Our teachers are a dedicated group of early childhood educators whose level of commitment does not stop at the classroom door.  The teachers' will encourage your child to explore and discover new ideas and to reach their full potential. Excellent student-teacher ratios ensure each child receives individual and caring attention.


Charleen Kuykendall

Charleen is the lead teacher of our Explorer group. Charleen has a K-8 teaching credential and has spent all of her adult life teaching preschool.  Charleen taught for many years at the San Rafael JCC/ECE,  and then decide it was time to retire and “enjoy” life!   She then chose to volunteer for local food outreach programs (another passion), take classes, go out to lunch and on hikes with friends etc.  At that point she heard that Gan had gotten The Outdoor Classroom Certificate and she came to see what that was all about.  It was then that she realized one cannot teach all of their lives and then walk out and close that door.  That day, Charleen offered to volunteer once a week and began teaching a beloved Nature Detective program at Gan. From there it was with a happy realization that she decided, she actually wasn’t ready to retire after all! Charleen has a grown son and daughter, seven grandchildren (all grown except for two teenagers), and one and half greatgrandchildren.  Oh, yes and a husband who understands that she will be a much happier wife coming out of retirement!!   “I am honored and excited to be spending more hours and days at the BEST preschool ever—GIP!!!”


Etty Kodoch

Etty is a support teacher at Gan Israel, where she works alongside Grace in the Aleph/Bet class. We first met Etty back in 2002 when her son was a student at Gan Israel. Ten years later Etty joined our staff as a substitute assistant, and then as a full-time support teacher in our youngest classroom.  Etty has a generous and caring nature. The children respond to her calm and loving presence knowing she is always ready to provide a hug or a helping hand.


Betsy Surtshin

  Betsy is the lead teacher of our pre-K class - the Mountaineers group. Betsy joined our team after working at the Osher-Marin ECE for  many years. She is a great addition to our school where she shares her knowledge and experience with both the children and their families. In her teaching, Betsy values learning alongside the children, helping them make discoveries, and developing their unique talents and gifts. Betsy is building our outdoor learning environment, helping the children and staff experience nature in a meaningful way on a daily basis.  She provides an emergent curriculum, where she is guided by both her knowledge of children’s development and the interests and ideas of her students.


Nancy Hernandez

Nancy is a co teacher in our Explorer room and lead teacher of our afternoon program. Nancy began her journey into the world of Early Childhood Education in 2006 at the Santa Rosa Community College. During that time she volunteered as a TA in a 1st grade at Matanzas Elementary School in Santa Rosa and her love for learning with young children was revealed. In addition to her professional work with young children, Nancy is also an aunt and caregiver to her 3 beautiful and rambunctious nephews.

Nancy began working at Gan in the fall of 2017 and in her words, “…has enjoyed being part of such a unique community. As a demonstration Outdoor Classroom site, I’ve learned that anything that can be taught indoors can be explored deeper outdoors. In fact it’s more of a realistic approach to seeing the wonders of our environment. It is rewarding to see the children truly invested in all that learning brings. I’m thankful for this opportunity and very much excited to keep learning from these tiny humans.”


 Gloria Cunha

Gloria is a support teacher in our Explorer room; joyously learning and growing alongside the children. Gloria brings her love of nature, her compassion and her joy for all things living to her work at Gan. She has more than 15 years of experience, working both in San Francisco and Marin. Gloria’s sense of wonder and her joyous approach to new discoveries and learnings make her a perfect fit as a Gan Educator.