Meet Our Staff

Matilde Benzoni

Matilde Benzoni

Teacher - Classroom 2

I have a BA in education from the University of Bologna, Italy. I grew up in Italy in a Reggio Children setting. I studied business during High School but I got bored and decided that education was a better fit for me.

I started working with children as a rhythmic gym teacher, a sport I practiced for 14 years, and that experience allowed me to understand that being a teacher was my passion in life. I’ve been working with children since I was in high school and have teaching experiences in many different approaches such as Montessori, Reggio, Outdoor and play-based education.

When I’m not at school, I enjoy riding my mountain bike in the forest or hiking in scenic places. I’m always looking for adventures in new places and nature. I also enjoy rock climbing at the local rock climbing gym.

 

 

Suzie Dailey

Suzie Dailey

Teacher - Classroom 2

Hello! My name is Suzie, and I am so grateful to be at Coastal Community Preschool and share my days with your beautiful children. I have been teaching young children for 35 years in a variety of places, with one of the most interesting locations being at an orphanage in Zambia for two summers. This has caused me to have a tender spot in my heart for all things Africa!
I am a proud and blessed mom of my son, Galen, who is a recent graduate of Seattle Pacific University, and an avid photographer. I am also a mama to my four-legged son, Surfer! He takes me on lots of long walks in our beautiful Santa Cruz area and keeps me company while I enjoy one of my favorite hobbies of reading historical novels.
The preschool years are such a magical, joyful, emotional, and wonderful time in childhood, and also in parenthood. It is my honor to travel the journey with each of you! Children are amazing, and it is such a gift to work alongside them every day.
Thank you for welcoming me into the Coastal Community Preschool family!

 

Patience Harris

Patience Harris

Teacher - Classroom 1

I graduated from high school in Oceanside. In 2009 I received my associate Teacher permit from Cabrillo College and I have completed several certifications as well as many ECE classes.

I have been working with children for over 25 years. My experience first began when I raised my younger siblings. I was the owner of a preschool for 6 years, a nanny, worked in child care centers, and w/ special needs children.

I have two boys that keep me quite busy. If I’m not traveling for sports activities, and I find the time, my personal hobbies and interests include scrap booking and spending time with friends.

 

Kim Boon

Kim Boon

Teacher - Classroom 3

I began with the Pre-K age group over thirty years ago in a co-op preschool with my own children. When my oldest child went to college, 15 years ago, I started teaching in early childhood education where I enjoy developing curriculum and helping students reach their full potential. I taught Pre-K for over 10 years in Carlsbad, California and I have taught 3- 5 year old children in play-based and Reggio-inspired programs.

In continuing my education I have earned ECE units from several community colleges over the years including a Certificate of Achievement in Child Development Associate Teacher from MiraCosta College. Additionally, I have taught art at a non-profit program called StudioAce and I have volunteered throughout my teaching career at numerous non-profits.

When I’m not in the classroom, I enjoy traveling, photography, gardening, riding my bike, and eating delicious food. I also love trying new restaurants, going to the beach, museums, art galleries, and spending time with my two adorable grandsons!

 

 

Kara Nette

Kara Nette

PM Teacher - Classroom 3

I have earned 16 unites in Early Childhood Education at West Valley College as well as a diploma alongside honors in child development and certificates of achievement in Careers with Children and Child Development. When I was in High School one of my teachers suggested I should try working with children and I fell in love with the job first day!

I have nine years of experience working with all ages. I started with the YMCA in the after school care program. I have worked as a preschool teacher and I have also worked with middle school and high school students. I love working with all ages for different reasons.

I am a dancer and a yoga enthusiast! I love plants, and I am a vegan for the love of animals. When I am at home I play with my two cats and two rats and I also have a frog. I am very passionate about saving animals and I have nursed a sick fox back to health all on my own.

My favorite places to go include spending time at the beach and in the woods

Karen Lawrence

Karen Lawrence

Teacher - After-School Program

 Hello, my name is Karen. I was born and raised in Moscow, Idaho. After completing high school at a boarding school in Colorado, I attended Colgate University where I was a biology major and double minored in educational studies and geography.

My experience working with children includes outdoor teambuilding with ages 8-15, and I was a live-in counselor at summer camp for ages 10-12. I also lead a rock climbing kids camp in the Santa Cruz Mountains for 2 summer for ages 8-12. Most recently I completed 2 semesters as a forest school mentor and leader for ages 3-5.

I love the outdoors and enjoy rock climbing, canoeing, hiking and more. I am slightly obsessed with all things ocean and love tide pools, conservation and research on this topic. I am passionate about cooking, especially dumplings.

 I am happy to be a part of the teaching team in the School-Age Program!

 

Maribel Ocaranza

Maribel Ocaranza

PM Teacher - Classroom 1

 Hi I’m Maribel, I am currently earning my BA in Intensive Psychology at UCSC and I am focusing on Developmental Child Psychology. I am also a part of a speech processing research team on campus. I started taking psychology courses even in high school to better understand how we as humans function and found that learning and observing how children’s minds grow was of great interest to me.

I have always been interested in working with children and education. I want to continue my education after my Bachelors by obtaining a Master’s Degree in Family Therapy (fingers crossed!).  I am excited to join the staff here at CCP, working in Classroom 1.

I was born and raised in Santa Cruz so I make sure to visit all my favorite places in the area with my family whenever I get the chance. I love going on hikes and to the beach with friends.

Raeleen Benabides

Raeleen Benabides

PM Teacher - Classroom 2

I have earned my A.S Degree in Early Childhood Education from Cabrillo College where I interned in their Children’s Center for a year and then became a Head Teacher. I worked at the Family Network preschool for three years before moving to the Santa Cruz Toddler Care Center from 2004 until 2020. Additionally I worked in a home preschool from 2017-2020. I have had over 20 years of experience working with children from infant age to 5 years old.
I have three beautiful daughters that I am very proud of and I love spending time with them. I was a pastor’s kid and I enjoy going to church. My hobbies include photography and doing Word Search and board games. If I have spare time I enjoy listening to music and visiting the beach and taking in the beauty of this area.

 

Bobbie Imai

Bobbie Imai

Teacher - After-School Program

I graduated from Soquel High School in 1984. I continued my education at Cabrillo College where I studied early child development before earning a Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts from Sonoma State University in 1992. I earned my teaching credential from Bethany University in 1994.I hold a Cultural Language Academic Diversity (C.L.A.D.) certificate from UC Berkeley, which I earned in 2013.
I’ve worked with children my entire life. My mother owned and operated a home daycare in Santa Cruz where I gained valuable experience that I relied on throughout my teaching career in public and private schools. I’ve worked with children as young as 8 weeks and as old as Seniors in High School.

If you don’t see me at Coastal Community Preschool then you’ll find me at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park or Twin Lakes Beach. I practice Yoga with my family on a weekly basis. And every few years I try to make it to New York City to enjoy a show on Broadway.

I am excited to be a part of CCP working as co teacher in the School-Age program!

 

Kimberlee Biagini

Kimberlee Biagini

Administrative Director

I joined the CCP community in August of 2011 as a parent in Classroom 2.  I enjoyed getting involved with Spring Festival planning and being a member of the CCP Board of Directors as a way to take part in my child’s early education. In 2013 I was delighted to become a member of the staff at this wonderful preschool.

Being around the energy of children is a great joy and a fun environment to work in. My employment background is in management and administration. I have earned a BA in Social Science with a concentration in education, focusing on early childhood education. I feel working here is a great fit for my professional life as I’m able to utilize my degree and knowledge in many ways.

My daughter is now a Freshman at Santa Cruz High School! We enjoy watching her play sports and we love traveling and biking. In my spare time I love to work in the garden as well as spend time at the beach and in nature.

kimberlee@coastalcommunitypreschool.org

Stephanie Simmons

Stephanie Simmons

Program Director

I have worked in Early Childhood Education in the Santa Cruz area for over 25 years, and at  CCP since 2011, where I have been a part of Classrooms 2 and 3.  Most recently, I was promoted to Program Director. I earned my AA in Early Childhood Education along with multiple ECE certificates at Cabrillo College, and have a Child Development Site-Supervisor permit. I have also been trained in both the SEEDS literacy and Handwriting Without Tears programs. 

I have always loved working with children and am passionate about creating a learning, enriched environment that focuses on fostering a child’s self-respect and respect for others. I feel strongly about giving children the opportunity to explore and create at their own pace and to embrace cultural diversity, all the while having FUN! I have always found it rewarding to witness the progression of how a child starts to learn something and then when he/she really grasps the concept. I realize how special these early years are and the positive impact a teacher can have on their growth.  

In my spare time, I enjoy hanging out with my husband Craig, going on walks, listening to music, spending time in bookshops (I have an exceptionally large children’s book collection), as well as watching the GIANTS!

stephanie@coastalcommunitypreschool.org