Our Staff

IMG_6123-600x807Abby Pace

A college athlete at Indiana University, Abby brings that same energy and encouragement to her classroom. An IU graduate with a degree in Early Childhood Education, her teaching experiences is as varied as the locations. Abby has worked and observed children at the infant, toddler, preschool, and elementary levels in classrooms in Florida, Indiana, and Kentucky. Friends and family refer to her as “the pied piper of children,” as it seems that wherever Abby happens to be, children are drawn to her. An erstwhile cook and eager furniture refinisher, Abby’s curiosity and zeal for discovery make learning fun and exciting.

Kayla Dillon

A Lexington native, Kayla has worked with all ages of children over the years. Her passion for education and inspiring children led her to pursue her teaching degree at Eastern Kentucky University where she graduated with a duel degrees in Elementary Education and Special Education.

When not at Our PlayHouse, Kayla enjoys spending quality time with her family. Kayla loves to cook, explore outdoor activities in the community, and delve into arts and crafts.

 

Katie Mitchell

A native of coastal South Carolina, Katie earned her bachelor degree in music education from Furman University. As a middle school music teacher, Katie taught band, chorus, and private music lessons. Her choirs consistently earned distinguished ratings at state and regional music festivals. The birth of her first son was Katie’s catalyst into early childhood education. A Willow House teacher since June 2016, Katie loves making discoveries alongside her students each day. Her curiosity, zeal, and genuine love of children make her an engaging, nurturing presence in the classroom. Katie strongly believes that children are capable and she is passionate about fostering inquiry-based learning for her students. Katie is pursuing her masters degree from EKU in interdisciplinary early childhood education and teacher leadership.

When she is not at OPH, you can find Katie singing with the Lexington Singers and spending time outdoors with her husband and two children.

Bekah Justice

Bekah has a love of children that started at a young age. She has a natural talent and method of engaging with them. This sparked the decision to pursue early childhood education as a career. Bekah received her Associates Degree in Early Childhood from Bluegrass Community and Technical College. During her studies, she was introduced to the Reggio Emilia philosophy that immediately became an inspiration.  She is excited to learn and explore with the children. Bekah is thrilled to join the OPH Lexington Community.

Bekah also has a love for the outdoors and spends her free time hiking at Red River Gorge. Her love for coffee is equated with her passion of the outdoors and she brings these elements into her classroom.

Mandy Stein

A Lexington native, Mandy completed the Spanish Immersion Program at Bryan Station High School. At the University of Georgia, she graduated with honors in Psychology and Spanish, focusing on language acquisition in early childhood. After working as a Family Specialist for Head Start in Salt Lake City, Utah, her world travels took her to Vietnam and Thailand to teach English to children. With a passion for the outdoors, Mandy has taught and volunteered at alternative schools in Australia, Switzerland, and Guatemala, helping to develop eco science and nature based curriculums. Mandy is a strong believer in child-led and play-based learning where children have time to explore.

Mandy loves coffee, jewelry making, reading, biking, and spending time with friends.

Lainee Moody

Lainee Moody is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio. She attended both Eastern Kentucky University and University of Cincinnati graduating with her Bachelor’s degree in English Literature and Cultural Studies. Lainee has a background in student athletics as gymnastics, cheerleading, and tumbling instructor. She was a lead preschool teacher for an independent school that combined learning, physical fitness, and creativity. She has experience working with students from three year olds through high-school.

Lainee encourages students through project-based learning and creative movement. She is excited to join Our PlayHouse Preschool and explore the Reggio approach as a catalyst for learning.

Lainee enjoys sewing, painting, and spending time with friends and family.

Sara Stringer

Sara is a Western Kentucky University graduate with a degree in Elementary Education and her Kentucky Teaching Certification. She and her husband relocated to Lexington in 2014 where she has taught preschool for the past two years. Sara enjoys inquiry-based and cooperative learning, as children learn to solve problems using teamwork and hands-on investigations. She believes that through inquiry-based instruction, students gain the ability to make real world connections and to think more critically.

Outside of the classroom, Sara enjoys traveling with her husband, repurposing old furniture, crafting, and spending time with her dachshund, Bently.

 

Administration

Leslie-768x510Leslie Martin, Director

Leslie is a Lexington native who came to Our PlayHouse Preschool with strong belief in encouraging the independent imagination of childhood and the power of play. She loves the connections made between play, learning, art, and nature. Leslie graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in art education, then earned her Master’s degree from Eastern Kentucky University in school counseling with a certification in play therapy. She has developed her own theory of play therapy using natural elements and has presented them at Kentucky and national conferences.

Leslie has experience teaching at every grade level, from preschool through high school, with the constant emphasis on self expression. During her time as a school counselor, she focused on removing the barriers to learning, supporting teachers, consultation, and collaboration with students and families. Leslie has been with Our PlayHouse Preschool since opening the Lexington school in 2015.

IMG_9719Danielle Sunde

Danielle lives in Chapel Hill with her husband and four boys. She is passionate about children being children. Danielle and her family enjoy food, books, and traveling as a family.