Meet The Staff


Infant Teaching Team (Birth-12 Months)


Damaris Romero, Infant Teacher

Village ELC infants receive consistent, loving care from Ms. Damaris. A veteran infant and toddler teacher of more than 13 years, Ms. Damaris has earned a National CDA. She is bilingual (English/Spanish) and uses her language skills to enhance the brain development of the youngest students in the school. Ms. Damaris delights in the achievements of each of the young learners and communicates with parents of students in her care as part of a learning partnership.



Mercedes Rodriguez, Infant Teacher

Ms. Mercedes is a vital member of the Infant team. A native of Puerto Rico, Ms. Mercedes works with the teachers in the infant classroom to provide a clean, safe, efficient, and educational environment optimal for learning and development. We love to hear her speaking and singing to the babies in Spanish!




Maura Sanchez, Infant Teacher

Ms. Maura is from Puerto Rico, where she was a nurse. She has a wealth of experience working with young children, including infants. Ms. Maura is a military spouse and the mother of two teenagers. She enjoys helping our youngest students reach for their developmental milestones and celebrating with them when they reach them.




Tomi Oparison, Infant Teacher






Toddler Teaching Team (12-24 Months)

Kayla Omoregie, Toddler Lead Teacher

Ms. Kayla is among the most versatile teachers at The Village ELC. Currently the Lead Teacher for the Toddler team, Ms. Kayla has taught at every level during her tenure of more than five years at The Village. Ms. Kayla is pursuing a bachelor degree in Early Childhood Education, specializing in Early Intervention, at Florida State College. She enjoys planning creative and developmentally appropriate lessons, mentoring new teachers, and assisting parents with understanding and responding to the challenges and rewards that come with raising toddlers.



Miranda Pages, Toddler Teacher

Ms. Miranda has more than 12 years of experience in early childhood education, with her most recent five at The Village ELC. Now a Toddler Teacher, Ms. Miranda has also nurtured and cared for students in the Twos classroom. Ms. Miranda has one son and has been married for more than seven years. She enjoys crafting, shopping, beaches, and spending time with family.



Kaitlin Spears, Toddler Teacher







Michelle JnoBaptiste, Toddler Aide

Born and raised in Dominica, Ms. Michelle moved to Antigua, where she lived throughout her teens. Upon graduation from high school, Ms. Michelle used her certification in early childhood education as an asset as she taught for eight years in Antigua.In 2016, Ms. Michelle moved to the U.S., where she earned an associate’s degree in health and human services. Ms. Michelle loves sharing stories and cultural artifacts with students in the Toddler classroom.





Twos Teaching Team (24-36 Months)


Renee Love, Twos Teacher

Originally from New York, Ms. Renee also lived in Maine before moving to Florida. Ms. Renee draws on almost 30 years experience in early childhood education as she teaches in the Twos classroom. Ms. Renee is married and the mother of three children. She is a Jeep enthusiast and loves spending time at the beach with her family.




Vindra Rampersad, Twos Teacher







Sara Anton, Twos Teacher







Sasha Young, Twos Aide









Preschool Teaching Team

LeighAnn Landers, Preschool Teacher, Young Preschool Team Lead

Ms. Leighann has worked in several different classrooms during her first five years at The Village. Currently a Preschool teacher, Ms. Leighann is known for her abilities with other age groups, including toddlers and twos, as well. Ms. Leighann has been instrumental in raising funds as part of the annual Village ELC Costume Crusade for Cure SMA, and she is recognized as a “techie” resource when teachers need to better understand how to use technology tools within the school. Ms. Leighann has a staff credential and an associate’s degree. She is currently working on a bachelors degree in early childhood education.

Darinka Saveva, Preschool Teacher







Brooke Robinson Benton, Preschool Teacher







Katie McArdle, Preschool Teacher







Perla Morales, Preschool Teacher

Ms. Perla has been a staff member at The Village for more than six years. A long-time Preschool team member, Ms. Perla has a firm and loving teaching style that inspires students to become the best that they can be. Ms. Perla has a bachelor’s degree. Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Puerto Rico, Ms. Perla is a resident of Riverview. She enjoys home decor, restaurants, and travel.



Christy Ruidiaz, Preschool Teacher







Chandra Brooks, Preschool Teacher







Lyndsie Ellis, Young Preschool Teacher

Ms. Lyndsie has nurtured three and four year olds at The Village for four years. Currently a teacher of Young Preschoolers, Ms. Lyndsie also has experience teaching VPK. Ms. Lyndsie has a bachelors degree and is currently working on a masters degree in Educational Leadership. She is married and has a dog named Riley.




Lauren McRae, Young Preschool Teacher

Ms. Lauren is a Missouri native and has lived in Florida for more than five years. She has an associate’s degree and is continually seeking opportunities to expand her knowledge and experience in the field of early childhood education. Ms. Lauren has a bearded dragon as a pet and enjoys sharing her love of nature and living things with her students. She believes that strength is found in diversity, and she strives to provide an environment that is welcoming and beneficial to all.




Sydney Olekszak, Young Preschool Aide








Pre-Kindergarten Teaching Team

Jo-Ann Navarro, VPK Program Coordinator

Originally from Hawaii, Ms. Navarro has lived in Florida since 2000. A Village teacher since 2001, Ms. Navarro is the VPK Team Lead. She holds a National Early Childhood Credential (NECC). Ms. Navarro has mentored many VPK teachers over almost two decades, and she takes great care in preparing children to be lifelong learners. She is married with two children.



Christina Smith, VPK Teacher

Ms. Smith has been an educator for eight years, two of which have been at The Village Early Learning Center. Ms. Smith holds a B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Spanish, M.S. and is currently pursuing a M.Ed., early childhood concentration, from the University of North Florida.  Before entering the early childhood field, Ms. Smith interned at the World Health Organization in Lima, Peru working in health education/maternal health. She enjoys dedicating time to her husband, two children, and their dog, Pipa.



Samantha Bolton, VPK Teacher

Ms. Bolton has been partnering with parents and families at The Village since 2020. Creativity, compassion, and communication are important parts of her teaching style as she helps her students learn about the world around them. Ms. Bolton has a bachelor’s degree from Florida International University and is the mother of a creative and curious little boy.




Heather Adkins, VPK Teacher







Raquel Garcia, VPK Teacher

Ms. Raquel Garcia has been a member of The Village teaching team for eight years. In addition to teaching VPK, she has a CDL and drives the morning and afternoon buses. Her strong track record with the education of school-age students is an asset as she prepares young children for kindergarten. Ms. Garcia is pursuing an associate’s degree in elementary education. She is a mother and grandmother, and she enjoys family time at the beach.



Keesher Abrahams, VPK Teacher







Erika Garcia, VPK Teacher







Marlena Beamer, VPK Teacher







Victoria Padron, VPK Teacher








Emily Garrigues, Pre-kindergarten Aide







Adventure Club Teaching Team

Debbie Garrigues, School Age Program Manager







Wanda Richardson, Coach







Andrea Colon-Perez, Coach







Teresa Hosford, Coach







Samantha Garrigues, Coach







Enrichment and Support

Lindsey Solots, Atelierista







Lori Forbush, Student Nutrition







Jessica Gearhart







Fernanda Pavani








Krishan Rampersad, Maintenance and Special Projects








Administrative Team


Debbie Garrigues, Director,  School Age Program Manager, NCDA

Throughout her career of more than ten years at The Village, “Ms. G” has worked with children of all ages and abilities. As a classroom teacher, Ms. G developed a strong sense of empathy and understanding of what it means to be an early childhood educator that she draws upon today as she leads a team of more than 40 teachers, aides, and support staff.  Ms. G’s creative ideas and project management skills drive the development of indoor and outdoor areas that enhance the learning experience of all students at The Village.




Tami Howell, Coordinator of Community Life, BS







Cassidy Dickson, MEd, Curriculum Specialist

As a pedagogical leader, Cassidy mentors teachers in curriculum development and implementation. She received her M.Ed in Early Childhood Education at USF in December of 2020. In the classroom she believes in fostering independence in young children and using their own ideas to navigate learning. She strives to integrate subject areas simultaneously using different mediums that reflect children’s personal learning styles. Her educational values include the importance of bridging family and community connections in the classroom and making children feel welcomed and represented. Her research interests include social justice, self expression and the project approach in early childhood.




Joe and Susan Miller, Owners and Operators