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Meet Our Teachers


Melissa Vree

Director of School

In the Spring of 2020, as we were navigating the early days of the pandemic, I accepted the role of Director at Sausalito Nursery School to help carry on the long legacy of community and caring associated with the school. To be able to guide this wonderful co-operative preschool is an honour.  Previously, I taught at SNS for 6 years, teaching the Sea Otter class as well as the Tide Pool class. 


Before SNS, I worked as a preschool teacher at Marinwood Preschool Program in San Rafael while also teaching soccer classes to toddlers ages 2-5 through the Terra Linda Recreation Dept. I have a special place in my heart for co-op preschools because both of my children attended one when we lived in Alexandria, VA. For newcomers to the East Coast, it provided us a wonderful community to be a part of.


When we moved to Virginia from California, I was able to step away from my 9 year career in Human Resources to spend more time at home with my children, Ruby and William, who were 3 and 1 at that time. During our time there, I also worked with Just for Kids, a small business that offers soccer, LAX, tee ball, and yoga classes for children ages 2-8. I taught classes and developed new business partnerships. 


I have also continued to volunteer in a variety of ways, either as a soccer coach or through my kids’ school. I was elected to the Site Council Committee at Mary Silveira Elementary School, collaboratively working with teachers, administration and parents to help make decisions about school operations. I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Sports Management and a Minor in Business Administration from Saint Mary’s College of California. And I have completed additional coursework in Early Childhood Education and School Administration at College of Marin and the UC Santa Cruz Silicon Valley Extension.


Diane Bernstein

Pre-k Teacher & Assistant Director

I have an Associates of Science Degree in Early Childhood Education from College of Marin in California. I also have a Teacher Credential from the state of California. Since that time, I have attended conferences and taken many continuing education classes in Early Childhood at various locations in and around the Bay Area. I am certified in CPR and First Aid -- which I renew and update every year.


I live in Sausalito very near to the school. I am married and have two children, Darin who is 33 old, and Emily who is 30 years old. Both are alumni of Sausalito Nursery School. I started as a parent at Sausalito Nursery School in 1991 with my son and then 2 years later with my daughter. I was on various committees, mostly fundraising while also doing my co-op duties. My husband, Jeff, was on the finance committee and then was the President during our last year at SNS as parents! I grew up in Southern California where I went to High School. I was attending college when I changed gears and became a Flight Attendant. I loved my career and was lucky enough to have flown literally all over the world. I eventually landed in San Francisco, where I continued in the hospitality field working for Marriott Hotels as Concierge, and at Campton Place hotel where I became the event coordinator.  When I had my son, I decided to stay at home, and enjoyed every single moment. It was then that I realized what I was meant to do in life, which was to become an educator for young children. I went back to school while my children were young and got my AS Degree.


I have taught at Sausalito Nursery School for 24 years, 1 year in the 3 year old program and 23 years in the Pre-K program. I am passionate about my job. I love working with young children and I smile every day when I walk through that door. My other passion is doing yoga and being outdoors,both of which I love sharing with my students. I will continue to do my best to meet each child where he or she is - emotionally, socially, cognitively and physically.


Johanna Pitocelli

Sea Otter & Pre-k Teacher



I grew up outside Philadelphia and spent most of my childhood exploring the great outdoors ! I competed nationally in tennis, squash and platform tennis through college and taught tennis to young children in the summer. When I moved to the Bay Area I operated a Travel Agency specializing in corporate travel. After being a substitute teacher at The Marina Children’s Center I joined the SNS community in 2012. I created L.E.A.P with Eliya and we transformed the Afternoon Program into a student driven curriculum with a focus on literacy and STEAM activities. We also incorporated cooking into the curriculum which presents many learning opportunities. I love music and movement which are a part of every day in our classroom !


Education: B.A. in History of Art, Trinity College, Hartford, CT. / Junior year in Rome where I learned to speak Italian, Conversational Italian, CCSF and Instituto di Cultura Italiana,

Hawaiian Cultural Studies, Na Lei Hulu I Ka Weiku, San Francisco, CA., Early Childhood Education Teaching Certificate, College of Marin, Library Information and Technology Studies, CCSF.


I am a firm believer in continuing education and have attended several workshops at Marin Child Care Council ( focus on Nutrition, Movement, Child Trauma, Safety, La Scuola ( focus on Documentation ) and studied Temperaments at College of Marin. My interests outside school include the Dolphin Club, Le Donne d’Italia, and playing in a ukulele group. A few years ago I introduced the ukulele to SNS ( Sausalito Strummers ) and the children loved it.


This year I am delighted to be teaching the Sea Otter Class with Eliya and teaching a day in the Pre-K ! As an educator I strive to help the children develop their social emotional and literacy skills by encouraging them to communicate their thoughts, interests, and needs. It is important to me to encourage inquiry, exploration, and experimentation. I feel fortunate to be in a co-op setting because the family is such an important component in every child’s education. Looking forward to getting to know your family so we can work together to best meet the needs and goals of your unique child. 

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Eliya Hanna

Tide Pool & Sea Otter Teacher

Hello SNS families!

I have worked with kids for most of my life: as a nanny, tutor, TA abroad, camp counselor, horseback riding coach, professional ski instructor, and classroom teacher. I found my way to the wonderful SNS by way of Denver, Colorado, where I graduated in 2016 with my Masters in Elementary Education, specialization in English Language Learners. I completed my MA at the University of Denver after finishing my undergraduate BA with a double major in English and Gender Studies, and an Apprentice year as a First Grade Teacher. After graduation, I was seeking a bit of adventure and made my way out to the West Coast.

Originally, I am from Chicago, born and raised in the city. (My claim to fame is that I attended the same public high school as Michelle Obama and Michael Jordan’s children.) When I was nine, my parents bought a farm outside of the city and I was pseudo-raised there, as well. This farm has played a huge part in my life, as an educator, advocate of play, and believer in hard work and the benefits of the outdoors. To this day, you can find me on my own playground, running the children’s equestrian program at Baywood Equestrian in Fairfax.

Some of you may also know me from the Sausalito library, as one of the previous Story Time Teachers. I am a huge proponent of reading and getting children interested in books, and began an online Story Time during the pandemic. When I am not busy with childhood education, I am most likely enjoying the California sunshine on a hike, a pair of skis, a mountain bike, or on leash with my two dogs.  I am very happy to be a part of the SNS team, and can confidently say that we will have a great year together. My motto is that there is always room for fun in the classroom, and that learning is all about the journey. So, let the fun begin! 

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