Our early childhood educators are carefully screened and evaluated by their professional credentials as well as by their warmth and sensitivity to the individual needs of young children and families. Most classes have team-teachers who have degrees in early child development or a related field. Administrators have degrees in child development as well as experience teaching young children. Staff members are active in professional organizations locally and nationally. Many present workshops and training for other professionals. All are involved in a continuing program of in-service training.
Judy’s professional life began in 1960 (yes, before you were born!). She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Education at University of Omaha and a Master’s Degree in Child Development at Ohio State University. She taught in the Omaha public schools before joining the Head Start program, which included teaching Child Development at Columbus State Community College. Then she realized and fulfilled her goal of creating a high quality early childhood center when she founded Smoky Row Children’s Center in 1983. She enjoyed every day that she spent interacting with children, teachers and parents until she retired in 2018. She and her husband, Bob, are now enjoying spending time with family and friends.
Our Administrative Team
Lora has been at Smoky Row since 2000. She has a degree in Elementary Education from Bowling Green State University and a Master’s in Early Childhood Administration from National Louis University. She loves giving tours to new families and getting to know those families and children as they attend Smoky Row. In her free time she likes to read, exercise, travel and spend time with her daughter, Bailey, and son, Thomas.
Wendy has been a part of the early learning community since 1998! She came to us in 2016 with her degree in Early Childhood Education, 14 years of classroom experience and now has 9 years as an administrator. She offers guidance and support to teachers and families and can often be found spending time in the classrooms getting to know the children. In her spare time, she loves camping, hiking, her new found love for skating, and tending to her plant collection. What she loves most is spending time with her family along with her dogs Spencer and Bodhi.
Lisa has 28 years of classroom experience and moved to administration in 2010. She has a degree in Child Development from Ohio State University. She and her husband are empty-nesters and love to travel, go to concerts, and work in her yard. She also loves her Buckeyes! She likes being the first person you see at Smoky Row and letting you in the door with a smile!
Darren, who is married to Lora, has been full time since 2019, but has been working behind the scenes for Smoky Row since 1991. He has a dual degree in Finance and Real Estate from Ohio University and an MBA from Capital University. He enjoys greeting all of the families each morning and watching the children grow and learn. In his spare time he likes to workout, travel, garden, and roots for Ohio State, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Cleveland Browns.
Infant Room Staff
Rachel joined the Infant Room staff in 2019. She came to us with 7 years of experience working with kindergarten through fifth graders. In her free time she likes spending time with her family, being outdoors, hiking, and being with her dogs, Tito and Rufus.
Tunde has been at Smoky Row since 2005. She has a Bachelor of Education from Hungary where she grew up. Her daughter attended through kindergarten here at Smoky Row. In her free time, Tunde enjoys baking and trying out new recipes. She also enjoys watching British comedies.
Angela joined the Infant Room in 2022. She came to us with seven years of experience working with special needs high schoolers and ten years of experience as a nanny. In her free time you will find her spending time with her dog, Sadie. She also enjoys swimming and traveling.
Melissa joined the Infant Room in 2022. She has worked in child care for over 20 years. She started her career here at Smoky Row back in 2002! Melissa has worked with various aged children throughout the years. This has been in between taking time away to care for her own children. She has also provided care for families in their home and her own. She is the proud mother of six daughters. She and her husband, Chad, live in Dublin with their girls. In her free time she enjoys watching her girls play soccer and other sports, family time, practicing yoga, concerts, trips with friends and naps.
Toddler Room Staff
Mackenzie is a newer addition to the Toddler Room. She started in August 2022. She is attending Eastern Gateway Community College for Early Childhood Development/Pre-Kindergarten. She has been a nanny for three years. She danced for Staub Dance Center for thirteen years and was a part of the Worthington Music and Arts Program for six years. She loves listening to music while trying new recipes or painting in her free time. She also loves animals, reading, traveling with her family, and learning new things. She can’t wait to explore and learn new things with the Toddlers.
Amanda has been at Smoky Row since 2005. She brings lots of energy and great ideas to the Toddler Room. She loves to attend concerts, read books and watch movies.
Emily (who’s Korean name is Seonyong) joined Smoky Row in 2018. She came to us with teaching experience in Seoul, South Korea where she grew up. She started working at Smoky Row as the afternoon teacher in the Toddler Room and became a team teacher in 2020. In her free time she likes to read, take walks, and go on adventures with her husband, Ira. She has greatly enjoyed the time she has spent working with Toddlers and is looking forward to many more years to come.
Super Star Room Staff
Kim has been teaching at Smoky Row since 1990! She has her Child Development Certificate and has attended many workshops and conferences. She has also led a few workshops and worked with Action For Children on a training video. She worked with Head Start for 8 years and ran a preschool program from her home before coming to Smoky Row. She lives in Grove City with her husband of 40 years, Bill, and her mom. She is very proud of her son, Gregg, who lives in Colorado and works for a military company. She loves to cook, bake, go to the beach, and hike. She also loves to cook and do fun science projects with the Super Stars.
Carrie came to us in 2016 with seven years of teaching experience. She has a Music Education Degree from Ohio State. She has two daughters, Riley and Grace. She enjoys spending time traveling with her daughters and husband, Tom, to their favorite beach (Emerald Isle, NC) and to Disney.
Friendship Room Staff
Rica came to us in 2017 with four years of childcare experience. She graduated from The Ohio State University and has her Child Development Associate Degree. Rica spent her early years living in Mexico City where she learned to be fluent in both English and Spanish. She and her family returned to Columbus when she was in the 4th grade. She is married to Luke and they have a daughter, Natassia. She loves working with young children and impacting their lives in the most positive ways that she can!
Casey is a newer addition to the Friendship Room. She started in August 2022. She graduated from Brookhaven High School and attended the Career Center at Columbus Downtown High School where she received her certification in Early Childhood Education. She has almost ten years of childcare experience as a teacher and a nanny. She was born and raised in Columbus and currently lives in Dublin with her wife, Tara, and their two cats. She loves working with children because every day is a new adventure!
Teddy Bear Room Staff
Kristin has been at Smoky Row since 2017. She is a graduate of Michigan State University with a degree in Elementary Education and Child Development. She taught preschool, pre-k, and first and second grades before taking a break to raise her family. She lives in Dublin with her husband, Mike. They have two children Katie and Michael and a cat named Roxy. In her free time, Kristin likes to read, take walks, photography and going on adventures with her family.
Divine came to Smoky Row as a part-time preschool parent. Then in 2013, she joined our teaching staff as a super sub. She became a team teacher in 2018. Divine was born in the Philippines and grew up in New York City. She graduated from The City University of New York at Baruch College with a B.S. in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. She earned her Master’s Degree in Elementary Education from Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry New York. She taught 4th and 5th grades and several years of preschool before coming to Smoky Row. She lives in Powell with her husband, Jason and their two daughters Bella and Toni. In her free time she likes to cook, exercise, read, garden, travel, go to the beach, and spend time with her family.
Tree House Club Staff
Liz is a newer addition to the Tree House Club. She started in August 2022. She studied Dance and Art Education at The Ohio State University and graduated in 2006 with a Fine Arts Degree. She has been working part-time as a Pastoral Coordinator overseeing Children’s Ministry for the past eleven years. She spent a year teaching Tap and Tumble at Smoky Row and quickly learned how wonderful this family-centric community is. She and her husband, Corey, have two daughters. As a family they love to camp, kayak and spend time with their extended family. She is thrilled to start a new season here at Smoky Row where it already feels like home.
Cara has worked at Smoky Row since 2016. She worked as an afternoon teacher while taking classes and also worked at the front desk greeting and touring families and providing support for our teachers. She became a team teacher in 2019. She graduated from The Ohio State University with a B.A. in Psychology. In her free time she likes spending time with her husband exploring the outdoors, traveling and spending time with friends, family and their dog, Marty.
Sunshine Room Staff
Kelsey studied Early Childhood Development at The Ohio State University (Go Bucks!) and graduated in 2013. In 2017, she attended Ashland University and obtained her Ohio teaching license. She joined the Smoky Row family as a parent in 2018 and as a teacher in 2019. Her family is made up of four people and one dog: her husband, Erik, their children, Julius and Evelyn and their dog, Ripley. They love playing, reading books, and going on adventures to explore new things. A few other things she enjoys doing are yoga, reading and eating ice cream!
Katiy joined Smoky Row in 2016. She grew up in Worthington and graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in Early Childhood Education. She has been in professional child care since 2000 in various positions including her own in-home child care. She and her husband, Nolan, have three children, Braedyn, Carrick, and Molly. When she is not working or with her children, she enjoys reading, having coffee with friends, and just taking time to enjoy the little moments.
Rainbow Room Staff
Emily started teaching in the Rainbow Room in February 2022. This is her first teaching experience and she is so excited about all of the exploring, learning and fun she is having. She graduated with a degree in Baking and Pastry Arts in 2015 and is loving incorporating that experience into the learning process. She grew up in Hillard, Ohio and is back in Ohio after spending fourteen years in North Carolina. She and her husband, Corey, have two dogs and two cats. She can’t wait to continue learning and growing with the class.
Taryn started working at Smoky Row in 2007, left in 2020 and we are so happy to have her back! She has a Bachelor’s Degree from The Ohio State University focusing on Early Childhood. She and her husband, Steve, have two boys who both attended Smoky Row for preschool. They have a dog named Archie and love going to Hilton Head and hanging out at the local pool in the summer. They also love cheering on The Ohio State Buckeyes, Columbus Blue Jackets and Columbus Crew. She is looking forward to fun and excitement in the Rainbow Room.
Butterfly Room Staff
Ashley has been teaching at Smoky Row since 2009. She has a degree in Human Ecology from Ohio State University. She loves to go for walks with her husband, daughter and dog, Pippi. Her favorite part of the day at Smoky Row is playground time. She loves to play games with the Butterfly friends!
Denise started at Smoky Row in 2007 and came to us with seven years of experience teaching preschool. She has a degree is Early Childhood Education and Mild-Moderate Intervention. She is very proud of her two grown sons. Her favorite part of the day is when she can do messy art and science projects with the kids.
Missy has been teaching Kindergarten at Smoky Row since 1993. She has a degree in Elementary Education from Ashland University and is certified to teach K-8. Her full day Kindergarten program is whole child based. It is rich in academics, with equal focus on social and emotional growth, character trait building, and creating a school family environment. Observations are welcome as Mrs. Kott loves sharing her classroom experiences with others! In her spare time she enjoys coaching the gymnastics team at Worthington Kilbourne High School, running, doing yoga, the beach, the outdoors, and spending time with family and friends.
Bethann has been working at Smoky Row since 1993! She has a Music Education Degree from Ohio University. She and her husband, Steve, have two grown children and five grandchildren. She loves spending as much time with them as she can. She also enjoys mentoring young children and their families at Smoky Row!