Our Mission Statement
Children come into the world as unique human beings with their own individual strengths and weaknesses. It is our mission to get to know and understand the children with whom we work and help them grow into the best possible versions of themselves.
Each child develops in his/her unique way: there is no “correct” way to learn and grow. Children acquire knowledge differently and at different rates. It is our job to recognize and respect these differences.
Children come into the world with a natural curiosity and passion for figuring things out. They do not need to be forced to learn; they are motivated by their own desire to make sense of the world. We strive to reinforce this innate drive to learn by providing children with a stimulating, challenging, environment and allowing them the opportunity to discover -- to experience the world via all of their senses. Growth happens naturally as they explore and experiment at their own pace and driven by their own interests.
We allow children a great deal of autonomy in determining the direction of their learning; they are offered a wide array of stimulating activities and are given great freedom of choice. We believe in giving children autonomy, but not the power to determine everything that happens in their school lives. As such, we attempt gently to introduce expectations and structure that are commensurate with developmental readiness.
A person’s ability to socialize and communicate with others effectively is a major factor in determining his/her success in school and in life. We seek to help children learn how to get their wants and needs met, how to problem-solve, how to compromise and, when necessary, how to ask for help.
We strive to help foster in children the ability to cope with frustration. The world is unpredictable, sometimes unfair and, no matter how much we love our children, we cannot protect them from everything. One of the greatest gifts we can give them is the knowledge that everyone struggles, everyone fails sometimes and, in order to succeed at anything, we need to be prepared to do things that are difficult. If we take it upon ourselves always to make children happy, they will never learn how to make themselves happy.
Tour A Kid's Place!
All tours start at 8:30 a.m. and typically last about an hour (or a little longer).
Two hour meter parking is available on Venice Blvd in front of A Kid’s Place.
Tours are for ADULTS ONLY. Please leave your little ones at home.
Come prepared with questions!
Susie Leonard (Director, Butterfly Teacher) has been working with children for more than 50 years. She thinks she was destined to teach preschool, being a second generation preschool teacher. Her parents owned and ran several “nursery schools” when she was quite young and she began helping out in her early teens in order to earn money for college. She subsequently earned a B.A. in sociology from UCLA and a M.A. in Marriage, Family and Child Counseling from Azusa Pacific University. When her own children were young, wanting to combine her work with little ones and her desire to support new parents navigating the challenges of parenthood, she proposed starting a Toddler and Transition program at Temple Isaiah Preschool, where her three children were students. The idea was accepted and she worked as the head teacher/Director for 13 years until the Preschool Director retired and she was recruited to replace her. Twelve years later, she and Amanda had a dream of creating a school of their own and A Kids Place came into being. She believes strongly in the uniqueness of every child she has had the privilege of knowing.
Amanda Leonard (Assistant Director, Guppy & Butterfly Teacher) has a B.A. in Sociology from U.C. Berkeley and an Ed.M in Human Development and Psychology from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her graduate work was primarily focused on Educational Neuroscience. She has spent practically her whole life working in preschools. As a child, she “helped” her mom, Susie, in the Toddler and Transition classes at Temple Isaiah. By the time she was a teenager, she was spending every holiday and summer vacation working at Isaiah. She has now been a full time preschool teacher and administrator for nearly 19 years. In what little free time she has, she likes to read, write, draw and cook (she is a graduate of the California Culinary Academy!). She has an 8-year-old son, Ollie (whom she finds occasionally maddening, but mostly delightful) and a baby girl named Frankie.
Gladys Camargo (Butterfly Teacher) has a B.A. from the Instituto Commercial Boliviano Her teaching career began 17 years ago at Temple Isaiah Preschool, where she worked with Susie and Amanda, and she’s never looked back. She adores working with the children, facilitating their growth and helping them learn through play. Gladys is fluent in both English and Spanish. She has a son, a daughter (our beloved Ana-Alicia!) and a grandson, Noah. In her spare time, she likes to do arts and crafts and go out dancing!
Rosy Manor (Ducky Teacher) has been teaching for 14 years. Born in Texas and raised primarily in Mexico, her first experience as a teacher was when she gave arts and craft lessons to children in Mexico City. In the U.S., she worked at Beth Israel Day School for four years and at Temple Isaiah for two years, before moving on to A Kid’s Place where she has been teaching for 8 years. Her mission as a teacher is to treat children with compassion, love and respect. She loves painting in different media, especially painting murals for children (Check out the beautiful mural Rosy painted in the Butterfly classroom!) She also enjoys making jewelry, handmade dolls, crochet bags, and other crafts. She is fluent is both English and Spanish. Rosy is the mother of one and the grandmother of four.
Suzy “Blossom” Vernoff (Ducky Teacher) has been teaching for 16 years. She studied at UCLA where she obtained a degree in Liberal Arts. She is ECE and CPR certified, has a Director’s Certificate and is bilingual in English and Spanish. She is inspired by children and awed by the guileless innocence of young minds. It excites her to watch these precious buds blossom, and to be a part of their journey of growth and learning. She loves seeing the difference she makes in children’s lives, as much as she embraces who she has become because of them. She enjoys music, dancing, singing, taking care of her many pets, watching movies and creating. She also loves being silly and finds humor to be a great panacea. She most values the time she gets to spend with her fiancée and 2 children, from sharing the simple pleasure of family meals, to going on outings and traveling.
Sheena Cohen (Orange Popsicle Teacher) studied Early Childhood Education at SMC and UCLA, ultimately obtaining a BA from UCLA. She has been teaching preschool for more than 25 years. Like a number of our teachers, she worked for many years at Temple Isaiah Preschool before joining us at A Kid’s Place. Something she wants to convey to parents is that their preschoolers are capable of being more independent than they might let on at home. One of her objectives as a teacher is to foster that independence in the children with whom she works, while also letting them know that she, along with the other teachers, is always available to help when needed. When not teaching, she likes to play and watch sports.
Adrianne Schumer (Rainbow Popsicle Teacher) has been a preschool teacher for more than 25 years. She has both a B.A. and a teaching credential from U.C. Irvine and has taken additional Early Childhood Education classes from SMC. She decided to become a teacher in high school when she mentored with a reading specialist. From that moment on, she was hooked. The cornerstone of her teaching philosophy is: “Give them a minute… no really. Give kids a minute to think, explore respond and question.” In her spare time, she likes to read, exercise and do crossword puzzles.
Regina Sobol (Rainbow Popsicle Teacher) has a B.A. in Child Development from Cal State Northridge. She has been a preschool teacher for more than 20 years. She first caught the teaching bug when she took advantage of an opportunity in high school to work with five-year-olds and loved it. Her teaching philosophy is to always practice patience and kindness, both with the children and with their parents. Something she would like parents to know about their preschoolers is, “Be patient…they’ll outgrow it.” When not at AKP, she enjoys sleeping and spending time with her three children.
A Kid’s Place does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, gender expression, age, national origin, disability, marital status, sexual orientation or military status in any of its activities or operations. These activities include, but are not limited to, hiring and firing of staff, selection of volunteers and vendors, the admission of students and the provision of services. We are committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members of our staff, our students and their parents, volunteers and vendors.