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 a strong interest 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, her partner Scott, and their children live in Spring Lake Park. Her son Miles is an SPCC graduate and graduated from Linwood-Monroe A+ Elementary, attends Spring Lake Park High School and  daughter Magdalene is an SPCC alumni and is attending Park Terrace Elementary. Tina’s youngest, Keaton (5) attends the pre-k program at SPCC and Oscar or “Ozzy” (3) is in the preschool program at SPCC. 

Contact Tina at: spccdirector@gmail.com

Assistant Director~Meredith Melendez Myers 


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 almost weekly). 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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Brooke is Program Coordinator  of Bonsai Tree (our infant program) and joined SPCC in 2014. 

Brooke graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BS in Psychology and Criminology. Brooke is passionate about advocacy and anti-bias education and is interested in the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood practices.  She has years of experience working with young children and infants. Brooke has experience nannying for multiple families with newborns and young children, as well as working with other infant programs. She also has experience teaching leadership and team-building at a ropes course, working in rehab with adults with severe mental illness, developing a therapeutic horseback riding program for individuals with special needs, and teaching at a school for individuals with developmental disorders. Brooke loves children and has a special place in heart for working with infants. She finds great joy in helping little ones grow, learn, explore, and feel well-cared for and nurtured.  If you have to be away from your little one during the day, Brooke is absolutely the warmest, kindest and most loving individual you could imagine to be caring for your baby. Brooke loves spending time with her loved ones and hanging out with her little black cat, Gus. 

Contact Brooke at: Brooke@myspcc.com


Mishele has been with SPCC since 2014. Mishele is Program Coordinator in Waterfall Room (older toddler/emerging preschool).  

Mishele is passionate about the field of early childhood education, following developmentally appropriate practices as set by NAEYC,  and very interested in the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education. Mishele has been in the field of early childhood education for  over ten years,  earned her Child Development Associate’s Credential, and is continuing her education in child development at Concordia University, and is the recipient of the T. E. A. C. H.  scholarship. With this scholarship SPCC helps to support Mishele in her studies both in terms of scheduling and financial support.   

Mishele has always felt a passion and calling to work in early childhood education. Mishele’s professional experience ranges from early childhood teacher to Assistant Director at an early childhood center. Mishele lives in Maplewood with her husband, daughter and two cats. Mishele’s daughter attends SPCC (Willow Woods)! Mishele enjoys spending time with family and friends, dancing, attending Twins Games, and keeping a positive attitude and perspective! 

Contact Mishele at: Mishele@myspcc.com

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Eben is a Co-Coordinator in our Summer School Age Program and part of our Collaboration Team 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 expecting their first little one February 2017, whom will later join our infant program! 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 am very excited to the join 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 golden retriever Leo and I are a therapy dog team and are also a R. E. A. D.  (Reading Assistance Dog) team. I am looking forward to Leo visiting the center once in a while. 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 aid 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 Leo 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

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Erin is a teacher in Bonsai Tree (our infant program) and has been at SPCC since April 2016. 

My name is Erin! I am a Minnesotan, born and raised, and  graduated last year with my Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts! I have spent the last year teaching children's art classes, and have also worked with preschoolers who have autism spectrum disorder. Working with children is my passion. They teach me more each day than I could ever learn from anyone else! Other than hang out with kids, I love to paint and draw. I also love gardening, camping, or basically doing anything outdoors!  

Contact Erin at: Erin@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

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Cortney  has been with SPCC since December of 2015. Cortney is a teacher in Tumbleweeds (young toddlers). 

"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 a teacher in Tumblweeds (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 

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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

Sheila is currently a teacher on our Collaboration Team (teaching in all classrooms). 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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Brianna has been with SPCC since 2015 and is part of our Collaboration Team (teaching in all classrooms). 

Brianna earned a Certificate in Early Childhood Education from Rasmussen College and is currently pursing her Bachelors degree in early childhood education.  Brianna has seven years of experience with infants, toddlers and preschoolers.  Brianna loves being part of the  SPCC community.   Brianna lives in Woodbury and enjoys yoga, running, movies and taking her dog to the dog park.

Contact Brianna at: Brie@myspcc.com


Seth is a teacher in Refection Grove (pre-K) and joined our faculty in October 2016 .


Seth completed Bachelor of Arts coursework in the Women's Studies, Critical Studies of Race and Ethnicity, and English Literature departments at St. Catherine University. He has served as a youth worker and/or community artist with Sabes Jewish Community Center, Minnesota Internship Center Charter High School, and Laura Jeffrey Academy, as well as arts organizations such as 20% Theatre Company and Grace Minnesota. In his spare time, Seth loves to make a mess of his kitchen, watch films from his excessively large collection, and juggle in his front yard. He is thrilled to be joining the SPCC team!

Contact Seth at: Seth@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 new role as a teacher at St Paul’s Childhood Center.

Contact Mac at: Mac@myspcc.com

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Claire 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


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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Matt A. is part of our Collaboration Team 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


Jena is a teacher in Waterfall Room (older toddler/emerging preschool). Jena joined SPCC in May 2016. 

Hello SPCC! My name is Jena and I  recently graduated from St. Catherine University, with a major in Psychology and a minor in Spanish.I grew up in Menomonie, WI and am working towards a career as a Child Life Specialist. I have had a variety of experiences working with children in the past. I have been a babysitter, nanny, assistant teacher in a childcare center, helped with children’s activities at my church, and I currently volunteer at Children’s Hospital of MN-St. Paul. In these positions, I have worked with children ages 2 months through 12 years. I have a passion for working with children to help them overcome obstacles, so they can go on to have healthy and bright futures. They inspire me to view the world with an open mind and a positive attitude! In my free time, I enjoy spending time with friends and family, exploring the Twin Cities, doing crafts, and baking.

Contact Jena at: Jena@myspcc.com 


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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