Rebecca HardestyDSC_8087
Executive Director

Hello, my name is Rebecca Hardesty and I have been working with Smart StartCreative Learning Center since Newark opened in early 2010. I was introduced to Smart Start when my own son, Caleb, was 2 years old and attended the first Smart Start preschool.

I have been married to my husband Grant for 17 years and we are blessed with 3 children who keep us very busy. Caleb is 14, Connor is 13 and Olivia is 11.I have a Bachelor’s degree is Early Childhood Education and Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology. I have had the opportunity to work in many diverse settings, including Belmont Hills Psychiatric Hospital, San Mateo County Youth Diversion program, and several youth and family service organizations. I have over 18 years experience including my current position as Director for the past 6 years, teaching preschool, and providing counseling services to children and their families. In addition, I spent several years teaching Parenting Classes working for the reputable organization “the Parent Project”. Weekends we spend most of our time attending all the sporting events our kids are involved in. Soccer, Basketball, Cross Country, track etc., multiplied times 3 kids equals lots of running around from one thing to the next and traveling. I am incredibly grateful and thrilled to be involved with this program. Smart Start offers a unique learning environment that provides children opportunities to learn at their own pace in a joyful, fun and very creative environment. The teachers at Smart Start give 110% everyday and make sure each interaction with every child is meaningful. Smart Start staff challenge one another and your children to be the best they can be every day. I feel so fortunate to be a part of this exceptional program.

Teresa Weidner-ValentineDSC_8254

I have been working with children for  over 20 years. I have worked with  children ages 18 mos to 12 years old. I attended Las Positas College where I received my teaching permit and have over 40 units in Early Childhood Development. I enjoy continuing my education by attending monthly workshops through child care links.
I grew up in Livermore, where I still reside with my husband and our 5 children: Rebecca 19 , Cierra 17, Amanda 17, Trent 15 , Katelyn 8. We enjoy staying busy with our family, attending weekend soccer games and visiting our local regional parks where we participate in fishing, hiking, and boating. I believe all children are unique and grow and learn at their own pace. There is no greater pleasure than helping a child build their self confidence , social skills and love of learning. I am very excited to be joining the Smart Start team and I look forward to a fun and happy school year .

Adriana AndradeDSC_8185

Hi my name is Adriana Andrade. I am teaching in the Guppy’s classroom which I enjoy to the fullest. I’m very thrilled and excited to begin this new year with similar faces and new faces as well! I was raised here in Livermore, CA. Currently I live in Tracy, CA with my husband. My husband and I recently got married July 2013. We enjoy spending time at home with our pets as well as gardening and spending time with family and friends. I have been working with children since high school through babysitting, after school programs and church groups. I have always had a passion for working with children. I enjoy seeing the progress children make while learning new things and the role that I play in the learning process.

Martha (Lupita) ZavalaDSC_8248

My name is Martha Zavala but everyone calls me Lupita. It’s been my nickname since I was little. I was raised in Oakland, CA and currently live in Livermore. I am studying sociology at Las Positas College. I enjoy going on hikes with my dog Nala or spend time with my big family. I’m family orientated and try to spend as much time as I can with them. I don’t have kids of my own but I have a niece and two nephews that mean the world to me. I enjoy working with kids, I’ve been working with children for five years ages 0-12 year olds. I’m happy to join Smart Start and look forward to meet you all.

Jessica MedinaDSC_8153

My name is Jessica Medina. I was born and raised in Oakland, California. I grew up in a big family and always enjoyed taking care of my twin sisters and relatives. I went to San Jose State University and earned many child development credits. I love working with children and being part of their development and growth. In my spare time, I enjoy being with my family and spending time with my princess daughter, Samantha. I am so looking forward for a new journey here at Smart Start and building new memories.

Sarah WinfreyDSC_8245

My name is Sarah and I was born in a suburb north of Dallas, Texas. I moved to the Central Valley when I was in the eighth grade. I have always enjoyed working and interacting with children. I taught a Sunday school class for three through six year old’s at a church I attended and was always willing to babysit every chance that I got. After high school, I pondered about which direction to go in my career. This wonderful opportunity that I was given to work here at Smart Start has influenced my decision to pursue my education in early childhood development. Currently, I am completing my certificate as a child development associate teacher. I plan to continue my journey and grow in this gratifying field.

Danielle HoefnerDSC_8180

Hello everyone! My name is Danielle Hoefner and I am very excited to be a part of the Smart Start team! I was born and raised right here in the beautiful Livermore, CA. I currently still live in Livermore, and I am attending Las Positas College with hopes to transfer to a university to further my education and obtain a degree in Early Childhood Education. I developed a great joy for working with younger children very early on in life. Babysitting, nannying, working at a daycare, volunteering at the childcare center for Shepherd’s Gate, and now working at Smart Start have all helped me realize my true passion in life is working with children. I am very grateful for the opportunity to work for this wonderful program, and I look forward to meeting you all and helping your children be the best they can be!

Kathryn St. PierreDSC_8257

Hello, my name is Kathryn, but some of my students call me Kat. I was born and raised in Ohio and briefly lived in New York and Boston before moving to California with my husband in 2003. I have a Bachelor’s of Art degree in Geography and Environmental Studies from SFSU. I started attending Las Positas College in Spring 2018 to obtain my associate teaching certificate. I joined Smart Start in September 2018 as a substitute teacher, helping in all classrooms and recently became a permanent teacher for the Stingray’s classroom. I truly believe that education should be fun, creative, and meaningful and am very excited to be a part of the wonderful team at Smart Start Creative Learning Center.

Marianna ShpakDSC_8164

Hello, my name is Marianna Shpak. I was very excited to join Smart Start family this year. I have been working with pre-school children for more than 10 years and am qualified teacher. I have Bachelor Degree in computer science, but kids always were my passion, thus I actively learning towards associate degree in Early Childhood Development. I was born in Ukraine and raised in Israel and started my career as pre-school teacher back in Israel, so I have plenty “international” tricks in my sleeve. I speak 3 languages – Russian, Hebrew and English. I have been married my husband Denis 16 years and we have 3 very busy boys – they are 16, 14 and 10. So most of my free time I am a fully employed mom. We also have a gorgeous German Shepperd Dog. My passion is outdoor activities, such as hiking, fishing and more.

Kirsten WoollenweberDSC_8219

Hi, my name is Kirsten. I live in Hayward with my husband Ryan, and our three year old son, Riley.  Prior to his arrival, I had been teaching and leading children, age 3 months to 10 years in both educational and recreational settings.
I love helping children grow their abilities and I love watching them recognize their own capabilities. I  am interested in the child’s emotional journey, and the link between communication, competence, and resilience,
and how it lends itself to the total learning experience. While I teach and parent, I continue to attend college, working towards my A.A in Early Childhood Education at Chabot College in Hayward. I am happy to be here at Smart Start Livermore, helping children grow.

Kelli Sylvester

Hello! My name is Kelli Sylvester and I am so excited to be a part of the Smart Start team! I was born in San Ramon and have been living in Livermore since I was seven. I grew up as the third of seven kids, so am used to chaos and loud noises. 

I have an Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Development and am currently pursuing my Bachelor’s in English Language and Literature. I have been a nanny for infants through preschool age children for nearly 10 years and still babysit for those families. Last summer, I was an au pair in Italy and have created a strong bond with my family, who I still keep in contact with today. 

I’m a proud Auntie of 3 nephews and 2 nieces who I adore to pieces. Family is a huge part of my life, and I consider each family that I encounter as an opportunity to create a new friendship.

Thank you for allowing me to be part of your children’s lives and play a role in shaping them into the stellar people they will become.