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.
We know first-time school experiences may come with its challenges, but it also has its rewards. The community that surrounds your child is ever-present and together we hope to create a strong foundation for your child’s early years.
Takoma Children’s School Director Rebecca Wadler has 20 years of teaching experience. She started at TCS in 2019 as the Bluebirds Lead Teacher, then was the Stars Lead Teacher, and then became the Deputy Director before stepping into the Executive Director position in 2023. She has a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and anthropology from Hamilton College and a Master’s degree Columbia University.
Previously, she lived in the Indonesian rainforest for 6 years doing observational research on orangutans and teaching conservation education. Then, she started a nature preschool program at a local nature center. She has been taking tap dance lessons for over 4 years and has been doing improv for the last year. She loves all animals and currently has a very large, shaggy dog – a great pyrenees mix, a guinea pig, a cockatiel, and a turtle – all rescues.
She says: “I am very honored that I get to lead a truly play-based, Reggio inspired program with amazing teachers that respect children and nurture children’s creativity and curiosity to support them in becoming life-long learners. The TCS community is very special and I am glad I am a part of it.”
Adele Woodard has 6 years of teaching experience and a Bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Miami. She plays ukulele and bass, knits, crochets, and has taught outdoor education including backpacking a section of the long trail in Vermont
She says “I love that TCS gives us as educators the space and time to meet children where they are and respect their thoughts, feelings, and opinions. We get to give the children the space to learn and grow without judgment, which is so deeply important in developing a positive relationship with school and education as a whole. Getting to teach in a space where children are both doing an incredible amount of learning as well as feeling genuine joy from getting to come to class and be with peers is truly a gift. I am so grateful that we get to be the best educators that we can be and that we get to see the difference in the children that we work with.”
Pat Schreiber has 42 years of preschool teaching experience a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of Maryland, College Park. She has taken supplemental coursework in Hearing and Speech Development and American Sign Language and has worked as a volunteer clinician in a Children’s Heath and Development Clinic. She also has experience coordinating intergenerational programming for preschoolers and seniors.
She says “TCS provides an environment that respects and supports children and their right to self-chosen, self-directed, play. I am able to develop a deep understanding of each child and their individual interests and passions.”
Natashia Hagans has 25 years of teaching experience and a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Sojourner Douglass College.
She says “ I love exploring with children their growth in social, physical, and emotional development. Watching children learn to think of others’ needs and work together as a classroom community gives me hope for our world.”
Claire McDermott has 5 years of early childhood teaching experience and a Bachor’s degree in Fine Arts from the University of The Arts.
She says “What I love about teaching is sharing my creative arts background in the Bluebirds room. Introducing new materials to our classroom and seeing how each friend may choose to use them.”
Anic Gowens has 4 years of teaching experience, a Bachelor’s degree in Special Education, and a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of Florida. They also have experience writing curriculum for and teaching Sunday School.
They say: “I love watching children develop confidence in themselves as they explore, play, and try new things. My favorite thing to hear in the classroom is “look, I did it!” As children transition from adult support to peer-to-peer support, they begin to recognize how capable they are, sparking a new excitement for learning.”
Erick Flores has 8 years of teaching experience and is currently pursuing a Bachelors degree in child development. He also has experience as an assistant coach for a kids basketball team.
He says he most enjoys “watching the kids’ development as they grow and progress from the Bluebirds to the Stars and then Rainbows, and how much we work to create a great community in the school and neighborhood.”
Alice Young has 9 years of teaching experience and a Bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education specializing in English Literature from Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont. She also has experience as an outdoor education/wilderness guide and as a horseback riding and skiing instructor.
She says: “I love working here because of the school’s dedication to nurturing individual growth and curiosity. It’s amazing to get to watch the children explore, innovate, and learn every day in new ways.”
Pat Kelbaugh has over 30 years of teaching experience and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Early Childhood Education from Towson State University. She directed children and adult choirs for over 20 years; owns a dance studio in Gaithersburg, MD teaching ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical and pointe. She also has two children and six grandchildren.
Ester Kiper has 25 years of teaching experience and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the Universidade Sao Marcos in Sao Paulo, Brasil. She also has experience working with children with special needs and as a child therapist in Brasil.
She says: “Working at TCS brings me immense joy for several reasons. First, witnessing the positive impact I can make in the lives of children is incredibly fulfilling. Observing their growth is a rewarding experience. One of the most gratifying aspects of teaching here is fostering creativity. The imaginative and innovative ideas that children bring to the classroom are truly inspiring. Their unique perspectives contribute to a vibrant learning environment. Engaging in meaningful conversations with the children is a constant source of inspiration. Their curiosity, enthusiasm, and the exchanges we share create a rich and fulfilling teaching experience. In essence, the journey at TCS allows me to contribute to the development of these young minds and witness the transformation throughout the school year. It’s a privilege to be part of their learning adventure.”
Cindy Turcios has 7 years of teaching experience and a Bachelor’s degree in Family Science.
She appreciates that Takoma Children’s School is “a place that gives children the opportunity to explore their own interests and guide their learning through play and exploration.”
Darnica Crawford has 27 years of teaching experience (13 at TCS!) and has studied at Montgomery College and Phoenix University. She previously worked in criminal justice. She enjoys music, cooking, designing shoes and clothes, writing poetry, doing standup comedy, and traveling.
She says that: “My passion for children is understanding and getting on their level. My number one key is you must have the patience and the understanding to become a successful teacher.”
Amy Beam has 40+ years of teaching experience and has studied at Prince George’s Community College, Montgomery College, and Goddard College. She was the 2015 recipient of the Margaret O’Neill Early Childhood Nature Educator Award and was featured in a PBS documentary Mother Nature’s Child. She is Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Eastern Region Association of Forest And Nature Schools (ERAFANS) and is an instructor for Nature Teacher Certification courses and the Art of Mentoring.
She says: “I love that the families are fully engaged with the school, that the experienced staff demonstrates a commitment to the best interests of each child, and especially I love that the children are joyful, exuberant and resilient. The culture of this school is warm and welcoming and provides a wonderful environment for children, their families, the staff and the broader Takoma Park community. The Reggio play-based curriculum continually offers exciting enrichment for all of us!”
Candice Alston has 16 years of teaching experience and a dual CDA in Preschool and Infants/Toddlers. She is pursuing an Associates degree in early childhood education at Ashworth University in Georgia. Her previous work/volunteer experience includes: camp facilitator with DPR, story time reader at NIH Children’s Inn, and school book fair coordinator. She enjoys doing arts and crafts projects with her daughter at their neighborhood Home Depot on the weekend.
She says: “I love allowing a child to explore the world around them through experience and engaging in real life dramatic play as each child gains a sense of who they are in the world. I love watching them create bonds and build relationships with each other.”