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Meet Our Team

At School of Enrichment, we are fortunate to have a group of amazing educators who not only bestow their considerable knowledge onto their students, but also every day show deep compassion, caring and enthusiasm for each and every single one of the children in their care.

Marcee Zendejas, AAECE

Director

Marcee and her family moved to Bend from Southern California in 2004. She brings over 30 years of experience to School of Enrichment working with children of all ages. Her career began as owner and director of an after school children’s program in California for school age children. She volunteered in a Children’s Musical Theater program for several years and loved it! As her children completed preschool, she realized her passion for early childhood education. Marcee then began teaching Preschool, Pre-Kindergarten, and Kindergarten.

Katie Brandow, LCSW

Founder/Owner

Katie has been involved with School of Enrichment prior to opening its doors in 2007. Her passion is supporting parents in finding trusted care with enriching experiences so that parents can maintain a healthy life balance and feel in their core being that their kids are safe and enriched. Katie is mom to two daughters and genuinely trusts that early childhood experiences in a supportive environment teach socialization, problem-solving and coping skills that create equipped children and eventually adults who are ready to take on the world productively, healthfully, and positively.

Kara Bernhardt, BS

Teacher

At three years old, Kara told her family that she was going to be a teacher when she grew up. Her path never changed, and she graduated from Oregon State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Sciences with a focus on Childhood Development. She was involved with many programs that included different aged children, and through these, she found her passion in Early Childhood Education. She found the youngest minds to be most interesting.

Heather Sanders School of Enrichment

Heather Sanders, MA Education

Substitute Teacher

Heather has had the privilege to work with kids for over 25 years. Heather has experience working in camps, running programs, has substitute taught elementary in public schools and has nannied. Most recently, Heather has fallen in love with early childhood. Working with this age group brings Heather joy and we all need that! Kids are so pure in heart, fun, and interested in all that life has to offer and Heather really wants to be a part of that.

Heather has her BA from University of North Texas. Heather has early-childhood and elementary teaching credentials from Western State College in Colorado. Heather also has a Masters of Arts in Education with an endorsement in Special Education from Lewis and Clark College.

Heather is also a mom to three amazing kids who I share with my amazing husband. Heather’s very favorite activities are camping and exploring and she believes she  would be a perfect candidate to live on the road in an RV someday! Heather also enjoys walking, reading, and playing yard games.

She is so so grateful for the opportunity to work at School of Enrichment because as she says, “It makes me a better person!”

DJ Whitworth, AA

Teacher

DJ is a Bend native who attended Bend High and later received her Associates of Arts in Early Childhood Education from COCC. DJ attends OSU online and will complete her Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development and Family Services in the spring of 2024. From a very young age, DJ knew that she wanted to be a teacher and work with kids. She explored the idea of a few different career paths but has always found that her heart is with children and teaching. DJ teaches in our Pre-K class and specializes in classroom management and design, lesson planning and implementation, and most importantly, teaching a love of learning! In her spare time, she loves to travel and spend time with her friends and family.

Carol Irvin, Masters in Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education

Teacher

Carol has taught everything from preschool to 4th grade for several years. She obtained her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education from George Fox University, as well as a Bachelor’s Degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences from Linfield College. In her free time she enjoys hiking, exploring waterfalls, bird watching, hosting British afternoon tea parties, and finding odd roadside attractions while on trips. Carol is an experienced, imaginative teacher who enjoys making her student’s learning experiences engaging and relatable. Her teaching style combines both kindness and reason with a focus on encouraging independence, resilience and empathy. Music is constantly incorporated into her class as she sings and plays the Celtic harp along with other instruments. She especially has a heart for early learning because of the sense of wonder that young children possess. Carol loves helping set a positive foundation for children’s school careers and says, “There’s nothing better than seeing a child’s spark for learning!”

Brandi Kaniho, BA Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education

Teacher

Brandi was born and raised in Hawaii. She attended Central Washington University where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education. After that, she moved back to Hawaii to start a family. While there, she worked for 8 years in a private preschool and 2 years as a kindergarten teacher in a public charter school. Since moving to Bend in 2020 with her husband and three children, she lead private learning pods ranging from preschoolers to second graders. When she’s not working she likes to explore new areas, take road trips, involve her kids in activities like sports, and just relax – taking it all in. While Hawaii will always be her home, she thinks Bend is a pretty special place too and is happy to be adventuring and teaching here. What Brandi values most about her job is making connections to build relationships with her students and their Ohana’s. Brandi truly believes that relationships, connection and community are at the heart of growing and teaching good humans. She wants to help foster these traits in kids and create a safe environment where students grow a love for learning.

Samantha Lucas, BS

Teacher

Samantha grew up in the heart of the beautiful Willamette Valley. Growing up, her family vacationed in Central Oregon and she always knew it would be a beautiful place to call home. After graduating from Oregon State in 2019 with a degree in Pre-Education, Samantha and her husband decided to move to Central Oregon and they remain grateful they made that decision. Samantha worked at a local private school in both a preschool classroom and school administration, which was a diverse start to her education career. Not only did this experience confirm a love for teaching early childhood, but it also allowed for experience in licensing and certification. In Samantha’s time outside of the classroom, she enjoys being outside on her small hobby farm with her chickens and goats. Her two pups keep her busy as they are always out on family adventures.

Mira Serrato, BA

Teaching Assistant

Mira was born and raised in sunny Los Angeles and has recently settled into life in Bend. She graduated from Gonzaga University with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and a minor in Business. When studying abroad in Florence, Italy, Mira interned at a local school where she taught 3rd-year students English. Here, she quickly discovered her love for working with children. Post-graduation, Mira spent time volunteering at the preschool she once attended! She hopes to use her knowledge of our beloved natural spaces, precious resources, and beautiful creatures to educate the next generation of environmental stewards.

 When she isn’t working, Mira loves to be outside and enjoys long, scenic bike rides with friends. She learned to ski at the ripe age of 3 and can be found on the local hill most winter weekends. She loves to hike with good company and has gotten into backpacking in recent years.  Mira is extremely excited to join the School of Enrichment community and is looking forward to what the school year will bring!

Alexa Sherar, AA ECE

Teacher

Alexa was born and raised in Portland. Growing up she babysat her cousins and neighbors and knew working with children was her passion. She moved to Arizona in 2003 and attended Pima Community College, where she obtained her AA in Early Childhood Education. Alexa taught at a play-based preschool in Tucson for four years where she feels she mastered connecting and engaging children in a positive way. In 2011, Alexa moved to Bend to be closer to family, where she continued to teach and nanny. Alexa assisted at a Montessori school for a year and was a lead teacher for four years at a Waldorf-inspired preschool in Bend. Alexa enjoys teaching children to grow and flourish into strong, independent, and caring people. When Alexa is not working, she spends time with her two dogs and seven chickens in Tumalo. She enjoys knitting, reading and camping.

Sarah Holmes

Substitute Teacher

Sarah joined the School of Enrichment team in the Spring of 2019 as a teaching assistant and helped operate our then after school program. Sarah has lived in Central Oregon for 32 years, is a mother of four, and a grandma to three adorable grandchildren. Her passion for working with children started back in the 90’s, when she first volunteered at the Alyce Hatch Preschool, and was subsequently hired as a teaching assistant. There, she grew to love working with kids, both those with special needs and typically developing children alike. Sarah worked with Alyce Hatch as their program was integrated with the Head Start program, as well. After raising her two youngest children and starting a baking company with her husband, she returned to the field of children once again. She worked for both Deschutes County Developmental Disability Services and the Oregon Dept of Human Services/CIIS Division as a Personal Support Worker to families with special needs children. As a personal support worker, she learned to care for children with such disabilities as Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, and Autism, to name a few. At School of Enrichment, she thoroughly loves working with all of our fun and spirited students and being a support to our amazing teachers! In her spare time, Sarah is a musician and performs in an Irish band with her husband, son, and friends.

Janine Higgins

Teaching Assistant

Janine has been a substitute teacher at School of Enrichment since the fall of 2014. Janine spent the last 15 years raising her two daughters who are now teenagers. Janine is excited to have the opportunity to spend more time supporting at School of Enrichment now that her girls are older! Janine is flexible and calm in her nature and students and staff enjoy spending time with Janine. Janine has regularly volunteered in both of her daughter’s classes since they were in kindergarten and this is where she found her passion of working with children. Janine has a presence that we all appreciate and students bond with her quickly. Janine’s favorite part of working in early childhood education is watching them grow and learn. Janine is flexible in her nature and in the classroom giving her the ability to work with a variety of personalities, she is cheerful and friendly and children are naturally drawn to her. We are so grateful to have her at School of Enrichment each day!

Amanda Blair

Teaching Assistant

Teaching Assistant Amanda is a native Oregonian who has has lived in Bend since she was seven years old. Amanda graduated from Bend Senior High School in 2016 and is currently in the process of obtaining an Elementary Education degree through Eastern Gateway Community College. Amanda is enjoying her classes and especially those in psychology and child development. Amanda is a dedicated student and has made the “President’s List” with a 4.0 GPA. Amanda has plentiful experience as a nanny and as a teaching assistant in other preschools. When Amanda is not working or taking classes, she loves to paint, hike and care for her pet rabbits, her cat and leopard gecko! Amanda’s favorite part of being in the classroom is stories and art projects but you’ll also see her blend in with the kids on the playground swinging, teetering and joining in on all the fun happening with our preschool friends!

Bailey Daniels

Teaching Assistant

Originally from Grants Pass, Bailey and her family moved to Bend when she was young and like many people in Bend, Bailey loves exploring the outdoors, especially camping, hiking, and biking. Bailey also loves to play tennis and paint. In high school, Bailey realized working with kids was one of her passions but life lead her to pursue dental hygiene. She began on this path, only to realize it wasn’t the route for her, as she knew her heart was set on working with children. Bailey intends to resume her college courses and get her degree in early childhood education.  Bailey is based in our preschool classroom with our youngest students. She’s a highly requested teaching assistant and everyone loves having her in their classroom. Bailey is participating in Neighbor Impact’s pilot “fast track” program which provides the training, evaluation and support to gain teacher status in 6 months as well as college scholarship opportunities. Her dedication to commit to this program and engage in a strong social emotional currriculum echos in her rewarding role at School of Enrichment.