Home          About the Center       For Families    Enrollment Forms         
Classrooms         Staff             EducatorsHome.htmlABOUT_THE_CENTER.htmlFAMILIES_%28News_%26_Calendar%29.htmlENROLLMENT_FORMS.htmlCLASSROOMS.htmlEDUCATORS_PAGE.htmlshapeimage_1_link_0shapeimage_1_link_1shapeimage_1_link_2shapeimage_1_link_3shapeimage_1_link_4shapeimage_1_link_5shapeimage_1_link_6
 
Wayne Watkins 
Director 
My mother was a preschool teacher and I followed in her footsteps. I started my career in 1975, during my senior year at Florida State University, as an afternoon teacher at Creative Preschool in Tallahassee, Florida. Except for a brief time on a communal farm in California (finding myself) and later painting houses (mid-life crisis) I’ve been working with young children, teachers and parents ever since. As a preschool teacher I played my guitar for music times everyday. Then after burning out on being a classroom teacher in 1992, I started sharing music with children and families full-time. My wife, Helen, my daughter, Jubilee, and I moved to Maui in 1993 and for 5 years I traveled around Hawaii playing music for children. From 1998 until 2005 I taught early childhood classes at Maui Community College, consulted with early childhood programs throughout the state and of course played music for children. Since 2005, when I became director of the Children’s Center, Helen and I have been renovating our house in Mānoa and I’ve happily been coming to work everyday at the Big House with some of the finest educators I’ve ever known and of course also playing music for children and families.
Connect with Uncle Wayne and The Howling Dog Band
  Wendi Uyemura
Administrative Assistant
 
    Wendi spent many weekends over the past 19 years playing taiko, a kind of Japanese drumming.  She enjoys sharing her favorite hobby with the students, and looks forward to raising a little taiko drummer in her daughter Madison, born in 2009 and Mason, born in 2011.  Wendi earned a BS in Family Resources from University of Hawai‛i at Mānoa in 2000, worked with two and three year-olds at St. Timothy’s Children's Center from 2001 to 2008, and earned a Masters in Early Childhood Education from University of Hawai‛i at Mānoa in 2008.
Leilani Au
Education Coordinator
Lani Au has been the Education Coordinator at the Center for seven years. Previously, she was a preschool teacher for twenty years, most recently as the lead teacher in the infant room at Honolulu Community College. Lani continues to work with HCC as a lecturer for their Early Childhood Education department. She has a Master's degree in Education from University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa. Lani is happily married to her high school sweetheart, is the mother of two growing boys, and enjoys photography, reading, gardening, and baking-- but she still has enough energy for getting to know all the children and families at the Children's Center!

Sharing, collaborating, interacting, and loving what we do!!


(UHMCC Harlem Shakers & Hang Loose with Mother Goose Workshop at the HAEYC State Conference)

 

Listen to Uncle Wayne’s music on Soundcloud




Visit Uncle Wayne and

The Howling Dog Band on Facebook

 
Andrea Hill 
(Poni Class, 2’s)
Andrea has called Oahu her home for all her life, and if asked for directions is known to say “I know land marks, not street names. But you cant get lost on an island-- just take the scenic route!”  Andrea is passionate about her friends, family, and extended family at the Children’s Center, where she has worked since 1998, most recently at the Little House where she enjoys every minute of her time with Honua.  Andrea and her other family-- her husband, James, and daughter Ashley-- love spending time on their boat in Kaneohe Bay.  Andrea earned a BA in Sociology from University of Hawaii, Mānoa while also doing coursework in Early Childhood Education. 
Micah Cabalo 
(Poni Class, 2’s)
Before becoming one of the teachers in Poni class, Micah was previously a student assistant and substitute teacher at UHMCC for over 3 years. While at the Children's Center, he earned a BS in Family Resources, while also taking classes in Early Childhood Education. He finds it rewarding to see the children grow as individuals while they are here. When not in the classroom he enjoys spending time with family and friends, hiking, going to the beach and especially going fishing.

Staff

Classroom Teachers
Heather Tabios 
(Ānuenue Class , 3’s)

“I enjoy working with the children because every day is a new adventure!”  Heather loves drag racing and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and was born and raised in Hawai‘i.  She earned a BS in Family Resources from University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa.
Kristi Kawahara-Xu  
(Ānuenue Class , 3’s)

Kristi has a passion for photography and travel.  She worked with the Children’s Center as a student assistant while earning a BS in Family Resources from University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, afterwards working for three years as a program coordinator for elementary-aged children.  Kristi began taking classes in Early Childhood Education after finding she missed working with preschoolers, and she joined the Children’s Center in 2004.  Today, Kristi continues to take courses in Early Childhood Education at University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa.
Ivy Robertson  
(Moana Class , 4’s)



Ivy was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA and moved to Hawai'i in 2006. She received her Bachelor's Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus in Youth Recreation from the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa in 2011. She spent 2 years as a student assistant at UHMCC while concurrently teaching a large motor skills clinics to young children. 
Raymond Sanchez 
(Moana Class , 4’s)







My name is Raymond Sanchez and I am thrilled to be part of the UHMCC teaching team. I have worked with children my entire adult life and enjoy helping children discover the world around them. I earned a BS in Human Services from the University of Phoenix.  
My passion for traveling and love of teaching has brought me to the beautiful islands of Hawai‘i for what is sure to be a life changing adventure. I am a native to Los Angeles and raised on the beach in Venice where my entire family resides. I enjoy listening to all types of music and taking pictures of natural and creative objects. I look forward to sharing many memories and experiences during my time here in Hawai‘i. 

Raymond Sanchez

(Moana Class , 4’s)








My name is Raymond Sanchez and I am thrilled to be part of the UHMCC teaching team. I have worked with children my entire adult life and enjoy helping children discover the world around them. I earned a BS in Human Services from the University of Phoenix.  

My passion for traveling and love of teaching has brought me to the beautiful islands of Hawai‘i for what is sure to be a life changing adventure. I am a native to Los Angeles and raised on the beach in Venice where my entire family resides. I enjoy listening to all types of music and taking pictures of natural and creative objects. I look forward to sharing many memories and experiences during my time here in Hawai‘i. 

 
Jeff Bock 
(Polū Class , 4’s)

Jeff is a fan of large projects that the students can immerse themselves in.  He joined the Center family in 2007, but has also taught early elementary classes at a Montessori school, as well as at the high school level with the Hawai‘i Department of Education.  Jeff is currently pursuing a Masters in Education at University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa.
Gemma Nicholl Medina 
(Polū Class , 4’s)
Gemma moved to San Diego from England in 1995 and began her journey working with young children shortly after. In 2000, she made the move to Maui as a Nanny and soon discovered her purpose in the field of Early Childhood Education. Gemma spent twelve years on the island of Maui as a toddler teacher, preschool teacher, preschool co-director and student. After earning a BS in Early Childhood Education, she moved to Oahu specifically to join the UHMCC family. "I feel like I have found a school where the philosophy resonates with me. I love being in an environment where children are viewed as competent human beings and are given the freedom to develop and learn through joyous play!" Outside of work, Gemma enjoys hiking, camping, reading and art but most of all, spending time with her high-school sweetheart husband and pet pig Daisy...who still live on Maui. Gemma is currently pursuing a MS in Educational Psychology through UH Mānoa.



Avis Seki 
(UHMCC @ Noelani site, multi-age)




Avis enjoys working with young children “because they remind us to live life to its fullest, to love unconditionally, and to laugh each and every day.”  Outside of the classroom, Avis likes to craft, shop, and go to movies.  Avis earned a BS in Education from University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa.


Shelley Yorita 
(UHMCC @ Noelani site, multi-age)



“When working with children, I strive to keep everything simple, meaningful, intentional and fun!” Shelley is an avid, generous traveler with a love of food and being one with nature.  Shelley earned a Masters in Education from University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa.




Shanda Freitas 
(UHMCC @ Ala Wai site, multi-age)

Shanda is a mother of two daughters Tehani and Tara. She graduated from UH Mānoa with a Masters in the Educational Foundations Program.  Shanda loves art, music, culture and surfing. “I have been working with young children for thirteen years and still love it! My mission is to instill a love of learning by creating hands-on, meaningful learning experiences”.
Royce Bowman 
(UHMCC @ Ala Wai site, multi-age) 
Many people have asked me about how I, as a man, decided to pursue a career in early education. In short, my parents are both teachers, along with much of my family, and they have imparted upon me a passion for education and a clear picture of why it is important.  I was born and raised in Hawai‘i graduating from Punahou high school and the University of Hawai‘i with a degree in Art Photography, throughout which, I have continually worked in the field of education and taken early education classes.  I worked at Punahou’s after school program for four years, taught at the UH summer science program, and worked as an assistant teacher for three years at a small private preschool in Kaimuki. My focus with children tends to favor the cultivation of creativity in all areas their lives, from drawing and painting, to conversation and storytelling, to physical movement, I love seeing what is unique in each child.  I truly believe that we learn at least as much from the children as we teach, and that is what excites me about this field.

Royce Bowman

(UHMCC @ Ala Wai site, multi-age)

Many people have asked me about how I, as a man, decided to pursue a career in early education. In short, my parents are both teachers, along with much of my family, and they have imparted upon me a passion for education and a clear picture of why it is important.  I was born and raised in Hawai‘i graduating from Punahou high school and the University of Hawai‘i with a degree in Art Photography, throughout which, I have continually worked in the field of education and taken early education classes.  I worked at Punahou’s after school program for four years, taught at the UH summer science program, and worked as an assistant teacher for three years at a small private preschool in Kaimuki. My focus with children tends to favor the cultivation of creativity in all areas their lives, from drawing and painting, to conversation and storytelling, to physical movement, I love seeing what is unique in each child.  I truly believe that we learn at least as much from the children as we teach, and that is what excites me about this field.

 
Administrative Staff

Sally Lambert

(Resource Teacher)


“I find my days so rewarding, and as I work with all the remarkably strong and vibrant young children who attend UHMCC I am constantly amazed at how much they teach me.”  Sally’s enduring love for early childhood education began when her son Steven, now a University of Hawaiʻi alum, was born.  Her family as a whole enjoys cooking, hiking, sailing, and traveling together.  Sally earned a BS in Family Resources from University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa.
 

Kara Nishijima (Resource Teacher)


Kara loves encouraging and inspiring the natural creativity and curiosity of children as they learn about and discover the world around them. She believes that young children have a lot to share, values the perspectives they bring, and wants to let their voices be heard. “I love helping families and being a part of children’s lives. Experiencing the joy, wonder, and love they bring into this world is so rich and rewarding.”  Kara received her BA from the University of San Diego in Liberal Arts (Education) and Masters in Early Childhood Education from Mills College. She worked at the Harold E. Jones Child Study Center at UC Berkeley for 3 years, then returned home to Hawai‘i and joined the UHMCC ‘ohana in 2007. 

Yuki Hwang 
(UHMCC @ Kūhiō site, multi-age)
“I love being at the Center, surrounded by the wonderful environment, staff and families and the many opportunities I have to grow as an early childhood educator.”  Yuki worked as a student assistant and substitute teacher at the Children's Center while earning a BS in Family Resources from University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa.  Currently, she is pursuing a Masters in Curriculum Studies from University of Hawai‘i, with an emphasis on preschool and primary school curriculum.
Alyson Navarro 
(UHMCC @ Kūhiō site, multi-age)
Alyson finds teaching rewarding because it gives her the opportunity to observe the student’s investigation, curiosity and discoveries into and about the world around them.  Alyson earned a BA in Speech from University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa, while also taking classes in Family Resources and Early Childhood Education.
Currently, she is pursuing a Masters in Curriculum Studies from University of Hawai‘i, with an emphasis on preschool and primary school curriculum.
Gwen Dufault 
(‘Ōmaʻomaʻo Class , 2’s)
Gwen believes children’s early years are critical, formative ones-- a time when children need ample opportunities to explore the world, things and people.  Gwen thrives on this same kind of exploration, and is particularly fascinated with helping to develop music behaviors with young children.  When she’s not playing at work, Gwen likes to spend time with family and friends, play outdoors (especially at the beach), and embark on new experiences.  Currently, Gwen is pursuing a Masters in Early Childhood Education from University of Hawai‛i, Mānoa.
Kristen Gonzales 
(‘Ōmaʻomaʻo Class , 2’s)
Kristen enjoys traveling, baking, and spending time with family and friends. She worked at the Children’s Center as a student assistant while earning her BS in Family Resources at the University of Hawai‛i at Mānoa. She has recently earned her Master’s in Psychology at the University. “  I find it rewarding watching the children grow, learn and laugh each day!”
Home                Site MapHome.htmlSITE_MAP.htmlshapeimage_28_link_0shapeimage_28_link_1
Karmen Ferreira (Resource Teacher)

Karmen is very happy and excited to join the UHMCC family again!  She was previously a student assistant at UHMCC for over three years while earning a BS in Family Resources at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.  Karmen has a passion for working with children and enjoys watching them learn and grow each day.  She believes that early education is crucial for a child’s development and wants to provide children with the best environment to learn, grow, and explore.   She is looking forward to getting to know the children, families, and staff at the Children’s Center as well as learning to improve as an early education teacher.  Karmen enjoys spending time with her family, especially her nephews and friends.  She likes traveling, reading, shopping and going to the beach.
Resource Teachers
Aunty Valley 
(Hōkū Class , 3’s)

Valley joined the UHMCC ‘ohana as a Hōkū teacher in 2011 after she fell in love at first site with the environment and the schools philosophy the first time she saw it!  Although Valley is an island girl she didn't begin her journey in the field of Early Childhood Education until she left Kauai for college in California with plans to pursue a career in live theatre.  After volunteering as a camp counselor for third graders along the coast of Northern California during spring break, Valley knew she would never be the same again.  While she entered the field as a surprise to her self she has been teaching for 16 years and is passionate about her work.  Valley hopes to instill a life long love for learning in the hearts and minds of the children she has the pleasure to know and believes that this is done best by creating a balance between child directed emergent learning experiences and intentional pre-planned inquiries that evolve from children's interests.  Valley was a student at Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena CA before she moved home to the islands and is currently  pursuing her Masters degree in Curriculum studies at UH Mānoa.  She lives in Kaimuki with her husband, 11 year old son, and the family cat Mingus.
Aunty Sherilyn
                                (Hōkū Class , 3’s)
Sherilyn hopes to be the inspiration and motivation that her students need to succeed, and create exceptional citizens that enter the world as critically thinking, compassionate, respectful, and loving individuals. Sherilyn has completed her undergraduate studies and has her Bachelor of Arts in Education and Learning from Pacific University. She also has her Master of Arts in Teaching (Early Childhood Education and Elementary) from Pacific University in Oregon, as well. After returning home from school, Sherilyn enjoys being around family and friends, reading books, and shopping!