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!

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.

Maria Martinez

Young Toddler Teacher

Maria has been working with children for 7 years. She has her ECS certificate and is pursuing her AA in Early Childhood Studies.

What we love about Maria
  • She has an amazing work ethic
  • She loves the children & is full of energy
  • She gets along with everyone
Fun Facts about Maria
  • She loves to play volleyball
  • She loves to play with the children, especially building blocks and helping them learn their shapes
  • She loves reading books with her kids at home

Shirley Adelhelm

Young Toddler Teacher / Staff Breaker

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.

Vanessa Mendoza

Early Year's 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 about Vanessa
  • She loves to bbq
  • She loves writing poetry
  • She loves music

Tatiana Quezada

Early Year's Assistant

Tatiana was born and raised in Santa Maria. She is the oldest of three children and currently attends Allan Hancock College. She has always enjoyed the presence and joyful energy that kids bring to her. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends.

What we love about Tatiana
  • Her love for children
  • Her contagious smile
  • She always has a sweet positive attitude
Fun Facts about Tatiana
  • Her mom and aunt both have worked at Columbia Children's Center
  • She loves animals, her favorite animal is a cow!
  • She is always looking for adventure

Layni Borunda

Red/Orange Group Teacher

Layni was born here in Santa Maria, spent her younger years of childhood being raised in Portland, Oregon, and has since found her way back to California. She has always had a passion for working with young children, feeling that childhood is an immensely important time in one’s life, and must be handled with intentionality and understanding. Forming strong bonds with each child is of the utmost importance to her. It enhances her understanding of each individual child’s strengths, needs, and interests- which heavily impacts her curriculum making and classroom environments. She studies at Allan Hancock College and currently has 27 Early Childhood Studies related units completed and is enrolled to take more courses towards her degree in ECS.

What we love about Layni
  • Her POSITIVE attitude
  • Her creative teaching style
  • Her animated story telling
Fun Facts
  • She loves concerts and music
  • She has 7 pets, mostly hermit crabs or lizards
  • She has an undying love for spicy food

Samantha Wise

Yellow Group Teacher

Samantha was born in Santa Maria and was raised in Casmalia,CA, she is the youngest of 3 children. Samantha has always loved working with children, her passion for working with kids began when she was 13 years old and became an auntie to a beautiful little girl. She attended Allan Hancock College and studied Early Childhood education. Aside from babysitting her niece, Samantha has worked at one other childcare facility. She also worked as an in-home childcare provider for families with children with special needs on the Vandenberg Airforce Base.

What we love about Samantha
  • Her love of messy play and getting her hands dirty with the kids!
  • Her love for art and creativity!
  • Her BIG heart and caring hands!
Fun Facts
  • She loves reading books with her niece Lainey.
  • She has 5 dogs and 9 chickens.
  • She loves spending time with her family!
  • She loves being outdoors!

Brittney Willoughby

Preschool Assistant

Brittney was born and raised in Santa Maria, CA. She’s the youngest of two children. She is currently attending Allan Hancock College majoring in Early Childhood Studies. She hopes to become a first grade teacher and help children in a positive way. She has always loved to be around children and has volunteered at CALM, in classrooms and has babysat since she was twelve years old.

What we love about Brittney
  • She loves children
  • Her patience with children
  • She is empathetic with children
Fun Facts about Brittney
  • She loves baking and decorating cupcakes and cakes.
  • She has raised livestock for twelve years.
  • She also played soccer since she was four years old.

Cayla Pesavento

Green Group Teacher / Mentor Teacher

Cayla 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

Nicolle Rogers

Blue Group Teacher

Nicolle has been working with K-8 grade students since 2016. She has a passion for working with children and loves to watch them develop and grow. She is currently pursuing her Early Childhood Studies degree. She has always been dedicated in wanting to better the lives of her students, be the listening ear and helping hand they deserve.

What we love about Nicolle
  • She is a hard and reliable worker
  • She cares for the children like her own
  • Her patience
Fun Facts
  • She is a mommy
  • She loves to cook
  • She loves adventures