Our Newport Beach Preschool Staff

Star Brimer
Preschool Director
Ms. Brimer has been in the field of early childhood education for twenty-three years. She has enjoyed various roles within her career as a Preschool Teacher, Assistant Director, and as a Preschool Director for the past thirteen years. She graduated from California State University, Fullerton with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with an emphasis in Neurology and Child Development. She grew up in Orange County and lives in Dana Point with her son Jason.

Nikki Wood
Preschool Assistant Director
Mrs. Wood is a native of Orange County. She attended UC Santa Barbara, earning a B.A. in Psychology with an emphasis in child development. For ten years, she worked for an executive search firm, placing executive-level sales managers in the technical field. Members of St. Mark Presbyterian Church, Nikki and her husband David have three children, Paige, Caroline and Matthew, who are all alumni of the school. She is also actively involved with Eastbluff Elementary School.


Mrs. Garcia (Micaela) joined our staff in November, 2007 and helped us with the move to our new facility. She is acquiring her Early Childhood Education units at Orange Coast College, and has attended architectural school. She helps with child care on Sundays at the St. Mark Presbyterian church and lives in Fountain Valley with her husband Andy and their two sons Isaiah and Mateo.

Mrs. Despotovic (Stacey) recently joined the St. Mark teaching staff in 2014. She attended Santiago Community College and Irvine Valley College to complete courses in Early Childhood Education. She has been teaching young children for over ten years and has enjoyed getting to know the wonderful staff and families at St. Mark’s so far! She has been happily married for twelve years and is grateful to have two wonderful children, Davin who graduated from St. Mark Community Preschool and an older son named Dominic.

Mrs. States (Terri) joined our St. Mark teaching staff in 2014. She has been working with children for over ten years. She completed her Bachelors degree in Communicative Disorders/Speech Pathology and has earned a California Teaching Credential. She loves spending time with her husband and her three children; two sons and one daughter.

Mrs. Brodowski (Chantel) lives in Huntington Beach and got married in December of 2013. They love spending time with both of their families. She graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a Bachelors degree in Child Development and loves working with children and learning from them.

Mrs. Buffa (Tarra) began her work with young children when she joined our staff in 2004, after working in the restaurant industry. She has an AA degree in Liberal Arts from Santa Ana College, and has continued her education with Early Childhood Education classes at Santiago Canyon College. She lives in Costa Mesa with her husband Nick, Vincent, born in 2009, and Eleanor, born in 2010. Both of her wonderful children graduated from St. Mark Community Preschool.

Mrs. McArthur (Karen) joined St. Mark in 2012, coming to us with eight years of experience as a preschool teacher.  Prior to working at St. Mark, Mrs. McArthur taught at Coastline Community College and Christ Presbyterian Preschool. She earned her Early Childhood Development education units from Santa Ana and Orange Coast Colleges. She was born and raised in Huntington Beach and has two wonderful children, Cameron and Alyssa.

Mrs. Bryant (Toni) was first employed by the preschool from 1981 to 1985 and joined us again in the fall of 2002.  During her absence, she was busy raising her two daughters, Kate and Sarah, who were both St. Mark Community Preschool students.  She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Humanistic Studies from The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and a teaching credential from the University of California, Irvine (UCI).  She enjoys tutoring elementary school children, volunteering, and lives here  in Newport Beach.

Mrs. McCormick (Kim) has been employed by the preschool since 1990, first as a substitute, then as an assistant teacher.  She has worked with all ages and has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Comparative Culture from the University of California, Irvine (UCI). She and her husband, Steve, live in Newport Beach and have two children: Kelsey, a graduate of USC, and Chris, a graduate of UCLA who has a Master’s Degree from Stanford.  Both are former St. Mark Community Preschool students.

Mrs. Varnold (Samantha)  joined our staff in 2013. She has her Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Education and has gained valuable experience from volunteering at schools. She was married in January of 2015. She truly loves working with children and is always excited to welcome them into our preschool.

Mrs. Locken (Brooke) joined St. Mark Community Preschool in 2016. She lives in Huntington Beach with her husband Todd. They were married in May of 2015. She has completed an Associates degree and Preschool Teachers Certificate from Orange Coast College and is currently working on obtaining a Bachelors degree and Teaching Credential in Early Childhood and Special Education. She loves being outdoors, especially at the beach.

Mrs. Rashidi (Shany) lives here in Newport Beach with her husband and their son, Nova. They recently relocated after living in New Orleans where she worked at a prestigious private school for the past six years. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education and is excited to be a part of St. Mark Community Preschool.

Mrs. Cullen (Patti) joined St. Mark Community Preschool as our On-Site Substitute and Resource Coordinator and is excited for her new role as a Lead Teacher. She loves getting to know all of the children and families here at St. Mark.  Mrs. Cullen lives in Laguna Niguel with her husband and they have five wonderful children. She earned her Master’s Degree in Teaching and has also received specialty training in literacy and the writing process. She loves working with children and implementing creative curriculum activities while encouraging them to discover the world around them.

Mrs. Fredenburgh (Amy) joined St. Mark Community Preschool as our On-Site Substitute and Resource Coordinator in 2017. She was born and raised in Orange County. Mrs. Fredenburgh attended Santiago Canyon College and Santa Ana College in early childhood education and is currently enrolled with the University of Phoenix to earn her Bachelors Degree in Human Services with an emphasis in Child and Family Development. She has been a preschool teacher for over thirteen years and loves working with children and their families. She is married to her husband Brian and has three daughters Allison, Emily, and Lola. They love going to amusement parks, exploring Orange and LA County and love playing with their dogs Leo and Hazel.

Miss. Kurisu (Kami) was born and raised in Newport Beach until she attended Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego receiving her Bachelors Degree in Child and Adolescent Development and a minor in Psychology. She has always had a deep love for children and is hoping to pursue a Master’s Degree in education or counseling in the future. Her other passions include dancing, singing/acting, watching children learn, caring for animals, and being with friends and family.