Meet Our Team

Our Teaching Staff

Ruth Santosham,


Founder, Sprouts Academy,

Sprouts Nature School, Sprouts Intergenerational Learning 
Bachelor of Education / Elementary Education

As the Sprouts Founder, I love to share the roots of the school, which are inspired by my parents, children, and my grandfather, who said, “Seek first to understand and then be understood.”  This idea grew into my building a philosophy towards education that was as unique as every child - a place where individual interests, abilities and learning styles of children are at the forefront of educational programs and teaching intentions. I seek to understand your child.

To make Sprouts the success it is, I believe it is important to surround our students with a dedicated, talented, smart, and diverse team of educators and give them the support and opportunities they need to thrive. From there, we intentionally build a strong and supportive school community. We are a collective group of parents, teachers and extended family who have common goals: to nurture and guide our children and strengthen the community we live in.

I try to ensure I personally take time to experience the students’ joy in play and their moments of discovery. Connection is key. Building friendships, giving a needed hug, taking a quiet moment to talk, listening to questions and ideas with an open mind and being in the presence of our amazing teaching teams, are all part of my fulfilling days at Sprouts. As Sprouts has grown, we have extended the dedication of our community by supporting inspiring organizations like Baby Go Round, Music Heals and Cause We Care.

Now that you have had a peek into who I am, I hope you will take the time to get to know some of our Sprouts educators by reading their fascinating and diverse profiles.

Caroline Derksen,

Sprouts Academy

Director of Operations

ELL Educator Early Childhood Education, Special Needs Education, Infant/Toddler EducationCaroline’s educational experience spans over twenty years. She has worked in daycare, infant care, and preschool programs. She has also worked with a non-profit providing parenting support for at-risk families.

When it comes to Early Childhood Education, Caroline builds on a mix of three key ingredients:

o   Provide a fun, enriching environment to enhance a child’s development;

o   Support our team of educators with the tools they need to carry out their incredible work;

o   Maintain strong relationships with families.  

This is the recipe for Sprouts success.

“ I believe that each child’s individual strengths deserve to be recognized and celebrated, particularly at this point in the child’s development when they are building the foundation for the rest of their educational experiences. It is important that these early years be positive and supportive so the children can thrive in the future.”

Caroline’s favorite time of day at Sprouts is when she is teaching art and reading with the children. She also values the amazing team she works with, and the supportive community of families that call Sprouts home.

Caroline loves to be inspired by: visiting new places and learning about different cultures, reading, painting, cooking, and finding new hiking trails to explore with her dog Chili. 

Fun fact: For the little kids: Caroline is a scuba diver, whose favorite ocean animals are octopi and manta rays. For the big kids, Caroline is a Level 1 Sommelier.

Nimi Braich

ECE, CHRP, GDBA 2024  

Sprouts Academy

Director, Business Development

Nimi had the opportunity to join Sprouts initially as a class parent in 2021. Through her observations and discussions around Sprout’s opportunities, she made the connection with Ruth who saw value in her business acumen and love of life-long learning. Not only does Nimi have a CPHR designation -  which acknowledges her skills and dedication to excellence in Human Resources -  but she is taking on her Graduate Degree in Business Administration, while consulting and enjoying a full-time career with a national corporation.

Based on her extensive experience in business development, human resources management, strategy innovation, and a Green Belt in Six Sigma Certification - which elevates her lean process management philosophy -    she has assisted in a cultural transformation of the school that has helped solidify its success well into the future.

“I love solving problems and look at challenges as opportunities. I am here to support Ruth and the warm and personable Sprouts family on admissions and various aspects of business development. I have also had a hand in upgrading marketing and social media strategies to ensure we have healthy and robust communications and can responsibly grow our school community. I’ve had the opportunity to assist in moving us from a paper-based organization to a more sustainable and technically driven school with formalized Strategic Planning.

Nimi’s obvious love of children and her starter career in Early Childhood Education, clearly grounds her in a student-first philosophy.

FUN FACT: Nimi is most often engrossed in her work, which she also classifies as a primary hobby. When she isn’t solving business problems, improving herself through higher education, or parenting her amazing children, you will find this foodie working out, meeting new people or enjoying our beautiful Pacific Northwest outdoors.

Erin Agerskov


Sprouts Academy

Little Sprouts and Junior Sprouts Programs Educator

Bringing childcare work experiences from Denmark to Vancouver, Erin has been caring, nurturing and teaching Sprouts’ students for nine years.  As an ECE professional, it is important for her to get to know the children deeply in order to expand on their interests and curiosities.

She believes children learn through play and that fun should be a part of everyday. Erin loves to provide opportunities for the students to explore, create and learn in different ways. She nourishes their social and emotional development as well as their physical development, all the while focusing on early literacy and math skills.

Erin touts that, “Sprouts provides so many wonderful opportunities to learn, create and explore … and I love our teaching team.”

In her free time she enjoys being with her husband and two boys - skiing, biking, hiking and enjoying the beautiful outdoors.

Fun fact:  This Danish speaker can still do a cartwheel – at her age!

Lisa James, 


Sprouts Nature School

Program Educator

B.Ed Program, Early Childhood Education, Special Education

Lisa began her educational journey in hometown Halifax, Nova Scotia at Dalhousie University. Years later she moved to Vancouver and broadened her skill set to include ECE and Special Education. A recipient of the Prime Minister of Excellence Award she is an eager participant in educational conferences and workshops - always promoting professional development.

 Her career has run the gamut of ECE, from director positions to a special needs teacher, kindergarten teacher and her current position as a Nature School Program teacher. She takes pride in being a resourceful and professional educator, with a solid commitment to nurturing the social/ emotional development of every child with whom she works. She especially enjoys collaborating with other educators to create inspiring, hands-on curricula that will capture the imaginations of the students at Sprouts. 

 Driven by her passion for teaching, she presents topics with enthusiasm and a joyful love of discovery, which translates to students fostering a sense of curiosity and eagerness to explore. This creates an environment of wonder, laying the foundation for a future love of learning.

 Lisa believes children learn best in a nurturing, child-initiated, play-based environment that fosters self- confidence, trust, creativity, autonomy and acceptance of individual differences. As a teacher she feels it is her job to establish positive personal interactions, nurturing each child's growth, development and educational needs. 

 Variety is Lisa’s spice of school life, with each year bringing a new set of students with varying personalities, experiences and ideas. “Collaborating with fellow passionate and professional educators and creating curricula that lends itself to a classroom of enthusiastic learners is the best feeling ever. Helping children build self-confidence and a love of education is absolutely a major perk of this job. It is a privilege to build relationships with the amazing families that make the Sprouts community feel like the ‘village that raises the child’.”

 Lisa’s happy place has always been outside. In her free time she is hiking, strolling on a beach or exploring a local park...hence her love of the Nature School Program.  She also adores yoga, movies, reading and most importantly spending time with her family and friends. 

 Fun Fact: Lisa lived in Italy for a while and speaks Italian.  She was also a figure skater for 14 years.

Andrea Azevedo, 


Sprouts Academy

Full day Kindergarten Classroom and Nature School Program Educator

Andrea’s journey to Early Chidhood Education began when she created a Health and Fitness program for Sprouts’ students – and what a FIT! She enjoyed the children and community so much that she completed her ECEA and joined the team as a full-time classroom teacher in 2018.
As an ECE professional her priorities are developing a safe and encouraging environment for children and their families. She also builds strong relationships with the whole Sprouts’ community, particularly the teaching team , to help everyone feel successful and supported.

Teach but be teachable is her motto. This thoughtful approach guides her program planning but gives her the freedom to  “switch gears” and adapt each child’s needs and interests. She believes that every day is an opportunity to reflect and discover new ways to learn, teach, support and connect with the children here at Sprouts.

“Unfiltered love, hilarious observations and the humbling honesty of the Sprouts students keeps each class full of surprises. Children have a wonderful capacity to live in the moment and remind us of what a magical place that can be!” says she.

When Andrea isn’t building the creative minds of the Sprouts students, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, eating out, walking her dog, reading, writing, watching movies and going on sunny vacations.

Fun fact: She loves to write in rhymes, turning words into poems and song.

Mariko Hashimoto,


Sprouts Academy

Early Childhood Educator  and Nature School Program EducatorEarly Childhood Education (Japan and Canada)

Mariko began in the Early Childhood Education field in Japan, where she taught for seven years. Following her move to Canada, she has five years of ECE to her credit – three of those years being here with us at Sprouts.

        Her love of learning and teaching is ingrained in creativity, flexibility, patience and great communication skills.

She believes learning outside has a significant impact for children. Especially, hands on experiences with materials from nature.  Mariko allows the children the time to collaborate with their her and each other, which generates organic and exciting opportunities to create and play. What she most loves about teaching is watching children grow and change while she learns something every day.

        Her passion for teaching at Sprouts is rounded out with great teamwork. “Our team supports each other all the time, which makes me feel everyone is a part of the ‘Sprouts’ family.”

When she isn’t in class she is in nature. She and her husband often walk our wonderful parks or fish and camp in the Summer months. In Winter she brings her snowshoes out. Always creating, Mariko loves to handmake jewelry with real flowers and resin.

Fun fact: Her cat Tofino is an exploration buff who goes everywhere with Mariko. From hiking trails to a great camp spot, a tug boat ride or of course a snowshoe trail... keep an eye out for Tofino.


Carmen Manuel, 


Sprouts Academy

Nature School Program Educator

Carmen is a Nature School Teacher on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. She attended UBC for Oceanography and is a certified Life Coach through the Jay Shetty Certification School.

Carmen’s background working with children began as a STEM kid’s camp instructor, leading camps with an ECE/leadership program known as Dolphin Kids. She then signed on as an instructor with Mind Moves Van, where she taught yoga, art, and dance to kids ages 3-12.

To Carmen, presence and genuine connections are extremely important in being an ECE.

“It’s important for me to model the way I want the children to be and that starts with being calm, compassionate, present, and understanding.”

Carmen values being able to teach young minds not to fear emotions but how to navigate them. She teaches self-acceptance, and self-compassion.

Carmen knows that every child is unique. Her perspective is that no behavior is bad or wrong, behaviours are simply a method adopted to meet a particular need. If the behavior is undesirable, focus on the need. Always encourage healthy expression and vocalization of emotions and exploration in areas of interest.

Carmen enjoys being a part of the children's multifaceted development and the process in which children learn

“They’re not just learning when they’re sitting in a circle in the class, they’re also learning when they see you interact with other children or your co-workers, how you handle challenging situations etc.”

Carmen enjoys the childrens’ playful, explorative and energetic spirits.

Carmen highlights her experience at Sprouts as very well supported, resourced, and dynamic. She admires the abundance of resources that help make the lessons interesting. She also notes that the families that are a part of the Sprouts community are also super supportive and generous.

Carmen is very creative and enjoys dancing and performing, creating and mixing music, designing and modelling as well as writing.

Fun Fact: Carmen plays with fire for fun!

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Bailey Sillmans


Sprouts Academy

Nature School Program Educator

Bailey is a passionate teach of Nature School, Time for Two’s, and Roots of Literacy.

Bailey attended Blanche Macdonald Centre after high school and became a freelance makeup artist. After working in the industry for a few years, there was a part of her heart that hadn't been fulfilled yet - and that was working with kids full time. She went on to attend Burnaby Continuing Education to complete the Education Assistant program. 

Her background in working with children started with volunteering as a Girl Guide Leader. Bailey then started in education as a supervision aide, moving up to being an EA and providing support for children with diverse needs. 

At the core of her teaching model, Bailey strives to create a safe environment for her students to explore. She notes that this is the most important facet of her teaching style. . Facilitating opportunities to be creative and collaborative sparks so much joy for her while she is in the classroom.

Bailey's main goal while teaching is that every child that comes into her care, leaves her as a more compassionate, independent, and confident small person, knowing they have so much to offer the world. That they always deserve respect, patience, and a chance.

Bailey loves that being a teacher means she never stops learning, she states that “there are always more things to learn, more thoughtful approaches and strategies to better improve [her] student's experiences”. Forming relationships with these children gives Bailey fulfillment that drives her further along her teacher journey.

Sprouts has a community that Bailey always felt she was missing. To be involved in a learning space that truly has the child's best interest at heart, while building meaningful connections is when she knew she had found the right place. Getting the chance to teach so many different programs allows her to watch over so many different learning voyages. 

When she has free time, Bailey enjoys going to see live music, trying out new restaurants, travelling up to see her family on the Sunshine Coast, and watching sunsets at the beach!

A fun fact about Bailey is that she is very musically inclined, she sings and, plays guitar, ukulele and piano!

Ali Brennan,


Sprouts Academy

Early Childhood Educator (ECE) who plays a vital role at Sprouts. Ali is responsible for the ELL (English Language Learning) program and is also involved in the Nature School program.

Ali's educational journey is diverse, having studied Event Marketing and Canadian Studies before pursuing Langara's Early Childhood Education program.

In terms of professional experience, Ali has a strong background in working with children. This includes running cooking classes tailored to kids and volunteering with the Girl Guides of Canada. These experiences have given her valuable insights into fostering a nurturing and supportive environment for young learners.

Ali's teaching philosophy is deeply rooted in the belief that every child is a capable, strong, and resilient individual. She emphasizes the importance of providing an open and understanding atmosphere where children can explore, make mistakes, and kindle their innate curiosity for learning and personal growth. Ali is passionate about enabling children to discover their unique path and believes in the power of building connections between peers, families, and the community. These connections, she believes, play a pivotal role in helping children develop into their best selves.

One of Ali's most rewarding aspects of being an ECE professional is the opportunity to learn alongside the children. Witnessing those "ah-ha" moments when a skill they've been honing finally clicks into place is a source of immense joy for her.

Ali has a strong affinity for the Sprouts community. She appreciates the warm and welcoming atmosphere created by the staff, families, and children. Additionally, she values the diversity of programs offered at Sprouts, which provides a multifaceted learning experience all under one roof.

Outside of her work at Sprouts, Ali enjoys various activities in her free time. She is a creative soul who loves to paint, craft, and bake. Additionally, she's a fan of baseball and can often be found watching games. Music is another integral part of Ali's life, as she frequently sings to herself.

A fun fact about Ali is that her hair has sported every colour of the rainbow, reflecting her vibrant and dynamic personality.


Caitlin Molina


Sprouts Academy

Dedicated educator at Sprouts, where she teaches in multiple programs, including Little Sprouts, Junior Sprouts, and ELL.

Caitlin graduated from Langara College with a diploma in Early Childhood Education, a field she has always been passionate about.

From a young age, Caitlin had a strong desire to become a teacher. Her journey towards this career path began with volunteering, where she worked closely with young children. She quickly realized that this was the age group she was most enthusiastic about teaching, recognizing the profound impact she could have on their lives. Caitlin firmly believes that early childhood education sets the foundation for a child's holistic development, encompassing social, physical, intellectual, creative, and emotional growth. As an early childhood educator, she places great importance on fostering meaningful connections between children and their world. Caitlin's philosophy revolves around nurturing children as lifelong learners, where each child's well-being is a top priority. Through engagement with peers, materials, and play, children in her classroom develop a strong sense of belonging.

One of Caitlin's favorite aspects of teaching is the opportunity to rediscover the joy of being a child every day. She finds immense happiness in laughing, learning, and playing with all her wonderful sprouts.

Caitlin's journey at Sprouts began with a practicum opportunity, which eventually led to her becoming a valued member of the team. She greatly admires the community values upheld at Sprouts and cherishes the continuous support and care she receives from fellow educators and families. For Caitlin, it's truly a blessing.

Outside of her teaching responsibilities, Caitlin enjoys a variety of activities. She's an avid shopper, an art enthusiast who loves creating, a yoga practitioner for both physical and mental well-being, an avid reader, and a skilled cook. She has a particular fondness for making cheese boards. However, her absolute favorite pastime is spending quality time with her cat, Smokey.

A fun fact about Caitlin is that she possesses the skill of knitting, demonstrating her creative talents beyond the classroom.

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Dena Crompton-Nicholas


Sprouts Academy

Nature School Program Educator

Dena's educational background includes ECE (Early Childhood Education), ITE (Inclusive Teaching Education), ARCT (Diploma from the Royal Conservatory of Music Toronto), and MYC (Music for Young Children Certification).

With over twenty years of experience, Dena is an accomplished piano teacher. She has taught students of all levels, from beginners to advanced pianists, specializing in classical piano. Dena has successfully guided her students through preparations for the Royal Conservatory of Music piano exams and local music festivals. In addition to individual instruction, she has a strong background in teaching group music classes tailored for young children.

As an early childhood educator, Dena places a strong emphasis on creating an inclusive classroom environment that caters to the needs of all students. She is deeply committed to promoting literacy and nurturing a love for music in her students. Equally important to her is ensuring that every child develops healthy social and emotional skills, providing them with a solid foundation for success in school and beyond.

Dena's teaching philosophy revolves around creating an inclusive atmosphere that accommodates diverse learning styles and abilities.

What brings Dena the greatest satisfaction in her role is teaching music to children. She derives immense joy from witnessing their enthusiasm as they sing, dance, explore rhythm, and play musical instruments together. Her ultimate goal is to instill a lifelong love and appreciation for music in each of her students.

Dena feels privileged to work at Sprouts, where she collaborates with educators from various backgrounds. The small classroom sizes at Sprouts allow for personalized, one-on-one support, a feature she greatly values. Dena is impressed by Sprouts' unwavering commitment to delivering quality education and its dedication to each student's success.

In her free time, Dena indulges in her love for music by playing the piano and listening to various musical genres. She also enjoys leisurely walks and cherishes spending quality time with her family and friends.

On a more personal note, Dena shares her life with a rather unique pet, a cat named Lexi. What sets Lexi apart is her dog-like behavior – she's a skilled fetch player and even responds to her name when called.

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