SPCC Faculty

SPCC faculty is made up of experienced, educated  professionals passionate about the field of early childhood education. Teachers construct and implement curriculum infused with art in order to help build confident learners through self-discovery; develop social/emotional skills through learning multiple avenues of  healthy self-expression; and develop cognitive learning and problem solving skills through abstract thinking processes stimulated during arts intensive projects. Our teachers also value building early literacy skills, exposure to music and multiple languages, sensory oriented play, and large motor activities.

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“The principle goal of education in the schools should be creating men and women who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done.” ~Jean Piaget


Executive Director~Tina Gatzke, M.A.

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Tina has been with SPCC since January of 2001. Tina earned an M.A. in Family Life Education from Concordia University, St. Paul and is in process to become  a Certified Family Life Educator through NCFR. She earned her B.A. in Philosophy: Applied Ethics and a minor in Women’s Studies from St. Catherine University. Tina has been in the field of education for twenty years, has been an active member of NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children), and is devoted to public policy/advocacy issues pertaining to early childhood education. Tina has strong interests in the Reggio Emilia approach, anti-bias education, and in early childhood education research, advocacy  and ethics. Tina has served on the Outreach and Growth Committee of the Reggio-Inspired Network of Minnesota; the MnAEYC Annual State Conference Planning Committee; the MnAEYC Policy and Advocacy Advisory Group, served on the Grand Avenue Business Association (GABA) Board of Directors, and attends the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits monthly networking and education meetings. Tina’s family lives in Spring Lake Park (although St. Paul will always feel like home). Her son Miles is an SPCC graduate and graduated from Linwood-Monroe A+ Elementary, and is in his senior year of high school, her daughter Magdalene (another SPCC graduate) is in 5th grade, her son Keaton (also an SPCC graduate) is in kindergarten  and Oscar or “Ozzy”  is in the pre-k program at SPCC. 

Contact Tina at: spccdirector@gmail.com



Assistant Director~Meredith Melendez Myers 

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Meredith has been with SPCC since September of 2005. Meredith is passionate about teaching children to be environmentally conscious, the benefits of learning a second language, the Reggio Emilia approach and anti-bias education.  Meredith has been working with young children since she was a “young helper” at Merodie Family Daycare (where she attended for nine years). Meredith graduated from Western Washington University at Bellingham with a degree in Spanish and Communications, and a TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) Certificate. Meredith has done much world traveling, starting at a young age, as an only child Meredith explored the world with her parents (Gordon and Christy). Meredith has a special vibrant energy that makes her a delightful teacher, leader, and an amazing friend and co-worker. Meredith utilizes her fluency in Spanish to teach and implement a Spanish enrichment  program she designed for our school; working with infants through pre-k students. Families are often impressed with how much their children learn and absorb while under Meredith's instruction. Meredith is chair of  SPCC’s Buildings and Grounds Committee, committed to improving the aesthetics of the school; and attends Parent Advisory Committee meetings. Meredith lives in St. Paul, and is the proud parent of twin boys Julian and Andrés who were born in July 2010, and graduated from SPCC’s pre-k program and currently attend Adams Spanish Immersion School. 

Contact Meredith at: spccassistantdirector@gmail.com 


Program Administrator-Leslie DuCloux II 

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Les is s our Program Administrator, and Summer School Age Program Co-Coordinator.  Les has been with SPCC since 2006. 

Les received his BA in English Literature from the University of Minnesota and studied the Hip Hop Culture in the Master of Liberal Studies at the University of Minnesota. While in graduate school Les taught basic writing at the General College at the University of Minnesota. Les,  his wife and daughter live in Highland Park. Les  is full of energy, enthusiasm, and is known for the in-depth, creative projects he plans for his classes. Les is part of the administrative team, working on project planning such as planning events, grants, trips, and coordinates many resources for the center. Les is the chair of our Nature Explore team focusing on connecting the children to nature on the playground and in their classrooms as well as retaining our Nature Explore certification  he also attends Parent Advisory Committee meetings. Les makes an effort to work with the St. Paul School District in order to stay current with standards and expectations for incoming kindergarten classes, to better prepare parents and our pre-kindergarteners for the exciting adventures of elementary school! 

Contact Les at: Les@myspcc.com


SPCC Elysia

Elysia, M.A. has been with SPCC since April of 2014 and earned her M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction for Early Childhood Education from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and B.F.A. in Interdisciplinary Arts and Art History from the Kansas City Art Institute. Elysia is our Studio Teacher/Atelierista. 

Her past teaching experiences include working as a lead toddler teacher within a therapeutic treatment center for young children who have survived trauma. She is enthusiastic about integrating art into all areas of learning, and is very interested in the Reggio Emilia approach. She has presented on open-ended play, emergent curriculum and Reggio Emilia inspired concepts at the Annual MnAEYC Conference (the largest state conference for early childhood educators and administrators). She has worked with all ages from infants to adults in early childhood centers, public schools, after school programs, and art programs. Elysia  lives  in Fridley with her husband Zach, her son August (whom is part of our toddler program), daughter Merit (whom is part of our infant program), and her Pomeranian Chinook (who visits SPCC occasionally). She loves to do all things textiles and has quite the  collection of yarn. She looks forward to riding her bike on the Mississippi River Trail, having bonfires, gardening, and spending time with family. 

Contact Elysia at: Elysia@myspcc.com 


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Cheryl  is  Program Coordinator of Reflection Grove (our pre-k program). Cheryl also serves as our Health and Wellness Coordinator. Cheryl has been with SPCC since June 2012.  

Cheryl graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelors degree in Child Psychology and a minor in Sociology-Law, Crime and Deviance.  Cheryl is passionate about Reggio Emilia inspired practices, anti-bias education, engaging toddlers in sensory experiences, and health and wellness. She has presented on open-ended play, emergent curriculum and Reggio Emilia inspired concepts at the Annual MnAEYC Conference (the largest state conference for early childhood educators and administrators). Prior to coming to SPCC, Cheryl has worked as a professional nanny, as a teacher in classrooms all of all ages infants through pre-k, in after school programs with school-age children; as a child development specialist working directly with children with emotional and behavioral special needs; and coached a 7th grade girls basketball team. Cheryl is part of SPCC's Development Team dedicated to securing grant dollars to improve upon the center's programming; as well as SPCC's Buildings and Grounds Committee dedicated to improving upon the center's aesthetics.  She has two sons; Jordan and Connor, both SPCC alumni attending elementary school in the St. Paul Public School District.   One of Cheryl’s favorite quotes is:  “While we try to teach children all about life, children teach us what life is all about,” ~Angela Schwindt  (which coincidentally is a quote we’ve had on our website for years!) 

Contact Cheryl at: Cheryl@myspcc.com



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Amanda is Program Coordinator in Willow Woods (preschool). She has been with SPCC since September of 2013. 

Amanda received her BS in Early Childhood Education from the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Amanda is passionate about the Reggio Emilia approach, anti-bias education and advocacy  She has presented on open-ended play, emergent curriculum and Reggio Emilia inspired concepts at the Annual MnAEYC Conference (the largest state conference for early childhood educators and administrators).  In 2016 Amanda was named a C. A. R. E.  Fellow by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Participants of the fellowship are trained to be effective advocates for early childhood education through engaging and educating policymakers at all levels of government.  Amanda has over 15 years of experience in multiple settings; before coming to SPCC teaching at a Montessori preschool. Amanda lives in Cottage Grove with her husband, Aaron, and her two sons Dylan and Teddy (Teddy attends SPCC in our infant program). She enjoys playing board games and sports with her family, as well as reading, cooking and baking. 

Contact Amanda at: Amanda@myspcc.com


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Cortney  has been with SPCC since December of 2015. Cortney is the Program Coordinator in Waterfall Room (older toddlers/emerging preschool). 

"I dreamt of becoming a teacher since I was a little girl. I would play school with my older sister growing up. I come from a family of two sisters and three brothers, the most incredible and supportive siblings. I have worked with children for the last five years and the last two years I have been a toddler teacher at a preschool in Forest Lake. I have gained so much knowledge from my experiences in early childhood and I can’t wait to expand my knowledge even further! 

I attended the University of Wisconsin-Stout for three years taking classes in Early Childhood Education. I am currently enrolled in the ECE program at Rasmussen College and I cannot wait for graduation! I enjoy the outdoors and fresh air. I spend my summers at the cabin; fishing, swimming, kayaking, etc. I love spending quality time with my family, I enjoy beating my brother at cribbage and seeing my daughter light up with joy when she plays with her aunts and uncles."

Contact Cortney at: Cortney@myspcc.com 


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Amber is the Program Coordinator  in Tumbleweeds (young toddlers) and has been with SPCC since June of 2014.

"Hello SPCC families! My name is Amber, I am a mother of three beautiful children-Drea (16 yrs. old), Lily (14 yrs. old), and Johnathan (5 yrs. old). We are new around here, just recently moving from Mounds View to St. Paul’s Highland Park area. Our family is definitely one that’s on the go,  keeping busy with dance lessons, track meets, music concerts, and fun family outings such as parks, zoos, etc. I have worked in early childhood education for 10+ years and received my Child Development Associates Degree through Rasmussen College. I have experience with all age groups 6 weeks thru 12 years old though my passion lies with infants and toddlers. I enjoy dancing, music, and just having fun and being silly not only in my free time but sharing this as well with the children I work with. Other experiences I like sharing with young children are sign language (I’m learning as I go with this) and getting messy with art and sensory projects."

Contact Amber at: Amber@myspcc.com 


Claire A.

Claire A. is the Program Coordinator in Bonsai Tree (our infant program) and joined SPCC in July, 2017.  

Claire graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a B.A. in Elementary Education, and a minor in Instrumental Music. Claire has worked with children in a variety of settings: at the University of St. Thomas Child Development Center working predominantly in the infant program; as a nanny for four families with children ranging in age from infant to 10; as a student teacher of 2nd grade students at Community of Peace Academy; and as a school-age care provider for the La Crosse, Wisconsin YMCA.  Claire has a passion for working with children of all ages, but has, through her experiences, developed a particular fondness for working with infants following Magda Gerber's RIE philosophy. She is excited to incorporate this philosophy with the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood practices. 

Claire lives in St. Paul with her husband Jesus and together they foster dogs and cats through a local animal rescue organization. She enjoys running, baking, and spending time outdoors in her free time.

Contact Claire A. at : ClaireA@myspcc.com 


SPCC 2014 Eben

Eben is a Co-Coordinator in our Summer School Age Program and a teacher in Waterfall Room (older toddlers/emerging preschool) during the school year. Eben came  back to SPCC in 2015 after a three year hiatus, during which he  worked with AmeriCorps. 

Eben came back with many fond memories of SPCC,  excited to once again be working with all the children at our school, and seeing them learn and grow. Eben is passionate about engaging children in physical activity and big body play and teaching children to care for the environment. Eben is currently working towards an associate of arts degree at Inver Hills Community College and trying to decide what he ultimately wants to major in. Eben met his wife Bethany, a former SPCC teacher, while working at SPCC! They married in February 2015, and are parents to an adorable baby boy! Eben was born and raised in St. Paul and currently lives in Inver Grove Heights. Two of Eben’s siblings were also teachers at SPCC in the past! In his spare time Eben enjoys listening to music, hiking the unbeaten path, and beating Les in fantasy football. 

Contact Eben at: Eben@myspcc.com



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Ingrid is a teacher in Bonsai Tree (our infant program). Ingrid has been with SPCC since October of 2002, and has a Child Development Associate certificate. 

Ingrid also has experience working with the Boy Scouts of America and E. C. F. E.  (Early Childhood Family Education).  Ingrid is from Guatemala and spent much of her youth in California before venturing to chilly Minnesota. Ingrid and her husband have three boys; Fredy, Isaias and Arnie, and two grandsons Fredy Jr. and Aidan. Ingrid is incredibly nurturing and has a special gift when it comes to babies. 

Contact Ingrid at: IngridM@myspcc.com



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Korine is a teacher in Bonsai Tree (our infant program), and has been with SPCC since  2014. 

"Hello! My name is Korine and I love being part of the SPCC Community! I am a Midwest woman through and through; born in Iowa, lived in Chicago for a few years-but mostly grew up in St. Paul. I haves an AS degree from Landmark College in Putney, Vermont,  a BS degree in Early Learning from Lesley College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I also earned 24 graduate credits in early childhood with a focus on Montessori education. I am a certified assistance dog trainer with an AS degree in Canine Studies from Bergin University of Canine Studies in Santa Rosa, California. My dream is to one day integrate my work with well trained dogs and my work with kids. 

I love working with children and my goal is to teach each child through imagination, creativity and play. There is nothing quite like seeing a child do something for the first time, especially when you have been working together — all of a sudden, they get it and it is fabulous! I am the second oldest of 12 grandchildren and have been around children my whole life. In high school I got my first job as an afternoon aide at a daycare, and have been volunteering, babysitting and working with kids ever since. When not at work; I enjoy curling up with my dog  and a good book or movie. I work out regularly, and love to swim. I enjoy spending time with family and friends and especially love to cook and bake for them! Lemon cheesecake is a speciality! And I love to travel. I have traveled to Asia, Africa, Europe as well as in the US I’m really looking forward to getting to know the children, families and faculty at SPCC!"

Contact Korine at: Korine@myspcc.com


Sheila is a teacher in Bonsai Tree (our infant program).  She has been with SPCC since September of 2004. 

Sheila received her BS in Education with an emphasis in Early Childhood from the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Sheila has experience working with infants through school-aged children. 

Contact Sheila at: Sheila@myspcc.com


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Joseph is a teacher in Tumbleweeds (young toddlers). Joseph rejoined SPCC’s faculty in September 2016 after taking time off to travel the world. 

"I am Joseph. I've done a lot of different things over the last few years -- I worked at Fraser with children with emotional behavioral disorders, coached high school speech and debate, worked on conversational artificial intelligence, coached middle and high school Ultimate Frisbee, and worked at SPCC. After spending some time traveling the country and working a few different part time jobs, I am very excited to be back.

I enjoy so many aspects of this job. The faculty here are wonderful, talented people who I respect immensely. I really enjoy spending time with the children and getting to know the families. I also am passionate about (non-binary) gender inclusion, social justice, technological literacy, pretend play, gross motor play, storytelling, and generally trying to stay on top of the evolving ideas about how to best support children and families in our rapidly changing world. Advocating for children is something that I really care about, and I love trying to imagine the world from their point of view.

When I’m not working, you can find me chasing a disc on an Ultimate field, watching TV/movies (I love talking about storytelling and cinematography techniques), playing League of Legends, dancing, and designing board/card games.”

Contact Joseph at: Joseph@myspcc.com


Amy

Amy is a teacher in Tumbleweeds (young toddlers) and joined SPCC July 2017. 

"Hi, I am Amy! For my undergraduate, I graduated with degree in Human Development & Family Studies, August 2015.  Immediately following, I started my year and a half journey as the Education Director at the Mt. Airy Boys & Girls Club of St Paul. Previous summers during my college career, I worked at Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwestern Wisconsin. I have worked in early childhood eduction for over three years and have greatly enjoyed the variety of experiences. The passion I hold with kids has been beneficial when working with all ages. I love learning from the kiddos and hearing their great ideas from the age they begin to walk to when they are on their way to graduation. Over the last nine years I have nannied for over ten very diverse families. It has been extremely beneficial working in early childhood and using my knowledge to improve daily interactions. In my free time, I play basketball, go on adventures and spend time with family. I recently have been playing pickup basketball games and continue to visit my kiddos from the St Paul Boys & girls Club. For family & friends, I love to be crafty by making various cards.”

Contact Amy at: Amy@myspcc.com 


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Liz is a teacher in Waterfall Room (older toddlers/emerging preschool):

"Hi, my name is Liz! I earned my BAs in English (Creative Writing) and Geography from Macalester College.  Through various teaching roles, it has become clearer and clearer to me that the career path I’d like to pursue is in education. Most recently, I was a 3rd Hebrew teacher at Mt. Zion’s religious school. I most loved watching students begin to develop their own identities as they explored their personal connections to the curriculum materials. I am particularly passionate about intentionally incorporating social-emotional learning into activities with students of all ages. In my free time, I enjoy cooking, writing and other creative projects, and spending time outdoors. I’m excited to join the SPCC team and to get to know your children!

Contact Liz at: Liz@myspcc.com 


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Claire G. is a teacher in Willow Woods (preschool). Claire joined our faculty in June of 2013. 

She has been in the field of early childhood education for fifteen years and has experience working with every age group; from infants to school-age. In her career Claire has been in a variety of teaching and administrative positions from support teacher to center Director. She obtained an A. A. S.  degree from St. Paul College in Child Development Studies and her BA in Early Childhood Education with a minor in Child Psychology from Metropolitan State University. Claire grew up in St. Paul and lives  here with her kitty Mister Teeny (named after Krusty the Clown's chimpanzee on The Simpsons). Claire is an avid reader and has been a member of a book club for almost ten years. She also loves to sing karaoke, watch black and white films and hang out at any number of St. Paul's coffee shops. 

Contact Claire at: Claire@myspcc.com


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Mac is a teacher in Reflection Grove (pre-k) and joined our faulty in May 2016. 

"My name is McClayton (Mac). I am a father of three and I live in Brooklyn Center, MN. I graduated from Metro State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Liberal Arts. I also studied Family and Child Development, Urban Education, and Theater. I have a passion for teaching, inspiring, and challenging children to love learning. I am a lifelong learner myself. I am currently pursuing a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and a Masters in Leadership and Curriculum Development. I have over ten years of  experience in working with children. I most recently worked as a coordinator at a nonprofit youth program. I am very excited about my  role as a teacher at St Paul’s Childhood Center.”

Contact Mac at: Mac@myspcc.com


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Matt  is a teacher in Reflection Grove (our pre-k program) and joined SPCC in April of 2016. 

Matt has been creating theatre in the Twin Cities area for over two decades.  Since then he has also earned a BA in Theatre Arts & Cultural Studies from the U of M-Twin Cities, an M. F. A.  in Directing from east 15, U of Essex-London, and a CDA in early childhood education from Rasmussen.  Education is a symbiotic relationship in constant flux; something he learned/taught while traveling the world; including Chicago, New Zealand, and Moscow.  He cut his teaching teeth with Climb Theatre traveling the Midwest as a member of their rocking PerfCo.  Acting and writing led him to directing many community and children's productions with Lyric Arts Theatre, River Valley Theatre Company, and Ashland Productions.  When not teaching at Kindercare or Creative Kids Academy, he has also led theatre classes with special needs & spectrum students at In The Company of Kids.  When not teaching, he can be found doing Improv with Fantastic Voyage or being Artistic Director of The Drollery.  That or singing songs and playing Ukulele…or gardening...or cooking...or creating run on sentences, he does lots of those too. 

Contact Matt at: MattA@myspcc.com\


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Maria joined the SPCC team as a Collaboration Team Teacher in September 2017.

 A recent graduate of Oberlin College, she is excited to be able to work at such a wonderful center for early childhood education. She believes deeply in helping children develop holistically and is thrilled to be at a school that has implemented the Reggio Emilia approach. Maria has worked with children in diverse settings, including as a Spanish instructor for kindergarten students, a Parent Educator Intern at The Parenting Place in La Crosse, WI, a Research Assistant with various developmental psychologists, and as a nanny. Her hobbies include knitting, hiking, participating in book clubs, and learning new facts. 

Contact Maria at: Maria@myspcc.com 



Suzy

Suzy  is a part of our Collaboration Team,  and has been with SPCC since July of 2002. 

Suzy received her BA in Sociology from the University of Minnesota. Suzy has experience aiding Kindergarteners, First graders and Second graders in a private school setting in Minneapolis. Suzy lives in St. Paul, and loves learning from the children that she works with. Suzy has a gentle, calming energy that infuses her classroom with a sense of serenity. She is great at observing the little details about the children she works with and forms close bonds with them.  

Contact Suzy at: Suzy@myspcc.com


Diana is part of our Collaboration Team and has  certified food manager training, covering the kitchen when our center chef is on vacation. Diana has been with SPCC since December of 1997. 

Diana is warm, welcoming, creative and caring. Children are drawn to Diana’s incandescence, she has a natural gift for forming close relationships. Diana is a nurturer at heart and is not only a president of the SPCC Staff Hug Committee, but also a user. Diana is comical, she loves writing, watching scary movies, her cats and anything British.

Contact Diana at: Diana@myspcc.com


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Sarah is a Collaboration Team Teacher and has been with SPCC since 2015. 

"Hello! My name is Sarah.  I am so happy to be back at SPCC as a teacher!  I worked with SPCC for about 7 years ending in 2010.  I have a BA in Spanish, from the University of Minnesota. I look forward to working with you and your little ones.  Thank you for entrusting me with their care.”


Contact Sarah at: Sarah@myspcc.com



Connie

Connie, M.Ed. is a substitute teacher at SPCC and has been with SPCC since July of 2017. 

After a several years of teaching special education, art and biology in K-12 educational sites, Connie returned to graduate studies: first earning an M.Ed from Lesley University in Curriculum Instruction: Integrated Teaching through the Expressive Arts and then earning a M. S. in Counseling and Psychotherapy with a concentration  in Marriage , Family and Art Therapy from Adler Graduate School.

However, after traveling to Italy to observe and study the Reggio Emilia Schools Connie decided to concentrate her work and studies to the field of early education. Connie is very interested in using Reggio Emilia-Inspired techniques and material presentations in therapeutic realms..  She is currently researching the possibilities of Reggio-Inspired art, play and educational therapy.

Connie loves walking her dog, Wendy, a snowy white Sammi, and painting, doll making, sketching  are just a few of her relaxing activities. Her daughter, Mayme lives in Nashville with her husband. There they both are in different aspects of the food business and enjoy the exciting growth of the city.

Connie is happy about being part of  St. Paul Childhood Center’s community because she  loves to discover and invent especially with young artists and researchers.

Contact Connie at: Connie@myspcc.com 


Scott joined the SPCC Collaboration Team as a sub in September 2017. 

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Scott studied at the U of M Crookston and attended massage school to become a Reiki Master. Scott has spent the last six years as a full-time Dad, volunteering at E. C. F. E. (Early Childhood Family Education) classes, volunteering at his children’s schools, and attending therapies (physical, occupational and speech) with his son who is on the autism spectrum (who began kindergarten in September 2017!). 

Scott grew in up Hutchinson, Minnesota where he lived with his parents and two brothers. Scott has always loved children and been surrounded by many. Growing up, Scott helped at the daycare center his mother ran out of their home, and his family took in foster children throughout Scott’s childhood. Scott’s many years of experience with children in a variety of settings has provided him an exceptionally patient, nurturing energy and he has a knack for figuring out what a child may need in order to feel calm and secure enough to make a meaningful connection. 

 Scott’s oldest two children (Safa and Sinead)  live together and attend Winona State University. Outside of work and his family Scott is interested in science (space, astronomy, astrophysics and quantum theory), and philosophy (metaphysics and ontology). He loves watching a good movie, 90s music, cooking while having a nice glass of wine, and drinking lots of coffee. You will know Scott is at SPCC when you walk in and hear his thunderous guffaw (a.k.a. the loudest laugh of all the SPCC team, perhaps in MN?). 

Contact Scott at: scott@myspcc.com 


John

John is our center chef; he has been with SPCC since October of 1999. 

John has previous childcare center cooking experience and worked as a Lead Teacher for twelve years. John graduated from St. Cloud State University with a BA in Psychology and Speech. On weekends John works as a clown attending parades and events!

Contact John at: John@myspcc.com





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