Our teachers are the guideposts for the preschoolers and their parents on their way to the kindergarten. All our teacher/directors meet or exceed state requirements for parent ed/preschool teachers.
Teacher Sally Brenton
Sally was born in Palo Alto and grew up in Menlo Park. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Santa Clara, an adult education credential, and continue to further their education in Early Childhood Education. Coming to Parents Nursery School in 1991 as a newly enrolled family was a dream come true for her - she loved being a teaching parent. Three of Sally's four daughters attended Parents Nursery School - 7 years total - during which time Sally had one year with two daughters enrolled, while she was co-president! Needless to say, she understands, respects, and applauds the commitment families make by choosing Parents Nursery School. After her youngest daughter finished kindergarten, Sally followed in her footsteps and became an aide to her daughter's kindergarten teacher, who just so happened to be Teacher Heidi! Sally then came to join the Parents Nursery School teaching team in 2002. Sally enjoys time with her family, reading, hiking, cooking, walking, gardening and traveling with her husband Mike, to whom she's been married for 27 years.
Teacher Heidi Pilawski
Heidi was born and raised in the desert in southern California. She attended UCSD where she earned her bachelor's degree in psychology and then continued her education at the University of Bridgeport, Connecticut, where she earned her master's degree in elementary education and her teaching credential. Before becoming a full time mom, Heidi taught elementary school for 8 years. Her last four years were in kindergarten at Duveneck Elementary School in Palo Alto. It was there that Heidi met Teacher Sally who told her all about Parents' Nursery School! Heidi and her husband, Michael, started at Parents Nursery School in the fall of 2003 with their first son Jack. They have continued on with their children Joe, Ryan, and Remi. (They hope to break the record of being parents at Parents Nursery School for the most continuous years!) During her years teaching Heidi came to realize the extreme value in parents' involvement in their children's education. It is this philosophy that attracted her to Parents Nursery School. Heidi enjoys hiking, reading, and just "hanging out" with her family.
Teacher Amy Thieman
Amy is a Palo Alto native, where she grew up attending Palo Alto schools, including Parents Nursery School for two years, where she had Virginia Debs as her teacher! She has a B.A. from Middlebury College (Vermont), and an M.A. in education from Stanford University, as well as a California teaching credential. She taught at the high school level for eight years, both at St. Francis High School in Mt. View and at Palo Alto High School, before becoming a full-time mom when her second child was born. Amy, along with her husband Joe, came to PNS as a parent with their oldest child Luke and was delighted to join such a wonderful community for both children and parents. She is now in her fifth consecutive year at PNS as a parent, first with Luke, then with daughter Anna, and now with her youngest daughter Sarah. Amy helped the staff as a substitute teacher starting her second year, making her a natural choice when a teaching position became available years later. Like the other PNS teachers, she truly believes in the value of early and consistent parent involvement in their children’s education, and loves working with this age group. Amy lives in Palo Alto where she enjoys spending time with her busy family.
Virginia Debs (Grandma Virginia)
Virginia is a native Californian and was raised in small towns throughout the West and Midwest, spending summers in Berkeley with her Swedish grandparents. She studied at UC Berkeley, Harvard, and Tufts, and holds a Life Credential in Parent Education. Virginia began teaching parent education for the Palo Alto Unified School District in 1959, and teaching at Parents Nursery School in 1969. In 1996, she began team teaching, which allows her more time to travel. She loves teaching about nature and science, starting with all the things to be found in our great Parents Nursery School yard. She and her late husband, Bob, have two children -Douglas, an engineer (and railroad enthusiast), and Missy, a communications specialist working overseas. Virginia is enthusiastic about people, the out-of-doors, books, opera, ballet, cooking, her dog Murphy, and (of course) Parents Nursery School. The Grandma Virginia Memory Project, a series of interviews with Virginia, was completed as a gift for her 82nd birthday in 2006.
Assistant Teacher Kelly Sims
Kelly grew up in Stockton California and is the oldest of three girls. She later moved to sunny Santa Barbara to attend college where she met her husband Brad. They eventually moved here to the Bay Area where she graduated from San Jose State University with a degree in Behavioral Studies. Kelly has always been fascinated with pre and post-natal education. Upon finishing her studies at SJSU, Kelly followed her passion and went on to become a Birth and Postpartum Doula. When her son Rowan was born (now a Parents Nursery School alum), Kelly worked as a nanny to stay home with him. It was coming to Parents Nursery School as a new parent where Kelly felt most at home in this wonderful community. Rowan flourished as he made his way through Teacher Meghan's, Heidi's and Sally's classes and younger brother Colby enjoyed his sibling status considering himself a full-fledged student all the while. After three years of experience as a working parent at Parents Nursery School, with great pleasure Kelly joined the staff of PNS. When Kelly is not busy working both at Parents Nursery School and the clothing store Cassis, she loves spending time with her family, having girl time with friends, and singing in the Gospel Choir.
Assistant Teacher Theresa Hentzel
Theresa was born and raised in Palo Alto. She studied sociology at California State University, Sacramento and is currently working on becoming certified as an early childhood educator. She married "the boy next door" (a PNS alum) and they've been together twenty years. They have a son, Jack, who went to PNS as well. She is a dyed-in-the-wool Giants fan and a bit of a gadfly. When she's not at Parents Nursery School she can be found biking around town or goofing off with Jack. She enjoys reading, cooking, swimming, photography, and being outside. Theresa believes in parent involvement, play based learning, and paying things forward. She wanted join the PNS teaching staff because she loves everything about it: the philosophy of the school and the parents who believe in it, the sense of community, the fantastic play space, and the snickerdoodles.
Maria Marriott (Music)
Maria was born and raised in Pennsylvania , and her siblings and father still live there. She received her BA in voice performance and theater from Chatham College. She and her husband, Mark, met while singing in Italy; they then moved to New York to continue private voice study. In 1996 they moved to Palo Alto to begin their family: Noah, Ally, and Kylie. Maria started teaching music at Parents Nursery School in 2002, and she especially enjoys watching how the kids take the songs and create their own lyrics.
Sheina Curtis (Music)
Sheina is a native Bay Area girl having grown up in San Jose and Los Altos. In college, while getting a Biology degree at Tufts University near Boston, she joined a volunteer program that matched Tufts students with local preschool students. Her special preschool friend was called Ruth, and every week for two years Sheina got to see the world through Ruth’s eyes. It was fascinating! Sheina fell in love with preschoolers and the preschool environment, so upon graduation she became a teacher aide at Apple Orchard School in Boston. She returned home to the Bay Area the following year to work as a Kindergarten and then KinderPrep teacher at Beechwood School in the Belle Haven community of Menlo Park for the next 10 years. Along the way, she married a fellow Biologist, Tufts grad and teacher, Bob. Together they have two daughters, Ellie and Ainsley Rei. Sheina left Beechwood to stay at home full time with her daughters, and now is so excited for the opportunity to work with the children of all of the PNS classes this year. She loved working in Teacher Amy’s class for Ellie’s first year at PNS last year and loves the caring environment that PNS offers preschoolers and their parents. Her favorite activities are singing, gardening and contra dancing. Sheina lives in Los Altos with her husband, two children, mom and three chickens.