Founder and Director
Rebecca Walsh founded Early Childhood Matters after becoming a parent for the first time in 2009 and realizing firsthand how wonderful-and how humbling-the work of parenting actually was. With over eighteen years’ experience in early childhood education, a Bachelor’s degree in Child Development (2002) and a Master’s of Arts degree in Religion and Psychology (2006). Rebecca loves to share with parents any wisdom and experience she has gained from working as a director, lead teacher, supervisor, parent educator, and teacher mentor in the field of Early Child Development. She also loves to share with parents how to have compassion on themselves during the less-than-graceful parenting moments. She is humbled and inspired to accompany parents on this equally rewarding and challenging journey of parenting.
In 2002, Rebecca co-founded an English as a Second Language preschool in the Czech Republic (Sunny Canadian), developing curriculum, parent-teacher handbooks, and establishing policies and procedures. After returning to the United States, she redesigned the MAS program (Mentoring for Academic Success), a Berkeley-based tutoring program for at-risk youth, and inaugurated monthly parent meetings on a range of topics. After completing her master’s degree, Rebecca took a job as a director of a Head Start preschool in a homeless shelter in San Mateo, and then as a lead teacher, supervisor and art studio teacher at Pacific Primary School, a preschool located in San Francisco. Since founding Early Childhood Matters in 2010, Rebecca has traveled around the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond (from New Orleans, LA to Melbourne, Australia) working with parents and teachers of young children to help them better understand and support them on their journey to nourish the minds and spirits of tomorrow’s world.
Rebecca has three young children who challenge her, humble her, and every day deepen her understanding of children and the importance of the parent-child relationship.
Play-and-Learn Explorers Facilitator
Evelyn Nichols has been passionate about improving children’s educational and life outcomes for over 15 years. In her formal studies getting a Bachelor’s degree in Communication (2007) and a Masters of Education degree (2008), Evelyn focused on the power of language and project-based, relationship-based pedagogy to transform student outcomes and mindsets. Evelyn loves to share with parents and fellow childcare providers wisdom and experiences she has gained from working as a director, teacher, mentor, parent educator, and college counselor.
Evelyn has two young children who challenge her to be present and see the world with new eyes. She is humbled by the relentless work of parenting, and inspired by the courage and intention families she works with as they dare to parent differently then they were raised! She is in awe of the transformative power of parenting and teaching through connection.
Evelyn spent her early years teaching in elementary schools in San Diego county, and later was Director of Halstrom Academy, an alternative education school specializing in personalize, one-on-one education with a focus on hands-on learning, flexible scheduling, and real world project-based internships.
After moving to San Francisco and becoming a parent in 2013, Evelyn founded Mighty Bambinis preschool and childcare in her family’s home. Mighty Bambinis brought together Evelyn’s strengths creating a inspiring playscapes, devising intentional “curriculum,” mentoring teachers and families, and entrepreneurial spirit. Mighty Bambinis, a Reggio and RIE-inspired program, is one of San Francisco’s top 20 preschools and an observation site for RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers) students.
Evelyn is a steadfast life-long learner who never stops taking courses (including every course offered by Early Childhood Matters) to dig deeper, grow, and hone her understanding and practices as a teacher and parent.
When she is not teaching, you can find her out at the beach or on a hike with her family, decluttering Konmari-style, woodworking and doing yoga.
Instructor, Play-and-Learn Facilitator
Karin Appleton has been working with children and families in a variety of settings for over 20 years. With an Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education (1998), a Bachelor’s degree in Child and Adolescent Development (2003), and a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology (2006) Karin has supported families and held leadership positions in early childhood classrooms, the California public school system, and non-profit mental health organizations.
Karin has enjoyed working with children since she was a child herself. Aside from babysitting at an early age, she began her career in early childhood education at the age of 17 co-conducting toddler playgroups. With a desire to parallel her college studies, she set out to gain hands-on experience with each stage of child development. She methodically spent 5 years teaching preschool, 5 years working at an aftercare program with school-age children, and 5 years working as a health educator and mental health counselor with teens. After gaining experience and a good understanding of each age group, Karin’s work came full circle. Appreciating that the formative years of early childhood lay the foundation for optimal human development, she decided to return to early childhood education. She took a position as a lead toddler teacher and parent educator at Crescent Park, a high quality Reggio Emilia based child development center in Palo Alto, California.
After becoming a parent herself, Karin decided to focus solely on parent education. Utilizing all her years of experience and academic studies, she created curriculum and began teaching early parenting classes at Kaiser Permanente in Redwood City, California before joining the team at Early Childhood Matters. Karin has a passion for guiding, supporting, and empowering parents so they can do the same for their children. When not teaching, you can find her enjoying local music, art, and nature excursions with her family.
Director of Marketing and Customer Relations
Kellam Eanes has worked in children's media for over thirteen years. She holds degrees in Journalism and Mass Communication and Communications Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Project Management Certification from UC Berkeley. She became passionate about Early Childhood Matters after taking multiple classes and benefiting immensely from working with Rebecca in San Francisco. She is an active volunteer at an experiential learning/adventure school and is constantly on the path of learning all she can about early childhood education, play-based learning, and immersive nature play. She is the mother to an active seven year old, Atticus, and new baby Esme, and lives the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
Instructor, Private Consultations
Judith Young has over 30 years of experience of working in public education. Her education includes a Bachelor's degree in Music Education; a Master's degree in Early Childhood Education; a Master's degree in Social Work and a Master's degree in Educational Administration. Judith has spent years supporting families and is passionate about guiding parents and children to have close and connected relationships.
The theme of her MSW thesis was developing a Pre-K through 8th grade curriculum for educating teachers and students how to prevent emotional, physical and sexual abuse. The work of her thesis was used by a Task Force for Child Protection in four upstate New York Public School Districts as a guide for Personal Safety Lessons required by the New York State Educational Department.
While working as a Pre-K social worker, Judith became aware of the importance of early childhood education and intervention for all families. She went out into the community making home visits with parents of all cultures and backgrounds, speaking at churches and service organizations about the need for more Pre- K classes and Head Start programs.
Earning the respect of her community and school district, Judith became the director of Early Childhood in Newburgh, NY and then an assistant principal and principal. Being an administrator for over 15 years gave many opportunities to use and improve her skills with positive and effective discipline.
In 2009, Judith retired from her career on the East Coast and moved to San Francisco to join her son and family. Starting in 2011, she worked as a Classroom Management Coach for the SFUSD. Her task was mentoring new teachers in the art of classroom control. While on this assignment, she also developed tools and curriculum to enhance classroom teachers' and administrators' skills with positive and effective discipline.
Even with all this education and rich working experience, Judith still feels her children and grandchildren have taught her the most valuable lessons. "Just because you want to encourage and raise children with healthy bodies, minds and spirit, doesn't mean the skills come naturally. We, as parents and grandparents need to be open for learning and sharing our experience, strength and hope."