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Meet the Team

Principia’s Early Childhood Program

The hallmarks of excellent, high-quality early education are grounded in the educators’ knowledge of how children learn, the flexibility to respond to the individual needs of each child and family, and an understanding of the vital importance of building relationships in supporting a young child’s development. Research has shown that children who attend high-quality early childhood programs are better prepared to be successful in school and future careers. During these critical early learning years, qualified early childhood professionals accelerate how our children learn, develop, and build the skills necessary to get along with others and succeed in school and life. A highly qualified early childhood educator—one who knows how to create a dynamic, accountable learning environment—is at the center of a high-quality early learning experience.

Unlike most childcare centers, Principia School is fortunate to have dedicated early childhood professionals who participate in continued professional development every week. They have adopted professional and curriculum standards and implement effective instructional strategies at all levels of the program.

Let’s meet Principia’s Early Childhood Professionals and hear what they love about working with young children.

Testimonials

I’m so grateful that my son will have the opportunity to attend Principia’s Preschool. 

I have looked at different preschools and, in my opinion, Principia is offering the best program.

– Parent

I can't say enough about the ELC/Preschool program. All of the teachers are fantastic and use the Emilia Reggio curriculum. I honestly don't know of any better preschool program out there. The fact that the children get to go outside and explore nature is huge me. It's so natural. That's how children learn and it’s incredible! 

The most important difference is the fact that Principia is a Christian Science school—a place where all the teachers see each child as a Child of God.

The Christian Science background, the prayers/hymns said each day, the way teachers lovingly react to children—it's so special. It truly is a beautiful reflection of God—the nurturing, protecting, guiding, loving, and giving qualities that every single teacher expresses towards each child.

– Parent

Dorothy Halverson, MEd and MA in Educational Leadership
Early Childhood Principal

“It is such a joy and privilege to work with our youngest Principians and to support and partner with their parents. As principal of our early-learning programs, I strive to see the children as God sees them, perfect and complete, and ‘ . . . to loosen the bondage which false belief would place upon them and to help them to find themselves possessed of only those qualities derived from their relationship to their Father-Mother God' (Education at The Principia, p. 37). What important and joyous work it is to lay the foundation for Christian living and a successful educational experience!”

Acorn Program Faculty

Heather Buchanan
Acorn Teacher

“I love working with young children! It’s a privilege to observe children learning, growing, and experiencing all that the Principia campus has to offer. Whether in a creative classroom environment rich with materials or at the campus ponds, creeks, and woods, the children are engaged, learning, and joyful! I am so grateful to be a part of this amazing community.”

Heather Buchanan

Preschool Faculty

Bridget Cathie
Preschool Teacher

“Teaching the love of learning brings me so much joy every day! Being in a preschool classroom fosters joy like nothing else I’ve experienced! I am blessed to love what I do and to be able to do it day after day in an environment that offers an enriched classroom, top-notch natural materials, unprecedented outdoor experiences, and phenomenal art resources.”

Bridget Cathie

Lisa McCord
Assistant Preschool Teacher

“I love sharing my own love of learning with young children, especially the excitement and delight to be found in the world around us. I also love children’s innocence, purity, and happiness. Three- and four-year-olds learn by leaps and bounds, discovering nature, books, art, friendships, and especially love.”

Lisa McCord

Stephanie Summerlin 
Preschool Teaching Assistant

“I love children! I love to talk with them and hear what they have to say. I also love being a part of their learning and growing community in such a nurturing environment. It’s a joy to have opportunities to provide art experiences to promote their discovery!”

Rachel Soney, MEd 
Preschool Teacher

“‘Education is not an accumulation of facts but an unfoldment of ideas’ (Education at The Principia, p. 62). Our job as teachers is to learn with our students and help them develop a curiosity for and love of learning. I love having the opportunity to nurture and support my students’ growth and development academically, spiritually, and socially. Each year, it is my privilege to help my students learn more about who they are as individual children of God and about how we fit together as a community of learners.”

Rachael Soney

Jackie White
Assistant Preschool Teacher

“Children are my teachers! They are a loving reminder of how to live selflessly and forgive quickly. I love learning about and connecting with our natural world alongside these beautiful ideas while helping to foster a respect for nature. Young children are uninhibited and creative thinkers, quick to laugh, to trust, and ready with a smile. While I find it important to let children get messy, I also enjoy seeing their natural desire for organization and orderliness. I love to see their wonder and huge imagination at work and to help draw out the intelligence that is already within.”

Louise Elmgren, MFA
Preschool Atelierista

“Helping young children find beauty in themselves, each other, and in the world is a joyous honor. Seeing Soul’s expression before me, I strive to bring out each child’s inherent creativity through authentic, meaningful, and engaging hands-on work. Inspired collaboratively and individually—filled up full with joy and wonder—young artists realize that art is in everything and everything is in art, and they discover themselves!”

Louise Elmgren

Amy Hagenlocher
Bus Chaperone and Preschool Receptionist

“Working for the Principia with its youngest group is such a blessing! I have worked in education for 12 years and love children. What education at Principia offers is the Christ-like love expressed by all its members. To be able to come to work in this atmosphere and nurture these dear ones by attending to needs and helping shape their experience is so rewarding. It’s giving back and living Christian Science in a wonderful environment! The children really blossom and grow here.”

Early Learning Center Staff

Patti Matthys-Pearce, MAT
Teacher of Young Toddlers

“I love to share in the wonder of learning in an environment where the children feel loved, at home, and ready to learn and discover the world around them!”

Patti Matthys-Pearce

Heather Hill
Assistant Teacher of Young Toddlers

“I love all children, but this age group is my absolute favorite! I love witnessing their progress in character growth, independence, and language development. I see every child as unlimited, whole, and complete—as God’s perfect reflection.”

Rachael Ackermann
Teacher of 2s and 3s

It is an honor to be part of such an amazing group of educators. During this important stage in your child’s educational journey, I am most grateful to be able to help in providing a successful, loving, and supportive environment. We have an abundance of opportunities available for the children to explore which provides a deeply enriching program.

I love watching children thrive in the many school settings including our vast green spaces, woodland areas, gardens, water sources and beautiful classroom. During this time of development, the children are growing rapidly in their gross motor, fine motor, social, verbal, and imaginative skills – all of which will help serve them every day moving forward.

These children are so inspiring to me! They help me live my best life as I witness unconditional love, forgiveness, and kindness towards one another. I am excited to be present in these formative years!

Rachael Ackermann

Helen Soney
Assistant Teacher of 2s and 3s

“I have loved getting to know each child individually, building a relationship, and learning each of their unique interests. It has been a true joy to be a part of children's exploration of their curiosities and witness their daily wonder as they pursue what inspires them!”

Helen Soney

Leslie Hanlin
Assistant Teacher

“Mothering has felt like a calling to me for as long as I can remember—and now that my kids are in college, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to nurture other parents’ precious children.”

Leslie Hanlin

Linda Warner
Teacher of Infants

“My undergrad and graduate work in early childhood education has contributed to richly rewarding opportunities working with hundreds of young children over the years—the last 20 at Principia! I love seeing how play and exploring the environment can be such a catalyst for learning for these little ones. And I love helping young children learn how to better navigate interactions with their peers in the most harmonious and effective way!”

Linda Warner

Meredith Pratt
Assistant Teacher of Infants

“I love the opportunity to witness love, joy, and growth with the youngest of God’s children. Their unconditional love for us as we nurture their first year of milestones is an honor to be a part of.”