Staff Spotlight

  • How teaching has changed you:

    Over the years, I have gained confidence in my abilities as a teacher, learning from my mistakes and constantly experimenting in the classroom. I learned how to work with student’s frustrations or combativeness, and I learned an incredible amount of patience and understanding. Teaching helped me better understand how to navigate and understand the many personalities encountered and to be patient.

  • Meet Jennifer Peters:

    Jennifer Peters has a Bachelor’s degree in Christian Education and Early Childhood Administration from Providence Bible College. She is currently working to obtain a Master of Arts in Teaching Elementary Education. Jennifer has been in the early childhood education field for over a decade, having spent five of those years as a preschool director. Jennifer is originally from Ohio, but says she is a “Florida girl at heart!” She and her husband have two children, a son and daughter. Outside of work you will find Jennifer decorating beautiful cakes and taking Taekwondo lessons.

    Why I decided to become a teacher:

    Many of the great teachers that I have had throughout my education have become my heroes and role models. The contributions that my teachers gave in my own life is immeasurable. My teachers showed me love, sincerely cared and invested their time in me, and increased my self-esteem. I knew from an early age that I wanted to be a teacher and follow their example. I wanted the opportunity to help and love children, just as my teachers did for me. As a teacher, I have a direct opportunity to make a difference, to change the future.

    Favorite parts of being a teacher:

    One of my favorite parts of being a teacher is seeing the students make progress and make accomplishments over time. Finding things that the students are motivated by and seeing their eyes light up and their excitement when they are learning something new or interesting.

  • Favorite parts of being a teacher:

    There is so much for us to learn from our children. Each one of them teaches me to view the world from another perspective. Every day is whole new world to explore together. I have been fortunate to find my profession as a preschool teacher. After-all, it is your children who are the ones who teach me the most valuable lessons in life. I look forward to many more years of learning from each and every one of them.

  • Meet our Preschool Community Teacher,

    Erin Elmore:

    Erin is a native Floridian, born and raised in Fort Lauderdale. She holds an A.A. in exceptional student education and served as a teacher at Cambridge Prep School and Accotink Academy. She is an active volunteer for the Down Syndrome Association of Jacksonville (DSAJ) and received the prestigious Volunteer of the Year 2017 Award after volunteering with the association for over eight years. Currently, she is working with the DSAJ as an instructor for their Employment Readiness Course for adults and adolescents with disabilities.
    In her free time, Erin enjoys traveling, boating, going to the beach, and spending time with her husband, family, and friends. Erin and her husband welcomed a son in May 2020. She is thrilled to be with the Collage Day School, where she can pursue her passion of teaching.

    Why I decided to become a teacher:

    It has always been my passion to work with children, preferably of preschool age. I have found that at this particular age that children learn best when they are having fun…..and who doesn’t like to have fun while they work?? As a preschool teacher, I get to create an entertaining and creative classroom environment, in which to engage the children and bring learning experiences through imagination and play.

    How teaching has changed you:

    In addition to providing the children with an exciting learning environment, I want to create a home atmosphere in my classroom. I want the children to feel loved, protected and respected. Often, this is the first time for many preschool children to spend an extended period of time away from their parents. It is my goal to alleviate any stress and anxiety that children of this age might feel. I want to provide the children in my care with an opportunity to build relationships with their peers, and to expand on their social skills.

  • Meet our Transitional-Kindergartner Teacher,

    Leslie Johnson:

    Leslie was raised along the New Jersey shore and moved Ponte Vedra Beach in 1989 to raise her family. Leslie holds a Child Developmental Associate from the Childcare Education Institute at the University of Cincinnati. Before joining Collage Day School, Leslie spent over a decade as a lead teacher at Christ Church Preschool. Additionally, she taught at The Keystone-Mainspring Academy teaching children with varying exceptionalities. Leslie believes in the power of music to educate and enjoys using music daily in her classroom. She is a licensed instructor with “Music Together LLC.” Outside of work, Leslie enjoys painting, being outside, days at the beach and spending time with her family, especially her two young grandsons Finn and Gavin.

    Why I decided to become a teacher:

    Growing up, I always stayed busy babysitting, working as a lifeguard and a camp counselor. I was always a magnet to little kids! I love being silly and enjoy the reaction it brings to children. Many times, when growing up I was told, “you need to be a teacher.” When I was a freshman in college I started as an Elementary Education major, but I took a little detour. When I became a Mom to my two boys, I continued to enjoy being surrounded by my children and the neighborhood kids too. Some of my favorite parts of motherhood included being “homeroom-mom,” a PTO member and countless volunteer events. As life tends to do, my love for children and school came full circle as I moved towards a career in education later in life. I probably wouldn’t have appreciated it as much as I do now if I hadn’t taken the long road!

    How teaching has changed you:

    Teaching has changed me in so many ways! I always gravitated to the struggling learner, and I love taking the time to figure out how they learn. Discovering how children see the world has given me the tools to be a stronger teacher. Students can be the “best teacher” if you pay attention to what they are telling you. My first year in teaching I quickly learned what worked, and what didn’t work, through the kids reactions. They are the best, innocent, critics. My teaching style developed over the years to reflect this “kid taught” style. Each year I work on gaining their trust, making myself as re-forcing as possible, creating a fun and safe learning environment. Every year you feel you will never get a class you will love as much as the class that is moving on, but sure enough, it happens again, year after year. I now have former students who are in high school and college “friending” me on social media!

    Favorite parts of being a teacher:

    My favorite parts of teaching happen every day. The morning smiles, warm hugs, the occasional mistake of a student calling you “mom” which tells me they feel comfortable and safe, the offer of help from a student when they notice you need it, and a warm small hand voluntarily placed in mine. I love seeing a child grow more confident during the school year as he uses the tools learned in the classroom to step out of his comfort zone and then discover it was fun! There’s nothing greater than watching a child have a “light bulb” moment and they realize they can do the material they had once struggled with. Life is not boring in the classroom and no two days are alike. Though I may leave at the end of the day worn out, I always look forward to returning the next day and giving it my best shot! And of course, seeing those first morning smiles when my babies return …

  • Meet our Pre-K teacher,

    Mrs. Shari Goldman:

    Why I decided to become a teacher:

    My reason for becoming a teacher is quite simple – I enjoy being surrounded by children! I always have, whether I was babysitting, being a camp counselor, taking care of my nieces and then becoming a mom of 3 beautiful girls of my own. There was never a time in my time when I was not with little ones. When my youngest daughter went off to kindergarten, I realized that being with children makes me happy. I took that passion and turned it into my career as it seemed to be a very natural thing for me to do. I enjoy everything about teaching: listening, encouraging, helping and inspiring young children. I want to make a difference and that is why it is so important for me to teach these little ones to remember one little phrase – “to always have a caring heart”. Just a few simple words that could change the world – a world full of kindness, caring and acceptance.

    How teaching has changed you:

    I believe I was a rather patient person before I became a teacher. Well, I now have a new understanding of the word patience. I can now say, without a doubt, I am a very patient individual. I have learned that it’s okay if things do not always go according to a plan as that may be the perfect time to discover something new. Teaching has taught me the importance of having a sense of humor, having fun and to not be afraid to be a little silly.

    Favorite parts of being a teacher:

    My favorite part of being a teacher is the kids – their smiles, their giggles and their hugs. They make me smile and laugh. I love the moment when a child’s eyes light up with excitement as they tell me
    something they learned. Teaching is exhilarating and exhausting, yet I cannot imagine it not being a part of my life.

  • Meet our Kindergarten teacher,

    Mrs. Whitney Lynn:

    Whitney holds a Master’s degree in Elementary Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Maryland, and she holds a Bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary liberal studies with a Minor in Elementary Education from James Madison University in Virginia. She brings over half a decade of teaching experience to Collage Day School. Whitney is passionate about teaching children to discover the world around them and brings this enthusiasm to her classroom. As a teacher, she aims to guide children to become lifelong learners by fostering curiosities through engaging and meaningful opportunities. As the Kindergarten teacher, she focuses on the whole child; utilizing differentiated instruction and encouraging students to explore their environments in both intellectually stimulating and nurturing ways. Additionally, Whitney is the Elementary Curriculum Coordinator at Collage Day School. Outside of school, you’ll find Whitney logging miles as an avid runner, traveling or cooking.

    Why I Decided to Become a Teacher:

    Growing up, my parents always encouraged me to find something that I love to do, and to do just that. I had a passion for serving others in a meaningful way, and so I became a teacher. My 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Ghetti, showed me the kind of teacher I wanted to be. Mrs. Ghetti made me feel smart and creative and believed in me, but most importantly, made me feel special. I realized that this is the most important thing I can do as a teacher. Teaching starts with how I make a child feel. From there, they can move mountains.

    How Teaching Has Changed Me:

    Teaching has allowed for me to see the impact that one person can have on so many. It’s shown me how far a smile can go. It’s given me opportunities to work with children of diverse backgrounds, needs, and abilities. And, with every group of students, I continue to grow and learn as a teacher.

    Favorite Parts of Being a Teacher:

    There is nothing more gratifying than helping a child reach a “light bulb” moment. I love the relationships I have with my students and the classroom community we build together. I love teaching because every day is different. Each day is a fresh start. Each day is an opportunity.