Our Leaders




Yuli Mihara

Yuli Mihara received her B.A. in Child Development and M.A in Child Development from California State University, Los Angeles. She has been directing and mentoring teachers, as well as teaching young children between the ages 2 to 5 for 11 plus years. Her professional interests focus on social, emotional and cognitive development, and she published a study called, “Pre-Service Teachers’ Self Reported DAP Beliefs in Relations to The Quality of their Early Childhood Classroom Practices” with CSULA. In addition, she was invited to speak at CSULA University’s symposium about her study and was selected to present her research at the Society for Research in Child Development in Seattle, Washington. 

Yuli is excited to be the Director of The Village Children’s Center. She believes that building a strong foundation in the first five years of a child’s life is crucial. At The Village Children’s Center her goals are to provide a safe, nurturing and engaging environment where children can explore and play. Additionally her hope is to build strong connections between home, school and church to help ease children’s transition into the next level of their academic success.  


Weekly Chapel Coordinator

Dena Babb

Dena Babb has served as Director of Children's & Family ministries at Riviera UMC since January 2012. In her previous life (before kids!), she worked in the nonprofit sector for a variety of organizations with a focus on volunteer program management. Dena is passionate about creating ministry and fellowship opportunities to meet the needs and interests of the ever changing congregation and community. VBS week is her favorite week of the year, but exhausts her so much that a week of vacation "off the grid" always comes next! In addition to her work at RUMC, Dena is also a blogger sharing her family's journey through life with the added obstacles of childhood mental illness and autism spectrum disorder.  In her spare time, she is an active volunteer in her children's schools, lover of music that has a good story to tell, avid reader and fan of binge watching great television. Her absolute favorite thing to do is enjoy a gorgeous view or a little bit of adventure with family.

Dena will be facilitating weekly chapel meetings for The Village Children's Center.

Lizeth Soria.png


Lizeth Soria

Lizeth Soria is currently enrolled in El Camino College to obtain her A.A. in Child Development with a minor in American Sign Language. She has experience working with children from ages 2-5 years and it’s in her nature to teach love and compassion to children through fun, engaging activities. She believes it is crucial to teach children in the first 5 years and she focuses on the total growth of the developing child, touching young minds and hearts as well as nurturing social and emotional needs in addition to academic development. 

Lizeth also has been an active alumni and mentor for the Women’s Leadership Project for seven years, a program made for young women to continue their education after high school with the help of mentors and counselors. She is an active member at her own church and teaches children religious education during Saturday services.  

During her free time Lizeth enjoys spending time with her family, especially her young nephews who are nothing but joy in her eyes. She loves arts and crafts, and believes that everyday should be an adventure filled with happiness, wonder, and joy. She cannot wait to start her new journey with The Village Children's Center.



Sylvia Dobbins

Sylvia Dobbins is so pleased to be a part of our beautiful school and to be working alongside Mrs. Liz in the 3 and 4-year-old Big Hearts classroom. 

She received her AA in Child Development at Los Angeles Harbor College and has been working with children from ages 18 months through 5 years old for over 20 years. In her past experience, Ms. Sylvia taught at Peninsula Heritage School for 16 years and worked at Pediatric Therapy Network with children with disabilities for 7 years. 

During her free time she loves to spend time with her beautiful family, especially her children, her son who is 16 years old and her daughter who is 12 years old. She also loves to work out and travel whenever she has the chance to do so.



Elizabeth Morrell

Elizabeth Morrell is always looking for opportunities to grow in the Early Childhood Education field. She is passionate in working with young children and loves coming to work. Her goals are to find new ideas to enhance children learned by planning fun and engaging lesson plans that will enrich children’s learning and creativity.

She particularly enjoys bringing humor into the classroom to create a light, fun, warm atmosphere. She believes laughter and humor are important when working with young children.  An environment filled with laughter strengthens the relationships of teachers with children and of children with each other.

When she is not teaching, she enjoys cooking, gardening, traveling, podcasts, and more importantly, spending time with loved ones.  She is excited to be a part of our wonderful community and looks forwards to meeting you all and to partnering with you to make this a fun, learning experience for you and your child.   



Veronica Barclay

Veronica Barclay received her B.A. in Child and Adolescent Development with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education from California State University, Fullerton. She has worked with children ages 2-12 for 5+ years and enjoys finding new ways to foster development through play and exploration. After living and working in Fullerton for the past two years, she is excited to be back in Torrance at a center that allows her to meet and serve families in her community.

 In her free time, Veronica enjoys spending time with her family and hiking along the coast of Palos Verdes. Veronica is also an alumni of Delta Zeta Sorority and often volunteers to help her sisters raise money for their national philanthropy, the Starkey Hearing Foundation.


Teacher (floater)

Juliana Martinez

Juliana Martinez is very excited to be a part of this wonderful children's center. She received her AA Degree in Child Development from El Camino College and has over 15 years of experience working with preschoolers, ages 2 to 5. She loves being a teacher! She feels that being a part of a child's life is a privilege but it also comes with the responsibility of helping every child to be the best they can be as well as to help them discover the gifts and talents God gave them. Every child is unique in his/her own way. 

On her spare time she likes to read, watch movies and spend time with her brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, and parents. She comes from a BIG FAMILY!!


Alyssa-Music Teacher (Flute Specialty)

Alyssa began studying music at a very young age and discovered a passion for flute, voice, and piano. She is excited by all the positive impacts music can have on a child’s development, and hopes to help grow your children’s confidence and cultivate their talents. She aims to instill her same passion for music into children by creating a fun, inspiring, and positive environment. She has recently graduated with a BA in Music from Azusa Pacific University,and is also available to teach private flute lessons for beginner to intermediate levels.  



Chris Colwell

Chris Colwell is one of the owners and head instuctor of Ancient Ways Karate. He received his black belt in 2015 in Carlsbad, CA and has a passion for teaching students of all ages. Before moving to Redondo Beach he was the director of “Kinderate” a program that uses karate to improve focus, respect, discipline and confidence. Kinderate was taught at 7 elementary schools and had a positive impact on over 2,000 students. He believes the martials arts can equip children with the life skills to take on all of life’s challenges.


Teacher (substitute)

Ally Grossman


Our Teachers Understand

Attending preschool is only half the picture. Here at The Village Children’s Center, our staff strives to create daily curriculums that not only nurture, but challenge and exercise our young students’ developing minds. Adhering to the principles of the NAEYC, our goal is to provide our students with valuable resources and positive experiences that will lay the foundation for their continued growth and development.

Our Mission

The Village Children's Center provides an enriching, supportive, and professional children’s center for preschoolers, ages 2 to 5.  We are a developmental preschool where children learn through play and experience the love taught by Christ. Children will learn compassion for one another, as well as for the world around them. Through personal, local, and global projects our mission is to help parents raise children who use empathy and compassion towards all. 

Serving Our Community for Over 40 Years

Riviera United Methodist Church has been committed to supporting families as they grow for 43 years. Founded in 1974, Riviera United Methodist Preschool (R.U.M.P.) was a developmental preschool for 3 to 5 year-olds where children learned through play alongside their parents in a parent participation preschool model. As society and our economy has increased the need for dual-earner households, Riviera United Methodist Preschool is changing with the times. We are proud to begin a new chapter for our preschool by creating The Village Children's Center which provides more flexible hours to support our surrounding community.

The Village Children's Center remains committed to providing a play-based developmentally appropriate curriculum. Children’s positive sense of self is nurtured through a supportive and challenging environment. Our children are exposed to a wide variety of activities and experiences to foster social, cognitive, and physical skills:

  • Open-ended and focused arts and crafts
  • Building with a variety of materials
  • Self-regulation exercises including yoga and prayer
  • Independent and guided pretend play 
  • Problem solving in play and social interactions
  • Number concepts incorporated in daily routine 
  • Language development through exposure to abundant conversation and interactive story times (including A.S.L. exposure)
  • Pre-reading activities with a focus on nursery rhymes and letter play
  • Health and fitness provided through snack and intentional movement
  • Social play with peers throughout the day, observed and guided by teachers
  • Extended learning projects when curiosity needs further support
  • Personal, Local, and Global service opportunities
  • Character development through weekly chapel times

It takes a village to raise a child, and we honor that notion through creating a parenting partnership with our families. We encourage community through parent education opportunities, family connection events, and the open exchange of ideas with the director and teachers. 


Opportunities to Lead with Us

Email us at TheVillage@rivieraumc.com for employment opportunities.