Our Teachers and Director
Each of our teachers brings her own special experiences and interests to the school, along with a passion for working with children. We are fortunate to have a staff that works well individually, as well as collectively, to create the best learning and growing atmosphere for our children. Each staff member is required to have current certification in CPR and First Aid. The Playschool also provides regular staff development opportunities to encourage further growth.
Amy Mitchell (Dewdrops and Ladybugs)
Education and Background: I attended East Carolina University and have a degree in Early Childhood Education. I have worked in a few schools over the years, but also enjoyed being home with my own 3 children for 15 years.
What being a coop means to me: Being in a Co-op means to me that I get to enjoy working very closely with each child and family to help each child grow and develop. I love how much the families here invest their time into their children's education. I enjoy being a partner with them as they navigate their child's first experience with school.
What I enjoy about being a teacher: What I enjoy most about being a teacher is the bond that I build with each individual child and their family through out the school year. It is very gratifying to know that you are another person for whom the child can trust and learn from outside of their own families. I love to watch each child progress through out the year. And I like being a resource for the parents to be able to come to with any concerns or questions.
Favorite books and activities: I have lots of favorite books! I love to read to my class! A couple of them are Cat's Colors by Jane Cabrera and Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes. I also enjoy most of the Eric Carle books, as well.
Amy Hart (Sunbeams)
Education and Background: I have been a preschool teacher for over thirty years, despite the fact that I attended UNC-Chapel Hill as a drama major. I worked in preschools and as a nanny while I was in college and I realized that working with children was the thing that brought me the most joy. I have been a teacher at the Co-op for twenty years.
What being a coop means to me: To me, being a Co-op means that parents get to be involved directly in their child's first school experience, and that children get to see their teachers and their parents working as a team to create a nurturing and creative environment. It really fosters a deep sense of community for the families and the teachers.
What I enjoy about being a teacher: I love building strong and meaningful connections with children and with their parents. I love fostering friendships between young children. One of my deepest wishes for children is that they love coming to school, and that they carry that love forward with them when they move into "big kid" school.
Favorite books and activities: So so many favorite books! But here are a few:
Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown, Waiting by Kevin Henkes, Time for Bed by Mem Fox, and of course Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
I love doing really open ended messy art with kids... just putting out materials and seeing what they create. Some of my favorite moments at our school are collaborating with other teachers and doing school-wide activities like canal building on the playground. One of the things that makes our school so special is that all of the children, from the littlest to the biggest, play together and get to know each other.
Tonya McGuire (Rainbows)
Education and Background: I have attended Alamance Community College and NC State University and have a degree in Early Childhood Education. I have a particular interest in the social-emotional development of young children.
What being a co-op means to me: Being part of a co-op means that parents and teachers are partners in the early growth and development of children. I love the involvement of the families of the co-op and their investment of time in the education of their children. I want to be a source of support for the entire family, not just the children in my class.
What I enjoy most about being a teacher: I most enjoy the relationships built with children and their families. I also love to see the individual growth of each child and those “lightbulb” moments when concepts are learned and abilities emerge.
Favorite Books and Classroom Activities: I love to use Eric Carle and Margaret Wise Brown books in the classroom. The illustrations of Eric Carle books and the rhyme of Margaret Wise Brown books are especially engaging for toddlers. I also love “Pete the Cat”! My favorite classroom activities include story time and dramatic play. I love to help expand the world of a child through books. Through dramatic play, children are learning about themselves and the world by creating their own stories.
Sarah Carrington (Dragonflies)
Education and Background: I have been a preschool teacher since 1992 and have had the privilege of working in some unique and wonderful schools. I have an English qualification in Early Childhood Education which allows me to work with children under the age of 6.
What being a co-op means to me: I have loved working with all the age groups but 3 and 4 year olds are very special to me. It’s so rewarding to encourage independence, confidence, and social skills. As a teacher I like to build community -- to respect and value each individual child.
What I enjoy most about being a teacher: My favorite thing in the classroom has to be children’s art work. I foster open ended art as children explore many materials, encouraging creativity. I also love classroom design- setting-up the environment to best achieve independent success.
Favorite Books: My favorite children’s books are Time to Sleep by Denise Fleming and The Story of Frog Belly Rat Bone by Timothy Basil Ering.
Leo Fitzpatrick (Wildflowers)
Education and Background: I moved to Chapel Hill in 2005, after completing my degree in English and Education in Chicago, and have been in the classroom ever since. My experience is with play-based and Reggio-inspired curriculums, as well as the two years I spent teaching English in Korea. Since I returned from Korea, I’ve been teaching at the co-op and residing in Durham.
What being a co-op means to me: For me the co-op is, first and foremost, the sweetest community! I’ve always believed that children are best supported when parents and teachers work together. The co-op is a place where parents show up and collaborate with each other, and with their child’s teachers, to create a fun, safe, and loving school atmosphere. It’s a testament to the power of collaboration, and to the idea that when we all play our role, however small, the big stuff can be accomplished. How lucky the children are to have such a pure example of what it means to have a strong and healthy sense of self and family, paired with a deep respect for those who we work, play, and share space with.
What I enjoy most about being a teacher: What I enjoy most about being a teacher is the play that comes with the job. I love to laugh with children more than anything! A very close second would be the feeling I get when I help a discouraged or timid child see that their thoughts, feelings, and experiences are valid and that they belong.
Favorite Books and Classroom Activities: Some books that I love are the Journey Trilogy by Aaron Becker, and David Weisner’s books Tuesday and Flotsam! I love open ended art activities, where children choose how they want to use a tool or material. I’m always so impressed by how many different ways children can create with the same few objects. I also love to tell stories, fact or fiction!
Kinsey Wennerstrom (Director)
Kinsey has a Bachelor of Arts degree from University North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has served in numerous management and Board positions in both business and childcare and has also been a teacher at the co-op. She is the mother of 3 children.