Solange Silva – Director

Solange Silva – Director

Solange has worked at the Ark since 2007 as the Horses teacher for 8 years. In 2017 she was invited to become The Ark’s new director, as Jan, our founder and former director for 25 years goes into retirement. She has an Associate of Arts degree in Early Childhood Education from Bellevue College. She also has a Law degree and worked in Brazil as a lawyer and property manager.

In her free time she enjoys shopping, cooking Brazilian food, and photography. Solange’s first language is Portuguese, however, she also speaks English and understands Spanish.

Martha Cardenas – Baby Roos

My name is Martha Cardenas, and I am the infant teacher here, at The Ark Early Learning Center, and I have been here since June 2021. I have worked in childcare for almost two years and am currently working towards my certification through Merit/Successful Solutions.

I have two amazing children, ages 12 and 4-years old of age.  Aside from spending time with my family, we enjoy camping and being outdoors.

Mariya Kugler – Ducklings

Mariya Kugler is the Ducklings’ teacher.  She was a Teacher’s Assistant at the Ark from 2015 to 2017 and after that she worked as a substitute teacher.  

She has over 16 years of professional coaching experience in swimming and diving, training both adults and children.  She has a diploma from the University of Physical Culture. Mariya loves the staff and children at The Ark. 

She was born in Baku, Azerbaijan and now she is a citizen of the USA. She is married, has one daughter and three grandchildren.  In her spare time Mariya likes cooking, reading books and swimming.

Goma Dhakal – Bear Cubs

My name is Goma Dhakal and I have been here at The Ark Early Learning Center since March 2021, teaching young children. Prior to that, I have previously worked as a teacher in secondary school for 8 years in Nepal.

I have a bachelor’s degree in early childhood development and a master’s degree in educational planning management. I plan on continuing my path in the preschool field.

I have been happily married for 22 wonderful years and have 2 sons (ages 21 and 16). I enjoy hiking, cooking and gardening, as well exploring the beauty of the nature outdoors.

Nancy Petticord – Monkeys

Nancy Uribe Petticord is the teacher of the Monkey Class. The Monkey Class is the older toddler class with children between the ages of 2 ½ to 3 ½ years of age. Nancy has Child Development Associate (CDA) credentials and has worked as a child care teacher for more than 20 years. She loves teaching young children and most of her experience is with toddlers.

Nancy is married and has 3 daughters and 6 grandchildren. She loves to camp and travel. Her hobbies include cooking, reading, gardening and doing Zumba.

Shilpa Uppara – Lions

Emily Jones – Horses

Emily is the teacher of the Horses’ Class. She has been at the Ark since 2016. She finished a Bachelor of Arts, Digital Technology and Culture degree, in 2009 from WSU and aspires to earn a second bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education. 

Emily has been in Bellevue for five years. She’s deeply enjoying this opportunity to help God’s children learn and grow at The Ark.

Chitra  Nagarajan – Assistant Teacher

My name is Chitra. I’m married and have a lovely family with two children. My son is 10 and daughter 5 years old. I live in Bellevue and moved to the US over 4 years ago. I was a GIS Analyst back in India. 

I have Masters in Science (Spatial Information Technology). I love spending time with my children and enjoy cooking. I also like camping and touring different places in my free time. 

I volunteered at the Ark Early Learning Center for 3 months from March to May 2021.

Neetha Ramamurthy – Assistant Teacher

My name is Neetha and I am an assistant teacher at the Ark Early Learning Center. I started as a substitute teacher in February 2020 and have transitioned to the assistant role from September 2021. 

I moved to the US after marriage and have made the wonderful Pacific Northwest my home from almost a decade. I have two adorable kids that are my stress busters and my stress too (lol). We enjoy hiking, camping and exploring together on road trips.

I have a Bachelors degree in Telecommunication Engineering and have volunteered as a teaching assistant in various non profit organizations in India and the US. I enjoy working with kids and it gives me immense pleasure to learn more and grow with them.

Solange Silva – Director