Maribel Rodriguez Infant Teacher and Team Leader
Maribel Rodriguez has cared for several complete sibling groups while working at The Village ELC. It was very 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 and care in the infant classroom for more than a decade. The parent “word-of-mouth network” has been a reliable reference of quality in the greater Brandon community for the Village ELC’s infant classroom, and Maribel leads the team. 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 has 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.
Maria Pineda Infant Teacher
Maria Pineda has worked exclusively full time in the infant classroom since February 2011. She loves working with the babies and has experience she brought with her from her native Columbia. Ms. Maria has completed the required Hillsborough County Childcare classes, and she remains current with continuing education classes, including First Aid and CPR. She has begun work on a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential. Like her co-teachers, Ms. Maribel and Ms. Damaris, Ms. Maria can often be heard singing and reading to the children in Spanish, or “signing” Baby Signs to enhance their communication!
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 always taught full time in the Toddler class, as this is her preferred age group. She has earned her Child Development Associate (CDA) and is certified in CPR and First Aid. Damaris is always looks for opportunities to increase her knowledge in early childhood education and child development, so she completes many continuing education courses and 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.
Pauline Barry Toddler Teacher and Team Leader
Pauline Barry is originally from Waterford, Ireland where she studied Early Childhood Education at the London Montessori Center. She holds degrees in Nursery Nursing and early Montessori teaching. In 1993, Mrs. Barry came to the U.S. as a nanny in Key West, Florida. She then began working in the infant room in a Key West child care center. In 2001, she moved to the Tampa area, where she worked at the JCC (Jewish Community Center) preschool for 10 years before joining The Village teaching team in April 2011. Ms. Pauline has worked with infants to pre-kindergarteners and was the Assistant Director at JCC Brandon for 5 years of her 10 year term. Ms. Pauline is married to Bill, and they have two beautiful daughters, Sean and Abby. When she is not working with children, Mrs. Barry enjoys spending time with her family, reading, running, and cooking.
Kayla Omeregie Toddler Teacher
Joanne Rowlands Toddler Teacher
Erica Nigro Twos Teacher and Team Leader
Miranda Pages Twos Teacher
Renee Grisham Preschool Teacher and Team Leader
Mrs. Renee Grisham joined Village Family in 2013, and has worked with children for more than 20 years. Mrs. Grisham has earned an AAS in Childcare and Guidance and a BS in Business Management. In Illinois, Mrs. Grisham taught in the Head Start program. Mrs. Grisham has been married for 12 years and has two children, Keeton and Allison. When she is not in the classroom, Mrs. Grisham enjoys cooking and learning more about Early Childhood Education.
Erika Garcia Preschool Teacher
Erika Garcia has been a part of the Village team for 6 years. 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. She loves working and teaching young children. She loves to see them mature in all areas of their life, but especially educationally.
Jahneen Henry Preschool Teacher
Stephanie Hayes Preschool Teacher
Mrs. Stephanie moved to Brandon Florida in August 2011. She is originally from Georgia. She started working at the Village in January of 2012. She previously taught at a church preschool for 7 years, before moving to Brandon. She holds her A.A. degree in Early Childhood Education. She has been married to her husband for 15 years. She has 3 children ages 5, 12, and 13. She loves Disney World and the rays! She loves to read, shop and spend time with her family.
Karla Chaviano Young Threes Teacher and Team Leader
Originally from New York, Karla Chaviano moved to Brandon in 2001. Now a Young Threes Teacher, Mrs. Chaviano has also taught in the Infant, One, Two Year-Old, and Preschool classrooms. She has 20 years of teaching experience. She holds an AA in early childhood education. She is married and has 3 sons.
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 – 4AB Classroom
Bailey Kessler Pre-Kindergarten/VPK Teacher – 4CD Classroom
Ms. Bailey Kessler joined to the Village teaching team in 2012 and currently teaches Pre-Kindergarten/VPK. Ms. Kessler is passionate about helping The Village teaching team implement Reggio Emilia concepts in their classrooms and throughout the school. (The Reggio Emilia philosophy upholds the child as a competent and capable learner and encourages children to explore the world around them according to their interests and areas of curiosity.) Ms. Kessler loves helping children make friends and form meaningful relationships with one another. She loves to encourage her students to be creative, to be kind to each other, and to be good problem solvers. She holds a dual bachelors degree in Early Childhood and Childhood Education from the State University of New York at Geneseo. Ms. Kessler plans to earn a masters degree in Education in the future. When she’s not in the classroom, she enjoys the going to the beach, reading, and practicing yoga.
Lori Craddock Pre-Kindergarten/VPK Teacher – 4CD Classroom
Teresa Harwood Pre-Kindergarten/VPK Teache-4EF Classroom
Teresa Harwood is completing her first year of teaching VPK at The Village ELC. She taught VPK the previous year and two years of preschool 3’s prior to that. She enjoys her profession of teaching and nurturing children. Her goal is to help them develop and grow to their best abilities so as to have a great foundation for academic success throughout their development. Mrs. Harwood has lived in the Valrico area for 25 years, has been married for 24 years, and is the mother or 4 children ages 12, 10, 7, and 2. 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 PreK/VPK Teacher Assistant-4G Classroom
Currently, Ms. Raquel Garcia is a teacher in the top rated VPK program. She states she loves working with her “GREAT TEAM” of teachers since she began at The Village ELC in June 2011 upon moving 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!
Ty Bowser Adventure Club Coach
Cody Powell Adventure Club Coach
Tristan Mershon Adventure Club Coach
Vivian Sierrra-DiBrigard Adventure Club Coach
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.
Kaitlyn Bruno Teacher Assistant
Born in Vermont, Kaitlyn Bruno has lived in Brandon since she was 14 years old. She is a music and theater student at Howard W. Blake High School of the Arts, and her long-term plans include seeking a doctorate in Pediatrics from USF. She enjoys working with special-needs children. Kaitlyn enjoys traveling, and she plays the violin & guitar.
LeighAnn Jordan Teacher Assistant
Darinka Savena 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.
Lauren Rosa Substitute Teacher Assistant
Ms. Lauren moved to Florida from New York when she was 12 years old, so she considers herself a “semi-native.” Currently, she is completing the pre-requisite nursing courses at Hillsborough Community College and will be applying to both the HCC and University of South Florida in fall 2012. Her interest in nursing and helping others began when she was a child and that perpetuated her involvement with young children. Since her early teen years, “Ms. Lauren” has volunteered as a babysitter, a Sunday School nursery worker, and a Youth Leader for her church. She has worked in other childcare centers and in the public school setting as an academic tutor. Besides her college courses, Ms. Lauren has completed the mandatory training by the county and is first aide/CPR trained. Lauren loves working in the Toddler class and enjoys watching them transition from “baby” to “child” in the year they spend in her class. Her long term goal is to work as a nurse in a missionary setting.
Iesha Martinez Substitute Teacher Assistant
Marianty Muniz Atelierista (Art Teacher)
Mrs. Marianty Muniz leads the “Atelier” art program for students of all age groups at The Village. Mrs. Muniz is passionate about helping her students express themselves creatively. She cultivates a learning environment where her young artists learn problem solving, teamwork, and respect for each other as they create unique and original works of art. Mrs. Muniz is the designer of The Village Piazza, an interactive child-focused learning area that also houses the Atelier. She has earned a CDA credential and has been teaching for more than five years. In 2000, she was awarded Teacher of the Year. She is married and has one son, Costa. Mrs. Muniz loves reading books, participating in outdoor activities, creating artwork, and cooking.
Lisa Stephens Nutrition Specialist
Lisa Stephens has over 20 years experience working with children and began her employment at The Village ELC (formerly Tutor Time of Brandon) in 2000. At The Village, she has held the positions of Toddler and Two Year Old Teacher, VPK/PreK Teacher, and Assistant Director. She currently serves as The Village ELC Nutrition Specialist. She holds an Associate of Science in early childhood development and has taken courses in food Safety and nutrition through the University of South Florida and the Hillsborough County Health Department. She has been married to her best friend since 1979 and has one daughter and a grandson, Colten.
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 de-brand from the franchise. The Village Early Learning Center was conceived as the “new” school for the community, and the Millers and their team are working 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.