Martha came to the United States in 1990 when she got married. She has two children – Alejandro born in 1991, and Esmeralda, born in 1992. She began studying English in 2000, and has been working with young children since 2001. Martha joined the Toddler Center as a teacher in 2003, and was promoted to Head Teacher in 2007. She holds an Associate Teacher Permit, and is currently working toward her AS in Early Childhood Education.
Brenna has been working at the Toddler center since 2006, initially as an aide and substitute, and was promoted to Teacher in 2008. She did her Early Childhood Education studies at Cabrillo College where she studied with Janis Keyser, and completed her Student teaching and Internship Programs at Cabrillo’s onsite NAEYC accredited children’s center. She is currently working towards her completing her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology.
Jen began her work at the Toddler Center in 1999 as an aide. Since then, she went back to school and is working towards getting her Masters degree in Special Education/ Occupational Therapy. When she’s not working at the Toddler Center, she works with adults with special needs and also does landscaping. She has two children, Damien and Aradia.
Jenny joined the Toddler Center in 2000, after over 25 years of teaching experience working throughout the county with children and families. She currently lives with her husband, Larry and their son, Nicholas. Her daughter Felicia is living in Modesto working and studying landscape design. Her interests include camping with her family and friends, swimming in the ocean, music and theatre, reading, caring for senior citizens, and volunteering at the animal shelter.
Sharon Dowe (Aide and Teacher Substitute)
SCTCC is a true life circle experience. Sharon began working at SCTCC in the mid 1980’s, had her daughter attend during the mid 1990’s, and returned again in 2009. Sharon studied Early Childhood Education at Cabrillo College and San Francisco State University. She lives with her husband and daughter and enjoys reading, gardening, exercising, and spending time with her family and friends.
Raeleen Avila-Benabides - PM Head Teacher
Raeleen was born in San Jose, California in 1977, and moved to Santa Cruz in 1983 when her father was promoted as a Pastor. She is the oldest of three and has a sister named Gloriarose and a brother named Reynaldo. She married her husband Chay in 1999 and has three daughters: Sophianna, Eva, and Alma Rosa. She enjoys going to Disneyland with her family each year, and taking lots of pictures. In 2000, Raeleen got her AS in Early Childhood Education. After working in many preschools around the county, Raeleen landed at SCTCC in 2004.
Megumi was born in Aomori city in Japan, and came to Santa Cruz in 2000. She got her Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education from Cabrillo College, and her BA in English Literature in Japan. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, watching movies, playing tennis, and buying shoes.
Info Coming Soon!
Jody was born and raised in Santa Cruz and graduated from Santa Cruz High. She worked in retail as a visual merchandiser until 1994 when she attended the Early Childhood Education Program at Cabrillo College, and joined SCTCC in 1998. She enjoys cooking, sewing, and decorating, but her favorite thing to do is to sit in her garden with her cats.
Administrative and Support Staff
Nora Caruso (Program Director)
Nora joined the Toddler Center as Program Director in 2006 after spending more than 25 years working with children and their families. After graduating with a BA in Sociology from UCSD, she spent six months travelling through Europe and the Middle East where she met her husband Christian. They settled in Santa Cruz in 1989, and now live happily ever after with their two boys, Remy and Cassidy. When she’s not at the Toddler Center, Nora enjoys gardening, hiking, reading travelling, and playing with her family and friends.
Sandy Davie (Administrative Director)
Sandy has overseen the fiscal, business and advocacy duties of the Toddler Center since 1990. She has received acknowledgements from the California State Department of Education for Administrative Excellence and from the Santa Cruz County Women's Commission on behalf of the Toddler Center for extraordinary contributions in improving the status of women.
She is very active in the community and has been Vice-Chair of the Santa Cruz County Child Care Planning Council since 2002. She is one of the founders of the Santa Cruz Child Care Business Alliance and a member of the Santa Cruz Community Credit Union Community Advisory Committee. She is also a member of the Santa Cruz Children's Network.
She has made presentations at the Child Development Policy Institute Conference, at the Child Care Facility Conference, and at the annual CAEYC Conference.
Sandy has a masters degree in History from San Jose State University and a B.A. in American Studies from UCSC. She currently teaches United States History classes at Cabrillo College.
"My life as a parent was greatly enriched by quality child care. My goal at the Toddler Center is to provide the same kind of community connection and support to other parents of young children."
Jennifer Vered (Nutritional Coordinator)
Jen was born and raised in Berkeley, California. She has a BA from UCSC in Environmental Studies where she studied sustainable agriculture. She lived in Israel working in desert crop development and teaching English. There she met and married her husband, Shai. She began cooking professionally in a restaurant in Tel Aviv, and returned to the States to go to culinary school in the Napa Valley. She worked in many restaurants and bakeries before coming to the Toddler Center in 2004. Jen caters events and teaches Hebrew school, while living in Ben Lomond with her husband, son, Amir, and their three cats.