Goddard School teachers play an active role in your child’s education and development, setting the stage for a fun, engaging learning environment. These enthusiastic, creative educators design unique, personalized lesson plans to captivate your child.

The faculty looks for learning opportunities that correspond with the children’s natural interests. If the teachers have planned a lesson on the solar system but the children are fascinated by the rain falling outside, they change the subject of the lesson to focus on the weather. The teachers can also customize the lessons to meet the individual needs of each child.

Goddard Schools provide a teacher-to-child ratio that allows all the children to receive the individualized attention they need to grow and learn at a comfortable pace. To learn more about the faculty members, find a location near you.    


2020 Teachers of the Year

Normally, there would be an in-person celebration at each of the winners’ Schools, but that wasn’t an option this year. We improvised and hosted three separate video calls where CEO Dennis Maple surprised the winning teacher with the great news. Congratulations again to all our 2020 Teachers of the Year!



Megan Forstner - Virginia Beach, VA
Megan is a kindergarten teacher from The Goddard School located in Virginia Beach, VA. Megan has worked at her School for 14 years and was dubbed the “Teacher of a Lifetime” by one of the families in her classroom. Parents overall have confidence in Megan because she puts children and families above all else. Her philosophy is that students should be given many opportunities to fly so that they can find their own path to success – because success is a subjective destination that varies from child to child. A mentor to new teachers, Megan also finds ways to give back to the community. For the past three years, Megan has implemented a project in her class about the value of earning and saving money. Throughout the learning unit, materials are purchased to make fleece blankets that are donated to the local hospital’s NICU. This year, 40 blankets were donated.




Jesse Schenck - Schaumburg, IL
Jesse is a preschool II teacher at The Goddard School located in Schaumburg, IL. She has worked at her School for three years and in that short time, she has left quite the impression on her students, their families and fellow faculty members. Every student in her classroom feels seen, heard and validated because of Jesse’s ability to give her undivided attention to all children. She has also tirelessly helped parents who need assistance or resources when they have questions about their child’s development. Jesse runs the Scholastic Book Fair at her School and recently gave her Scholastic points to help a family provide books to underserved children in Mexico. This kind gesture turned into a School project, which resulted in donating more than 300 books and money for school supplies to the school in Mexico.




Samantha Theoret - Monroe, CT
Samantha is a pre-kindergarten teacher at The Goddard School located in Monroe, CT. She has worked at this School for four years and has been described as playing important roles as a teacher, leader, mentor and friend. Samantha handles a classroom full of happy and very energetic children. She decided to harness that energy into something amazing for the entire class. She created a reward system called “Caught Being Kind,” where students are recognized by their peers for their kind gestures – big or small. Samantha also teaches her students about giving back to the community. This past year, she hosted a can and bottle recycling drive to raise money to support the Furry Friends Foster and Rescue, Inc., a non-profit dog rescue located in Monroe, CT. Her students learned about caring for animals, the environment and civic spirit.


2019 Teachers of the Year



Rachael Kelly - Anderson Township, OH
Rachael Kelly, a teacher in the infant classroom at The Goddard School located in Anderson Township, OH, proposed ideas and systems to balance the needs of the infants while also providing them with opportunities for growth. She independently created a feeding chart that leaves no room for error, she learned to manage the electronic daily system to establish routines and she rearranged the room to allow for autonomy in learning and growth. She has also promoted the infant program through Anderson Mercy Hospital, making The Goddard School a resource for new parents.




Marissa Calhoun - Wyomissing, PA
Marissa Calhoun, the lead teacher in the first steps classroom at The Goddard School located in Wyomissing, PA, used her experience working with young children to write three children’s books. She has undertaken this task because she found it difficult to find books that suited the needs of her classroom. Since young children have short attention spans but a high capacity for learning, she decided to write books that speak specifically to her students. Marissa is also the go-to mentor for new teachers as she makes them feel like they’re part of the Goddard family.



Erin Reynolds - Auburn, MA
Erin Reynolds, a teacher in the toddler classroom at The Goddard School located in Auburn, MA, is currently transforming the playground into a sensory garden that will help extend the children’s learning. Her design incorporates visual, auditory and nature centers to provide children with a fun, hands-on learning experience. Erin has also reached out to several local nurseries, which will be donating plants for the new garden. In addition, she arranged to have a visit from a local farmer who will teach the students about agriculture and organic food.



Kim Peterson - Schwenksville, PA
Kim Peterson, a teacher in the preschool classroom at The Goddard School located in Schwenksville, PA, implemented service projects into her curriculum this year. Her first project was having the children make a Valentine’s Day card to spread the love to a local senior living center. Her next service project will involve thanking local veterans for their service. Kim has also been a mentor to new faculty members, showing them proper health and safety procedures, lesson planning and other ins and outs of running a classroom.


2018 Teachers of the Year



Heather Lisbona – Hendersonville, TN
Heather Lisbona, a junior kindergarten teacher at The Goddard School located in Hendersonville, TN, integrated sign language into her teaching program and expanded the School’s current sign language curriculum to assist a new student in her class who is hard of hearing. As a result, the student was able to communicate effectively with his peers and acclimated to the classroom and curriculum, and the other students learned a new skill and gained an appreciation of various ways of learning. Additionally, Heather leads a school-wide charity program to support a local cause within the community each month. Past activities include food, clothing and book drives, 5K races and United Way penny wars.




Mary Kirkwood and Alison Haller – Urbana, MD
Mary Kirkwood and Alison Haller, teachers at The Goddard School located in Urbana, MD, introduced Tigers’ Year of Giving to help children develop a better sense of community and teach them the importance of giving to others. Each month, the teachers engage the children in discussions and brainstorming sessions what areas of giving they would like to focus on for the month. The children then work with their teachers to create boxes, posters and flyers outlining their plan for giving that month. At the end of each month, the children and teachers sort the items into boxes and prepare them for the chosen charity. The teachers and children then discuss their thoughts and feelings about the success of that month’s community project.



Christin Campbell and Courtney Goodburlet – Hershey, PA
Christin Campbell and Courtney Goodburlet, teachers at The Goddard School located in Hershey, PA, introduced the Wonders of Hershey program to build a better sense of community among the students and parents. The teachers created the program because they believed that by learning about Milton Hershey, who founded the Hershey chocolate company, the students would become interested in their local community. As part of the program, students supported a range of charities, such as the Ronald McDonald House, which assists families in need around the world, including families in the Hershey Medical Center. The students, parents and teachers at The Goddard School collected and donated items for those families during their time of need. The program taught the students what it means to be good citizens in their community and how to give back. The program also included field trips to Hershey’s Chocolate World and Zoo America.



Amanda Olenwine – Gaithersburg, MD
Amanda Olenwine, a kindergarten teacher at The Goddard School located in Gaithersburg, MD, differentiated her lesson plans to cater to the diverse styles of learning her students have. She encourages students to explore different ways of learning with highly engaging, hands-on activities in small groups. For example, when they are practicing sight words, she will let them choose whether to write the words in sand, build them with yarn and glue or play a bean bag toss game. Her unique and effective lesson plans engage children in the learning process.


2017 Teachers of the Year



Laura Flanagan – Exton, PA
Laura Flanagan, a pre-k teacher at The Goddard School located in Exton, PA, created Taste It Tuesday after noticing that her students were curious about the colorful array of fresh fruits and vegetables she brought for lunch. She created the activity hoping that it would encourage and help her students to try unfamiliar healthy foods. During morning circle time, Laura introduced the food they were going to sample and related the food to the letter of the alphabet they were currently studying. During the lesson and before sampling the food, the students made observations and predictions about the food’s texture and taste. While the students were sampling the food, Laura discussed where the food was grown and why it is a healthy choice. She also made cultural connections where applicable. At the end of the lesson, all the students added their names to the Taste It Tuesday graph, which showed who liked or did not like the food they tasted. The project has been such a success that multiple classrooms in the School now hold Taste It Tuesday, and teachers in different classrooms collaborate on it.




Everith Radcliffe and Ashlee Summer – Simpsonville, SC
Everith Radcliffe and Ashlee Summer, junior kindergarten teachers at The Goddard School located in Simpsonville, SC, created the Friendship Curriculum. The teachers developed an initialism, FRES-CLAK, to highlight the necessary components of a healthy friendship: friendship, respect, empathy, sharing - compassion, love, acceptance and kindness. The goal was to help students focus on learning, having fun and building caring relationships while receiving opportunities to develop and practice important social-emotional skills, such as controlling their own feelings, behaving appropriately and getting along with their peers. The teachers focused on helping young children and their families understand the importance of social and emotional well-being and development. The tools included a kindness chain, an I Am Feeling mood dial, the “Good Friend” poem, a bucket fillers pledge and a 100 Days of Kindness chart.



Kerry Allaire – Wayne, PA
Kerry Allaire, a kindergarten teacher at The Goddard School located in Wayne, PA, implemented Election to give her students a deeper understanding of how the election process works. Each November, Kerry introduces the election process to the students and chooses storybook characters as candidates. This year’s candidates were Clifford the Big Red Dog, Madeline and Arthur. Students prepared for Election Day by reading books to learn about each candidate’s platform and by creating buttons and campaign posters. They also cast their votes. Each student had a job to perform. First, students informed the teachers about the candidates and their platforms. Next, students had the teachers sign in before voting, and then the students gave the teachers a ballot to place in the ballot box. The teachers who voted received an ‘I Voted’ button, and once the polls were closed, the votes were tallied to determine the winner. Clifford the Big Red Dog was this year’s winner! The election project doesn’t end in November; an inauguration ceremony was held for Clifford, and students discussed the activities of the day.



Megan Brady – Fanwood, NJ
Megan Brady, a kindergarten teacher at The Goddard School located in Fanwood, NJ, created a program called Journalism to help her students investigate a variety of careers. Each month, Megan invited two visitors to the classroom, each with a career related to a specific theme. The children met a flight attendant, a lawyer, an editor, a photographer, an animal protection provider, a publisher and a nutritionist. Before each visit, the children prepared questions for the guest interview, and during each visit, the responses were logged. These tasks mirror the responsibilities of journalists. The students learned about open-ended and close-ended questions and about occupations in the journalism field. The students often mimicked these interesting roles. The culmination of the project is a video montage of the broadcasts the children created that will be shown on graduation day. The broadcast will feature the children as news anchors, and they will discuss all the relevant Goddard news from the year.


2016 Teachers of the Year



Anna Pecoraro, Elgin, IL
Anna Pecoraro, a kindergarten teacher at The Goddard School located in Elgin, took The Goddard School’s learning through play philosophy to heart when she created Family Game Night. Every Friday, children choose a new game from the classroom game library to take home and play with their families. When children return to school on Monday, they write a journal entry about who they played with, what they played and what they enjoyed about the game. By playing these learning games, the children learn critical thinking skills, problem-solving skills and more. In May, the board games will be given to children and families of a local shelter for women and children.




Pamela Gijanto & Sabrina Piotrowski, Marlboro I, NJ
Pam Gijanto and Sabrina Piotrowski, pre-kindergarten teachers at The Goddard School located in Marlboro (School Road East), created the Kindness Mission to guide and encourage children to be kind to others. The mission’s goal is to show the students that their small acts of kindness can have a big impact on others as well as themselves. Pam and Sabrina believe that children should feel good about themselves for not only being “smart,” “athletic,” “silly” or “funny,” but for also being kind and caring toward others. During the month of February, Pam and Sabrina organized a gently used toy collection to donate to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Monmouth County. They specifically asked parents to encourage their children to choose toys that they would like to donate, allowing the students to actively be involved and experience the feeling of helping others.



Christina Mruskovic, Hillsborough, NJ
Christina Mruskovic, a kindergarten teacher at The Goddard School located in Hillsborough, organized intergenerational activities for her class to participate in with residents of a nearby assisted living facility. The children spent the first few months of school setting the foundation for the project by learning about families, etiquette and manners. Christina incorporated lessons about different generations into all the learning domains. After some brainstorming, the children decided to make love bug pins with the residents to celebrate Valentine’s Day. The children worked with the residents to help them complete the craft, then shared a snack and sang songs. Christina is already planning the next event in May when the class will visit the facility to do a Mother's Day activity with the residents.

2015 Teachers of the Year



Angie Petrillo, Wayne, NJ
Angie Petrillo, a pre-kindergarten teacher at The Goddard School located in Wayne, taught children and parents about the importance of good manners by producing a musical called “Good Manners: A Medieval Quest for Polite Behavior.” She and a team of fellow teachers designed costumes, crafted a set and worked with the children to rehearse. After weeks of preparation and rehearsal, the children, ranging from infants through those six years old, took to the stage to tell the tale of sorcerers, princesses, knights and dragons who discovered the importance of good manners. Angie coordinated a total of four performances, and each one was a huge success. The children and parents had a blast while the teachers enjoyed the collaboration.




Gerianne Holl, Cranberry Township, PA
Gerianne Holl, a pre-kindergarten teacher at The Goddard School located in Cranberry Township, helped develop her students’ writing and communication skills by integrating the Pen Pal Patriots program into the language arts and social studies curriculums. She encouraged the children and families in her class to communicate with members of the U.S. Navy stationed in Bahrain. The children and their families created cards and care packages to send to their pen pal. Gerianne and the children also use an interactive whiteboard and Skype to chat with their pen pals several times throughout the year. The children collaborate in developing the questions, and then take turns speaking to the pen pals via the interactive whiteboard. Gerianne’s family’s military background and her co-teacher’s experiences with the armed forces inspired her to create the program.



Ryan Mayes, Goodyear, AZ
Ryan Mayes, a preschool teacher at The Goddard School located in Goodyear, is on the cutting edge of STEAM learning (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics). In addition to providing STEAM learning opportunities with the children, he has created a strong home/school connection by providing valuable resources for parents to continue the learning outside of the classroom. The Education Beyond the Classroom: STEAM Parent Series is split into sessions that address each subject and has been well received by families in the community. Ryan has recorded the sessions and has made them available to those who cannot attend.



Valerie Schmitzer, Doylestown, PA
Valerie Schmitzer, a kindergarten teacher at The Goddard School located in Doylestown, combined education with giving back to the community. Valerie and the children in her class spent months studying coins and money, construction and design, the chemistry of solids and liquids, art concepts of line and color and literacy topics such as letter sounds and persuasive writing. The children then collaborated to use everything they learned to open a lemonade stand at the School to raise money for Alex’s Lemonade Stand. At the end of each day, the children counted the money they received from sales and graphed their progress toward their monetary goal. Valerie and her students also discussed the importance of raising money to help advance medical research.

To view more Teacher of the Year videos, please visit our YouTube Channel!

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