The teachers at Mustard Seed are the backbone of our school. Teachers collaborate with each other and with parents with the goal to bring out the very best in each child.
Candace Martinez (Director of Preschool)
Candace has been working in preschools for 19 years. She holds a BA in Child Development and an MA in Early Childhood Education with an emphasis on Childhood Trauma. She loves to partner with teachers and families as they navigate through the preschool years. Her side passion is bringing yoga + mindfulness to children to support their social-emotional development and learning. When not at work, she is either reading historical fiction or on a hike with her husband, 3 children, and 2 dogs.
Laurie Fiddes (Accounting)
Laurie has been the bookkeeper for Mustard Seed Preschool and the church for 12 years. She holds a BA in Nutrition but discovered she liked working with numbers when she got a job as an underwriter for St. Paul Insurance. Laurie's sunny smile and cheerfulness brings joy to the children, parents, and staff. She also enjoys reading, gardening, and spending time with family and friends. Laurie has three grown sons whom all graduated from Mustard Seed over 20 years ago.
Linda Noeum (Administrative Assistant & Site Supervisor)
Linda has been at Mustard Seed for 10 years. There is not a single thing Linda can't help you with as she knows all the ins and outs of Mustard Seed. She has taught in the Kanga, Pooh Bear, and Roo classes. Currently, Linda is the afternoon program supervisor and office admin assistant. When she is not surrounded by children, she loves reading, drinking boba, and traveling.
THE ROO CLASSROOM
This is Zoey's third year at Mustard Seed. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Conflict Transformation and wow does that come in handy with preschoolers. Zoey has an infectious energy that brings a lot of joy to the children. Zoey has traveled around the world helping children where the common language has been PLAY. Preschool life is like home to her. In her free time, she likes to play competitive sports of all kinds and hang out with her husband.
This is Eliana's third year at Mustard Seed. Her education background is in geography. When she had her daughter in 2016, she became interested in child development and went back to school. Eliana is a favorite among the children with her goofiness and child-like wonder. Eliana's favorite thing about the world of preschool is seeing each child shine in their own unique way. For fun, Eliana enjoys spending time with family, exploring the outdoors, and watching movies.
Janine has been working with kids for about 12 years and 5 of those have been with Mustard Seed Preschool. She has a degree in Graphic Communications and Animation. She says that one of the best things about the world of preschool is seeing kids' creativity and imagination at work. When she is not drawing or painting, she spends her time eating at taco restaurants, buying books she probably won’t read, and going out for a run resisting the urge to pet every dog and cat she sees along the way.
THE PIGLET CLASSROOM
Sharon has been teaching at Mustard Seed Preschool for TWENTY-SIX YEARS, and most recently in the Piglet Class. She has certifications in child development and early childhood education. She majored in art in college, and she is a phenomenal artist. She draws and paints in her free time. Therefore, she really enjoys doing art projects with the children! Her grown sons are both alumni of Mustard Seed.
THE POOH BEAR CLASSROOM
This is Emily's 5th year at Mustard Seed. She went to school for Business Administration and currently in school pursuing my degree in Child Development. She has been working with children for over 12 years. Emily is one of the hardest working people on the planet. She exudes kindness and playfulness with each preschooler she's with. She teaches the cooking enrichment class and its waitlist is always overflowing! In her free time, she enjoys cooking, being with family, and going out to sporting events.
This school year is Nai's 9th year at Mustard Seed. She worked in elementary schools for 7 years before landing here. Nai loves to see children blossom--she says it keeps her young and gives her endless energy. Nai loves learning new things and always seems to be enrolled in an exciting community college course! Nai has 4 children and one grandchild. She loves coffee, hiking and jogging.
Francis is one of our newest teachers--in her second year at Mustard Seed. She has her Associate's degree in Early Childhood Education and finishing up her Bachelors in Sociology from Cal State East Bay. Francis is an incredibly fast learner, eager to learn from her co-teachers, and loves to see children's faces light up when they learn new things. She feels honored to be a part of children's pivotal years of growth and development. In her free time, she loves to read, going on hikes, exercise, and try new yummy foods.
THE TIGGER CLASSROOM
Erwin has been working in preschool classes of Mustard Seed since 2004. He has also been working with children through play & movement, Christian ministry, and piano/music lessons since graduating from UC Berkeley in 1997. Erwin is also a credentialed elementary teacher which brings a rich learning experience to the classroom. Erwin brings his gifts of music, science experiments, and organization into Mustard Seed. When he is not in the classroom, he often tries to visit the Berkeley Lawn Bowling Club to unwind in a game of bowls with friends.
This is Flor's 4th year at Mustard Seed. She has worked as a sub in many schools around Berkeley and we are so lucky she chose us. Flor has her bachelor's degree in Child Development. At home, Flor has 4 children ranging from middle school to preschool! She enjoys taking walks with her family, going shopping, and exercising.
THE KANGA CLASSROOM
Minna started at Mustard Seed as a substitute teacher 5 years ago. She grew up in Tampere / Finland and received her degrees as a Social Educator and Kindergarden Practical Nurse from the Tampere Institute of Social Work. She has been a preschool teacher both in Finland and here in the Bay Area. She had an afterschool program in her home for several years in Berkeley while her daughters were growing up. Minna is well-loved by all of her coworkers, the families, and especially by the children. Her other interests are gardening, the outdoors, baking, reading, and she is a huge hockey fan.
Natalia started at Mustard Seed as a one-on-one Behavior Therapist for children who have special needs. She has her BA in Human Development with an emphasis on Child Development. She has worked with children in lots of settings- after school programs, summer camps, and even art & craft classes through Michaels. For fun, Natalia likes to cook, bake, read, be crafty, walk trails, and exercise.
Monica has been with Mustard Seed since 2000! She started as a teacher in the Piglet and Pooh Bear classes bringing a lot of joy and laughter for over 17 years! In 2017, Monica pursued her life-long passion for nutrition, health, and cooking. She received her Holistic & Natural Chef degree from Bauman College. Thus Mustard Seed's food program was born! While Monica misses being in the classroom, she is excited to contribute to the children's growth by providing tasty and healthy "fuel" daliy. Monica has two grown children, ages 25 & 20. They are both Mustard Seed alumni! For fun, she creates food experiments, tries out cooking techniques, hikes, reads, and exercises (especially Zumba, yoa, and HIIT classes!).
This is Julie's 2nd year at Mustard Seed. She is a major support of the teachers at Mustard Seed. She supports Chef Monica as well as floats from class to class to sub and give breaks to each teacher. Julie is studying Human Development with an emphasis in adolescents. For fun, she does art and reads so in the classroom she also loves to do art and read with the preschoolers.