About Us

About Us

The New Mexico Early Childhood Education and Care Department (ECECD) supports children, families, and the early childhood professionals that serve our communities. The Early Childhood Networks, a program of ECECD, provides high-quality learning experiences that support early childhood professionals through reflective practice, leadership, mentorship and connection.

The program is administered by CNM Ingenuity. CNM Ingenuity is part of Central New Mexico Community College. The mission of CNM Ingenuity is to forge links between educational institutions, businesses, industries, and government to promote the public welfare and the prosperity of individuals and to foster economic development within both the private and public sectors.

Early Childhood Networks | About Us

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Michelle Jewett

Interim Program Director

Hello! I’m Michelle Jewett. I was born and raised in Southern California and moved to New Mexico in 2003.

My career in education began in 1997 as a high school Language Arts teacher. Since then, I’ve taught students in almost every age group, from 2nd grade to university. I love learning and earned my Ph.D. in Language, Literacy, and Sociocultural Studies at UNM in 2012. I’ve worked at CNM since 2014, as an instructor, curriculum specialist, and now for the Early Childhood Networks. I love yoga and swimming plus enjoy spending time reading, writing, and traveling. Most of all, I admire my two adult sons who are my role models for living a creative and adventurous life.

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Stefanie McCoy

Senior Program Manager

Welcome to the Early Childhood Networks! We are so glad you are here and learning more about our amazing staff and mentors!

I’m Stefanie McCoy and I have had the privilege of working in the field of education for over twenty-seven years, serving children and families in Virginia, Arizona and New Mexico. My teaching career has taken me from infant through preschool classrooms, to elementary, middle, and high school classrooms. Outside of the classroom I have worked as a Center Director, Licensing Surveyor, Consultant, Coach, Trainer, and Manager with the New Mexico FOCUS program. I graduated from Radford University in Radford, Virginia, with a BS in Social Science and minor in English. I received my teaching certification through Central New Mexico Community College in Secondary Education, licensed in English and Social Studies. I am currently pursuing my Master of Arts in English at New Mexico State University.

My daughters and I have called New Mexico home since 2009, and we love spending time with our family that lives here, welcoming family from Virginia and Arizona to visit, and enjoying time with friends. We love going to Isotopes games, traveling to visit family, going to Disney destinations and the beach, and watching our favorite shows together. In addition to education, my passions are reading, writing, photography, travel, and watching Atlanta Braves baseball.

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Yadira Lorenzoni

Program Coordinator

Hi, my name is Yadira Lorenzoni. I was born in Juarez, Mexico and have lived here in Albuquerque for 18 years. 

My career started as a teacher 15 years ago in a preschool/pre-k classroom; I was also a Lead Mentor/Mentor for the Mentor Network for six years. I earned my Associate’s Degree in Child, Youth, and Family Development from Central NM Community College. At the moment, I am working on my B.A. from New Mexico Highland University in Early Childhood Multicultural Education. I am the Program Coordinator for the Mentor Network, the Director Network, and Infant Toddler Teacher Network. I enjoy working with Early Childhood Educators and giving them the support they need as teachers, mentors, and leaders. In addition to working with educators, I enjoy dancing and spending time with my three almost-adult children and our dog Cloe.

2023-24 Early Childhood Networks Leadership Team

Spoke Managers

Krystel Sanchez


My name is Krystel Sanchez, and I am relatively new to New Mexico – my fiancée and I moved here from Southern California in 2022.

I went to college at UC Davis, where I fell into (and in love with) school age after school care while working on my BA in Psychology. I moved many times after graduating, switching gears to work in Head Start programs in California and New Mexico. I currently weave my center‐based experience, love of children and families, and my

calling to support the early childhood workforce in my roles as the APRENDE Program Manager at SFCC and the Santa Fe Spoke Manager for the Mentor Networks. When I am not at work, I can be found curled up with a cat and a book. Your reading recommendations are always welcome!

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Julie Simmons


My name is Julie Simmons. I am from Silver City, New Mexico. I have lived in New Mexico since 1982. 

I started with my current program as the management specialist. I obtained my Associates and Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education. I recently completed my master’s in psychology. I am currently the director of the three lab sites on the campus of Western New Mexico University. I enjoy the early childhood field and the amazing people I get to work with and network with. In my spare time I love finding discarded furniture and with the help of my husband we refurbish the furniture. I haven’t sold any pieces yet because I just can’t part with them. I have a son that has blessed me with two amazing grandsons. 

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Fran Nakai


Ya’teeh! Hello! My name is Francell Nakai. I am a Navajo Indian and grew up on the Navajo reservation in Upper Fruitland, NM.

I come from a large family and spend as much time as I can with them. I have been in the ECED field for 18 years. I started in an infant classroom as a teaching assistant and fell in love with the work. I am currently the director of San Juan College’s Child & Family Development Center. I completed my associate degree from SJC, my bachelor’s degree from NMHU, and my master’s degree from ENMU.

It has been such a blessing working in the ECED field. I love what I do every day, and am so thankful for the honor and privilege to work with young children, their families, ECED educators, and future ECED educators.

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Maribel Lucero


My Name is Maribel Herrera Lucero, I was born and raised in Las Cruces.

I enjoy living here and do not plan on leaving. I began my academic journey many years ago studying early childhood at DACC. I pursued my education at NMSU and earned a master’s in early childhood education. My ultimate educational goal is to pursue a doctorate degree.

I’ve worked with children most of my life. I am currently a Head Start teacher with Las Cruces Public Schools, at Valley View Elementary. I have taught 3 to 5-year-olds for 23 years. I am an adjunct faculty professor for New Mexico State University and Dona Ana Community College. My role with the ECMN is currently a spoke manager for Las Cruces. I am honored and grateful for these opportunities.

On a personal note, I have four wonderful children. Two boys and two girls. Sergio is an Aggie alumnus; Emily is a sophomore at NMSU and Jacob will be an incoming freshman at NMSU. Melanie will be a sophomore in High School. I have a dog, named Scrappy, which I adore. In my free time, I love spending time with family and friends.

Early Childhood Mentor Network | Lead Mentors

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LeeAnna Sacoman

I have a passion for early childhood education and celebrate each child as a unique individual.

As an early childhood educator, I strive to foster a lifelong love of learning and a strong base of social and emotional intelligence and strength.  

I have enjoyed teaching at Sandia Presbyterian Preschool for the past 19 years and feel fortunate to work with such a dedicated group of caring teachers.  I graduated from the University of New Mexico and currently hold my PED New Mexico Teaching License in Early Childhood Education.  


I believe that high quality early childhood education has a profound impact on the long term social, emotional, and academic development and success of children.  Additionally, I am a certified early childhood mentor teacher and a member of the Early Childhood Mentor Network.  Each semester I welcome a new student teacher into my classroom and enjoy guiding this individual in developing a teaching philosophy and practice that is rooted in a foundation of deep, meaningful opportunities of social, emotional growth and understanding.  I believe that through this type of outreach, I am provided the opportunity to help guide a system that is better prepared to provide for the needs of young children and their families. Ultimately, developing a life-long love of learning. 


When I am not at school, l love spending time with my family, reading, walking, hiking, gardening and being outdoors.  My husband, Dave and I have been married for 35 years and have two grown boys.  Sean, our eldest son is married to Katie and are parents to our gorgeous granddaughter, Abby.  Our youngest child, Drew is married to Amy and they have recently returned to Albuquerque and welcomed our grandson, Caleb!

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Shara Foster

Hello! My name is Shara. I am originally from Nebraska but have lived in New Mexico for seven years.

I have worked in early childhood for nearly 23 years, serving in various roles across the United States, including Air Force licensed family childcare provider, childcare center teacher and administrator, community college early childhood course facilitator, and public-school educational assistant and classroom teacher. I am about to begin my sixth year with RRPS and am a PreK teacher at Shining Stars Preschool. I pride myself on being a lifelong learner. I earned an associate degree in early childhood education from Casper College, dual bachelor’s degrees in exceptional student and elementary education from the University of West Florida, and a master’s in teaching and learning from Liberty University. I recently started working towards a Doctor of Philosophy in Education, focusing on Early Childhood Education, through National University. In addition to being an active participant in the Early Childhood Mentor Network, I am also currently serving on the NMAEYC board as a member at large. I am passionate about quality early childhood education. I love collaborating with and learning from other early childhood professionals and am excited to join the lead mentor team this year!

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Anastasia Topping

My name is Anastasia Topping, I have been working with infants 0-17 months for the past 17 years, with 11 years at UNM-Taos Kids Campus.

I have been a mentor teacher with ECMN for the past 4 years and mentoring UNM-Taos residency students for the past 9 years. I have a Bachelors of Science in Early Childhood Multicultural Education, am Certified in Infant Family Studies, Mentoring, PITC trainer and am a registered NM FOCUS Master Level 2 Trainer. I am currently working on my infant mental health endorsement and am working to develop an Infant/toddler teacher curriculum with SFCC. I have 5 beautiful daughters, 1 son, 2 grandsons, and 2 granddaughters. I love spending time with my family in the mountains, mud bogging, and being with my babies. I look forward to collaborating and learning together.

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Ashley Carpenter

My name is Ashley Carpenter. I’m a generational Santa Fe native and a new mother of twin boys. 

I earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Education Dual License for general education K-8 and special education preK-12 from the University of New Mexico and a Master’s of Arts with a focus in Autism Spectrum Disorder from Grand Canyon University. I started my career working for local daycares and summer programs, and now have taught early childhood special education for 12 years over four districts across the state. I have a passion for teaching successful inclusion practices and helping children (and adults) tap into their greatness through exploration and play! I am excited to help new and veteran teachers alike dive into their passion of education and continue to positively impact children and families across our state. Beyond special education, I love curling up with a hot cup of coffee, a good book and my cats or house rabbit. My husband and I also really enjoy exploring nature through camping, hiking, and scenic drives with our boys and our dogs when we’re not watching the sunsets in our backyard.


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Sarah Harada

Sarah Harada grew up in Los Lunas on what her friends call a “farm”. She disagrees with them but did have horses, cows, goats, and pigs from time to time. 

Sarah is a lead mentor. She has been a member of the network since the beginning in 2017. She is the Pre-K teacher at Bellehaven Elementary. Prior to joining the BES Family, she taught children ages 2-5 at A Child’s Garden, Children and Faith, and The Children’s Center. She holds a BA in Early Childhood Multicultural Education and a MA in Elementary Education with a focus in Reflective Practice from the University of New Mexico. She loves learning alongside children through play. She is grateful to be part of her students’ first formal learning experiences. In her free time, she enjoys reading, running, hiking, and preparing vegan-ish meals but mostly spends her days marveling at her daughter, Hazel. She has a cat named Pete and a dog named Bella.

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Laura Johnson

My name is Laura Johnson, I was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  

I have been involved with the education system since 2003. I have been with APS since 2015 and worked previously in a private school setting. I have experience in PreK -8th grade, but my focus is Early Childhood. I am currently completing my 3rd year with the Early Childhood Mentor Network. I am married and have a son that is preparing for high school graduation.   I enjoy reading, exercising, traveling, cooking and spending time with my family and dog Emera. I have an Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education and a certificate in Mentoring. 

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Emily Salgado

Lios emchianvu or greetings, in my native language of the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. My name is Emily Salgado, and I was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona. 

Following high school, I ventured to Silver City, New Mexico and completed both my undergraduate and graduate degrees at Western New Mexico University. I am currently enrolled at Walden University in hopes of completing my Doctorate in Education. As a proud Native American woman, my family has continuously instilled a great love for our culture, family, and education. Inspiration at hand, I, like my mother and older brother, pursued a career in education. After several years in the classroom, I was able to take my experience and passion for the field and utilize it as a Curriculum Coordinator for the New Mexico Center of Excellence for Early Childhood Education at WNMU. Through my journey so far, I have had the privilege of being mentored as well as mentoring different students as they are on their educational journey. As a longtime member of the Early Childhood Network, I believe that this is such a powerful tool that is not only necessary but has the ability to have long lasting impacts on the lives of our future educators.

Infant Toddler Teacher Network | Lead Teachers

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Tina Goodrick-Lee

My name is Tina Goodrick-Lee. I was born and raised in Southern California.

I moved to New Mexico about 11 years ago and am a mother of six children and seven grandchildren. I stayed at home with my children while they were little. I began my college degree in my thirties and got my AA in my forties. I have my AA in Early Childhood Education. I enjoy crocheting and knitting. I have been working in Early childhood for 8 years. I have been an infant teacher for 7 years. I enjoy working with infants and their families. I have been a mentor for about one and a half years. I am excited to be a lead in the early childhood network with ITTN and helping teachers in our mentor partnership.

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Sofia Hernandez

I am Sofia Hernández, originally from San Francisco del Oro Chihuahua in Mexico.

I spent my formative years in Ciudad Juárez Chihuahua before my family relocated to Albuquerque in 2006. My passion for children led me back to school in 2014, where I pursued a diploma in child development (CDC). Through my studies, I realized the important role of education that inspired  my career as an early education teacher, a profession that also allowed me more time with my four children. I hope to pass on the value of education to them, emphasizing the importance of earning a degree. I have continued my academic journey and completed two associate degrees in Arts Early Education and Sciences. My professional mission is to deliver quality education.

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Teena Bhakta

I am Teena Bhakta, I was born and raised in England and moved to Las Cruces in 2006. 

New Mexico is 100% the land of Enchantment for me and I could not see myself living anywhere else. I have fallen in love with the rich culture, history and heritage that New Mexico offers and the opportunity to be a part of the diverse community we all live in. I am a mother to two beautiful boys who keep me busy when I am not working. Early Childhood Education is in my blood, I have been in the field for 25 years and love the work that I do. I have worked in various roles through-out my career, from Pre-school teacher, director of a center, NM PreK, Child Life Specialist within a busy pediatric emergency room to now working for NMSU as the Program Manager/Director for Dona Ana County Head Start. I have my Masters in Educational Leadership, Bachelors in Early Childhood Education and two Associate degrees in Early Childhood Education and the other in Education. I have been a part of the Early Childhood Networks since 2021 and this year I will be working as a lead mentor for the Infant Toddler Teacher Network (ITTN). I am very excited for this new prospect and the opportunity to continue my life long learning.

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Tracy Royer

Hello all, my name is Tracy Royer, I was born in Durango, Colorado.  

I then moved to Farmington, New Mexico where I was raised and attended classes at San Juan College. I received my associates degree in early childhood education while working on campus at the Child and Family Development Center. While working I started at an Associates level working as a Lead Preschool Teacher. I continued my education at Highlands University where I graduated with a BA in Multicultural Education Birth to Age 3. After completing my degree, I began my career as a Lead Mentor with the Early Childhood Mentor Network. I value community, connections, and the opportunity to network with like-minded professionals in our state.  I enjoy working with children and adult learners alike. I look forward to working with each one of you. I enjoy mountain biking and volunteer for a children’s mountain bike program F.A.S.T. (Farmington Area Single Track) where we encourage and support children and adults to come together, get outside and enjoy the trails.  

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Fatima Hamad

I was born and raised in Sudan-Africa. I have lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico since 2001. 

I have been involved in the ECMN since 2016. Being a mentor, allows me to meet wonderful expert educators. I believe ECMN is a great resource for students and new early childhood teachers to have someone they can talk to. I am happy to have the opportunity to be a lead mentor to support and empower teachers and practicum students to appreciate all they are capable of learning and doing for themselves and others. I am a strong student advocate, and I learn a great deal from them. I love to spend time with my three children and husband; they are the only family I have here in America. I enjoy camping and traveling. I’m a football fan, as my three sons are football players from youth to high school.

Early Childhood Director Network | Lead Directors

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Erika Rascon

My name is Erika Rascon. I was born and raised in Albuquerque and grew up in the South Valley. 

I attended college at UNM for a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and I earned an Associate degree in Early Childhood Multicultural Education here at CNM. I started working in early childhood in 2009 and absolutely fell in love with the work. I am very dedicated and passionate about providing our youngest community members a safe and fun learning environment. I have worked at La Esperanza Preschool in Rio Rancho for over ten years now. I have also worked and partnered with other preschools and early education programs in the Albuquerque area. I believe it is important for us to work together and help elevate our field and provide the best quality education for the children.

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Allison Gabaldon

My name is Allison Gabaldon. I am a native New Mexican and a proud product of Albuquerque Public Schools.

I have been in Early Childhood Education for 23 years. I started off as an Early Interventionist and Home Visitor for 10 years in both southern New Mexico and the California Bay Area. In 2007, I became a Special Ed Preschool Teacher and eventually a Preschool Inclusion Specialist for Hayward Unified School District.  Upon returning to New Mexico in 2016, I began my career with Albuquerque Public Schools. In APS I have been a Developmental Preschool Teacher, a Five Star NM PreK Teacher, a Transformational Principal, and currently the Senior Director of Early Childhood. I am a servant leader who focuses on relationships. I promote the best in others and have a passion for teaching others how to shine. When I am not working you can find me at home in the East Mountains spending time with my husband and five children and cooking in the kitchen.


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Holly Savage

I am Holly Savage and I am excited to be part of the Early Childhood Director Network leadership team again! 

I feel it is important that we share knowledge and encourage one another because being an early childhood director is a unique and challenging career.

I have a BS in Biology, Masters in Education, and an Administrative license. I have served on numerous community groups including the One Albuquerque Kid’s Cabinet Early Learning Coordinating Council Workforce Subcommittee, CNM Education Advisory Board, and the original mentor network.

I was the Founding Director of Shepherd of the Valley Preschool, a position I held for 38 years. I recently stepped down as director.  I am grateful to have more time to spend with my amazing young grandchildren, husband, and friends.  

I will always be passionate about quality and caring early childhood education.  I am honored to be helping our community support dedicated early childhood educators.

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Mary Matteucci

Hi! My name is Mary Matteucci and I am excited to be part of the ECDN leadership team.  

I became the Director of A Child’s Garden Preschool in January 2015 and have been associated with the Director’s Network since its inception. I was born and raised in Albuquerque and have lived here most of my  life. I received my B.A. and teaching certification from the University of San Diego in 1991 and completed my graduate work at the University of San Diego, Texas Christian University, and the University of New Mexico. I also received my Early Childhood Program Administration Certificate through CNM. I have been in the field of education for over 30 years starting out as a personal one-on-one educational assistant. I am dually certified in General and Special Education and I have taught everything from Pre-K – Eighth grade. I enjoy working out, running, reading, traveling to the beach, and playing with my family which includes my husband, four fabulous children, my son-in-law, two grandchildren, and my dog, Tara.