Our Staff

​Kelley Cohen

Administrative Director

It is an honor and a privilege to work with the children, parents and teachers at Tree of Life Learning Center every day! I began my career over 13 years ago, teaching elementary education. I love being a teacher. I love the look on a child’s face when they are asking a question and the satisfaction they have when their curiosity has paid off and they have found the answer! I love being a director. I love watching the teachers develop and grow into your children’s heroes. I opened this school in August 2011 and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. It has given me an opportunity to bring the kind of culture and values to the early education of the children in our community. I love working in the community in which I live with my husband and our three children. I hope to instill a love of learning into my own children and all the children at Tree of Life Learning Center!

Kerri White

Hi! My name is Ms. Kerri. I was born and raised in Fremont and moved to the Danville area in 1993. I have been with Tree of Life Learning Center since August of 2014. When not working I enjoy taking my daughter to sports games, cheering on my nephews in their games and spending time with family and friends. I have 20+ years of experience and am currently attending Diablo Valley College to gain a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education. My main goal in the classroom is not only to provide a loving environment for the children, but to also enrich their lives with learning while having fun. I became a teacher because I love kids! I like to get messy and explore!

Zvia Bitansky

Hi! My name is Ms. Zvia. I was born in Israel and grew up there. I attended a vocational high school learning drafting and other architectural office skills. After serving in the Israeli Army, I worked for an architect in Tel Aviv. In 1981, my family moved to San Francisco. Soon after settling in the East Bay, I began to study preschool education and worked in the preschools at Contra Costa Jewish Community Center, Temple Isaiah, and B’nai Shalom. During this time, I completed the curriculum in Early Childhood Education at Diablo Valley College and earned numerous certificates. I bring the richness of Judaism to my classroom and with every small dose of Judaica, enrich the learning environment. I love introducing the children to the world, to language, music, and art. I have for many years watched children gain knowledge through experience as I encourage their curiosity. I am the one honored to guide their curiosity.

Jessica Mikkelson

Hi! I’m Ms. Jessica. I am a bay area native and have lived most of my life in the Concord/Clayton area.  After high school I went on to study nursing at the University of San Francisco. However, while working part-time as a daycare assistant I realized that working with children was my true passion and more aligned with my personality and purpose. I have since worked as daycare assistant, nanny, and various other early educational roles for over seven years while concurrently obtaining my degree in early childhood education. I am a lover of learning and am always looking to improve myself or my skills. As a teacher I hope to instill that same enjoyment for learning into the children. In my spare time I enjoy hiking, cooking, watching movies, and being crafty!

Mittal Patel

Hi! I’m Ms. Mittal. I was born and raised in India and I moved to the US about 18 years ago. I have a bachelor’s degree from India. When my elder daughter started preschool, I decided to change my career into early childhood education. I went back to school to get my education in early childhood studies. I joined Tree of Life Learning Center in the fall of 2018. Before that, I held teaching positions at other preschools for many years. I also ran my own family daycare for 6 years. I enjoy working with children and providing them with the environment to explore and experience the world. In my spare time, I enjoy outdoor activities, sewing,  and accompanying my daughters to soccer and volleyball games.

Leslie Diamond

Hi! My name is Ms. Leslie and I’ve been teaching Pre-K children for over 20 years. I’m a native Bostonian (Go Red Sox!) and my husband and I moved to the Bay Area in 2018 following our children and grandchildren to the west coast. I am so lucky to have found the wonderful Tree of Life Learning Center! After graduating from Boston University with a degree in Math and Economics I was a stock market analyst for several years before finding my true passion in life- teaching young children.  After taking many post graduate courses in in Early childhood Education I knew I had found my calling. I taught preschool at the Jewish Community Center in Newton, Massachusetts for 16 years and then at the Shalom-Austin Early Learning Center in Austin, Texas- where we lived or 4 years when we first fled the cold New England winters. It’s my privilege to create a nurturing and loving environment where the children are treated with respect and feel safe to explore, learn, make friends, and love going to school every day!

Mamta Kalra

My name is Mamta Kalra, and I’m thrilled to be teaching at Tree of Life Learning Center! I live in San Ramon with my family. I’m a mother to three wonderful boys, who are the reasons I decided to pursue a career in Early Childhood Education. I’m a graduate in Early Childhood Education from the University of California – Silicon Valley. I love working with young children and am very excited to get to know the children and their families. Thank you for the opportunity to be part of your child’s growth and development. Together, we can help your child learn, grow and thrive!

Crisel Apolonio

Hello!  My name is Crisel Apolonio, and I’m thrilled to say that I have been teaching preschool for over 19 years.  I earned my BA degree with a major in accounting, earned my Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education and have 10 years Montessori training experience.  I love teaching because I want to have a big impact in children’s lives and watch them grow and learn.  I also find joy in witnessing a child learn something new, knowing I was a main influence in doing so.  In my time out of the classroom, I enjoy traveling with my husband, dancing, reading, shopping and walking our dog named Bruce.  I am also excited to be a part of this wonderful team of teachers at Tree of Life Learning Center!