Our Directors

We feel honored to be the directors of The Growing Place, on the forefront of unique and innovative child development centers that have served our community for over twenty-seven years!

Each day, we celebrate children’s milestones and the forming of meaningful connections among children, parents and teachers. We delight in the simple and the profound experiences and the relationships that touch us and inevitably leave their mark. We promote imagination and creativity so that when children become adults, they will have a toolkit of strategies for caring, resilience, and innovation that they can use to make a world worth living in. We reflect on the role of our teachers as gentle guides to inquisitive young children and marvel at the trust and bond that emerges when teachers understand how to listen to children.

We commemorate the role our parents play; the participation and commitment to our program that makes the difference. We recognize the thoughtfulness, dedication and intention that goes into what happens at The Growing Place day-after-day, year-after-year; our investment to each family and child, and our future. We understand our responsibility to engage with our community in a meaningful way – to give back, appreciate and understand our impact.

We believe in a place that is rooted in a strong foundation of values that preserves a childhood for children, prepares and supports teachers to be innovative and puts forth exemplary education experiences for our children, and is a space where parents know their child is visible, respected and inspired – this is The Growing Place, and we are committed to the rigorous and intentional exercise that sustains our mission.


Pauline McPeake joined The Growing Place in 2004 and assumed the campus-director role at Marine Park in 2005. Her leadership contributes to the exemplary practices we execute for infants and toddlers. Her understanding of the role the environment plays in an early learning center, coupled with her strength in collaborating with parents led to a a transformation of our courtyard as a place of inspiration and provides opportunities for interactive learning. Pauline assumed the role of Executive Director in 2012. She has earned a BA in Child Development and an M.Ed. from New York University. Pauline serves on the Santa Monica Child Care and Early Education Task Force, is a California Mentor Director, has presented at NAEYC and NAREA conferences, and participates annually in the RIE and Zero to Three national conference, and has also participated in a week-long study tour in Reggio Emilia, Italy. She is committed to raising the visibility of the competences of young children in our community, and has launched a series of TEDx Talks with The Westside Educators Collaborative and is part-time faculty at Santa Monica College in the ECE department.


Anita de la Puente joined The Growing Place in 1996 and assumed the role of Campus Director at the Ocean Park site in 2003.  Anita has her B.A. Degree in Child and Adolescent Development, and her Master’s Degree in Education. She has participated in educator study tours in Chicago, Tucson, and Boulder as well as the schools in Reggio Emilia, Italy, the Opal School in Portland and the schools of Pistoia, Italy. Anita values a collaborative preschool community among parents, teachers and children as a foundation to provide high quality educational experiences where young children develop positive dispositions toward learning for  academic success in life beyond preschool.  Prior to joining TGP, Anita operated a licensed childcare program from her home while raising her children and had also worked in Human Resources.  Anita is a California Mentor Director, a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), The Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI), and the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance  (NAREA).


Kimberlee Turner joined The Growing Place in 2000, when our Marine Park Site was established, as a teacher, team lead and mentor teacher in the toddler and preschool classroom. Kim relished the moments of inquiry and curiosity that came from the rich conversations and learning experiences of the children. Kim seeks opportunities to work with adults in our community, both within and outside of TGP, sharing the history of TGP Marine Park and bridging these experiences to the present and future of our program. In 2012, she assumed the role as Marine Park Campus Director. In this role, Kim continues to build upon these relationships as she participates in and supports our GP Friends Parent Association committees, Santa Monica Child Care and Early Education Task Force, California ECE Mentor Program, and as a parent in the SMMUSD.  Kim has her BA is Early Childhood Education Administration and is a member of professional organizations such as NAEYC, NAREA, and RIE. She participates annually in the Zero to Three Conferences, has traveled twice to Reggio Emilia, Italy to participate in the week-long study tour and has attended numerous conferences and workshops across the US.