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Meet our Team

“While we try to teach our children all about life, Our children teach us what life is all about. ~Angela Schwindt

Our dedicated staff are committed to providing a safe and enriching program for your child.   We have set and maintained the highest of standards for all of our staff to provide a quality care program for each child attending our school. Our outstanding staff and excellent curriculum provides the ideal environment for a child’s development.



A lifelong passion for children and education, coupled with a mothers instinct to be with her children is what led me to the Secret Garden. My journey was filled with opportunities to develop and share my commitment to childcare. I first came to Santa Cruz in 1981 after accepting a position as director of the local chapter of the Santa Cruz Special Olympics. After having my two sons, Tyler and Garret, in 1983 and 1984 (yes, you can get pregnant breast feeding), I felt compelled to have them with me while still contributing to the household income. It was during this time that I turned to my degree in early childhood education. I became a teacher at the Secret Garden, initially owned by Sylvia Gerbl, where I was able to work full time and could have both boys with me. After dedicating ten years to the program, I made the leap to purchase the school in 1995. I truly believed in the the excellent curriculum and high standards initially developed by Sylvia in 1977. I chose to carry on her philosophy that the healthiest way for a child to be nurtured and cared for is to let them be a child. More than 30 years later, I am proud to say we are still providing a rich environment where children can grow in a loving a safe environment.

Pre-Kindergarten Teacher


My name is Lauren M Pinto, I have been teaching at the Secret Garden Too Preschool since we opened in 2007. I am the Pre-K teacher and love going to work each day to help enrich the lives of our children and our future. I’m very passionate about children and their learning, and I have been working in this field for over 10 years. I am extremely nurturing, supportive, and creative. I grew up in the Napa Valley and moved to Santa Cruz in 1999 for College. I graduated from Cabrillo College and continued on to UC Santa Cruz, majoring in Psychology with a minor in education. My fiancé, Matt and I enjoy cooking, gardening, biking, spending time with our cat Hurley and going to the beach.


Infant / Toddler Teacher


My name is Monica Rocha. I am happily married and have three children, Michael my oldest of age 11, Ashely 5 years old and my youngest Nick who attends The Secret Garden. He’s 2. I currently live in a beautiful home in Castroville, CA. I am the current teacher for the infant and toddler rooms her at The Secret Garden Too. I have enjoyed everyday of my three years working here. I have gained the most experience here. I have a total of 7 years working with children. I enjoy spending time with all the babies. Reading to them , talking with them, playing with them and feeding them. I even enjoy the diaper changing LOL. I am very happy for the opportunity I have being part of the Secret Garden Too because it’s like my second home. I love working here.

Toddler Center Teacher

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Hello, my name is Yesenia. I have 5 years experience working with children. I have 24 ECE units and I’m bilingual. I work in various areas at The Secret Garden Too with most of my time spent in the toddler room. I love working with children and I’m so very happy to be part of their lives. I’m currently enrolled at Cabrillo College. My goal is to get a degree in ECE.

ERIKA Sotelo
Preschool Teacher


Hi my name is Erika Sotelo. I have 30 Early Childhood Education units and 4 years of experience working with you children.  I am enrolled at Cabrillo College currently. I strive to be the best preschool teacher I can be. I want to support all areas of a young child’s life.  I have wonderful husband and 2 daughters and I enjoy them dearly.
Being a preschool teacher is my passion. I enjoy being a part of they’re lives. I feel proud to be part of their educational process. I am the current 3-4 year old teacher here at The Secret Garden Too. I love being a support to the staff and the children.