Our Professional Team

Our administration team has more than 15 years experience working with children. All of our teachers are fully qualified, and we do not have any teacher aids. All teachers are Infant, Child and Adult CPR and First Aid certified, cleared through the Department of Justice, FBI Database and the Child Abuse Index.

Erica

Director

Hello Knowledge Tree Families, My name is Erica Van Tongeren. I have been here at Knowledge Tree since the beginning. I have my AA in Liberal Studies and my BA in child development. My passion for teaching came from my family. I am the youngest of 4 and I have 5 nieces and 1 nephew. I have always been surrounded by kids and I love doing things with them and seeing the world through their eyes. Kids are always learning and seeing new things, and that is the best part of teaching. I enjoy being there with them and guiding them as they experience these things. I am married to my high school sweetheart and we have an amazing, smart, and sassy daughter. She loves coming to Knowledge Tree, learning, and playing with friends. When I am not here I enjoy quiet days at home, being anywhere outside, taking trips to the beach, and enjoying family time. I love doing anything creative, I am always happy when I get to color, paint or create something either for my home or in the classroom. I look forward to working with the teachers at Knowledge Tree and continuing to foster a wonderful learning environment!

Katie

Administrative Assistant

Hello! My name is Katie and I am extremely excited to be the Assistant Director here at Knowledge Tree! I’ve been teaching here for over 3 years now and have fallen in love with the curriculum, teaching philosophy, and families. I have mainly worked with the Pre-K classes however I have been able to see and meet children of all ages while I’ve been here and they always brighten up my day. I enjoy the relationships with families, staff members, and children as I believe that having a strong foundation of communication and support is essential.

I am still in college and I am working towards a BA in Liberal Arts with a focus in Education. As of right now I hold an AA in Liberal Arts and a AS in Social and Behavioral Sciences. Being able to not only teach but nurture a child’s love for learning and the world around them is what motivates me daily. I love that I get to be a part of these children’s most important times of their lives. Every child can do beautiful things if given support, love and a chance.

I was raised in the Sacramento area and moved up to Rocklin about 8 years ago. I live with my fiance Austin, my Bernese Mountain Dog Basil, my Siamese Cat Rosie, and my Tabby Cat Fernway. In my downtime, I enjoy playing video games, singing, dancing and training Basil. I’m very much in love with music and enjoy listening to just about anything from Tears for Fears to BTS to My Chemical Romance – my playlists are all over the place! I am looking forward to continuing to encourage growth in all areas of the school.

I’m so excited for this opportunity and many more years of teaching kiddos!

Cheylynne

Teacher/Curriculum Coordinator

My name is Ms. Cheylynne and I am so grateful to a part of this fantastic school. I have been an early childhood educator for over 10 years. During my time in this field I have worked with a range of ages from infant to school-age. My love and passion for teaching came from my mother, who was a special needs occupational therapist. Seeing the love, time, and care she put into her students developed a desire and love for teaching children. I believe it is important for children to be involved in meaningful play. I love creating an enriching classroom environment that fosters children’s natural curiosity, creativity, and problem solving abilities. As well as developing and strengthening characteristics that make each child special and unique. When I am not in the classroom I enjoy spending time with my family. My husband and I have two children and we enjoy being outside, taking small trips, and having family movie nights. I believe that a parent is a child’s first and forever teacher. Therefore, I am looking forward to working together this year in making this year the best experience for your child!

Natasha (Tasha)

Teacher

Hi Families! My name is Natasha, but I go by Tasha. I just recently moved to the Sacramento area. I was born and raised in Salinas. I am the oldest girl of seven kids, and I helped take care of my siblings and cousins growing up. I knew from a young age that I would work with children when I grew up. I have been working with children of all ages since I graduated High School in 1999. For the last 12 years, I have worked in the preschool setting. In my opinion, the preschool age is the best age. I’m so happy to be working for KTCA in the Panda class. I look forward to helping all these little ones grow and learn while they’re in our care.

Josephine

Teacher

My name is Josephine. I have been married for over 30 years and have two daughters and one son. I have been in licensed child care for thirty years. I love being with young children and bringing love and positive care to all. I have a great amount of respect for all children and feel that being with them is the most rewarding job in the world. My job makes me feed needed.

Watching children develop and interact with one another day by day is a wonderful experience. I feel blessed. I make children and families feel comfortable by making the classroom a warm and friendly environment. I am committed to providing the highest quality care.

Viola

Teacher

Hi, my name is Viola Langston. I am delighted to be working at Knowledge Tree Children’s Academy here in Rocklin, CA with your precious children. It has always been my dream to teach kindergarten at an elementary school. I received my 21 ECE at SJCC, and have one more class to go for my associate’s degree at BYUI, and then I will pursue a Bachelor’s degree in education. I also accomplished the NAEYC Accreditation Program. I have been working with children for 34 years of all ages, and it has truly been a blessing. I previously worked at KinderCare for seven years and before that, in a school district teaching reading readiness and substitute teaching in Mississippi.

My husband and I just moved back to California from Mississippi two years ago and are super happy. I am a native Californian. We are approaching 12 years of marriage this coming September, but have known each other for 14 amazing years! I have a 27-year-old son who also lives in California and has studied to be a welder. My family is mostly here in California, and I come from a very large family of 12 siblings, with two sets of twins. Yes, I am a twin as well. A few of my favorite things are cycling, skiing. Hiking the great outdoors, family times, and cooking & baking. My two favorite holidays are Easter and Christmas. If you catch me in a bookstore, you’ll find me in the children’s section.

I look forward to the opportunity to teach your children and to gain great relationships in the four-year-old classroom!

Dioselina (Dio)

Teacher

Hello Parents, I’m so excited to be teaching your kids! My name is Dioselina but I also go by Dio. When I am not in our classroom, I am taking trips and making memories with my little family. I have a one-year-old son who will also be attending Knowledge Tree. We love reading, hiking, camping, and going swimming. My favorite season is Fall, I love Fall weather and going to the pumpkin patch and carving pumpkins. I am a recent graduate of Sacramento State and I have a bachelor’s in Communication Sciences and Disorders. I am currently taking time off before I attend Grad School. I have taken child development courses and really loved coming up with fun ways to get the kids to engage with their curriculum. I am looking forward to the rest of the school year and helping every student prepare for kindergarten!

Jody

Teacher

Hi, my name is Jody. I am a floater teacher in the Honeybee and Panda rooms. I feel very privileged to spend each day playing with and teaching your amazing children. I have lots of experience working with children of all ages, from infant to school-age.

I have been involved in my own children’s schooling and activities over the years. I’ve been a Girl Scout leader, room mom, team parent and have helped with many school events over the years. I began working with children in the WPUSD school district from 2015 to 2019 as a substitute teacher. Prior to coming to Knowledge Tree, I was working at an in-home preschool with 3- and 4-year-olds. I have also been involved in Bayside Church’s Children Ministry for over 10 years. I have loved working with children for as long as I can remember. I began babysitting when I was 12 years old and have 4 siblings who are all quite a bit younger than me whom I helped care for growing up.

I have 3 beautiful and very smart daughters, ages 13 to 26. Our family loves to travel when we can, visit with family and friends, go to the movies, explore different zoos and play games. When I have time for myself, I enjoy reading—that’s if I can stay awake long enough to do so 🙂

I truly enjoy getting to come to work each day to all the smiles and hugs.

Maria

Teacher

Hello families. My name is Maria Cherry. I have been working with children since 2011. I was born in South America (Columbia) as an experienced childcare professional. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work here at Knowledge Tree Children’s Academy. I have been working here since 2019. My educational experience includes creating a developmentally appropriate curriculum for all age groups. I am First-Aid Certified and currently have 12 ECE units. I have 2 beautiful daughters and 1 handsome boy. Both of my daughters attend here at KTCA. My girls love both of their teachers and enjoy the stimulating and fun curriculum and always leave the classroom with a smile on their face. I love being a part of Knowledge Tree and I am happy that I can be a part of this wonderful team.

Andee

Teacher

Hey, Y’all! My name is Andee Ramirez and I am the school-age teacher for The Lion’s classroom. I have been a teacher for the past 7 years and I have loved every minute of it! My normal routine is a fast-paced toddler classroom, so I am excited to finally have some genius little minds to sit down and have a conversation with during my day. I have 25 units of ECE under my belt, as well as infant, child, and adult CPR certification and first aid training.

I used to be a toddler teacher here at KTCA in the panda room for almost 4 years! I am so excited to be back at my second home. I always dreamed of being a teacher ever since I was in elementary school. I had my son at a young age and also juggled college at the same time.

I worked hard towards my goal and became a teacher in 2 short years and I haven’t looked back since! I love coming to work knowing that I will be greeted with smiling faces and will be there to assist them in growing their knowledge and love for learning. Since I am fairly new to working with school agers, I am excited about the new adventures I will endure.

I am excited to be a comfortable place for the children to feel like they can thrive to be the best version of themselves. I believe that each child is unique and deserves to be taught in a way that will complement their strengths as well as help their weaknesses individually. I strive to help set your children up to grow into intelligent and successful adults by providing them with the foundation they need to do so.

Outside of work, I am a mother to two beautiful children, a 2 ½-year-old girl named Gabrielle as well as a 9-year-old boy named Julian! As well as my passion for children, I also carry a passion for traveling and adventuring in places I’ve never been. My favorite place to be is Maui on the beach with my toes in the sand! Something interesting about me is my obsession with elephants. They are incredibly smart animals and just so cute, if I could own one, I would!

I’m extremely grateful to be a part of your children’s lives and ultimately be able to have a positive impact on their early childhood.

“Childhood is not a race to see how quickly a child can read, write, and count. Childhood is a small window of time to learn and develop at a pace which is right for each individual child.” – Magda Gerber

Kayla

Teacher

Hi, my name is Kayla King, I am fairly new to the teaching world but don’t let that fool you. I have been working in childcare since a pretty young age. I have truly loved every second of it. I am beyond excited to take on this new journey of being/becoming a teacher. While getting to watch all these amazing and smart kids grow I myself get to grow and learn. I have always known that I had a love for working with kids from tiny babies to older kids. It has always just come so naturally to me. Fun fact maybe it’s because I grew up in a family of nine siblings and am the third oldest I took on some of that older sibling responsibility. I will be growing as an educator and furthering my education to become a fully qualified teacher. Aside from teaching a few things about me, I enjoy reading, cooking/baking, and pretty much anything outdoors. I love just spending a day out on the lake or at the beach or even a day in the mountains. Nature is my happy place outside of work. I am excited about this year and I hope you are too.

Sarah

Teacher

Hello Friends, my name is Ms. Sarah! I am very excited to be teaching your little monkeys this year. I have been working with children for about five years in and out of formal classroom settings. I have experience with infants through school-age children and have enjoyed learning and growing alongside them all. I’ve always had a passion for teaching young minds which led me to pursue and obtain associate’s degrees in Early Childhood Education and Social and Behavioral Sciences. My teaching philosophy includes providing whole-child support and creating a positive learning environment to meet the needs of each unique child. Outside of the classroom, I am a mother of a two-year-old daughter who happily attends Knowledge Tree. I’m also an avid rock climber, hiker, and reader. On any given day, I’m happiest under the sun.

Mr. Pino

Driver

Hi, my name is Pino Fiorenze and I’m the bus driver here at Knowledge Tree. I was born and raised in southern Italy in an area known as Calabria. When I finished school I joined the Italian Navy where I served as a communications specialist. After my serves, I then came to America with my wife Josephine when I was 23 years old.

Josephine is the Monkey’s teacher here at Knowledge Tree and together we have 3 children and 6 grandchildren. We enjoy being with family and attending the various events that our grandchildren participate in such as plays, dances, and sports. In my spare time, I also enjoy watching professional soccer and bowling. I like the great people who work here at knowledge Tree and we all appreciate the opportunity to work with your great children!

Emma

Teacher

Hi There, I’m Emma Graham! I’m so grateful to be teaching here at Knowledge Tree Children’s Academy in the Koala Classroom alongside Ms.Taylor. This is my first official teaching position, however I have been working with children since graduating high school five years ago. I have had the title of daycare attendant, assistant teacher, pod teacher (during the pandemic), and my most recent position as a nanny to five amazing kids. I am currently in the process of obtaining my AS in Early Childhood Education from Sierra College.

My Goal in the classroom is to provide a safe and fun environment that fosters creative growth and a love for learning! I love sensory activities and especially messy learning activities. I’m a strong believer in learning from mistakes and promoting a growth mindset in our early learners.

A little about my personal life–I come from a family of five kids, we are all super close. I spend any time I can with my rescue cat Alfie, who just turned one this June. I like to explore new types of foods, and cook up new recipes at home. I also like to stay active and on my weekends I go out rock climbing or I go paddle boarding at whatever lake I can find. I love reading or listening to audiobooks and I hope to pass on my passion for books to my students.

I am so excited for this school year and I can’t wait to get to know and to grow with the families of Knowledge Tree!

Taylor

Teacher

Hi there, my name is Taylor Gonzales! Some fun facts about me is that I love being outside, whether it’s fishing, walking, hiking, or swimming in the river! Being active is extremely important to me and I love inspiring young children to be active too. Other favorites of mine are coffee, big hugs, dance parties with the children, traveling, chocolate covered strawberries, and making as many trips to my cabin in South Lake Tahoe.

My passion and forever first love is working with and being surrounded by kids! I have coached, led sports camps for children, and have been a camp counselor at Walden West Outdoors Camp for a few summers in high school. Moving into my career, I decided to start working at a preschool and hopefully someone will be running my own preschool or will fall in love with teaching in a school district. For the last 9 years, I have been working with children in a school setting and I absolutely love it. I have taught 2-3 year olds for 5 years and 3-4 year olds for about 4 years. I will be graduating next fall with my Bachelors Degree in Liberal Studies and will be obtaining my teaching credential with a speciality in Early Childhood Development from Chico State University.

I am thrilled to be working at Knowledge Tree Children’s Academy and could not be more grateful for the opportunity to continue my passion working with preschoolers. I was so happy to hear that I will be teaching in the Koala classroom alongside Miss Emma! I look forward to helping and watching your child(ren) blossom and grow in this next chapter of their life. I truly believe that our future of the world is in our classroom!

Lily

Teacher

Hi there! I’m Lily Graham and I am so excited to be starting my journey as a Knowledge Tree teacher in the Monkey room! This is my first teaching experience, but I have been working in childcare for over five years. I have always had a passion for working with toddlers and babies; they are such a joy to be around and they say the funniest things! In the classroom you can find me spending as much time with the kids as possible, whether that be reading books, participating in pretend play, or simply being on their level and available. Something that you can find me integrating into the classroom is sensory play. I love getting the sensory system involved in learning, as it can engage and regulate children allowing them to have better focus and reduce frustration in the classroom. It’s also just really fun and the kids love it!

I am currently working towards my Bachelor’s degree in Communication Disorders. My goal is to become a Speech Pathologist and work with young children with speech disorders and delays. I have a soft spot for children who need a little extra support, so naturally a special education field is what I am aiming for.

In my free time you can find me: spending time with my family, hanging out with my two bunnies, or going to the beach as much as possible. I love being anywhere near the ocean, exploring and discovering new beaches!

I am so excited for this new journey and am looking forward to getting to know our wonderful Knowledge Tree families! Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your amazing children’s lives, I am grateful to be able to foster their love of learning this year!