Meet Our Staff

Sally Smith

Director


It has been my privilege to be the Director of Best Beginnings since 1996. Each day means working with an exceptional group of women who are passionate about teaching. I get the added benefit of being surrounded by lots of happy, curious children. After graduating from the University of Washington, my journey working with young children included teaching at the Boyer Children's Clinic and Munchkins Preschool and working as a Parent Educator through Lake Washington Technical Institute. I'm married with two grown children and four grandchildren. Any spare time is spent on my two passions, reading and traveling.

Patty Venema

Finance Manager and Accountant


Patty started working at Best Beginnings Preschool in 2003 as an assistant teacher in our transitional Kindergarten class. She spent time teaching in our 3's program before switching gears and moving into an administrative position. Patty now handles all of the financial work for the preschool. Patty was born and raised in Kirkland and after marrying moved to Snohomish in 1986. Patty and her husband have two grown children. She lives on a small farm with 6 cows, a dog and a cat. Patty spends time volunteering for the Snohomish Education Foundation where she sits on the board as the past President.  

Marjorie Landon

Transitional Kindergarten Teacher


  Marjorie began working at Best Beginnings Preschool in 2011 and has been teaching the Transitional Kindergarten class since 2012. After attending Central Washington University for her BA in Elementary Education, Marjorie received her Masters in Education while working as a Kindergarten teacher in Camas. Originally from Vancouver, Washington, Marjorie has lived in Redmond since 2001 with her husband and three sons. Outside of Best Beginnings, Marjorie enjoys traveling, gardening, and cooking.  

Andrea Jones

Transitional Kindergarten Teacher


Andrea joined Best Beginnings Preschool in 1997.  Since then, she has worked as a lead teacher in our PreK program, a lead teacher in our enrichment classes and is currently assisting in the Transitional Kindergarten program.  She enriches her teaching knowledge each year from early childhood classes and seminars both on and off campus. Andrea was born and raised in California. She is married and has a son. Andrea enjoys painting and other forms of art, gardening, cooking and spending time with family and friends.  

Paula Runyon

PreK Teacher


Paula joined Best Beginnings Preschool in 2000, spending time in both our 3's preschool and PreK programs. She grew up in Bellevue, graduated from The University of Washington, and settled in Woodinville, with her husband Bryon, to raise their three daughters.  Paula has been an active volunteer in both Lake Washington and Northshore school districts.  She loves animals, the outdoors, yoga, and travel, but her favorite activity is spending time with her three grandchildren.   

Kerry Lodge

PreK Teacher


Kerry has been teaching at Best Beginnings Preschool since 2006, spending time in both our 3's and PreK programs as a lead teacher. She was born and raised in Washington State.  Kerry received her BS Degree in Community Health Education from Central Washington University and her Masters Degree from City University.  She is married and has two children. Over the past 15 years, Kerry has volunteered her time in many Lake Washington School District programs. Kerry is the honored recipient of the PTSA Silver Hawk and Golden Acorn awards, both from Redmond Elementary. In her spare time, Kerry enjoys spending time with her family, walking her dog, baking and reading.  

Karen Burgess

PreK Teacher


Karen started with Best Beginnings Preschool in 2004 as an assistant teacher in our PreK program. She grew up in Michigan and received a BA in Elementary Education from Michigan State University. Karen is married and has three children. She enjoys walking her dogs and reading. Karen and her family spend much of their time boating on the beautiful waters of the Pacific Northwest. Karen currently is a lead teacher in our afternoon PreK program and is an assistant teacher in our morning PreK class.  

Francy Hastie

PreK Teacher


Francy grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. She holds a BA in Human Development from UC Irvine, which included coursework in ECE, and an MPA from San Francisco State. She joined Best Beginnings Preschool in 2012 with our 3's program. She is currently an assistant teacher with our PreK program. Her son and daughter are "almost grown", but she's a former Best Beginnings parent who has enjoyed many years involved in their diverse activities. She enjoys reading, walking, theater, baseball and travel in her free time.  

Stephanie Taketa

PreK Teacher & Admin Assistant


Stephanie joined Best Beginnings Preschool in 2008 as an assistant teacher in our 3's preschool program. She grew up in Everett, WA and now lives on English Hill with her husband and three beautiful daughters. Prior to having children, she worked for Safeco Life Insurance Company. Stephanie has spent time over the last 20 years volunteering in her daughters' classrooms, PTSA, local sports programs and her church youth programs. She enjoys spending time with her family, reading, paper crafting and crocheting. When she is not working in a PreK classroom, you can find her in our school office working as an Administrative Assistant.  

Joi Grabow

PreK Teacher


Joi started working at Best Beginnings Preschool in 2007. She grew up in the south, living in Boone, NC and Lawton, OK. She studied Biochemistry at Oklahoma State University and she also has an AA in Early Childhood Special Education from Bellevue College. Joi is married with three teenage girls, two cats and two dogs. In her free time, she enjoys gardening, quilting and cooking. Joi currently works in both our 3's and PreK programs.  

Lori Miller

3's Preschool Teacher


Lori joined Best Beginnings in 2000 as a lead teacher with our 3's preschool program. She has a special love for three year olds, making her classroom a warm and nurturing environment for children to learn and grow. Lori grew up in Bellingham, Washington. She received a BA in Sociology with a postgraduate degree in Elementary Education. She has taught both in the Lake Washington and Bellevue school districts. She is married with two grown children and a daughter in law. Lori enjoys spending time with family, biking, gardening, reading, shopping and decorating.   

Corrine Hatakeyama-Bott

3's Preschool Teacher


Corrine has been at Best Beginnings Preschool since 2014, joining our 3's program. She grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii and studied business. She has worked at Natural Start Preschool, Microsoft, Hawaiian Airlines, and volunteered extensively in LWSD elementary and middle schools. She has volunteered in many enrichment programs that include: drama, dance, music, reading, math, and cultural arts. Corrine is a proud recipient of the 2012 Golden Acorn Award and 2011 Puma Paw Award in recognition of her dedication and service to children and youth as a school and community volunteer. She is married, has two wonderful children, and a dog. She enjoys yoga, hiking, cooking, art, reading, traveling, going to the movies, and spending time with family and friends.

Jill Eisner

PreK Teacher


Jill is an alunni parent who joined our Best Beginnings staff in 2017 as an assistant teacher in our PreK program. She received her Master of Arts in Teaching from National Louis University in Chicago, Illinois. Jill and her family have recently move from Chicago settling in the Redmond area. Jill is married and has two wonderful kids. When not busy with her kids' activities, she enjoys running, reading, baking and traveling with her family. Jill recently completed a Ragnar running relay this past summer.

Monika Fodor

3's Preschool Teacher


Monika joined Best Beginnings Preschool in 2016 as an assistant teacher in our 3's program. She grew up in Romania and Hungary. She completed medical school in 1999 and finished her Ob/Gyn schooling in 2005. Monika moved to the United States in 2005 with her husband. Before her daughter was born, she worked in clinic research in Seattle and Redmond. The past several years, Monika has volunteered her time in many of her daughter's education programs. Monika and her family love spending time outdoors, from gardening to kayaking to skiing. She loves living in this area, which offers so many possibilities.  

Siobhan Doyle

3's Preschool Teacher


Siobhan joined Best Beginnings Preschool in 2015 where she assisted in the younger 3's program. She grew up in Ireland and attended college in Athlone where she received a BA in Business studies as well as a certificate from the Institute of Accounting Technicians of Ireland. After the birth of her third child she gave up working in the business field to focus on her children. Prior to moving to the US, she worked as an assistant to Little Friends Preschool in her hometown. She moved to the US from Ireland in 2009 along with her husband and three children. During her free time she enjoys walking, playing soccer with a coed team, making new friends and hanging out with family.  

Magdalena Kadluczka

3's Preschool Teacher


Magdalena joined Best Beginnings Preschool in 2017 as an assistant teacher in our 3's program. Originally from Poland, Magdalena lives with her family in Kirkland, WA. She is a mother of two wonderful daughters who bring her lots of love, joy and happiness every day.  Magdalena received her Master's Degree in Science from the Wroclaw University of Technology. She has over six years of teaching experience as a Kindergarten teacher at the Polish School in Bellevue, WA. For the last eight years, she has also been an active volunteer at her daughters' schools. Magdalena enjoys spending time with her family, camping, reading and playing board games. She loves to bake, decorate cakes and a good cup of coffee.