Our Teachers

King Street is more than a job for our teachers. It’s an opportunity for them to share their passion for life while they inspire, engage, and awaken the wonder inside each child.

Lisa Martinelli — Teacher, Director, and Parent Educator

I first came to King Street as a parent in 2010 when I enrolled my then 2 ½-year-old. I fell in love with the school’s vision, philosophy, and respect for children, officially becoming a King Street teacher in the fall of 2011. My children are now all in elementary school and continue to use and extend the skills they learned here in preschool – creative thinking, confidence, problem-solving, working with others who have similar or different ideas, and a love of learning. I am so grateful for the strong foundation that King Street provided and love that I can contribute to the same strong foundation for so many others.

Growing up I always felt that I wanted to work with children. After graduating from the University of Washington with an undergraduate degree in psychology, I taught a play-based emergent curriculum at an independent preschool for two years. Collaborating with a team of teachers, I provided developmentally appropriate and engaging experiences inspired by Maria Montessori, Reggio Emilia, Vivian Gussin Paley, and Bev Bos, among others. I then returned to school to earn a master’s degree in teaching from Seattle University and obtain a Washington State Teaching Certificate.

I subsequently spent four years teaching at The Valley School, an independent elementary school (Pre-K–5) with a whole child approach to learning. There I taught two years of pre-K and two years of kindergarten before the birth of my first child.

Teaching is my true passion and I can think of no better place to teach, or superior learning environment for my own children, than here at King Street.

Believing that all children deserve respect, and informed by a firm understanding of child development, my approach to discipline focuses on negotiation, active listening, and teaching empathy and problem-solving strategies. I am very organized, creative, and fun. I am able to move effortlessly between the role of playmate and authority figure, providing firm and loving boundaries when needed. Most of all, I truly love working with children and using my knowledge and background to provide a positive learning experience for every child, every day.

Amrita Huja — Teacher

In 2010, when my 2-year-old daughter was ready for preschool, I came to King Street needing and finding a community to support my parenting practice. I felt a strong connection with King Street's child-centered and play-based philosophy. Here children are encouraged to express and explore their personal connections and understanding with our world.

From 2011-13 I served as a co-chair and parent coordinator on the school board, deepening my understanding of how a co-op works. Stepping in to substitute teach awakened my passions for teaching and fostering community. I have been a teacher at King street since 2013.

My background in fine art and commercial photography have informed my understanding of the importance of self expression through art. This is a central value I bring to my work as an educator. I currently am exploring my work as a teaching artist through workshops and have been offering messy art summer camps since 2012.

As a teacher, being in tune with children's questions and interests constantly reinforces my respect of children as innate learners. With this respect and my flexibility and spontaneity, I work to support our emergent curriculum. I believe meaningful education starts with natural curiosity and personal connection. As teachers we are laying the groundwork for learners to question, observe, share ideas, and solve problems.

My mixed Indian background and childhood in Hawaii has also informed my perspectives on community and culture. We must find our commonalities and celebrate our differences in striving toward self-awareness and social justice. My work as a photographer for ColorsNW magazine for seven years widened my understanding of bias and the importance of our anti-bias work in early education. As we continue this journey as a country and individuals, I embrace this work with children.

I believe family is our first teachers and King Street is here to support growth and learning in the whole family.

Marty Chavez — Assistant Teacher

I came to King Street in 2011 with my oldest son, then 2 years old. We loved the idea of play-based teaching and the anti-bias philosophy at King Street. With our second child on the way in 2011, we were also excited about King Street’s “plus one” policy where our baby could get involved in growth and learning with the older children. Our second and third children were “King Street Kids” from day one. All three of our children have been through King Street (our youngest daughter is currently enrolled) and we’ve seen first-hand the benefits of being part of the King Street community.

I learned a lot during my many years of Parent-Teacher shifts. I watched and grew right along with the kids, and now have a better understanding of life with little ones. I was able to see my children progress in many ways due to their time at King Street. I watch my older boys (now in elementary school) deal with life’s challenges and excel in problem solving. I’m proud to see them exercise empathy as they go out of their way to help others in school, church, and their community.

My background is in the arts, as I went to school for Visual Communications. I’ve worked doing everything from logo design to set design. Although art took a backseat for me as I did other things to earn a living (including property management and running a warehouse), I’ve always included art projects in my spare time. When I became full-time caregiver to my kids in 2011, I was able to use my love for all things art with my children. I enjoy being able to share how something works, construct cardboard robots, teach oil painting techniques, or just be the loud monster chasing children around the gym. Most of all I love sharing learning with children.

Jan Munger — Assistant Teacher

I first came to King Street as a parent in the fall of 2009 when my daughter was a little over 2 years old. Since then King Street has become influential part of my parenting. I really don't know what our family would have been like without it. Last summer my 10-year old daughter remarked, "Of course you'd say that, you're a King Street parent." Through King Street I have learned how to connect with small children, help them problem solve, and re-calibrate my adult brain to play. Over the past 8 years, 2 of the questions I've learned to ask at King Street have become guiding questions in my life: "How can we solve this problem?" and "What's your idea?"

I am incredibly grateful to continue my involvement with King Street as an assistant teacher. I am grateful that King Street is a place where children have ample support to use their own minds to pursue their curiosities and fascinations, to ask their own questions, and to explain their own ideas to friends and teachers. I love that I get to play big movement games with kids in the gym as well as work quietly with students drawing or playing with play doh, or reading in the home center. I love that I get to see kids grow.

After working in social services for a number of years, I earned my MA in education in 2003 from Antioch University. I spent the next 14 years teaching high-needs 9th–11th grade students in Highline Public Schools, just south of Seattle. This is my first year teaching at King Street.

I live near our school with my spouse, daughter (10), and son (6). Both of my children attended King Street and currently attend Leschi Elementary. I love being in forests and lakes, gardening, playing with my family, and being a girl scout leader.