Our staff has over 85+ combined years of experience here at Lads & Lassies Community Preschool!
STACY AKERSDirector & Pre-K Teacher
STACY AKERS
Director & Pre-K Teacher

I have been in education since 1996. After graduating from Miami University with a Bachelors Degree in education and a K-8 certification,  I taught 3rd grade in Lebanon Public Schools.  I took a break from teaching to stay at home with my own children for a few years and then entered the field of Early Childhood Education in 2003 as my own daughter’s preschool teacher here at Lads and Lassies Community Preschool. I quickly realized preschool is the place for me!  I set out to learn all I can about how young children learn. I was introduced to The Project Approach and the schools of Reggio Emilia, and find this to be such a beautiful and authentic way to work alongside children.  This approach/philosophy became the heart of my work with children.  In 2010 I became the Director of Lads and Lassies. Through teaching, reflecting and researching I continue to follow my passion… learning about how children learn!


cathy walton
CATHY WALTON
Pre-K Teacher

 

I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Virginia and a Master of Education in Special Education.  I spent 9 years teaching in an elementary resource room in Hershey, PA and Troy, MI until my family and I moved to Wyoming and I decided to stay home with my daughters, Lucy and Sophie. Sophie started kindergarten in the fall of 2006 and I planned to spend the year looking for the perfect teaching job.  Well, the perfect job found me!  A church member passed along my name to the director and I ended up joining the staff on Sophie’s first day of kindergarten!

I have taught happily in the Bear classroom and have found no two days at preschool are ever alike and not a day goes by I don’t laugh.


LAURIE RYAN
3/4’S Teacher

My husband Todd and I have been married for 23 years and have 3 children. Kyle (21), Evan (18), and Reese, our bonus baby, is almost 8. I came to Lads when my middle son went to Kindergarten and taught here for 7 years before staying home with Reese – and now she is in the 2nd grade!

I have taught all 3 age groups at Lads & Lassies. I love seeing the world through the eyes of a child!

My background is in Occupational Therapy and I enjoy working on gross/fine motor skills and sensory integration.


KATIE LAWRENCE
3/4’s Teacher

I feel extremely lucky and grateful to have begun my preschool teaching career at Lads n Lassies. I have imagined how wonderful it would be to work here since my oldest daughter Rosie, 10, started here in the 3/4’s program. My daughter, Mabel, 7, started 2nd grade this year; and Vera, almost 6, is starting kindergarten!

My career began in the business world. I graduated from the University of Dayton with a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting and Economics and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. I became a CPA and worked for a Big 4 CPA firm in Cincinnati before moving with this company and my husband, Shaun, to Bermuda. We stayed in Bermuda for 4 years and returned to Cincinnati when pregnant with our first child. We moved to Wyoming in 2016 and have loved raising our children here. 

I left the business world and stayed home with my first child, along with watching children in my home and helping my husband run our family business before starting teaching here. I also volunteer in various organizations and groups, particularly those with an environmental focus.

It is hard to describe how exciting it is to have the opportunity to work and teach at Lads and Lassies. Making meaningful connections with small children makes my heart sing. Preschool aged children are, in my opinion, the most honest, funny and lovable humans with the largest appetite for learning. I can’t wait to work with these humans every day. 


LISA SASSON
3’S and Music Teacher

I am the lucky one who gets to teach both the young 3 year olds and music! I have been teaching at Lads and Lassies since 2007.  After graduating with an English Education degree from Miami University, I spent my first teaching years in the high school classroom.  Years later, I was blessed to have the opportunity to home school my amazing daughters for a few years.  When they returned to Wyoming Schools, it was perfect timing to enter the preschool world.

Teaching is certainly something that God has put on my heart.  When I decided to return to work, my top priority was to find an environment that was joyful and rewarding.  What an awesome privilege it is to spend my days learning, laughing, pretending, and singing with preschoolers!  Top it off with a group of dedicated, intelligent, and hilarious co-workers, and Lads and Lassies quickly became the place for me.

My very favorite thing to do is spend time with my family:  husband, Brian (whom I met in the first grade), my two daughters, Sara and Lindsay, and our three pets.  We enjoy any kind of vacation outdoors together, whether it be camping in our pop-up or traveling around the country.  I love great music, great books, great weather, and great food! My personal goals are to trust and follow God, seek joy, love and look out for others, and teach my girls to do the same.


ANNA WALTERS
3’S Teacher

I am so excited to begin my 1st year of teaching preschool here at Lads and Lassies.  This place has held a special place in my heart since I moved to Wyoming 10 years ago and my children (Lila 12, Evan 10, and Madeline 7) attended. It has always felt like home. 

I began my career working at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL. During my six years there, I worked in guest services, tours, and management. My years there taught me a lot about teamwork, problem-solving, and working with all types and ages of people. While living and working in Florida I met my husband Tom and we had three kids. For the last twelve years I have had the joy of staying home with them.  Now that my youngest is in school full day, I am excited to get to spend my day here at Lads and Lassies and watch your child learn, grow and experience new things.

In my free time I love cheering on my kids in their activities (swim, basketball, dance, horseback riding, and cheerleading), exploring outside and anything crafty. 


JENNY WHALEY
Office Manager

I have had the pleasure of knowing so many wonderful children and their families over the years. I love running into them around our community. It’s a joy coming to work with children every day, not to mention our awesome staff! They are the best!

My husband, Kevin (high school sweetheart) and I married in 1986. We have 3 adult children who are “20 and 30 somethings,” a daughter-in-law, a grandson and 2 labs. I spend lots of time walking and playing pickle ball (both with and without my husband), sewing, knitting, making many of my own skincare products, and going to my favorite beach – Siesta Key! I am an avid reader (I’ve been in a book club with the same 8 women since 1998), a sports enthusiast, a longtime member of the handbell choir at Northminster Church, and a techie…I love the lastest and greatest gadgets! And of course, I love kids! Working in such a happy, positive environment full of children, laughter and the best coworkers anywhere on the planet is truly hard to beat!


KELLI DOMKE
Art Studio Teacher

I am the Art Studio teacher! I am excited to have joined the happiest group of teachers I’ve ever seen, and have long held an interest in project-based learning.  I taught Musikgarten for 10 years at the Wyoming Center for the Arts with my mentor, the beloved Ms. Mary.

I was a child who grew up living in many places and attending many schools in Ohio and Texas, but my summers were spent at my grandparents’ and dad’s farm in NW Ohio, riding bikes for miles a day, “adopting” barn kittens, building clubhouses, and singing at the top of my lungs in the barn loft. There, my voice became my own and my dreams were a big as the blue sky. Eventually, I studied voice and opera at The University of Houston under Katherine Ciesinski (now at Eastman) and director Buck Ross, where I was honored to sing leading roles with full orchestra. Masters work brought me to CCM, where I sang as soprano soloist in Philip Glass’ 6th Symphony, a peace blessing written for the millennium which was attended by Mr. Glass himself.

Like most parents, my children are my life’s work. Talk about project-based learning! My husband Eric and I have been together for over 20 years, and live in an old dairy farm-house in Pleasant Ridge with our 3 children. There we grow fruits and veggies and even keep a flock of urban laying hens. My son Emory is 18 now, bright and voraciously curious. A born science “geek”, he jumped for joy on the bed when he discovered the periodic table of the elements at age 4!  Oliver, age 16, is a peaceable fellow who loves animals, language and legos in equal measure; he is a “lefty” and a quirky learner with an IEP at school who has taught us that the glass can be both half-full and over-flowing at the same time. Our 14 year old daughter, Amelia, is our family’s truest extrovert, by turns tender and ferocious, playful and driven. Her main frustration is that her family won’t let her go out into the streets (at night, no less!) to fight crime as a superhero. 


AMANDA KONTOPOS
Friday Pre-K Teacher and Sub

I am thrilled to be a member of the Lads and Lassies family!   After graduating from the University of Cincinnati with a degree in Early Childhood Education, I spent the previous 12 years teaching preschool in the Finneytown community.   I love watching preschoolers make new discoveries, develop their language skills, and learn from one another.  They are truly some of the most inciteful and creative people I have ever met! 

I live in Loveland with my husband, Vagelis (or “V” for short) and my two boys, Peter (12) and Leo (8).  We are a sporty family, and most weekends, you can find me watching my boys play soccer, basketball or baseball.  I love visiting the Loveland Bike Trail, cheering on the Reds and UC, traveling (especially to the beach), music of all kinds, dancing, attending Broadway shows, and reading a good book. 


KARA GARROD
Yoga Teacher and Sub

My first memory of Lads & Lassies is from the early 80s when I attended L&L preschool, albeit down the street in a different location. I distinctly remember one liberating experience of haphazardly hammering nails into a block of wood, and painting my masterpiece red.

I was reintroduced to the school when my family moved/I returned to Wyoming in December 2016 and I connected with other parents. When the weekly kids yoga position became available the following winter, I leapt at the opportunity to join this group of compassionate teachers.

After earning a BA in English from Xavier University, most people assumed I would teach. While I chose a different path, many of my side gigs during and post-college have involved teaching children: teaching sailing in Annapolis and in Maine (eight summers and counting!), teaching swim lessons, teaching yoga to both adults and children, and  leading kids’ hikes at the Cincinnati Nature Center. As you know, the truest and most timeless gig is parenthood itself. When we homeschooled our daughters for four years (and I carefully observed the reactions on people’s faces as I told them) I embraced my role as teacher.

With the help of L&L’s talented and supportive staff and especially my first co-teacher Mrs. Marck, I transitioned into the role of classroom Fish teacher in 2018-19. Here, I remembered that three and four-year-olds have this uncanny ability to produce often endearing, sometimes brutal, and occasionally the most poignant, laugh-out-loud commentary of any subset of humankind. Late night comedians have nothing on this group! I truly delight in helping your daughters and sons notice and explore their environment, wonder about their experiences, and challenge themselves appropriately.

When I’m not engaging the Fish class, or teaching or practicing yoga, I spend time with my family, run, play in the woods, swim, or savor a strong cup of coffee, a good book, or a reflective conversation with a friend. Bonus if any of these happen concurrently! Oh, and when I recreate my 4-year-old masterpiece, this time I will paint it blue. But the nails might not be flush, as there is a certain freedom in letting go of perfectionism. Preschool is an excellent reminder of this.


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