Our Staff

Mabel Espinoza, Principal and Co-Founder
Hello, my name is Mabel Espinoza. I’m from Bolivia and moved to the USA in 1989. I was schooled in Bolivia as a medical surgeon and worked in pediatrics. I have also received an associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education and General Studies at NOVA with honors. Education is the priority and is the key to success in life. I’m the mother of five children. For over 25 years, I have been providing both childcare and preschool to families in Arlington and Northern Virginia, I am the original founder and director of Building Blocks Day School, which has been in business for 9 years. I value the importance of quality education and provide, loving, learning and a secure environment for the children in our school.
Teaching Staff

bbds-our-staffThe staff at Building Blocks Day School has a variety of enriching educational and cultural backgrounds. All meet or exceed state requirements for their positions and each assistant and lead teacher complete a minimum of sixteen hours of continuing education pertaining to child development annually. The staff is very dedicated to their jobs and the children and strives to meet the needs of each child with compassion and understanding.

The majority of the staff is certified in First Aid and CPR and over half of the staff has completed Medication Administration Training.

Natali Leniz

bbds-7-natali-lenizHi, my name is Natali Leniz. I’m from Cochabamba-Bolivia, and am married w/ 2 kids John Paul (10) and Mikaela (4). I went graduated in international business and English in Bolivia. I came to the US in 2006, and started babysitting as I have always like caring for children. In 2014, I joined BBDS and began working the ladybugs classroom as teacher assistant. It is here that I am amazed daily at how fast our kids learn and how intelligent they are. I’m currently taking classes on how to improve my practice and ensure our children get the most updated skills and best practices available. I hope to soon graduate with my Associates degrees in childhood education.

Rosario Lara

bbds-8-rosario-laraHi, my name is Rosario Lara. I’m from Bolivia and came to USA in 1993. I studied Early Childhood Education in California and and Graduated as a Montessori Preschool teacher in 1997. I went back to Bolivia and opened a preschool center called “Horizontes Montessori” where I worked for five years, then returned to the USA in 2003. I worked as a nanny and as an assistant teacher in a preschool. I love my profession, which has allowed me to stay close to young children, learn from them, help them and be part of their growth and development in a positive way. I’m the mother of one boy whom I love very much and spend my free time just with him. I feel fortunate to be working with your children at BBDS since January 2015 as a happy Bumble Bees teacher assistant.

 

Karla Becerra

bbds-9-karla-becerraHi, my name is Karla Becerra. I’m the lead teacher of Bumblebees Class (3 year olds) I was born in Bolivia but I have been living in Virginia for about 24 years. I had the great opportunity to work with children from all ages for about 9 years now. My journey began as a nanny to some amazing families.  I love getting to know the children and their beautiful personalities. I decided to join the preschool field in 2012. After, working in different preschools I found Building Blocks Day School! I’ve been a part of the BB team since the summer of 2014.  I am currently working on getting certified in Child Development. In my spare time, I love to spend time with my 7 year son and my beautiful 21 month girl, whom I hope to bring to this wonderful school one day! 

 

Caroline Funes

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Hello,

 My name is Caroline Funes. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. I moved to Northern Virginia with my family back in 2000. Being the oldest child, I was like a second mom to my younger siblings which steered me in the direction of becoming a teacher. 

I went to Northern Virginia Community College were I studied Early Childhood Education. I have since then been very lucky to have worked with children for over 12 years, from infants to pre-school agers. I am happy to say that I have been part of the Building Block family since 2010 as a Lead Pre-K teacher. I find it extremely rewarding to teach our children and be a part of their lives. I’m happy to mention that due to my vigorous dedication, each child in my class has improved in all areas of academia noticed by parents of returning graduates who entered Kindergarten well prepared. I’m highly compassionate and a committed educator, with a passion for life-long learning. Another one of my greatest strengths is disciplined learning, with minimal interruption and maximum productivity. This is achieved by reinforcing positive actions and redirecting attention. It’s with great pleasure that I mention that my husband and I have started a family of our own. We have a super energetic 21 month old boy and a wonderful sweet 6 month old baby girl. I am happy I’m able to continue my love for teaching and look forward in helping your child reach his/her full potential in our Pre-K class.

Zheina Velasco

bbds-11-zheina-velascoHello, My name is Zheina Velasco. I worked as a pharmaceutical doctor in in my country and work with children since I arrived to the US.  I have worked at Building Blocks for over 4 years. I have three wonderful children and I adore them with all my life. I love to spend the weekends with them and to go on vacations. I also spend my spare time cooking pastries, listening to music and to dance.

Maria O’Neal

bbds-12-maria-onealMy name is Maria O’Neal. I was born and raised in Dominican Republic. I am a mother of two beautiful girls, Carolyn a college student and Karen who is a senior in high school.  I taught first and third grade in Dominican Republic for 8 years. I also worked as an assistant teacher at New Vista Pre-school for 6 years and INOVA Child Care Center for 4 years. I have been working with Building Blocks as an assistant teacher since March 2007.

Marisol Montano

bbds-13-marisol-montanoHello, my name is Marisol Montano. I am from Cochabamba, Bolivia. I graduated from University with a License in Chemistry. I’m the Ladybugs class teacher (for our twos) at Building Blocks since 2007.  I love to garden and plant flowers.  I am a mother of two beautiful daughters and two dogs. I adore them all. I am very creative when it comes to improvising I am number one.  I love my job and mostly the kids because I making a difference in their lives. 

 

Elisa Cespedes

bbds-14-elisa-cespedesHi, my name is Elisa Cespedes. I was raised in Bolivia and all my educational training in college was in Accounting.  I have two children and two grandchildren. I came to the US 15 years ago. Since that time, I worked in different places, all of them related with children.  I have worked:  as a nanny, in a family day care home, and a preschool.  Prior to coming to Building Blocks Day School, I worked at Early Steps Bilingual School as an assistant for two years.

I have many years working with children and I love working as an assistant teacher.  I have the maturity, skills and personality needed to work with young children.   I’m very happy and feel like I’m home with my extended family at Building Blocks.

Gricelda Carrillo

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Hi, I’m Ms. Gricelda Carrillo a bilingual “Butterflies Class 4’s” lead teacher at Building Blocks since 2008. I was born and raised in Guatemala. I’m the mother of 12 year old boy. I graduated from Early Childhood Institute of Maryland and am working on getting my Associates Degree from NOVA. My goal is to continue growing as a professional and provide the children with the best learning experiences that will help them to develop and be ready not just for kindergarten and also for life. My philosophy is that every child is unique and learns differently. As a teacher, I do my best to nurture, love and inherent the gifts that each child brings to share with us.

 

Isabel Jaldin

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Hi, my name is Isabel Jaldin. I’m from Santa  Cruz, Bolivia and have been working with children for over 20 years out which I have been working with Ms. Mabel for 10 years. I have loved to work with children and enjoy seeing them years later as young adults. I have two children and love to spend time with my grandchildren as well, not to mention my love for dogs. BBS is a part of my family.

 

Viviana

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Hi, my name is Viviana. I’m from Bolivia. I graduated and earned a diploma as a Chemistry and Biology teacher from Catholic University. I worked for 3 years with high school age children and have worked with small age children since I arrived to USA.

I’m married and have 3 children one that is 3 years old girl and 2 year old twins, a boy and a girl. This is my second year at Building Blocks and I primarily work in the afternoon as an assistant teacher in the Bumble Bee’s class.  I love seeing and being a part of the development of our children in their development every day.