Born and raised in Southern California, Leslie’s gift of childcare emerged at a very young age. “When I look back over my lifetime, from a very young age, I was nurturing and caring for the children around me.” Leslie did not start out as a preschool owner. In fact, she worked in the medical field as a surgical assistant until the age of 35, when she heard a sermon by Bruce Wilkinson that changed the course of her life. The book “The Dream Giver” explains why we have a dream and how God wants us to follow that dream to fulfill His purpose in our lives.
While raising three children, Leslie realized that her passion was to be in childcare. When she realized her true calling, “to change the way we do preschool,” she went to Saddleback College to get her education in Early Childhood Development. In 2003, Leslie was lead to launch a pilot program at Calvary Chapel of the Canyons, where the Orange Tree Teaching system was put together. In 2006, Leslie launched the first Orange Tree Christian Preschool in Lake Forest. In 2011, Orange Tree opened its second location in Newport Beach and is currently extending its third branch in Costa Mesa, slated to open in September 2021.
The Orange Tree Teaching System has changed the way we do preschool. Leslie believes that this system will be implemented in preschools throughout the world and not just at Orange Tree. “It’s the only way to ensure that every single child is confident, capable, equipped, and ready for not just the next level of education, but for life.” Contrary to what most schools advocate for, which is “new and fresh,” Leslie believes in good old-fashioned practice and repetition. She believes that it is crucial to teach kids perseverance and life skills that will equip them to overcome challenges and come out victorious on the other side.
In that way, she combines Classical education and skills training while making it fun for the kids, which helps them develop a love for learning. Leslie credits Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church and esteemed Christian author Bruce Wilkinson as her most significant influence. “The way that Saddleback Church helps its members to grow is the way that everyone should grow.
Leslie credits Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church and esteemed Christian author Bruce Wilkinson as her most significant influence. “The way that Saddleback Church helps its members to grow is the way that everyone should grow.
Over the past 15 years, Orange Tree has shown that it is “fruitful” by teaching children, teaching teachers, and teaching parents. Everyone involved has the opportunity to learn how to live and how to love.
Leslie loves to be outdoors in her free time, whether rollerblading, biking, skiing, or hiking. But most of all, she loves helping people.
“When we change the way we do preschool, we are changing the world."