Leelanau Children's Center staff is comprised of an Executive Director, a Business Manager, a Communications Manager, Program Directors for both Leland and Northport, full-time teachers and support staff, an on-call substitute teacher at each site, home visitors, and a cook at each site.
All the teaching/home visiting staff are expected to obtain, at a minimum, CDAs by the end of their second year of LCC employment. Home visiting staff become Parents As Teachers certified by the end of their first year of LCC employment, and Infant Mental Health endorsed as soon as their experience allows. Program Directors are expected to hold or be working toward an MA in early childhood education, or a relevant field, as well as become Infant Mental Health endorsed.
LCC Northport • Toddler Teacher
Early Childhood Experience & LCC Roles: I started at LCC in 2003 working in the young 5's summer program - playing with kids in the summer sun and at the beach. The following year I worked as a one-on-one aide and then moved to a teaching role. I am now a teacher in the toddler Chickadee classroom and have loved the variety.
Credentials: Bachelors in Spanish and Language Studies. Minor in Biology. I have my CDA in early childhood education and plan on getting my Masters in Early Childhood Education.
What brings you to this work? I love that every day is new and interesting. The variety of exploring the outdoors with children and being hands-on in nature thrills me!
About me: I grew up being called "Annie-Bananie" and am a kid at heart. I love to play, laugh and explore new places in our community and the outside world around us.
Favorite quote about children: “Show me a day when the world wasn't new.”
LCC Leland • Parenting Communities Home Visitor
Early Childhood Experience & LCC Roles: I began working for LCC & Parenting Communities in 2008 as a Home Visitor.
What brings you to this work? I love working with families and their children. I enjoy helping people who are not able to speak for themselves or communicate their message due to a language barrier. LCC makes me and the Hispanic families feel welcome and that is what draws me to the Center.
About me: I am married to husband Jair, we have three sons, Samuel, Diego, and David.
Favorite quote about children: “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” -- Dr. Seuss
LCC Executive Director
Early Childhood Experience & LCC Roles: I began my career as an Elementary School Librarian, and then Director of Library Services at Maumee Valley Country Day School in Toledo Ohio from 1974-1982. I then moved into the Development office as Alumni Director from 1982-1984 and was Director of Development from 1984-1999. After 25 years working at my alma mater, I left the School to become a consultant and for the next 14 years worked for a consulting firm out of Atlanta, GA. We worked just with elementary and secondary schools, across the US and around the world, in the area of fundraising, and strategic planning. I began my role as Executive Director for LCC in June 2013.
Credentials: BA from Bowling Green State University in Elementary Education; Master of Library Science from Bowling Green State University.
What brings you to this work? I have vacationed in the County for years, as both my grandparents, and then parents were residents in Leland. My husband and I relocated to Cedar a few years ago. Being a new grandmother, I find focus on child development and family support is both professionally and personally compelling.
Favorite quote about children: “You cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.” -- Franklin D. Roosevelt
LCC Leland • Toddler Teacher
Early Childhood Experience & LCC Roles: I have worked at the Leelanau Children's Center since the Fall of 2009. I started out as support staff for the toddler room and an on-call sub. I have been one of the co-teachers in the toddler room since 2011.
Credentials: I have a CDA and am continuing education in Early Childhood Development.
What brings you to this work? As a stay-at-home mother of a very busy infant I found myself on the steps of LCC seeking other families. I quickly fell in love with LCC, its mission and philosophy and early childhood education. I am passionate about working with kids and their families.
About me: I grew up on a small cattle ranch in Montana and ended up in the Upper Peninsula where I met my husband, Mike at LSSU. We relocated to Leelanau County and have since had two boys, Weston and Cooper. We spend much of our time outdoors enjoying the area.
Favorite quote about children: “Play is to a child what work is to an adult." -- unknown
LCC Northport • Toddler Teacher
Early Childhood Experience & LCC Roles: I have experience in early childhood education since 2004 and have worked at LCC Northport as a toddler teacher since 2007.
Credentials: Associates degree in Administration in Mexico. Working towards an Associates in Early Childhood Education and CDA.
What brings you to this work? Love for kids, the wonderful surroundings that Northport offers and the great community.
About me: I am married to a wonderful man and have two beautiful girls, Brenda and Daniella, and two great dogs; Chocolate and Rusty.
Favorite quote about children: “fenermenergener” – The transportation of the Cat in the Hat as described by a toddler (also known as a Thingamajigger)
LCC Northport • Parenting Communities
Early Childhood Experience & LCC Roles: I have volunteered with kids since 2002 and have been an LCC teacher since 2010 in both toddler and preschool classrooms. I supported LCC as administrative assistant and IT person during the 2011/2012 school year.
Credentials: Bachelors in Anthropology. Working towards Bachelors in Human Development
What brings you to this work? I have always loved working with children, from teaching, to coaching to just playing. While I always imagined I would work with children I never thought it would be toddlers. I was incredibly luck to have the support and belief of Jen and Karin at the Northport Center and have falling into the role of toddler teacher and a job I find stimulating, joyful, and great every day.
Favorite quote about children: “A child can ask questions that a wise man cannot answer.” – Unknown
LCC Leland • On Call Sub
Early Childhood Experience & LCC Roles: I have been at the Leelanau Children's Center since 2001 and have four years experience as a nanny/babysitter. At LCC I have been a preschool teacher in both Fox Island teacher and Manitou Island. I am currently an on-call sub.
Credentials: B.S. in Cross-Cultural Education Ministry; CDA credential; Associate in Child Development.
What brings you to this work? I have always loved watching and observing children. I also love and admire the community support of the Children’s Center and how they wrap you in their arms of love!
About me: I have a fury four-legged canine companion, Kia. My retired parents live on their farm in Ohio and stay in Phoenix for the winter with my sister Sharon and brother-in-law Jason and their toddler, Jordan. I have another sister who lives in Ohio.
Favorite quote about children: “Evie, that sound came out of my mouth not my buns! -- Weston Burda
LCC Northport • Preschool Teacher
Early Childhood Experience & LCC Roles: I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do for work in my adult life, just leaving college with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from CU in Colorado. I began working with children at the Denver Zoo’s summer camp program and got chills of delight one day while I watched kids excitedly explore new experiences that I had prepared for them. That’s when I knew I wanted to keep working with kids. I began teaching at Harmony Preschool in Boulder and fell in love with young children and the methods of early childhood. After moving back to Michigan, I pursued my Michigan teaching certificate with an early childhood endorsement. Meanwhile, I continued to work with children at the Chippewa Nature Center in Midland, gaining lots of experience doing experiential nature learning and team building. After graduating, I began searching for a teaching job and found the Leelanau Children’s Center. As Maggie gave me my first tour, those chills and excitement I had felt many years ago returned. I couldn’t believe a place like this existed; where relationships with children and families were paramount; where learning was led by the interests and passions of the children; where environments were set up to inspire the development of children; where the food was homemade, nutritious, and prepared with love daily for the children; where music and movement and outdoor play were large parts of the daily experience. I was in love, and I stayed to become the director at the newly opening Northport center in 2006. I missed the direct contact with children, so in 2010, I moved into a preschool teaching position in the Northport Owl room and there I happily remain!
Credentials: B.A. Anthropology, Minor in Biology; Michigan Teaching certificate, ZA endorsement; 12 masters-level credit hours in Human Development
What brings you to this work? I love watching the children’s eyes light up as they learn something new. I love the challenge of teaching that requires so much of who I am and who I hope to be. Teaching requires constant learning, observing, reflecting, taking risks and trying new things. It is dynamic and changing from year to year and from child to child. As I have done this work over the years, I also see its profound effect on the lives of children, families, and our larger community. When young families connect, we build a community that carries us through the challenges and delights of parenthood. The community that develops creates a nest of support for the children, who learn there are many people working together to support and inspire their developmental needs. In a culture and modern world that can feel so isolating, the strength that this community brings is precious!
Favorite quote about children: “If we are not fully ourselves, truly in the present moment, we miss everything. When a child presents himself to you with his smile, if you are not really there-thinking about the future or the past, or preoccupied with other problems-then the child is not really there for you. The technique of being alive is to go back to yourself in order for the child to appear like a marvelous reality, then you can see him smile and you can embrace him in your arms.” -- Thich Naht Hanh
LCC Northport • Program Director
Early Childhood Experience & LCC Roles: I have experience in ECE since 1998 and have worked at LCC since the summer of 2007. I taught in the toddler classroom and have been the program director since 2010.
Credentials: BS in Early Elementary Education along with a ZA endorsement. I am currently working on my Master's in ECE with an emphasis in administration from GVSU.
What brings you to this work? I have always been amazed by the capabilities of young children. They seem to see the world in such an honest and raw form. Their wonder and curiosity draws me in and allows me to get a glimpse of what their wonder reveals!
About me: I am the mother of three wonderful daughters. Adalene, Mia and Pheona keep me busy and on my toes. With my husband Jon, we invest energy into supporting our local community and exploring what nature has to offer us as a family.
Favorite quote about children: "Being a child is in itself a profession." -- Clifton Fadiman
Early Childhood Experience & LCC Roles: I have experience in early childhood education since 1983. I have worked at LCC Northport since 2006 as a kindergarten enrichment and after-school teacher, preschool teacher, and as support staff.
Credentials: Bachelors Degree in Social Work and CDA.
What brings you to this work? I love to watch kids grow and explore their world. Living and learning is a life long process for all of us.
About me: I am married to Dave and have three adult children: Ken, Dan (married to Rachel), and Aleah.
Favorite quote about children: “For a child, play is their work, so let them play."
LCC Leland & Northport • Business Manager
Experience & LCC Roles: I was hired as the Business Manager of LCC in July of 2012.
Credentials: Bachelors of Science- Double majored in Economics and Psychology • Masters of Accounting and Financial Management
What brings you to this work? I have always enjoyed numbers and the explanations to various situations that they bring. Being able to work in the LCC environment gives me the flexibility to raise a family and the satisfaction of helping out a great organization!
About me: I graduated from Leland Public School in 2000. Following graduation, I moved to New York and then to Vermont. Once my husband and I had our first son, Colby, we decided that we wanted to raise our family in the wonderful community of Leelanau County. We moved back to Michigan in 2007 and have since had a daughter, Lilly, and another son, Ryan.
Favorite quote about children: “Nothing you do for children is ever wasted.” -- Garrison Keillor
LCC Leland • Preschool Teacher (Manitou Island)
Early Childhood Experience & LCC Roles: My mother had twins when I was eight years old. I feel like I've been taking care of children since then! I have been a Community Living Support Specialist helping kids with special needs stay at home since 1995. I began working at Leelanau Children's Center in 2006 as an aide for one boy in Manitou Island. I have worked as a teacher in the Beaver Island Young Fives program and in both Leland preschool classrooms.
Credentials: Associates of Arts from Northwestern Michigan College; studied Elementary Education at Grand Valley State University.
What brings you to this work? I came to LCC as a one-on-one aide, then I begged to be allowed to stay!
About me: I am the mother of two grown children: daughter Ruth is doing social work in Mississippi (she promises to come back home) and son, Steve, is a video game expert and general all-around sweet fella.
Favorite quote about children: “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn." -- Benjamin Franklin
LCC Leland • Program Director
Early Childhood Experience & LCC Roles: I have experience in early childhood education since 1993 and have worked at the Leelanau Children's Center since 1996. I taught in both the preschool and the 5-year-old classrooms for 10 years. I have been the Program Director in Leland since 2006.
Credentials: B.A. in Community Development from Evergreen State College; CDA (Child Development Associates); currently working towards a Masters in Early Childhood Education at Grand Valley State University.
What brings you to this work? I am constantly amazed by the facts about the early childhood years, especially what is happening in a child’s brain and in their social-emotional development. I truly believe that if we are going to make this world a better place, we must begin early and consider families as a whole. The LCC community and philosophy encompasses everything I feel is important in doing this work locally.
About me: I have two children, Remi and Andre, both alumni of LCC and currently attending Leland Public School. I grew up in Leland and am happy to have returned here so that my children have all of the wonderful opportunities this community and place offer.
Favorite quote about children: “Do less; observe more; enjoy most.” -- Magda Gerber (on parenting)
“Do your little bit of good where you are. It is those little bits put together that overwhelm the world." -- Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Leland • Parenting Communities Home Visitor
Early Childhood Experience & LCC Roles: I have experience in the early childhood field since 1990. I was hired in January 2001 as staff support, on call sub and resource coordinator. I worked with the summer school age program from 2001 – 2008. In September of 2001 I became a Parenting Communities Home Visitor and continue in that position today.
Credentials: CDA and Infant Mental Health endorsement
What brings you to this work? It is my destiny.
About me: I have one daughter, Danielle Merwin, an LCC alum.
Favorite quote about children: “Do for the parent what we hope the parent will do for the child.”
LCC Leland • Preschool Teacher (Fox Island)
Early Childhood Experience & LCC Roles: I have been teaching at the Leelanau Children’s Center since 2000. Prior to that I taught at the former Discovery Center in Northport. The Discovery Center is now owned and operated by the Leelanau Children’s Center. To date, I have participated in almost every role at the Center, including both Fox and Manitou Island classrooms, as well as the former Beaver Island (early fives) classroom.
Credentials: I hold a Bachelors Degree in Environmental Policy and have earned a CDA. I am currently enrolled in CMU’s Education program progressing toward a B.S. in Elementary Education, with a Teaching Certificate and a ZA Endorsement (which is an early childhood emphasis).
What brings you to this work? I feel that investing in young children is one of the most important things I could be spending my days doing. I value the prospect of contributing my time, spirit and energy as an advocate for children and families however I can, believing whole-heartedly that such an investment will bring about socially well-adjusted, and productive adults to our communities in the future. Oh…and it's so much fun!
About me: I am the mother of daughters Eva and Gillian Grobbel, who are both alumni of the Center.
Favorite quote about children: “We can’t do everything for everyone everywhere, but we can do something for someone somewhere.” -- Richard L. Evans
LCC Leland • Toddler Teacher
Early Childhood Experience & LCC Roles: I had my first child in 1997 and began working at the Leelanau Children’s Center in 2000. I have worked at LCC as a volunteer, staff sub, resource coordinator, pre-school teacher, summer school age, and now I am a toddler teacher in the Crib.
Credentials: A.A.A. Food Service; Masters in Early Childhood; CDA; B.S. in Hospitality Management
What brings you to this work? I love kids and especially toddlers, I have always been drawn to them.
About me: I have two daughters, two grandchildren and two sons.
Favorite quote about children: “Children should be seen and heard and listened to!”
Early Childhood Experience & LCC Roles: Hi there! My name is Sara Maleski. Early Childhood has been big part of my life since about 2004. I have been on the LCC staff since 2005! I first began as Foxy and then moved into the role of Crib teacher, The Crib was my steady room for five years. In 2011 I made the leap and joined the ranks of School Age Program teacher What a riot! I am now filling the role of guest teacher. I get to spend days in each classroom. Exciting stuff!
Credentials: I have a CDA and am nearly finished with my Early Childhood Education Bachelor’s. I also hold a Master’s degree in chocolate chip cookie baking and sock matching.
What brings you to this work? My son Quinn first started at the Children’s Center as a Beaver Islander. From that moment on I knew that I had found my niche.
About me: My husband Bruce and I have 3 fantastic boys. Cory, my stepson, lives in the U.P. with his wife and baby girl. My boys, Quinn and Griffon, both attend Leland Public School and are LCC alumni. Quinn is a fly fishing maniac. Watch for Griffon in the 2020 X games!
Favorite quote about children: “Unattended children will be given an espresso and a free puppy.”
Early Childhood Experience & LCC Roles: Professionally, I have worked with children since 1999. I was a caretaker for two young children (who later attended LCC). I worked at the Leelanau Montessori after school program and also ran and developed a kid’s day program at Meadowlark Farm for the children of the farm workers. I have been at the Leelanau Children’s Center since 2003, starting as on on-call sub when my son, Joseph, first began preschool. I have been a teacher in LCC’s former young fives program, and most recently have been a preschool teacher in Fox Island.
Credentials: I have a BA in Human Development with an Early Childhood Education (ECE) Specialization. I have many ECE credits from my teaching certificate. I am also a certified mother of a two boys!
What brings you to this work? I have always been drawn to working with children. I have vivid memories of the sensory experience of being a child; the way things smelled and tasted, the way color, light and shapes moved, sounds and tactile experience. Recalling these memories helps me to get into the worlds of children and set up my environment creatively in order to invite children into these lasting sensory experiences. I also feel strongly about providing quality education and early care to ALL children and am interested in social justice work in the ECE field. I think creating a peaceful world where everyone has a voice begins in the early years. Helping children to speak up for themselves (in any language they choose), listening to their needs and interests, and helping them to learn how to live with each other is important work. When I go home each day I feel satisfied that the work I do helps make the world a better place.
About me: I am married to my sweetie, Zachariah. He makes homes more energy efficient through state grant money. I have two sons, Josef (who attends Leland Public School), and a newborn son, Rain. We have a home in Lake Leelanau and have a little spotted dog named Lydia. I moved to Leelanau County when I was 8 years old and have lived here ever since. An interesting fact about me is that instead of going to preschool I spent my days with an Amish family. My experiences being welcomed into this home and living in a different culture paved the way to being eager to learn about new cultures and also to be culturally sensitive.
Favorite quote about children: “We were taught to say that play is the work of children. But, watching and listening to them, I saw that play was nothing less than Truth and Life.” -- Vivian Gussin Paley
LCC Leland & Northport • Communications Manager
Early Childhood Experience & LCC Roles: I wandered into the Leelanau Children's Center in 1995 with my daughters in tow - a preschooler and an infant. Our family had recently moved from California and didn't have any social connections with peers. Once Rebecca was enrolled at LCC, our lives began to flourish - our entire family made friends and became engaged in LCC and the community. I was an active parent volunteer for the entire time my girls were at LCC. Thereafter I volunteered each year developing LCC's enrollment database. In 2007 I joined the LCC Administrative team.
Credentials: B.S. Nutritional Science
What brings you to this work? LCC's mission, spirit, and values – LCC has always felt like home to me.
About me: I am married to Harry Thomas and am mother to Rebecca and Emma, both LCC and Leland Public School alumni. Exchange host mother of four - from Germany, Georgia, China and Norway (not all in one year!)
Favorite quote about children: "It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men." -- Frederick Douglass