Our Staff


Director: Kara von Behren
Kara grew up in Vermont, then went to school in Virginia, studying English and eventually getting her Master's Degree in Secondary Education.  She taught high school English for seven years, during which time she devoted much time and energy to the AVID program helping students reach their potential and achieve their college dreams.  She taught Education classes at her alma mater, The College of William and Mary, and developed a love for the classics.  She moved back to Vermont to start her family, and returned to early education, a field in which she spent three years prior to going to graduate school.  She recently completed her Director Credential and also holds a Level V Northern Lights Career Certificate.  She has a small craft business in her spare time, and she and her husband enjoy the switch to rural life that Vermont has afforded them - and the wonderful place it is to raise their family.  She is the proud mother of two boys, born in 2011 and 2013, who both attend the center where she can get snuggles throughout the day!  She started at WEC in 2009.
 

Curriculum Director: Chevy Liberman
Chevy joined the WEC team in June 2010 as a lead Inchworm teacher. After two years she moved to North Carolina to be closer to her nephew, but then moved back in March 2013 and joined WEC's administrative team.  She has her degree from UVM in Early Childhood Education, and she has worked with all different age groups.  In North Carolina she ran a young toddler classroom and was the administrative lead for the younger classrooms.  She loves crafts, reading, going on outdoor adventures, and having lots of fun playing with kids.   
 


 
  Program Director: Rachel Warden
Rachel joined WEC is November of 2009 as one of our older toddler teachers and then moved to the Jitterbug room in July of 2010.  She grew up in a small town in southeastern PA, and she "escaped" to VT for college, then decided to stick around.  She worked at the local resource and referral agency, Child Care Resource, with the nutrition programs there for two years before returning to WEC as the Program Director.  She is convinced that one of the best sounds ever is the giggle of a 1 year old.  In her free time (ha!), she pretends to be fairies with her daughter and marvels at how fast her son is growing...and she wouldn't have it any other way!

 

Preschool Teacher Assistant (Tigers): Courtney Ross

Courtney has been with WEC for 5 years, spending the majority of her time in the Tiger room. She can often be found reading books with her students and playing games. She encourages her students to be confident, independent learners while providing a secure, loving relationship base. She is a proud new mother to a son and will rejoin us this Fall!



Preschool Teacher (Lions): Tamara Popovac

    Tamara was born in Sarajevo, former Yugoslavia and was raised in Augsburg, Germany. In 1998 she moved to Vermont with her parents and sister and after a couple of more moves within the state, settled in South Burlington. She graduated from UVM in 2009 with her Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and concentration in German, and holds her Vermont Teaching License birth-grade 3. She started part-time over the summer of 2013 with us, and she joined us full-time in the fall helping to open up the second preschool classroom and working in our first preschool classroom as well.  Tamara enjoys traveling back to Europe, fiddling around with photography and trying out new recipes in the kitchen.


  

 Preschool Teacher (Lions): Lauren Bird

Lauren is a Vermont native who studied Early Childhood Education at Wheelock University. She moved back to Vermont and began working with us in the Summer of 2016 as the Lead Lion teacher. Lauren is passionate about the Reggio Philosophy, specifically observation and documentation. She can often be found working on literacy skills with her students! Lauren is a new dog mom to a rescue named Nala! 






Toddler Assistant (Busy Bears): Tyler Bergeron
 
Tyler recently moved back to the Burlington area after residing in Boston for the past two years. Tyler is new to the profession and is thrilled to begin a career path in which he feels passionate. Tyler believes that being with the children is energizing and fulfilling. In his spare time, he has coached baseball for ages ranging from 10 to 17 and also plays for a Men's Softball League.  






 
Arts Enrichment: Anna Turgeon
Anna graduated from The New Hampshire Institute of Art in 2014 with a degree in photography. That, along with her love of interacting with children led her to our center to create the new position of Art Enrichment Coordinator. Anna creates opportunities for our students to engage in process-oriented art where they can feel free to express themselves in a creative and limitless way. Anna has been a member of our school in varying capacities since 2014. 





Preschool Teacher (Tigers): Ashley LaFountain
    Ashley joined the WEC team in June of 2014 after over 14 years of Head Start teaching experience in New Hampshire.  She is a true advocate for young children and early education, and she specializes in creating individual instruction for children using observation and goal setting.  Her positive encouragement of children helps them accomplish more than they thought possible, and we are so grateful to have her as part of our team!





Older Toddler Teacher (Busy Bears): Meg Raccine

    Meg Raccine grew up in Essex Junction, Vermont with her family and knew she wanted to work with children at a young age. Her love of children came from helping her grandmother run her child care center. She has received her Bachelor's degree in Family Studies with a concentration in child advocacy and family policy from the University of New Hampshire. Meg creates amazing routines and environments in which her toddler can be autonomous and successful! Meg also really enjoys crafting, traveling, and cooking.







                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
   Older Toddler Teacher (Busy Bears & Cubs): Morgan Smith
Morgan joined WEC in June of 2014, the day after her birthday.  She had spent countless hours here prior to that, however, as she helped out and visited her mom's classroom (Ms. Judy). Morgan is getting her Child Development Associate's, and she plans to start working on her degree in education.  She has a natural talent working with children, and her creativity gets the children involved in creating artwork and savoring the process on a daily basis.  She began as an assistant teacher, and as we saw how great she was in the classroom, we asked her to move into a teaching role.  It has been an amazing fit for her and for the center.



Preschool Assistant (Lions): Jenna LaFountain
Jenna began working with us in the fall of 2014 as an assistant in the Busy Bear room. She is working toward her degree in Early Childhood and hopes to obtain it within the next few years. She has a passion for toddlers that shines through in her every interaction with her students. She can often be found playing in the dramatic play space or reading books with the Busy Bears. 





Toddler Teacher (Chickadees): Melissa Crosa
    Melissa joined us in October 2011, and she worked as an assistant with the Jitterbugs, Busy Bears, and Tigers. She joined the toddler team full-time as soon as she graduated in May 2014.  She graduated from UVM with her degree in Early Education and is currently enrolled in a Master of Education program through Champlain College. She has a passion for working with young children, and she loves creating wonderful environments in which children can flourish.  She has been spending time creating and starting beautiful garden areas with the children, and she has created wonderful additions to the playgrounds as well.  Melissa is truly an amazing teacher who finds delight and wonder in all of the things her children learn and explore, and she is often playing and learning just as much as the kids, if not more so, on a daily basis.


Toddler Teacher (Koalas): Amy Wagoner
    Amy joined our team in the Spring of 2016 as the toddler assistant teacher. She has a bachelors degree from UVM in education and is pursuing her Master's degree in Education as well. Amy is a skilled teacher and is incredible with our young toddlers. She can often be found with her students reading books, playing with play-doh, and engaging with our outdoor classroom. She has a two year old niece who she spends much of her time outside of work caring for. She is an avid dog lover and the parent of a one year old golden                                                         retriever, Soleil! 


Infant Assistant: Hilary Van Benthuysen 

Hilary began working with us in the fall of 2016 as an infant/toddler assistant. She holds a bachelor’s in Business Administration from Champlain College but has found that over the years she’s been repeatedly drawn to working with young children. Hilary was born and raised in Vermont and, after spending several years in the Raleigh, North Carolina area, she came to realize all that our great state had to offer, and she has been back ever since.  She plans to further her education by eventually obtaining a Masters in Early Childhood Ed, and is thrilled to start the process. Hilary’s son Hudson, who attends WEC, is her co-pilot in life, and together you can find them cooking, exploring all corners of the state, and doing lots of art projects!




Infant Teacher (Minnows): Noelle Branham
Noelle began working with us in the fall of 2016 as a lead infant teacher. She has eight years of early childhood experience as a lead teacher and a supervisor. Noelle has her undergraduate degree in music education with a minor in classical voice. She has her Master's in Early Childhood Special Education and her teaching license in Early Childhood Education Birth - age 6. Her philosophy is based around educating the 'whole child' within the Reggio philosophy. She is a truly amazing member of our team. 


Infant Teacher (Minnows): Emily Page
Emily began working for us in the fall of 2016 as a lead infant teacher. Emily is currently studying psychology at Goddard College in their accelerated bachelor's/master's program where she is able to focus her course work on child and developmental psychology. Emily has worked in a therapeutic child care center where she cared for children facing more obstacles than most. There, she fell in love with helping children learn, grow, laugh, and play! Emily spends much of her time studying for school, dancing, swimming and hanging out at the farmer's market with her family.