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Our Staff

Our preschool is staffed with trained and certified early childhood educators. The teachers meet weekly to discuss curriculum, plan programs and share and exchange ideas. In order to uphold the high standards of our program, staff development is ongoing throughout the year. Many of our teachers are alumni parents whose children attended SMPNS. Our director and teachers are an unusually dedicated group of professionals whose commitment to early childhood education is truly a calling.

Renee Padgett

Renee Padgett, Director

I began my early childhood education career at the age of 19 when I was hired as a Para-professional in a preschool classroom in Bridgeport CT.  I am a play-based philosophy advocate; I also have experience leading Reggio Emilia project based units. In 2002 while working as a preschool teacher’s aid in San Francisco, I decided to get the credits needed to become lead teacher. At the same time I began developing my music program Walking Sideways®. I moved to CO in 2005 where I did more preschool teaching, some preschool administration, parent participation preschool classes, lots of live music playing, and continued my Walking Sideways® business. In 2008 my partner was done with Law School and we were back in the Bay area. I went right back to my music program full time until I gave birth to my son in 2011. I traveled to large preschools throughout the Bay Area (5 to 7 classes In each school) and performed half hour gross motor development classes through (mostly original) music that I wrote and produced. After I had my son I turned my home into a licensed Day Care center and ran it until Isaac was old enough to start preschool and I went back to my work part time. I’m very excited to be working at SMPNS.

I can implement my music program into my teaching. The school is the perfect philosophy, and the school environment is perfect for success in proper development.
Sue Miller

Sue Miller, Lead Teacher

I started my relationship with our school in 1995 as a parent attending SMPNS with our two sons. Over the years adding co-op sub, board member, aide, substitute teacher and teacher in 2000. I have a BA in Theater Arts and hold a current California State Child Development Permit at the Program Director level. I appreciate the gift of teaching in our play based, co-op program because it respects young children and how they learn. I appreciate building ongoing relationships with families.  I use what I learned in school and at SMPNS (improvising, high emotions, drama, comedy, working with an audience, team work, understanding child development and more) every single day collaborating with adults and children at our wonderful preschool.

Mie Nakamura

Mie Nakamura, Teacher

I was born and raised in San Mateo.  I lived in Seattle and the City for awhile, however my husband, Rob and I eventually settled back here.

I LOVE teaching preschool.  When I was 17, I volunteered at a co-op preschool for the summer and I knew then, that I had found my passion. Since that first summer I started as and aide, teacher, head teacher in preschools in San Mateo and Menlo Park.  

I came to SMPNS as a parent with my son Gus in 2010, and My daughter, June enrolled in 2013. I co-opped and joined the Board as the Records Chairperson and was talked into running for President of the Board!  I loved being involved and ended up serving on the Board for three years as President and Co-President.  During that time I also started working at SMPNS as a sub and eventually joined the staff part time in 2015.  I am so grateful for the opportunities I was offered at SMPNS.  My work on the Board has taught me about the business side of running a preschool and teaching in a co-op environment has rounded out my teaching career.

Besides teaching at SMPNS, I run a play based enrichment program for PreK and Kindergarteners out of my house.  I love all things crafty and creative and if I could I would eat at a restaurant every day of my life!

Cali Palma

Cali Palma, Teacher

I grew up just over the bridge in the east bay. I'm one of four children in a very close knit family.  I got my degree from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, in Liberal Studies and a multiple subject teaching credential from San Diego State University. I taught 3rd grade, here, in the SMFC school district until I had the first of my two boys.

This school with its wonderful philosophy, seasoned teachers, and warmth of community has drawn me back into teaching.  I'm very honored to spend part of my day with your children.  

Dena Heinze

Dena Heinze, Teacher

I'm teacher Dena, I've been with SMPNS since 2012 in various roles: a substitute teacher, co-president, and director- teacher. I am now a part-time teacher here, as well as a mother to my two young daughters Niki and Stefi, and wife to Chris. I earned my bachelors degree in child development from CSU Chico. I earned my teaching credential and masters in education from Notre Dame University. I am an advocate for balance equaling happiness and empowering children with self esteem and love.

I am a seasoned preschool and public school teacher. I'm ready to connect with children and their families every day. I adore children!


Daisy De Las Alas, Teacher Aide


Shelli Weber, Teacher Aide


Corinne, Teacher Aide