Faculty

Director

Sandra Tolmasoff

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.

Assistant Director

Rochelle Armendariz

Hello Families! My name is Rochelle Armendariz, and I am the Assistant Director at Newport Center United Methodist Preschool. For the past 23 years, I have worked in the field of early child education. I am pleased to say that I have been a teacher at NCUMP since 2004, and a parent of three alumni students. The genuine warmth from the staff and involved parent community create a beautiful learning environment and I could not be happier to be a part of your child’s first preschool learning experiences.

My education in the field of Early childhood Education started at Orange Coast College where I earned my ECE teaching certificate. I completed my Montessori Certification in Infant/Toddler studies at the University of Irvine Extension Program and I hold a BA in Early Childhood Education from Brandman University. I maintain a California Site Supervisor Program Permit issued by the Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Most recently, I have completed a Certification for the Outdoor Classroom Project Specialist in Leadership Training. I am a strong advocate for supporting professional development and continued education in our field. I am excited to share my love of learning in all areas of child development with our staff and families.

I love our beautiful and spacious outdoor educational environment at NCUMP. The children have an array of opportunities to explore nature, create, and participate in learning experiences both indoors and outdoors with their peers and loving teachers.

Lead Teachers

Jennifer Hett

Transitional Kindergarten Teacher

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.

Shawnte Behn

Jump Start Teacher

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.

Dani Palomares

3’s Teacher

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!

Michelle Johnson

Outdoor Classroom Teacher

I am a tree hugging, bee loving, nature enthusiast; sharing my love of the outdoors and respect for all living creatures is my passion. I hold a BA in Psychology from Bethany University and I’m certified as an Outdoor Classroom Specialist through the Outdoor Classroom Project. I began my career at NCUMP in 1998 and I’m a proud mama of my only child who is a NCUMP alumni and is now a student at OCC.  After many years of teaching Pre-K and 3’s “inside” the classroom, I’m excited to combine my love of teaching pre-reading and math skills with my love of nature into our newly reimagined Outdoor Classroom.  I firmly believe that learning happens ALL the time, EVERYWHERE, and that the process of mastering the fundamentals of literacy, math, and science is greatly enhanced in a curriculum that is holistic and complete. Children need a connection to nature in order to be whole and learn best when they spend a significant amount of time participating in child-initiated activities that are teacher supported.

I enjoy singing, dancing, reading, storytelling, messy art, making mud pies, and laughing with children. There is nothing more sacred than the love and trust of a child, being a part of their growth and development is a tremendous joy and honor. 

Kari Hoffman

3’s Teacher

I have 20 years of experience in the field of early childhood education and joined the NCUMP family in 2021. I fell in love with working with children after being a summer camp aide after high school and immediately enrolled in child development courses at Irvine Valley College. I have experience teaching toddlers through kindergarten and believe this is my calling. I absolutely love getting to know the children and their unique personalities.

I appreciate all the NCUMP offers! The outdoor space is amazing, and I am excited to have an outdoor space to get messy and have fun. I love getting to know the families and connecting with the children. 

Jennifer Trujillo

Pre-Kindergarten Teacher

I have been in the Early Childhood field since 2008, I have an Early Childhood Education Permit and Coastline Regional Certificate on “Careers in Education”. I joined the NCUMP family during the fall of 2021.

What I enjoy most about NCUMP is that everyone is so welcoming and supportive. I enjoy the loving environment that the children get to experience, I have seen the dedication and passion that help enrich the children’s growth and I am proud to be a part of such wonderful school.

Viola Campos

Pre-Kindergarten Teacher

I am happy to say that I have just completed my Bachelor of Science degree in Child and Adolescent Development from Cal State Fullerton! I also hold an Associates degree in Arts and Human Expression. I have been working as a preschool teacher for about three years and have loved every moment.

What I enjoy most about NCUMP is that the children are able to thrive while they enjoy learning, socializing, and growing together. Being in such a beautiful environment among great teachers is just an added bonus!

Laura Duncan

3’s Teacher

I’m so thrilled to be returning to NCUMP after starting a family of my own. I started at NCUMP in 2007 spent five years on staff teaching before I decided to take a break and stay home with my first child. NCUMP has always held a very special place in my heart, I knew I would always return. I studied Early Childhood Education at Orange Coast College and I have well over 20 years of experience teaching. I love building the relationships with wonderful new families. Be apart of their children’s development and growth everyday brings me so much joy.

I enjoy NCUMP’s beautiful outdoor environment for the children to explore and learn. It’s a joy working with a staff that has a real passion for teaching.

Associate Teachers

Emily Colbaugh

Jump Start Teacher

I started teaching at NCUMP the summer of 2020 but have been on staff with the church youth group since 2018. I got my Certificate of Teaching in 2019.

My favorite thing about NCUMP is the community it provides for families and the creative experiences the children get to participate in.

I-Fen Wu

Pre-Kindergarten Teacher

I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Architectural Interior Design and an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Development Education. I also hold a Child Development Master Teacher Permit. I joined the NCUMP family in 2020.

I enjoy working with children through the discovery process and watching them develop their skills on a daily basis. The most important thing to me is to be able to share the love of Jesus with the children through my teaching. I am proud to be a part of this amazing preschool where I can utilize my experience in order to help children become successful learners.

Katherine Reyes

3’s Teacher

I have my associates in Human Social Services. I am currently working on my BA in Child Development. I grew up in the kids ministry at my local church, and that is where my love for teaching bloomed. I love kids and it fills my heart with joy to watch them grow.

What I like about NCUMP is the loving space created for both staff and children, with the beautiful gardens and orchard.

Catina Fitches

3’s Teacher

I am thrilled to join Newport Center United Methodist Preschool! I am a proud parent of alumni here at NCUMP who now attend Harbor View Elementary School (5th and 2nd Grade). I have furthered my early childhood education degree at Vanguard University. I look forward to embracing and helping every child here thrive, learn, and grow through play, curiosity, and the “whole child approach.”

NCUMP holds a very special place in my heart; the families, teachers, and community truly create a beautiful learning environment for the children in our program.

Emy Lim

Pre-Kindergarten Teacher

I am excited to begin the next chapter of my teaching career at NCUMP. I have been a teacher since 2008, starting with volunteering at church. I knew at that moment teaching was my passion. I earned an Associate Teacher Certificate and I continue to take more classes at Saddleback College in the field of Early Childhood Education.

I enjoy working at NCUMP. We are like family; we work well together and we all have the best interest of our students.

Connie Schafhauser

Transitional Kindergarten Teacher

I have been teaching early childhood education for over 17 years. I received my BA in Sociology from UCI, a certificate in Child Development and Family Life from Fullerton College, and hold a CA Teachers Permit. Throughout my career I have taught ages 2 ½ to 5 ½, with most of my experience teaching Pre-K. I am passionate about science and literacy, and a firm believer that learning should be meaningful, hands-on and embrace the “whole child”.

I fell blessed to work at NCUMP and to be a part of a school that offers an environment that is clearly child-centered and that encourages the creativity and curiosity of each child. I look forward to getting to know the children, families, and staff!

Support Staff

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.

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!

Bonnie Gulley

Gardening Volunteer

I am an alumni and recent parent alumni of NCUMP. I also attend Newport Center United Methodist Church with my husband and three wonderful children. Being an avid gardener and lover of all things outdoors, I enjoy sharing my love of nature with my children and the children of NCUMP.  By volunteering in the garden, I not only get to see God’s world again through the eyes of your children, but I see my service as an extension of my church. 

 

I started volunteering in the garden along side Ms. Conger last year.  Together the children and I learned all about lady bugs and aphids, butterflies and pollination, worms and soil, and the important roles of all God’s creations (including us) play!  I am so pleased to have been invited back to volunteer again this year.  I look forward to sharing these experiences with the children again. 

Hanna Hughes

Floater Teacher