Cheryl Rogers-Co-Owner/Founder and Teacher
I have lived in Bellevue for 17 years, raising two daughters with my husband. After leaving an engineering position when my oldest daughter was born, I was on the executive board of Bennett Elementary PTSA, led and co-lead 4 girl scout troops, and managed our East Bellevue Girl Scout service unit while helping the Girl Scout council with the cookie program. These experiences made me realize that I have a love of working with children. In addition to Girl Scouts my family trained in martial arts for over 10 years. I was always involved in education in some form; either working directly with a scout on skills, or mentoring to a young leader. An opportunity in 2006 to substitute teach for a local preschool came up and that led to my first educational degree: an Associates in Early Education. I was head teacher in a toddler class for 2 years in a local non-profit. This is where I met Rachel Rickards and we formed a friendship built on commonalities of our educational philosophy. Returning to school I completed my BA in Early Education along with a Washington State teaching certification. My academic performance brought an invitation to join KDP (Kappa Delta Pi), an international honor society in education in which I am an active member.
For the last 10 years I have been involved in helping families with childcare needs by providing parent education, early intervention guidance, academic support for learning, and rich environments that support healthy overall growth. I am amazed how the academic objectives for young children have changed even in the last 3 years. Working with a kindergarten teacher in Bellevue School District recently brought to light for me the importance of the developmental skills (social, emotional, and academic) that help children make this transition smoothly and ready to start kindergarten. My engineering background gave me problem solving skills, my martial arts gave me determination and discipline to apply a solution, and my teaching instruction gave me teaching skills and the knowledge of how children learn. But it is my family that gave me a love for children and a passion for the art of teaching.
Rachel Vogel– Co-Owner/Founder and Teacher
I grew up in Asia and the Bellevue area. My passion for early education started when I was in high school. I completed my Associates degree at Bellevue College and my Bachelors at University of Washington. During that time, I worked in two of the top Montessori schools in the area, one of which is a Project based school. I also taught at a play based center, where I met Ms. Cheryl. I have had the opportunity to travel in order to see how other cultures view education, including travel to Reggio Emilia, Italy.
As an early educator, it is important that my interactions with children are positive, supportive and enriching. I have found that education should extend to both the child and the family so that the family can better support the learning the child is undertaking. I educate parents through the conversations, newsletters about important developmental subjects and open houses. I maintain a collection parenting books, at home tools and activities.
As a teacher and an individual I bring much to a classroom and a school. Most of my teaching focuses on four teaching methods: Montessori, Reggio Emilia, Project approach and Play-Based learning. I try to help enrich the families I work with. This means being a support, a guide and an educator to child and family. I enjoy doing full body learning, this means painting with everything from your head to you toes. I enjoy teaching through moment, yet still seek to keep a calm, relaxing and safe atmosphere. Children need rules and structures, as well as the freedom to create their own path. I have spent much time working with special needs children and I prefer to work in small groups and really focus on children as individuals.
I find that one of the most important principles of life is respect. Respect is an important mindset in life. Respect your world, your elders, peer, teachers, parents, and heritage, and respect yourself. Too often, I see that children don’t fully understand the meaning of respect. I thus seek to maintain an atmosphere of respect in the classroom.
Carlin Ma- Music Teacher
Seeking means of discovery and expression, Carlin Ma has dedicated her life to music and the arts, including solo piano, chamber music, photography, and multidisciplinary projects. As a pianist, she has performed for audiences at prestigious venues including the Kennedy Center, Ravinia Festival, Lübeck Musik Hochschule in Germany for the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, Capella Hall and Philharmonic Hall of St. Petersburg, Russia, Neal Blaisdell Concert Hall for Hawaii International Music Festival, and Seiji Ozawa Hall for the Tanglewood Music Festival. She finds it equally meaningful to initiate performances in local venues, including the inaugural Musicians@Google series in Seattle, outreach programs, and house concerts. Special merit recognition include semifinalist in the San Antonio International Piano Competition and Oberlin Piano International Competition.
She holds a Master’s Degree of piano performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and Bachelor’s and Performer’s Degree from Indiana University. Her mentors include Menahem Pressler, Yoshi Nagai, Arnaldo Cohen, Evelyne Brancart, Emile Naoumoff, and Karen Taylor. She also had the privilege of working in masterclasses with Sergei Babayan, Karl-heinz Kämmerling, Robert Levin, Joseph Kalichstein, Jon Nakamatsu, and Angela Chang.
While being an Associate Instructor at Indiana University, Carlin found passion in pedagogy, empowering a world of creative possibility in others. She later became a Primary Instructor at New Music School in San Francisco, and now resides in Seattle, where she has a private studio.
In her continued quest for expression, Carlin found that music and photography strike the same internal chord, merely on different instruments. Photography is like chamber music through light, rather than sound. As a professional photographer, Carlin is the primary festival photographer for Music@Menlo and staff photographer for the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She enjoys photographing individuals, couples, families, and for larger institutions such as Seattle Symphony, Aspen Music Festival, Indiana University, and Chinese American International School. Special merit recognitions include front page features in Symphony Magazine, 1st place Aspen Chamber of Commerce Photo Contest, and 3rd place in Tiffen Pawtraits Contest.
Her multidisciplinary talents have led to national invitations for artistic cross-pollination projects, including co-creating the Hawaii International Music Festival as Artistic Program Director, and individual concert projects with Purdue Symphony Orchestra, Summerfest Concerts, and Blueprint Ensemble. Fostering perpetual learning for herself and others is her committed passion.
Michaela Wolf- German Teacher/ Substitute
I am excited to have the opportunity to teach German at the Garden Ridge school. I am a certified early childhood educator in Germany and it is a pleasure for me to teach children my native language and culture.
In 2007, I came to Seattle to study English and ended up falling in love with the city’s culture and people. That lead me to get a Certificate in Early Learning and Teaching at Bellevue College. After my graduation I held a teaching position at a day care in Bellevue for almost 3 years. In addition to the head teacher position, I have worked 1 year at the SAGA school in Seattle in which I thought German to children age 3 to 4.
I like to teach through books, songs, crafts, flannel board storytelling and talking about cultural holidays. Based on my experience, learning a second language has positive effects on young children. My goal is to entice their own creative thinking and show them how fun learning a new language can be.
Heidi Britton- German Teacher/ Substitute
I have been working in childcare for 15 years. I taught English in a Bi-Lingual German Kindergarten under the instructions of Helen Doron’s Early English program. My journey took my husband and I back to the USA and I found myself working as a teacher in two local Christian based daycares. I worked myself up the ladder to Assistant Director from which I am now semi-retired.
I enjoy teaching children of all ages. Helping children to learn in their early stages of live is so rewarding to me. Their eyes tell me how much fun learning can be.
I have been married for 51 years to my husband Don and we have two grown children and one grandson. In our spare time, we like to travel and be around our family and friends.