Carol Tatsumi, Director
Carol Tatsumi, M.A., obtained her B.F.A. from California State University at Long Beach in 1988 with a focus in Psychology, her certificate in Art Therapy from Loyola Marymount College, and an M.A. in Human Development with a focus on bi-cultural issues from Pacific Oaks College.
Carol and her family joined MBNS in 1994, when her daughter Kate enrolled in the Middle Group. Carol has served on the Board of Directors (Billing, President) helping to bring MBNS to a financially sound footing through fundraising while on the board, formed a Yard Committee to implement a re-design of all play-yards, initiated the continuing use of non-toxic cleaners and the ongoing recycling program, and headed up the lead abatement and re-construction of areas of the campus before joining the staff in 1997.
In 2006 Carol became a California Early Childhood Mentor, mentoring students from El Camino Community College and Santa Monica College and is a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
Carol became director at MBNS in 2010 and looks forward to many years continuing to grow as she works with young children and their families. She continues to enjoy nature, bicycling, camping, and enhancing her interest in human development by attending conferences and workshops through the United States and supporting families at MBNS.
“What I love so much about MBNS stems from what it has meant for our family: there continues to be plenty of room for children of mixed ages to grow together, the kind of dramatic play and reading that our daughter Kate loved when we joined, and as a new mother it was important to see extended nursing and attachment parenting embraced. Our family met many homeschoolers through MBNS, which inspired us to homeschool Kate as she created her own path to learning. I am also inspired by the creative, energetic, dedicated, and loving environment of our parents that I watched when I first entered this lovely place with my own three year old, and it is echoed in each new family we welcome to MBNS as they join our community, just starting on their own journey. I knew then, as I know now, it is a wonderful place for our family.”
Laura Dotson, Psych Advisor
Laura Dotson M.A., LMFT is both the mother and grandmother of MBNS alums. Laura has over 40 years of varied experience working with children and their families. Laura was a long-time staff member at Playmountain Place and for many years has been the psychological consultant at Manhattan Beach Nursery School. Laura continues to present parenting workshops for a number of schools and conferences, and she maintains a private practice as a Marriage and Family Therapist in the South Bay.
Bio coming soon.
I started at Manhattan Beach Nursery School almost thirty years ago when I was just two years old. I still have memories of being a child at MBNS, little snippets of what I did there–sliding down the slide and landing on my bum, my teacher’s long skirt swishing as she walked past me, sitting inside the giant tire in the front yard making-up a story about a frog or a butterfly to tell my teacher so she could write it down.
After I graduated, I remained connected to the MBNS community through my mom (after my younger brother graduated, she became a teacher) and through the friends I made there. In 2007, I joined the staff as a support person for one of the children. After that, I taught the Oldest Group for two years. I became Director Support on Fridays in 2016.
I don’t know how to articulate what Nursery School means to me. To be part of a loving community that has held me throughout my life is all I know and yet I know it is a rare experience. To be able to work at a place that allows me to be a mom and at the same time be a teacher–without needing to put on hold my role as one in order to fulfill my duties as another–is unheard of. Most of all, to see my children in this community, to see them loved and respected by all these families, to see them being supported the way I have been…there are no words.
I feel such a loving and deep connection to Manhattan Beach Nursery School. I attended as a child and remember spending hours and hours creating art, reading with my mom, riding bikes, playing with my friends, and mixing materials in the back yard till I was covered in a fine layer of different powders.” MBNS was a place where my plans could unfold organically without direction or being rushed, and I love to watch that continue today. I’ve worked with children all my life; I love hanging out with them and the pure joy they express while playing is magical.
Although I graduated from MBNS in 1997, my mom returned to the community to begin teaching; in 2010, she became the current director. Since I was homeschooled, I had the freedom to go to school with her and help set up the classroom and play around with the kids. I started teaching at MBNS in 2014 while simultaneously taking classes at Santa Monica College; in 2016, I took a brief sabbatical to get my BFA at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.
I returned to the community in 2017 I now teach the oldest group and it’s the most fulfilling experience of my life. I love bringing my art background to helping creating curriculum for the children.
MBNS is a little slice of heaven, and I believe that the model we use at MBNS of child-led play and open-ended art is truly amazing to watch and vital to learning. I feel so lucky to be part of this community.
Bio coming soon.