Our Staff
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Mr. Vance - Assistant Director

Greetings BLPS! My name is Vance Fahie and I am honored and excited to work with you and your children on our journey to making lifelong memories through play, exploration, music, dance, art, and freedom of creativity. In my 20 plus years of working with youth, I have cherished the uniqueness that every individual brings into the community. We will navigate through our classroom experience recognizing how to work together through positive guidance, good manners, fairness, listening skills, respect for the environment and each other, and being caretakers and good stewards (clean up). Through the years, I have worked in many different childcare environments from preschool through school age. I have directed and managed City of San Luis Obispo child care programs (Sun N Fun/STAR), taught in a private preschool learning center, directed vacation camps, mentored in overnight camps, worked with special needs children, and directed childcare programs for the YMCA. Through these experiences I have implemented my love and passion for music into my curriculum to enhance learning. Music has impacted my life in so many positive ways and I love sharing it with anyone who will listen. I am excited to be part of such a great team and environment.

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Mr. Bryan - Mindbody Site Supervisor

Hello! My name is Bryan Mendoza. I was born in Los Angeles, California and raised in Mexico. My family moved to Mexico when I was 3 months old and decided to move back to the United States when I was 12 years old. When I entered school here in the United States, I was only able to compose a simple sentence in English that would allow people to know my name. Overall, it was a difficult process because I could not communicate as well as I wanted to at school. This experience played a major role in why I have an interest in pursuing a career that includes helping children. My interest grew when I began working as a Sunday school teacher at my local church, which I still continue to enjoy doing. I also taught preschool at another local preschool before this, which was a great experience. I was the first one to attend college from my entire family and I obtained an AA in Early Childhood Education. During my free time, I enjoy spending time with my fiancée, traveling, hiking and spending time with our families. 

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Ms. Amber - Peapods Lead Teacher

My name is Amber Martinez and I have been working with children for the past nine years. I began my career as a teacher working with middle school students from low-income families. From there, I found my way to the children to whom I am so passionate about teaching: preschoolers!  I have taught preschoolers for about 4 years prior to Bright Life. Coming from the Bay Area, I was able to enjoy the diversity of many different cultures. I am excited to share this knowledge and experience with your children as we explore the world around us. I am adventurous and love being outdoors.  I also love music! I love to bring my passions into the classroom. I am committed to giving children a safe and nurturing environment, and I am so happy to be a part of this community.

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Ms. Ally - Pre-K Lead Teacher (Orcutt Rd.)

Hey there!  My name is Ally MacKenzie and I moved to SLO from Southern California. My love for working with children began when I started volunteering at a preschool at age 12. I went on to study Psychology as well as Child Development and Education at Mills College, where I worked as an assistant preschool teacher for two years. I am excited in my role teaching at Bright Life Playschool and for the opportunity to get to know the children. It is very important for children to feel a sense of belonging; I strongly believe that every child should be treated with patience and be given the chance to be heard. This has influenced my desire to continue working with children throughout my career, and branch into areas such as art therapy and behavioral assistance for children in the classroom. My other interests include American Sign Language and Japanese, animals of all kinds, and art/photography. 

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Ms. Shelby - Sunshine Room Lead Teacher

Hello! My name is Shelby. I love the Central Coast and I moved back to San Luis Obispo from St. Helena, California. I received my undergraduate degree from Cal Poly with a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Science and a minor in Crop and Soil Science and have also completed my multiple subject teaching credential. My interest and passion is teaching early childhood education and I am pursuing a pathway toward that goal. My work with children and young adults ranges from nannying, coaching, and tutoring. I enjoy watching children make connections with each other and their surroundings. My favorite activities to do with children involve art, music, and science. I look forward to getting to know you and your children throughout the year! 

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Ms. Katie - Rainbows Lead Teacher

Hi there! My name is Katie Whinnery and I am so thrilled to be able to work with Bright Life. I grew up on the central coast and recently moved back after college. I studied Child Development at Humboldt State University and while I was in school, I worked at the Children's Center on campus for 4 years. I love nature and exploring the world around us and fully believe that children learn through play and mess! I love to do anything with art, and being able to incorporate art and nature into the classroom is exciting and fun. My goal is to work with children and their families to support and create an engaging and safe place full of wonder. I'm looking forward to getting to know our families!

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Ms. Sammi - Peapods Co-Teacher

My name is Sammi Hall. I have lived on the Central Coast my entire life. I was a nanny for three kids, all under the age of five, for two years. I enjoyed watching them learn through play and exploration and that is what sparked my passion for teaching in new, innovative ways. I love it here at Bright Life with all the wonderful teachers and families.

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Ms. McKenzie - Poppyseeds Co-Teacher

Hello Bright Life friends and family! My name is McKenzie. I was born in Hanford, CA. My  family and I moved to Pismo Beach when I was about 5 years old and I have lived here ever  since. I have been a preschool teacher for 3 years so far. When I was in my first year of high  school, I took a child development class and knew I wanted to be a preschool teacher. I  especially wanted to work with toddlers and am so happy to be doing what I love. During my  free time, I also love to dance which I have done since I could walk. Dancing and singing with  the children are my favorite activities to share with them. I am very blessed to be working here  at BLPS!

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Ms. Esther - Teacher/Floater

Bio coming soon!

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Ms. Jo- Mindbody Lead Teacher

Hello families! My name is Joanna but many call me Jo. I am excited to be a part of Bright Life Playschool and its close-knit community! I am originally from Poland, where I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in English Language and Literature, and completed my Teacher Training at the University Maria Curie-Sklodowska. In 2020, I obtained an Early Childhood Lead Teacher Certification from UCLA. I have been working in the field of education for the past 17 years and I’ve dedicated the last 10 years of my professional career to understanding and supporting the youngest learners. Over the past decade, I have traveled and worked in Europe, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East, where I taught at International schools and developed nursery and preschool programs that aligned with the cultural norms and expectations of each country. My work revolved around fostering play, project-based, child-led, and emergent curriculum inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy. It is my goal to partner with parents and caregivers, and build a shared recognition of the value of uninterrupted play, the importance of allowing for independence and boundary setting, as well as the significance of meaningful interactions and relationships in children’s development. It’s been a fascinating journey of learning and trying to understand other cultures, and I am looking forward to learning from all of you too! My professional interests include brain development, free uninterrupted play advocacy, creating wonder-filled learning environments, childhood psychology with an emphasis on trauma, self-regulation, and respectful child-rearing practices. In my free time, I love to try new foods wherever I go, experiment with recipes, read/listen to books, work with my hands and teach myself new skills, such as sewing, restoring old furniture, crocheting, or block printing.

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Ms. Kayla - Co-Teacher

Hello, my name is Kayla Cheyno! I am a 4th year child development major at Cal Poly. I was born in Southern California but have fallen in love with the central coast. In high school I volunteered at a pre-school and realized I wanted to continue working with children. Young children are naturally curious and love to learn. I hope to provide an environment that the children feel comfortable to explore and contribute to. My goal is to attend Graduate School after Cal Poly to become an occupational therapist where I can assist young children in reaching their full potential. 

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Ms. Emilie - Mudpies' Co-Teacher

Hi everyone! My name is Emilie. My passion for caring for children began when I was 12 years old and helped to care for my baby sister, which I absolutely loved!  From then on, I just never stopped being around and nurturing little ones. My interest in children led me academically to a Sociology degree (focusing on children and families) from UC Berkeley. Over the years, I have taught in summer school programs, ran afterschool programs, assisted in elementary school classrooms, and spent a few months working as a behavior technician for children with autism. I am excited to continue to grow and learn from Bright Life Playschool, the children, and the families!

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Ms. Ally - Mudpies' Lead Teacher

Hello Families! My name is Ally Barron, and I am delighted to be here at BLPS! I am just as excited to learn from you and your children as we embark on this learning journey together. I was born and raised on the Central Coast going to A.G high school and making my way to the Early Childhood Education program at Cuesta College. This is what sparked my interest in this field! I have been a teacher for the last 5+ years, and working with the 2-3 year olds has been my specialty. My goal for your children is to acquire new skills through play and exploration, as we work together to reach these milestones. I look forward to meeting and learning from you and am fortunate to be part of a wonderful group of teachers! 

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Ms. Sarah - Sprouts Lead Teacher

Hello Bright Life! My name is Sarah and I am an experienced caregiver who is enthusiastic about what I do. I have spent most of the last decade teaching and learning from children in a wide variety of settings. I have been a caregiver to infants and toddlers, worked in a classroom environment helping children with special needs, conducted in home behavior therapy for kids on the autism spectrum, taught preschool age children at a child care center, and worked closely with families as a nanny. In my time spent with children, I have learned that love, patience, and flexibility are some of the best teaching tools. Watching children learn through play and express their own creativity brings me so much joy! I am grateful to the wonderful parents who let me be a part of their children’s lives. 

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Ms. Rosa - Sprouts Co-Teacher

Hola BLPS Families! My name is Rosa Medina. I moved to SLO from Santa Barbara two years ago. I am excited to be here and to have the opportunity to get to know you and your children. I have numerous years of babysitting experience, and have assisted in special education classes. I have always had a soft spot for little ones and started to take early education classes after I was given the opportunity to work with toddlers. I grew fond of the setting and decided to study Early Childhood Education and pursue a career as a Preschool Teacher. It is so rewarding to interact with these children every day and watch them grow. I am a firm believer that children are little scientists who learn through play, exploration, and open-ended experiences. My goal is to be a teacher whom they feel safe and happy with as well as one who creates provocative and engaging experiences for them.

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Ms. Alia - Poppyseeds Co-Teacher

Hello everyone! My name is Alia Ogden. I am overjoyed to be apart of Bright Life. I have always been passionate about working with children even from a young age. My first experience with childcare was growing up in an in home daycare where my mom worked. As I got older and was able to help more often, my love for working with children grew. I have had many roles while working with children- I have been a swim instructor, an art instructor, a babysitter and a nanny, but my favorite role of all is being a teacher! I have been a teacher for the past 4 years and every year my love for teaching grows even more. I cannot wait to partner with both you & your child as we go through this learning journey together!

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Ms. Holly- Sunshine Co-Teacher

My name is Holly. I am a San Luis Obispo native. I have stayed close to home and live in Arroyo Grande with my husband, Josh. You’ll find us in our garden or hiking with our dog. I am currently enrolled at Cuesta Community College to complete my Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education this year. I have been working with preschool age children since 2018. I have a background in literature based curriculum and a passion for outdoor education. These are such formative and important years for every child. It is my heart to be able to instill a love of learning, curiosity and enthusiasm for all discoveries, big and small. I value open communication, sincerity, and enthusiasm! I am so grateful to be part of the team here at Bright Life!