Our Staff

Ms. Sandy Kang
sandy_photoI was born in South Korea and spent my childhood in the heart of Los Angeles. Being schooled under a couple of excellent teachers who really made an impression in my education, I always dreamed of going into the teaching field. Althouth I pursued education outside of teaching, it was only thru raising 4 girls at home that I developed a deep passion and conviction in investing into our next generation of future leaders. I felt it was important to lay a strong foundation in a child's life at the earliest possible age. The dream led me to gather a few like-minded friends to birth Gateway Preschool Academy. GPA has been the perfect place for my two youngest to start their education. It has been such a privilege to see so many families entrusting their children under our care and to see children thriving at school.
Bachelor of Arts: Social Welfare
Master of Arts: Religous Studies
Site Supervior Permit with 24 units in ECE

Ms. Winnie Shih
winnie_photoI was born in Hong Kong but have spent the majority of my life right here in San Jose! Prior to working for GPA, I spent 7 years as an environmental chemist at a sewage treatment plant, running a variety of tests on sewage water to ensure compliance. Now, if you think occasionally having to change a few smelly diapers is bad, imagine the odors coursing through my workplace on a regular basis! I left my position as a chemist and became a stay-at-home mom. It was challenging, but rewarding and fulfilling. Fast forward 3 children and 7 years was when I first heard about the church opening up a preschool, and gladly accepted the position when it was offered to me. When I'm not working, I love spending time with my family doing outdoor activities, such as family bike rides, trips to the community swimming pool, and visits to various museums!
Bachelor of Arts: Integrative Biology
Pursuing Site Supervisor Permit in ECE

Ms. Maria Tran
LEAD Teacher-Soaring Eagles
maria_photoI was born and raised in the South Bay Area, and am a San Jose native. I currently live in the neighborhood I grew up in! Ever since I was in elementary school, I wanted to be a teacher. Even though I've worked/taught youth, college students, and adults in various seasons of my life, my passion is for young children. This is my dream job! My husband Mark & I been married for 13 years and we have 3 children together. Having 3 children of my own, each of them having gone through kindergarten and my being involved in each of their classrooms gives me perspective on where you're coming from and exactly where you need to go. I am so excited to be your child's teacher and for you to be part of the awesome GPA community!
Bachelor or Arts: Electrical Engineering
15 ECE units
21 hours certified training/professional development thru CARES program

Ms. Rena Merritt
Teacher-Soaring Eagles
rena_photoIn this current school year, I will be assisting Ms. Maria in the Soaring Eagles classroom. I am looking forward to being a big part of your child's education here at GPA. We will be able to learn together, make new friendships, laugh out loud and of course, discover some hiccups along the way. I am a mother of 5: 3 boys & 2 girls. My 2 oldest sons are seniors this year. We have something in common - as Ms. Maria and I are preparing your child fo the next level of their education, my 2 sons will be doing the same, preparing for college. My eldest daughter is in middle school, and my youngest 2 are still in elementary. Along with a full household, I am attending Mission College. It was there that I was informed about an opening at GPA from one of my Child Development Professors. I have been enjoying being at GPA for almost 2 years which I consider to be a blessing and a place for me to grow as well.
Pursuing and AA degree in Child Development

Ms. Yessica Ortiz
LEAD Teacher-Growing Sheep
yessica_photoI am the oldest of 4 and growing up I knew I wanted to work with children. I even contemplated joining the army to become a nurse to help children in other countries. My passion for teaching children began with my parents- they were deeply involved in our Sunday School classes. They love what they do and I believe they guided me to be passionate of what I do now. I am also an auntie of a five year old nephew who is full of energy and am eagerly awaiting the arrival of a neice. For this school year, we will focus on hands-on activities to allow each child's creativity to be shown. Each child has unique abilities and strengths that we hope will flourish through engaging in activites they enjoy. My goal is for them to have fun learning and to make to new friends!
Bachelor of Arts: Child Development
Pursuing Site Supervisor Permit

Ms. Shamiram Benadam
shamiram_photoTeacher-Growing Sheep
I have been teaching at GPA fort the past 4 years as a Little Lambs teacher. I have also served at the Nursery of San Jose Christian Alliance Church for the past 12 years taking care of children. I have 3 daughters ages 28, 26, and 23 who live with me and support me in my career. I enjoy spending time with children and teaching them to love and serve others, which is why I love being a part of GPA. I look forward to a great year. We are dedicated to provide a learning environment that will allow children to grow academically and socially. I believe with your support, we can all succeed this year, learn from one another and have fun in the process.
27 units in ECE
Pursuing Teacher Permit

Ms. Grace Yi
LEAD Teacher-LIttle Lambs
grace_photoI am the mother of 2 boys ages 14 and 12 and have a wonderful husband who is the best supporter for my teaching at GPA. This is my 4th year teaching at GPA and it's been enjoyable to work here. I always feel very privileged to work with these beautiful children and be a part of their growth. As children learn best by "doing", our Little Lambs will be encouraged to "find" their own interest and to "work" to learn certain skills naturally. They will be encouraged to explore lots of activities and to experience the joy of learning throughout the year. I believe that the partnership between parents and teachers is esential for a child's devlopment. We will make every effort to comminicate with you via newsletters, daily reports, and conferences. I am looking forward to a wonderful year with lots of fun and learning!
Bachelor of Arts: English Education
21 ECE units
21 hours professional development
Master Teacher Permit

qian_photoMs. Qian Wang
I have been with GPA for almost 1 year. I am going iinto my 2nd year at San Jose State University as a photography major. I love working with yourng children and assisting in their growth.
pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Photography

All teachers have credentials or required coursework in early childhood education.
All staff members are CPR/First Aid Certified.

Serving children 24 months to 6 years (or entry into kindergarten)

Tours available daily from 9am-12:00pm. Afternoon tours available BY APPOINTMENT ONLY.
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