Our Educators

Takoma Children's School prides itself on its exceptionally talented staff.  A school is only as good as the staff and teachers it hires.  At TCS, we treasure our staff and teachers and value the role they play in our community. We offer competitive salaries and good benefits. Through participation in professional development, each staff member continues to add to his or her experience, skills, and knowledge of early childhood education.  Fairly unique to other full-day preschools, teachers are given weekly time to plan with their colleagues to create a child-centered curriculum. It is our goal to retain our outstanding staff and teachers for as long as possible.

Our wise and wonderful teachers serve as facilitators to the children in their care, and as resources to their parents. In addition to many years of experience educating young children, most of our teachers have a Bachelor's degree while some have a Master's coursework or a Master's degree. TCS teachers also have skills and expertise in fields outside of early childhood education, and they share those talents, which include music, art, drama, dance, yoga, Spanish, gardening, cooking, and environmental education.

Administrative Team:

Executive Director: Cassandra Hostetler, M. Ed, Tufts University. Cassandra has 25 years of teaching and management experience in a variety of early childhood settings working with children from infancy through school-age.  Outside of work her passion is gardening, especially creating a garden with native plants that supports butterflies and birds. She enjoys sharing this passion with the children of TCS; they hope their newly planted milkweed will entice monarch butterflies to lay eggs in the school's garden this summer!

Assistant Director: Adetokunbo (Toks) Williams, B.S. in Family Studies and Human Development from University of Maryland, College Park. She has fifteen years of teaching experience in preschool and special education settings.  Working with children and helping them to learn and grow has always been Toks' passion. She enjoys spending time with her friends and family, cooking, and movies. She is excited about her journey with Takoma Children’s School as Assistant Director.

The Bluebirds Team:

Jessica McMillan moved to the area in December 2015 and has been at TCS since May 2016. She has been working professionally with children since 1999 and has worked in a variety of settings. She recently earned her M.A. degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Vermont. Jessica finds child development fascinating and always feels honored to be a part of her students’ individual growth journeys.  Jessica loves exploring art and creativity both in and out of the classroom. She also enjoys spending time with friends, family and her husband; exploring the DC area; and traveling when she gets the chance.  Additionally, she likes learning and sharing ways of living a healthy lifestyle through her health and wellness business with Arbonne International. 

Samantha Benjamin (Sam) is from England and moved to the States one year ago.  She has enjoyed teaching preschool children for the past ten years and looks forward to being a part of helping children at TCS develop in all learning areas. “I love seeing children develop, and have three children of my own whom I’ve watched and guided through their childhood, and they, along with the preschool children I’ve taught, have been my biggest achievement thus far.”

Darnica Crawford has been at TCS for eight years, and has taught in all three classrooms.  Her favorite part of working with children is helping them develop by teaching them new things and having fun while doing it. Outside of TCS she enjoys being a mom, cooking, drawing and playing basketball. 

Briana Taylor is a new member of the TCS family with two years of experience working with young children. She recently earned her B.S. in Child and Adolescent Studies from Bowie State University. Some of her favorite times with young children are seeing them begin to build friendships with each other; marveling at their creativity and hard work; and simply enjoying their play. Outside of the classroom Briana enjoys watching movies, traveling, trying new restaurants and spending time with family. Briana is excited to learn and explore with the Bluebirds this year!

Mabelyn Mijangos has been at TCS since Fall 2016.  She is a lover of all arts, holistic living and nature. Mabelyn enjoys creating art, babysitting children, exploring the outdoors, cooking, dancing, spending time with loved ones and telling corny jokes. She is currently pursuing her long-time dream of yoga and will be a registered yoga teacher in early 2018, and has recently received her certification as a children's yoga Instructor. She loves the close knit community and Reggio philosophy that TCS has to offer.

The Stars Team:

Heather Kirk has been with the Stars class at TCS going on six years and loves working with this age group, where she gets to see them transform into little people! Some of her favorite things to do with the Stars is building huge structures out of blocks, legos, pipes or anything else as well as getting crafty in the art studio.  In her free time Heather enjoys sewing and knitting, as well as hanging with her super awesome cat, Piper.  

Jill Telford is an educator, artist and avid reader. She has been serving children and families for several years.  She plays basketball, writes/paints and often travels to the beach. Being one of many educators in our field, I am honored and thankful to be able to play a small part in keeping play, creativity, metacognition, make believe, story telling, and the arts alive for children each and every day.

Christina Pickett  recently moved to the DC area, after working in the Chicago area for five years.  She is pursuing her BA in Early Childhood Education and has fit in seamlessly with the rest of the team.

Justin Harris is known by all children because he works between all classrooms in the morning as support staff, but every afternoon he’s a teacher in Stars.  He loves to play games with the children and usually can be enticed into playing chase games on the playground.  He has been in the field of early education for more years than he cares to admit and been at TCS for nearly five years.  

The Rainbows Team:

Jess Lewis has been at TCS for four years. 2017 marks her eleventh year working with children, with experience in elementary and middle school atmospheres in addition to early childhood. She studied Mass Communications (Broadcast Production) while attending Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, NC. and brings her knowledge of videography when creating classroom videos as part of the documentation process.  Jess is also an artist and films a television show in her “free time” and is a passionate advocate for Rough and Tumble play.  

Juanita Dorsey has over 20 years experience in the Early Childhood field as a Lead teacher and as an Infant Coordinator.  Juanita has an AA in Early Childhood Education and is finishing her BA in Early Childhood Education / Behavioral Modification. She has been trained and assessed in Applied Behavioral Analysis and will soon be certified as a Registered Behavioral Technician. She works part time in the Metropolitan area with children in their homes 7 days a week implementing ABA techniques.  “In the classroom, I enjoy helping children to problem solve, think about strategies to communicate and to express their feelings while interacting with their peers to develop into independent and resourceful individuals. I think social/emotional skills and verbal skills are key essentials to help a child grow and learn in any environment.  I love working with children of all ages.” When she isn’t working, she enjoys reading, cooking and swimming!

Morgan Powell is a native Washingtonian with a passion for serving youth, specifically in her hometown. She has been in the early childhood education field for the last 7 years, spending the last few years as a preschool educator on Capitol Hill. When she isn't making lifelong connections with her students, she can be found enjoying her entrepreneurial role as a part-owner of a local fashion company, and her newfound title of newlywed. Morgan is looking forward to the experiences and memories that she will make during her first year as Rainbows teacher at TCS.

Additional Staff:

Marsha Obusek, Yoga Instructor and Substitute teacher