Our Team

We are proud of the team here at Le Petit Jardin. Their wide range of skills, backgrounds and interests are the backbone of all our stellar programs.  The majority of them are native French speakers, and all of them love educating children.

 

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Founder/Directrice/Maîtresse Amber

Amber is founder, director, and lead teacher at Le Petit Jardin. Outside of being a mother of three young boys, her experiences include many years as an au-pair, chaperone and board member of F.A.C.E. (French American Cultural Exchange program), and primary grades teacher’s assistant. She holds a bachelor’s degree in French and Francophone Studies from San Diego State University and Early Childhood Education Administrative Certificate from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in Mill Vallley, CA. She is credentialed by The State of California in Early Childhood Ed. She spend time each year in France with her native French husband and three sons.

Amber is CPR and First Aid Certified by the American Red Cross


Maîtresse Anne  - Piaf, San Anselmo Campus

Anne comes to us from Saint Malo, France. A part of Le Petit Jardin since 2008, she was the first Mommy & Me teacher.  Anne has worked at the Lycée Français La Pérouse and now holds a certificate in Early Childhood Education from College of Marin! She was the first Interactive French Story Teller for San Anselmo and Tiburon Libraries. Her unique gift for story telling in a way that effectively engages young children, sense of humor and often “silly” disposition make her an ideal lead teacher for our littlest learners, “Les Piafs”! 

Anne is CPR and First Aid Certified by the American Red Cross

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Maîtresse Isabelle - Hiboux/Colombes & After School French Tutor, San Anselmo Campus

Isabelle comes to us from Paris, and grew up in La Chartre sur-le-Loir.  She has two daughters and lives in the East Bay. She holds a French Certificate of Auxiliary Nurse, and trained in Pediatric (IUC), Preschools, and Maternity where she worked full time in Paris in Maternity, in the delivery room and maternity ward, helping with babies’ first signs of life, and taking care of babies and new moms. Isabelle also worked full time in a “Creche”, (Infant-Toddler preschool program in France) with children from 1 month to 4 years old.

She holds a certificate in Early Childhood Education from College of Marin. As a self-taught artist Isabelle also runs her own art business and recently received her certification as a NIA Dance Instructor! Her love for art, movement, leading children through their own creative art processes makes her the ideal teacher for our Hiboux/Colombes (3 & 4 years old)

Isabelle is CPR and First Aid certified by the American Red Cross.


Maîtresse Elaine -  Ballet and Piaf Class,  San Anselmo Campus 

Elaine has performed with professional ballet companies all over the globe. While performing with the Dutch National Ballet and living in Europe, she met her French husband! She also went on to get her fashion design degree in Paris and now resides in San Anselmo, CA with her husband and two young sons. When she isn't teaching LPJ students and other youngsters to dance, she designs clothing for major brands and she also continues to perform with local dance and theatre companies.

As ballet is rooted and traditionally instructed in French, our young dancers delight in music and movement while becoming familiar with the corresponding French vocabulary that comes with this classical art form. Students also learn nursery rhymes and traditional French children's songs along with their dance steps!

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Maîtresse Ivatchka - Hiboux/Colombes, San Anselmo Campus

Ivatchka is a native French speaker who comes from a multicultural family. Her father is from Burkina Faso (West Africa), and her mother was from the south of France. In 2001 after finishing her undergraduate studies, Ivatchka moved from the South of France to New York City to study at the New School University. There, she obtained a Master in Political Sciences and also met her future husband. She later also obtained a J.D. and for years, she worked as a family law attorney in New York City. In 2014, she and her husband moved to the Bay Area with their then newborn son. After spending the first few years raising him she decided to join the team of dedicated teachers at LPJ on a part time basis so she could still spend most of her time raising her son. She obtained her Early Childhood Ed credits from the College of Marin and has worked at LPJ since.  When she is not working at LPJ Ivatchka likes to spend her time outdoors biking, hiking or going to the beach and generally spending time with her husband and son. They live in San Anselmo. Most of Ivatchka's family lives in Paris and Nice where they try to meet every other year for family reunions. 

CPR and First Aid certified.


Maîtresse Laure-Marin - Hiboux/Colombes, San Anselmo Campus

Laure-Marine comes to us from Paris and grew up in Brittany. In Paris, she worked as a manager of consultants, specializing in French tax optimizations. After eight years in this field, Laure-Marine and her family decided to move to the Bay Area as a family project. She is now currently working towards her ECE Certification. Laure-Marine has three young children of her own and is naturally gifted working with young children. We are grateful that their family’s adventure has led her to LPJ! 

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Maîtresse Tara - Piaf/Hiboux/Colombes, San Anselmo Campus

Tara was born in Quebec, Canada where she was raised on a farm until the age of 9 when her family moved to Montreal.  Tara graduated with honors from the Rhode Island School of Design where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Jewelry Design. Tara practiced as a jewelry designer in Montreal, taught courses in art and crafts to children and worked as a location manager in the film industry before she moved to California 10 years ago.  “Working at LPJ is such an amazing experience, one that brings out my playful and curious spirit,” Tara says. “I get to share my love of nature and art with young children.” She is currently working towards her ECE Certification at the College of Marin. She is also the mother of a spirited six-year-old.


Maîtresse Faye - Piaf/Hiboux/Colombes, San Anselmo Campus

Faye comes to Le Petit Jardin from Dordogne, France where she was raised by a French American mother and British father. Multiculturalism and bilingualism have always been a part of her life. As a student she studied English and French literature. After graduating from high school, she became an Au Pair in Peru and then moved to California. We now have the privilege of having this young lady on our team. Her enthusiasm for cooking and dance make her a natural fit for teaching LPJ’s curriculum. Faye says, “Working and speaking in French with children makes me feel right at home.” 

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Maîtresse Tarn - Piaf, San Anselmo Campus

Tarn was born and raised in Rayond, Thailand. She is a dedicated educator with a BA in International Business from Bangkok University, and an AA in Early Childhood Education from Merrit College. Tarn worked as a teacher for four years before taking some time off to have her two daughters. As a mother and a teacher she enjoys the opportunity to give young children a space to take risks in their language acquisition, reveal the greater world through exposure to different cultures and support independence and self-efficacy.  Our youngest leaners Les Piafs are in good hands with this enthusiastic and skilled teacher.


Maîtresse Allison - Sonoma Campus

Allison is a Bay Area transplant from sunny San Diego! She is a proud mama of a son and a daughter, a music lover and talented artist creating acrylic paintings in her free time. She has been assisting in preschool classrooms for many years and has been a lead teacher since obtaining her Early Childhood Administrative Certification from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in 2014!

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Co Directrice Christi 

“I was born in Memphis, TN and raised in Arlington, TX so am a Southern girl at heart!”, would be a direct quote from our administrative extraordinaire . Christi received a Bachelor of Science degree in Child Development and Family Studies from the University of North Texas. She went on to become the Assistant Director position at the Golden Gate Academy in Mill Valley. Through her time there she was able to pursue a Masters degree in Education Leadership with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education and in 2006 was promoted to Director of the school until 2014. Christi was also an Adjunct Professor at GGBTS and taught many of the Early Childhood Education graduate-level courses for the ECE program there while simultaneously running the lab-preschool. Her expertise, calm and sweet demeanor make her an excellent point of contact for parents and teachers alike!


Co Directrice Sara - San Anselmo Campus

Sara is a California girl through and through, hailing from Pacific Grove, Monterey Bay. She received her bachelors degree in Human Development from Sonoma State University. Her career has always centered around early childhood development. She has taught as a lead teacher and worked with children ranging in age from infancy to 10 years old.  Sara is a mother of three young children. After having children, it was the administrate side of school Sara found fascinating. Having the experience of a teacher and a mother, Sara is passionate about looking at child care as a whole unit. She loves discovering ways to help support Le Petit Jardin’s teachers, kids, and parents.  

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Reading Specialist Laurence Kaufman - San Anselmo Campus

Laurence was born and raised in France. She moved to Los Angeles at the age of 18 after graduating from Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne, Switzerland. She now lives in Mill Valley with her husband. While raising a bilingual family, Laurence went back to school to study early childhood education and started working in the preschool at the Lycée Français de San Francisco in 2012. Her experience includes teaching at the Lycée Français de San Francisco in elementary grades as an English Language Learner (ELL) teacher, kindergarten and elementary teacher at EFBA (French afterschool program) as well as private tutoring. Laurence has always had a passion for children and believes that children learn French when they love it and are supported in a fun, engaging and nurturing environment.


Child and Family Therapist Liana Unger - San Anselmo Campus

LPJ is very excited to partner with Liana Unger, LCSW. In addition to being a substitute at the school, she is a child/family therapist and parent educator. She is a graduate of Sonoma State University with a bachelors degree in Liberal Arts and University of Southern California where she completed her Masters in Social Work. Her background includes kindergarten and pre-school teacher, Assistant Director of the summer program at a private school in Pacific Palisades, School Counselor for the Beverly Hills School District, Program Director of residential addiction treatment programs in Malibu and West L.A, private therapy in LA and Silicon Valley, and a Behavioral Health Consultant for Parents Place. Her insight into children and families make her an amazing resource for LPJ and parents!

If you would like to contact Liana regarding private practice therapy or a Parent Education Workshop she can be contacted at lianaulcsw@yahoo.com

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Substitute Teacher - San Anselmo Campus

Pascale was born and raised in Paris and moved to Marin in 1993. As a mixed-media artist and travel photographer, she has worked for Industrial Light & Magic, a substitute teacher and Art teacher at the Lycée Français Le Pérouse, where her two sons studied. While at the Lycée she worked with children of many ages but found that she was especially fond of her time with preschoolers. This inspired her to obtain her ECE Certificate. Pascale says “I enjoy very much being in the smaller and intimate structure of “Le Petit Jardin.”

Pascale additionally offers private art lessons in French at her Studio in San Rafael, as well as summer and winter break camps, and baking classes for children of all ages.

If you would like to contact Pascale regarding her camps or baking classes she can be reached at pascale@herys.net