Our Taraval Team

Luisa Baj

Executive Director

Amany Salah

Director

Andrea Rojas

Infant Teacher

Anthony Nguyen

Toddler Teacher

Salema Elgelda

Toddler Teacher’s Aide

Gilda Tam

Toddler Teacher

Thereza Cerna

Lead Teacher

Shenna Cabrera

Infant Teacher’s Aide

Dai Calderon

Infant Teacher’s Aide

Mireya Resendiz

Facility Assistant

Bianca Lua

Infant Teacher’s Aide

Hai Nguyen

Toddler Teacher

Yarena Ozuna

Director

Rebecca Wang

Assistant Director

Thereza Cerna

Lead Teacher

Sandy Wan

 Lead Infant Teacher

Emily Pham

Infant Teacher

Nicole Ozuna

Infant Teacher

Ahlayah Shabazz

Toddler Teacher

Sadaf Shahid

Toddler Teacher

Shenna Cabrera

Infant Teacher’s Aide

Marissa Sanchez

Infant Teacher’s Aide

Silvia Hernandez

Toddler Teacher’s Aide

Suki Yu

Toddler Teacher’s Aide

Jacqueline Dudley

Toddler Teacher’s Aide

Dai Calderon

Infant Teacher’s Aide

Mireya Resendiz

Facility Assistant

NOTE:

At Meaningful Beginnings, we undergo an extensive interview process and only hire the best educators in the Early Childhood Education field.

Our teacher’s are required to undergo a Caregiver Background Check as mandated by the state of California. All staff must submit their fingerprints and get clearance.

Teachers are required to have at least 12 early childhood education (ECE) units or willing to take classes. If a teacher currently does not have any ECE units, they are considered teacher’s aides and must be under the supervision of a fully qualified teacher. All employees are required to submit immunization records and undergo a health screening including a TB test.

Teachers must also get their CPR and First-Aid certification, complete mandated reporter training and pest management training, and ensure that they stay-up-to-date.

Administrators, such as the director and assistant director, are required to take the Health, Safety, Nutrition, and Lead Poisoning Prevention trainings.

LUISA BAJ

Director

Working with and becoming a part of a community has always been a dream for Luisa. She worked in museums throughout the Bay Area for years, always in their education department. Through this passion, she found that her favorite audience was children. The way she was able to connect, facilitate, and grow with their innate curiosity became her dream. She wants to bring Art and STEM to children of all abilities and create a community within the classroom where mistakes are part of the learning process, and kids get the opportunity to direct their own learning. She wants her students to be excited to come to school and loves to see the excitement and wonder in their eyes. She is excited to bring her previous experience from the Bay Area Discovery Museum into Meaningful Beginnings and create a community built on curiosity, kindness, respect, and accessibility. Luisa received her dual Masters in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education from Grand Canyon University.

Amany Salah

Director

Coming soon….

Andrea Rojas

Infant Teacher

Coming soon….

Anthony Nguyen

Toddler Teacher

Anthony Nguyen joins the Meaningful Beginnings Community as a Toddler Teacher, bringing with him a rich background in early childhood education. A graduate of California State University of Fullerton, he holds a Bachelor of Science in Child and Adolescent Development, with a focus on Early Childhood Education. Originally from Huntington Beach, CA, Anthony ventured north to San Francisco after graduation to expand his teaching experience.

Over the past three years, Anthony has distinguished himself as a high-quality educator at TEL-HI, one of the top preschools in San Francisco. His contributions to the SF Early Childhood Community include fostering deep, meaningful communications that enhance language acquisition among preschool children with speech delays. He is adept at supporting children from diverse backgrounds and abilities, using positive encouragement and redirection to manage behaviors, and ensuring full inclusion for children with Autism through accessible and effective early learning supports.

Anthony has gained extensive experience working with diverse populations across non-profit, public, and private preschool settings. He is committed to building positive, genuine, and collaborative relationships with parents and families, tailoring support to meet each family’s unique needs. He believes in creating a learning environment where education is shared among peers, facilitating naturalistic learning opportunities through constant verbal and non-verbal communicative discourse.

In his quest to provide a nurturing and warm educational environment, Anthony aims to ensure that children enjoy positive and cherished early educational experiences. Outside of his professional life, Anthony is passionate about singing, writing, reading, playing musical instruments, and exploring a variety of music. He actively participates in volunteering, church activities, and enjoys connecting with nature through walks and hikes.

Salema Elgelda

Toddler Teacher’s Aide

Meet Salema, affectionately known as Mimi, one of the newest members of our Meaningful Beginnings family. Mimi graduated from UC Davis in 2021 with a degree in Psychology and brings nine years of experience in childcare to our team.

Mimi is passionate about nurturing young minds and approaches childcare with creativity and a caring demeanor. She is committed to creating a welcoming environment where children can thrive, feeling safe and happy. Understanding the challenges faced by both parents and children who spend much of the day apart, Mimi makes it her top priority to ensure that the needs of every child are met, helping them to feel secure and supported while away from home.

At Meaningful Beginnings, Mimi looks forward to applying her skills and passion to make a positive impact on the lives of the children and families she works with.

Gilda Tam

Toddler Teacher

Meet Gilda, a passionate ballet dancer since the age of three and our team member at Meaningful Beginnings. Gilda graduated from the University of San Francisco, where she majored in Performing Arts and Social Justice. Her lifelong dedication to ballet and the arts deeply informs her approach to working with children.

Gilda has extensive experience working at various childcare centers throughout San Francisco, bringing a unique blend of artistic expression and social awareness to her role. She is excited to join the Meaningful Beginnings family and looks forward to fostering an environment where children can explore their own creative passions while feeling valued and understood.

At Meaningful Beginnings, Gilda is eager to inspire and engage with children, helping them to develop their artistic and social skills in a supportive and nurturing setting.

Thereza Cerna

Lead Teacher

For Thereza Cerna, what started as a love for babysitting at a young age quickly evolved into a full-fledged passion for working with kids full-time. Now six years into her current role, she is thrilled to be teaching with the Meaningful Beginnings team and enjoys the daily satisfaction that comes with seeing children’s faces light up and smile as they arrive each day. For Theresa, being a part of their early development and milestones is what it’s really all about, and she embraces every opportunity to create a special bond with each of her students. Currently attending Skyline/Cañada College for early childhood education, she’s not only committed to the continual improvement of her skill set, but she’s also on a lifelong mission to help children uncover their own unique passions and interests. When she isn’t providing exceptional care in the classroom, she enjoys spending quality time with family or doing some crafts.

Shenna Cabrera

Teacher’s Aide

Drawing inspiration from her parents, grandparents, and teachers, Shenna Cabrera sees her role as a daycare provider as an excellent opportunity to share what she knows with the young minds of tomorrow. Every time she goes to work, she looks forward to seeing how each kid’s day unfolds and hearing the stories they must share. She also appreciates those special moments when the children arrive at the center, show their big smiles, give hugs, and beam with excitement as they interact with their teachers and friends. A native of the Philippines, Shenna now resides here in California where she graduated from Our Lady of Fatima University with a bachelor’s degree in Nursing. She’s currently taking classes in Early Child Education at Skyline College. When she’s not working, she enjoys spending time with family and friends.

Dai Calderon

Infant Teacher’s Aide

Hello, my name is Dai. I used to live in Southern California but moved to San Francisco to continue my education at City College of San Francisco. I hold a Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice which in return sparked an interest in working with children. When children are given a good support system, love, and are guided through their social, emotional and intellectual development that could have a great deal of an impact as they progress through life.

Mireya Resendiz

Facility Assistant

Hi, My name is Mireya and primarily I am a mother of 3 children. I consider myself a responsible person as well as a hard worker. One of my first jobs was in a restaurant where I worked for more than 10 years. I then worked at a senior facility center for around 4 years. Both of my jobs as you can imagine required multitasking, customer service and utilizing my time to carry out the tasks to the best of my abilities. I am now lucky enough to be working at a school, alongside a great team and giving it my best to learn the necessary skills to be able to serve all of these wonderful children.

Bianca Lua

Infant Teacher’s Aide

Coming soon….

Hai Nguyen

Toddler Teacher

Coming soon….

Yarena Ozuna

Assistant Director

My name is Yarena Ozuna, I grew up in Los Angeles and moved to San Francisco during my senior year in highschool. I was originally a Psychology major and I received my Bachelor’s in Psychology from San Francisco State University. I wanted to become a child psychologist and work with children. I first got the opportunity to work with children as an aide in a preschool classroom and fell in love with the job.

I decided that I wanted to be in the education field and went back to school to get my certification to be a fully qualified teacher. I was a master teacher in my own classroom for around 3 years and then decided that I wanted to know what happened behind the scenes in a classroom, and got my certification to do administrative work in a school setting.

I am passionate about working with children and want to be able to provide them with the best education possible which is why I wanted to learn more about the intricate parts of running a program and become part of the team to help a center grow and thrive alongside the teachers. In my spare time I am constantly taking ECE
classes and learning more about the different policies in development. I like the outdoors and going for hikes and also like to cook, write, read, and spend time with family and friends.

 

REBECCA WANG

Assistant Director

Becoming a teacher was not only part of the plan for Rebecca Wang; it was the unequivocal dream – a dream that involved the passionate, never-ending pursuit of knowledge that would also enable her to impart her years of experience into the budding lives of children. This dream, now fully realized, continues to grow with each passing day as she seizes every new opportunity to help children flourish. Beyond instilling a lifelong love of learning into her students, she relishes the ability to infuse happiness into every stage of their unique learning journeys. Harnessing Meaningful Beginnings as a springboard for learning and creating a community that extends beyond a shared geographical location. She especially appreciates when our learners simply surprise themselves – and their parents and teachers, too – with the levels of learning they have accomplished. For her, that’s the greatest reward there is. A graduate of San Francisco State University, she holds a bachelor’s degree in Child and Adolescent Development specializing in Early Childhood Education and can read and write fluent Mandarin.

Sandy Wan

Lead Infant Teacher

Born and raised in San Francisco, Sandy has always held a profound love of caring for babies and kids. A daycare worker since 2011, she cherishes every opportunity to see them grow and thrive while also encouraging them to think freely, embrace creativity, and be themselves. Hard-working by nature, she studied child development and CNA at City College of San Francisco. When she isn’t busy taking care of children at Meaningful Beginnings, you can find her out and about with family and friends.

Emily Pham

Infant Teacher

My name is Emily and I am an infant teacher. My aim with this position is to learn how children develop as unique individuals and learn how to support their holistic growth. I am currently a student at San Francisco
State University majoring in Child and Adolescent Development. With this experience, I am hoping to get a sense on whether I want to continue to work in the classroom or if I want to learn the administrative side of education. The experience of working directly with children is gratifying and I wish to create a safe space for children to explore with all of their senses as they develop their own personalities. I hope to be able to help build a strong foundation so that the children can have the confidence and ability to express themselves.

Nicole Ozuna

Infant Teacher

My name is Nicole and I am an infant teacher. My goal is to become a pediatrician and will be attending the University of California San Francisco in the Fall. I aim to gather experience by working with young children to learn firsthand about their development and discover their needs. I believe that it is essential to get to know the child as an individual and know the importance of teachers developing along with the child to support them physically, emotionally, cognitively, and socially. I want to create an environment where the children feel safe, at ease, and most importantly, where they can be themselves. I hope to create strong attachments and relationships with the infants where they can learn from me and I learn from them.

Ahlayah Shabazz

Educator

I am a San Francisco native who has always had a passion for working with children as well as helping others. From an early age I babysat for relatives as well as family friends. With this my passion for working with children only continued to grow. I then started working with kids with autism as a behavioral specialist providing ABA therapy for 2 years. I am a psychology major and originally strived to become a child psychologist or therapist but has recently fallen in love with the classroom setting and plans to double major in both psychology and child development.

Sadaf Shahid

Teacher

Described by others as friendly, silly, and funny, Sadaf Shahid joined the Meaningful Beginnings team a year ago and has since made a lasting impression on her students and colleagues alike. For Sadaf, it’s not just the team she works with, it’s the vibrant environment that the daycare fosters and the smiles on her kids’ faces that make the entire experience so incredibly special and worthwhile. A Muslim immigrant originally from Pakistan and a self-described family person who now calls San Francisco home, she attended San Francisco City College as part of her training and is ecstatic to put all her years of experience to good use and the benefit of a growing group of knowledge-hungry students. Deeply passionate about expanding every child’s horizon, she makes it her daily mission to elevate the learning experience by encouraging endless discovery through interactive exploration.

Marissa Sanchez

Educator

I am a California native from a small town called Dinuba and have always loved helping and making a difference in people’s lives. Before moving to San Francisco, I became a Missionary after graduating high school and had the opportunity to live in different parts of Asia for 3 years working with children. I fell in love with making a difference in a child’s life and being able to broaden their horizons. I am currently attending school to become a pediatric nurse to continue to make a difference.

Silvia Hernandez

Toddler Teacher’s Aide

I am a Southern California native from a town called Ontario. From an early age, I became an aunt and babysat for my nieces and nephews. With this experience, I realized my interest and passion for working with children. I love to see and help with the growth and development of young children. I am currently a sociology major looking to go into the field of social work.

Suki Yu

Toddler Teacher’s Aide

Hello, my name is Suki. I am a caring, patient, and responsible person with 2 children. Seeing children grow and learn happily makes me love working with them even more. I used to work as a volunteer at the child care center at City College of San Francisco. In my study and communication with teachers, I learned how to help children adapt to their new environment. In my interactions with children, I learned about their personalities and behaviors that allowed me to provide care catered to their individual needs. I am continuing my education in the field of early childhood education to improve my teaching practice.

When I am not at work, I like to go hiking, shopping, and traveling with my kids. I also like to play volleyball with my daughter.

Jacqueline Dudley

Toddler Teacher’s Aide

I am originally from Sacramento but always knew I would move to San Francisco one day. Growing up, I used to take the Amtrak train with my mom and brother to visit my grandparents in Alameda. This also happens to be where my parents met each other. Visiting the city when I was young holds many cherished memories for me. As I finish school in San Francisco to get my teaching units, I hope to one day be an art teacher in my own classroom. I hope to make the students’ beginnings here as meaningful and memorable as my own.