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 35 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 time with my husband and two growing children who are 12 and 17. I also love gardening, spending time outside, and hanging out with my two labradors, seven chickens, and three turkeys!
Emily Patton, Operations Manager
A native to Columbus, Ohio, Emily has spent ten 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 a master’s degree in Human Development through Pacific Oaks College. She is honored to be a part of the Epiphany Early Learning team and looking forward to getting to know all of you!
Emily 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.
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 teacher 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, Blackberry 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, MENTOR TEACHER AND PLAYGROUND Leadership
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.
Jen Van, Blackberry and Salmonberry Teacher
I recently moved to the beautiful Seattle area from Northern California with my partner. I received my B.A. in Child Development from Humboldt State University in 2014. I truly believe that we have much to learn from young children -- to never stop being curious about life and the world around us, to always be fully in the present moment, and to experience all the joys and occasional pains that life has to offer. For the past 8 years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with children and families in various settings, with 5 years in the Early Childhood Education field. The best part of being in this field is the unique relationships that I get to build and experience with the families and children. I look forward to getting to know and grow alongside all the children, families, and teachers here at EELP!
Flory Gonzalez, 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, Salmonberry 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."
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!
Grace Goldman, Huckleberry Teacher
I am so excited to be a part of the Epiphany Early Learning community! I have been working in childcare and early childhood education for the past four years, and I have had the opportunity to teach and care for children ranging from infancy to early teens. I graduated in June 2017 with a B.A. in Early Childhood and Family Studies from the University of Washington, and I am looking forward toimplementing what I have learned. In my free time, I love to swim, hike, play guitar, read or watch movies, and spend time with my family and friends.
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 and program supervisor
I grew up on the east coast, mostly in Massachusetts, but I also spent some of my childhood in Virginia. 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 State in 2010 to be an AmeriCorps volunteer at a Head Start in Port Angeles, WA. After completing my year of service, I realized that I was passionate about teaching in early childhood education and I moved to Seattle. I was a resident teacher at a private school in their Pre-K program before I began working at EELP. My son, Sawyer, was born in 2014 and he’s in the Salmonberry classroom on the other campus. Outside of work I enjoy reading books, spending time with my family (Sawyer, my husband Ralph, and our dog), and being outside - our family loves exploring different parks in the Seattle area. I look forward to getting to know all of you and building a community of teachers, children, and parents.
Laurie Goff, Interlaken teacher
My journey to early childhood education has been a long and windy road, with a few detours along the way. Yet everything I have ever done has prepared me to work with preschooler children and their families. Stating by attending the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington DC, then, The Evergreen State College in Olympia WA and got my B.A. Degree in Expressive Arts and Humanities. I worked at Giddens School with their Elementary and Preschool program, then Hamlin Robertson, the JCC and Jewish Day School. And finally I worked at Wellspring Family Services in their Early Learning Center. After two years of working at that amazing program, I received an unexpected call that there was an opening at EELP Interlaken.. I jumped at it! I am so excited to be a part of the EELP family and can’t wait to watch the children in my class grow and become themselves, I also can’t wait for all the new lessons they will teach me. Let the learning begin!
Pete Intravartolo, Interlaken Teacher
I began my career and adventure in early childhood education when my own son Jason began preschool 10 years ago. Initially studying the methods of Maria Montessori, and expanding my knowledge of the Reggio Emilia approach and experiential learning ever since. Over the past 5 years I have continued my teaching efforts, first as Program Coordinator for Powerful Schools at Hawthorne Elementary, and on the Sound Child Care Solution’s “Relief Squad”. I enjoy biking, rafting, skiing, and skydiving. One hobby that has been close to my heart ever since I was a kid is photography. Mainly sunsets and nature, but really anything that catches my eye. I enjoy stopping to capture those moments of light and changing perspectives. It is with that joy, those moments of “ah ha” and discovery, that I strive to teach.
Alea Fry, Blackberry Teacher
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. Alea currently lives in north Seattle near Green Lake and loves the park.
Other wonderful staff you’ll meet:
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.
Kacie Grice, 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
Jana Vitols is an early childhood music educator and vocalist accompanying her classes on ukulele, banjo, violin and guitar. Since 1998, she has had the joy of sharing music with infants, toddlers and preschoolers at a variety of early learning centers, libraries, developmental preschools, family resource centers, shelters, and music schools.
Jana’s music curriculum is influenced by her degree in Dance Movement Therapy (Naropa University) with additional studies in Dalcroze/Eurhythmics, a pedagogy that aligns music with movement. Drawing from classical, folk, world and improvisational music and movement traditions she creates opportunities for children to learn music fundamentals, while disguising her teaching methods in a costume of play.
As founder and director of Music for Everyone, an independent music program that supports families learning music together, she was awarded Parent Map’s Golden Teddy Award for “Best Toddler Class.”
When she’s not in the classroom or performing, Jana enjoys growing and arranging flowers, volunteering at Amara and Familyworks and spending time with her family.