Meet the Staff at Powhatan Methodist Preschool
Our teachers are dedicated and experienced.
The staff retention rate has remained high throughout the history of the preschool. All staff are trained in CPR, AED and First Aid. Ongoing professional training is required so that teachers remain current in ‘best practices’ in the field of Early Childhood Education.
Miss Sharon’ Baltimore
In 1978 I came to my pastor at Powhatan United Methodist Church with the vision of beginning a preschool. The rest is history! PUMC wholeheartedly embraced this opportunity for ministry and the challenge of opening its doors to the little ones in Powhatan and surrounding communities. I began as a teacher/director and as the preschool grew became the full time director.
After earning a Bachelor of Science Degree from VCU in Elementary Education I taught in Chesterfield and Goochland counties. When our family began to grow my husband and I decided that part time work as a preschool teacher would be a perfect way to use my education but have time to be our children, too. We raised two daughters and a son, all of whom were taught by me during their preschool years! I would like to think that preschool gave them the start that propelled them on to college, graduate school and their chosen careers. Preschool also gave me the chance to spend precious time with each of our 5 grandchildren. I love the amazing ladies I work with, who have been the backbone of our preschool, almost as much as I love the children who have continued to come through the doors at PUMC each year since 1989! Every day is an adventure and a blessing!
Karen Johnson joined the staff at PUMC 18 years ago! She has worked as an assistant teacher for 2’s and a teacher for 4’s. She is currently lead teacher for the 5 day Pre K and Extended Session and helps with Early Drop off as well as Extended Care. After her son and daughter attended preschool here, Karen began taking Early Childhood Education classes and joined our staff. Karen says, “Preschool age children are my favorite because of their love, honesty and curiosity about the world.” Karen continued her studies in education and earned a bachelor degree in Early Childhood Education from Liberty University.
Kerri Guest is in her 17th year at PUMC Preschool. She is the lead teacher for the 3 day Pre K Class, an assistant for the 3’s and part of our Extended Care Team. Kerri has a Teacher’s Aide Certificate and an Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education from John Tyler Community College. Her four children are now grown and she is excited to be a first-time grandma. Kerri says,” I feel blessed each day to be surrounded by these children. Teaching preschoolers makes my heart happy!”
Julie Layman is “happy to be teaching 3’s at PUMC Preschool, the happiest place on earth!” Teaching preschool wasn’t Julie’s original plan when she graduated from Penn State University with a degree in Secondary Education and Mathematics. After 7 years as a math teacher at Powhatan High School she ‘retired’ to stay home with her 3 boys. Her first venture back to work began in 2012 as the Children’s Ministry Coordinator at PUMC. Julie “fell in love with the preschool when my sons attended and after a couple of years of substituting, was overjoyed to be asked to be a part of the team.”
Christina Burkhart graduated from Wright State University in Celina, Ohio with a BA Degree in Early Childhood Education in 2004. After teaching second grade in Virginia for 5 years she began working part time as a preschool teacher and led an after school program for K-5th grade. With one daughter enrolled in the 4 day Pre K Class and another attending elementary school, Christina joined our staff in 2016 as the lead teacher of our 2 day 3’s class. For the 2017-18 preschool year Christina is teaching the 4 day Pre K Class. “My favorite part of working with small children is their honesty and how they find joy in the smallest things.”
Michele Smithgall has been a part of the staff for 17 years! During this time she has worked with 2’s and 3’s as an assistant and lead teacher. Currently she is the lead teacher for the 2 day 2’s and young 3 day 3’s and she is part of the Extended Care Team. Michele’s education background was gained through Early Childhood classes at John Tyler Community College. Both of her grown sons attended preschool at Powhatan Methodist. Michele says, “Teaching young children is my passion. I hold every child I’ve taught close to my heart.”
Anna Brizendine is an assistant teacher for 3’s and a substitute teacher for all ages. She says, “I have had the privilege to encourage, guide, laugh and explore life with PUMC Preschool children for the past 14 years.” Anna’s two grown sons attended preschool here. When not at preschool she raises beef cattle and chickens on her Powhatan County farm. Anna’s BA degree in Psychology from Roanoke College is “used daily when working with children to create a positive, enjoyable experience as they interact with one another.”
Amy Johnston has spent the past 11 years at PUMC Preschool “happily working as an assistant teacher in our Pre K classes”. Amy’s BS Degree is in Sociology with a Minor in Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University. Her two daughters attended preschool here. As an assistant, Amy is one of the teachers who will ‘meet and greet’ families as they drop off and pick up children at preschool. Amy is also part of the Early Drop Off Team.
Robin Meyer is an Assistant Teacher working with 2’s and Pre K. She is part of the Extended Care Team looking after our full day children 3 afternoons a week. Robin is also considered our ‘nurse’ as she has considerable training and experience in this field. She first came to PUMC Preschool in 2001 and came back in 2012 after attending nursing school.