Faculty & STAFF
Our teachers are experienced teachers, many with BA and MA degrees in early childhood education. They receive ongoing professional development through in-service training, on-site coaching, workshops, college classes, and conferences. Other professionals include our chef, kitchen assistant, and music teacher who provide healthy nourishment and program enrichment.
Julie Bisson, Director
I have been teaching and learning in the field of early childhood education for more than 30 years. Epiphany Early Learning is the fifth early learning program I’ve had the pleasure of directing. I love my job at EELP! It is a rare gift as a director to be able to co-create a program that embodies your vision by working alongside a dedicated and skillful staff that makes it so. I have an MA degree from Pacific Oaks College, I’m an author, and I provide consulting and training on a variety of educational topics. When not working I spend every minute I can with my husband and two growing children who are 10 and 15. I also love to garden, spend time outside, and care for my two labradors, seven chickens, and one turkey!
Jules Hankes, Operations Manager
Hello! I feel lucky to have been a part of Epiphany Early Learning since 2013. I joined the field of Education back in 2001 when I taught middle school math in NYC and earned a Master of Education at Bank Street College. My first years of teaching instilled in me an immediate passion for supporting the systems and professional development opportunities that educators need in order to thrive as professionals whose primary work is exploration and celebration of wonder within the context of the most high-stakes and high-investment relationships we know. Since then I’ve been working in ECE education administration and have loved every day where I get to support the amazing teachers here who engage in thousands of acts of integrity every day - and work alongside such an incredible leader who teaches me all the time about being a better leader. My work passions involve anything that has to do with cultivating the spaces and contexts that bring out inherent genius of individuals and groups (Organization Development, Coaching, Process Consultation, Professional Development, Systems, etc). My personal passions don’t veer far from my professional ones - anything that has to do with poignant attention and gratitude for the blessing of life: bird watching, long walks, reading about human triumph and magic, time with family, friends and people who rock my world…and hopefully this list will just keep growing.
Esther Yi, Toddler Teacher
I was born and raised here in Washington and came to find my passion for working with children while interning at the YMCA as a coach for a program called Girls on the Run. I graduated with a Kinesiology degree at Western Washington University but decided to go into early childhood and served as a lead toddler teacher for over a year just prior to joining EELP. Seeing the children grow so quickly and learn so much in one year has made this field a heartwarming and rewarding one. I've become very passionate about working with children and want to continue to grow in this field while at EELP. I am so thrilled to get to know the children and families as well as the staff!
Belinda Berg, Toddler Teacher
I am so happy to be working with the children, families, and staff of EELP! I’m inspired by the shared commitment to living out values of respect and community. I’m originally from Washington DC. and years ago I moved to Seattle after getting my BA in English. Most of my work life has involved youth (preschoolers and teens) education, social justice, and supporting social-emotional health. Before coming to EELP I was a Teacher’s Assistant for 5 years in local preschools. I’m thrilled to be working with the EELP community to help children grow into their fullest selves as individuals, friends, and citizens who are creative and compassionate, reflective and resilient. When not at work I can often be found happily hanging out with my wife, Kat, our dog, and our two cats.
Helen Graham, Toddler Teacher
I am delighted to be joining the faculty at Epiphany Early Learning Preschool and I’m especially delighted to be working with toddlers! I’ve worked in the field of early childhood education off and on since 1984. I hold a bachelor’s degree in Social Thought and Political Economy from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a MSW from Smith College. A Boston native, I have lived in Seattle since 1991 and currently live in the Seward Park neighborhood with my 17-year-old son, Jesse. Before coming to EELP, I worked for 5 years at the Stroum Jewish Community Centers Early Childhood School in both the 1s and 2s programs. Prior to working at SJCC, I taught for a year at the Central Branch Preschool, worked as a substitute teacher at Bertschi school, and maintained a private psychotherapy practice in Bellevue, Washington for 10 years. I have participated in numerous professional development courses in infant and early childhood mental health, attachment theory, and adoption. I am passionate about teaching very young children, but when I am not teaching I enjoy traveling; especially to the ocean, gardening, thrift shopping, singing and hanging out with dear friends and family here and in New England.
Rebecca Adrian, Salmonberry Teacher
I am a native of San Francisco, CA. After graduating with an M.S. of Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Bank St. College of Education in NYC, I worked in a toddler room, an afterschool program, several ESL Head Start programs, and subbed for the public schools before finding a wonderful educational "home" at Hilltop Children's Center, where I worked for 10 years. I left Hilltop in summer of 2008 to have my daughter Chantreya, who joined me here at Epiphany Early Learning for two years of preschool.
In my spare time I enjoy reading and belonging to a book club, doing pottery, painting, taking long walks to observe nature, and cooking. In addition to doing lots of art to help children express their ideas and interests, I also like to cook with kids and I enjoy doing drama with them too! I look forward to getting to know all of you and building a community of teachers, children, and parents.
Megan Arnim, Salmonberry & Mentor Teacher
My journey into the world of Early Childhood Education started way back in 1994, when I began working one-on-one with children with special needs. I loved that work so much that it inspired me to earn a Washington State Teaching Certificate with an Early Childhood endorsement through Pacific Oaks College. Right out of school I joined the staff of Hilltop Children’s Center, where I honed my craft for more than 16 years in a strong Reggio inspired program before joining Julie Bisson at the newly opening EELP.
Outside of teaching, my life is filled with my husband Erick and our two beautiful daughters, Elizabeth and Amelia. We make our home “up north” in Lynnwood, where we fill our time with friends, pets, music and dance lessons!
I love this work so much! At EELP I am both a classroom teacher and a mentor teacher and I love the chance this gives me to collaborate with both the amazing children who make up my classroom community, and the amazing teachers who make up the EELP staff. I feel truly blessed to be able to come to a place every day where I get to intentionally advocate for children and families and practice the values I hold most dear to my heart. I so look forward to meeting you and I know that together we’ll build the kind of strong, loving community where children thrive!
Take a Look!
Salmonberry teachers Megan Armin and Deb Curtis recently had their article – A Building and Crashing Game – published in NAEYC: National Association for the Education of Young Children's Feb/Mar 2017 issue.
Matthew Lawrence, Salmonberry Teacher
Originally from Santa Clarita, California, I am very excited to be joining the teaching team here at Epiphany Early Learning. I have over ten years of teaching experience in the early childhood field, and more than half of that time has been spent teaching here in the Seattle community. I have taught for the Village Theater Kidstage program and Performing Arts Preschool, as well as the Stroum Jewish Community Center's early childhood program. I am currently finishing my BA degree in early childhood and family studies at the University of Washington. In addition, I hold an artist diploma from the Pacific Conservatory for the Performing Arts. I'm really looking forward to meeting all of the wonderful families and joining in collaboration with all of the other teachers at EELP.
Deb Curtis, Toddler Teacher Mentor & Salmonberry Teacher
Hello! I am a passionate advocate for children and childhood and the adults who care for and educate them. I have spent the past 40 years working with children and teachers in early childhood programs, and observing and studying children and brain development. I have a BA in Communication and an MA in human development. Along with teaching children I also work with teachers all over North America, New Zealand and Australia. I am the co-author of 8 books related to working with young children.
My family includes my partner, Lonnie Bloom, who is a Physical Therapist, and our 29 year-old son Casey who is a legislative assistant to a King County councilman. Observing children to study their points of view and sharing the stories of this remarkable time in their lives is my intellectual, emotional and spiritual work. I am a garage sale and thrift store junkie, where I find collections of interesting things to challenge children’s lively minds. I am an avid baseball fan and also spend lots of time in the natural world, read all kinds of books and cook healthy, gourmet meals for friends and family.
More about Deb...
For more than twenty years, Salmonberry teacher Deb Curtis and her colleague Margie Carter have been inspiring early childhood professionals around the world together—they’ve designed and taught college courses, worked side-by-side with classroom teachers, produced professional development videos, presented at conferences, consulted at centers, and coauthored seven books.
Sandra Floyd, Blackberry & Mentor Teacher
I have been in the early childhood education field for more than 15 years and have worked within many different settings and philosophies. I am currently both a preschool teacher and a mentor teacher at EELP. I truly love working with children and feel blessed that I have found my passion. In the last ten years I have expanded my work in the field by lecturing on the Reggio Emilia philosophy, mentoring teachers, designing preschool classrooms and art studios and contributing to publications and training DVDs. At the heart of my teaching is the belief that teaching and learning happens within relationship. I also believe that the combination of play and critical thinking is how children learn best.
When I am not working I am most likely spending time with my friends and family, who all live in the area. Having my family in the Seattle area has kept me living here the majority of my adult life; going from elementary school all the way through the University of Washington. The lack of sunshine has been a constant struggle for me, but is alleviated by the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Another passion of mine is traveling the world. In the past few years I have been able to visit and even work in a few childcare centers in different parts of the globe. I love to expand my knowledge of what quality early education looks like.
Nikki Frumkin, Blackberry Teacher
I am delighted to join Epiphany Early Learning Preschool. Community and relationships are very important to me and I look forward to meeting many new families and children. My goal in the classroom is to deliberately create a place that supports each child’s sense of self and family, as well as foster appreciation and acceptance of our differences and similarities.
As a young child, my parents gave me a wonderful gift of languages. I grew up speaking Swiss German, French, and Portuguese with family in the United States, Switzerland and Brazil. This rich childhood experience with language, culture, and people drives me to engage with the gift that is a child's culture.
I’m an artist and storyteller and have a degree in Fine Arts in addition to my education degree and New York State teaching certification. I very much enjoy being creative in the classroom and exploring big ideas through art and creative play. When making art with children I encourage them to experiment with art materials and ideas. My goal is for children to use art as a fun and creative tool for problem solving and understanding their world.
When I am not at school or painting in my studio, I am busy exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest. As an east coast native I am awed by the beauty and diverse landscapes of Washington State. I spend my time exploring through rock climbing, hiking, and mountaineering.
Flory Gonzalez, Blackberry & Spanish Teacher
¡Hola! My name is Flory and I’m originally from Guatemala. I began my career in Early Childhood Education after moving to this country and have an AAS degree in Social and Human Services with a specialization in Child and Family Studies. Being a teacher at EELP since 2012 has enriched my knowledge about Early Childhood Education. And, as a native Spanish speaker, teaching Spanish at EELP has become one of the greatest joys in my career.
Teaching Spanish within the Reggio Emilia approach has brought children many opportunities to learn not only the language, but also, to explore learning more about Latino culture by cooking, reading, painting, singing, and playing.
One of my favorite experiences as a Spanish teacher at EELP is to witness how children are encouraged and motivated to share their own home language(s) as they also learn Spanish. Spanish time, as the kids know, is a time to learn, and also, to celebrate and know more about ourselves!
Aaron Carasco, Huckleberry Teacher
I am excited to join you all as we learn through play together! As we kick off the new school year, here's a little about me. I grew up outside Portland, OR. Being smack dab in the middle of 28 cousins, I always say my first teaching experience started with helping to raise the little ones. I moved to Seattle to start coursework in Microbiology. After taking a part-time position at Seattle Symphony's Education Department, I quickly learned my passion was in Early Childhood. Boy, was that a big change! I haven't looked back since. I finished with a degree in Early Childhood and Family Studies with a minor in music. I bring quite a bit of early childhood music to my teaching, so look forward to lots of singing and dancing in Huckleberry! Outside of teaching I sing and dance with the Seattle Men's Chorus. I also love community involvement, live music, and travel! I'll leave you with a quote from my teacher role model, Fred Rodgers. "Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people." – Megan Rupert
Joyce Jackson, Huckleberry Teacher
I’m a wife, a mother of three, and a Grandmother of ten. I’ve been working in the Early Childhood Education field for over 20 years. I really enjoy working with young children. Our children’s first years are their most impressive! Having such an important role in the early education of our future is very, very rewarding. Last but not least, working with children gives me a warm fuzzy feeling on the inside and that’s always a good thing!
Will Mehigan, Huckleberry Teacher
Hailing from the Portland, Oregon area, I moved to Seattle in 2013 and have loved living here ever since. I've had a passion for early education since working at Willowbrook Arts Camp throughout college, where I taught group and individual lessons on a wide variety of musical instruments. Much of my educational philosophy is based on what I learned at Willowbrook, which had an incredibly open, collaborative, student-led approach to learning and discovering art. Most recently I have been working in childcare at the Ballard Boys & Girls Club. I'm very excited to teach in an environment like Epiphany Early Learning, whose ideas about education feel so in line with mine. I have a B.S. in journalism with a minor in music from University of Oregon. In my spare time I enjoy learning more about music, writing songs, and riding my bike to as many of Seattle's beautiful parks and beaches as I can.
Samantha Gill, Huckleberry Teacher
Hello! I'm Samantha (or Sam or Sammy, whatever you prefer) I teach in the Huckleberry room. I'm originally from the Boston area (Go Sox!). After graduating from Skidmore College in upstate New York, I arrived in Seattle in the summer of 2013 and have been falling in love with the PNW ever since! On my free time I like to read, write, bake, cross stitch and hang out with my family and friends. What I love most about teaching is that the kids teach me something new every day.
Marie Baraldi, Interlaken Teacher
Hello! I hold a B.A. from Virginia Tech in Interdisciplinary Studies and a M.Ed. in Elementary Education from the University of Massachusetts Lowell. I moved to Washington 6 years ago to be an AmeriCorps volunteer at a Head Start in Port Angeles. After AmeriCorps, I moved to Seattle and worked at a private school and then at EELP for almost 2 years. For the past year, I have been at another preschool and am looking forward to returning to EELP! Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my family and exploring the Pacific Northwest.
Emily Claire Patton, Interlaken Program supervisor & Mentor Teacher
Emily Claire serves the Interlaken Room as the Program Supervisor and is also a Mentor Teacher for the greater EELP team. A native to Columbus, Ohio, Emily Claire has spent eight years working in early childhood settings and three years working in administrative positions in Ohio, California, Texas, and now Washington. She has a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and Special Education and is completing a master’s degree in Human Development through Pacific Oaks College this summer. She is honored to be a part of the Epiphany Early Learning team and partnering with all families in the Interlaken Room. Looking forward to getting to know all of you!
Emily Claire spends much of her free time swimming, running, and hosting dinner parties with her husband. She is active in the Seattle #BlackLivesMatter movement, as well as Kids4Peace, a peace-based organization for kids from the US and the Middle East. She loves music and dance of all kinds, and enjoys keeping in touch with her family and friends across the country.
Diane Kim, Interlaken Teacher
I am thrilled to be a part of the EELP learning community to serve children in the Interlaken classroom. My educational background includes a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree and a Bachelor of Education degree and I hold a teaching certificate from British Columbia, Canada. As a creativity expert, I am especially passionate about preschool children as they explore, invent, experiment, take risks and have fun. When I am not in the classroom, I am busy learning Mandarin, which is the language my husband’s family speaks. I can also be found in my kitchen making home-made ice cream. My favorite flavors are pistachio and honey lavender. My favorite activities during the summer are catching crabs, kayaking, and scuba diving.
Nancy Seward, Interlaken Teacher
After 20 years living in Ashland OR and Syracuse NY, she has returned to Seattle to continue her work with young children and their families. She recently worked as an art teacher, college professor as well as a preschool and toddler teacher. Her most valuable instructors have been the children themselves and she is intensely curious about what children are thinking. With a background in theater, she enjoys giving children the opportunities to express their imaginations through storytelling, creative dramatics, and role playing. Her 15 year old daughter and 24 year old son both have performed on the stage, under the guidance of their father who is a theater director. She loves to garden, practice yoga, go hiking and boating, and go to art museums.
Alea Fry, On-site sub
Alea Fry has been teaching at EELP since 2014. She lived in Ellensburg, Olympia and Seattle previously. She has a BA and is currently working on a Masters in School Counseling. She loves collaborating with other teachers in her important role as on-site substitute!
Alea currently lives in north Seattle near Green Lake and loves the park.
Other wonderful staff you’ll meet:
Jenny Chhim, Interlaken Kitchen Manager and Teacher
I have been working with Epiphany Early Learning Preschool since October of 2014 as a part-time Teacher, and
as the Interlaken Kitchen Manager. I have always taken an interest in the human service field, but life took me on a different direction and before coming to EELP - I worked in the restaurant industry for the last 5 years, which I thoroughly enjoyed. My time in the kitchen gave me an appreciation of our food culture as a society, and becoming mother made me realize the importance of how we produce and feed our future generation. That's why I feel so fortunate to be able to work in a program that seems to resonate with my passion and interests.
It has been a great experience working with the wonderful, supportive, and dedicated staff at EELP, and it is such a joy to be working with the children I come into contact with everyday in the classroom!
Maya Umland, Chef
Hi, my name is Maya Umland. I am the chef at Epiphany Early Learning Preschool. Before coming to EELP in 2011 I worked at two Reggio-inspired preschools as a volunteer and as a chef at a USDA certified organic preschool locally for a year and a half.
After I graduated from University in Japan, I started my own organic farm with a friend. We often had little visitors from preschools where we sold most of our vegetables. We always had so much fun spending time with the children playing together in the dirt out in nature. This experience helped me realize that it is really important to share and learn about this beautiful world with children. Children are our future!!
I love to eat good food. This is why I love to cook! I love cooking for children, and eating with children is one of my favorite things! It always makes me happy to see children eating, smiling and having fun.
Olivia Exline, Assistant Chef
I have lived in Seattle for about 11 years and am deeply in love with the PNW. I grew up in the Midwest and went college in Chicago (my second favorite city) before heading out west. While in Seattle, I've worked a variety of jobs, but in the last few years, they've centered around kids and health, and most recently, baking in a coffee shop/café. Through these jobs, I discovered that I don't do well at a desk for very long, but I do enjoy creating (food, art, etc), as well as teaching/coaching and training. So I'm super excited that this very unique position exists at EELP that seems to wrap all of these things together!
I love being outside and given the choice, would rather do anything outside versus inside. I currently have 8 housemates, yes, I'm serious. I really want a dog and very much look forward to the day when I can have one. I like doing crosswords, but rarely finish them (I think they're a great partner activity). If I could do one physical activity for the rest of my life it would be rock climbing. It's like physical problem-solving and is a nice balance of challenging and rewarding. I don't consider myself an artist, but an art appreciator and a creative dabbler. I'm pretty bad at favorites, but I can usually give you a top five. I like the idea of shoes more than actually wearing them. I love puns, nachos, craft beer and anything purple.
Jana Vitols, Music Teacher
I am an early childhood music educator whose 14 years of teaching experience draws upon my musical palette of classical, folk, world and improvisational music and movement traditions. I bring to my teaching a background as a musician, parent and preschool teacher. My work as a music educator has included teaching music to infants to five year olds, offering interactive, playful and educational classes to young ones in preschools, youth shelters and family resource centers. In addition to teaching I perform with my band, Your Imaginary Friend, at toddler and children’s birthday parties in private homes throughout Seattle.
I received my BA in Dance Movement Therapy from The Naropa University and I’m strongly influenced by my training in Dalcroze Eurhythmics, a teaching approach that aligns music with movement. My primary teaching instruments are violin, banjo, guitar and ukulele. As a perennial student my curiosity has led me to explore singing in many languages, developing my recording chops, flat-foot clogging, Latvian folk dance and improvisational techniques.
I am the founder and director of Music for Everyone, an independent music teaching program that supports families learning music together.