Jenny started working at a preschool when she was still in high school, setting her on the path to a career teaching and supporting young children, their families and educators ever since. Jenny is the director of Second Street Children’s School, a program she started teaching in, when it first opened 25 years ago. Jenny first joined SAzAEYC in 1991 and has been involved ever since. She has served on the board of SAzAEYC for three years and is currently the president. Jenny was the 2012 recipient of the SAzAEYC Francis Miller Community Action on Behalf of Young Children Award.
Jenny earned a BA in sociology and family studies from the University of Arizona. Jenny has also worked for the Blake Foundation as an early interventionist and support coordinator working with children and families in their homes. Jenny serves on the board for Second Street Children’s School and the board for The Fund for Civility, Respect and Understanding.
Through her years of service, she has experienced firsthand the amazing results a small group of dedicated people can achieve when working together toward a common goal. Working in a field that is often under-recognized by our greater society, she feels it is vital that we support a professional organization such as NAEYC.
Jenny has three children and she is active in their schools, sports and other activities. She has been married to her husband for 18 years. Jenny and her family love to travel both near and far – one of their favorite Southern Arizona destinations is Bisbee.
Alicia Durbin has been in the early childhood education field since 2003 — teaching, mentoring and working at St. Mark’s Preschool and Kindergarten. She began as an assistant teacher in an afternoon program, then taught 4 year olds for seven years, and was promoted to the director position at St. Mark’s in 2011. She has a Master’s degree in Education. She also has a 4 year old son and a 23 year old step-daughter. She continues to learn both as an educator and parent on a daily basis from her own children, the school children, and the teachers and volunteers she works with. Alicia is honored to be President Elect for the SAzAEYC board, and she is proud to have worked alongside the other board members for the past year. Alicia has been on the planning committee for the annual SAzAEYC Conference for the past few years and is inspired by this work. Alicia truly believes in and supports the work of SAzAEYC and all of the educators involved with early childhood education.
Diana is currently a PhD student in the U of A Early Childhood Education Program. She is a graduate associate in the U of A College of Education with the UWSA/FTF Great Expectations Professional Development Grant promoting and supporting students enrolled in degree programs in Early Education. She served as the Lower School Principal at Green Fields Country Day School for 3 years and was director of Tucson Community School for 9 years. Graduating from the University of Vermont APEX program, she taught in public schools and preschools, and has served on the AZ Foster Care Review Board and other local boards. She is a 2006 Chase Emergent Leader. She and her husband David advocate for high quality early education.
She has presented at three NAEYC conferences, and at two SAzAEYC conferences.
Enthusiastically dedicated to her profession and family, she works to support and inspire.
Co-VP of Membership: Robin Stirling-Kottabi
Robin is the owner and Co-Director of The Sandbox2 and The Clubhouse, both NAEYC accredited programs and a Quality First 5 Star rated PreK program. Robin is a native Tucsonan , married to her husband Parviz for 37 years, mother to three adult children and grandmother of two toddlers. She has a BS in Education and a Masters in Early Childhood Education. Robin was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Colombia and had her own preschool for three years in Iran. She speaks Spanish, Portuguese, Farsi and English. She has been a businesswoman and early childhood advocate for the past 36 years and is active in the community. Robin is currently a Board member of Arizona Childcare Association, a member of Las Familias as well as her HOA treasurer. She believes that all early childhood programs should work together to improve the quality of service provided to Tucson families.
Emilie has been working as an early childhood educator in Tucson area programs for over ten years, and currently is a classroom teacher and instructional coach at the Emily Meschter Early Learning Center in Flowing Wells School District. She also teaches undergraduates in the University of Arizona College of Education. Her educational background includes masters’ degrees in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education from Prescott College (2008) and Northern Arizona University (2015). As a teacher, her passions include STEM, music, inclusion of children with special needs, gardening, outdoor education, and culturally inclusive practices. In her personal time, she delights in spending time with her husband, friends, and two young daughters, as well as hiking and singing in a local choir. Emilie hopes to help make high quality, affordable early care and education available for every family in our Southern Arizona community.
Co-VP of Public Policy and Awareness: Serina Holmes
I have been working in the early childhood education field for four years. I am currently working at Second Street Children’s School as a preschool teacher and Intermountain Centers for Human Development working with children on the autism spectrum. I am studying at Pima Community College and I plan to transfer to the University of Arizona to get a degree in applied sciences for early childhood development. I stay close to the culture here on this beautiful native land. As a member of MEChA de U of A I participate in student organized activism for higher education, culture, and history. In my free time I enjoy danza, biking, softball, and playing music.
Donna is the director of early childhood and elementary education programs in the College of Education at the University of Arizona. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Arizona in teaching and teacher education. While her primary focus has been preparing elementary educators since returning to Arizona in 2008, she has been on a very steep learning curve on early childhood education. She thanks all the members in the Southern Arizona early childhood community—program directors, teachers, coaches, and colleagues—who have graciously provided mentoring. Currently, Donna is a member of the Pima Community College ECE Advisor Committee and First Focus on Kids.
Co-VP OF COMMUNICATIONS: Becky Myrick
As a preschool teacher Becky has worked with young three-year-olds and their families for twelve years, first at St. Alban’s Preschool and Kindergarten and currently at Second Street Children’s School. She earned her BA in Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois and her CDA at Pima Community College. Becky worked in electronic publishing before coming to early childhood education. For the past two years she served on the SAzAEYC board as a member at large. She views board service with SAzAEYC as another avenue of sharing experience and knowledge with community while enhancing dedication to practice. Through holding office Becky hopes to strengthen the organization in providing support and services to early childhood education professionals, giving them the tools they need to raise up our next generation of leaders.
Erin Aguilar is the Inclusion Specialist and Educator for the Easter Seals Blake Foundation. She coordinates the Inspire Inclusion Community of Practice, part of the UWSA/FTF Great Expectations Professional Development Grant promoting and supporting inclusive practices in early childhood programs. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education and is adjunct faculty at Pima Community College. Erin has worked as a Quality First Coach for ESBF and as a preschool teacher in California where she is from. She is passionate about advocating for children with special needs and supporting teachers in creating classrooms that provide the necessary access, participation and support for full inclusion. Erin and her husband have lived in Tucson for 12 years and have one son.
Co-VP of Nominations and Awards: Renee Hartje
Renee has over 20 years of experience in not for profit and Early Childhood. She has worked in closely related programs such as DES Home Recruitment, after school care, infant/toddler care, foster care, teen parent programs and various management positions. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Social Psychology and currently is the Program Manager for Project “Me Too” at the Easter Seals Blake Foundation.
Katie Kurtin has been teaching in Tucson for almost 8 years. She graduated from the U of A with a BA in Early Childhood Education. Katie has presented at the SAzAEYC conference four times and feels passionately about the professional development and continuing education of the educators in her community. Katie’s mother always said “knowledge is only powerful if it’s shared” and she believes that she would be able to help share the knowledge in the teaching community through the VP of Services position on the SAzAEYC board.
I have worked in multicultural schools in the UK, Middle East and West Africa. I have worked in both outstanding and challenging UK schools. Some of the positions I have held include Principal, Vice Principal, Director of Faculty and classroom teacher.
I obtained a BSc Hons degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Cape Coast and a Post Graduate in Education from University of Cambridge U.K. I also have a certificate in Leadership from the National College of School Leadership in the U.K. My specialism is teacher training, curriculum development, assessment, tracking and monitoring and gifted and talented.
I have also mentored or supervised the mentoring of trainee teachers from Bedford University, Open University, Leicester University, Northampton University, De Montfort University, Greenwich University, and London Metropolitan University all in the United Kingdom.
As a Head of School, I provide transformational leadership for the school and as a teacher, I inspire my students.
Outside work I enjoy cooking, hiking, watching movies, fine food and wine, swimming, tennis, running and travelling.
Co-Treasurer: Donna Cohn
Donna served as the Treasurer for SAzAEYC from 2011-2013. Donna has been in Tucson since 1983. She met her husband on a blind date, and they have been married for 27 years. Ms. Cohn graduated with a BS in Sociology/Social Work/ Religion/Philosophy from Catawba College in Salisbury, North Carolina; completed a Masters in Organizational Management in 1994 from University of Phoenix and a Masters in Early Childhood Education in 2010 from NAU. She has been in the field of Early Childhood since 1984, and is currently the Child Development Associate Program Coordinator at Pima Community College, having worked at PCC since 1995. She believes that it is vital to provide an educational foundation that all children, parents and educators can be proud of today, tomorrow and in the future.
Rebecca is currently a Junior at the UA College of Education. Prior to the UA, she completed her Associates degree in Liberal Arts from Pima Community College. She is also an Early Childhood Professional at Catalina Methodist Day School in addition to being a Summer Program Facilitator. Rebecca has lived in Asia for most of her life and has been exposed to various ECE practices or lack thereof. She has experience working for the least fortunate of children and draws her inspiration from them. Through her education at the UA and membership on the board, she hopes to gain the knowledge, skills, support and resources to one day begin radical change in the education of young children in rural areas of the Philippines and other countries in Asia.
My name is Robin Zemaitis and I am currently a student in the early childhood program at the University of Arizona. I grew up in Tucson, Arizona and I have wanted to teach ever since I can remember. My family and my education are my first priority and I take great pride in everything I do. I am thrilled to be on the SAzAEYC Board and to work towards making a difference in the world of education.
Sarah Barber moved to Tucson from Ireland in 2012, and fell in love with the desert and early childhood education at the same time! Sarah is currently the lead teacher of the young three’s classroom at St. Mark’s Preschool and Kindergarten. She has also worked as an assistant and a volunteer in the same school previously. Sarah has an undergraduate degree in Anthropology, which she uses to her advantage when working with children and their families. Sarah recently earned a masters in Early Childhood Education which renewed her passion for working with and advocating for young children. In her free time Sarah enjoys reading, yoga, watching movies, and talking with friends and family here and abroad.
Blanca Bergeron: I have been working in the Early Childhood field for over 20 years and still going strong. I started my career as a parent volunteer and loved it. I have an AAS degree from Pima Community College in Early Childhood Education and a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education from NAU. I love my role as an Assistant Director because I can play with children, educate parents, provide resources to teachers and support administration. As life-long learners, I hope to continue to learn, support, guide and advocate for children, families and fellow colleagues while serving on the board.
I began my career in early childhood education nearly 30 years ago with Child-Parent Centers, a provider of Head Start services in south and southeastern Arizona. During my time at CPC, I’ve enjoyed working as a Home Visitor, Lead teacher, Center Manager and currently as an Education/Curriculum Specialist.
I earned an A.A.S. degree in Early Childhood Education at Pima Community College in 2012 and a B.A.S. in Early Childhood Education at the University of Arizona in 2015. I am currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education at Northern Arizona University.
I am also a member of the ENLACE Community of Practice, part of the FTF Great Expectations Professional Development Grant which supports students in completing the general education requirements of associate degrees in early childhood, providing information and resources to successfully transfer to a bachelor’s degree program. I have enjoyed the opportunity to tutor ECE students in mathematics at the Pima Community College Desert Vista campus.
I am a passionate advocate for equity in early education experiences for all children and families. I have a particular interest in STEM education in early childhood and most especially the area of mathematics and how mathematics is embedded in all learning domains. I believe that every child is a natural mathematician!
Aside from my work in Head Start, I have enjoyed opportunities to work with the early childhood community on various projects as well as presenting at local, state and national conferences. I have a deep appreciation for the spirit of collaboration, generosity and authentic relationships I have experienced from the early childhood community and consider serving on the SAzAEYC board an opportunity to “give back” to the community and to my colleagues.
Sydney has been working in the early childhood education field in Tucson for over 8 years and currently teaches the older 3s Giraffe class at St. Mark’s Preschool and Kindergarten. She previously taught pre-k at the JCC and worked as a nanny. She enjoys being a part of the early childhood community and collaborating with other educators. She was able to attend her first NAEYC National Conference in Orlando in 2015 and came away encouraged by how many great ideas can be shared and built upon when we work together. Sydney graduated with a B.S. in Family Studies and Human Development from the University of Arizona. She is originally from Yuma, AZ and moved to Tucson in 2005. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her husband and friends, baking, learning to sew, reading, traveling, and exploring nature.
A native Tucsonan, Joline found her love of early childhood education through volunteering in her little sister’s kindergarten class as a young undergrad. With this inspiration, she earned her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education from the University of Arizona and continued her education with a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education followed by her certification in Educational Administration. Joline taught kindergarten through third grade for TUSD for twelve years and was awarded with a position as an instructor and supervisor at the University of Arizona, College of Education for a two year teacher-in-residence position. Presently she is the director of the Early Childhood Education program at the Tucson Jewish Community Center supporting educators, children, and families.