About Us

Steps to Learning Montessori Preschool has been serving children since 2005. The center was established in 1973 (known as Village Park Childcare Center). We follow a Montessori and play-based approach to education based upon careful observation of the way each child learns and develops. Through direct interaction with the environment, the child grows emotionally, socially, physically, creatively and intellectually.

All the staff members have completed CPR and First Aid training for infants and young children and have received training on our emergency plan including earthquake and fire drills.

“The greatest sign of success for a teacher is to be able to say the children are now working as if I did not exist." - Dr. Maria Montessori

Ruwini Goonewardena, Director and Toddler Teacher

I have been the administrator of Steps to Learning Montessori Preschool since 2005 and the administrator/director since 2014.

I was born and raised in Sri Lanka and I moved to the US in 1993. I am the youngest of four girls. My parents and my sisters have been great role models to me. I've completed many ECE (Early Childhood Education) units and hold a Montessori diploma. I worked as a Montessori preschool teacher for over 5 years and went on to earn my engineering degree at UCSB before working as an administrator in 2005.

My passion for children came from my childhood and being a teacher. Being with children makes me happy and I feel blessed to be able to do what I do everyday. I strive to provide quality childcare and a nurturing environment for the children. I also try to make it a fun, supportive and exciting place for the teachers. Some of my favorite experiences from childhood are Practical Life (i.e. lacing, polishing shoes, cleaning, cooking etc.), dressing up and playing house. As a teacher I enjoyed using Montessori Material for enhancing academics, autonomy and creative learning.

Ms. Nanette Patterson has more than 20 years teaching experience in a preschool setting (Montessori and non Montessori). She has mostly worked with the 3-6 year age group, but she also has several years of experience working with toddlers. She has a diploma in Montessori Education and many ECE units. Ms. Patterson teaches our "Butterfly" group (older preschoolers, ages 3-6).

Rosa Zamora, Toddler Teacher - Dragonfly Group

I have a BA in psychology from UCSB. I have many ECE units and I am planning to broaden my knowledge and skills in ECE. I love working with children. I believe in providing a healthy and nurturing environment where they feel safe and are able to have fun. I find it rewarding when I am able to help children achieve their goals or help them learn new things that will help them in the long run. During my free time I enjoy walking my dog and spending time with my family. I also enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking and camping. I have been working at SLMP since 2014.

Irene Gonzalez, Preschool Teacher - Butterfly Group

I enjoy working with children. I enjoy doing activities and arts and crafts with them. Among the many hobbies I have some of them are sewing and painting. I have completed many ECE units to be a fully qualified teacher and have been a teacher since 2001. I have been working at SLMP since 2005.

Maria Gomez - Infant Teacher – Lady Bug Group

I have AA degrees in Social and Behavioral Sciences and Child Development, and many ECE and administration units. I have been a teacher for all of my adult life. I love working with babies. I strive to provide a nurturing and safe environment for them. My son is attending SLMP and it is a blessing to have him here. I love spending time with my son and my family. I have been working at SLMP since 2014.

Lourdes Villaseñor, Infant Teacher - Busy Bee Group

I have been working in the ECE field since 2009. I have three children. I enjoy spending time with my children, reading, playing, and going to the park. I am bilingual and know a few words in sign language. I am nearing the completion of my AA in ECE. I currently hold an Associate Teacher Permit. I have been working at SLMP since 2013.