We care about family, which is why our educators and staff are just like family, too.

Discovery Preschool and Family Center prides itself on hiring an incredibly passionate, educated, and friendly team of educators to support your child's growth. Each staff member uses the Reggio Emilia philosophy to inspire learning, curiosity, and discovery to make preschool fun and fulfilling for everyone involved.

meet our

Sara Balla- Owner

our administrators

LEARN MORE

Each day I am humbled by the strength of community, family and early childhood education created here at Discovery! It has truly been an honor to care for so many children here in our beautiful County of Santa Cruz. Along with my husband's support and guidance, I opened the doors to Discovery in July of 2015 with the intention of creating a community hub for new parents to build strong relationships and find solace in the nurturing environment created here for our children. I started my education career as an elementary teacher in 2004, working with children between Kindergarten and third grade, collaborating with amazing and innovative educator teams in the wider Bay Area and more recently at Pacific Elementary in Davenport. After the birth of my daughter, my husband and I opened a home-based preschool on Glen Canyon Rd. and eventually created and established today's Discovery Preschool and Family Center. My vision for the school is to foster the professional development and personal growth of our educators to become life-long learners and strong leaders in our educational community; additionally, I strive to create programs for families to feel supported and nurtured throughout the often challenging and ever-changing lives of early childhood!

Email: sara.scdiscoverypreschool@gmail.com

LEARN MORE

Susie Sakkestad- Site Director at Soquel

LEARN MORE

I have loved working with children, families and staff for over 30 years now in various roles as a teacher, a curriculum specialist, a program quality specialist and a site supervisor (for over 20 of those years). I received my BA in Child Development from San Jose State University and I consider myself a lifelong learner, continually evolving my skills and deepening my understanding of how children develop and what inspires them. In the words of Rachel Carson, a writer and naturalist, "If a child is to keep alive his/her inborn sense of wonder.... he/she needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him/her the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in." I strive to be that person for each child. It also applies to how I support our amazing teaching staff, empowering them to grow, discover and share their best teaching practices.

I live here in the Soquel mountains with my husband and two children. I enjoy parenting, connecting with people and nature, spending time at the beach, hiking, camping, cooking, music, and being with family and friends.

I am truly honored to take on this new role at Discovery, to be collaborating with each of you and discovering the wonder of each child!

Email: susie.scdiscoverypreschool@gmail.com

Stephanie Arguelles - Program Coordinator

LEARN MORE

I truly believe that honoring children as co-constructors of knowledge and working alongside them as current and engaged citizens creates the foundation for a more understanding and socially just world. Therefore, advocating for their work, their perspectives, and their rights through cultivating quality programs, curating rich curriculum & environments, and supporting professional growth among colleagues is work I find genuinely fulfilling and worthwhile. 

After graduating from San Jose State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Child and Adolescent Development, I had the privilege to partner with children and families at the Children’s Center of the Stanford Community – a parent co-op – for five years. Because I believe in fostering a love of life-long learning through being curious ourselves, I chose to pursue my Master’s Degree in Education with a focus on Early Childhood Education through Boulder Journey School’s innovative teacher-education program (BJS TEP) in partnership with CU Denver. Through the BJS TEP, I had the amazing opportunity to visit and study in Reggio-Emilia, Italy. This is where my passion for cultivating richer learning environments and fostering strong connections between home and school through more reflective teaching practices sparked. That being said, I also believe in the old saying,“It takes a village!” and therefore, truly value partnerships and open dialogue with families in order to continue honoring each child’s many social contexts and individual learning approach. Overall, I have been in the field of Early Childhood for about 11 years and continue to be inspired by the work of children. When not at work, I usually spend my time outdoors, adventuring with my dog, Darwin and/or family & friends, trying new places to eat, and in the kitchen baking.

Email: stephanie.scdiscoverypreschool@gmail.com

Michelle Julian Atkins- Site Director at Midtown

LEARN MORE

Curiosity, joy and wonder have led me to work with children and families- having my own children solidified my passion and commitment. 

I feel overwhelmingly grateful for the opportunity to witness children’s learning by offering experiences, time and space to explore their interests in the company of trusting adults. 

In my work with families, I truly believe it takes a village. I feel such honor when a parent trusts me with a challenge and/or success they’re experiencing with their child. 

My journey in early education began in campus based child care at CSU, Chico and then at San Francisco State where I received my MA in Early Childhood Education. Midway through my Master’s program in 2009, I began as an educator at the Google Children’s Centers. It was there (and in conjunction with my MA program) that I “grew up” as an educator. I began as a Site Director after 4 years teaching and oversaw the Young Preschool and later, the Preschool/PreK program. 

In 2017, I had my first child. Life shifted for me at that point and again in 2019 when I had my second. I decided to focus on my new and important role as a parent. I live in Scotts Valley with my children, husband and occasional nesting dark eyed juncos Mathilda and Franklin. So far, they’ve raised two sets of babies! I’m a novice gardener and yogi, hiker and explorer of this beautiful area!

I feel so fortunate to be a member of the Discovery team- the shared values of community, strong image of the child and family and the opportunity to discover alongside young children and their families is a gift.
 
Email: scdiscoverymidtown@gmail.com

Our SOQUEL educators!

educators

LEARN MORE

LEARN MORE

Discovery West Educators!!

Midtown Educators!!

The Farm Educators!!



Our educators' information is under construction!