Williston Heartworks Staff
The teaching faculty at the Heartworks, Renaissance, and Endeavour Schools have earned a certification in early or elementary education and/or have comparable educational training and experience. Throughout the year, teachers and directors participate in professional development programs, both on and off-site, aimed at expanding and improving their teaching skills and enhancing the mission of our Schools. We are dedicated to providing a program based on quality and consistency in all of the schools. All of our faculty and staff are asked to embrace a heartful and peaceful approach with children and to uphold the philosophies of the school.
Michele joined Heartworks in the Spring of 2017 and spent her first year as the Director of our STEAMworks Preschool in Essex. Michele has a Bachelor of Science degree in Middle Level Education and a minor in Special Education from the University of Vermont. She spent two years in Massachusetts public schools teaching math, history and special education. While she enjoyed working with older children, she kept gravitating towards the curiosity of a child’s learning and now believes early education is the most important part of a child's development. She knew at a young age, while working as a camp counselor in her hometown in Ohio, that working with children was her passion.
In addition to education, she has also worked over three years in business as the JCrew Corporation’s training and hiring manager for Boston. Being a resource for her peers to develop their own skill sets in the workplace is something Michele feels grateful to have been a part of in this position. This business experience along with supervisory and management experience and her passion and degree in education, has made Michele so valuable as a School Director.
Michele truly enjoys working with children, having the opportunity to watch them grow and develop. She cherishes being a part of a child’s “ah ha!” moment, where they understand something for the first time. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, traveling, attending sporting events and trying out new restaurants.
Kelly joined Heartworks in 2016. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of Vermont. Her education included an in-depth study of the exceptional early childhood schools in Reggio Emilia, Italy. She has over 15 years of experience teaching toddler and preschool aged children in Vermont, Ohio, and New York City. Kelly's areas of interest in the classroom include designing beautiful child-centered spaces and activities, exploration and learning through music and body movement, and the fostering of self-esteem, social skills, and a love of learning. When Kelly is not working with children, she enjoys biking, gardening, reading, dancing, attending live music shows, and traveling.
Dana joined Heartworks in 2017. She studied Therapeutic Recreation at Concordia University in Montreal before transferring to Algonquin College where she received her diploma in Developmental Services. She also studied through the University of Utah and received certification to be a Deaf-blind Intervenor. Dana is also a certified medical assistant. Prior to joining the Heartworks, she worked as a special education program specialist in a pre-school Kindergarten, has been a para-educator and also a Deaf-blind Intervenor for three years in a preschool setting. Dana has worked with children of all ages and has a passion for helping them to reach their full potential. In her spare time she enjoys spending time outdoors with her dog, being on the lake, and being with friends and family.
Kristen received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Castelton University. Working with children is a passion for Kristen. Before joining Heartworks in 2017, she worked with children in many different settings, ranging from summer camps and child care settings to private nannying in both Vermont and Park City, Utah. Outside of the classroom Kristen enjoys painting, sculpting, hiking, and sailing.
Sara has an Associate of Arts degree and a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education from Lyndon State College, and also has a Vermont Teaching License in Early Education. She joined Heartworks in 2017, and has more than six years of experience as a classroom teacher with children ranging from birth through Age 5. Outside of work Sara enjoys hiking and spending time with her family.
Assistant Teacher Yolande graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from the University of Vermont. After graduation, she joined the Vermont Army National Guard as an Army Bandsmen. Prior to joining Heartworks in 2018, she worked full time for the Vermont Army National Guard as a liaison to the Recruiting and Retention Battalion. She has also worked as a paraeducator at the Sustainability Academy in Burlington and as a Substitute Teacher for the New York City Department of Education. In her spare time, she enjoys listening to music, going to crossfit, cooking, and spending time with her husband and two cats.
Ilia has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology and Sociology from Johnson State College, and joined Heartworks in 2017. She is very passionate about children and working with early preschool ages. She has been working with children since at least 2007. Ilia has previously worked at multiple childcare centers and was formerly a nanny. In her spare time, Ilia enjoys singing, dancing and playing volleyball.
Sarah has a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education with a major concentration in Mathematics from the University of Vermont. She was born and raised in Williston, Vermont. She enjoys working with children of all ages and hopes to inspire a love for learning within the younger generations. Outside of work Sarah enjoys being outdoors, skiing, swimming, painting, cooking, traveling to new places, and spending time with family.
Amanda has a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education with a major concentration in Human Development and Family Services from the University of Vermont. She holds a Professional Educator's License from the state of Vermont for Early Childhood Education. She was born and raised in Burlington Vermont. Before joining Heartworks in 2017, Amanda previously enjoyed working at a nature based school with children ages six weeks through five years. Outside of school she enjoys exploring outside, gardening, painting and spending time with friends and family.
Laura has a Bachelor of Science degree in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, with a minor in Education Studies from Ithaca College. Prior to joining Heartworks in 2018, her experience included working with students who have special needs, most recently working as an Autism Interventionist. Laura has developed a love of working with children and helping them grow as individuals. Laura grew up in Essex Junction, Vermont and enjoys spending time reading, swimming, and traveling.
Teacher Maggie has a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Anthropology from the University of Vermont. As a Freshman, Maggie volunteered in the Dominican Republic where she taught English to young children. During her Junior year of College, she moved abroad to England, where she continued her studies at the University of Sussex. During her summers throughout college, Maggie worked as an AmeriCorps member where she served as a mentor for low-income families throughout rural Vermont. Maggie joined Heartworks in 2018. She has a true passion for public service and early education. In her free time, Maggie loves to travel; her favorite places thus far have been France, England, Hungary and the Netherlands.
Erin has an Associate of Science degree in Early Childhood Education from Northwestern Connecticut Community College, a Bachelor of General Studies in Human Development and Families Studies from the University of Connecticut and a Master of Arts degree in Special Education from the University of St. Joseph. She has over 15 years of experience in working with children from Pre-kindergarten through Fourth Grade. Erin joined the Heartworks team in 2017. She grew up in Connecticut and spent her summers in the Champlain Islands. In her free time, Erin enjoys being near the lake or hiking the long trail with her dog.
Amber has an Associate of Arts degree in Human Services and is currently working on her Bachelor degree in Psychology with a focus on Child and Adolescent Development. Amber has worked with children in after school settings and through internships. She has always enjoyed working with children and loves watching them grow and develop. In her free time, Amber loves to bake, take her dog to the dog park, and spend time with family and friends.
Sarah joined the Heartworks staff in 2006. She attended Kent State University where she studied Family Consumer Studies with an emphasis on Early Childhood Development. Outside of her time at Heartworks she currently serves the Essex Junction community as the Secretary of the PTO. She also enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her family including her husband, two children and their dog.
Lizzy has over 30 years of teaching experience both in the public and private sectors. She holds Elementary Education Licenses in Massachusetts and Vermont. The span of her teaching career has included working with young children from infancy all the way up through second graders. In 2012, Lizzy received the Southeast Supervisory Union’s Early Childhood Educator of the Year Award. She enjoys being outdoors, traveling, reading and spending lots of time with her precious granddaughter, Ella.
Elizabeth has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education and Interdisciplinary Studies from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. Teaching has always been a passion of hers. Prior to joining Heartworks in 2018, she had five years of experience working with children from Kindergarten through Sixth Grade. She enjoys working in early education as the early stages of learning and developing for a child are the most crucial years. Outside of work she enjoys hiking, cooking, playing the piano, traveling and reading.
Nicole began working at Heartworks in January of 2014. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Lesley University. She is an accomplished artist and has much experience integrating her talents into her work with children. In addition to working as an assistant teacher at Heartworks in Williston, she is also the art instructor for the Endeavour Middle School. Her favorite forms of art are drawing and wood carving. Nicole is also an outdoor enthusiast, seeking adventure in rock climbing, biking and hiking.
Hannah joined Heartworks in 2018. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education from Northern Michigan University with a focus on Integrated Science. Before Heartworks she taught elementary students in Kindergarten through Fifth Grades, in Michigan and New York City. Her focus is on creating a caring environment where learning is engaging and fun. She enjoys reading, baking, hiking and spending time with her husband and two dogs.
Amy has been teaching at Heartworks Williston since 2003. She received an Associate of Arts degree in Early Childhood Education from Champlain College. Outside of school Amy enjoys scrapbooking and spending time with her family.
Caila has been teaching at Heartworks Williston since 2012. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Ottawa and her Master of Arts degree in Education from Johnson State College, with a concentration in Elementary Education. She enjoys cooking, baking, outdoor activities and spending time with her husband and their two dogs.
Georgia graduated from Champlain College, with a dual Bachelor’s of Science degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education and is currently in the process of obtaining her Professional Educator’s license from the State of Vermont in both Early and Elementary Education. She has a passion for working with children, and wants to always support them in their social, academic, and emotional growth. Before her start at Heartworks in 2016, Georgia worked with students ages three through 5th grade through her placements in different school systems and working at summer camps. Outside of the classroom Georgia enjoys exploring the outdoors, reading, playing sports especially soccer, and spending time with friends and family.
Maria began working at Heartworks in the Fall of 2014. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of Vermont. She was born in Colombia and has lived in Vermont since she was an infant. She is an avid football fan and enjoys cheering on the Philadelphia Eagles.
Support Teacher Before joining Heartworks in 2016, Amy graduated from The State University of New York at New Paltz with a degree in Elementary Education. She has always found enjoyment teaching children and most recently worked in a multi-aged drop-in facility. Amy has a love of travel and spent three years living in New Zealand with her husband. In her free time she enjoys camping, hiking and biking with her family. Amy's family has a goal to see all 58 National Parks.
Before joining Heartworks in 2018, Lauren graduated from the University of Connecticut with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. She then pursued her Masters degree in Social Work at Kean University in New Jersey. Lauren enjoyed her years in the field working for a non-profit organization as a Child and Family Clinician; for the majority of her social work career she assisted young children and their families in Head Start Preschools, as well as public elementary schools. Before having her own children, Lauren decided to go back to school and followed another passion by earning a personal training degree and national certification. She found that coaching was a wonderful career and enjoyed it immensely, especially the quality time that it allowed for her to raise her two young children. When Lauren is not at Heartworks, she enjoys exercising and exploring Vermont's great outdoors with her family.
Music Teacher Joanna has been singing and making music for most of her 47 years as a performer and teacher, and for hospice clients in our community as a singer/director with the VNA's Noyana Singers. She studied voice at Indiana University and received a Vermont teaching license and Master's degree in Integrating the Arts into Education from St. Michael's College. Joanna is a certified Music Together teacher and center director. Her most recent musical endeavor was a week-long workshop learning to lead Bobby McFerrin-inspired Circle Songs. She joined Heartworks in 2015 and is the mother of 2 music-loving boys. Joanna's best musical influences were her parents, whose love of music made for a lot of singing in the car.
STEAM Art Teacher
Jayne has a degree in Art Education and a B.S. from UVM in Animal Science. She has worked as a certified Art Educator in Vermont for over twenty years. She lives in Grand Isle with her retired husband. They are both active members of Lyric Theatre in Burlington, and have two daughters. One is a senior at UVM and the oldest lives in Portland, Oregon. Jayne’s current hobby is learning the techniques of stand up comedy.
STEAM Arts Teacher Melanie Sroka is a gifted musician and is well versed in the art of musical theatre. She will be traveling to the Heartworks and STEAMworks preschools sharing her love of music, dance and drama with your wonderful children. Melanie graduated from Westfield State College with a bachelor’s degree in Music Education and has been working with children for more than 20 years. She has directed and co-directed plays such as “Pirates of Penzance” and “Aristocats” and is part of Gaia Roots, a multicultural women’s group with whom she traveled to Cuba to study music, dance and culture.
Coordinator of Professional Development, STEAM and Substitute Teacher
Heather joined the Heartworks family in 2012. She is licensed by the State of Vermont in Early Education, and is certified to teach through the third grade level. A native Vermonter, she attended the University of Vermont and earned a B.A. in psychology. Heather resides in Essex Junction and enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, crafting and serving as a Deacon in her church.