Helping Students Grow

The Growing Tree Preschool is proud to have a staff of teachers that are passionate about making a difference in students’ lives through tireless dedication to education. Get to know each of our team members below.

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Geraldine Torrelio

Office Administrator and After School Teacher Coordinator

Ms. Geraldine earned her DIP in Christian Ministry and Theology. She also graduated from UCC and earned her CE in Early Childhood Education and AA in Administration. Since working with children is one of her passions, she volunteers in the Children’s Ministry at her church.

At Growing Tree, Ms. Gery loves to work with children and their families, as well as being able to assist and serve the community in anything that is possible.


Jessica Cordova

Administrative Assistant and After school Teacher

Ms. Jessica, joined the Growing Tree family in August 2014. She graduated on 2017 from Everest College and earned her Medical Assistant CE. She also attended UCC to obtain her CE in Early Childhood Education. Helping people and teaching is her passion.


Gwenda Baab

Eagles' Teacher

Ms. Gwenda has been working in child care professionally for the past 13 years. Having received her B.A. in K-6 Elementary Ed. NJ Teachers Degree Program, in 2013, she brings current knowledge and skills.

Her passion for Kindergarten readiness has lead her to pursue and receive a P-3 teacher’s Certification. She enjoys nature, music, exercise and reading.


Jessica Hunter

Eagles' Teacher Assistant and After School Teacher

Ms. Jessica graduated from North Plainfield High school in 2014, and began college at the end of last year studying for her Bachelors in Business. She has her own website full of poetry and much more, which turned into a business itself. She taught pre-K about 3-5 years back and currently working with the Eagles Class. She loves working with children and helping families in anything that is possible.


Jessica Zigarelli

Owls' Teacher

Ms. Jessica earned a BA in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Susquehanna University. She joined the Growing Tree family in 2017 and is excited to continue teaching the Owls’ class. She holds certifications to teach preschool through 6th grade and coaches soccer and basketball for elementary aged boys and girls. When she is not playing a sport, you will find her getting creative with arts and crafts as well as playing the guitar.

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Maria Goicochea

Owls' Teacher Assistant and After School Teacher

Ms. Maria has been working with children since 2014 and has earned her CE in Early Childhood Education. At Growing Tree, you can find her in the Owls’s classroom where she is the teacher’s assistant. She likes interacting with children to gain trust and provide engaging experiences in a relaxed environment as well as doing arts and crafts projects. Ms. Maria is married, has one son, and a lovely dog named “Chase”.


Beata Makowski

Cardinals' Teacher

Ms. Bea has worked in the field of Early Childhood education since 2002 and holds a Bachelor’s degree from Kean University. Ms. Bea enjoys all that children bring into her life. They are so passionate about the world around them. They teach her about curiosity, discovery, imagination, and the never ending desire to learn. 

She loves to bring aspects of nature into the classroom. Curiosity takes over fear, stress and the intense focus leads to questions and dialogs.

Her personal mission is to support each child in their journey and give them the care and resources necessary for their growth.


Tannia Estrella

Cardinals' Teacher Assistant and After School Teacher

Ms. Tannia joined the Growing Tree family in September 2014. Loved by students and staff alike, Ms. Tannia brings knowledge, enthusiasm and joy to the children.

She was born in Ambato, Ecuador and has earned her CE in Early Childhood Education. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two children, running, and decorating.


Paula Brown

Robins' Teacher

Ms. Paula is a graduate of Grand Canyon University and Kean University. She received her M.Ed in special education and holds a bachelors degree in sociology. She has been in the education field for over 16 years in grades preschool 3 through 5th. Ms. Paula has consistently brought passion and dedication every single day.

When she is not busy teaching and learning new things, she is at home with her loving family.


Lorena Rivera

Robins' Teacher Assistant

Ms. Lorena has been a part of the Growing Tree family in the past and has now returned as the teacher’s assistant in the Robins’ classroom. For the past 4 years, she has been working in the North Plainfield Public Schools. She loves working with kids and has 2 children of her own.


Jhoselyn Torrelio

Robins' Teacher Assistant SPED and After School Teacher

Ms. Jhoselyn joined the Growing Tree Family on 2021 and she's currently attending College to obtain her CDA Associate Degree. She enjoys working with children and been able to make a difference in their lives. In her free time, she enjoys to go out for nature walks with her family and her two lovely huskies Toby and Sophia.


Vanessa Cordova

Summer School Teacher

Ms. Vanessa has been working with Growing Tree for three years. She is currently attending Saint Peter’s University for her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a P-3
certification and a minor in Spanish. Once she graduates, she is planning to study for her Master’s degree in Special Education with ABA. She loves going out and exploring new places. When she is not at work or school, you can find her reading a book or spending time with her family or friends.