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 21 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 18th year at PUMC Preschool. She is the lead teacher for the 3 day Pre K Class 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!”
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 2018-19 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 19 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 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.”
Julie Layman graduated from Penn State University in 1999 with a BS Degree in Secondary Mathematics Education. After 7 years of teaching at Powhatan High School and 7 years of being a stay at home home she returned to work as the Children's Ministry Coordinator at Powhatan United Methodist Church. Julie has two sons that attended PUMC preschool and during their time here she fell in love with it. Julie calls the preschool "the happiest place on Earth". Julie taught 3 day threes for 3 years and now serves as the assistant director to Sharon Baltimore.
Kim has been working in the Early Childhood field for over 18 years with time spent in the classroom teaching, and time in administration as a Director. She attended the University of South Carolina where she received her B.S in Psychology with a focus on child psychology. Kim was recruited out of school by a Corporate child care center, which began her career in Early Childhood Education. Kim loves working with “the littles”, as she has affectionately nicknamed our Two’s. She loves their innocence, their unconditional love, how much delight they take in doing the most simple things, and most of all, when they grasp a concept and make a connection between two things.
Kim's family moved to Powhatan in 2017 and they love it! She is married with 3 children, two girls and a little boy. They stay very busy with all of their school and sports activities. Kim and her husband both help coach some of their children's sports teams. Some of Kim's favorite things are reading, cooking, the beach, and ice cream!
Robin Meyer is an Assistant Teacher working with 2’s. 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.
Hilarie Koch joined our staff in 2018. She fell in love with PUMC preschool when her daughter was a student here and knew she was ready to join our team when her son began in our 2’s class. Hilarie is an assistant in our 4 day Pre-K class. She received a B.A. in Spanish from VCU and has work experience assisting in an Occupational Therapy clinic. In addition to raising her own children, Hilarie has had the privilege of nannying for several families over the years. Hilarie believes ‘every child deserves a magical childhood experience and PUMC preschool is a magical place for young children to learn and grow.’