Lauren Heckman – Preschool Director
Since I was 12, I knew I wanted to be in the field of education and child care. My passion is working with children and watching them grow. I have worked with preschool aged children through Senior high, but my favorite group to work with is early childhood. I worked for the Pacific Southwest Lutheran District at Christ Lutheran Preschool in Costa Mesa for 12 years. My job title changed many times as I have held many positions there, such as: morning floater (working alongside all the teachers in three separate classrooms), an afternoon teacher, a co-teacher, a lead teacher, an outside curriculum coordinator, and interim director for 8 months. I began my ministry at Redeemer in 2015 as Acting Director and by the 2016-2017 school year, was officially named Director of Redeemer Lutheran Preschool.
I consider one of my strengths to be sensitivity to the families and students in our care. This is shown by respecting the parent’s traditions and cultures, while treating their child/children as a unique children of God. I have an Early Childhood certificate, Administration units from Orange Coast College and have recently earned my Bachelors degree in Liberal Arts from CSULB. My areas of strength are demonstrated by open communication, developing relationships with all staff, children, and families by supporting their needs and interests. As an educator, I am dedicated to facilitating growth by encouraging others to be independent. I connect staff, families and students to Jesus in a respectful, loving and supportive way. My favorite bible verse is, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 This bible verse shows how we can always count on Jesus no matter what our life circumstance may be.
Virgina Higley – Angelfish Teacher (Ages 4-5)
I have served in the teaching ministry for 31 years. I started teaching English as a second language to children ages 4 to 15, discovering that my favorite age group was early childhood. I enjoy nurturing the children with care and love and assisting their development and instruction on their journey to kindergarten and beyond. My real passion is creating activities for the educational development of the children through music, art, and play. I started as an Assistant teacher, then worked as a pre-k co-teacher for 12 years and preppy-k lead teacher for 6 years at Grace Lutheran Preschool in H.B. I was also responsible since 2011 for implementing and aligning the Infant/Toddler, Preschool, and Pre-k curricula to the California Learning Foundations and adding a faith-based program to it. Since 2013 I have created a rich program for the preschool summer camp. Additionally, I have conducted diverse workshops to Grace preschool staff and other local preschools. I hold a Bachelor of Art degree in Psychology and an A.A in Executive Secretarial from St. Peter’s University in New Jersey. I also have 20+ units in Early Childhood Education along with Administration units from Orange Coast College and I hold a Child Development Assistant Permit from the Commission on Teacher Credentialing in CA. In my free time I enjoy my family’s company, reading, and playing with Bebe, our cat.
Melinda Weiss – Dolphin Teacher (Ages 2-3)
I am so blessed to be joining the teaching team here at Redeemer Lutheran Preschool. Working with preschoolers is my passion. I have been teaching for more years than I can admit, let’s just say…my entire working career. I have served as a teacher with infants, preschoolers and school-age children, ages 6 months – 12 years old. I have served as a director at two different centers and I have also owned and operated my home-based preschool. No matter the position I hold, sharing the love of Jesus and building relationships with the children and their families is what I treasure most! I earned my Bachelor of Science Degree in Child Development from Cal State Fullerton. I also took classes through Concordia University Irvine and earned my colloquy, a series of theology classes according to the Missouri Synod Lutheran beliefs. I attend Bethel Lutheran Church in Buena Park. In my spare time I love to do jigsaw puzzles, swim in my pool, and spend time with family especially with my grand-babies. On Monday evenings you will find me at the bowling alley – I have bowled in the same league for 25 years. I have lots of favorite Bible verses but if I had to choose one, it would be, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
Barbara Rineer – Assistant
I’m so happy to be a part of Redeemer Lutheran Preschool. I have been working with young children for over 30 years. I was born and raised in Orange County along with my twin sister and two older brothers. I graduated from Fountain Valley High School and then attended Orange Coast College where I studied Early Childhood Education. I realized at an early age that I wanted to work with young children as I would, at times, accompany my mother to work as she cared for physically disabled children. I have no children of my own which makes working with young children even more rewarding. Watching children thrive as they learn and grow is an amazing and joyful job. Since I have no children of my own, I have adopted a rescue dog that I have had for 7 years. He is a Maltese mix, named Montana, whom I consider my child. My favorite bible verse is, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
Debbie Tiso – Assistant
I am very grateful to be a part of the teaching staff at Redeemer Lutheran Preschool. In 2016, after many years working in a corporate position, the Lord laid on my heart the desire to teach at a Christian Preschool. Walking by faith, I submitted my resignation and enrolled in the Early Childhood Education Program at Orange Coast College. While attending classes I worked as a Classroom Aid at Harry and Grace Steele Children’s Center. There I had the privilege of assisting in all classrooms, which served ages infants to 4/5 years. I continued to work at the Children’s Center, as a Teacher Assistant, after earning a Child Development Associate Teacher Permit. I am a member of Crosspoint Church in Huntington Beach, where I serve in the Children’s Ministry with our Three-Year-Old / Preschool Class. I am a proud mother of two grown daughters and “Grammy” to two precious grandsons. My favorite activity with children is Creative Arts: painting, dancing, puppets, and music. I find leading children to use their imagination and to freely express themselves, while developing their emotional and physical abilities, to be very rewarding. In my free time, I like visits with family, tending to my freshwater aquarium, bike riding, and taking long brisk walks.
A favorite Bible verse is Philippians 1:6 NIV – “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
Katrina Gabon – Assistant
I am currently 22, and pursuing a bachelor’s degree in education. I attend Irvine Valley College with the anticipation of moving to a four year university. I have served my home church, Refuge Calvary Chapel of Huntington Beach, working with children’s ministries. I have volunteered in a supervisory role with 3rd – 6th grade students, as well as, being employed as a caregiver for toddlers at their many services. I have functioned as a youth camp counselor and nanny, which provides me with the experience needed to work with children. Currently, I serve junior high and high school students, as I am an overseer/leader for my church’s young adult ministry. During this pandemic my ministry with 3rd – 6th graders has been put on hold. I plan to return once this ministry is up and running again.
I am passionate about children in general. I believe this to be the case because I’m a kid at heart. Aside from that, learning how children develop has left me awestruck. From gestation to adulthood, I find human development to be a fascinating subject. It reminds me that we have a Creator who has thought of every detail, down to each cell within us. And, it’s given me a desire to work alongside preschool aged children and their parents as they navigate the formative years. Thank you for trusting me and the school with such precious gifts that are your children.
“The Lord is great and is highly praised; his greatness is unsearchable. One generation will declare your works to the next and will proclaim your mighty acts. I will speak of your splendor and glorious majesty and your wondrous works. They will proclaim the power of your awe-inspiring acts, and I will declare your greatness.” Psalm 145:3-6