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Meet The Teachers

owers rita and mari

Mrs. Rita Samora

Co-Director / Owner
Phone: 719.549.2407

About me: I have been in the Early childhood field for over 37 years, held different positions from teacher’s aide, and up to the center director, and now a business owner!  I love being in the classroom!  I have been at the CSU Pueblo Center since it opened over 30 years ago! 

My Education: I went to Pueblo County High School, (forever a County Hornet).  I graduated from Pueblo Community College with an Associates in Early Childhood Education, held my CDA (Child Development Associate) for over 20 years, and many other training certificates related to ECE. Also, I belong to several associations dealing with early childhood education.

 My Family: They are the richest treasure I have on this earth!  I Have been married to my husband Leonard for 39 years.  I come from a family of 4 sisters and one brother, most of whom are in the education field. My mother Josephine was and is my biggest educator of faith, life and unconditional love…

Fun Fact:

  • I love cocker spaniel dogs! I have a new baby her name is “Ruby Red” AKC Black Cocker Spaniel!
  • Collect Nomes
  • Being outside, planting flowers
  • Playing with water and dirt
Favorite Quote: “Don’t Quit’ “Failure is success turned inside out.

Mrs. Maricela "Mari" Palma

Co-Director / Owner
Phone: 719.549.2407

I have been married for 17 years to my husband Mike. We have three daughters; Daijah, Thalicia, and Angel. I have a grandson named XJ. I have one dog; his name is Oreo. We have two box turtles; the girl is named Squirt and the boy is named Crush.

Fun Fact: I love to watch the Denver Nuggets, Denver Broncos, Colorado Rockies, and the Colorado Avalanche; I try to go to a live game at least once a year.

Favorite Quote: Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen. ~ Winston Churchill~


Mrs. Danette

Assistant Toddler Teacher
Phone: 719.549.2407

About me: I enjoy comic movies, Superman is my favorite superhero. I like to pass the time with a crochet hook and the Offices series. I love to watch sports. If there is a game on, I’m watching it!

My Education: I attended CSU Fort Collins with a FACS major, but left to move back home. After having my children, I really found my love in ECE. I spent the last year with another center with two-year-olds.

My Family: I have been married to my high school sweetheart for over 10 years. We have three boys and two dogs, named Storm and Gambit.

Fun Fact: I love music trivia and Pop culture trivia. I love collecting owls. I also collect vintage vinyl.

Favorite Quote: “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” ~John Lennon~

melissa gomez

Melissa Gonzales

Lunch / Nap Aid Toddlers
Phone: 719.549.2407

My Education: High School Diploma

My Family: I have 2 kids. My son is 7 and my daughter is 13.

Fun Fact: I worked at the center about 6 years ago and now I am back and could not be happier.

Favorite Quote: Life is not measured by the Breaths you take, but by the Moments that take your Breath away.


Esperanza Zavala-Salazar

Pre K-1 Teacher
Phone: 719.549.2407

About me: I love working with children. I Love the moment when that little light bulb goes on in their head when they accomplish something. I love spending time with my family and going with my husband to Mexico and visit family there.

My Education: AAS Early Childhood. I have almost 20 years teaching young children

My Family: I been married to my loving husband, Jose for 30 years, we have three amazing children Brittany & Maria (daughters), Jose Jr. (son).  Also have three amazing grandchildren,  Zayliana,  Zaniyah &Emmett

Fun Fact: Love reading to grandbabies, and I ride motorcycles.

Favorite Quote: “If you can’t fix it, don’t stress”


Shanelle DeHerrea

Assistant Pre K-1 Teacher
Phone: 719.549.2407

About me: I am a very outgoing person with a kind heart! Always willing to help others. I have always had the passion to work with children, since I’ve had my own. I love music, so you may see me sing and dance.

My Education: I graduated with a GED but that didn’t stop me from continuing my education. I plan to pursue my career further in Early Childhood Education and hope to become a personal therapist.

My Family: My family is everything to me; they are my motivation to get up every day.

 Fun Fact: I am very artistic, I can draw and paint if I put my mind to it.

 Favorite Quote: A negative mind, will not give you a Positive life!


Darcy Vaclav

Pre K-2 Teacher
Phone: 719.549.2407

About me: Hi, I am Miss Darcy. I am 28 years old and I been teaching for a little over 10 years. I have been here at the center for 8 of those 10 years. Teaching has always been my passion. Getting to watch the children grow and develop is the best part of it all and I love AMAZING Kids! Every minute I get to spend with these kids. 

My Education: I have ECE 101, 102, 111, and 108.

My Family: I have a HUGE Family! I have two brothers both who are younger than me. My best friend is the sister I have never had! I have 2 nephews and a niece and lots of cousins.

Fun Fact: I am a huge Disney, Marvel,& Star Wars fan.

Favorite Quote: “Let your Faith be bigger than your FEAR! Be the positive change you wish to see in the rest of the world. 


Carol Zupancic

Pre K-2 Assistant Teacher
Phone: 719.549.2407

About me: Jim and I Love spending time together and with our kids.  I love kids and I’m so excited to be back working with kids after a very long time.  We love spending time with our dogs they make me smile every day. Love spending the holidays with my family.

My Education: AA Degree in Early Childhood Education from CSU Pueblo

My Family: I have two sisters; they both live in Pueblo. I’m married; my husband is Jim Macaluso. I have a daughter Gia who lives in Missouri, she works at the university. She graduated with her master's degree this year 2020.  I have 2 stepsons; Jeff lives here and Toni is married and I have 4 grandkids from Tony.

Fun Fact: I Love CRAFTS, making things and sharing them with my friends and family.  I love dogs, they are my babies!

Favorite Quote: “Be The Change You want to see in the World”


Tiffany Salazar

Toddler Teacher
Phone: 719.549.2407

About me: I love being surrounded by kids; playing, laughing, and getting dirty. Arts & Crafts are mu favorite activities. I also love to collect children’s books! I have books that are 21 years old.

My Education: I started my education journey in 2019 at OJC, then went to Pueblo Community College for my ECE certification. Currently, enrolled at UCCS for my Bachelor's degree in Inclusive ECE.

My Family: I have 4 children: Aaron, Edward Jr., Angelina, and Amadeo. I am married to my husband named Edward.

Fun Fact: I never liked traveling until I married my husband and became a military wife. I now enjoy traveling and visiting new places.

Favorite Quote: “You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.”

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ECEMS Childcare


2200 Bonforte Blvd.
Pueblo, CO 81001
Office: 719.549.2407

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