masters in Early Childhood Education.

Amelia’s love of the Spanish language shines through in her work with the children and her drive to keep Latin culture an integrated part of her studies in and outside of the classroom. She strives to highlight the importance of diversity and tradition in her life. With the teachers and children of Escuela Viva, she works to provide endless opportunities for them to experience and learn from the world about us. Outside of the classroom Amelia enjoys biking, gardening, working on her home and spending time with her family.


Laralei Vander Putten
Administrative Assistant

Laralei Vanderputten Kane BIo Photo copy
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 15 and Logan 12 as of 2015
     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 16 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.


Maestras de los Pumas

Kathleen Nani Nauta
Pre-K Teacher

Nani  excited to be joining the Escuel 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 my 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 look 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.


Rachael Fetrow
Pre-K Teacher 

Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 4.08.39 PMRachael is thrilled to be joining the staff at Escuela Viva. Her most recent teaching experience includes: pre-k teacher at a private school in SE Portland and lead pre-k English teacher for Oregon Child Development Coalition, where she taught Oregon pre-kindergarten during the regular year and Migrant Head Start during the summers. During her time there, Rachael improved her Spanish speaking skills while building relationships with staff, students and families. Prior to her time at OCDC, Rachael was a part time nanny for three different families and a substitute teacher. Rachael has been teaching for 11 years, the last three years spent as a dedicated pre-k teacher.

Rachael completed her Bachelors of Arts in Early Childhood and Elementary Education at Western Oregon University in 2006 and returned home to Milwaukie to explore different ages and grades as a substitute. After a backpacking trip to Costa Rica in June of 2007, she became inspired to move abroad to teach English and travel. In October of 2007, Rachael packed her bags and was on her way to Thailand to teach English! She taught ages 2-4 at a private kindergarten, additionally tutoring older students at a partner school. During her year abroad, Rachael realized her love for learning about different cultures, customs, languages and working with younger children. She also had the opportunity to travel all around Thailand and spent two weeks visiting and exploring Italy with her brother, who was stationed there at the time in the Air Force. Rachael’s year abroad expanded her world and changed her as an educator and individual. She moved back to the states in 2008 to begin her Masters’ degree in Education and Curriculum at Concordia University Portland, which she completed in 2011.

Although Rachael was born in Phoenix, Arizona, she grew up in Milwaukie, Oregon. She comes from a big family of five: two older sisters and two younger brothers. Rachael and her fiancé, Adam, live on Hawthorne and love inner SE Portland. They have two cats named Maximilano and Sophie and two rabbits named Falcon and Panda. Rachael and Adam enjoy traveling, visiting the beach, skiing on the mountain, trying new foods, spending time with family and friends and attending sporting events, especially Beaver football games and Portland Timbers’ soccer matches. In her free time, Rachael is an avid reader and writer and has dreams of being a published author someday.

Rachael is passionate about teaching, but she is especially passionate about dual language education. She even wrote her Masters’ thesis on the benefits of dual language immersion education. She also enjoys singing and dancing and knows how essential play is in early learning and development.


Maria Gloria Luna
Pre-K Spanish Teacher

gloriaGloria 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.


Maestras de los Angelitos

Perla Govea Herrera
Preschool Teacher


Perla Herrera was born in Artiaga, Michoacan Mexico. Her family immigrated to the United States in 1977. She grew up in Woodland, Washington in a big house on acreage with five siblings and 4 loving her family took in because they had no other place to go. 
Perla currently live in Vancouver, Washington with her husband, three of our children, our Springer/Lab mix Roxy, and three fur babies we rescued named Beau, Lyla, and Leo. Their two older children live in the Vancouver/Battle Ground area and one of her twins lives on campus at Washington State University in Pullman Washington. She has two grand babies Mia 2, and Wyatt almost 1, which are also a very big part of her life.  
Perla’s favorite way to spend free time is with her family and pets. They enjoy going to the farmers market on the weekend, hiking, trail-walking, and window shopping on NW 23rd St. Her family also loves shopping for healthy food at a variety of different local markets.
Perla’s love for working with children began at a very early age as one of her first jobs was working at Y’s Care, a program that provides high quality preschool education to children and families from homeless, transitioning, or low-income circumstances. From there she went on to work with children through the Parks and Recreation Program in Clark County. After she had her own children, she went back to school to pursue a degree in Early Childhood Education at Clark College in Vancouver Washington.  

 Preschool Teacher

Elk Rock Island head shot cropped

Tiffany is so excited to be joining the Escuela Viva team as of September 2017!  Tiffany grew up in a multi- ethnic family (Mexican American and Eastern European) and is a fourth generation Angelino.  She remembers hearing stories from her great-grandmother about how the San Fernando Valley was once all orange groves and dirt roads.  One of her life goals is to improve her Spanish skills and travel to Aguascalientes, Mexico- where her mother’s family is originally from.

In 2005, Tiffany “escaped from L.A.” to pursue her passion in Education and Environmental Studies at UCSC.  There, she completed two internships at their amazing Life Lab and loves incorporating the science curriculum she learned there into her teaching.

She stayed in Santa Cruz, CA to give birth to her daughter, Feyana, in 2010.  This was the best thing to ever happen in her life.  In Jan. 2012, her family decided to move up to Portland after a visit in 2002.  During that visit, Tiffany fell in love with the warmth of the people in this city when she noticed that strangers passing by on the street smiled at each other J

Tiffany’s career in education began in 1999 as an AmeriCorps “ready to read” volunteer.  Through this program, Tiffany helped preschoolers develop pre-literacy skills.  She also got to do her favorite thing with children: read.  During the next 18 years, she practically taught every grade from 6 weeks old through high school, but her favorite age has always been preschool.

Tiffany holds a California Child Development Teacher Permit from the CA Commission on Teacher Credentialing and has 12 years of experience as an early childhood educator.  She is a Step 9 in the Oregon Registry.  She hopes to attend PSU to finish her degree in Education and earn a master’s degree in Applied Developmental Psychology with research focusing on bully-prevention.  But, her greatest education in the practice of raising children so far has come from 5 years of being a full-time single mom.  This experience has taught her that the three things she learned in business class are also the three things that can help you as a single parent.  These are being able to say:  1. “I’m sorry. I made a mistake.” 2. “I don’t know, but I will find out.” And 3.  “I need help.”  She also believes in the power of humor during challenging circumstances.  Her greatest influences in this area are her mother, Shari Lewis, and Lucille Ball.

Tiffany is a Yoga Calm™ certified instructor and has been teaching yoga to young children since 2009.  She loves weaving student’s ideas into yoga stories to create “yoga journeys”.  She believes that the best way to engage young yoga students is by creating an imaginary world for them to interact with while flowing through each pose.   Through her current business as owner of Wild Heart Kids Yoga she hopes to help kids develop the skills necessary to be wildly kind and courageous in their interactions with others. Tiffany has been practicing yoga since 1995.  She also believes in the innate knowledge and wisdom that children possess and loves that the Reggio Emillia approach gives children the freedom they need to express this.  She looks forward to working at a center where she can learn and grow along-side her students!

During her spare time, Tiffany enjoys spending time with her daughter hiking and going to Oaks Park, going to the gym, teaching yoga, salsa dancing, and geeking-out on parenting and business books.

Virginia “Vicky” Velarde
Preschool TA

IMG_1687Virginia born and raised in Mexico. 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).

She arrived in Portland two years ago with her daughter Gloria and husband John.

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.


Marisol Pichardo
Preschool Program TA


“Nunca es tarde para aprender un nuevo rumbo, vivir una nueva historia o construir un nuevo sueño”
Marisol Yessica Pichardo Barrales nació en Oaxaca, México.  Creció rodeada de su hermosa y pintoresca cultura acompañada de viejas tradiciones.  Llegó a Oregón hace 14 años con su esposo Martín.  Un año después de su llegada a Portland, en febrero de 2004, nació su primer niño de nombre Patrick.  Con el Marisol tuvó muchas experiencias de todo tipo, en general graciosas.  El imaginaba todo el tiempo que era el hombre araña y un día quisó parar el Max (estando el adentro como pasajero) .

Marisol se encanta la reposterían, y en el año 2008 ella decidió a tomar un curso de repostería.  Hace 4 años fue invitada a la escuela Richard Brown de Albina Early Head Start para compartirles una receta y enseñarle a los niños y a sus mamás como hacer galletas navideñas, aún sigue perfeccionando sus postres.

Por otro lado, seis años después nació su amorosa Avril, ella dice que la receta para hacer mamás es: “Con amor, dulzura, y abrazos, se mezclan y sale una mamá.”  También hace un año nace su pequeña Kristina, solo tiene un añito pero es muy inteligente. A ella le encanta ver volar a los pájaros.  En definitiva, en su experiencia con los niños, Marisol puede decir que los niños son los regalos más bonitos que la vida nos puede regalar, son tan impredecibles que son capases de mover diferente sentimientos a la misma vez y son tan puros y limpios que nos ofrecen su cariño y amor sin ningún interés.

Actualmente Marisol es estudiante de Mt. Hood Community College, tiene como meta obtener su diploma de high school, aprender y practicar el idioma Inglés. Es un poco difícil pero está trabajando muy duro para lograr su objetivo. Ella está un poco nerviosa y entusiasmada al mismo tiempo por formar parte de nuestro equipo de trabajo, y espera hacer su mejor esfuerzo y dar lo mejor de ella.

“It is never too late to embark on a new course, to live a new story or to build a new dream.”

Marisol Yessica Pichardo Barrales was born and raised in Oaxaca Mexico.  She grew up surrounded by her beautiful and picturesque culture, accompanied by old traditions.  Marisol arrived in Oregon 14 years ago with her husband Martín.  Her first child, Patrick, was born in February 2004, a year after after her arrival in Portland.  She has had many experiences of all kinds with Patrick, in general funny, like how he used to imagine he was Spiderman, and the time he wanted to stop the Max (from inside as a passenger).

Marisol loves baking, and in 2008 she decided to take a course of confectionery.  Four years ago she was invited to the Albina Head Start-Richard Brown Center to share a recipe and teach children and their moms how to make Christmas cookies.  She is still perfecting her desserts. On the other hand, six years after her loving child Avril was born, Marisol says that the recipe for making moms is: “With love, sweetness, and hugs, they mix and a mother comes out.”  Also, a year ago her little Kristina was born.  She is only one year old, but she is very intelligent.  She loves to see the birds fly.

Marisol says that in her experience, children are the most beautiful gifts that life can give us. They are so unpredictable that they are able to move different feelings at the same time and are so pure and clean that they offer us their love without strings attached.

She is currently a student at Mt. Hood Community College.  Her goal is to get her high school diploma, as well as to learn and practice English.  While it’s difficult, she is working very hard to achieve her goal. Marisol is a little nervous and excited at the same time to be part of the team at Escuela Viva, and she hopes to do her best and give her best.

 Preschool Afterschool

Susan Solati

susanaHaving a natural interest in art, after high school I pursued a degree in textiles in which I was able to learn about design, texture, dyeing, materials, chemistry and other aspects. My husband and I met while I worked in an office, as an administrative assistant. My first time in the United States occurred during the years when my husband was studying for his PhD at Cornell University. Our first son, Ehsan, was born while we lived in Ithaca, New York, over 35 years ago.

In 2008, I returned to the United States to join my oldest son to further my education. Because I had previous English language classes and experience with speaking, I started out in ENL classes until I completed them and then chose a curriculum to pursue. Raising my own three boys, Ehsan, Amin, and Erfan, was a highlight of my life. Now that my sons are well into adulthood, I still enjoy young children and want to spend time with them. For this reason, I chose early childhood education as my major. During that time, I participated in a Head Start program with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. I worked hard in my studies and persevered to graduate this spring with my AAS degree in ECE from Mt. Hood Community College.

I am bilingual as I speak both English and Persian and understand the challenges of learning a second language. Because of my background, my interests include the Persian culture. Persian food is my specialty and I will happily share culinary dishes with friends and family who care to join us for a meal.

In my spare time, I enjoy working on sewing projects, nursing houseplants, creating a garden, taking Zumba lessons, yoga exercises, dancing, developing new recipes, singing, reading, hiking, and bicycling. Staying active and interactive is a part of my very being. I truly enjoy new experiences and meeting new people. I value people who come from different cultures and know there is so much we can learn from each other.

Finally, I would like to express how much I appreciate working with young children who are constantly learning and expressing curiosity about their environment. Children need to be given the opportunity to explore the world around them by using all five senses. Each child is unique and will grow at his or her own pace. An age is not always a precise measure of the child’s abilities. Children will express their uniqueness in different ways. They are the foundation for each and every culture. Nurturing them is my delight. I look forward to many years of spending time with them and learning from them, too.

Las maestras de los Tortuguitas

Eloisa Julian-Ramirez
Early Preschool Teacher

Eloisa was born and raised in Mexico, City. She has lived in Oregon since she arrived from her country in 1993 and feels happy that she has learned the English language and has learned to be part of a bicultural environment and is eager to transmit the value of cultural diversity to young children.

Eloisa has three children, her oldest son Ivan and two lovely girls named Adriana and Stephanie. She realized that she wanted to work in the field of Early Childhood when she was volunteering at her son’s preschool.  She then decided to take ECE classes to acquire the knowledge that would allow her to better support the learning and development of children.

In the past, Eloisa has worked with preschool age children in programs at Head Start and she recently started to work for Escuela Viva after earning her (AAS) in Early Childhood Education from Mt. Hood Community College. She believes that each child grows at their own developmental level and each child comes from a family that has their own beliefs and values. That is why she respects the unique qualities of each child in the context of their family and culture.

In the future, Eloisa plans to continue with her education and her next goal is to obtain a BA in Early childhood Education. She enjoys being a mother, she dedicates her free time to her children and together they enjoy hiking, reading and exploring new places among other fun activities, her goal is to enjoy life and spend quality time with her family.

Martha San Juan
Early Preschool Teacher

Martha Sanjuan is currently taking classes at Mount Hood community college, and is eager to finish her early childhood career. She is fluent In Spanish and in her native language Mixteco, and is working very hard to perfect her English. She is most importantly a beautiful mother of two terrific children. Martha and her son Jorge were first attracted to Oregon in 2000, where she gave Birth to her second lovely child Janet. She enjoys taking hikes in the beautiful gorge and soaking up the wonderful sights of the waterfalls with her family. She was born and raised in a little village in Oaxaca, Mexico. Martha is a volunteer for the Nature Conservancy and is now a mentor for a program named Transiciones. She is a very kind, caring and loving person, not to mention very nurturing. She wants to impact the lives of children and loves spending quality time with her family no matter what the weather is outside.

Early Preschool Teacher
Disney Torres

Disney Bio Photo

Disney Torres Fajardo nacío el 17 de Marzo de 1980 en la ciudad de Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. Tiene Dos hijos pequeños y vive en el este de Portland. Por 11 años trabajo en Cuba como profesora en diversos niveles de enseñanza, donde sus evaluaciones fueron positivas.En el 2015, después de dos años en Canadá, llegó a Portland, Oregon. Aquí se graduó como CareGiver en el IRCO y como Asistente de enfermería (CNA 1) en el MT Hood Community College. Desde el otoño de 2016, empezó a trabajar como asistente y Maestra Sustituta en Escuela Viva. Aquí Disney se siente una vez más que este su lugar y con las personas con las que quiere trabajar.

Para ella trabajar con niños, ayudarlos a pensar, trasmitirles sus propios experiencias y ver como con el decursar del tiempo pueden llegar a ser grandes personas, eso le hace sentir orgullosa, viva, realizada. Este fue el motivo por el cual ella decidió en el año 1998-2003, estudiar la carrera de Licenciatura en Educación, especialidad de Biología. En los cinco años de su carrera, pudo aprender muchísimo de pedagogía, psicología, sociología y otras tantas asignaturas que contribuyeron en gran medida a su preparación técnico- profesional. Una vez graduada en el 2003, comenzó a trabajar en diversas escuelas como parte de la rotación por los diversos niveles de enseñanza del Ministerio de Educación en Cuba. El enfrentarme a distintos grupos de estudiantes de diversas maneras de pensar la obligó a elevar el rigor, la auto preparación profesional, la búsqueda continua de métodos de enseñanza y aprendizaje que posibiliten elevar el nivel de conocimiento de los estudiantes. El trabajo en equipo la posibilitó que de conjunto resolviéramos cuantas situaciones se presentaron en la escuela con nuestros estudiantes. Ella cree que nuestra mayor meta como maestros, es la de convertir a nuestros estudiantes en mejores ciudadanos, que estos hagan grandes aportes a la sociedad, que sean conscientes que todo cuanto ellos hagan pueden ayudar al mejoramiento de sus comunidades.

Enseñarlos a pensar, a reflexionar,  a tomar las mejores decisiones, a ser justos, a corregir sus errores, a ser responsables de sus actos, a realizar acciones seguras, a ser amables, a ser respetuosos con sus compañeros, padres y maestros, a respetar las creencias religiosas de cada cual, sus costumbres y tradiciones, enseñarlos desde pequeños a convivir con nuestras diferencias. Son muchos los desafíos que tenemos por delante. Todo esto demanda de mucho esfuerzo, sacrificio, de auto superación profesional, de moldear y adaptar nuestro carácter y temperamento al de nuestros estudiantes, de perseverancia y tolerancia y sobre todas las cosas de mucho amor por lo que hacemos y con quienes trabajamos.

Disney Towers Fajardo was born on March 17, 1980 in the city of Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. She has two young children and lives in SE Portland. For 11 years she worked in Cuba as a teacher at various levels of education, where her evaluations were always positive. In 2015, after two years in Canada, Disney came to Portland, Oregon. Here she graduated as a CareGiver at IRCO and as a Nursing Assistant (CNA 1) at MT Hood Community College. In the fall of 2016 she began working as an assistant and Substitute Teacher at. Escuela Viva. Here she feels she is once again “home” in a professional sense and is with the people she wants to work with.

To work with children, to help them think, to transmit her own experiences and to see how with the passing of time they can become great people, that is what makes Disney feel proud, alive and fulfilled. For this reason she decided in 1998-2003 to study the Bachelor’s Degree in Education with a biology specialty. In the five years of her studies, she learned a great deal of pedagogy, psychology, sociology and other subjects that contributed greatly to my technical-vocational preparation. After graduating in 2003, she began working in various schools as part of the rotation for the various levels of education of the Ministry of Education in Cuba. Confronting different groups of students in different ways of thinking forced her to raise rigor, professional self-preparation, and the continuous search for teaching and learning methods that can raise the level of student knowledge. Teamwork made it possible for her to solve as many situations as she could collectively in her school with the students. Disney believes that our greatest goal as teachers is to make our students better citizens, to make great contributions to society, to be aware that everything they do can help to improve their communities.

Her mission is to teach children to think, to reflect, to make the best decisions, to be fair, to correct their mistakes, to be responsible for their actions, to take safe actions, to be kind, to be respectful with their peers, parents and teachers, to respect the religious beliefs of each one, their customs and traditions, teach them from small to coexist with our differences. There are many challenges ahead. All this demands a lot of effort, sacrifice, self-improvement, molding and adapting our character and temperament to that of our students, of perseverance and tolerance and above all things of much love for what we do and with whom we work.

Infant/Toddler Program

Michelle Aldama BSW, MA
Sapitos & Cachorros Head Teacher

Michelle Aldama Bio copyMichelle Aldama was born to a German-American mother and a Mexican national father and grew up internationally. She identifies as an ‘Adult Third Culture Kid’—someone who is raised by parents from two different cultures, in a third culture. After seven years in social work as a Latina advocate, she earned a Post-Bach certificate in Latino/Chicano Studies and then a Master’s in Sustainability Education from PSU. After that, a series of serendipitous events led her to enter the vibrant world of Reggio inspired early childhood education. After taking a substitute teaching position at a preschool as a doctoral student, she decided to switch from adult to early childhood education. During the past seven years Michelle has gained rich experiences including as a co-researcher with children in Reggio inspired settings, assistant teaching in the Masters of Early Childhood Education program at PSU, coordinating the Inventing Remida Portland Project at Helen Gordon Child Development Center, and a 2016 study tour to Reggio Emilia Italy. These experiences and education have allowed her to blend a passion for ecology, culture and learning as well as to collaborate with young children, educators and families. Michelle is currently interpreting data she collected on how Reggio inspired educators explore identity studies with children using reuse materials, and graduates in June 2018 with a Doctorate in Education. Michelle moved to Portland in 2000 and spends most of her free time with her blended family of six, whose favorite place is playing anywhere along the Columbia or Willamette rivers.

Las maestras de los Sapitos

Stephanie Guzman
Toddler Teacher

stephanie-bio-photoStephanie Guzman has lived in the state of Washington since she was only a year old. Then moved to Portland for a year but her family decided to settle in Vancouver Washington.

Stephanie was raised in a family of 5 with parents from Oaxaca, Mexico. She is proud of her family roots and has visited Mexico a few times to learn about the culture and family origin. Her parents raised her bilingual, speaking both English and Spanish, which made her fluent in both languages. Her first word was “agua” or  “water” in English. From an early age Stephanie has taken an intrest in helping others, especially working with childern. In the summer of her Freshman year in High School she joined the Boys and Girls Club of Southwest Washington and their Keystone program which is a High School leadership program. Stephanie attended on a regular basis and volunteered with children in elementary school grades 1st through 5th. Each year national conferences are held, in which 100 hours of community service were required, in total she attended 3. Throughout this experience she grew a lot as an individual. Previously very shy, she was even abel to run for Youth of the Year twice which included professional speaking workshops and judges who decide the winner. Stephanie’s passion for working with children continued with her first job with IRCO (Immigrant Resource Community Organizations) and SUN school in the Reynolds District. Now coming to Escuela Viva she continues growing and learning with children of a younger age. Stephanie loves being able to communicate and grow along with the children’s learning. She understand that these early years are very important in children’s lives. Stephaie has worked at Escuela Viva before and loves the community. Now Stephanie is returning to Escuela Viva and is fully dedicated to receive her CDA (Child Development Associates). She is very excited to become part of the Infant/Toddler Teaching Team and is looking forward to building strong relationships with her team members, the children and the parents.

Overall Stephanie is very thankful for Escuela Viva opening and re-opening their doors and giving her the opportunity to work and develop a career working with children which she is strongly passionate about. In her free time she enjoys drawing, writting, and volunteering in her community.

Yaquelin Garcia Hernandez
Toddler Teacher

yaquelin-bio-photoYaqueline Garcia was born and raised in Cuba.  She began her studies at the “Inti Peredo” elementary. Years later Yaquelin followed in the footsteps of his mother who had taught her respect for life and care of children and all people of different ages. She began her studies in the Middle Superios Institute of Medical Sciences reaching Certified Nursing Assistant. After graduation she found work at the “Mario Muñoz Monroy” Hospital in Cuba. Yaquelin remained working for five years in the best way possible while maintaining a positive attitude to the tasks assigned in the day to day and good treatment to their patients, which is essential in the field of health.

In 2012 Yaquelin came to live in the USA where she started in various jobs until she moved to Oregon and began working as an aide at Escuela Viva. A good friend helped her to explore the field of education and childcare.

Thanks to this and other friends she has inspired to continue learning and exploring every day to give her best  to those children who have to be in her care. She is inspired to learn, to have a healthy and beautiful life as she has grows in the field of education.

Yaquelin has experiencing caring for children in her home country as a babysitter, a mother of two and in the health care field. She works to apply her experience and knowledge of children at Escuela Viva as she grows and learns about what it is to be an educator. In her extra time, she spends time with her family and friends.



Las maestras de los Cachorros

Yarisell Feria
Infant/Woddler Teacher

IMG_1093Yarisell was born on February 18, 1982 in the city of Holquin, Cuba. Since childhood she excelled in sports and cultural activities at school, as well as in the neighborhood and community, meanwhile maintaining a satisfactory level of work within her studies, too. Art and culture were also a mark on her childhood development.

In 2002, Yarisell went to school to study Elementary Education with a specializing in computer education. She was proud to be attending because it was her dream come true to work with children. In the year 2007 Yarisell graduated with a Bachelors of Education with a specializing in computing. At this time she went to work at a school for children between the ages of 2-12 years.

Yarisell began her work life with children of different ages, personalities and character. It was necessary to draw up an action plan aimed at the formation of ethical and moral values ​​in her students’ work. She also worked to develop teaching methods that made the learning accessible to every student. During this time she participated in seminars, events and practices for the education of children.

In 2012, Yarisell left Cuba to join her husband who lived in the city of Portland, Oregon. She made the move with the idea of ​​continuing her studies and finding a job that is equal to or very similar to that which she had in Cuba. In July, 2015, she  started working as a volunteer teacher at Escuela Viva.  She has developed a great love and interest for her work here at EV and is doing what she really likes to do, working with children.

Elicia Miller
Infant/Wobbler Teacher

elicia-bio-photoElicia Miller is super excited to be doing the Escuela Viva team here in SE Portland. She is excited to watch the school; children and families grow into an even greater community than it already is. Elicia has an affinity towards RIE and Reggio styles of teachings and is looking forward to learning more about how Escuela Viva incorporates such practices.. What seems to resign in RIE, Reggio and even in Waldorf teachings is they all allow children to grow, learn and make decisions on their own with positive guidance and scaffolding. These philosophies are particularly profound for Elicia because they teach the teacher how to respect the child verbally, physically and emotionally. Then inadvertently, the child is taught respect and kindness. In many ways, Elicia believe these teachings will help children learn how to respect themselves and others. It is important to her that children are treated with respect as it plays a huge role in their development and growth. She strongly believe everyone deserves to be treated equally.

Before Escuela Viva, Elicia attended college to receive an associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education. While attending school, she had her own daycare that consisted of her two nieces from her sisters growing family. After these children left her daycare, her bothers’ children came into her care and she cared for them for about nine months. Things change and the children’s mother decided she wanted her children home with her, so she is home schooling them now.

Alicia worked at Sally’s Beauty Supply toward the end of her time managing her own daycare. She stayed at Sally’s for four years and left to finish her last year of college to complete her associates degree. Upon finish school, she then volunteered at Volunteers of America for about eight months, where she worked with drug and alcohol abused children. She left this position as a volunteer to find a paying job. She starting working at Growing Seeds where she stayed for a year and a half until she had to leave her position due to illness. At Growing Seeds, she worked with age groups from 6weeks-5 years old. She found during this time, that infants and toddlers are who she loves to work with the most. Now here at Escuela Viva, she ready for a new chapter in her life. She excited to see where the road takes her from here.

Patricia Gutierrez
Infant/Toddler TA

Screen Shot 2017-05-09 at 9.56.10 AMNombre completo PATICIA KAROLINA GUTIERREZ BRACHO, nací el 22 de octubre de 1992 en Venezuela, Maracaibo-Edo Zulia, soy graduada de la Universidad del Zulia (LUZ) como Licenciada en Administración. Nací rodeada de una familia que me enseñó los valores más importantes de la vida, el respeto, la humildad, responsabilidad y honestidad. A lo largo de mi adolescencia tuve la oportunidad de trabajar en una agrupación de eventos infantiles que por medio de mi actuación transmitía felicidad a los niños y a su ve ellos a mí, esto me impulso a tomar la decisión de buscar un trabajo el cual este en contacto siempre con ello. Gracias a la empresa “AMIGUITOS” (VENEZUELA) pude cumplir mi objetivo.

En noviembre de 2016 tome la decisión de emigrar a los Estados Unidos junto a mi esposo, en mis tiempos libres me gusta ir de compras y compartir con mi esposo. “La sonrisa de un niño es la pureza de DIOS” 

Patricia Karolina Gutierrez Bracho, born October 22, 1992 in Venezuela, Maracaibo-Edo Zulia.  I am a graduate of the University of Zulia (LUZ) with a credential in Administration.  I grew up surrounded by a family which taught me the most important values in life, respect, humility, responsibility and honesty.  Throughout my adolescence, I have had the opportunity to work in a variety of child-based settings which always allowed me to soak in the happiness they exude as well as return that happiness to them when they see me.  This was the impulse behind my decision to look for a job in which I am always surrounded by them.   Thanks to “Amiguitos” in Venezuela I was able to accomplish my goal.

In November, I made the decision to immigrate to the United States along with my husband.  In my free time, I like to go shopping and share time with my husband. “The smile of a child is the purity of God”



Cocinero y coordinador del programa del jardín/Kitchen & Garden Coordinator

Create PlentyAlexis has been an environmental educator since 2003, working with students ages 1-21. She holds a BS in Environmental Science and Community Development from Portland State University. At PSU, she was a chef at a student run cafe and fell in love with garden education. Then, she traveled the world shadowing gardening teachers, guest teaching, and work trading with urban farmers. For Alexis, traveling opened a wide world of best practices regarding cooking, cleaning, shopping, gardening, and passing time. She took these practices to her previous work as a preschool kitchen and garden manager, and started a business called Young Abundance. Alexis is ecstatic to share her passion for Spanish, permaculture, and all things food, with our precious little folks.




Maestros Substitutes:

Alejandra Enriquez

 Alejandra Enriquez was born in California, but raised in Oregon, and has always gone back and forth between the two wonderfully unique states. After attending Saint Mary’s College of California to obtain her degree in Archaeology/Anthropology, the Great Norhwest was calling to Alejandra once again. Since 2010 she has been happy to call Portland her home.
Alejandra has been working with children for almost ten years now, and hopes to continue growing as a teacher along with the children she teaches. Prior to Escuela Viva, Alejandra worked in a small in-home care center, a center for migrant worker’s children, and as a sub for Providence Wee Care.
During her time at Saint Mary’s, Alejandra became involved with a program called Jumpstart, a program that provides preschoolers who come from low-income households the skills to succeed in kindergarden. She was able to expand on her Spanish speaking skills in a predominantly Latino community and loved the challenge of having to speak in a another language. When moving to Portland from the Bay Area, Alejandra had hoped she could find something as challenging and rewarding as teaching in a Spanish speaking school. To her excitment, she was able to find that in Escuela Viva, where she hopes to learn even more Spanish from her students and co-teachers.
In her free time, Alejandra loves exploring Portland by walking whenever she can, hiking around the Gorge where she grew up, crafting many items she’s used to furnish her apartment, and collecting vintage antiques from her Abuelita (great-grandmother) and grandmother. Alejandra hopes to furthur her education by going to back to school for a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education and is so excited to have the community at Escuela Viva help her grow!

Emily Blanche

FullSizeRender-2-2Emily was born and raised just four blocks up the street from Escuela Viva. Her mother ran a home childcare facility for the majority of Emily’s childhood, so she has always been exposed to younger children. She also has a younger brother, Henry (age 7), whom she is extremely close to.

After graduating from Cleveland High School she moved to Corvallis, Oregon, where she studied Biology at Oregon State University, was a full time nanny, and tutored children of all ages in many different subjects. Half way into her second year at OSU, Emily realized she had so much love and admiration for young children, and that she wanted to utilize that and foster that everyday. This is when she decided to pursue a degree in Early Childhood Education. She is very kind, understanding, and nurturing. She loves spending time with children because they can match her high energy levels. She enjoys being silly and loves to hear children laughing, whether it’s with her, or at her! She also loves learning new things and is very excited to improve her Spanish speaking skills here at Escuela Viva.

When Emily is not in the classroom she is spending of her time with her three sisters and her brother. She loves exercising and playing sports. She coaches all her younger brothers sports teams, and loves working with SE Portland Little League. She also loves baking, cooking, and doing lots of art projects. Emily is extremely thankful to have the opportunity to be a part of Escuela Viva Community!

Emily Erbin

Emily Bio PhotoBorn and raised in Portland, Oregon, Emily Erbin shares a love for outdoor activities, spending time with her family and friends and enjoying the food scene Portland has to offer. Emily traveled in Europe and spent a semester abroad in Costa Rica, all of which fostered a love and passion of the Spanish Language and the desire to learn new cultures. She just graduated from Linfield College with a major in psychology and minor in spanish. She will be pursuing Graduate school in the near future in either School Psychology or School Counseling. Emily has enjoyed her last two summers at Escuela Viva serving as a classroom substitute and is looking forward to be back in the beautiful community that Escuela Viva is.

Jerri Broadbeck

Jerri was born near Corvallis, Or. but grew up in Bend.  She graduated from Bend Senior High School and went on to graduate from Southern Oregon State University with a degree in elementary education. She earned  an Oregon Teaching Certificate and taught children with visual impairments and other disabilities in Eastern Oregon until the birth of her first son.  At that time her family included several foster children with special needs, so she became a stay at home mom.  After the birth of her second son, and after the foster children moved into adult services, she opened a daycare/preschool in her home.  Seven years later she returned to classroom teaching working with children with special needs for the next ten years at Serendipity Center in Portland.  Four and a half years ago she was hired by Escuela Viva and  co-taught  the elementary class with Amelia for one year.  The next year they co-taught a kinder pre-K mix.  The next fall she opened a business with her sons which ultimately failed.  She returned to Escuela Viva in the summer 2012 where she worked with the Pumas class and most recently is working as a substitute.  In addition to her sons she has two Grandsons, Malakai and Marsyas.’

Julie Luna

julielunaJulie is a native Oregonian who grew up in The Dalles. During her college years she received a minor in music, but her love for languages redirected her to study Ancient Greek and French and pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Applied Linguistics. After college she married and left for an English teaching job in Japan for a year before returning to Oregon to start a family. Julie has three grown children whom she homeschooled part time in a blended home and school program. She spent several years developing and teaching a Latin program for the school for grades 4-9. This jumpstarted her back into pursuing her passion for language acquisition and literacy for early learners. Currently she is studying Spanish and has a plan to pursue her Master’s degree in teaching. Outside of the classroom, Julie enjoys running up on Mt. Tabor with her dog, hiking, yoga, cooking, reading, studying Spanish, playing the piano and spending time with her family. She is thrilled to be a part of Escuela Viva where she can impart her love for children and her passion for education to the students and her teammates.

Carmen Figuera
Infant/Toddler TA

carmen bio photo 2Carmen 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.

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