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 degree. TCS teachers also have skills and expertise in fields outside of early childhood education, and they share those talents with your children, which include music, art, drama, dance, yoga, Spanish, gardening, cooking, photography, film, writing, storytelling 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:

 

Cathie Barret is originally from the UK but moved here 22 years ago with her husband and three children after living and teaching English in France for 12 years. Cathie joined TCS in August 2018 and is very excited to put into practice the philosophy of the schools of Reggio Emilia. She has worked with children for over 25 years in the UK and the US and recently graduated with a Master’s in Early Childhood Education from Towson. She has a particular interest in the importance of child-led exploration and play in early education, process art and the benefits of outdoor experiences and nature education. Cathie is a keen hiker and explorer of all the wonderful natural places around Maryland and Virginia and loves to go hill walking whenever she returns to her native Scotland.

Samantha Benjamin (Sam) is from England and moved to the States two years ago.  Sam has enjoyed teaching preschool children for more than twelve years, two of which are at Takoma Children’s School. “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.”

Ruth Sauls is a new member of the TCS family with four years of experience working with 2 year old at a previous program. She enjoys the essence of what it means to teach and believes that a child’s play is their work and that the environment plays a large role in their development. She is currently pursuing a B.S in Early Childhood Education. Outside of being a student and teacher, Ruth enjoys the outdoors, swimming, playing her ukulele, and spending time with family and dachshund, Pluto! Ruth is eager to work alongside a great team with incredible passion and enjoy a fruitful year with the Bluebirds.

Briana Taylor is in her second year at TCS after earning her B.S. in Child and Adolescent Studies from Bowie State University and working at a different program for two years. 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. Briana is a new mother to Zoe, who is keeping Briana and her husband plenty busy. Out of the classroom Briana enjoys watching movies, traveling, trying new restaurants and spending time with family.

Darnica Crawford has been at TCS for nine years and has taught in all three classrooms during that time. 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. 

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.

Patricia (Pat) Schreiber has a Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education from University of Maryland.  She recently joined TCS after a career with experience across various types of early childhood education programs including Greenbelt Cooperative Nursery School, the University of Maryland's Lab School, and most recently at a downtown law firm's onsite program.  She has taught children from 2s to 5 years of age.  

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 six years.  

The Rainbows Team:

Jess Lewis has been at TCS for five years. 2018 marks her twelfth 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. 

Morgan Powell is a native Washingtonian with a passion for serving youth, especially in her hometown. This is her second year at TCS, both years in the Rainbows room.  She has been in the early childhood education field in different capacities for almost a decade, including having worked as a preschool teacher on Capitol Hill for 5 years. When she isn’t creating in the classroom, she can be found flexing her entrepreneurial muscle as a stylist and co-owner of her local fashion company. Morgan is looking forward to the adventures she will embark upon, and the experiences that will turn into lifelong memories, with this year’s Rainbows class.

Alla Stellakis is the newest member of our team. She recently moved to DC after getting married in Philadelphia. She attended Temple University and received her B.S. in Early Childhood Education. Before making her way down to the Capital she taught PreK for two years at The Meadowbrook School located in Philadelphia. She has had several years of experience prior, working with young children in a childcare setting as well as volunteering in bible study, Ukrainian language class and Arts and Craft director at her local church. Alla is passionate about art and enjoys bringing that creative side into the classroom. She is an energetic, compassionate and nurturing person who loves working with young children. Alla is excited to embark on this new journey in the Rainbow classroom. 

Zina Foston just started at TCS in September.  Before that, she was teaching dance and sports classes to children in Virginia and teaching spin classes.  With over 7 years of childcare/teaching experience and a B.S. from Howard University in Human Development, she has found her home away from home in the classroom. Zina is an artist at heart who brings her creative outlook on life to the classroom. Zina looks forward to introducing her students to the art world, while simultaneously feeding their interests as well.   She is excited to be a part of the TCS family and to work with your Rainbows this year.

Additional Staff:

Marsha Obusek, Yoga Instructor and Substitute teacher