Preschool Staff

Meet the First Methodist Preschool staff!

Administration | Infants | Toddlers & 2-year-olds | 3-year-olds | Pre-K

ADMINISTRATION

Whitney Yamada
Preschool Director

Whitney left her corporate cubicle and joined First Methodist Carrollton in 2014 working for the church nursery. She instantly knew this was where she was meant to be! The following year, in 2015, she joined the Preschool team as a classroom teacher. She fell in love playing with the children so creating a playful learning environment that would meet the development needs of all the precious children became her passion!

Whitney has served as the Preschool Director since 2017. She is most passionate about creating lasting bonds with every First Methodist Preschool family and finding new ways for leading the preschool teachers and staff to develop loving and nurturing classroom environments through educational play. Her daily goal is for every teacher, staff, student and parent to leave the preschool doors with a new confidence and joy!

Whitney graduated in 2011 with a degree in psychology and behavioral analysis from the University of North Texas. When she is not at the preschool, she enjoys spending time with her wonderful husband, Mike, and three beautiful daughters, Rowan, Endy, and Diem, who have all attended FMP at different times!


Lova Villarreal
Preschool Assistant Director

Lova Villarreal, better known as "Ms. Lova", can be seen almost every day of the week somewhere on the First Methodist Carrollton campus! Ms. Lova has been a shining light and part of the First Methodist Preschool team since 2006. She has grown in her role over the years starting out as the teaching assistant and now currently serves as the Assistant Director of the Preschool and the Nursery Director of First Methodist Carrollton.

Ms. Lova always finds new ways to bless the First Methodist Carrollton Preschool and Church through combining her gift for nurturing children and her skill in creating opportunities for families to thrive! She holds a Child Development Associate and a Texas Director’s Certificate. The only thing Ms. Lova enjoys more than providing a safe, loving, and nurturing environment for children to learn about God's love is making memories with her husband Eddie and daughter Marisa!


Connie Webb
Program Assistant

After working several years in public schools and child care programs, Connie joined First Methodist Preschool in 2014 as a preschool teacher. She loves hearing children say “Read it again!” when she turns the last page of a new book! Connie has now transitioned into our Program Assistant where she provides nutritious meal options and yummy snacks! Connie is an active member of First Methodist Carrollton. She lives in Lewisville with her husband Michael, and 2 adult children, Stephen and Annabeth.

 


INFANTS

Amanda Hunter

Amanda joins our team of teachers as a former volunteer and employee of various church ministries and nurseries throughout the Dallas and Lubbock areas. She is a graduate of Lubbock Christian University with a Bachelor’s degree in Family Studies.

She has been married to her college sweetheart, Kyle, since 2012. They met at LCU and started dating as freshmen in 2009, got engaged in 2011, and were married in May of 2012. They have a daughter, Haddie, who is the light of their lives- she makes everything more fun and attends First Methodist Preschool! They also have a dog named Millie (their first baby) who has been with them since 2012. They have lived in the Carrollton area since 2017, and they love it! Ms. Amanda enjoys time with her family, girls’ nights with her friends, going to the movies, vacationing at the beach and playing a game of tennis when she gets the opportunity!

What Amanda loves most about leading the infant room is getting to be a part of caring for each baby as they change and grow. The development that happens within the first year is so rapid and incredible to witness! The saying, “babies don’t keep,” is so true, and though it can be emotional, as a parent especially, watching your baby turn into a toddler, it is so exciting and rewarding to be with them each day as they discover new skills and the world around them. She loves that she is able to do that with each of the babies in her class while ensuring they are cared for and loved along the way. “What a blessing to get to be in this important role!”- Ms. Amanda


Marisa Villarreal

We are so excited to have Ms. Marisa with us! She is the daughter of Ms. Lova, our assistant director, and she is just as fun and joyful as her mom! Marisa is a graduate of Hebron High School and is currently a college student. She has spent her summers working with First Methodist Preschool with the 3rd -5th graders since 2013. Those students have a blast every summer with her because of the fun and super creative activities she plans for them.

Speaking of her creativity, Marisa is an aspiring artist! She enjoys creating pieces in her spare time and posts her work on her Instagram account @risavillarreal . She also loves to play with her two dogs, Belle, the German Shepherd, and Sophia, the Shih-tzu yorki mix.

When she finishes college she hopes to be a comic book illustrator and writer. In the meantime, Marisa is looking forward to caring for the infants with lots of cuddles and smiles.


Emara In

Emara started working in early child care education with First Methodist Preschool in 2018, but she gained all of her experience with her 22 grandchildren. Yes, you read that right- 22 grandchildren! She truly loves all her babies, and that type of experience is priceless!

Emara loves to study the Bible and enjoys sharing all that she has learned from the Word of God on mission trips with her husband, Chiv. Chiv is one of the Associate Pastors here at First Methodist Carrollton. In her free time, she enjoys growing vegetables and flowers in her backyard.  When she is caring for the infants of the preschool, she relishes her time watching them grow.


 Angie Colon

Angie started her career in early child care education in 2010 and joined First Methodist Preschool in 2017. She graduated from East Central University in Ada, OK with a Bachelor of Science degree.

She has been married to her husband, Bruce since 1999. They live in Coppell with their daughter, Morgan, who is a graduate of Coppell High School and will soon be heading off to college. Angie and Bruce also have a son, Hayden, who is majoring in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. In her spare time, Angie enjoys daily exercising and spending time with her family. They all love the outdoors going hiking, camping and taking trips to the lakes and beaches!

Angie has always had a passion for children, getting down at their eye level and talking to them, playing with them, interacting with them and letting them know that what they have to say is very important to her.  Learning through play is her favorite way to teach. Angie loves all ages of children, but the babies have a special place in her heart because they are learning so much, and watching all of that happen brings her so much joy!


TODDLERS & TWO-YEAR-OLDS  

Bridget Orellana

Ms. Bridget joined our team in 2021 with quite a diverse skillset. She is a former Avid Tutor where she worked with students in 7 th - 12 th grades. Later, she worked for a pediatric therapy clinic, and she has a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice!

Bridget has a cuddly cat named Nymeria who is 3 years old and she says is the calmest, sweetest cat ever! She has 3 siblings that are 7+ years younger than her that she helped raise. They are now in their teens and are her favorite people to be around.

Ms. Bridget enjoys journaling, reading, organizing, and crafting! She especially loves being a freelance portrait photographer and uses this skill to volunteer at her church. She also loves traveling, camping, and much anything outdoors. She loves hiking or playing golf and other various sports, especially when played with friends and family.

“My passion for working with children is that these are the times to mold them and help build their personalities. They see the world through a different lens and are curious about the world. It’s an honor to be able to teach them and see them meet their goals and be a part of them growing. I love to see a lightbulb moment even if it is for something that can seem so little. It is the greatest joy to have.” – Ms. Bridget


Brianna Walpool

Brianna Walpool, better known as Ms. Bri, started working with children in her junior year of high school in 2016 and joined First Methodist Preschool in 2018. She was raised as an only child, so she loves being around other people. She is very close with her family and loves going on adventures and planning trips with them. She has one adorable Chihuahua dog, Maya, who is her “baby.”

In her spare time, she loves to read and spend time with friends and family. She has a big heart for helping others, and when she is not at the preschool she enjoys babysitting and dog walking.

Bri loves working with all ages of children. It brings joy to her heart to see the children that she has cared for grow throughout the years at the preschool.


Michele Smith

Michele Smith, also affectionately known as Shell Shell by her beloved toddlers, has been working with children since 2017. She joined First Methodist Preschool in 2018 as one of the Toddler teachers.

She has been married to her amazing husband Toby since 1996 and they have two wonderful boys, Devon and Tyler. When she is not teaching or spending time with her family she enjoys dabbling in art. She loves to make art through epoxy resin and woodwork.

Though she loves creating art, she says her greatest passion is working with children! She enjoys all the age groups at the preschool, but the Toddler class has her heart.  Michele says they are such a fun age to work with as they still need guidance but are also becoming independent little people. They change so much during the school year, and she is so honored to help them grow and learn along the way.


Tigist Araya

Mrs. Tigist, also affectionately known as TiTi by her beloved toddlers, has been working as an early childhood educator since 2013 and started her journey with First Methodist Preschool in August of 2017. She is married and has 3 wonderful children- two boys and a girl. With her family, she loves spending quality time with them enjoying outdoor activities, traveling and quiet nights at home playing board games.

When asked about her passion in working with children, she says, “I am so blessed to work as one of the Toddler teachers and have the opportunity to love, guide and teach every child.”


Jackelyn Argueta

Jackelyn Argueta, better known as Ms. Jackey, began working with children in 2016 as part of the nursery staff at First Methodist Carrollton. In 2019, she joined the First Methodist Preschool family as a lead teacher in our Wonderful Walker classroom. Ms. Jackey is married and has 3 beautiful children who keep her busy!  She loves spending time with her family.  In her spare time, Ms. Jackey enjoys arts and crafts and loves being able to share her creativity with the children in her class.

Ms. Jackey says every day is “unique” in her classroom.  Each day the children share new experiences with her.  She loves watching the children laugh and smile as they learn of God’s Love.  Her favorite part of the day is at drop off as it truly warms her heart to see the children light up when they see her in the morning.


Laurie Wilde

Ms. Laurie began working, all throughout her middle school and high school years, with children in her church nursery. Working with children at her church was just the beginning! As soon as she graduated high school she started as an early childhood educator in 2018 and joined First Methodist Preschool in 2019. If you were to peek into Ms. Laurie’s class you will catch her on the ground playing with all the children. She loves being on their level making sure they are safe and having fun with friends!

Ms. Laurie is married to her wonderful husband, and they have one Corgipoo, Winnie. When Ms. Laurie is not at work, she enjoys watching Sci-Fi movies and being outdoors in the cooler weather.

When asking Ms. Laurie what she loves about working with children she said she loves seeing the children’s growth throughout their preschool years from just tiny babies to toddlers and then to the big PreK classroom! Her favorite part of it all is that she gets to be a part of that growth as their teacher! It makes her happy knowing she takes a huge role in a child’s growth and development.


Nicole Corwin

Nicole Corwin began working as an elementary school educator in 2002.  She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Texas Tech University and is certified in EC-4 general and special education.  She joined the First Methodist Preschool family in 2016 teaching the 2’s. You are always guaranteed a loving and nurturing environment in Ms. Nicole’s classroom!

She is married to her sweet husband and is blessed with two amazing boys who love to keep her busy with football, baseball and basketball. When Ms. Nicole is not at the preschool, she loves to spend time with her family, swimming, and cooking Italian food. She said she is most passionate about guiding children on their academic and spiritual journey in early education.


Courtney Segars

Ms. Courtney began her early childhood education career with First Methodist Preschool in June of 2018 and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Baylor University.  Sic ‘em Bears!

She is a familiar face at First Methodist as she and her family have been members since 2009!  She and her husband, Ben, have 3 children- Michael, Maya, and Mark.  In their spare time they enjoy volunteering in and participating with the Scouts as all three of her children are members!  She also enjoys camping and reading.

Ms. Courtney absolutely loves watching children discover the world around them!  “I love the big, light bulb “aha!” moments, and I also equally love the hard-fought tiny steps taken to reach those moments. I treasure the daily growth you can see working in the 2s classroom.”- Ms. Courtney


THREE-YEAR-OLDS

Anita Schwarz

Anita Schwarz has been working with children since 2011. She joined the First Methodist Preschool family in 2017 working with 3's . Ms. Anita has an Associate’s Degree from Collin College in Child Development and General Studies. She also holds several certificates in Infant and Toddler education. We are honored to have Ms. Anita apart of our preschool family!

Ms. Anita is from Lagos, Nigeria and moved to the USA in 2009 for schooling. She met and married her husband, Keith, and they have 3 children- two daughters, Skyler and Riley and a son, Asher. She enjoys time with her family traveling, exploring new places, barbequing on the grill, and watching movies together.

Her favorite children’s book authors are Max Lucado, Eric Carle, and Jan Brett. She loves working with 3-year-olds because they love to explore, learn new things, and you never know what they are going to say… which often leads to lots of laughter. Children come with a variety of knowledge and experiences to the classroom. She loves that she gets to be their teaching scaffold. Mrs. Anita truly believes that not only are the children learning from her, but she is learning a lot from the children, and these are very precious moments for her!


Sharon Roelke

Sharon was a stay-at-home mom while her four children were growing up. She feels right at home here as she has been a member of First Methodist Church since 1992 and has worked in the church nurseries for several years. She finally joined the Preschool team in 2015. She has training in child development, particularly in attachment disorders because her two younger children were adopted from South Korea and Russia.

Sharon has been married to her lovely husband, Dave since 1978.  They love hanging out with their grandchildren, growing vegetables at the community garden, reading, and going on mission trips with First Methodist Carrollton.  Her daughter, Jenn Magill, is on the church staff serving as the Director of Operations and Finance!

What Sharon loves the most about teaching and caring for the children is encouraging and cheering them on as they attempt to discover new things! She loves being a part of helping children as they grow, learn and create.


Carolyn Davis

After earning a degree in Dietetics and Child Development from Louisiana State University (geaux Tigers!), Ms. Carolyn moved to Dallas and began a family. She has worked with children for the last 30+ years ranging in ages 18 months to sixth grade. She has held roles as a preschool teacher and a child care director. When she’s not working, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Mike, playing with their dogs, and cooking.

Carolyn loves that children bring something new to you every day, making each day different and fun. Mrs. Carolyn always runs her preschool classroom with loads of infectious energy!  Her ultimate goal is to make sure the children in her classroom have a fun day with lots of hands-on experiences.


Veronica Bates

Ms. Veronica joined our teaching team in 2018 working alongside Ms. Carolyn with the threes after earning her Associate in Arts degree.  She has a son, Lorenzo, is married, and has 3 huskies!  Lorenzo keeps her on her toes, but in her spare time she enjoys crafting and reading.  She says that crafting really relaxes her and is so much fun!  She also believes there is nothing like a good book!

She said that in raising Lorenzo he has shown her how kids learn and is amazed at his ideas and thought processes.  “Teaching has opened up a new perspective   I so enjoy watching and helping my students with new concepts!  Their little faces just like my son light up when they realize they have mastered a new idea.” -Ms. Veronica


PRE-K

Michelle Lowe

Michelle started working with children at First Methodist Preschool in 2001 when her youngest child was in Prek.  She was a substitute teacher and floater for many years thereafter.  In 2019, she took a more permanent position as an aide in a PreK classroom.  She is very excited to now be a lead teacher in PreK, and we are blessed to have her!

She has a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Kinesiology and a Master’s of Science degree in Exercise Physiology from Texas Women’s University.

Ms. Michelle has 3 sons and one daughter: Dylan, Alexis, Brayden, and Ryan.  All 4 of her children attended FMP, so the school is very near and dear to her heart.  Dylan attends the University of Texas at Arlington, Alexis is a student at Texas A&M University, and Brayden and Ryan attend Hebron High School.

During her free time Ms. Michelle loves spending it with her children.  She especially loves watching them play sports.  They also love walking, hiking, and swimming together as a family.  They also have fun singing and dancing.  Though, they say it’s not their strongest talents!  Ha!

“Watching children learn, grow, and develop in a Christ centered environment is a passion of mine.  I love that every day is a new and different experience.  I love seeing things through their innocent little eyes, and I especially love it when they learn something new or overcome a challenge.  I am a 13 year survivor of Stage Vi inflammatory breast cancer, and I am living proof that miracles really do exist!” – Ms. Michelle


Amber Mendoza

Ms. Amber became a part of our preschool family in 2020.  She has been working with children since  high school where she served as a student ministry leader and Sunday school teacher. She is currently in college pursuing her degree in human development and psychology with a focus on child development.

In her spare time she is a tutor and nanny!  She loves spending quality time with her friends and family. Amber says she has always had a passion for education and recognizes the importance of individualizing it in order to reach each and every child in a way that will be most impactful.

“This age group is a wonderful time in which they begin to become more independent, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to guide them and watch their personalities develop during this upcoming school year!”- Ms. Amber


Kelli McBrayer

Ms. Kelli has been working with children since 2009 when she had her own in-home childcare business known as “Kelli’s Kids” where she cared for infants until they were each 3 years old. Kelli found her passion of working with children and families during her time at Texas Tech University where she earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Human Development and Family Studies with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education in 2006.  She then came to First Methodist Preschool in 2011 with her 6 month old daughter, Kendall, in tow. Kendall would then go on to graduate from First Methodist Preschool when she was 5!  Later, in 2014, she added another student to our roster with the birth of her daughter, Logan.

Kelli loves walking the long hallway here at school where both of her girls took their first steps and cherishes those memories.  She is married to her high school sweetheart, Randy, and her favorite thing in the world is spending time with him, their daughters, and their dogs, Dude the Boxer and Bella the Bassett Hound.  She also loves to read and listen to all different types of music.

Kelli briefly taught PreK at a preschool in Frisco to be slightly closer to her home in Melissa, TX.  However, she missed us so much that she came back to be with us, and she enjoys audio books and good music on her long commute!  Her favorite age to teach is PreK where she has the privilege of preparing her students to transition to elementary school. Ms. Kelli believes that a strong early childhood educational foundation is crucial in a child’s development.

“Cognitive, physical, and socio-emotional skills necessary for adulthood all begin in preschool, and all of these things can be learned best through play in a fun, nurturing, and inclusive environment.” -Ms. Kelli


Gina Ball

Ms. Gina is no rookie around here as she has been working in the preschool classroom since 1999 where she began at Kid’s Kingdom in Carrollton.  She moved to First Methodist Preschool in 2008 where she loved on the 2s, 3s, and has now found her home sweet home in PreK with her sidekick, Ms. Kelli!  They have been teaching together in the same class since 2011!

Gina is from Austin, Texas and is a BIG fan of the Texas Longhorns!  Hook ‘em!  In her spare time she enjoys swimming in her pool, doing yoga, and walking on the treadmill.  She also loves spending time with her husband, Tad, her son, Ryan, her daughter, Stephanie, and her son-in-law, Jay.  She is the biggest dog lover ever and loves to take her Pug, Maddie for walks when the weather is nice as well as spending time with her grand-dog, Zayn, the Frenchie!

Ms. Gina’s favorite part of the day is when she reads to the class.  She loves picking out the perfect book to go with the week’s curriculum and seeing the children engaged with the story.


Samantha Tan

Ms. Samantha has been involved in early childhood education for the past 13 years. Prior to early childhood education, Samantha worked in retail management as well as substitute teaching for grades K-12.  Most importantly, she has been a mother to her two beautiful children. Samantha is quite the student herself holding a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology with a minor in Sociology.  She then continued her education course work earning her Master of Science degree in Economics with a minor in Statistics.  She does continual coursework in Early Childhood Development!

In her spare time, she enjoys attending her children’s sporting events, spending time with her children, relaxing at the beach, reading, and watching movies.

Her biggest hope of accomplishment is to instill self-management, self-confidence, and to self-advocate in her young preschoolers’ minds skills that are vital to their success.  She thoroughly enjoys learning from all her past, present, and future young preschoolers.


Lucero Villarreal

Ms. Lucero has been working with children since 1980.  She began her career in early childhood education and eventually worked with school aged children in the public school district for 25 years!  What a vital asset she is to our preschool, and we are so blessed to have her experience!

She truly has a love for children and enjoys watching them grow as an individual while learning of God’s love.  Family is very important to Ms. Lucero and she is thankful for the opportunity to live close to her children and grandchildren. Ms. Lucero enjoys taking nature walks and relaxing with a nice book.