Offering The Best Childhood Preparation for Social and Academic Success.


The Goddard School®
Sandy Springs

1150 Hammond Drive
AtlantaGA 30328

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Our teachers blend the highest standards in early childhood development with nurturing care.

Mr Jay, Owner Jay B. Bryan, Owner

Education: Jay holds an B.A. from Duke University, where he majored in Economics and Public Policy. He also holds a J.D. from Duke University School of Law.

Experience: After practicing law in Atlanta, Georgia, and Washington, D.C., for the past 21 years, Jay decided it was time for a change. Becoming the Owner of The Goddard School® located in Sandy Springs allowed him the opportunity to combine one of his loves -- children -- with one of his dreams -- running his own business. Jay is very excited about getting the school built and filled with children, and making sure the parents take comfort knowing their children are being nurtured, educated, and, above all else, protected. Jay will be actively involved in the classrooms and the day-to-day operations of the School. Having three of his own children, Jay recognized the need and demand for a quality alternative to standard childcare. After extensive research, he decided to open The Goddard School located in Sandy Springs. He looks forward to providing an environment and the resources to give children the opportunity to become happy, confident learners.

Ms Thonja, Director Thonja N. Smith, Director

Education/Degree/Certificates: Thonja holds a B.A. in Criminal Justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She has received her Director Certification from Bright from the Start: Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, and she holds a Technical Certificate of Credit from Atlanta Technical College in Early Childhood Care Program Administration. Knowing things change constantly in the childcare field, Thonja is continuing her education and pursuing a second degree in Early Childhood Education, which she is scheduled to complete in the Spring of 2016.

Experience: In 2007, after spending nine years in the legal profession, Thonja started her childcare career as an after-school teacher for 25 students. Shortly thereafter, she was asked to assume the role of Assistant Director. While serving as Assistant Director, Thonja fell in love with the administrative aspect of childcare. Thonja joined the Goddard family in May 2008, and taught in the classroom for a few weeks before being promoted to the Director of Education at another Goddard School in Georgia. She still enjoys the classroom atmosphere and further honed her skills in the classroom this past Summer while agreeing to fulfill dual roles of teaching Summer Camp and serving as the Director of The Goddard School. Thonja also enjoys the dual role of Curriculum Coordinator and she has extensive training in Promoting Quality Programming for Preschools, age appropriate developmental Lesson Planning, and Sign Language. Thonja is excited about the opening of The Goddard School located in Sandy Springs and is looking forward to meeting our prospective families. Thonja says, “I love interacting with the parents and their precious little ones.”

Philosophy on Teaching: Thonja believes in a learning environment that consists of a balance of both structure and fun, making it easy and enjoyable for children to explore and learn. Her philosophy finds its roots in a family of successful educators dating back to her great grandfather who was the Head Master of a The James School in St. Vincent & The Grenadines, West Indies back in the 1930s and 1940s, a grandmother who was a teacher in St. Vincent & The Grenadines for over 25 years, a cousin who is a principal of a public school in Maryland, and several other family members who have held numerous teaching positions.

Ms Ontanee, Assistant Director Ontanee G., Assistant Director

Education: Ms. Ontanee has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and an Associate of Arts degree in Marketing from University of Phoenix.

Experience: Ms. Ontanee was the Office Manager and Teacher Supervisor for a nationally branded child development center. She was also a Manager for Enterprise Car Rental for six years prior to her work in the early childhood education field. Ms. Ontanee has worked with children since she was 12 years old. Ms. Ontanee has also worked as an afterschool teacher and a substitute teacher for several public schools in Georgia.

Philosophy on Teaching: Ms. Ontanee believes that starting the day with hugs and smiles will go a long way. Love and happiness is truly contagious. Kids learn best when they are in a comfortable environment that is encouraging and fun!

Mrs Sylvia, Lead Teacher Sylvia L., Lead Teacher -- First Steps

Education: Ms. Sylvia has a Child Development Associate Credential (CDA) from the State of Georgia. She is fluent in Slovak, Czech, Hungarian and proficient in French, all of which she learned while studying Foreign Languages for two years at The University of Comenius in her native country of Slovakia. She is currently studying Spanish as well.

Experience: Ms. Sylvia has been working in early child development with young children, from infants to preschoolers, since 1996. In addition, she worked as a nanny for many years. She has been with The Goddard School in Sandy Springs since 2010 and came to us with a wealth of experience and is dedicated and committed to caring for and educating young children.

Philosophy on Teaching: Ms. Sylvia believes that learning should begin at an early age in order for students to develop a lifelong love of learning as we encourage each each child’s individual development through fun and playful activities.

Mrs Cartrella, Lead Teacher Cartrella B., Co-Lead Teacher -- Young Toddlers

Education: Mrs. Cartrella received her Child Development Associate Credential on December 1, 2012. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education.

Experience: Mrs. Cartrella began working with children when she was 16 years old in a child care facility owned by her family. In addition, Mrs. Cartrella has held several teaching positions at various other child care and preschools. She was the Lead Pre-K teacher at Semaj Learning Academy from May through October of 2014, Lead Preschool Teacher at Bright Beginnings from July through November of 2013, Lead Preschool Teacher at Le Le’s Learning Center from June of 2011 through June of 2013, an Infant Teacher at Molly World Academy in June of 2009 until she became Lead Toddler Teacher in May of 2010. She was also a Teaching Assistant from January 2004 until May of 2007 at Nita’s daycare.

Philosophy on Teaching: Mrs. Cartrella believes teaching requires more than just love for children. It also requires ongoing research and hands on experience. No teacher is perfect and should constantly strive to improve.

Ms Rubi, Lead Teacher Rubi R., Lead Teacher -- Toddlers

Education: Ms. Rubi is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Child Psychology at Georgia State University with a minor in Early Childhood Education. Ms. Rubi received her Technical Certificate of Credit in Early Childhood Core and Education Basics.

Experience: Ms. Rubi has been working with children in the child care setting for three years. Ms. Rubi completed an internship at a childcare center in East Point, Georgia. After her internship ended, she was offered a full time position at that childcare center. Ms. Rubi became a lead Toddler teacher and loves working with the two year old children. Ms. Rubi also takes care of her younger siblings.

Philosophy on Teaching: Ms. Rubi believes that every child is a unique individual who needs a secure, caring and stimulating atmosphere where they can grow emotionally, intellectually and physically.

Ms Abigail, Lead Teacher Abigail L., Lead Teacher -- Get Set

Education: Ms. Abigail holds a Child Development Associate's degree from Bright From The Start. Ms. Abigail graduated from Alpharetta High School.

Experience: Ms. Abigail worked at Akers Academy in Cumming, Georgia, from September 2010 to February 2013. Ms. Abigail worked at Kids R Kids, Inc. as a Senior Counselor from March 2008 to May 2010.

Philosophy on Teaching: Ms. Abigail believes that every child is different and, therefore, develops in a manner unique to the child. Children deserve an inviting, engaging, and positive atmosphere for learning. It’s important to know each child’s strengths and weaknesses and support them in every way.

Mrs Diana, Lead Teacher Diana R., Co-Lead Teacher -- Preschool Two

Education: Mrs. Diana has a Child Development Associate Credential (CDA).

Experience: Mrs. Diana has been working as a two year old teacher since 2011 and especially enjoys this age group. She conducts her circle time completely in Spanish and encourages her students to “use their words,” whether it is in English or Spanish. Mrs. Diana has two children of her own and babysits for families enrolled in our School and for neighbors as well.

Philosophy on Teaching: Ms. Diana believes every child, whether infants, toddlers or preschool, learns in different ways and teachers must be patient and sensitive to each individual child's needs.

Ms Maureen, Lead Teacher Maureen D., Co-Lead Teacher -- Early Preschool

Education: Ms. Maureen holds an Associate’s degree in Criminal Justice from the Community College of Philadelphia in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Ms. Maureen also holds a Bachelor's degree in Justice from The American University, Washington, DC, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude.

Experience: Ms. Maureen has over 26 years of experience in early childhood development. She has worked at Akers Academy from February 2007 to April 2013. From January 2008 to present, Ms. Maureen has worked at Acumen Services in Alpharetta, Georgia, where she instructs and assists special needs children in daily activities. From 2004 to 2006, Ms. Maureen worked with Fulton County Schools in Suwanee, Georgia, as a special needs paraprofessional. She also worked at First Academy in Alpharetta, Georgia as the toddler teacher from 2001 to 2003. Ms. Maureen operated her own in home daycare in Alpharetta, Georgia, from 1989 to 2001.

Philosophy on Teaching: Ms. Maureen believes that children learn best through play and positive role models. By coordinating work at home and in school, students will receive a superior education.

Mrs Suman, Lead Teacher Suman ("Mrs. S") K., Co-Lead Teacher -- Junior Kindergarten

Education: Mrs. S received a Bachelor's Degree in Commerce and a Bachelor's Degree in Education from Delhi University.

Experience:  Since 1999, Mrs. S has worked with children in various school and child care settings in countries such as Dubai, Kuwait, Ukraine, and the United States.

Philosophy on Teaching:  Mrs. S believes it is her job to know her students, and her responsibility to know what kind of knowledge and experience they each bring to the group. She states that “teachers who demonstrate curiosity and passion about a subject will motivate their students to learn.”

Miss Cathryn, Lead Teacher Cathryn W., Lead Teacher -- Kindergarten

Education: Ms. Cathryn received her Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Georgia State University.

Experience: Ms. Cathryn has gained experience working with children for more than 6 years through interning at Sprayberry Academy, Peachtree Elementary School, and Norcross Elementary School, student teaching at Walnut Grove Elementary School, and teaching at The Sunshine House Preschool. Ms. Cathryn has also been a nanny to children ages 4, 8, and 10.

Philosophy on Teaching: Ms. Cathryn’s ascribes to Piaget’s philosophy that all children learn best through play and she strives to make her lessons not only meaningful, but fun as well.

Mrs Daonapha, Assistant Teacher Daonapha ("Dao") C., Assistant Teacher Infant One

Education: Mrs. Dao has a Certification from Georgia Association on Young Children and she has also completed the Armatus Online Training Course.

Experience: Mrs. Dao was a nanny for a family in Los Angeles, California from September 2005 through August 2007, and after moving to Atlanta in 2007 she was an assistant teacher at Dunwoody Academy and Infants of Dunwoody.

Philosophy on Teaching:
Mrs. Dao believes that children learn very fast with everything we teach them.

Mrs Diana, Assistant Teacher Diana M., Assistant Teacher -- Infant Two

Education: Ms. Diana graduated from Woodstock High School in Woodstock, Georgia.

Experience: Ms. Diana has had numerous babysitting jobs as well as raising three children of her own.

Philosophy on Teaching: Ms. Diana’s philosophy on teaching is to make educational activities fun by playing games to keep the children interested.

Mrs Iliyana, Assistant Teacher Iliyana P., Assistant Teacher -- First Steps

Education: Mrs. Iliyana holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Early Childhood Education from Sofia University in Sofia, Bulgaria, and she also has a college degree in Early Childhood Education from Vratza College in Vratza, Bulgaria. In addition to speaking English, she speaks Bulgarian and Russian.

Experience: After college, Mrs. Iliyana taught at an Early Childcare facility in Vidin, Bulgaria from 1998 to 2001 before moving to the United States. Prior to joining The Goddard School, Mrs. Iliyana taught for several years at an Atlanta area daycare. She also teaches Russian and Bulgarian languages to children on the weekend.

Philosophy on Teaching: Mrs. Iliyana “first hugs, then teaches.” She believes that each child deserves a nurturing and stable environment and an environment that comes from loving and caring teachers.

Ms Maria, Assistant Teacher Maria G., Assistant Teacher -- Young Toddlers

Education: Ms. Maria, who was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, graduated in 2013 from Riverwood High School located in Sandy Springs.

Experience: Ms. Maria is active in the care of her younger siblings.

Philosophy on Teaching: Ms. Maria believes every child should receive an education and that every child should begin their education in their early childhood years because it better prepares them for the future.

Mrs Kanchan, Assistant Teacher Kanchan S., Assistant Teacher -- Preschool One

Education: Ms. Kanchan received a Bachelor of Commerce and a Master of Commerce from Mumbai University in India.

Experience: Prior to working at The Goddard School, Ms. Kanchan had 8 years of experience in the Banking and Insurance industries. After deciding it was time to change careers, Ms. Kanchan's interest in working with children led her to The Goddard School. She finds that working with children is a very rewarding experience.

Philosophy on Teaching: Ms. Kanchan believes teaching is an art and not a science. She trusts that optimism and encouragement within the classroom can be extremely powerful.

Mrs Tanya, Assistant Teacher Tanya P., Assistant Teacher -- Floater

Education: Mrs. Tanya holds a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting Management from Djon Atanasov University in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. In addition to speaking English, she speaks Bulgarian and Russian.

Experience: Mrs. Tanya has raised two children of her own who are now age 20 and 14.

Philosophy on Teaching: Mrs. Tanya believes that children should be taught with love and care. She also believes children should feel warmth and love from their teachers. Mrs. Tanya believes it is not what you do for the children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings.

Ms Christine, Resource Christine H., Assistant Teacher - Toddlers & Office Administrator (PM)

Education: Ms. Christine is currently a student at Georgia State University and is pursuing a B.A. in Sociology.

Experience: Prior to working at The Goddard School, Ms. Christine was a mentor for children at Woodland Elementary School and Dunwoody Springs Elementary School. She has been with The Goddard School since 2011. She has gained valuable experience with children of all different ages (infants, toddlers, preschoolers) from her classroom work at our School and while babysitting and while acting as a nanny for numerous families enrolled in our School and located in the Atlanta area. Ms. Christine devotes much of her free time caring for children in and out of our School. Kids are her passion.

Philosophy on Teaching: Ms. Christine believes children should be able to explore, learn, and play in a happy and comfortable environment where each child is cloaked with support, patience, and love.

Mrs Noemi, Resource Noemi G., Office Administrator/Advanced Spanish Teacher

Education: Ms. Noemi attended Antelope Valley High School in California.

Experience: Ms. Noemi has two children of her own and was at home with them for four years prior to joining The Goddard School in Sandy Springs in July 2010. She enjoys being a part of the Goddard family! During this time, she has worked with all age groups from infants, toddlers preschool and school aged children. She has taught Spanish to students ages one and up, and has been a dependable guide and trainer for new faculty at our School.

Philosophy on Teaching: Ms. Noemi states, "Children are our future, therefore, a teacher should take their time and teach them what they need for life. My philosophy is that children are unique and have all different learning styles. I can make a difference by providing the children with a loving and safe learning environment."

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