We are very fortunate to have an amazing team of talented teachers at each of our schools who are passionate in what they do and care deeply about their students. Because we know this sentiment is shared by all who are involved with our schools, we have designed a program called the “Company-Wide Teacher of the Month/Year” to recognize our most outstanding teachers for their hard work and dedication!

A teacher from each school will be nominated for this recognition every month and from those nominees, the teacher who has most closely exhibited the ideal Little Sunshine’s Playhouse and Preschool teacher characteristics will be earn the title. Teachers can be nominated by parents, students, co-workers, school managers or school owners. The comments submitted are used in conjunction with employment reviews, classroom quality assurance performances, personal exchanges, etc. to determine the winner of the “National Teacher of the Month”. Then, at the end of the year, a “National Teacher of the Year” will be selected out of all the Teachers of the Month.  The winners of these special awards are rewarded with additional paid vacation days and recognized company-wide.

Please take a moment to read about our outstanding Teacher of the Month and Teacher of the Year winners:

LSP National Teacher of the Year

Teresa Obert

Southlake, Texas

Our 2018 Teacher of the Year is Mrs. Teresa Obert from our Southlake, Texas location! Mrs. Teresa is the lead teacher in Neverland, the pre-kindergarten classroom.

Teresa has been in Early Childhood Education for almost 40 years! While in high school, she was an aide in an elementary school and absolutely loved it – it’s what set her career path in teaching and mentoring young children! What Teresa enjoys most about Little Sunshine’s is the flexibility to expand on lesson plans and the freedom to provide open-ended and natural materials that broaden a child’s experiences.

When asked what inspires her Teresa responded, “Truly the spark of light that comes from the eyes of a small child when I connect with them. Even as a child, I knew I would be a teacher. When I look at a child and I see their heart smile, it erases all of my woes!”

Here’s what Southlake Co-Program Director, Emy Cervantes had to say about Mrs. Teresa “Her creative and Reggio inspired activities to keep her children busy AND learning for hours at a time. She is so devoted to her classroom and children and it truly warms my heart to see. She comes in an hour before her shift usually and works way past her shift, as well. Her dedication is admirable and many of our teachers go to her for advice and ideas, as she also spent a lot of her career doing Teacher training.”

Even when not at Little Sunshine’s, Teresa said she spends most of her time outside of work reading and researching natural strategies that she can incorporate into her classroom. Teresa is also in the midst of finishing her first children’s book!

“We adore Mrs. Teresa and enjoy getting to see her children come in every day EXCITED to see what they’ll be working on that day,” Emy said. “We are confident that her kiddos are on the right path to be successful in Kindergarten!”

Janie Sheehan

Lakeway, Texas

Janie leaves an everlasting impression on her students and her students’ families. She embodies the Little Sunshine’s culture and philosophy and assists her students in reaching their fullest potential. Janie has an exceptional understanding of Reggio Emilia and does an extraordinary job of implementing the curriculum and Reggio Emilia-based activities into her classroom. Janie’s classroom parents are so happy to have Janie’s charisma, enthusiasm, and attitude toward teaching instilled in their children every day. Her excellent communication with parents let them rest assured their children are in a safe, nurturing environment and will be well-equipped for their educational journeys.

Mrs. Janie has the ability to keep the kids in line while showing love and compassion. Not only do the kids and parents adore her, but we all have incredible respect for her as well.” – Sarah Bernfeld

“Mrs. Janie is a blessing to all her students… not only does she focus on their educational development, but also their emotional development which she understands is equally important.” – Nicole English

“Mrs. Janie has been such a blessing to our family because she made our transition to a new school so seamless for our daughter. Her heart truly goes to her classroom and every single child in there!” – Gayle Henry Nastiuk

“Our daughter absolutely loves Mrs. Janie, and as parents we know she is learning valuable educational and life lessons each day from her. Of course, we love LSP in its entirety, but the year has been extra special with having a teacher that gives so much of herself day in and day out. We are very fortunate and blessed to have Mrs. Janie at LSP Lakeway, and our child is growing to be a well-rounded young lady with the hard work and love that she shows each day to the kids in the Pre-K class.” – Melissa Gamble

Jessica Watson

Lakeway, Texas

“My son was in Miss Jess’ class for his first year at Little Sunshine’s Playhouse & Preschool and loved every minute with her. He left her class a few months ago and continues to bring up her name every chance he gets. “Is Miss Jess coming? Are you going with Miss Jess?” I see him light up when he sees her in the hall, running for a hug and seeking comfort by her side when he’s sad. My son went through a phase where he had a really hard time at drop off; Miss Jess played a pivotal role in helping him to be comfortable walking away from me or his dad. He knew he was in a good place with someone who cared and was a constant.” – Sarah Bernfeld

“Every morning when we turn on the road to school my son asks if I can see Ms. Jess’s car. She is the first person he looks for in the morning and the last person he hugs when he leaves. A day without Ms. Jess leads to multiple questions as to when she will be returning! We are so impressed with Ms. Jess’s positive attitude, professionalism and commitment to the kids. She has such a wonderful relationship with the kids and I can see that they not only love her, but respect and trust her. She personifies the attributes I believe any successful childcare business strives to be: constructive, dependable and trustworthy. I consider Ms. Jess a valuable asset to the team at LSP as well as a friend of our family. She deserves to be recognized for the hard work and positive affect she has on the kids as well as her peers.” – Poppy Poth

“Ms. Jess is amazing! She exudes positivity, kindness, and patience. My youngest has been out of her class for 6 months now and she still lights up and runs to her for a hug anytime she sees her. We love Ms. Jess!”  – Jessica Dodge Horwat

“My son, Max, has been at LSP Lakeway since the doors opened last year. Ms. Jess was his first teacher and we were so fortunate to have her. Starting a new school is never easy and always a transition, but knowing that Max had a teacher that he loved made the transition so much easier. When asked who his favorite teacher was, Max would always reply ”Ms. Jess!”. She is always smiling, always friendly, and happy to see the kids.” – The Yarborough Family

Alley Sarge

Springfield (I), Missouri

Miss Alley is honestly an inspiration for all of us! She’s always positive and caring with not only her children, but her co-workers. My son will be in her class within the next year and he already knows and loves her. If anyone deserves this, she does.” –Shawnee Phillips

“Miss Alley was a teacher for my child and each day I would know that my child was with a caring, loving person and as a teacher and a parent that was a wonderful feeling. Thanks Miss Alley!” –Mary Hatfield

“Miss Alley’s provided the supportive and safe environment for my child to make great progress at LSP Springfield 1. For that reason and so much more, she deserves to be named the Teacher of the Year!! –Andrew Goodall

“My daughter has moved up to another classroom but still gives Miss Alley the biggest hugs every time she sees her! She is everything you hope for when you leave your baby in someone else’s hands for the day. We love Miss Alley!” –Rebekah Shockey

“…I am a retired first grade teacher of 35 years and know the value of an excellent teacher for children. Miss Alley is consistent, loving, creative, and fair. Her care for her students not only shows in the excitement she has for them when they meet her goals, but in the consistent, fair consequences given when the child does not follow directions. Her daily, weekly and monthly curriculum activities makes me want to be her student.” –Grandparent

Taylor Hardman

Springfield (III), Missouri

“Taylor has our vote!! She is the most genuine and the kindest hearted person I know! I have no doubt she is going to make the best teacher! She is a wonderful role model! She knows how to relate to kids no matter the age! She is the most patience of anyone I know! She deserves this award without a doubt!! She is an amazing person inside and out! She is wonderful with her kids and everyone she is around!”

“We LOVE Miss Taylor, and we are so lucky that our two year old is in her class. My son is not only happy and safe in her class, but he is also learning a lot. Taylor is caring, responsible, hard-working, intelligent, and sweet. I appreciate everything she does for her students, their parents, and her co-workers. Taylor absolutely deserves this award.”

“Taylor Hardman is the most patient, kind-hearted, genuine woman I’ve ever met! She passionately loves each child in her class and makes the best of any situation. She deserves this!!!”

“We are so fortunate to have so many great teachers at our school! Taylor, you stand out to me because but I see firsthand, every single day that you are here the love, hard work, and creativity that you give to the kiddos in your class. Your energy and positive approach fuels our school and the children love to be around you. Your co-workers know that they can lean on you for advice and support. Our Cardinal team would not be the same without you!”

“I vote for Miss Taylor. Our daughter was struggling with the transition to her classroom until miss Taylor took over. She runs her classroom with the utmost care and excitement. She is truly happy to see the kiddos develop. She is constantly challenging them while nurturing them as well. She is absolutely awesome. In the words of my little one “miss Taylor my best friend”!” 

Aimee Darnell

Scottsdale, Arizona

“I vote for Miss Aimee! She not only is an amazing teacher, she is one of the kindest, most loving people I know! I’ve known her for over ten years and she has been such a bright light in my life. She always has a smile on her face and makes the day that much better. She loves her kiddos with all her heart and she has a true passion for teaching and molding young minds! I vote Aimee Darnell 1000%!” 

“Hands down, Aimee Darnell, deserves Teacher of the Year. We began our LSP journey with Aimee and she will always hold a special place in our heart. Aimee’s smile is infectious, her heart is larger than life and she continues to exceed all expectations as a teacher and mentor. My son has outgrown her class; but still runs to give her hugs when he can. Thank you Aimee for making our transition enjoyable and unforgettable. You are a beautiful, amazing woman and teacher. You have a heart of gold and will continue to touch these children’s lives in a positive light. I vote for Aimee!!”

“Miss Aimee Darnell! She has been a wonderful teacher for our daughter Alexa and we are so thankful for her! Her energy is contagious and her passion for children is unmistakable. Miss Aimee deserves to win Teacher of the Year and has our vote!”

“Miss Aimee Darnell has been the lead Toddler room teacher for over a year. And in the time she has become a beloved addition to the school amongst parents and staff. Her friendly and positive demeanor is something to be admired.  Ms. Aimee always has a smile on her face and greets each and every family warmly and enthusiastically.  When you walk into her classroom, you’re guaranteed to see the children happy and engaged in their learning.  Ms. Aimee does an excellent job of creating a curriculum that is designed perfectly to broaden the kid’s horizons and help them grow in such an amazing way!  Thank you for all that you do, Little Sunshine’s would not be the same without you!”

Chandonnie Nou

Springfield (II), Missouri

“Chan has been with LSP for a year as a teacher in the toddler classroom. She arrives at work each day with a smile on her face that she carries with her throughout the day. She is always willing to go above and beyond in her daily work and takes great pride in teaching her children new things. Ms. Chan is also phenomenal at getting to know each child individually, as well as their parents on a personal level. We are very lucky to have her as a part of our LSP family!!”

“Chan is so caring and always has a Smile on her face. She’s always willing to do anything and is a great assist to the LSP team!”

“Ms. Chan has my vote. She is so deserving of this award because she truly loves her job. Each time she sees me or my family she always has a smile on her face and says hello. She also goes above and beyond. I love that she dresses up as Santa Claus. My little girl thought that was so funny and that Ms. Chan is silly. Those little things mean so much. She has left a lasting impression my daughter and family and are so proud to have Ms. Chan as one of our teachers.”

“Ms Chan definitely has our vote. Our daughter had Ms Chan about a year ago and she was definitely one of her favorite teachers – she still smiles and gives her a big hug when she sees her at school. We can’t wait for Ms Chan to take care of our son soon – she is wonderful with children and definitely deserves the recognition as Company-Wide Teacher of the Year!”

“My vote is for Chandonnie Nou !!! Not only is she a hard worker she does it with a smile!! You can’t say that about most individuals her age. She has such a great work ethic and genuinely cares for her children and family that she deals with day in and day out. She is a great listener which again is hard to find these days. Working at LSP is not just a job for her she loves it and caring for children is a passion of hers! The children adore her and with her role model on point, she will leave a lasting impression on these young individuals for years to come! Chan has the ability to be of an authority figure, an educator, a friend and a big kid herself:) And that is why everyone can relate to her and can’t help but gravitate towards her positive energy. She is an asset to your company & I don’t know of anyone MORE deserving of this than her!!! Way to go Chan, I am super proud of you!!”

Kelley Leggett

Springfield (II), Missouri

“Kelley is a truly talented teacher with genuine concern for educational content being delivered along with love and a healthy classroom environment.  Her students have thrived under her guidance and her peers look to her as a leader and advocate for best practices in early childhood education. She has a heart of gold and holds her student’s achievements and individual successes as the highest priority.” 

“Kelley’s love for children is obvious from the first moment you walk into her classroom. She has had the honor to truly shape the minds of young children, and she’s also had the ability to mentor other educators around her. She’s a wonderful asset to the Little Sunshine’s team and her passion for early childhood education positively impacts everyone that has the privilege to work with her!” 

“I have had the privilege to work with Kelley for the past five years. Through these years I have seen first hand the positive impact she has cultivated, not only within the Little Sunshine’s Playhouse family, but in the Springfield, Mo community. Her commitment, humanitarian efforts, and passion for people coupled with her drive to excel truly makes her an MVP of Little Sunshine’s.”

“I have enjoyed working with Kelley for over five years now. She has a drive to excel in all she does and it shows through her performance. She has one of the biggest hearts I know, giving her time and efforts to the community and families in need. I love watching her continue to thrive and grow as a professional and leader for Little Sunshine’s!” 

LSP National Teacher of the Month 2019

2019 January Teacher of the Month is Raquel Villa of Little Sunshine’s Playhouse of Gilbert at Val VistaRaquel Villa

Gilbert, AZ

We are pleased to announce that our 2019 January Teacher of the Month is Raquel Villa of Little Sunshine’s Playhouse and Preschool of Gilbert, AZ at Val Vista! Here is some fun information about her and what makes her such a standout!

What age group do you teach?
I get to teach infants! It’s so much fun!

What is the name of your classroom?
Under The Sea

What do you love most about the age group you teach?
My absolute favorite part about teaching infants is seeing the amount of joy and excitement these little ones feel for the first time after accomplishing something new and reaching new milestones. Getting to witness their growth is so amazing! I consider myself lucky to be a part of that experience!

What is your favorite curriculum project you’ve ever done in your classroom?
I’ve only been in my class for a few weeks, but I am so excited to start putting my creativity to work to teach these little ones new things!

What do you enjoy most about working for LSP?
I can honestly say the best part of working for LSP is the fact that no matter what kind of day I walk into work having, I am always greeted with warm smiles and positive words that keep a smile on my face until it’s time to leave.

Who and/or what inspires you?
Children inspire me! I have a passion for early childhood education and I believe one can be an educator regardless of age as I’ve been taught so many new things by young children. I’ve been shown countless times how tuning into how a child’s mind works can change the way you see things. I’ve been shown new ways to make connections, ways to show appreciation, ways to think about problems and their solutions, and most of all how to enjoy life to its fullest extent! Children have a purity to the way they think and act. It’s beyond refreshing to think the way they do sometimes.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I try to spend as much time in nature as possible. I love hiking, swimming, exploring, and learning all I can about myself through these experiences! I also spend a lot of time reading, listening to music, and making art as well.

Tell us one special fact about yourself that no one would expect.
When I was 5 I learned I was adopted. All my life I lived in a Mexican-American household and I always assumed I was partially Mexican. When I was 20 my best friend got me an ancestry kit and I learned that I’m mostly Native American!

Kara Leeper , February 2019 Teacher of the MonthKara Leeper

Springfield, MO

The teachers at our preschool programs across the county are the game changers. They are dedicated, passionate and truly know how to engage each of their students every day.

The process of choosing just one teacher each month is tough, but we are pleased to announce that our 2019 February Teacher of the Month is Kara Leeper of Little Sunshine’s Playhouse and Preschool of Springfield (III), MO! Here is some fun information about her and what makes her such a standout!

What age group do you teach?

What do you love most about the age group you teach?
I love that they are always wanting to explore new things throughout our classroom. They have such creative imaginations and can make anything fun! I also love working alongside Ms. Shelby. She makes the classroom such a positive environment for me and the kiddos!

What is your favorite curriculum project you’ve ever done in your classroom?
We love getting messy! The kids love playing with shaving cream so we try to incorporate that into the curriculum as much as possible. It worked great for February’s curriculum and the safety unit. We used it as smoke throughout the month in different scenarios. One day we used water and put it on the shaving cream and it would dissolve. We explained to our kids that water can put out a fire. They absolutely loved this activity!

What do you enjoy most about working for LSP?
I truly do love working alongside Ms. Shelby. It was so easy to adjust from being a floater to a teacher because she was able to teach me so well. Our toddlers 100% make my day. They are so sweet and have the best little personalities. They are always ready to learn about new things which makes it easy for us to teach them!

Who and/or what inspires you?
I have a friend who lives to serve people and I want to be just like her. I love watching her be selfless and build a relationship within meeting so she can find out if she can meet any of their needs.  I love being able to watch and learn from her on any occasion.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I love spending my weekends with my nephew. He is my favorite little baby in the whole wide world! Other than that, I love going on a good hike, reading in coffee shops, and being with my friends.

Tell us one special fact about yourself that no one would expect.
I am 1 of 6 kids!

Ajah Zicaro

Colorado Springs, CO

The teachers at our preschool programs across the county are the game changers. They are dedicated, passionate and truly know how to engage each of their students every day.

The process of choosing just one teacher each month is tough, but we are pleased to announce that our 2019 March Teacher of the Month is Ajah Zicaro of Little Sunshine’s Playhouse and Preschool of Colorado Springs, CO! Here is some fun information about her and what makes her such a standout!

What age group do you teach?

What is the name of your classroom?
Enchanted Forest

What do you love most about the age group you teach?
I love teaching the pre-k students because I love helping them build fundamental academic and social skills so they can be successful once they go on to elementary school. I love being able to watch their imagination and excitement as they do various activities. I also love watching their brain grow as they learn so many new things. I love that they help my brain grow by sharing their wonderful ideas.

What is your favorite curriculum project you’ve ever done in your classroom?
We do so many wonderful and fun activities in our classroom, it’s hard to pick just one! Overall, no matter what the theme is, I love our dramatic play area the most. Each month I change the background, costumes, accessories and stuffed animals to match our unit theme. It is always fun to watch how they interact in the area with the items and with each other! Many times, watching the way they play and imagine things inspires me for other projects we can do in the current theme or for future activities. Sometimes they role play stories we’ve read, incorporate information we’ve learned, and sometimes they do something completely unexpected. It’s an ever-evolving part of our classroom and a favorite for all of us!

What do you enjoy most about working for LSP?
I love working at LSP because of all my years of teaching, this has truly been the best fit for my personality and my beliefs in education. I love the thematic units we do each month and the opportunity it gives to teach different things from around the world and even different time periods. I really enjoy both the freedom I have with LSP to teach my students the way I believe works for them as well as the support I feel from my directors, co-workers, and families in what we do.

Who and/or what inspires you?
My students inspire me each day! I really do believe that children are our future and I am so thankful that I am able to be a piece of their journey. I strive every day to teach students to know more than I knew at their age. I try to make it fun because I believe that by planting these seeds in their minds, we are building a better future for everyone.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
Outside of work, I’m mostly the same goofy, creative ball of energy that I am at work! I love making things. Everything from photography, to scrapbooking, to making costumes or crafts. I also love nature. I love going hiking or watching animals in their natural environments or at places like zoos.

Tell us one special fact about yourself that no one would expect.
Before going into teaching, I spent twelve years serving in the military. I served in the US Navy and the Air Force Reserve. During my military time, I spent some years stationed overseas and was also part of some military campaigns. Most people don’t expect that kind of background from little old me, especially when I’m wearing a dinosaur dress!

Mrs. Sarah,, April 2019 Teacher of the Month

Sarah Caiafa

Franklin, TN

The teachers at our preschool programs across the county are the game changers. They are dedicated, passionate and truly know how to engage each of their students every day.

The process of choosing just one teacher each month is tough, but we are pleased to announce that our 2019 April Teacher of the Month is Sarah Caiafa of Little Sunshine’s Playhouse and Preschool of Franklin, TN! Here is some fun information about her and what makes her such a standout!

What age group do you teach?

What is the name of your classroom?
Land of Oz

What do you love most about the age group you teach?
There are so many things that I love! I love listening to my students’ ideas and stories, their imaginations are phenomenal. I love that we are working on spreading kindness and helping others. There are many days I hear my friends telling other friends what they love about them. I love how quickly they learn and catch on to new ideas. One of my greatest joys is witnessing the “a-ha” moments.

What is your favorite curriculum project you’ve ever done in your classroom?
There are so many to choose from, the butterfly hatching, chick hatching and the volcano out of paper mâché create the most excitement from the children.

What do you enjoy most about working for LSP?
I am not originally from Tennessee. Since I’ve started at LSP, this team has become my family. I love the freedom we have when creating curriculum. Most importantly, I love that most days I leave work with a smile on my face and laughing, this is such a rewarding place to work.

Who and/or what inspires you?
I was really inspired by Liz Murray. She was a reminder that you can accomplish anything in your life if you work hard enough. My husband also inspires me through his years of serving our country.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I enjoy going home and playing with our animals on the farm and listening to live bands on the weekends. I also have a passion for nature photography.

Tell us one special fact about yourself that no one would expect.
I enjoy going to rodeos and have ridden a bull.