Our Staff

Our professional and experienced team of teachers works collaboratively to provide a secure, stimulating, nurturing and developmentally appropriate early children education environment. They are highly trained in the field of child growth and development.  Many of our staff have children who attended St.Francis. All teachers are college graduates and meet or exceed Early Childhood Education state requirements. Several have Masters degrees and/or teaching credentials. Our staff participates in continuing education on an annual basis. The teacher/student ratio is one to seven.

Director: Jesse Parish

​Jesse joined St. Francis in the spring of 2020. She has a BS in Sociology and a MA in Early Childhood Education from Sonoma State University. In her coursework, Jesse specialized in anti-bias education, with an emphasis on empathy development. She has been committed to the field of Early Childhood Education for over 15 years. Jesse has spent the majority of her career as a Montessori teacher and has always been mindful to incorporate many pedagogies within her teaching style. She has seven years experience as a director and prides herself in strong community based values.

Jesse is devoted to cultivating educational environments that allow children to thrive holistically, physically, socially, emotionally, and cognitively to ensure that independence, self-esteem and a joy of learning are established in these pivotal years of development. Her favorite areas to explore in a classroom environment include language arts; children’s literature; geography; trade skills such as woodworking and sewing; and all things natural including animals, insects, and gardening to encourage children in becoming stewards of the earth.

Lead Teacher Transitional Kindergarten (TK): Shoshannah Vorhies

​Shoshannah has been working with children for 28 years. She has a BA in Liberal Studies from Sonoma State University, a Multiple Subject Elementary Teaching Credential from Dominican University, and a State of California Child Development Site Supervisor Permit. She taught kindergarten-second grade for seven years and has been a teacher at St. Francis for 11 years. Prior to joining our staff, her two children also attended St. Francis. Her daughter Zoe, St. Francis alumni, even volunteers in the TK classroom alongside her mom. In her free time, Shoshannah enjoys photography, baking, and being in nature.

Lead Teacher: Gretchen Tara

Gretchen joined the St. Francis staff in the fall of 2017 as the Pre-K Assistant Teacher and is now our Head Pre-K Teacher in Room D. She has a BA in English Literature from Villanova University and a Master's degree in Elementary Education from Chestnut Hill College in Pennsylvania. A teacher since 1990, Gretchen has taught preschool through college. Most recently, she has worked for the Novato Unified School District as a preschool early intervention specialist, home instruction, and elementary school teacher. Her two children attended St. Francis.

Lead Teacher: Rosa Mendez

Rosa Mendez has a BA in Interior Design and a Preschool Teacher Diploma from the University of San Carlos in Guatemala. She completed additional Early Childhood Education studies at SRJC and holds an Associate Teacher Child Development Permit from the State of California. She is currently working on her California Child Development Teacher Permit. Her teaching experience includes eight years as a Montessori Preschool Teacher in Guatemala, special education at the elementary school level, and 21 years at St. Francis. During this time, she worked in both Younger, Pre-K, and Enrichment classes, as well as developed our Spanish Enrichment class. Rosa is currently the Head Teacher of our youngest Pre-K class. She also teachers the Spanish and Cooking enrichment classes. She enjoys cooking and baking, jewelry making, painting, music, and traveling.

Lead Teacher: Beth Mason

Beth Mason has a BA in Sociology from Vanderbilt University and a State of California Child Development Teacher Permit. She has been teaching preschool for 14 years. Beth joined the St. Francis staff in the summer of 2017. She is our Co-Program Coordinator and the Head Teacher in Room A with our youngest children. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, bird-watching, camping and learning to paddle board. She currently lives in Petaluma with her husband and two teenage children.

Teacher: Corlett Osbourne

Corlett Osbourne joined the St. Francis staff in the summer of 2017 as an Assistant Teacher and became the Head Teacher in Time for Twos and the Art Explorer and Movement enrichment classes in 2018. She has a BA in Sociology from Sonoma State University and a California Child Development Teacher Permit. Corlett taught preschool children from infants to kindergarten age for 9 years before joining our staff. Her hobbies include cooking, reading, and photography.

Administrator and Lead Teacher: Melanie Young

​Melanie has worked in the field of Early Childhood Education for 14 years. She has been successful in a variety of roles serving children ages zero to five years of age including assistant teacher, lead teacher, and five years as a director in her previous program. Studying child development during her high school education and continuing right into college in southern California, she knew early on that this field of work was what she was meant to do!

Melanie has a passion for curriculum development that inspires curiosity and a joy of learning all while supporting essential academic skills. As a mother of three, she greatly values independence. In the classroom setting, she strives to foster self-help skills, emotional awareness, and regulation as well as confidence in children.
St. Francis Preschool - Novato, CA