Meet Our Professional Team
Our staff is composed of well-trained and deeply caring professionals. All caregivers undergo extensive background checks, have CPR and First Aid certifications, and participate in on-going professional development to ensure that our program is on the cutting edge of high quality practices in early childhood education.
The Director of our program, Anthony Creasy joined our team as a preschool teacher in 2009 then moved into a new role as our center Atelierista and Pedagogical Coach in 2018. At the end of 2020, our founding director retired, and Anthony stepped into the role. He brings his exceptional skills as a provocative early educator, his knowledge and understanding of developmentally appropriate and progressive early childhood education programing, and his strong gifts in leadership and communication to the McKendree Team. Anthony has earned both an AAS in Early Childhood Education, and a BS in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Communications and Child Development, and is an active participating collaborator in the Middle Tennessee ECE community.
One of the original McKendree teachers, Betty Witt, was on hand in 1990 when we welcomed our first family into care. Betty spent most of her McKendree years as an infant and toddler teacher, and because of her exceptional work ethic and leadership, she was also the center’s Director Designee, assuming responsibility in the Director’s absence. In 2015, Betty was officially named as the Assistant Director and moved full-time into an administrative position. She manages accounts payable, staff scheduling, and a barrage of other managerial tasks that help keep the center ticking.
With a passion for caring for others, Tina Yarbro joined our program in 1993 as a toddler teacher and has been a consistent and loving infant and toddler teacher ever since. Tina has completed the Tennessee Early Learning Training Alliance program along with several child development classes at NSCC. Because of her exemplary work and leadership skills, Tina is recognized as our Infant Team Leader.
Shirrell Wright started as a substitute and floater with us in 1994 and soon found her calling as a permanent infant caregiver. She has earned a Tennessee Early Learning Training Alliance Certificate and has additionally taken early childhood classes at NSCC. She is also a doting mother and grandmother and provides that same love and attention to the little ones in her care at McKendree.
Movers and Shakers Class
Following extensive experience as our full-time infant/toddler floater, Chantel Thompson joined the Movers & Shakers class as a co-teacher in 2017. A part of our team since 2015, Chantel moved from a Native American Reservation in Akwesasne, NY to Nashville after earning a BS in Early Childhood Studies at State University of New York. Additionally, she completed an internship in New Zealand at a Reggio-inspired preschool program, which has given her a strong foundation in understanding the practice of our philosophy.
While studying for her AS degree in Early Childhood Education, Kathy Pham completed a practicum experience in our program. We were so impressed by Kathy that when she graduated, we hired her. She has been subbing for us and has permanently joined the Navigators Class as an floater. Additionally, Kathy assumes responsibility for documenting the classroom experiences and helps us achieve our mission of “making learning and thinking visible”.
Dakota Wilson joined our teaching staff in 2021 and came onboard as a dedicated infant/toddler floater teacher. She brings lots of fresh ideas and energy from recently receiving her degree in Health Sciences from TSU. Dakota’s calm, fun-loving, nurturing manner makes her a natural fit for a bunch of sweet, happy babies and toddlers with lots of energy, so we are happy to have her as part of our team!
Shatavia Sidiq joined our toddler team in 2018, partnering with Heather as a co-teacher in the Discovers classroom. Shatavia has a BS in Graphic Arts and many years of experience as a toddler and preschool teacher. For the past few years, Shatavia has been a participant in McKendree’s Professional Development Institute where she has eagerly explored child-led curriculum practices.
After spending a year in the Navigators Class as an associate educator working with infants, Brittany Iceman joined our Young Toddler program as a full-time floater. Brittany supports teachers in all age groups by offering planning coverage but spends the majority of her day with the young toddlers in the Discovers Class.
Galon Greer joined the McKendree team in 2016 as a substitute. Because of his wonderful rapport with the children, he joined the Young Toddler Team as a classroom teacher. He partners with Lindsay in the Explorers classroom. Galon holds a BS in Agriculture Education from UT Knoxville (and yes, he serves on our garden team!). Additionally, he has 18 years of experience with the Boy Scouts as an Eagle Scout and camp counselor.
Paola Sanchez joined our Explorers Class after starting her journey at McKendree as one of our amazing floater teachers in early 2020. She holds a degree from Trevecca University in Psychology and has previous experience working with children in other programs. Paola loves spending time with her family and friends while not working, and also has a sweet puppy named Frida that she loves taking on walks and spending time at the dog park together.
Lindsey Gallagher joined our program in 2014 and has demonstrated an exemplary fit as an early educator working with toddlers! She is one of the talented and dedicated educators in the Inventors class, where she helps create an engaging and fun learning environment. Lindsey has a BS in Human Development and Family Studies from Penn State University and has dedicated her time since graduating to enriching the lives of young children. When not fulfilling this role, Lindsey enjoys outdoor adventure, home projects and enjoying watching her talented musician husband perform around the country.
Lexi Womack joined McKendree in 2021 after moving from Alabama upon graduating from The University of Montevallo with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies. She has now found her home co-teaching in our two year old group, where she is always up for a new question, experiment or adventure! Lexi also enjoys lots of live music and considers herself a big foodie, so when not at McKendree you will most likely find her exploring the city is search of her own fun adventures!
A valued part of our team since 2005, Charcia Renwick is a co-teacher in the Investigators Classroom. Charcia has taken numerous child development classes in pursuit of an Associates degree in Early Childhood from NSCC. Recently she “looped up” with many of the children into her class and loves to engage in play and hands-on learning with two and three year olds.
Laura Atherton stepped into our program as a teacher in 2016. Laura has a BS in Child Development and Family Relations from TN Tech and has worked with young children as an early preschool teacher and as an active volunteer involved in children’s ministry works. Laura brings an infectious energy and fun-loving approach to her class and the children and families love it!
Zoe Davydov joined our program in 2015 as an infant educator. After a short hiatus of teaching toddlers in another program, Zoe returned to McKendree in 2020 to work with Laura in our Researchers Classroom. Zoe is recognized as an Infant Mental Health Specialist which heightens her understanding of children’s healthy social and emotional development. Additionally, Zoe embraces child-led and inquiry-based learning with preschoolers. She earned a BA from Beloit College in History, has led training in the ECE community, and is mom to a wonderful and bright three year old.
Blair Atkinson joined our program in 2021 after completing her degree at Belmont University, where she received her degree in Not only does Blair have the academic qualifications and experience, but she brings a joyful passion to her work that consistently provides the children in her care rich experiences in inquiry-based play while having fun!
Nicole Sexton joined our program after working for Metro Public Schools as a Pre-K and Kindergarten teacher. Nicole earned a BS in Early Childhood Education from Trevecca Nazarene University in 2012 is delighted to partner with Blair in our play-rich and inquiry-based Pre-K program.
Program Support Team
Gina Givens has been a part of our program since 1990. For over twenty years she was a preschool classroom teacher, and now serves as our Center Floater. In addition to caring for older toddlers each late afternoon and managing the kitchen for snacks and lunch, Gina offers classroom coverage for teachers during their planning time, collaboration meetings, and as an occasional substitute as a veteran member of our team.
Jes Cleland began her association with McKendree in 2010 when she worked as a toddler teacher in the Investigators Class. Jes has a BA in Communications and a rich background in the arts; she is a song writer, bass player, drama teacher, graphic artist, and music teacher. In 2013, Jes rolled many of these gifts together and created MUSIC U a hands-on music enrichment class she provides at McKendree, in addition to offering private lessons from her and her talented staff of music educators.
Lindsey Hyde worked in the Discoverers Class as a co-teacher after joining our program in 2017. After a year, family needs shifted and Lindsey’s role with us changed to part time. We are delighted that she can continue to work as a substitute in our program and rely on her for some of our more long term assignments due to her wide knowledge of the program through her years of experience with McKendree. Lindsey has a degree in Early Childhood Education from Trevecca Nazarene University and has a heart for mission work with children, so we think it’s a perfect fit!