WE NOURISH OUR STAFF
A key part of Mandala’s mission statement is to “nourish the staff.” This is drawn from one of our founding principles, written 40 years ago, when we established the school: to create an environment where teachers, staff, and childcare providers can learn and thrive through support of their personal, as well as professional, growth.
When we started Mandala, we wanted to create a workplace that supported women’s need to both have a career and a family and be successful at both! We think we’ve done that.
We refer to ourselves as the “Mandala Family.” Mandala is a satisfying place to work because we are all professionals who care about children and we share similar values about educating young children. We are committed to supporting each other in doing our best. Many members of our staff have been here 15 years or more. Some have been here even longer.
Our Preschool Directors support and guide the teachers in the classroom. The teachers at Mandala are very special people who are particularly gifted at working with young children. They model kindness and peacefulness in the classroom, and we feel very grateful to have them. They work collaboratively as teams in the Preschool and Early Preschool.
Preschool Director of Teachers
Supervision & Guidance of Teachers and Preschool Practices
(408) 251-8633 x13
Penny teaches in the Preschool and does Preschool classroom administration. As a highly experienced teacher with over 35 years of experience, Penny is well-suited to guide the teachers and oversee teaching practices in the classroom. She stepped into the role of Preschool Director when Marilyn retired in September 2010. It was a natural progression, since Marilyn had been mentoring Penny for years in the Mandala classroom. Penny oversees preschool curriculum, and supervises the teachers, and she also teaches in the Preschool in the mornings. Penny has taught at Mandala since 1980. She came to Mandala first as a parent, returned to school for her AA degree in Early Childhood from SJCC, and then pursued Montessori certification through CSU Hayward. She went on to receive her BA Magna Cum Laude from SJSU. Penny is also a certified CPR and Pediatric First Aide Instructor. She is a Mentor Facilitator with the California Mentor-Teacher Program. Penny is a gifted Montessori teacher who has an intuitive sense of how to invite children into learning. She shows a unique respect for nurturing the “whole child” and credits Marilyn with being her model and mentor. Penny is widely known and respected in the Early Childhood field, and she keeps us linked to the wider community. Penny’s two boys went to Mandala. She now has 5 grandchildren.
Preschool Director of Classrooms
Classroom and Curriculum Management
Aparna teaches in the Preschool and does Preschool classroom administration. Aparna is also a highly experienced teacher who grew to be Lead Teacher in the Preschool, which then evolved into her Preschool Director role. Aparna first came to us as a parent volunteer in 2001 and then became a preschool teacher. We knew she was a perfect Mandala “fit” immediately. After moving out of the area, Aparna returned again in the fall of 2009 to rejoin the Mandala family. Aparna has a quiet confidence with children and a warm, accepting style. Her special gift is teaching Montessori. She is committed to helping each child learn, no matter the challenge. As a Mentor Teacher, Aparna also supervises mentees from local community colleges doing their practicum at our school. She has a Bachelors of Science Degree from Mount Carmel College in Bangalore, India, completed her ECE classes at SJCC, and obtained her Montessori Certificate. Aparna speaks Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil, and Kannada, as well as English. Aparna has two beautiful girls, one in middle school and one off to college at UCLA.
Neetu teaches in both our Preschool classrooms. She first came to Mandala as a parent, but in 2003 she started as an assistant teacher in the Early Preschool. She later left on maternity leave, returned to us as a substitute teacher in 2007, and then became a permanent teacher in the Early Preschool in September 2009. Neetu did college work in computer application for business and web design, but after working at Mandala she decided that her real love was teaching young children. She returned to school to complete her AA degree in Early Childhood Education from SJCC and received her Montessori Certificate in 2012. Neetu says that she has always loved Mandala. We appreciate that she brings even more cultural enrichment to our staff, speaking Hindi, Punjabi, and “a little Telugu.” Neetu adds a calm and caring presence to our classroom and the children love working with her. She has a daughter in high school and a son in elementary school.
Janine works in both our Preschool classrooms. She joined our staff in the fall of 2015. Although she is the newest member of our staff, Janine has been part of the Mandala family for years. It feels like she has been with us forever. Janine was first introduced to Mandala in 2001 as a parent. Both her children are alumni of Mandala. Her daughter attends UC Davis, and her son attends Gonzaga University. Janine graduated from San Jose State University with a BA in Child Development and a minor in Deaf Education. She worked for over 15 years in management and then stayed home to raise her children. More recently, she was a substitute Teacher’s Aide for seven years at a local private school. Janine loves being an integral part of Mandala again—and the teaching team loves having her even more! We appreciate her engaging and playful spirit and her natural gift with young children. Janine says she feels Mandala is “such a special place, not only for the children but for the parents as well. It truly is a loving and enriching environment.”
Early Preschool and Preschool Teacher
Sharada teaches in the Preschool and Early Preschool. She first came to us as a student teacher from Mission College, and we knew she was a match for Mandala. After observing Sharada’s remarkable presence and attunement to young children, we encouraged her to join our staff as a teacher in the fall of 2011. She has expert skills in working with early preschoolers as well as older preschoolers. Sharada brings a vibrant creativity and a gentle strength to our classrooms. She models our values of nurturing children’s spirits, following their lead, building bridges with families, and celebrating diversity. Sharada was born and raised in a large family in Bangalore, India, and she grew up with the life-long dream of working with children. She earned an AS Degree in Early Childhood Education at Mission College. She also has a Bachelor of Arts in Degree in Economics, English, and Sociology from Bangalore University, India. Sharada has a high school-aged son, Mihir, who is a great joy in her life. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, cooking, baking, and most of all, spending time with her son. Sharada also speaks Hindi, Kannada, Telugu and English.
Early Preschool and Preschool Teacher
Tabatha teaches in both the Early Preschool and the afternoon Preschool. She started at Mandala as a student teacher from SJ City College. We were all impressed with her kind, empathetic approach and her natural ability with children. We knew we wanted to make a place for her at Mandala. By the fall of 2010 she was able to join our staff permanently. Tabatha is a delight to observe. She comes with a maturity beyond her years. Tabatha has mastered balancing playfulness with giving children the structure they need. She has a special way of engaging in floor play with the younger children and entering into creative play with the older ones. They love her energy and her exuberance. Tabatha continually takes on more responsibility and more classes. She completed her AS in Early Childhood Education at SJSC, obtained her Montessori Certificate, and received her Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development in 2015. A particular area of interest for her is mental health with young children and children with special needs.
Marta Sánchez Pol
Marta teaches in the morning preschool. She is the newest addition to our Mandala family, and we are delighted to have her. She comes to as a newly educated Montessori teacher with a captivating enthusiasm and passion for working with children. Marta was born and raised in Barcelona, Spain and has already lived a colorful life exploring the world and living in many places. Marta graduated from the University of Barcelona with a BA in Linguistics and German and has a MA in Linguistics and Communication, in addition to post-graduate work in East Asian Studies and International Business. After recently moving to the United States from Barcelona with her husband, Marta decided to change careers and return to her original love of education. She has always loved working with children and teaching Spanish. Marta completed her first year of Montessori Training and is now at Mandala for her practicum year. We appreciate her broad experience with cultures, travel, people, and languages. Marta speaks Spanish, Catalan, German, French, and Mandarin. She is also the proud mother of an 18 month old son.
Early Preschool Teacher
Serena teaches in the Early Preschool. She came to Mandala in the spring of 2016 to add support to the Early Preschool. We consider Serena a “local,” since she grew up in the east foothills and her family has lived here for years. She comes with several years of experience working with infants and toddlers in another program, and we value her quiet confidence with very young children. Her personality adds to the gentle and nurturing atmosphere we try to cultivate in our youngest classes. Serena graduated from CSU Humbolt with a Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development in 2014. She is a new parent with a toddler son, so she understands both the parent’s and the child’s experience now. We are so happy to have her join our teaching team.
Denise was the Head Teacher in the Early Preschool for many years, but she retired in June of 2015. Fortunately, she is willing to come back to Mandala when we need a substitute if she is not traveling. She began as a teacher at Mandala in March 1999. She received her Early Childhood Education training from San Jose City College and then went on to further her college education there. Denise completed her Montessori training from North American Progressive Montessori Teacher Training Centre. Denise has a particular gift for working young children. Her calm, accepting manner is very soothing to young children, and her confidence is comforting to parents. Denise is very skilled at assessing children’s development. We are fortunate to have her wisdom and expertise, which has come from her years and years of experience working with young children. Denise has 2 grown children and 3 grandchildren, and she loves going to Hawaii.