Our Staff

About The Owner

Mrs. Renee

Hello! My name is Renee Doonan. I was born and raised just South of Kansas City in Drexel, Missouri and attended Southwest Missouri State University, where I earned my degree in Early Childhood Development. I went on to teach 8 years of Kindergarten in Lake Ozark, Missouri, before moving with my family to Alaska. In Alaska, I feel I found my true passion and calling when I started my own Preschool, Room to Bloom. I found that I truly enjoyed using my previous Kindergarten experience to develop curriculum that best prepared 1-5 year olds for Kindergarten. I love working with young children and their families to help them enjoy their school experiences.

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Marylee Beagin


I’m Marylee Beagin, I am the Director at The Growing Place Preschool. I have been in the childcare field since January of 2008. I started my adventure in early childhood development while living in Puyallup, Washington. Since then I have taught preschool aged children in Kaiserslautern, Germany, El Paso, Texas and Gilbert, Arizona. My family settled down in Mesa after my husband was medically retired from the Army in 2013. I have been married over 12 years and have 2 wonderful children of my own, as well as 2 American Bulldogs. My family and I enjoy spending time in the pool, hiking, walking the dogs, playing games and socializing with our friends. In my down time I like to bake and decorate cakes, spend time helping at Barn Yard Equine, and watch the Arizona Cardinals. Children have a way of wiggling into your heart and making the darker days seem brighter than you could imagine. They are our future and need loving and caring people to help mold them into the amazing adults they will become. I want to leave this world in capable hands, which is why I do what I do.

Patti Forristall

Preschool Teacher

Hello I am Patti Forristall, the part-day preschool teacher. I am originally from Massachusetts. I started teaching preschool in 1987 at The Children’s Garden in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. My husband Rick joined the U.S. Air Force in 1981, which allowed me the opportunity to teach in several different places across the United States including Montana, Colorado, Massachusetts, Alabama and Arizona. We have two adult daughters and four grand children. When I am not teaching I love to read, spend time with my grandchildren, be outdoor and walking on the beach.
I enjoy teaching young children. For me, each day is full of wonder and learning. I am passionate about what I do and find great joy in watching my students blossom into life long learners and have positive self-esteem.

Etienne Salgado

Preschool Teacher

My name is Etienne Salgado. I am originally from Morelos, Mexico, but I’ve lived in Arizona for 26 years now. I’ve been a teacher for almost 6 years and enjoy every moment of it. I started my career in Scottsdale, relocated to Mesa and moved again to Gilbert. I’ve love working with children of all ages but especially 3-5 year olds. The children brighten up my day and make me laugh. I enjoy all the silly things they say. As for my personal life I enjoy the simple things like music, movies, hiking, and traveling when I can. I have been very grateful to share a vegan lifestyle with my other half. We are very supportive of each other and love our dog Lucy.

Venus A. Rafada

Toddler Program Teacher

Hello, I'm Venus A. Rafada. I am one of the toddler teachers. I was born and raised in the Philippines. My husband Bernie and I migrated to the United States in 2013. We have been married for over 36 years. We have 7 adult children as well as 12 amazing grandchildren. We currently have the privilege of living with our daughter and her family in Gilbert. Before coming to the U.S. I was a public school teacher in the Philippines for 7 years. I taught 1st graders as well as 4th graders. I have been teaching 1 & 2 year olds for the past 3.5 years now and they never cease to amaze me. I love this job and I love all the children I have the honor of teaching. When I am not at work I enjoy spending time with my family, relaxing with a good movie and shopping when I can.

Stephanie Storm

Toddler Program Teacher

Hello, my name is Stephanie Storm. I'm from Chandler, and have lived in AZ my whole life. I have 2 sweet girls, ages 8 and 3, and a husband whom I cherish with all of my heart. I have been teaching for 4 years and have worked here at the Growing Place Preschool for almost 2 years now. Children are my passion, and I absolutely love being a part of their lives. I enjoy having the opportunity to be a positive influence on their educational and social growth. I love watching them learn and grow and knowing I'm a part of that gives me such happiness.
Aside from teaching children, my other hobbies include spending time with my own family, and being outdoors as much as I can- going to the park, riding bikes, hiking, camping etc. I also love to draw, (mostly human portraits).