Our Teachers

Chris Tutak
Director

Chris Tutak

Chris Tutak

The Burbank Parent Ed program has been my second home for over 20 years. And what a wonderful home it has been. I began by teaching the infant classes and added toddler, 3’s and multi-age. As the Director I presently teach Infant I, Infant II and the two Multi-Age classes. For me, watching the children grow is such a treat. And I’ve gotten to know so many wonderful parents and grandparents.

I have two children, Julianna and Noah and their great spouses, Kurt and Monica. My 5 grandchildren; Hans, Matthias, Theo, Johel and Theone are the best and I get to enjoy them nearly every day.

I love anything to do with the outdoors, reading, researching my family history, travelling in the United States, National Parks, crafts, my science class and anything to do with children. And I LOVE Burbank Parent Ed!


Linda Matsumoto

To begin with I am from Burbank. I went to Stevenson Elementary, Jordan Middle School and John Burroughs High School. One interesting fact is that all three of my children went to the same schools. Not planned, but fun. I attended the University of Redlands where I received my BA and my teaching credential. I taught second grade before I began teaching at the Burbank Adult School.

I joined the Parent Ed program when my daughter was two years old. A friend and I heard about the program through an ad in the city water bill. I came to class with my daughter, Amiko and later with my twin sons, Michael and Paul. So I came to parent ed. and never left. When my twins started kindergarten, I started teaching an infant class. Since then I have taught every class. I became the Resource Teacher in charge of the Parent Education Department about 15 years ago.

I have seen alot of changes in Parent Ed over the years. But the core values of the program have remained the same. When I started we had Father’s Day once a semester on a Saturday for the dads to come to class. I think the biggest change has been the number of father’s attending class on a regular basis. And now we have the second dad to become president of Parent Council this year. It’s wonderful to see both parents being involved in the program with their children. What I usually tell parents who are thinking about attending class or want to know about it is this, “Come for a visit to see what we are all about.’ Once you are in class you will find that you can make the most wonderful, longtime friendships that can last a lifetime. My sons were in a two year old class with another set of twin boys. They are now 38 years old and are still friends. Their mother and I have remained friends since we met in class.  I have seen friendships bloom over and over again. That is one plus that is special in our classes.

Lastly, I am the mother of three and the grandmother of two grand-children. Parent Ed has always been and will continue to be a big part of my life.


Deanna Jennings

Deanna Jennings

Deanna Jennings

I’ve lived in Burbank most of my life. I attended Edison and Emerson Elementary Schools, John Muir Junior High and Burbank High School. After high school, I went to the University of Redlands, where I received my elementary teaching credential. I also met my husband Don there. After graduating and getting married, we moved to Connecticut for two years while Don worked on his Masters. We moved back to Burbank where we raised our sons, Matthew and Brendan and attended the Burbank Parent Education program. I first started teaching at the Burbank United Methodist Church Nursery School. This is my 31st year teaching four and five year-olds. About 18 or 19 years ago, I started teaching two year olds in our Parent Education program and later took over the Daddy N Me class that meets one Saturday a month. I really enjoy my time with the parents, grandparents and children in my classes.

In my spare time I enjoy taking yoga classes, reading, walking for exercise, attending musicals at the Ahmanson Theater with my son Brendan and going to show choir competitions and performances. Brendan is the director of the John Burroughs High School Show Choirs. I also like going to the movies and out to dinner with my husband. I love to travel and would like to do more of that.

My son, Matthew and his wife Sandee gave birth to my first grandchild, Charlotte in September of 2013. She is the joy of my life! I just wished they lived closer than Santa Cruz, California.


Kathy Stephenson

Kathy Stephenson

Kathy Stephenson

I am Kathy Stephenson. I teach the Monday 2-year old class. I was born in San Francisco and moved to southern California when I was 12. I graduated from Cal State University, Los Angeles with a degree in geography and then my teaching credential.

I started my teaching career with Los Angeles Unified School District in Highland Park. I taught 4th, 5th, and 6th grades. I took a break from teaching to attend UCLA to pursue a life-long interest in interior design. I worked for one of my professors for two years. I came to Burbank to teach when my youngest child and I were attending Parent Ed. Linda Matsumoto was our teacher and we have been friends ever since. I was very blessed to teach here for ten years. I still run into parents around town that were in my classes. What a wonderful treat that is. When my sons were approaching college age I went back to full-time teaching. I taught at Jefferson Elementary in Burbank for seventeen years – two years in 4th grade and fifteen years in kindergarten. Finally, almost making it full circle, I am back here at Parent Ed. How lucky I am to have had such wonderful teaching experiences.

I have two sons. Scott lives in Connecticut and is teaching geography at the University of Connecticut. He is the “California guy” experiencing his first winter in New England and what a winter he got. Kyle lives in Burbank after being in the San Francisco area for nine years. He is a manager at Grant Thornton-a public accounting firm. He has an office in downtown Los Angeles but rarely sees it due to travel.

My husband and I are both retired. We are keeping busy and enjoying our time together. We both like traveling, reading, going to movies, Dodger games and the gym. I also volunteer at my sister’s kindergarten class at Jefferson and my niece’s 1st grade class at Stevenson.

It feels so good to be back here at Parent Ed being with the children, parents, and grandparents. I leave you with a thought to remember—time is the most precious gift you can give to your children. Have fun together.


Tekla Ackelson-Wright
Teacher’s Aide

Tekla Ackelson-Wright

Tekla Ackelson-Wright

Hi, I’m Tekla Ackelson-Wright. I work as an Teacher’s Aide every day of the week with all of the different age levels. I’ve taught at BAS Parent Education for the past six years.   I love the variety of different teachers, classrooms, parents and kids each day. As a former student of our parent ed. program, My family has benefited from it first-hand, My daughter is now 15. My husband, Bruce, and our daughter, Geneva enjoy spending time together (Although her friends come first these days!) We like to go to Disneyland (Bruce is an animator at Disney), see live theatre or movies, and play with our pets (a cat and a puppy).   When we travel, we hit the big cities like New York, Boston, London, Edinburgh and Tokyo. I like to check out bookstores and bakeries. Sometimes we go to Yellowstone Park with my national park-loving sister and brother in-law. It’s wonderful to see all the animals there. I have a couple of groups of close friends (most of whom I met when our kids were small. Hold on to the people you meet at mommy and me!)

I’ve worked with teachers, parents and children in a variety of settings: Performing Tree, the California Arts Project, Stop-Gap Theatre, and the Child Development Center on the campus of CSU Long Beach.   I was co-producer/director for Bread and Jam Children’s Theater. In addition, I’ve worked as an adult E.S.L. Instructor.

I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts with a focus on psychology and child development from CSU Long Beach. I have a Master’s Degree in theatre for young audiences from Cal State Northridge.


Linda Baca
Teacher’s Aide

Linda Baca

Linda Baca

Hi everyone! I have been a part of this wonderful program for 15 years. I grew up in Southern California, I went to San Fernando Valley Sate College which is now known as CSUN.

I am married with two wonderful daughter and two precious grand-daughters. My daughter was a student at BPEC and when she couldn’t bring the girls I filled in and fell in love with the program. My granddaughters are 21 and 23 years old and to this day they have lasting friendships with children they met at BPEC.

My daughter was an instructor in the program for 12 years. Now she teaches the workshops “How To Talk so Kids Will Listen” and ”Listen so Kids Will Talk”. I love coming to work because I get to spend the day with terrific parents and amazing children. I love watching them grow and learn in such a nurturing environment. I am honored to be a part of their lives and to be in the BPEC program.

When I tell people about the program (which is often) I tell them it is a broadening and constructive atmosphere where we put the children first. Additionally, we offer the parents a place to learn, and express concerns they have about their children and parenting and get the support they need.

There are no rights and wrongs but instead a wide variety of parenting techniques and valuable information to help them along this amazing and wonderful journey.


Allison Baer
Teacher’s Aide


Heidi Birker
Teacher’s Aide

I grew up in Palo Alto and my family moved to Burbank when I was 14 years old.  I attended Burbank High, then got my B.A. in English/Theater Arts at Occidental College.

I worked in law firm administration for a number of years, then got burned out on that (too may crazy lawyers, even though I married one) and as a lark worked as a Tour Guide at Universal Studios.  When I became pregnant with twin boys, my doctor said no more tram rides through “Earthquake”, so I became a stay at home wife, then mom.

I started at Parent Ed when my twins were six months old.  What a life saver!  I still have friends from this program to this day, and my kids do too. Besides my twins, Dan and Chris, I also have a daughter, Carly.  I’ve been with the program as a parent, I served on the board doing the Preschool Press, and then president for one year.  Then Helen needed a teacher aide, so I’ve been here since 1990.

Besides being a substitute teacher aide, I volunteer at the LA Zoo, enjoy gardening, cooking, reading and doing crossword puzzles. I enjoy being with all the kids and parents in the program, and hope to continue to contribute as an aide for as long as I can.


Nicole Michael

Nicole Michael

Nicole Michael

I’m 40 years old and a parent of two children, ages 6 and 8. I’ve been in education since 1998, first as an aide while attending college and then as a teacher. I’ve taught 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, SIPPS (systematic instruction in phonics and phonemic awareness) for grade 1-5, and this will be my second year teaching the Four Year Olds class. I graduated from Cal State Fullerton with a B.A. in Liberal Studies and also received my clear multiple subject credential from CSUF. I took time off from teaching when I had my son in 2010 to be a full time stay at home parent.

I’ve been attending Burbank Parent Ed as a student since my kids were six months and 2.5 years old. I fell in love with the Parent Ed program right away and knew I wanted to be a bigger part of it than just a student. We were in Multi-Age since the beginning of our time in the program and in the Fours class for four years and for us it was the perfect fit for preschool because it’s play based learning. Both of my kids have loved the program and it was a good transition for them into elementary school.

I love working with children and their families. I also love going to Disneyland, being in the outdoors, spending time with family and friends, and making diffuser jewelry.


Christina Yew

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Christina Yew

I grew up in Canoga Park where I lived until going to UC Santa Barbara. Summers I always came home and worked at a preschool near my house, and I worked on and off at the university’s child care center. After earning a BA in literature, I moved home to attend UCLA where I earned a teaching credential and master’s in education. I taught at a couple of small schools before settling into Glendale Unified School District where I taught (mostly first grade) for a decade.

My husband and I married in 1999 and have lived near Hollywood ever since.

After my son was born I worked for about a year and a half and then decided to stay home with him full time. My daughter was born the next year. I am extremely grateful that I was able to have that time with my children. We had so many great adventures discovering the city together and spending time with friends. There were plenty of tantrums and tears along the way, but it is by far my greatest joy.

While I was home with them I participated in a group for moms at my church. Eventually I co-lead the group and started another group for mothers and daughters that is still going strong. I’ve been an active volunteer at my children’s schools in many capacities.

I am an avid reader and now that my children and thirteen and eleven, I am enjoying them more than ever. The timing was perfect when the opportunity came to join the Parent Ed team. I currently teach the three-year-old classes, which I love. This is an amazing place.

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