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Our Teachers

Our teachers are the heart of Cottage and the base of our success. Passion, inspiration, empathy, creativity, understanding and generosity of time & spirit define these wonderful teachers.




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Jocelyn Robertson brings a meaningful and multi-layered perspective to Cottage, drawing on her educational background, experience in the classroom and years of participation in the Cottage community as a parent.  She attended Cottage as a child, returned as a parent with her son and daughter, and worked as a substitute teacher in both the small yard and big yard before joining the Cottage teaching team. Her journey at Cottage continues as the director as she shares the Cottage way with the next generation of families. She has a Bachelor's degree in Gender Studies and Studio Art from Occidental College and a Master's degree in Human Development from Pacific Oaks College. Jocelyn understands, believes, and implements the Cottage philosophy in a natural, intrinsic way.

Jocelyn has a particular interest in parent education and has founded a blog addressing topics of parenting and learning with thoughtful and eloquent posts. She has been an advocate of the belief that that the Cottage community extends far outside the classroom.  

Jocelyn is equally at home ankle-deep in a puddle of mud while wearing a cape with the children, leading parent education discussions and reaching out to support struggling parents. She is warm and engaging with an innate ability to connect with children. She has a clear and exciting vision for Cottage and we look forward to working together with her leadership.

Jocelyn is a major contributor to our blog - Cottage Parenting:

Read Ms Robertson's Statement of Educational Philosophy



Oak & Rainforest TEACHER

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Jason Ballard was introduced to Cottage as a parent in 2012 when his daughter attended. Cottage was a perfect fit for his family's parenting beliefs. From that time he has worked with and been mentored by teachers at Cottage to fully understand "the Cottage way."

Jason worked as a substitute teacher in both the small yard and big yard since 2015 before joining the Cottage teaching staff in 2017. Jason is a great believer in the philosophy that a child learns best through play.  He creates a fun and creative environment for his students to explore and learn through interaction with their peers and environment.  

Endlessly inventive, he creates new and exciting opportunities in the yard and blends new and the familiar to create different settings for engagement. A pile of donated cardboard boxes may lead to a construction site with hammers and pegs, then become a city of tunnels, followed by a boat and then a house to be enthusiastically painted by the children. 

When he is not working in the class, Jason works as a professional photographer.



Rainforest & Olive TEACHER


Michelle Barrera discovered Cottage while looking for a Pasadena area program that honors and values play as the important work of childhood and the role of the family as the child’s first teacher. She is thrilled to be part of the Cottage community where staff, children and families greet each day together with wonder. Michelle has a Master’s degree in Education from UCLA and began her education career as an English teacher before becoming a literacy and technology coach serving schools throughout Los Angeles and focusing on emergent writing. Passionate about empowering children through language and literacy, Michelle loves wordplay. Magical mysterious melodious Michelle plays in ways through days with Jay that say, hey what may. She also has her M.F.A. in Writing from CalArts.

Having taught ages 4 to 80 in a career that spans more than twenty years, she is excited to focus her energies on our youngest learners and their families. Always learning and growing, Michelle most recently completed coursework for a California child development permit focusing on 0 to 3 at Pasadena City College where she taught in the Child Development Center in the Infant and Toddler rooms. She has completed an Early Childhood Exceptional Populations Certificate program with LAUP as well while observing and engaging children 3 to 5.

She believes early childhood education is the most important work there is and is honored to join in this endeavor with the Cottage community. She is a parent and feels gratitude daily to witness the miracle.

Michelle is a contributor to our blog - Cottage Parenting




Olive & Rainforest TEACHER

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Yahaira Bautista is currently studying for a Bachelor's degree in Child Development at California State University Los Angeles.  Prior to her time at Cottage, she worked with children as a mentor for an after school program, providing supervision during sports and knowledge during homework hours.

Yahaira is passionate about children. She has a particular skill in creating a safe and welcoming environment for hesitant children to begin exploring and is often the first person sought out by the children as they transition to the school day. Warm, patient and perceptive, she is quick to identify children needing extra support and encouragement and devotes herself to helping them negotiate new challenges.



Teacher Erin

Mulberry & Oak TEACHER


Born and raised in Tennessee, Erin has lived in Los Angeles for 11 years. Erin has been teaching for over 15 years and has a BA from Pacific Oaks College in Human Development with a specialization in Early Childhood Development. Erin has worked with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers from all different types of multi-cultural backgrounds. She is experienced in Montessori, RIE and has a background in Reggio Emilia and creating anti-bias curriculum. Erin has recently started her own in-home daycare and her style is based on emergent curriculum, play-based and child-led learning. She values the individuality, self-determination, and natural curiosity of all children.


Mulberry & Oak TEACHER


Teacher Mary first joined the Cottage community in the summer of 2012 when her daughter attended camp in the small yard. Mary and her husband chose Cottage because of its social-emotional curriculum and its opportunities for parent participation.

“Our years at Cottage have given us much more than a quality early-childhood education for our kids and quality parent education for ourselves.” says Teacher Mary. “Cottage has given us a supportive community and an extended family that we are so grateful to share our lives with.” 

In addition to her job as a Cottage teacher and parent, over the years Mary has been an events pod member, a board member, and a room rep. Wearing all of these hats has helped her deeply understand and appreciate the co-op model.

Mary’s career in education began in 2003 as a public high school instructor. She earned her MA in Education while teaching at Crenshaw High School in South Los Angeles. In 2011, she began working in adult education as a CAPPA Certified Childbirth Educator, preparing expectant parents through her BirthWell Class.

When she isn’t busy thinking of new and creative ways to learn with Cottage kids, you might see Teacher Mary running around Pasadena as she trains for her next marathon.