Meet the Staff
AlecSandria Colchico is the director at the IPCDC. She has holds a master’s degree in human development from Pacific Oaks College and has been a specialist in the field for over 25 years. Alec’s roots in the IPCDC stretch back to the year 2000, when she worked as a program staff teacher for five years. The IPCDC has always had an indelible impact on her throughout her professional career and touched every professional endeavor she has had since. Alec is a specialist in the areas of early childhood curriculum and social emotional development. She has provided workshops to pre-k educators, childcare professionals and family-care providers on a wide variety of child development subject matter and is an adjunct instructor for the Department of Childhood Education at Southern California community colleges. Alec lives in Long Beach with her husband of 20 years and their two children.
Maria Rivera is the assistant director of the preschool and school age programs at the IPCDC. Maria first began working at the IPCDC in 1988. Her spirit was comforted by the way the center treated, understood and interacted with children, as the center’s philosophy on how children should be treated and respected aligned with her own personal beliefs. Throughout her 25 years at the center, Maria has worked in various positions as a student assistant, camp counselor, program teacher, head teacher and for the last 15 years as one of the assistant directors. There is not a year that goes by that she does not learn new ideas from the children and their families. When not at the center, Maria enjoys spending time with her family and friends laughing and relaxing.
Kathy Allison is the office manager in the administrative office at the IPCDC. Kathy began working at with the center in 1990 as the administrative assistant, and became the office manager in January 2013. Prior to working at the IPCDC, Kathy worked for McDonnell Douglas for ten years as an executive secretary. Over the past 26 years, she has performed almost every clerical administrative duty at the center at one time or another. She’s also had the privilege of having her three children grow and develop through each program at the IPCDC, including the school age summer day camp. The IPCDC and CSULB have been a big part in her life and the lives of her family, for which she is very grateful.
Dena Peru, is the administrative assistant in the administrative office at the IPCDC. Dena began working at the center in February 2014. Prior to working at the IPCDC, Dena worked as a program assistant for over 20 years with a Head Start agency in Orange County. She enjoys her work in the office and gets the added benefit of watching children learn and grow. She also looks forward to meeting families and matching names with faces.
Luz Lopez is the eligibility specialist at the IPCDC. Luz has been on the campus of CSULB since 1996, and to her the center is like a second home. She gets to see the parents she has helped to achieve their academic goals and considers herself lucky to work on the same campus where she received her own education. When Luz is not at work she enjoys spending time with her own family.
Lisa Harris is the assistant director of the infant and toddler program at the IPCDC. Lisa first began working at the IPCDC in 1996, when she was hired as a student assistant for the blue side in the preschool program. In 2002 she became a program teacher, and in 2008 transferred to the infant and toddler program. Lisa enjoys building close and supportive relationships with children and their families, and working with student assistants as they build a working knowledge of the IPCDC’s theoretical and philosophical approaches to early childhood education. According to Lisa, childhood is fleeting and children have a brief time in their young lives to simply be children before they are bombarded with traditional academic expectations and requirements. She believes children need to be able to play—through which they learn about themselves, others, and the world around them. Through play they can create, imagine, explore and discover. During her free time, she enjoys scrapbooking, making jewelry and reading. Lisa also is a proud alum of CSULB’s psychology program. Her favorite quote is: “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” – Fred Rogers
Stephenie Liang is a program staff for the infant toddler program at the IPCDC. Prior to working at the IPCDC, Stephenie worked part-time at The Children's Center at California State University, Fullerton. She began working part-time at IPCDC in 2014 while working on her master's in early childhood education at CSULB. She was hired as full-time staff in 2015 and graduated with a master’s in 2016. She also has a child development director's permit. Stephenie knew she wanted to work with children ever since she was in first grade. She was inspired by a teacher who sacrificed her time after work to develop children's love for extracurricular activities; helping many find their passion for learning. Stephenie’s favorite movies include “Matilda,” “Blind Side,” “Freedom Writers” and “Mr. Holland's Opus”—all films that demonstrate how teachers can make a difference in a child's life. Stephenie knows that what she does matters because she can build children up through acceptance, respect and love. When she’s not at work, she enjoys cooking, reading and visiting friends. Stephenie loves learning new things and hopes to always grow and learn as she helps the children grow and learn.
Chelsey Britt graduated from CSULB in 2015 with a bachelor’s in both child development and family life education. Before working at Isabel Patterson, Chelsey worked at Lakeshore as a primary infant teacher. There, she worked and had the opportunity to test the toys that the company produces. Chelsey loves working with children; her job brings her an immense amount of joy and happiness. In her free time, Chelsea enjoys spending time with her family, cooking and hiking.
Mary Kate Dearing
Lynette Gaskill is the head teacher for the blue side of the preschool program at the IPCDC. Lynette first began working at the IPCDC in 1988, when she was hired as a student assistant while attending CSULB. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology and a multi-subject teaching credential from CSULB. She also has a child development Master Teacher Permit. Prior to her position as head teacher, Lynette also worked as a program teacher. What she enjoys the most about her job is getting to know the children and their families, and giving the children an early love of school. Watching children explore and learn is extremely rewarding for her. While not at work, she enjoys spending time with her family, going to the beach, watching movies and crafting.
Mary Kate Dearing is the head teacher for the purple side in the preschool program at the IPCDC. Mary Kate first began working at the center in November 2015 as a program teacher on the purple side and has worked as head teacher since August 2016. She began working with children at Mark Twain Child Development Center in 1996 with their school age program, and has since worked at Saddleback High School, Hadley Preschool and Long Beach Day Nursery. Mary Kate holds a master teacher permit from the California Commission on Teaching Credentialing. Since she began her career with children, she spends every day learning new and exciting ways to engage the children and help them prepare for their futures. Spending her days with the children helps her view the world through their eyes, making her a better person in her everyday life. She is the proud mother of a beautiful daughter, whom she loves spending her free time with. She has many favorite quotes but one has always stood out to her: “It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.”
Angelica Udarbe is a program teacher for the blue side of the preschool program at the IPCDC. Angelica began her journey in child education at Long Beach City College (LBCC). She took several core classes, including her field study and curriculum classes, at LBCC. Angelica began working on blue side as a student assistant while completing her bachelor’s in child development and family studies. Three and a half years later, she graduated from CSULB with her bachelor’s and began working at University of California, Irvine as full-time staff at their Infant Toddler Center. Angelica has her site supervisor permit from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing and continues to seek new knowledge about the field of early childhood education. Angelica hopes to make a positive impact on the people around her and passionately advocate for the best interests of children. Her favorite quote is from Maria Montessori: “Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.” For Angelica, the most rewarding thing about working with children is watching them approach new tasks and challenges with determination; then, it’s being able to see them succeed a day or even a month later. Their resilience is awe-inspiring and their relentless exploration through play encourages her every day. Angelica recently married her high school sweetheart, Edward, and enjoys tea time, reading and adamant discussion with him. She also loves to explore different cultures through museums, cooking and immersion.
Heather Petrovich has been feeding children professionally for over 13 years and joined the IPCDC in 2018 as the lead cook. Heather is responsible for implementing a daily nutrition program for over 130 children. She creates the delicious and nutritious weekly menus, shops and cooks for breakfast, lunch and snack following the Child and Adult Care Food Program requirements. When Heather is not creating yummy meals for the children, she spends her extra time at home creating jewelry for her jewelry business - Beach Boho Jewelry. She gets her inspiration for her bohemian style jewelry from the California coast. Heather graduated from CSULB in 1994 with a Bachelor’s Degree in art education. She has been happily married for 23 years and has two sons. She hopes that her sons will follow in her footsteps and attend her alma mater. Go Beach!
Nancy Aguilar is the head teacher for the school age program at the IPCDC. Nancy first began working for the center in 1997 as a student assistant. She has since had various experiences that have given her the opportunity to grow in the field as a teacher having had served in the roles of teacher, head teacher, assistant director and program director. It has been an adventure and great experience for her to work in various programs that all have the same foundation and mission: believing in children’s interest and competencies as they learn and grow. She goes to work every day with passion, knowing that a child’s life can be impacted by the interaction, connection and experience that she has with them and their family. When she is not at work, she enjoys spending time with her two children and husband. Disneyland is her favorite place to go with her family, and she enjoys activities like bowling, biking or walking along the beach. She also enjoys photography and editing. Nancy looks forward to the connections that she will have with the children and families of the purple side.
Matt Jardim is a program teacher in the School Age Program at the IPCDC. Matt first began working at the IPCDC in 2008 as a student assistant for the school age program. Through Matt’s experience as a student assistant, he recognized that working with children was not just a part-time job for him—it was truly his calling. In fact, the experiences and the unforgettable bonds he built with the children and their families inspired him to change the direction of his academic career. In 2011, Matt received his bachelor’s degree in child development and family studies from CSULB. He was rewarded with the position of curriculum coordinator of the preschool’s program purple side in the spring of 2013 and now he is working with the school age program. Matt believes he can make a difference because he is very connected to the emotional well-being of the children in our program. He also tries to incorporate his outside interests into the curriculum, including yoga, cooking, hiking, and other outdoor and nature activities. His personal belief is that everybody has something unique and special inside of them—a special gift. And his goal is to help the children realize what that gift is so they can develop it and share it with the rest of the world.