Jill Watkins

4-day Teacher, Director

I have a BA from UCSD in psychology with many additional units in Early Childhood Education and more than 25 years of experience in the field. I was selected and served for many years as a Mentor Teacher to model quality practice for those in community college early education programs. 

 In 2018, I was privileged to receive the California Council of Parent Participation Nursery Schools Teacher Director Award. In 2019, I expanded my role at CPNS by accepting the Director position. 

I joined CPNS as both a parent and teacher in the 4-day class in 2015, so I have been able to enjoy the best of both worlds! Not only did I benefit from a sage group of veteran parents who were so willing to help me succeed in the co-op community that was new to me, I was also privileged to spend quality time each afternoon with my younger son Jason who is a 7th grader at Abbott, just a block away from his brother Nick, a junior at Hillsdale.

From my experience with Jason, it was quickly evident to me why families would choose a co-op. Right away, I appreciated the like-mindedness in espousing the mentality that “it takes a village”, confident that I could rely on the genuine support of an amazing community. Additionally, the greater level of parental involvement and investment in growing one’s parenting skills continues to be truly inspirational.

I look forward to meeting and working alongside you at CPNS this year!

Watch this video to see Teacher Jill in action!

Lori Basile

Pre-K Teacher

This will be my 10th year teaching at CPNS, two years as an aide and 7 years teaching the 2-day and Pre-K classes. I am the teacher for Summer Camp as well. CPNS has always held a special place in my heart since my son, now 37, had his first preschool experience here and now I have come full circle, back as a teacher!

Being a parent at CPNS was what started my journey into Early Childhood Education. I attended Canada College and earned my ECE certificate and then taught at a preschool in Portola Valley for 21 years. I loved teaching the "bookend" classes at CPNS; in the 2-day class they are new and full of curiosity and in Pre-K they are ready to take on the world. 

In Pre-K, I love cooking with the children and doing science experiments that create the WOW factor.  After a very successful experience of expanding Pre-K from two days to four this year, I'm looking forward to continued discovery of Language Land, Science Scene, Fabulous Foods and Body Blast. 

I have a passion for children's literature, and I am always looking for new books and authors. You will often find me reading with the children.

I enjoy working with children and observing how much they learn and grow. They make me laugh with the little things they say as they learn!

Watch this video to see Teacher Lori in action!

Denise Menger

2-day, 3-day, & 5-day Teacher

I began my teaching career in 2007 in a 2nd grade classroom in Texas. When my first child was born, I left the classroom to become his full-time caretaker and to launch my own part-time tutoring business. For 10 years I tutored, working mostly to develop reading and writing skills with school-aged students. 

In 2018, I finished a Master’s program at the University of Houston focusing on Literacy Development. Much of the work I did during grad school was centered on training and equipping parents to support literacy development in the home. I am thrilled to have been able to share that work with CPNS and other communities in the area through offering Parent Education workshops.

At home, I am the mother of three children – Ryan who is 13 and loves to build, Emily who is 12 and a nurturer at heart, and Hannah who is 9 and full of imagination. A few years ago, we moved from Houston for my husband’s job. We are loving the great weather and endless outdoor activities available in the Bay Area. If we’re not out hiking and exploring, we’re probably piled on the couch reading or listening to audio books.

I truly believe that CPNS is a magical place and feel very fortunate to have found this wonderful community.

Watch this video to see Teacher Denise in action!

Julie Uyekubo

2-day Teacher

I live in San Mateo with my husband, Gregg and two children, Kylie (15) and Tyler (13).  We enjoy watching, playing and supporting the many sports they are playing and spending time with family and friends.  We have been active members of co-op preschools since my daughter was 1.  I enjoy reading, walking with friends and I love to bake. 

I have a Bachelor of Sciences in Human Development from UC Davis.  I taught preschool for ten years in San Jose before “retiring” and raising our family.  I returned to teaching at Little Hands in 2016 and I am excited to be at CPNS this year.  

CPNS provides our children with a fun, safe and loving environment in which to explore and learn.  I am looking forward to being a part of this school as the 2-day teacher.

Leyda Hamilton

 Teacher's Aide

I have a PhD in Biochemistry and Cell Biology from UC Davis. In 2016 I retired my lab coat when I had my first daughter, Hazel. I traded my pipettes and petri dishes for diapers and board books, and I have never been more fulfilled! In 2018, I joined the CPNS community with Hazel in the 2-day class while Phoebe, my second, was just one month old.

CPNS has enriched my family in so many ways. During the isolation of the pandemic, CPNS was a beacon of light for us. By adapting their practices and moving classes outdoors, CPNS provided a safe place for my daughters to continue to thrive and grow when we were otherwise stuck at home. Pre-K prepared my daughters to enter Kindergarten with confidence and empathy and gave them an enthusiasm for learning that continues to serve them both. Over the last 5 years at CPNS I have also thrived as an individual. I found a like-minded community of diverse parents on parallel journeys. I experienced tremendous satisfaction during my co-op days, getting to know, support, and play with my children's peers. By attending countless Parent Support Workshops (PSWs) I strengthened my parenting techniques and learned about toddlers' development and needs. 

I am honored to join the team of amazing teachers at CPNS as an Assistant Teacher and to give back to the community that has given me so much! So many things in a child’s world can be daunting or downright scary; conflict resolution, new experiences, separation anxiety, uncertainty, or if you're my daughter, the terrifying smell of a fresh strawberry. I aim to be a nurturing and caring presence during the challenges of preschool and to support the other teachers in any way I can. 

Katie Lipka

 Music Teacher

Once a week it is my pleasure to spend time with the afternoon class teaching music. 

We sing!

I started private voice lessons more than 3 decades ago and have sung solo and chorus, including Opera San Jose and Masterworks Chorale. 

We dance!

I have studied ballet, jazz, modern, and tap. 

We express our emotions!

I have a BA in Drama from UC Irvine. Finally, our class is developmentally appropriate. 

I spent 6 years as a preschool co-op parent, including right here at CPNS. I feel so lucky to still be a part of this wonderful community. 

Board of Directors

Please find information about our 2023-2024 Board of Directors in this document.