I have been an occupational therapist for over 30 years and have worked in a variety of settings.
My true passion has been working in the field of Early Intervention, and I have been fortunate through the past 15 years to be able to follow my passion at ELI. Besides evaluating and treating infants and children in their home environments, I am also a co-teacher in the group program.
In addition to being the clinical director at ELI, I also provide consultations and treatment for high risk infants at Sutter Regional Medical Center.
“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others”
I started working at ELI in 2002, right out of High School. I fell in love with everything ELI did for my community. I now have a wide range of experience interacting with children of all ages. Starting out as a receptionist, I have worked my way up to the Early Intervention Coordinator and have learned so much in these past 13 years working with such educated and amazing coworkers! I work closely with the families, making important assignments and always want to make sure all children and their families get their needs met. Outside of ELI I love to dance and have a close relationship with my family. If I am not at ELI you can find me teaching dance to young children, youth and adults with special needs at Love2Dance or hanging out with my family.
Hello my name is Alma Machuca, I am happily married and have a two year old daughter which keeps me very busy. At eighteen in college, I decided to get a part- time job at an elementary school as an instructional assistant and yard supervisor. As years went by, I became the school site English Learner Technician. I then got married and moved to Las Vegas, there I started working for a childcare center as a preschool teacher. Once our daughter was born my husband and I moved back to Santa Rosa to raise her here. I am very fortunate to be part of the Early Learning Intervention team. I love what I do and enjoy working with children and their families.
I’ve been an occupational therapist since 2008. Soon after graduating from San Jose State, I was hired at ELI and have been working in early intervention for the past 7 years. I completed my speciality certification in feeding and swallowing in 2013. I divide my time between treating occupational therapy clients, co-teaching playgroups, and consulting with community preschools through the Consultation Project. I especially enjoy working with young children in the areas of fine motor and sensory development, as well as the acquisition of feeding skills. My undergraduate degree is in psychology from UC Berkeley allowed me to work in the child development lab there and sparked a lifelong fascination with learning about attachment and cognitive development. I recently became the mother of a baby girl and so am continually experiencing the joys of child development both at home and through my work at ELI.
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” -Albert Einstein
My name is Barbara Jimenez and I am a Bilingual Intervention Specialist. I was born and raised in Turlock, California. I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and my Master’s Degree in Counseling with my PPS Credential from Sonoma State University. I have been working with ELI for a couple of years now and I truly love my job. I am able to work with wonderful children and their families. I believe that children learn through play. Even though it may seem that they are just playing, they are learning valuable skills. I believe each child should be treated with respect, care a sense of independence, awareness of diversity, and parent home involvement.
My early studies and career path centered on physical education, specifically growth and development, with a special interest in Sensory Integration and Learning Disorders. As I pursued my Bachelor’s Degree I worked in a Kindergym motor exploration program where I found that I loved working with infants and parents. However, as these children seemed to be doing well, I wondered about those families and young children for whom life was not going so smoothly. I partnered with the Agency for Infant Development, the first early intervention program in Sonoma County, and developed a Kindergym program for very young children with developmental needs. It was this partnership that led me to my work as an Early Intervention Specialist. Since then I have worked with families for over 35 years. I received additional training through the Napa Infant Parent Mental Health Fellowship of 2006-7 which helped me focus even greater attention on supporting parents in their relationships with their children. My final project for the Fellowship led me to establish PEAS, A Specialized Parent Support program for parents with young children birth to 5 years in developmental services. For my work with families I am very proud to have been honored by the Napa Fellowship as the 2014-15 recipient of the Bruce D. Perry Spirit of the Child Award.
Passionate about early intervention, social justice, and peace, Janine Acevedo has a BS in Communicative Disorders and a MA in Early Childhood Special Education. Bilingual, she is fluent in American Sign Language and English. When not helping babies learn, or spending time with her husband and daughter, Janine can be found with her nose in a book, her dog on her lap and her cat demanding her attention.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens
can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
— Margaret Mead
Jayne graduated from Chico State with a bachelors degree in Physical Education. She went on to get her single subject teaching credential in Physical Education and Adapted Physical Education. She taught Adapted Physical Education in Hollister California and was involved with special olympics. She then moved to Sonoma County where she taught Physical Education and Adapted Physical Education. Soon after becoming a new mom, she began in Early Intervention. She has been a home visitor, a group teacher and a mentor to new staff over the last 16 years. Jayne began here at ELI in September 2011. Jayne likes the outdoors a great deal and can be found gardening, hiking and backpacking in her free time.
“Play is the highest form of Research” Albert Einstein
I work as a bilingual Early Intervention Specialist at Early Learning Institute. With each day, with each family, and with each child, my learning continues. The learning is shared between teacher, family and child and is unique with each partnership that is formed. This relationship-based and family centered approach to teaching is why I find myself doing this work for over twenty years. Before becoming an Early Intervention Specialist I studied early childhood education and was a preschool teacher. This was valuable preparation for my early intervention work. My Bachelor’s degree in Deaf Studies from Cal State Northridge also prepared me well for working with children with speech and language challenges. I continue to have a strong interest in communication and language which I get to practice as one of the teachers in our Speech and Language Parent Education Groups. I am grateful for the opportunity to teach and play with children and families in their homes. It is a personal and intimate way to get to know each other. This provides a deeper perspective of the family unit and family culture. And lastly, where there is play, there is joy. How many people can say they laugh and sing (badly) every single day at work?
I graduated from Sonoma State University in Spring of 2013 with a BA in Psychology with a minor in Art Studio.I began working at ELI in Spring 2014 and have had the opportunity to be involve in 3 programs. Watch Me Grow, Early Intervention and Parent and Support Program. Working for ELI has been an opportunity to combine my passions of creativity, educating, and supporting parents and children in the Sonoma County.
“A mountain is composed of tiny grains of earth. The ocean is made up of tiny drops of water. Even so, life is but an endless series of little details, actions, speeches, and thoughts. And the consequences whether good or bad of even the least of them are far-reaching.” Swami Sivananda
I have worked as a speech and language therapist in early intervention for the last 10 years. I have also managed a family resource center and taught English as Second Language to adults in the U.S. and abroad. A Santa Rosa native, I recently returned after raising my two wonderful daughters in Seattle. My professional passion is in supporting children to achieve their best and caregivers to be empowered teachers and advocates.
“Making the decision to have a child -it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body” Elizabeth Stone
I attended school in Santa Rosa, graduated from SSU with a degree from The Hutchins School of Liberal Studies, with the intention of becoming an elementary school teacher, but infants and toddlers RULE, so here I am. I have worked with children of various ages and backgrounds in different settings. My desire to teach and a lucky encounter landed me here, at ELI in 2005. I have found that in this field I am constantly learning from, and amazed by the families and children that welcome me into their homes with open arms.
“We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.” -Stacia Tauscher-
I began working with children in San Mateo County shortly after I completed my B.A. at UC Santa Barbara in Spanish and Chicana/o Studies. After two years in San Mateo County working with preschool aged children in group settings I applied to Sonoma State for their Master’s program in Early Childhood Education. I am currently a thesis away from my degree. I have had the privilege of being with ELI for three years now as an Early Intervention Specialist and group teacher. I enjoy working with children and their families and being able to support their development. It is such a joy to see a child meet a goal and see the excitement in their faces as well as their families.
“Learn as much as you can, but always be open-minded to anything, don’t allow what you learn to keep you from learning things you might object to. “ -unknown
The child of missionaries, I grew up in Nigeria. I knew from a young age that I wanted to help people like my parents. I moved to the United States for college. Where I majored in child development and family theory at the University of Montevallo. During that time I also served as the supervising afternoon teacher for an NAEYC accredited school. As part of my program I was fortunate to intern in the Alabama early intervention system. I learned that this was my passion and would have stayed except I moved from Alabama with my husband to be closer to his family. I am fortunate to be working at the Early Learning Institute and am excited to work with the children of Sonoma County.
From a young age, my mom always taught me to “follow my bliss”. When I went to college, I took courses that inspired me and traveled whenever I could. A few degrees, teaching credentials and countries later, I am right where I want to be, working at ELI. Several years ago, I spent a summer at ELI as an intern and fell in love with the place right away. I worked as a preschool special day class teacher for Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE) for five years and quickly learned that my students bring out the best in me. Being a teacher means the learning never stops! I am grateful to be working in such a positive environment that supports children and their families.
“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about. “
Almost 20 years ago I began volunteering with children who have special needs at an after school program in downtown Richmond. This is where my passion for service and advocacy truly began, which inspired me to receive a bachelors degree in Liberal Studies-Teacher Preparation with a focus on Special Education. I then moved to The Netherlands where I taught and received my masters degree in North American Studies with my thesis being on the discrimination against children with disabilities in the American school system and the need for adaptive education. Upon returning to California I worked as a Behavioral Therapist for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. After an exciting move to Sonoma County, I am very lucky to be a part of the Early Learning Institute family and love the children I get to work with!
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” – Anne Frank
I recently moved back to Sonoma County from Portland, Maine where I was working as a special education preschool teacher, primarily for students with autism spectrum disorder. I graduated from Sonoma State with a B.A. in Human Development and Psychology. At SSU I worked at The Children’s School in the infant/toddler classroom. I completed my special education teaching credential in 2010. At the Early Learning Institute I work in Early Intervention and The Consultation Project. My passion is teaching emotional regulation and social skills.
“Play is the the highest form of research” -Albert Einstein
Since I was a young girl, I had always wanted to work with children who needed a little extra help with their development. As I grew, the passion never wavered. Eventually, I worked my way through college as a physical therapy aide in a neurologic and post-acute rehabilitation hospital in Santa Rosa; later taking on jobs as a student worker at California Children Services, Medical Therapy Unit and as a pediatric medical assistant in Southern California. In 1990, I received my degree in Health Education and entered the world of early intervention. Here I have stayed for 25 years, expanding my role into the program manager for our Watch Me Grow program and our High-Risk Infant Follow-up program. When not at work, I spend my time with my husband of 21 years and our three wonderful daughters. As a family, we enjoy sports, hiking and kayaking.
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!”
Tom is married and has five children and two grandchildren. He loves guitars, and currently has eight of them along with one mandolin. He is a credentialed teacher and has a master’s degree in special education. He has worked with special needs adults, taught in a development center, and spent six years as a teaching principal of a small private school. He spent many years working in early intervention at Easter Seals, where he co-led play groups, worked with autistic children, and incorporated music in his intervention work. He plays a mean version of Itsy Bitsy Spider! In the middle of his special education career Tom spent a number of years in the ministry, working a a pastor and music leader. Although he is no longer a minister, he is to this day a member of the music staff of a Lutheran Church.Tom has worked with ELI since April of 2014. He works with both English and Spanish speaking families, helping them to play and related to their children in a developmentally appropriate way. When asked about his work today, Tom says he’s sort of like a professional grandpa.
“Don’t despise the day of small beginnings.” Old Testament
As a child my dream was to become an elementary school teacher. I graduated from Elsie Allen High School and continued my educational path by attending SRJC. I got married a few years later and transferred to Sonoma State University. I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Studies and was accepted in the Teaching Credential program at SSU after that. While in college I had a variety of jobs working with children and families in my community. As my education and work experience grew, so did my family. I was a full time student at SSU with a newborn baby boy. I first learned about ELI’s programs from my “Families First” home visitor in 2003. My home visitor gave me great tips and answered all my parenting questions. A couple of years later I applied for a job at ELI. I knew then, that ELI was a great place to continue to work with children and their families. I had no idea what Early Intervention was about but remembered my experience as a client.
Since becoming a part of ELI in 2005, I have learned a lot about the Early Intervention field and continue to learn something new everyday. My family got even bigger with the birth of my second son and my daughter. Throughout these years it has been rewarding to see children reach important milestones and support parents along the way. Even though I did not become an elementary school teacher (as my career path shifted along the way) I am a teacher, a very different kind of teacher!
Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive, that is youer than you!
— Dr. Seuss
I am a bilingual (Spanish/English) substitute teacher for groups and preschool. I have been with ELI since 2013, and I have been supporting families with children with special needs since 2009. I earned a bachelors degree in Human Development from Sonoma State University. I am currently a full time student working towards becoming an Occupational Therapist.
“No Matter what sort of difficulties, how painful the experience is, if we lose our hope, that is the real disaster. “ –Dalai Lama