Brandice has been a Yikes Tikes! co-op member since 2014 and was recently elected to be the Fremont Co-op’s Parent Representative. Parent Reps are charged with managing the co-op activities at their site, including new member on-boarding, running monthly parent meetings, communicating site concerns to the Board, and managing co-op committee members.
Brandice grew up in Fremont and Pleasanton and went to Ohlone College in Fremont and CSU East Bay in Hayward. She received her BA in Liberal Studies, and worked in Marketing for a software company after graduation. Later, Brandice decided she wanted to travel and do something more meaningful for work. She resigned, traveled, and won a scholarship for a Postgraduate degree in Environmental Education at the University of Sydney, Australia, where she graduated in 2007.
After graduating, Brandice worked in New Zealand as a Corporate Sustainability Coordinator. She loved her work, but she missed her family back in California, so she moved home. Back in Fremont, she was hired by The Men’s Wearhouse to work at their executive headquarters, where she met former Yikes Tikes! teacher, Hager Sulaiman. Hager suggested to Brandice that she try to get her daughter, Sydney, into Yikes Tikes!.
Brandice recently got her real estate license and now helps people find a place to call home. She also works part-time at her parents’ company, Decorative Plumbing Distributors, who were generous sponsors of Fremont’s recent Bowl-a-thon.
Q. What made your family want to join Yikes Tikes!?
A. Hager, a former Yikes Tikes teacher, suggested that we join Yikes Tikes, while I was looking for work and studying for the real estate license exam. I wanted to keep my daughter in a preschool environment, but as a single parent in the midst of a career change, I could not afford the tuition fees of most preschools. The parent co-op was a perfect fit for us. I had the flexibility to work in the classroom and on the days I wasn’t in the classroom, I could study for the exam. My daughter warmed up to Teacher Maria immediately and took a strong liking to her classmates too.
Q. Why did you want to be Parent Rep?
A. After getting my real estate license, I wanted to have more time that I could devote to building my business, while still playing an active part in my daughter’s school. The children, parents, and staff at Yikes Tikes had become like family to us and I didn’t want to take Sydney out of the program. Taking on the role of Parent Representative has allowed me to work during the mornings and fulfill most of my Co-op commitments after my daughter goes to bed in the evening.
Q. How does your professional experience in Sustainability and Environmental Education relate to early education?
A. I think the way we interact with and appreciate our environment is shaped by our experiences with it in childhood. I love the way Teacher Maria will call all of the children over to watch snails in a flower bed or a lady bug on a railing. She shows the children how to interact with things in their environment without hurting them and gives them the space to explore whatever interests them.
Q. Can you tell us more about how you combine your experience in Sustainability, Marketing and Sales, and Real Estate outside of your work with Yikes Tikes!?
A. A lot of sustainability projects have more to do with making things more efficient than solar panels and composting. By listening to all of our stakeholders (parents, students, and staff), I hope that my organizational skills and process improvement background can help keep the Yikes Tikes program a rich and rewarding experience for all of us.