I began my career in Chicago working with homeless families. It was during this time I became really interested in our education system and how it was supporting all our children. Education is the key for our children to connect their passions with a purpose. We are natural born scientists. Children want to know things. They want the opportunity to explore and discover. They want to be challenged and in the best learning environments they often surprise us with what they can accomplish.
In the next few years, I had moved to Los Angeles and spent time working with both children who were homeless, in the foster care system, and in private school settings. As a teacher I spent time dreaming about a school that would allow me to provide our children with an environment that catered to each of them. I worked with kids in Preschool to High School as a teacher and curriculum developer. In early childhood, kids would come to me eager to learn but by High School most couldn’t wait to escape school. I often questioned what we were doing. These kids were spending so much time memorizing information to ace a test but were not able to apply this knowledge. I studied other school models nationally and internationally. Charged with research that would better our education system, I spent time working in administration and policy. The results were slow and I wondered where my own daughters were going to attend school. I needed something better today-- not in 20 years. I wanted my kids to attend a Language Immersion school that focused on the arts as much as it did language acquisition. I wanted my kids to learn biology by working with scientists in nature. I wanted them to become global citizens. I wanted them to be socially and emotionally intelligent. I wanted them to find meaning in their work and education. I wanted a lot! It was then that my partner and I created a plan to open City Kids School.
In 2015 we opened our first preschool. In September of 2017 we opened the doors to our elementary school. I dreamed about this school, but I couldn’t have imagined the community that has made City Kids a success. We are a community that values people, entrepreneurship, and supporting all children to reach their potential academically and developmentally. I invite you to tour our schools and see if we are a good match for what you want for your child’s education.
I attended DePaul University's prestigious BFA Acting program and hold a Master of Arts in Human Development specializing in Early Childhood Education.
Director of Strategic Operations
I was primed for success. I attended a private grade school, went to a College Preparatory and graduated with Honors. And when I took the ACTs to get into college, I scored so low that everyone (including me) thought it must've been a mistake. Then I took the ACTs again, and scored even lower. I spent the next 20 years of my life battling the self-image that I was actually a dumb kid pretending to be smart. All because of one test.
Today, there is so much data and research that shows us that each person learns differently and uniquely, and that a standardized test cannot measure the sum of a person's potential. And certainly not the quality of character which drives and motivates a person to true success and happiness in life.
We launched this school with many ambitions, not least, to provide a place of learning which strives for academic achievement while guiding young students to find "joy in learning". We believe emotional intelligence is equivalent in importance to academic excellence, and discovering how each child learns and processes is a critical key to this path. We do not "teach to the test", rather, we ask questions that open young minds to explore, discover, and learn deeply for themselves, all while cultivating a passion for learning. As human beings, this is true learning, and it is joyful!
Director of Institutional Advancement
I grew up in some of the most amazing independent schools in Los Angeles. I loved the community of students, parents, and teachers that became my second family. After completing my bachelor degree in International Studies: Global Health & Environment from the University of Michigan, I began working at an independent school in their Advancement office. While I enjoyed my work, I found that I needed to invest myself academically to achieve a greater world perspective and understanding as a global citizen. I completed a Master’s in Global Health from Northwestern University and completed my practicum grant writing for The Kigezi Healthcare Foundation in Kabale, Uganda.
Despite these amazing schools, I found something was missing from my education. We were learning how to succeed academically, how to get an A, and fill our resume with the right extracurriculars to get into a good college. But after college, we were stuck. We weren’t being taught how to succeed in the “real world.” How to lead a meeting, calculate a tip at a restaurant, do our own taxes, or ask the right questions when navigating the workplace. This is where City Kids is different. At City Kids we focus on real world application of what our kids are learning and how they are learning while maintaining a global focus and perspective. This is the kind of education I wish I had, and am thrilled to be a part of this journey.
Mansfield Preschool Director
I grew up in the rainforests of Far North Queensland, Australia. I studied law in Brisbane, and worked as a lawyer in personal injury law, homeless advocacy and Indigenous (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) women's rights for four years before a fortuitous vacation to Vietnam changed my life's course. There, I discovered a passion for teaching, exciting opportunities to grow as a visual artist and musician, and fell in love with both a town and a person (my husband, Mike Aiello, also on the City Kids staff). I completed my Graduate Certificate in Education (International) through Nottingham University (UK) and taught art, music, drama and early years education at Green Shoots International School, a progressive international school in Hoi An with a focus on global awareness, holistic education and sustainability.
Mike and I welcomed our first son, Dominic, in 2017 and are expecting our second son in October 2019. After seven wonderful years in Vietnam, our family moved to Los Angeles to join the City Kids community and open the Mansfield Preschool. I am grateful for the opportunity to help shape our youngest learners into compassionate, creative and inquisitive global citizens.
Environmental Programs Director
As a native Angelino and fourth generation Californian, I believe it’s important to have a strong sense of our environment. Modeling responsible practices helps to shape the choices children make in their lives. Interacting with nature is the key to appreciating it, and creating space for exploration and collaboration is one of the great features of City Kids!
I taught preschool in Santa Monica for 13 years and have worked in landscape design, water conservation and environmental education since 1998. I worked with several environmental groups and love teaching and writing about water, soil, gardening, education and urban design. Along with my Certification in Early Childhood Education and Horticulture & Gardening from UCLA Extension, I have a degree in Political Science from UCLA.
I love to travel and am currently working on some children’s book ideas.
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