About Us

Our Campus


We have seven classrooms on our campus. Each classroom has a covered patio area attached for messy, hands-on fun. Our teachers do an excellent job of creating a warm, welcoming classroom environment by lining the walls with children’s art and birthday and family pictures, as well as creating cubbies for each child’s belongings. Classroom learning is enhanced with various tabletop and floor activities and areas devoted to block building, dramatic play, art and writing centers, science centers, and much more.

Outdoor Play Areas

We have four outdoor play areas the children can enjoy during outside time. We are blessed to have such a large, functional play yard; a quality unique to Newport Center United Methodist Preschool. The four outdoor areas include the covered art patio, the little yard, the big yard, and our orchard. We have two outside teachers that set up the yards in a way that supports and extends the classroom curriculum. We do a lot of science, art, and small and large motor activities outside, as well as enjoy group sport activities on our grass area in the big yard. We have a river area for water fun, swings, dramatic play areas, climbers for both the cautious and the more adventurous, tunnels for quiet time, and huge digging areas. We offer hands-on planting and gardening fun, manipulatives, and art experiences in a wide variety of mediums.


Sandra Tomalsoff

Welcome to the Newport Center United Methodist Preschool! My name is Sandra Tolmasoff, and I’m the new director at the NCUMP. For the past 15 years, my professional background has been in the field of early childhood education where I worked both as an educator and director. I hold my Bachelors in Human Services and my Associates degree in Child Development as well as a California Program Director Permit issued by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

As a recent arrival here at NCUMP, I’m struck by several things. The dedication of the teachers shines through immediately and I’m impressed by the collective longevity of the staff. The outdoor learning space is absolutely amazing. We have the best yard in all of Orange County! And of course, the Christian values here are apparent. It’s a joy to work in an environment that incorporates God’s love into every aspect of the classroom and daily life.

Lead Teachers

Louise Rense

I received my Master of Arts in Child Development and Family Relations. I’ve been teaching at NCUMP since 1997.

I love to teach and love to learn. In addition to the academic curriculum, we all teach the children how to get along with others, solve problems, join groups at play, feel confident, and work together in groups, as well as other life skills. Most of all, I’m thrilled that all of our staff is warm and friendly to each other, the parents, and especially the children. We love them and feel so fortunate to be their teachers.

Rochelle Armendariz

I hold a B.A. in Early Childhood as well as a California Site Supervisor Permit. I’ve been a staff member at NCUMP since 2008.

I love our beautiful and spacious outdoor educational environment at NCUMP. The children have space to explore, create, and participate in learning experiences with their peers and loving teachers.


Jennifer Hett

I have both a Bachelor’s degree in Child Development and an Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education. I also hold a Children’s Center Instructional Permit. I joined the NCUMP family in 2007.

There are so many reasons to love this school, but topping my list would be the ability to create an environment in which the “whole child” will thrive.

Maggie Brewer

I earned my B.S. in Elementary Education with an Early Childhood Emphasis and have been a proud member of Newport Center United Methodist Preschool staff since 2000.

NCUMP has always represented a safe and special place to me. I grew up attending church at NCUMC and taught Sunday School in the preschool classrooms as a teenager. Now, after all these years of teaching here, I still feel the magic of our environment. The joy, love, and total commitment to excellence make me proud to be a part of the most amazing staff ever!

Michelle Johnson

I received my B.A. in Psychology. I’ve been happily teaching at Newport Center since 1998.

My greatest joy, professionally speaking, is being witness to the tremendous strides of growth and development that occur in the early years of childhood. Preschoolers are my favorite people on the planet, and it is my privilege to spend the greater part of each day with them.

Carla Lippnik

I hold an AA in Early Childhood Education as well as a Child Development Teacher Permit from the State of California. I’ve been part of the NCUMP family since 2004.

We have a great sense of community here. Our families are awesome and we have students whose parents are alumni. I love the way we support, nurture, and prepare our students for their next school experience.

Associate Teachers

Shawnte Behn

I received my Associates degree in Liberal Arts while studying Early Childhood Education. I’ve been a proud staff member at Newport Center since 2007.

The loving staff, families, and community make NCUMP a very special place. The play-based curriculum allows children to learn and grow through cooking experiences, gardening, outdoor exploration, and creating art.

June Moore

I hold an AA Degree as well as an Early Childhood Education Certificate. I’ve been teaching at NCUMP since 2007.

I love working at NCUMP because we are a school where we teach academics in a developmental way. I love that our school has a large outdoor playground, children’s garden, and wonderful after school enrichment classes where the children can explore, create, wonder, and learn.

Nancy Moore

I hold an Associate degree in Early Childhood Education and a Certificate of Achievement in Child Development. I’ve been a part of the NCUMP family since 2015.

I enjoy working with creative and supportive coworkers. The philosophy of the school matches what I believe is the best way for children to learn. Finally, the relationships that are formed with the children and their families are precious to me.

Dani Palomares

I started substitute teaching at NCUMP and fell in love.  I’ve been teaching at NCUMP since 2016.

I love working at NUCMP because of the wide open outside space, the talented staff, and the wonderful families!

Support Staff

Deb Conger – Gardening Teacher

I earned my BS in Dental Hygiene before returning to school to study Early Childhood Education. I’ve been a member of the NCUMP staff since 1999.

I brought all three of my children to school at NCUMP. When my third child was leaving I told the director I’d be back as a teacher!

Carol Hoppe – Music Teacher

I have been teaching music at NCUMP since 1987. I have a B.A. in Sociology with a minor in Music and a California Teaching Credential.

I have loved every minute of teaching at NCUMP.  It is amazing to see how creative children are during music and how much they love singing.

Lynn Steinberg – Outdoor Classroom Teacher

I hold an AA Degree in Early Childhood Education and have been part of the Newport Center United Methodist Family since 2007.

It is a privilege to implement NCUMP curriculum with endless and stimulating activities in our outdoor classroom. It’s always a pleasure to prepare our students to enter primary school with a love of learning.


“United Methodist Preschool has been the best choice we have made for our children. Our two boys are very different with different needs.

Our older son struggled with speech and language, which affected not only academic learning but social interactions as well. The teachers and staff at UM know every child by name and personality, they helped my son love school at a time when it would have been easy not to. Luckily, he was able to go to Junior Kindergarten at UM and was more than prepared for Kindergarten socially, emotionally and academically.

While our younger one, is easy going and comfortable pretty much everywhere (and eager to chat with friends). They helped him in the most loving way to become a good “student”, so he would be ready for kindergarten.

United Methodist Preschool cares for ALL the children so deeply. Every day when you enter the school, someone is there to greet your family. The playground is set up different each day to encourage exploring and new play ideas. All the activities planned have a purpose, the children are constantly learning even when they don’t know it.

As parents, it feels so good to know that we got the absolute best for our children. They both love school thanks to UM! This school will forever hold the most special place in our hearts!”

— The Few Family – Vista Verde Elementary

“Your diligence and care for providing an above reproach environment for developing little minds is extraordinary. Jillian and I are completely blessed that our trust to help instruct and care for Gracie has been reaffirmed as our expectations have been consistently exceeded. NCUMP has been exceptional in helping shape her into a brave, confident and well-adjusted child.

We appreciated every day we were afforded the opportunity to walk our daughter into a school with such a special atmosphere. We were always greeted with a friendly hello. As we walked past the art areas, playgrounds and gardens the focus on enrichment, excitement and safety was always immediately evident. Then would come the moment where we would drop off Gracie to teachers that can only be described as Godsends for our family. We will forever be grateful for and reflect upon the care, kindness and instruction her teachers bestowed on our little girl. At the end of every school day we would listen to Gracie’s stories that exemplified her mind was being expanded in wonderful and miraculous ways.

Jillian and I truly thank you for the care and attention that made incredible experiences occur every day Gracie attended NCUMP over the past 2 years. We also thank you with indescribable gratitude for your compassion in helping make it all possible. Thank you!”

— Stephen and Jillian Herman

“These years of early childhood development are very important and we are so thankful for the TEACHERS and curriculum at NCUMP. We could not be more certain we made the right choice.

We have two children with very different personalities, the outgoing wildflower and the textbook wallflower. Having attended NCUMP since “mommy and me,” we know it has been the best possible place nurturing their very unique opposite personalities. The staff and warm environment has helped my son come out of his shell feeling comfortable and confident, ready for Kindergarten. He graduated the 4’s program with a smile and curiosity, leaving behind the apprehension. While my little spark plug enjoyed the 3’s program and has found her beat socially and creatively.

The parents at the school really make it amazing, the support and love is overflowing. The front office staff has years of experience and helped us pick the program best for our family, whether it was ½ day, full day or 5 days a week.

After the confusion of finding a preschool, we were so happy to have chosen NCUMP. We feel like we gave our kids the best possible start in their educational career.”

— Heuser Family – Our Lady Queen of Angels

“As a first time Mom, I spent months researching several preschools when it was time to enroll our son William. I had heard about NCUMP’s wonderful reputation and decided to do the Parent/Toddler program to learn more. After joining William in the classroom and seeing the amazing program they offered, I knew NCUMP was the right choice for us. The second you enter the gates at NCUMP you get that magical feeling of what a preschool should feel like. The staff is phenomenal and has truly helped to foster a love of learning in William. I can rest assured that every day William comes to school he will be presented with endless opportunities to grow and learn.

Our three years at NCUMP has no doubt given William a solid foundation and better prepared him for moving on to The Pegasus School in the fall. We will always look back on our time at NCUMP with very fond memories.”

— Marianne Canori – Pegasus School

“My three children have attended NCUMP and we have been so happy with the combination of a loving, supportive atmosphere with a place of learning. When our older two entered Kindergarten at Andersen, we were pleased to see they were way ahead of their peers because of what they had learned in their Pre-K class at United Methodist. They focus on the whole child and teach important concepts through creative play as well as their Houghton-Mifflin curriculum.”

— Alice & John Wrate – Andersen Elementary

“The teachers at NCUMP have provided our children with nurturing care and instilled in them a love of learning that will last a lifetime. Their tender guidance and thoughtful stewardship have helped to develop our children both socially and academically and fully prepared them for kindergarten. We have found all of the staff and teachers to be open, communicative and receptive to our thoughts and concerns. Our second-grader still runs to give his Pre-K teacher a hug every time he is there. We will miss NCUMP after five great years and we look forward to coming back to visit!”

— Karnick Family – Andersen Elementary

“United Methodist Preschool has been a huge part of our children’s lives! The nurturing, caring and FUN teachers have created a love of learning in our girls that we believe will be with them forever. The fundamentals taught at UM have prepared our children to be successful in an academically-challenging elementary school environment. We cannot emphasize enough the amount of respect, gratitude and love that our family has for United Methodist Preschool!”

— Kim & Jason Krotts – Harbor Day School

“Junior Kindergarten at United Methodist is the most amazing year a child could ever dream of! The children enjoy their days with numerous hands-on activities, the love of the awesome teachers, and the fabulous playground that only United Methodist has to offer. Both academically and socially, the children are so prepared to enter the elementary years with a passion for learning that the teachers instill in them. They learn to LOVE to learn!!”

— Amy Cohen – Harbor Day/Mariner’s School

“Our son, (even though very sociable in nature) was not very happy at the first preschool he started. After moving late in the year to NCUMP, I was a little nervous whether he would adjust to the new school and class. My son is now getting ready to complete his second school year at NCUMP and I can’t say enough good things about the school – our experience here has been absolutely wonderful. The teachers welcomed him and made sure he felt included and loved. Every day at school has been a happy day for him. Academics and learning are also emphasized and encouraged through fun activities. We were thrilled when our son was accepted through a very competitive admission process of a well-known and very academic school, and are confident his tenure at NCUMP directly contributed to his success through the admission test. We are very thankful for everything NCUMP has done for our son!”

— Honary Family – The Pegasus School

“My child has grown from a reserved and unsure preschooler in the 3’s program to a confident child who loves school and is academically ready and excited for Kindergarten. The school achieves this by having fantastic teachers who absolutely adore their students and nurture their total development as unique individuals. And yet, it is so much deeper than that! The school treats every child with deep respect and genuine warmth. The teachers are very receptive not only to my child’s needs, but my needs as a mother. The learning environment is diverse, rich and so very fun. All the while the children are learning in every way: socially, physically, creatively, and academically. The school evokes a feeling of warmth and kindness. The results are children who are secure, respectful of structure and individuals, and are poised to be fantastic learners in Kindergarten. Our child, and I believe every child, graduates from United Methodist with a feeling of security and confidence and a love of school and learning. I believe that a love of learning is the foundation for success in Kindergarten, school and life.”

— The Sakraney Family – Harbor Day School

“I wanted to let you and the entire staff at Griffin’s preschool program know how impressed I have been with the quality of instruction and the caring attitude you all have towards children. It has been exciting for me to watch Griffin grow and prepare himself for kindergarten. With all of the work and effort put in by this amazing staff he will go on to be very successful. I wish all children had the benefit of a quality preschool program with the high standards and expectation that you have here. All of the parents in this community are extremely fortunate to have their children get off to such a great start.

Again, thank you for all that you do for the children at United Methodist Preschool.”

— William M. Habermehl – Orange County Superintendent of Schools

Christian Education

We believe that offering a quality, total program to young children and supporting growth in positive self-esteem is the essence of our Christian education program.

We are a ministry of Newport Center United Methodist Church (www.newportcenterumc.org) education department. As a Christian school, an integral part of our day is communicating to each child what it is to love and be loved. We believe this is the primary way in which children learn about the Christian way of life.

We also support the celebrations of other world religions represented in the preschool population. We ask parents to share and to help us in supporting their child in his/her particular religion. We believe in diversity and support all people as members of the family of God.