The Carriers of Our Vision

We are the Carriers of the Garden Vision

. We create opportunities for our students to discover who they are, while calling out the personal gifts that so beautifully exist inside of them. We believe the secret to inspired learning is to get our students as excited as possible, as early as possible. We have created a culture of honor and grace, a culture of extravagant joy where our students blossom in their confidence, knowledge and self- expression. At Garden we are ambassadors of ingenuity, masters of flexibility, unchanged by negativity and transformed by possibility. Garden is committed to changing the world one happy and empowered student at a time.

Our Garden roots run deep 

Some of us have seen our own children grow in this Garden Vision and graduate college with honors, while others have a daughter or granddaughter currently enrolled in our school.  Many of us have been associated with Garden for over 20 years, while another is a Garden Alumni, starting her first year as the director. Our Garden roots run deep because of the way we care for one another and value our relationships. The posture of our hearts for our community is love, and who does not want to be connected to love!

We are educational warriors

We are a global teaching community. We come from all regions of the United States; from the East Coast to the West, as well as the countries of Iran, Guatemala, and Argentina; but do not discount our homegrown talent that grew up in Santa Monica and wear their sunshine proudly on their sleeves. We want our Garden Families to trust the quality of our education and we accomplish this by giving you our best. As educators, we continue to generate a fresh Vision that works, that we are proud of, that we fearlessly implement. We are educational warriors, protecting the identity of the whole child.

Alexis Leist


My name is Miss Alexis, aka the “forever Garden girl!” I started as the preschool Butterfly teacher and now I am the Director of Garden of Angels. 

I started my journey here at Garden of Angels as a child. I couldn’t imagine a school like Garden of Angels ever existed! My mind was blown. I fell in love. My family and I were instantly welcomed with open arms and open hearts. Fast forward all these years later, and here I am! Back at my forever home. Life has a funny way of working itself out. I am blessed to be surrounded by such beauty – inside and out! I have always had a passion for the performing arts and working with children. Here at Garden, I get to pursue my love for both! And the journey continues!

What I love about Garden is that we honor the individual in everyone. We recognize that every child is completely different than the next. Everyone has a different learning style and their own inherent gifts and talents, and we are here to foster an environment that encourages their growth and potential. The children at Garden learn through hands-on activities such as art, song, dance and much more! We challenge children to dig deep and find their creative side! I am extremely lucky to be a part of their journey. 

Now, I get to welcome you all in to my family! Nothing makes me happier than seeing the joy on your children’s faces. The children at Garden are blessed with opportunities like no other! Come along for the ride! I promise, it will be a blast!

Andrea Alonzi

Angel Scouts Teacher (Tk/K)/ Assistant Director 

I will be teaching in the Angel Scouts Pre-K/TK class this year and have been part of the Garden team for 21 years. My extended duties at Garden of Angels include serving as the assistant director for 2 years and the new curriculum director, which offers assistance in programming, building curriculum, teacher training, and mentorship programs.  We have an amazing team and look forward to serving you and your families the best way possible. 

I grew up in Santa Monica and am married with one cat, Max, who is 13 years old and so cute and snuggly.  My husband and I were Maui’d 22 yrs. ago and love going back to the Hawaiian Islands frequently. I love the outdoors and stay active riding my bike, roller skating, swimming and staying connected to my friends and family.  I also enjoy quilting, cooking and traveling the world as much a possible.  In addition to cooking and quilting, you may see some of my other special skills incorporated into our program like, yoga, gymnastics, gardening and crafty projects, and DIY projects.

I am a graduate from Santa Monica High School and Santa Monica College, where I majored in early childhood development and earned a certification with specialized training in early literacy.  I went on to complete the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) program to earn a primary grades credential.  I have been teaching young children for over 28 years and am passionate about the Garden philosophy.  Our philosophy allows students to grow and explore in all areas of development helps each child reach their fullest potential.  

I look forward to getting to know you and your child and embark on another exciting year in the Angel Scouts Pre-k/TK Class.  By fostering community, acceptance, kindness and tolerance, we can create a special space for growth, love and respect towards one another.  Garden of Angels strives to nurture our young minds, not only in academics but teaching them how to be responsible, accountable, brave, innovative, and creative thinkers.  I will always encourage them to be “strong leaders for life”!

Kianna Worsham

Rainbow Room Teacher (Preschool and Pre-K)

Hello Garden Parents and Families!My name is Kianna, and I am happy to join the Garden family as the new Rainbow Room teacher! I was born and raised in San Diego where I received my B.A. in Elementary Education from San Diego State. Growing up in San Diego was so much fun but I am happy to have relocated to Santa Monica. I enjoy picnics, staying active, and trying new baking recipes. 

I have a true passion for working with children especially with the younger ages. I believe that preschool and kindergarten are a huge stepping stone for children. This is their first encounter in a school setting and sets the tone of their relationship with school moving forward. Which is why I adore the Garden philosophy and Garden’s vision for children. This school helps children learn through various non-traditional teaching methods which opens the pathways for their creative minds to wander and grow. The children get to express who they are and are celebrated for their individuality. I am so excited and grateful to be a part of such a wonderful, colorful, and special school.

Cynthia Hopkins

Caterpillar Teacher (Toddler classroom)

My name is Cynthia, and I couldn’t be more excited to be joining the Garden team! I am originally from Denver, where I worked as a special education Paraprofessional in the inner city to support students academically and emotionally. I have a great love of music, animals, performance, writing, and encouraging creativity in young learners. I am passionate about fostering a path to success for all students, taking into consideration their individual needs, strengths, challenges, and dreams. I believe in early childhood, it is incredibly important to nurture a sense of joy and wonder in our learning, and cultivate an imaginative environment to blossom in!

 I can’t wait to explore our topics in the Caterpillar classroom through activities which will inspire joy and curiosity. We will be learning, playing, and implementing sensory components which are key to early childhood development. I look forward to meeting all of our wonderful families and students, and working closely with all of you. I am so grateful to be a part of your journey!

Alisa Shah

Administrative Assistant

Greetings Garden Parents and Families!

My passion is coming up with innovative teaching approaches that are fun for the children.  I believe every moment is a teachable moment, and it doesn’t just have to take place in a classroom setting. 

Throughout the past fifteen years of my teaching career, I have had the opportunity to work at some amazing schools helping children with learning and behavioral differences. Throughout my work with children, I have learned many teaching strategies for all types of learners.  

I have a Masters Degree in psychological studies in education from UCLA and also have taken early childhood coursework from UCLA. I’ve been working as a teacher at Garden of Angels since 2016. With my own child starting in the butterfly class. I love that this school allows teachers as well as students their own creative spaces. 

Children who graduate from Garden of Angels are well-rounded, thoughtful children who have a natural love for learning and tolerance and understanding for others.  They are truly “inspired to be leaders for life”.    

When I’m not at Garden, you can find me with my 8 year-old and 4 year-old. I also love to eat, cook and experiment in the kitchen.