Dr. Dustine Rey is the Executive Director of The Gratitude Garden Preschool and TESLA Country Day. Both schools are committed to nurturing curiosity and creativity through balancing innovative STEM curricula, artistic expression, entrepreneurship, leadership, and emotional well-being.

Dr. Rey holds a Doctorate of Education in Educational Psychology from the University of Southern California where she completed a higher education teaching fellowship in the Rossier School of Education. She earned her Master of Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in marriage and family therapy from Pepperdine University, a Bachelors of Science in Clinical Psychology from San Jose State University, a California Teaching Credential, and a California Child Development Program Director Permit. Dr. Rey presents at various conferences and workshops on the topics of emotional well-being, human development, and educational leadership. Currently, Dr. Rey is an adjunct professor in the Graduate School of Education and Psychology at Pepperdine University .

“I feel blessed each day to be a mother and an educator. I am grateful to be part of a community that helps me to grow and that through my work I can help others to grow and thrive. My family, health, animals, and nature continue to inspire me and for that support, I am always in awe.” ~Dr. Rey

Mr. Kuzcynski was drawn to education upon graduating from the University of Washington and began practicing and teaching engineering design and analysis principles at the General Motors Advanced Engineering Center in Michigan. His STEM experience broadened as a Registered Patent Attorney at Rader, Fishman & Grauer PLLC before the United States Patent and Trademark Office where he prepared and prosecuted U.S. and PCT patent applications in various technical arts. He holds a Bachelors of Science Degree in Engineering, a Masters Degree in Business Administration (MBA), and a Juris Doctorate (JD).

He brings his scientific, financial, legal, and business background to strengthen and broaden the STEM educational offerings of the school.

“My vision is to create a thriving educational experience by providing a safe and purposeful home away from home for children and their parents.” ~Mr. Kuzcynski
Mrs. Tammy Huebner has been an early childhood program director for fifteen years. She has enjoyed close to twenty years of administration and teaching  at Saddleback Valley Christian School, where her three children attended school as well. After the schools closure, she joined our team as the school director.
 
Mrs. Huebner fell in love with The Gratitude Garden, the staff, its beautiful campus, and its philosophy on early childhood education. She brings her love for children, her experience, and creativity to our school each day. 

“I am grateful for my family and the opportunity to work with children each day. They both bring so much joy into my life” ~ Mrs. Huebner

Mrs. Sarah Curtiss was a Gratitude Garden parent since the school opened. She received her Bachelors Degree from Ohio University in Early Childhood Education and her Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Cincinnati.

Sarah moved to New York City after college where she was a transitional kindergarten teacher and private tutor. After two years at the school, Sarah was promoted to the position of Education Director. In this role, she supported the school by working directly with the teachers to provide curriculum refinement utilizing her knowledge of the most developmentally appropriate and current teaching practices in early childhood education.

Sarah and her husband moved to Orange County in 2013 and they started their family on the “best” coast. As a mother, Sarah strives to create meaningful and impactful experiences for her children. She believes the greatest teacher is the one who allows the individual child the ability to direct their own learning by actively supporting their curiosity while they are “messily” experimenting and discovering all about the world around them.

“I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to fall in love with this school community as a parent of a preschool student. I always felt that the Gratitude Garden was an extension of my family as I entrusted them with every fiber of my being to care for, love, and teach my child. I feel very blessed to continue growing with this school as a part of this beautiful staff family.” ~ Mrs. Curtiss

Miss. Kayla Pennington is a dynamic educator with vast experience. She has been working with children for nine years, specifically with infants, toddlers, Pre-K, and school age. Through her experience she has discovered her love and passion for working in Early Childhood Education. She earned her bachelor’s degree in liberal studies from Cal State San Bernardino. Upon graduation she joined The Peace Corps and was sent to Albania, where she taught English as a second language. She was evacuated from Albania due to COVID and has happily restarted her life here in Orange County. Miss. Pennington stepped up to leadership roles such as starting clubs for her students and training teachers here at The Gratitude Garden.
She is currently our kindergarten teacher and the team lead at the school.

“I am grateful for my students they are what makes my heart happy” ~ Ms. Pennington