Meet The Staff

Maribel Rodriguez

Maribel Rodriguez Infant Teacher and Team Leader

Maribel Rodriguez has cared for several complete sibling groups while working at The Village ELC. It is common for her to care for the oldest sibling and then the next baby, and maybe even a third a few years later! Her reputation and consistency has insured continuous quality care in the infant classroom for more than a decade. With her guidance, the classroom has passed two NAEYC accreditation inspections, one APPLE/FACCM accreditation inspection, and nine annual “School of Excellence” inspections completed by Tutor Time Corporation from 2001-2010. Most recently, she guided the classroom through the inspection for Quality Counts for Kids and earned top-level scores in the teacher-child interaction category. In the classroom, Ms. Maribel can be seen using “baby sign” language to communicate with her babies, and she is often heard speaking or singing to them in Spanish. In her spare time, Ms. Maribel enjoys spending time with her two adult children, her husband Edwin, and traveling to her native Puerto Rico to visit relatives. Ms. Maribel has completed infant CPR and First Aid, and is current with all continuing education. She is currently working on earning a national Child Development Associate (CDA) credential.
Damaris Romero

Damaris Romero Infant Teacher

Damaris Romero is originally from Honduras. Damaris moved to Brandon from New York in 2000. She has been working with children of all ages for more than thirteen years, and joined the Village family in January of 2005. She has earned a Child Development Associate (CDA) and is certified in CPR and First Aid. Damaris always looks for opportunities to increase her knowledge in early childhood education and child development, so she completes many continuing education courses. She plans to begin her A.S. in Early Childhood Education soon. Ms. Damaris cherishes her ability to work full time with children during the week at her job, and continues this “blessing” by working with children through her church too.

Joanne Rowlands Twos Teacher

Originally from Liverpool, England, Joanne Rowlands has lived in the U.S. for 15 years. Having earned various business qualifications, she sought a career change after arriving in Florida. Her love of children and interest in child development led her to choose a career in early childhood education. Ms. Joanne is currently working toward an associate of arts in early childhood education.  She is the mother of two children, ages 15 and 13.

Erica Nigro Twos Teacher and Team Leader

Erica Nigro grew up in Naples, Italy, where she lived until she was twenty. Having wanted to become a teacher for as long as she could remember, Mrs. Erica started her career as a nanny and later worked in a child care center with infants, toddlers, and threes. As Mrs. Erica gained experience with different age groups, her passion for early childhood education increased, and she decided to return to school. Mrs. Erica now holds a National CDA. In 2010, Mrs. Erica moved to Florida and continued working as an educator. She attended Ashford University where she took several classes toward a major in Social Science. After taking a break from school when her daughter was born, Mrs. Erica continues to work toward completion of a bachelor of arts in social science.

Miranda Pages Twos Teacher

(More information coming soon!)

Lynn Kapp Preschool Teacher

A native of Connecticut, Lynn Kapp relocated to Florida to be near her friends and to enjoy the beautiful Florida weather. Ms. Lynn holds an associate degree in early childhood education and has completed many continuing education courses. She has worked in the education field for more than 15 years, teaching twos, threes, and fours. Ms. Lynn also taught gymnastics for 19 yrs with children 6 months through 2nd grade. Ms. Lynn has always loved working with children, and she says she chose to work at The Village because of the professional environment and great staff. Ms. Lynn is the mother of two wonderful young adults.

Ms.Erika G

Erika Garcia Pre-Kindergarten/VPK Teacher 4CD Classroom

Erika Garcia has been a part of the Village team since 2008. Originally from Guatemala, she was raised in Fort Lauderdale, where she lived for about 19 years before relocating to Riverview, Florida in 2007. She has an Early Childhood Professional Certificate and has been working with infants through 5 years old for over 9 years. She taught in the Pre-Kindergarten classroom for three years and has also taught the Young Threes. Ms. Garcia is certified in First Aid and CPR. Currently, she is completing the prerequisites for the nursing program at Hillsborough Community College, after which she plans to apply for a bachelor program at USF.
Naomi Centeno Young Threes Teacher

Jo-Ann Navarro Pre-Kindergarten/VPK Teacher-4EF Classroom and Team Leader/Curriculum Coordinator

Mrs. Jo-Ann Navarro is the most senior PreK/VPK teacher at The Village ELC. She joined The Village teaching team in August 2001 and now serves as team leader, supervising seven Pre-Kindergarten/VPK teachers. Mrs. Navarro and her team have consistently achieved the highest VPK scores in the greater Brandon area. She has earned CDA and FCCPC credentials and is currently working on earning an AA in early childhood education. Mrs. Navarro’s additional duties at The Village include providing curriculum support and guidance to all teachers. One aspect of teaching that fulfills Mrs. Navarro is helping her students learn appropriate social and behavioral skills that will help them be successful in kindergarten. When she is not at school, Mrs. Navarro enjoys family time with husband and two children, Joanelle and Jayme.

Debbie Garrigues Pre-Kindergarten/VPK Teacher – 4AB Classroom

Debbie Garrigues joined The Village teaching team in 2006 as a substitute teacher and currently serves as a Pre-Kindergarten/VPK teacher. Mrs. Garrigues was instrumental in the design of the Outdoor Classroom and has overseen the upkeep and preservation of this unique educational resource. Mrs. Garrigues has sought additional certifications and qualifications that have made her a very valuable member of the Village Team, including food handling and driving the school bus. Mrs. Garrigues has an AA and a CDA. In her spare time, she enjoys outdoor activities with her husband, Rob, and daughters, Emily and Samantha. She stays very busy volunteering with the Girl Scouts and supporting her daughters in their sports and academic pursuits.

Taylor Santillo Pre-Kindergarten/VPK Teacher – 4G and 4H Classrooms

Teresa Harwood Pre-Kindergarten/VPK Teacher-4EF Classroom

Teresa Harwood is an experienced teacher and has taught in the VPK and Preschool classrooms. She enjoys nurturing children and takes seriously her goals to help her students grow and develop to their best abilities. Ms. Harwood has lived in the Valrico area for 25 years and is the mother or 4 children ages. Her hobbies include photography and being a dance and soccer mom!

Maria E Romero Pre-Kindergarten Teacher-4G Classroom

Mrs. Maria Romero joined The Village family as a teacher and team leader in the Two Year-Old classroom in 2010. After serving as a Pre-Kindergarten Assistant Teacher at The Village, Mrs. Romero is currently a Pre-Kindergarten/VPK Teacher. She has worked with children for more than 10 years, ranging from elementary to high school. Mrs. Romero and her husband, Roberto, have three children: Danny, Sarah, and Alex. In her spare time she loves to draw, decorate, read, and write. Her favorite quote is by Benjamin Franklin: ” Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn”. Mrs. Romero holds a CDA and is currently working on an AS in early childhood education.

Raquel Garcia Adventure Club Coach (Red Team – 3rd, 4th and 5th Grade)

Ms. Raquel Garcia joined The Village ELC team in June 2011 when she moved to Florida. Ms. Raquel believes her passion is educating children who are two years away from kindergarten (she calls them her “Munchkins!”), and has more than 15 years experience doing so. Her work history includes 5 years as a Preschool Teacher and Preschool Coordinator at The Goddard School in Connecticut.Educationally, Ms. Raquel is one semester shy of her Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education. Her plans include completing her degree this year and beginning additional enrichment training provided by The Village ELC, Positive Behavioral Support classes offered by USF, and NAEYC recommended courses addressing developmentally appropriate practices in early childhood education. She is current on her continuing education as required by the state of Florida, and infant/child first aide and CPR.In her “off time,” Ms. Raquel enjoys relaxing and playing with her two daughters and husband Jamie. When she returns to visit her home state of Vermont, she loves to snow ski!

Vanessa Brown Adventure Club Coach (Blue Team – 1st and 2nd Grade)

(More Information Coming Soon!)

LeighAnn Jordan  Adventure Club Coach (Blue Team – 1st and 2nd Grade)

(More Information Coming Soon!)

Vivian Sierrra-DiBrigard Adventure Club Coach (Yellow Team – Kindergarten)

 (More Information Coming Soon!)

Perla Morales Teacher Assistant

Ms. Perla was born in the Dominican Republic and moved to Brandon in August 2011. She is married to Jovanny. They share a love of riding motorcycles, traveling around Florida, going to the beach, and classic cars.

Image Coming Soon

Caitlyn Brooks Aide

(More Information Coming Soon!)

Darinka Saveva Substitute Teacher Assistant

Ms. Darinka has been a part of The Village family since 2011. Originally from Bulgaria, Ms. Darinka began in the two year old classroom, where she taught for 2 years. She has completed the Department of Children and Families initial training and is certified in CPR. She has been married to her husband, Stoyne, for 23 years. In her spare time she enjoys practicing gymnastics and going to the circus with her husband and daughter, Alex. She is a National Dance School graduate and is certified as a dance teacher.

Tami Howell Coordinator of Community Life

Tami Howell has been a member of The Village Family since February 2014. As Coordinator of Community Life, she facilitates communication, coordinates events, assists with administrative duties, and acts as liaison between The Village ELC, The Village Family Foundation, and the local community. Mrs. Howell maintains the website and social media accounts, designs and produces publicity and advertising, and documents Village life in photographs. She also edits the weekly newsletter and produces the yearbook. She holds a bachelor of science in marketing and is certified in CPR and first aid. She is a former Army Reservist, the wife of a retired Army officer, and the mother of two boys.

Magda Garcia Assistant Director

Magda Garcia has been employed at The Village ELC since September 2005, and has been working in early childhood education since 1999. Mrs. Garcia began her career as an office manager in a Christian preschool where she was later promoted to Director. She has held various positions at The Village, including Lead Teacher, Substitute Teacher, and VPK teacher. Originally from Guatemala, Mrs. Garcia moved to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida when she was 11 years old. She has been married to her husband, Esteban, since 1994 and has four beautiful children: Monica, Miguel, Junior, and Stephanie. Along with her husband, Mrs. Garcia has also worked with youth from middle school through college in career placement. Magda earned a Child Development Associate (CDA) and Director credentials from Nova University of Fort Lauderdale, and she maintains CPR Certification and First Aid Certification.

Joe and Susan Miller Owners

Joe and Susan Miller, Riverview residents, opened Tutor Time Learning Center of Brandon on October 2, 2000 after a long search for a business that would be meaningful and fulfilling to them as individuals. After a successful ten-year run as a Tutor Time, on December 1, 2010, they decided to separate from the franchise. The Village Early Learning Center was conceived as the “new” school for the community, and the Millers and their team continue in their effort to establish a school community where children thrive in all areas of their development and families support their children, the school, and each other in a nurturing atmosphere of respect and positive regard.

Joe earned a Bachelor of Physical Science from San Francisco State University in 1982, and after working in the field of meteorology for a few years, returned to SF State for a high school teaching certificate in science. He taught in the classroom for more than 12 years and then expanded into research opportunities in education. Susan completed a Bachelor of Psychology from the University of Florida in 1981 and a Master of Science in counseling and human development in 1983 from Troy State University. She worked with disabled veterans as a licensed mental health counselor and case manager for the Veterans Administration, and then expanded into developing outpatient brain injury rehabilitation programs and other physical rehabilitation programs for clinics in the greater Tampa Bay area.

Joe and Susan are passionate about exceptional customer service, high quality care and education, and developing meaningful, productive relationships with the students, parents, and staff. Through independent study and continuing education, they have been inspired by the Reggio-Emilia approach to early childhood education, and have moved forward with the physical environment changes and staff training. They feel honored and humbled that so many parents and caregivers continue to choose them to care for their precious children. Accordingly, they believe in the African Proverb, “It takes a Village to raise a child” and want to partner with you to do so.