Albina Baranova. Founder of Kids Collective
It’s been my long-time dream to create something important and meaningful, something that has a long-lasting impact on the lives of others. They say we are what we have learned in our first years and I fully embrace that philosophy.
As a mother of two wonderful children who are both my instigators, students and teachers, I’ve tried to teach them all the best and learned a lot watching them grow and learn things from me and each other. Although I’ve been home schooling with my children and tried multiple approaches. Telling a truth, I’m a big fan of the Montessori method, but also love art since received my BA in Design from Kiev University of Technology and Design.
When my partner Szilvi and I were looking for a Los Angeles-area preschool for my daughter and her son we were unable to find a program that matched our strict parental criteria. And so the idea was born to open the school of our dreams, which our children would attend.
Kids Collective is a result of this dream, a combination of the best educational approaches—Montessori and Reggio with various modern activities from yoga to nature-exploring classes supported by carefully selected, devoted teachers and the spirit of brotherhood in our collective.
Our mission is to help you raise smart and happy kids that will become beneficent, helpful and socially conscious members of society.
Szilvi Kovacs. Founder and Montessori Directress of the Preschool
I was born and raised in Hungary. I completed my Bachelors in Liberal Arts in Budapest and earned my AMI Montessori diploma from MISD in San Diego. Very early in my life, I was introduced to the concept of a preschool family.
My mother is a preschool director of two public preschools in Hungary with a collective student body of 170 children. She is also an Educational Advisor for the European Union for preschool age children. I knew that one day I would follow in my mother’s footsteps. Growing up, I watched her come home from work with such joy, filled with wonderfully cute and funny stories about the children in her school.
These experiences instilled in me a deep love for children. I truly admire every stage of development. For several years I worked as a lead Montessori teacher in San Diego at Central Montessori School. Later, I was Assistant Director at a Montessori school in Palms. I am certified to teach yoga to children certificate and have taught yoga in my classrooms over the past several years.
When my own son turned two-and-a-half, I felt that he was ready for school and visited several Montessori and Reggio-inspired schools on the Westside. I went on lots of parent tours and saw beautiful facilities at Reggio-inspired preschools and long-established Montessori Schools.
I have always loved the Reggio method of teaching but as a Montessori teacher I knew how important it was to grasp children’s natural interest during their ‘sensitive periods’ and present them with the appropriate and carefully designed materials that Dr. Montessori developed. I understood how important it was to develop their concentration and attention span that is acquired when they are “lost in their activities”. I didn’t want my son to miss out on this fantastic method.
Visiting Montessori Schools I felt that I wanted more. I missed the creativity and the art-based approach that Reggio inspired schools offered. I missed the collaborative work, team building and the sense of community within the preschool family. I wanted my son to ‘dig in the dirt’ and have an array of organic materials where his imagination could go wild. I wanted him to be able to create and cooperate and discover in a completely different way than he would have in a Montessori Preschool. So I asked myself, “Why can’t he have both? Why can’t every child have the best of both preschool programs?”
And so the idea for Kids Collective was born. Along with my partner Albina, who was facing the same dilemma with her daughter, we created a school that we wanted our children to go to. We founded Kids Collective Preschool as a center where the highest standards of education are met.
Besides teaching I am very passionate about organic food and chemical-free living. I cook every day and use products without harmful chemicals. I can’t stress the importance of teaching children healthy eating habits, exercise and caring for the environment from a very early age. I love sports and the outdoors and the beach and have been teaching salsa dancing in Santa Monica for the past nine years.
Brisa Ocean. Reggio Inspired Teacher
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, my inspiration and love of teaching comes from my childhood experiences. I learned from my mother, through play, I could discover endless possibilities that inspired my creativity and curiosity. From these experiences I knew I wanted to pursue my dream of teaching.
I received my Bachelor’s degree in Child Development from the University of La Verne. I have ten years experience working with children. In my ongoing efforts to fuel my desire for educational and professional growth; I had the great privilege to actively participate in an Educator Tour to Reggio Emilia, Italy where I reflected deeply on my practices as an educator.
As an educator, I understand the importance of taking time for each child and reflecting on the child’s experiences, interest, and questions.
“Reggio educators believe the environment is so important that they call it a “third teacher.”
This means they trust that what children learn from each other and from using items in the environment is equally important to what they learn from working with a teacher.”
I am happy to be in a preschool community with an ideal environment and the best educational approaches for young children because all children have preparedness, potential, curiosity; they have interest in relationships, in constructing their own learning and in negotiating with everything the environment brings to them.
Working with children is an everyday gift that comes in a form of learning, laughing, playing and much more!!!
Alicia Euceda. Montessori/Reggio Inspired Teacher
I am a Los Angeles native that has been working with children for the past 12 years. I am fluent in both Spanish and English. I am currently pursuing my bachelors in early child development at Santa Monica Collage from where I’ve earned my Associate Degree in Behavioral Science and completed over 39 Early Childhood Education units. I have worked at The Growing Place in Santa Monica, a Reggio Inspired preschool since 2002 where I learned and grew alongside the children, families and my wonderful colleagues. I believe that children are capable of constructing their own knowledge with collaboration and guidance from their peers and teachers. I am passionate about providing an environment where children’s curiosity is sparked and challenged.
In my free time I enjoy spending time with my family and friends, going out for runs with my dog and reading a good book.
I am very excited about this new journey and being a part of Kids Collective.
Melissa Bueno. Outdoor Classroom Teacher
Reflecting back on my childhood experiences, I realized that I had a natural sense of nurture when it came to the care and development of young children. It was since then, that I knew that I had within me a natural gift of nurturing others. Growing up, my education and experiences have led me to my true calling, and that of which is teaching.
I knew I wanted to pursue my career in Early Childhood Education to follow my passion. In result, I received my Bachelor of Arts Degree in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Human & Child Development from the California State University of Long Beach.
I have more than 5 years of experience in working with young children. It was through the diverse understandings of teaching philosophies that led me to create my own. The teachings of the Reggio Emilia Approach and Special Education, have allowed me to develop a unique sense of perception in Early Childhood.
As an Educator, I have learned how important it is to support and recognize the various ways children express themselves. Every child’s uniqueness, opens an opportunity for appreciating differences that allows a diverse learning environment. It is with this outlook; I have developed a genuine approach to setting the foundations with young children and their families that are based on trust and mutual respect.
I’m excited to join the Kids Collective and most importantly appreciate the opportunity to be part of a preschool community that supports it’s teachers and students as they grow together becoming Life-Long Learners! I look forward to building new relationships and creating memorable experiences together.