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Meet Our Team

Circle of Love's teachers and staff are loving, creative, and have a sincere love of the Early Childhood Education field! All of our teachers and staff are fingerprint cleared, CPR and First Aid certified, and have the required health clearances to work with children. Below you will find our teacher's biographies listed by classroom.

School Office Staff

Nancy Durkovic

Director

Nancy Durkovic began as the director of Circle of Love in July 2006. Nancy earned her A.A. at Concordia College, Bronxville, New York and her B.A. at Concordia University, River Forest, Illinois. She was an administrator at Concordia College, Bronxville for five years. Prior to coming to COL, Nancy was a Principal/Teacher at St. Mark's Preschool & Academy in Anaheim for 4 years. She has been involved in Lutheran Ministry as an an administrator and teacher for almost 40 years. Nancy resides in Santa Ana with her husband, Reverend John Durkovic, and two cats, Toby and Benji. Nancy and John have five children and eight grandchildren.

email:  ndurkovic@first-lutheran.com

extension:  221

Ms. April Lang

Staff & Office Support

Website & Social Media Manager

alang@first-lutheran.com

Ms. April Lang (Ms. April) started as a substitute teacher at Circle of Love in 2013 and became a full-time staff member in 2017. She graduated from Sonoma State University in 2012 with a B.A. in History and a minor in Anthropology. She earned a Single Subject Credential (Social Sciences) in 2013, also from SSU. Her early childhood education units have been completed through El Camino and Saddleback colleges.  She enjoys her work at Circle of Love as a hybrid teacher/office assistant because she gets to to do a little bit of everything! You will see Ms. April in the office, substitute teaching, recording Chapel for COL's Facebook page, etc. Ms. April also maintains the school's website and Facebook page. Ms. April grew up in Manhattan Beach and she has been an active member here at First Lutheran Church since 1992.

Carmen Ferradas

Office Assistant/Book Keeper

Carmen Ferradas has been working part-time in the school office since October 2005. She graduated from UCLA with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Literature. Her detailed nature and years of experience in accounting and bookkeeping are an asset to Circle of Love. Carmen has two boys who attended Circle of Love.

email: cferradas@first-lutheran.com

extension:  226

Teachers
By Classroom

Mrs. Julie Fellows

Rainbow Room

jfellows@first-lutheran.com

Mrs. Julie Fellows (Mrs. Fellows) has been a preschool teacher since 1988. She earned her Early Childhood Education units through courses completed at El Camino College and UCLA. Mrs. Fellows feels strongly that teaching young children is her life's calling. When you visit her classroom, you will easily guess that animals are another great love. Mrs. Fellows is an active member at First Lutheran and a Parish Ministry Assistant.

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Miss Karen Lewer

Beginner Room

klewer@first-lutheran.com

Miss Karen Lewer (Miss Lewer) happily to joined Circle of Love Preschool in 2022. She received her Bachelor’s degree from CSULB and has completed additional ECE courses at Cerritos, Long Beach City, and Saddleback colleges. She has worked in Lutheran preschools since 1995 and believes that preschool ministry is her calling. She enjoys sharing God’s love with the children and their families. Ms. Karen believes that children, as unique individuals, will flourish when they are engaged in the learning process and are allowed to express their interests in their own positive ways. Learning is a partnership between the parent, child, and teacher where each member is valued and necessary for the success of the child.

Miss Deshael Ealey

Intermediate - Red Room

dealey@first-lutheran.com

Ms. Deshael Ealey (Miss Ealey) attended Long Beach City College. She Studied Child Development and has an AA in Business Administration. She has many years of experience from working with children in her church's Sunday School, working for the Los Angeles Parks & Recreation Department with their Day Camp and has been a teacher at Circle of Love since 2010. "I love the Lord with all my heart."

Mrs. Lauren Heckman

Intermediate - Blue Room

lheckman@first-lutheran.com

Since Mrs. Heckman was 12, she knew she wanted to be in the field of education and child care. Her mission is working with children and watching them grow. She has worked for the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod in the Pacific Southwest District in Lutheran Preschools since 2003. Mrs. Heckman has served in many roles; morning floater, co-teacher, lead teacher, outside curriculum coordinator, and director. "My sensitivity to the families in our care is shown by respecting the parent's traditions and cultures, while treating their child as a unique child of God." Mrs. Heckman has an Early Childhood certificate and Administration units from Orange Coast College and a Bachelor's degree in Liberal Arts from CSULB. Her favorite Bible verse is Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

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Mrs. Maria Go

Pre-K Yellow Room

mgo@first-lutheran.com

Mrs. Marie P. Go earned her bachelors degree in communication arts and a Master's degree in family life and child development in the Philippines. She started teaching in 1987 and fell in love working with children. "I have a passion for teaching children and this is a very rewarding profession for me." Mrs. Go joined Circle of Love in 2021 and she is happy and blessed to be a part of Circle of Love.

Miss Peggy Tierney

Pre-K Green Room

ptierney@first-lutheran.com

Miss Peggy Tierney (Miss Tierney) came to Circle of Love in 1995 with 12 years of teaching in early childhood centers already under her belt. She has earned a B.A. degree in Home Economics with an emphasis in Child Development from CSULB. Ms. Tierney believes strongly in a play-based learning environment.

Mrs. Tracy Morgan

Transitional Kindergarten (TK)

tmorgan@first-lutheran.com

Mrs. Tracy Morgan (Mrs. Morgan) came to Circle of Love Preschool after 12 years of public and private teaching experience. Mrs. Morgan began a new position of teacher for the Transitional Kindergarten class in 2009. Mrs. Morgan earned a Bachelor's Degree in Liberal Studies and Psychology from CSU Dominguez Hills. She has also successfully completed 24 units of Early Childhood Education.

Miss Esme Madrid

Rainbow Room

emadrid@first-lutheran.com

Ms. Esme originally came to Circle Of Love as a sub in 2021 and then our Floater. Ms. Esme feels it has always been her calling to work with children of all ages. Her first exposure to working with children was in high school in a parenting program which allowed her to work the babies of the attending students as well as with a partner elementary school as a teachers aide. From there she proceeded to further her education at El Camino college where she received a Certificate of Achievement. Ms. Esme is working on transferring and completing her bachelor’s degree at Cal State Dominguez Hills. Before working at Circle of Love she was a substitute teacher for over 2 years. Ms. Esme is a woman of faith and was a Sunday school teacher for close to 10 years. She feels God led her here and is very blessed to be here. Her mission is to be a child’s advocate and has their best interest at heart.

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Miss Erin Lewis

Beginner Room

elewis@first-lutheran.com

Ms. Erin Lewis (Ms. Lewis) has been a preschool teacher since 2017 and started working at Circle of Love in the beginning of 2023.  She started working with children when she was a part of an organization called The Young Americans where she got to travel around the world doing music outreach tours back in 2014.  She graduated from California Baptist University in 2019 with a B.A. in Sports Broadcast Journalism/New Media and has completed additional ECE units at LACC and El Camino College.  She is also grateful to have been given the opportunity to be the new Contemporary Music Leader for both the school and the church.  Ms. Lewis is looking forward to going along this journey helping children to grow and learn by sharing God’s love through her teaching and music ministry!

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Miss Nicole Potvin

Intermediate - Red Room

npotvin@first-lutheran.com

Ms. Nicole Potvin (Ms. Nicole) graduated from Mira Costa in 2013 with 150 volunteer hours at a local day care and elementary school and started teaching in preschool settings as a teacher in 2016. Ms. Nicole has 28 units in early childhood development through El Camino, and is CPR certified. She was given certificates for most inspirational student in 2013, beginner ASL, and in 2022-2023 made the El Camino dean's list. She loves children and she is always thrilled to be a part of their day. She always wants others to remember they are worthy and does her best to lift others up. In her free time she enjoys working out, dancing while using her flowstar/lightwhip/hula hoop, Roller skating, and spending time in Nature as well as being with people she loves. Ms. Nicole does her best to bring positivity everywhere she goes and always gives her all everything she does. Ms. Nicole is somebody that strives to make a difference in this world and teaching is one of the most rewarding ways to do so. With love and positivity Ms. Nicole always welcomes others with open arms and wishes the best for everyone.

Mrs. Rita Perez

Intermediate - Blue Room

rperez@first-lutheran.com

Mrs. Rita Perez (Miss Rita) was born and raised in Torrance and is blessed to live in the same neighborhood she grew up in.  She has been married for 43 years and is a very proud mother of 6 children and 3 grandchildren. Her passions are teaching and advocating for young children, coaching cheer and dance, singing, dancing, volunteering, and her family. Having attended El Camino College, LA Harbor College and Theoria Technical School, Miss Rita has been in the education field for over 30 years and keeps current with the best practices of the ECE field by attending workshops, training, and conferences. “As an Educator it is important to advocate for children. Although academics are important, I believe that building the foundation of learning through play is the ultimate gift we could give every child. I believe children learn through play, experimenting and exploring the outdoors in an environment that allows them to choose their own learning activity.  Everyday children have something important to tell us and we must wait, be patient and listen.” Miss Rita’s favorite quote: “If it hasn’t been in the hand, the body and the heart, it can’t be in the brain.” - Bev Bos 

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Miss Elena Becerra

Pre-K Yellow Room

ebecerra@first-lutheran.com

Miss Elena joined COL in the summer of 2022. She holds a Bachelor degree in Architecture and earned her Early Childhood Education units at El Camino College. She moved to California in 2015 but she is originally from Venezuela, where she attended a Lutheran German Elementary and High school. Her journey in education started by teaching art at her children's school and her passion for languages led her to teach Spanish since 2017. She feels proud and happy to be part of COL.

Mrs. Lynn Imamoto

Pre-K Green Room

limamoto@first-lutheran.com

Mrs. Lynn Imamoto (Mrs. Imamoto) has been working in the early childhood education field since 1991. She received her units through UCLA and has continued her education through early childhood courses. Her love of teaching has never wavered and she is very happy to be a member of Circle of Love's family.

Mrs. Karla Devine

Music Teacher

kdevine@first-lutheran.com

Ms. Karla Devine (Mrs. Devine) has a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Eastern Michigan University. She has completed Levels I and II in the Orff Schulwerk Method, which is a way of teaching children about music that engages their mind and body through a mixture of singing, dancing, acting and the use of percussion instruments. She has taught preschool music for about 25 years, and has been a church organist since about 1991 and has been a church musician since she was a teenager, working with all ages. She lives in Manhattan Beach with her husband and two daughters.

Additional Staff

Miss Torey Johnson

School Floater

tjohnson@first-lutheran.com

Miss Johnson joined Circle Of Love as our Floating Teacher in December 2022. Miss Johnson has been working with young children in after school programs since 2000 and has worked as a preschool teacher since 2012.  She earned a BS in Child Development from Cal State Dominguez Hills. Miss Johnson loves seeing children grow through their milestones and singing about the Lord with children.  She feels very blessed to be a part of COL!

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Rev. Bart Loos

Pastor

pastor@first-lutheran.com

"Pastor Bart" is the Pastor for First Lutheran Church and Circle of Love Preschool. Welcome, Pastor Bart!

Interested in watching our virtual Chapel Time? Check out COL's Facebook Page here At Circle of Love, our weekly Chapel time is when our entire school gets together to have fun, learn about the love of Jesus and sing songs of praise!

Join our team!

Are you looking to join a team of early childhood professionals committed to Christ-centered, play-based, developmentally appropriate education for young children? Contact us to learn about possible employment oportunities.

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