Meet the Carousel Team
Maria DavisCarousel Management: Executive Director
Maria has worked in early childhood education and school settings for more than 38 years. She started working with children in 1972 in a Kindergarten class, and in 1974 she opened a Family Home Child Care program. In 1979, Maria opened her first center-based infant and preschool program in the Westchester area. She founded Carousel Preschool and has served as the Executive Director since that time. During this time, Maria has developed and managed multiple programs focused on providing high quality care and education to all students. Under her leadership, Carousel Schools and programs has expanded its scope of services, providing care and services not only to typically-developing children, but also to children, adolescents and adults with special needs or disabilities. Infants and toddlers with special needs or disabilities are enrolled in the Early Intervention program. These children work alongside their typically-developing peers in an inclusive and supportive environment from birth through five years old (through kindergarten). Carousel School has an elementary school and high school for children with special needs and disabilities for ages 3 through 22 years. Carousel School also has a satellite After School program and Adult Day programs.
Maria earned her B.A. from Antioch University and her M.S. in Special Education from National University, and her professional affiliations include:
- Sunrise Venice Rotary Club
- Westchester LAX Chamber of Commerce
- Neighborhood Council of Westchester Playa Del Rey
- Westchester LAX Educational Affairs Committee
- Governmental Affairs Committee Member for Developmental Disabilities Board Area
- Local Interagency Coordinating Area Board Member for South Central Los Angeles Regional Center
- Local Interagency Coordinating Area Board Member for Westside Regional Center – Treasurer
- Council on Perinatal Substance Abuse of Los Angeles
- California Association for the Education of Young Children
- Westside Cities Coordinating Council
- National Association of Women Business Owners
- Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce
Gina PratoCarousel Management: Vice President of Programs
Gina Prato is a licensed Occupational Therapist (OT) with more than 15 years of experience working with infants, toddlers, preschoolers, school aged children, and adults of varying skill levels, including those who have special needs and disabilities. Gina started her career at Carousel School as a preschool teacher in the inclusion-based classrooms, and also as a speech therapy aid.At Carousel School, some of Gina’s current responsibilities include directing the Early Intervention Program and Adult Program, interviewing and training staff, conducting clinical meetings, and helping to ensure a high quality and individualized therapeutic environment. Some of Gina’s experiences in providing training to direct support staff include ongoing; staff meetings, interdisciplinary team meetings, in-services, and staff evaluations. Meeting and in-service topics conducted by Gina range from appropriate communication skills with clients and their families, to adapting service delivery to meet all of the needs of the consumers. She also conducts evaluations and assessments, and provides occupational therapy services. Gina works with the Carousel School education and clinical staff along with regional center and school district staff to transition consumers in and out of Carousel’s various programs. Gina earned her BS in Speech Pathology, with a minor in Audiology from Loma Linda University, and an MA in Occupational Therapy from the University of Southern California (USC). In addition, she has also completed a comprehensive program in Sensory Integration and has obtained a certificate that allows her to administer and interpret the Sensory Integration and Praxis Test (SIPT). Some of her clinical experiences include completing an internship at Rancho Physical Therapy’s Hand Clinic and the Neuropsychiatric Institute (NPI) at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
Joe DavisCarousel Management: Technology Systems Manager
Joe has worked in the electrical engineering industry for more than 20 years, and he has worked with Carousel School since 2006 as the Technology Systems Manager. In this role, he provides day-to-day technical support for Carousel School. This support includes computer network administration, IP telephones, and general support for the facilities’ systems such as the fire and security alarm, HVAC, and electrical systems. Joe has a B.S. in Electronic Engineering from California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo. He has a California State Electrical Engineering license, and an Assistive Technology Specialist certificate from California State University, Dominguez Hillsw
Ann Solamo-Guzman, M.A.Non-Public School: Clinical Director, Behavior Supervisor
Ann Solamo-Guzman, M.A.
Ann has been with Carousel School since 1994, in which she has worked in a variety of positions including pre-school teacher and after-school program coordinator. In 2001, Ann left Carousel School and worked as a Behavior Therapist in the San Fernando Valley areas. Ann provided direct support to her clients in school settings as well as in-home therapy which utilizes ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis), PRT (Pivotal Response Training), and Adaptive Skills Training. After receiving her Master’s Degree in Human Behavior at National University, Ann was promoted as a Behavior Supervisor, in which her responsibilities consisted of conducting parent and staff trainings, attending clinical meetings, and writing Progress Reports / Functional Behavior Assessments (FBA) for her clients. Ann returned to Carousel School in 2012 where she currently works as a Behavior Supervisor and a Clinical Director. Ann’s duties include conducting behavior management trainings, attending interdisciplinary meetings, and collaborating with teachers and therapists to ensure Carousel students receive the utmost quality in meeting their individual needs.
Justin GerritseCarousel Management: Chief Operations Officer
Before joining the Carousel administration team, Justin earned a bachelor’s of science in Physical Education with an endorsement in Education Technology from Dakota State University. During his undergraduate studies, Justin served as the assistant coach for the DSU baseball team. After completing his B.S, Justin accepted a position as a graduate assistant at Northern State University where he coached baseball and taught in the physical education department. Justin successfully completed his M.S. in Physical Education, Health & Coaching. In addition to his formal education, Justin learned about facility construction, renovation, and maintenance while working for his family’s construction business.
Now as the Chief Operations Officer (COO), Justin oversees internal operations to insure fiscal efficiency. To this end Justin is a critical part of both short-term and long term planning working with the various departments of the Carousel Organization and reporting to the Chief Executive Officer. In addition to his budgetary responsibilities, Justin continues to oversee facility operations insuring the various Carousel facilities are properly maintained and within compliance of local and state building codes. Justin also plays a pivotal role in developing and streamlining company communications and procedures which he constantly reviews and adjusts in order to promote clear communication and efficient operations.
Jeanne PerazaCarousel Management: After School Program Manager
Jeanne has worked with children and families in daycare settings for over 17 years. She has been with Carousel School since 1992, and during that time she has served in a variety of positions, including preschool teacher, preschool director, after-school director, and program manager. In her current role, Jeanne oversees Carousel’s satellite programs at Salvin Special Education School, including the Saturday program. Jeanne assists families through the enrollment process and works closely with the Regional Centers to ensure that the children’s goals are being met within our programs. Jeanne has taken Early Childhood Development courses through UCLA extension, and she attends regular professional development opportunities about topics such as supervision, administration, and crisis prevention intervention.
Jessica EstradaCarousel Non-Public School: Assistant Behavior Supervisor
Jessica Estrada earned her Bachelor in Sociology from the University of California, Riverside in 2014. Before Carousel, she worked in a Community Based Vocational Training and Work Program for adults with special needs. She started working in Carousel on October 2016 as a Behavior Aide. In July 2017, she was promoted to Behavior Supervisor Assistant. In this position, she assists the Counselor with counseling and Behavior Supervisor with daily tasks and spanish translations when needed. Also, Ms. Jessica is responsible for scheduling IEP’s, teaching art to the students, serving the school lunches and other administrative tasks.
Jane UyCarousel Adult Day Program and Preschool & Infant Center: Senior Director of Programs
Jane started at Carousel School as a Math Teacher for the Junior High and High School classes. Now, as the Site Director of Carousel Preschool & Infant Center, she ensures that the school adheres to the State Standards and provides quality childcare for the families. Jane addresses the concerns of the parents and oversees the operation of the school, especially the safety of the children. She also teaches Basic Chinese Language to the preschool children. Jane earned a B.S. in Accountancy from St. Paul University in Quezon City, Philippines. She also studied Early Childhood Education at UCLA and USEP (University of Southeastern Philippines). She had some wonderful years with the children back home before deciding to pursue her passion in the United States.
Christian MarquezCarousel Adult Day Program: Program Manager
Christian started working at Carousel School in November 2006 as a Behavioral Aide in the junior high class. In January 2008, he was promoted to co-teacher, and has since worked in multiple classrooms, including the Special Day Class (SDC), with higher- functioning students. He also has experience directing the After-School Program at Carousel. In August 2010, he became the Adult Day Program (ADP) Coordinator. In this position, Christian supervises both clients and other ADP staff members, and helps plan and organize field trips that engage our clients in the community. He facilitates daily structured activities that encourage education, health, individual growth, and independence. He also attends Individualized Program Plan (IPP) meetings, and liaises with clients’ parents or caretakers. Christian has been integral to the success of the Adult Day Program since its inception, and he looks forward to its continued development.
Marie ArendainCarousel Preschool & Infant Center: Site Director
Marie earned Bachelor in Elementary Education major in Mathematics from Cebu Normal University, Philippines in 2004. Upon graduating, she immediately taught Math in elementary level for 3 wonderful years. She also then continued to advance her education and finished 9 semester units towards Master of Arts in Education. She also completed post-baccalaureate program in Special Education in 2007 before pursuing a teaching career in United States. She had 4 years teaching experience in preschool before joining Carousel School in 2015. She started as an Early Intervention teacher which later on became a preschool teacher at the Airport campus.
Marie takes great pride of being a teacher. With her hard work and organization skills, she was given the opportunity to take on a management position in October 2016. Now as the Director of Human Resources, she will continue to enhance and maintain the company’s human resources by planning, implementing, and evaluating employee relations and human resources policies, programs, and practices.
Emilia AlvaradoCarousel Preschool & Infant Center: Office Assistant
Emilia has been a part of our Carousel family since February 2001, and has gained over nine years of experience working directly with children with special needs, as well as typically-developing children. She has assisted the infant center, and worked as a Behavioral Aide in several different classrooms, including our preschool, Kindergarten/1st grade, and 2nd/3rd grade classrooms, and she also has experience working in our transportation department. In August 2010, Emilia became the Office Assistant at our Preschool & Infant Center. In this position, she coordinates with the Site Director, as well as teachers and other staff, assisting with daily operations and general administrative tasks. Some of her duties include helping organize school-wide activities, tracking attendance, handling staff issues, and communicating with parents and caregivers, often providing Spanish translation when necessary. Emilia has taken Early Childhood Education courses at UCLA, and her previous classroom experience also makes her a valuable resource for ideas and advice for both teachers and aides.
Xavier Reyes is the current Transportation Director for Carousel School. Xavier has a B.S. Degree in Healthcare Administration. He has been with the company since 2007. Over the years he has fulfilled many roles in various departments. He currently runs transportation for five departments and oversees many employees. As Transportation Director he implements and emphasizes safety in transporting our students.
Lianne TamCarousel Non-Public School: Occupational Therapist
Lianne Tam, MA, OTR/L earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Social Behavior in 2012 from the University of California, Irvine. She went on to complete her Masters of Arts in Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the University of Southern California in 2015. Lianne has experience working with children in non public and public schools. She also has Early Intervention experience from working with infants and their families in their home.
Lianne joined Carousel School in August 2017. She provides occupational therapy services to students ranging from preschool to high school in collaboration with teachers and staff. She also works with children in the Early Intervention program to strengthen their fine motor and visual motor development, promote play skills, and prepare them for preschool. Lianne has always enjoyed working with children due to their playfulness and creativity. She is passionate about helping students develop and progress their skills.
Mary Bassily, M.S., CF-SLPCarousel Non-Public School: Speech and Language Pathologist
Mary Bassily, M.S., CF-SLP
Mary Bassily earned her B.A. degree in Neuroscience from the University of Southern California and her M.S. in Communicative Disorders from CSU Northridge in 2018. She gained her experience through General Clinic (aged 4-18-years-old) and Aphasia Clinic at CSUN, and completed her internships a non-public school and a private clinic. Throughout her training, she has worked with every age group across the lifespan (from infants to geriatrics, with various diagnoses and levels of ability. She particularly enjoys working with kids of all ages and is passionate about AAC. She is also fluent in Arabic and French. In her spare time, she loves movies and baking, and learning new languages.
Edsel EscobalCarousel Non-Public School: Special Education Teacher
Mr. Edsel was a former Salesian of Don Bosco. He spent 17 years at the seminary while studying and teaching. He has a Clear Level 2 Education Specialist Moderate to Severe Disabilities Credentials. Since 1992, Mr. Edsel has been teaching to different age groups of students from elementary, middle school, high school, college and in varied subjects like English, Science, Religious Education, and Special Education at Don Bosco Missionary Seminary and University of San Carlos. On April 2008, Mr. Edsel has joined Carousel School as a Special Education Teacher. He received the Teacher Eddy Awards as Teacher of the Year (S.Y. 2013-2014) from the LAX Coastal Chamber of Commerce.
John Popiden, M.Ed.Carousel Non-Public School: Special Education Teacher
John Popiden, M.Ed.
Since 1998, John has been serving students with special abilities. He was awarded his bachelor’s degree from Loyola Marymount University in 2001 where he was a member of the Oxford Scholars Society. After working in the business sector for several years, John earned a Master’s Degree in Special Education in 2012 from Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts. Upon completing his Master’s, John began his teaching career working with students with emotional disabilities at Chamberlain International School. There he encountered great success assisting students in achieving meaningful academic, social, and vocational accomplishments. After returning to California, John began working for Carousel School in 2014. Currently, John teaches a transition aged classroom essential life skills, community awareness, and necessary independent living skills.
Sherrevia WilliamsCarousel Non-Public School: Special Education Teacher
Sherrevia graduated from California State University, Channel Islands in 2015, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Education, specializing in Special Education, Psychology, and Human Development. After graduating, Sherrevia went on to pursue her teaching career as an Instructional Assistant for Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District. While working as an Instructional Assistant, Sherrevia worked with students in Transitional Kindergarten through 4thgrade, focusing on small group instruction and one-to-one instruction for delayed or ELL students. In addition to her instructional duties, Sherrevia spent part of her work day, monitoring and modifying target behaviors of students who were in the process of being evaluated.
In September 2016, Sherrevia joined Carousel as a Behavioral aide in our K-2nd grade classroom. She was promoted to a Lead Behavioral Aide/Co-Teacher in November 2016. In August 2018, Sherrevia was promoted to a teacher for our Elementary classroom.
Jose GomezCarousel Non-Public School: Special Education Teacher
Jose Gomez is a teacher for the moderate/severe high school classroom. Jose earned his BA in communication disorders from CSULA in 2013. He has worked at Carousel school as a behavior aide for six years. He is currently a graduate student earning his Master's degree in special education.
Kelvin KeaotamaiCarousel Non-Public School: Special Education Teacher
Kelvin Keaotamai is an educator who has been working in special education for more than seven years. He graduated from California Polytechnic University Pomona with a Bachelor's degree in English literature with a minor in philosophy. He later attended California State University Long Beach to attain his Special education teaching credential. His ability to employ unique and individualistic instruction to his students makes him an especially qualified teacher at Carousel School. When Kelvin isn’t in the classroom, you can usually find him rock climbing or exploring the great outdoors with his wife and his dog, Walter.