Claire Koukoutsakis

teacher claire Director
3-4s Teacher

The heart and soul of MVPNS. Her knowledge, thirty years of experience, and wisdom resonate in every aspect of our school, and they reflect her life-long passion for children and building community. Her high emotional intelligence and dedication to the profession of early childhood education greatly benefit both our children and our school community. Claire began teaching at MVPNS in 1990 and became Director in 2007.

She is also a Child Development Instructor at Foothill College and Founder of Foothill’s Mentor Teacher program, where she guides student teachers in the best practices of early childhood education. She has presented workshops at national, state, and local conferences on a variety of early child care and education topics. She also coordinates the Foothill College Child Development Training Consortium, and was awarded the Mountain View-Los Altos Adult Education Excellence in Teaching Award in 2006.

Claire has a B.A. in Child Development from Chico State University and has completed the Master of Arts units in Human Development from Pacific Oaks College. Her warmth and professionalism with children and parents provide a comforting beginning to school. Her modeling of team work and respect are invaluable to the parent participation experience. She is famous for her hugs, humor, and radiant smiles, and for making everyone feel cared for and loved.

Val Walker

teacher val 3.5-5s Teacher

Val Walker was first introduced to MVPNS with her growing family in 2016. Her two children attended MVPNS. Val was happy to accept the Assistant Teacher position for the Toddler Parent and Child Class when it became available, as she missed her MVPNS family.

Val is excited to expand her role at the school teaching the M/W/F 3.5-5s Class. She believes in the power of kids learning through play as an integral part of setting them up for success. She believes the co-op preschool experience is an important avenue to allow creative expression and discovery.

Val graduated with a BA in Education from San Jose State University. After a brief hiatus in her children's early years, she is highly involved in their elementary school, assisting with subjects ranging from reading comprehension and English learning to physical education.In her spare time, Val is involved as a Junior Patrol Girl Scouts Leader for a large multi-level troop in Sunnyvale. She loves to read and to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible.

Susan Pence

teacher susan 2-3s Teacher

Susan went to a Co-Op Preschool as a child and knew, even then, it was the type of supportive learning environment she wanted for her family too. In fact, she loved being a parent at MVPNS so much, she joined our Teaching Staff in 2014. With her BA in Fine Arts from UC Santa Cruz, a Masters Degree in Education, and teaching credentials in Multiple Subjects (Elementary) and Special Education, she brings with her a commitment to creativity, individualized instruction, inclusion, and equity in education.

Susan has pursued additional training in Positive Behavior Support, outdoor education, puppetry, story telling, music, and movement, including Music Together, and believes that play, music, and dancing are wonderful ways for families to grow together and bond. Susan’s sense of wonder, playfulness, and joy are key elements in her own life and she weaves them into her teaching to create a safe, fun, rich, sensory environment which will help to instill a lifelong love of learning in her students.

Sandra Mitchell

teacher sandra 2-3s Teacher

Sandra joined MVPNS in 2019. She is currently a teacher of a 2/3s class. She graduated from Foothill college with an AA in Psychology and an AS in Early Childhood Education, and she earned her BA in Human Development at Pacific Oaks College.

After working in personnel management for many years, Sandra made the decision to leave her career and dedicate herself to her son, Oliver, during the first pivotal years of his development. Through Oliver, she obtained a deep interest in understanding child development, and in nurturing her son’s growth and education, to the point where she decided to pursue this as the next evolution in her career.

Based on her experience, education, and passion, Sandra’s goal is to help children discover their love of learning, while helping parents understand and set proper expectations for themselves, and nurture their child’s growth and exploration based on their ages and stages.

Claudia Garcia

teacher claudia 3.5-5s Assistant Teacher

Joined MVPNS in 2018 as assistant teacher. She graduated from Mothercraft Institute for Early Development in Toronto, Canada (2008). She has extensive experience working for children in different settings and various age groups. Throughout her career she has focused on delivering an inclusive environment for every child and ability.

Before joining as assistant teacher, Claudia experienced the wonderful community at MVPNS with her daughter for three years. Claudia is looking forward to meet families and children every day and help facilitating an enriching environment during those precious years of wonder and discovery.

Beth Dawes

teacher beth 3-4s Assistant Teacher


Hatty Lin

teacher hatty 2-3s Assistant Teacher

Hatty first came to MVPNS 10 years ago with her eldest son and got one of the last spots in Teacher Claire's 3's class. After falling in love with the co-op community, she then sent her other two children to MVPNS as well. She had such a wonderful experience being in the classroom with her young children as they flourished in such an open and caring environment. When the opportunity to come back to MVPNS as a teacher's assistant arose, she was excited to return.

Hatty has been working with young children of all ages in various capacities over the years and has been continuing her education with Child Development classes at Foothill College. She loves seeing children’s eyes light up as they learn new things, and also learning new things from them. Hatty is looking forward to building relationships with the children and families at MVPNS.

L.A. Shen

teacher la 2-3s Assistant Teacher

Before becoming a mom and taking time off to manage my family, I worked as a registered nurse. My early career started in in-patient pediatrics. Developing relationships with families by advocating for their children, as well as guiding and supporting them through stressful medical situations was a touching and fulfilling part of my role. I felt immense gratitude to be in that position to help families feel comforted and empowered in difficult times. In developing my critical nursing skills, I transferred to the emergency department where I thrived in the fast-paced, intense environment.

I first came to MVPNS during the pandemic and attended Teacher Susan’s online class with my then two year old son. I was quickly taken by the sense of community that was established over zoom classes and meetings. The family-focused approach to learning had a nostalgic feel bringing me back to my days of working as a nurse. When a position opened for a teacher’s assistant I was excited to be a part of the MVPNS community in a more supportive role. I feel honored to be a part of the MVPNS team.

Natalie Johnson

teacher natalie Toddler and Friday Assistant Teacher

Natalie joined MVPNS as an Assistant Teacher for the Toddler and 2/3s classes in 2022. She was thrilled to return to the warm and dedicated community of MVPNS after having gone through this program with her son Kyle 20 years earlier. Her son even had then Teacher Claire as his 3s teacher! Upon her return, Natalie again admired the spirit of learning through play, the amazing creativity of the staff and the focus on supporting families. She looks forward to each MVPNS day as a chance to witness our preschoolers' rich observations and development.

After her first pass with MVPNS, Natalie continued volunteering in her son's programs: in-classroom support to elementary school teachers, Boy Scouts, coaching soccer. In addition to her work at MVPNS, she is now working on a career change into personal financial planning.