Our Team

Cortney Dasmann

Program Director

Since 2016, Columbia Children’s Center has been under the direction of Cortney Dasmann. Cortney began teaching at Columbia Children’s Center in 2010 and is thrilled to now serve as the center’s director. Prior to coming to Columbia Children’s Center, Cortney owned and operated her own home daycare for thirteen years. She has always had a true passion for working with children. Cortney is married and has four children.

What we love about Cortney
  • She is organized
  • She truly cares about children and making their childhood memorable
  • She is empathetic and always ready to lend a listening ear or give a hug
  • She is patient, loving, and fair
Fun Facts
  • She loves her family
  • She loves to work out and go for walks
  • She loves to cook and bake
  • She loves to read
  • She loves a great sunset!

Katrina Velasquez

Assistant Director

Katrina was born and raised in Santa Maria. She came to us with over twelve years of experience and is currently working on her degree in Liberal Arts and Early Childhood Studies.

Katrina loves working in the Early Childhood Education field because she believes that preschool teachers lay the foundation in education for a child early on. A child’s first experience in a preschool builds a trust they will carry with them for future teachers, it’s important that we pave a confident path.

What we love about Kat
  • She has a positive attitude
  • Her creative touches
  • Her dedication for this center
  • She is a team builder
Fun Facts
  • She loves to cook.
  • She loves reading inspirational books.
  • She loves spending time with her family, bbq’n and bonfires are the best!

Shirley Adelhelm

Young Toddler Teacher

Shirley Adelhelm has worked for CCC for over 25 years. She has left a couple times to pursue her love of Special Education but always finds her way back to our young ones at CCC. Shirley has been married to her husband Cliff for 35 years and has two grown sons.

What we love about Shirley
  • Her smile
  • Her commitment to CCC (25 years)
  • Her giving heart
Fun Facts
  • She loves to cook and teach children how to cook.
  • She was born in Alaska.
  • She loves to travel, especially to the Caribbean.

Cynthia Hernandez

Young Toddler Teacher

Cynthia has lived in Santa Maria her whole life and she is the oldest of two children. Ever since she can remember, she has wanted to be a teacher. She loves working with kids and seeing them grow and develop. She has worked with children for about four years; 2 years babysitting and 2 years at a different children's centers.

What we love about Cynthia
  • She is dependable
  • She loves the children
  • She is creative
Fun Facts
  • She loves reading books.
  • She loves making things or being crafty.
  • She has fast reflexes.

Aniesa Cabrera

Early Year's Teacher

Aside from spending time with her littles at CCC, she has taken care of her three year old nephew since he was a baby. Being around children has brought out her love for art, music, and working with her hands.

What we love about Aniesa
  • Her love and patience
  • Her personality is shy but fun
  • She is flexible to change
Fun Facts about Aniesa
  • She draws & paints in her spare time
  • She is a licensed cosmologist
  • She loves to hike and goes almost every weekend

Vanessa Mendoza

Early Year's Assistant Teacher

Vanessa studied at Allan Hancock College for Early Childhood Studies. She was born and raised in Santa Maria, and has 2 children of her own. She loves to spend time with her family and friends.

What we love about Vanessa
  • She has a great smile
  • She is dependable
  • She works great with the children
Fun Facts
  • She loves to bbq
  • She loves writing poetry
  • She loves music

Cayla Pesavento

Preschool Teacher

Cayla is the lead teacher of the yellow group in the preschool classroom. She is currently pursuing her Early Childhood Studies degree in hopes of becoming a Kindergarten teacher. She has had the pleasure of working with children ages 1-12 years in elementary schools, before & after school programs, summer camp and preschool.

She believes that every child should have plenty of opportunities to explore and take their learning into their own hands. You can find her in the cozy corner reading a book with her students or teaching new songs and dances during circle time.

What we love about Cayla
  • Her patience
  • Her creativity
  • Her understanding of children with different abilities
  • She is very interactive
Fun Facts
  • She was born and raised in Colorado
  • She is a dog mama
  • She is a book worm

Liz Zepeda

Preschool Teacher

Liz was born and raised in Santa Maria. She is married and has three wonderful children and one grandson. She attended Allan Hancock College and has been working with children ages 0-13 for about 18 years. Liz feels that working with children is very rewarding. She especially enjoys seeing children master a new skill.

What we love about Liz
  • Her calm and gentle spirit
  • Her ability to multi task
  • She is an early bird, arriving to school each day at 7:00
Fun Facts
  • She loves to spend time with her family
  • She loves spending time outdoors
  • She loves to hike, bike ride and run

Alyssa Checkeye

Preschool Teacher

Teacher Alyssa is a fellow C.C.C. alumni! She loves the outdoors, great food, and the beach. She is the mother of a seven year old daughter who makes her life full and complete.

As she furthers her experience in the preschool group, she looks forward to earning her bachelor’s degree and going on to teach at the high school level. She loves taking the time to make every child's school experience unique and positive.

What we love about Alyssa
  • She is high energy
  • She has an infectious smile
  • Her ability to get our toddlers undivided attention
  • She always comes in smiling
Fun Facts
  • She loves the outdoors.
  • She loves trying different foods.
  • She loves anything that has to do with the beach.

Lucia Mendoza

Kindergarten Readiness Teacher

Lucy loves working with children and always knew she wanted to be a teacher. She has 3 college degrees; an AS in Early Childhood Studies, an AA in Transfer Studies, and aa AA in Liberal Arts. She is CPR and First Aid trained and certified. Lucy is bilingual in Spanish and knows some (ASL) American Sign Language. Lucy has over 15 years of experience in the education field. Columbia Children’s Center has had the pleasure of employing Lucy since 2015.

What we love about Lucy
  • She has so much patience
  • Her love for the children
  • She is very caring
Fun Facts
  • She attended a university to become a social worker
  • She has worked teaching people from 3 months to 80 years
  • She was a puppeteer going to different schools with presentations

Natasha Cosand

Kindergarten Readiness Teacher

Natasha has been employed with Columbia Children’s Center since 2015. She decided to make early learning her life's work when she had her son, Brantley. She began working with children in 2012 while living in Bremerton, Washington. She attended Allan Hancock College for child development and plans on continuing her education. Natasha is married to Josh Cosand. Both Natasha and Josh grew up in the local area and their son Brantley attends Columbia Children's Center.

Natasha feels very fortunate to work at CCC with such a strong group of teachers. Watching her students grow and apply the skills that she taught them is one of her most rewarding experiences. She thinks of her students as her own children while she is in the classroom. Natasha is dedicated to ensure that each child gets the best education and love that they all deserve. Natasha is proud of all the children and feels blessed to be their teacher.

What we love about Natasha
  • Her love for the children
  • She’s a team player
  • Her creativity
  • The way she greets the parents
Fun Facts
  • She has six siblings
  • She was a cheerleader for six plus years 
  • She is a huge baseball fan, and even bigger football fan