Amy Smith has a degree in Psychology, which she earned from Guilford College. As a Durham native Amy has a deep love for the community and enjoys the emphasis the Reggio approach puts on those relationships. With over five years of Reggio Emilia experience, and with eight years as an educator, Amy uses her love of reading, singing, playing and connecting to create an environment that is both comforting and empowering to toddlers and preschoolers.
Paula is originally from Pennsylvania, but has lived in North Carolina for over thirty years. She earned a BS in Elementary Education from Indiana University of PA and a Masters in Early Childhood from University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. She worked many years in the public school system both as K/4 and Kindergarten teacher. Additionally she has taught in Head Start programs, was involved with several research projects on quality early childhood settings and supervised undergraduate student teachers. Throughout her many years in the field she has fought to provide young children appropriate, safe and warm environments. She believes children should be free to explore and discover in their own way and in their own time. She values each child, strives to listen, observe and follow their lead. She was very happy to find her way to Sprout House and fully embraces Reggio inspired learning.
In her free time she enjoys spending time with her husband, four grown children and grandson Leo! She can often be seen running (well jogging), reading on the beach, or just enjoying the wonder and surprise of each day.
Tiffany, a native North Carolinian, was born and raised on Hatteras Island and has a deep love of the ocean and spending time in nature. Locally she enjoys trail running on the Eno River trails with her husband, three teenage boys, and her dog Pippin. She is passionate about high adventure travel, reading, music, oil painting, and entertaining. She and her family care for 21 chickens, bees, and a horse named Harley on their Hillsborough homestead.
Tiffany has ten years experience as a homeschool parent and several years as preschool teacher in Chapel Hill. She is thrilled to be a part of the OPH community and to share her love of the outdoors and messy art with the children. Tiffany is passionate about creating an environment of inclusion in the classroom where children are empowered to exercise creative expression and expand their confidence.
Emma, a Durham native, is delighted to be back in Durham and working at Our PlayHouse Preschool after three years of living in New York City. Emma attended both Duke University and New York University, and received her Bachelor of Science in Applied Psychology. Emma has a long history of working with children and adolescents, having worked in schools, museums, and social service agencies. Emma developed her passion for learning at an early age, thanks to her own Reggio Emilia-inspired education. That same passion guides her today.
When she’s not teaching, Emma enjoys spending time with her friends and family, hiking with her schnoodle, Eloise, traveling, cooking, and creating.
Jordan is excited to be back in her native North Carolina after five years in chilly Vermont, where she attended Middlebury College and majored in Theatre Arts with an emphasis in costume design. Through her experiences as a nanny and camp counselor, Jordan discovered a love of working with young children; additionally, as a graduate of ten years of Montessori education, she feels deeply in tune with the child-centric focus and experiential learning style of Reggio Emilia educational philosophy.
She is a fan of art-based learning, dancing in the rain, kid-friendly science projects and making up silly songs. While she has worked with children of many ages, Jordan particularly enjoys the challenges and delights of early childhood education and is thrilled to be joining the OPH community. When not in the classroom, Jordan can be found sketching, painting, cuddling her cat Oryx, or reading voraciously.
After working with children in different capacities over the years, Meghan is excited to work with children in a school that utilizes the Reggio-Emilia philosophy. She believes children learn best when they are encouraged to follow their interests and that the role of the teacher is to be a co-learner. Most recently, she was working at a Waldorf-inspired school in Portland, Oregon. Meghan moved to Durham this spring with her partner in order to build an intentional community with their friends. Now they all live in the same cul-de-sac!
Besides working at Our PlayHouse, Meghan enjoys exploring her new home, sharing meals with loved ones, going van camping with her partner, and hopes to get involved with more social justice movements in the area. Meghan graduated from Linfield College with a degree in Environmental Studies and hopes to share her enthusiasm for the natural world with her students, learning more about our local environment in the process.
Caitlyn Case-Cohen grew up surrounded by a family of teachers in Hillsborough, NC, and has been joyfully teaching in preschool classrooms for the last ten years. She holds a B.A. in English and American Studies from Macalester College in St. Paul, MN; as well as a Montessori certification for ages 3-6 from the Montessori Education Center of the Rockies in Boulder, CO.
Caitlyn discovered the history and approach of the Reggio-Emilia schools four years ago, and has since developed a deep passion for co-creating emergent curriculum with young children. She loves the creativity and collaboration it demands, and loves following the questions and play of the children to reveal new learning experiences for teachers and students alike. Caitlyn integrates art, music, and social justice themes into classroom life, and is inspired by the unfiltered wonder, wisdom, and love of preschool-aged children.
Caitlyn lives in Durham with her husband and sweet toddler and cat, and loves spending time with her family, helping out on her sister’s farm, making art, and going to the Eno River as much as possible.
Zena Carlota Allen
Zena Allen is a musician, storyteller and visual/theater artist working at the intersections of art and psychotherapy. As a current graduate student of expressive arts therapy, she is inspired by the connections between the arts, movement, story, education and traditional cultures throughout the world. In her spare time, Zena loves to work on her friend’s permaculture farm, study herbalism, travel, bake and play the harp.
Josh Rodgers has been involved with early childhood education since 2001. He has served as a floater for early childhood programs, taught pre-k and Kindergarten for six years, and served as both an after-school and camp program director. He continues to be a camp director for Congressional Camps’ 3-5-year old program since 2007.
Josh believes in the importance of project-based learning, natural environment exposure, and managed-risk experiences that grow children’s independence and self-development. A former theater major, he also delights in integrating children’s literature and music into the classroom’s learning atmosphere. He believes each child learns and grows uniquely, and supports independent education that focuses on children as individuals.
During his downtime, Josh enjoys reading, cooking, theater performances, and spending time with his partner, Kevin, and their dog Lily. With a large love for his family, he also travels back to the Northern Virginia/DC area regularly to visit his parents, young niece, and many siblings.
Julie has been with OPH for almost two years as a substitute teacher and is excited to join the Maple House team full time. Julie has spent over 20 years working to enrich the lives of children and advocate for the safety of youth in foster care. She has coached young girls through Girls on the Run, volunteered for over 10 years as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for children in foster care, tutored young women through YRead, and offered safety for young children at a Crisis Nursery.
Two years ago, Julie moved from St. Louis, Missouri, where she had been working as a Lead Preschool Teacher. Julie believes in encouraging the love for learning at an early age. Fostering their curiosity and creativity to guarantee their success in later years.
Julie is the proud parent of two daughters, both living in Washington DC. While not at OPH, Julie loves to work in her yard and is a certified Master Gardener. She and her husband love to travel, especially to Washington DC to visit their girls and eat amazing food!
Liza began her journey in education by bridging her two passions: character development and theater. She directed a Theater for Young Audiences production entitled The Bully Plays, spreading awareness about the repercussions of bullying. The show toured to schools around the Saint Louis and central Illinois areas.
Liza went on to teach in two community outreach programs in the urban Milwaukee area. She was the Program Facilitator of Theater and Recreation for First Stage at Kluge Elementary’s CLC Program. Additionally, she taught for Danceworks, Inc. MadHot Ballroom program in various urban Elementary Schools.
She worked at Saint Augustine Preparatory Academy in Milwaukee, WI creating their Elementary Drama Program for Pre K-4thgrade. Liza now brings her arts-integrated experience to Our PlayHouse and is excited to explore and create every day with Pre-Kindergarten in Spruce House!
Emily earned a degree in Art Therapy from Lesley University in Cambridge Massachusetts. She taught art classes to one to twelve year olds in a community center in Beacon Hill in Boston. In addition to teaching at the community center, Emily directed the summer camp programs, weekend workshops, and community events for the greater Boston area. Emily has worked with children of all ages and diverse backgrounds for over nine years; both one-on-one and in the classroom environment.
Emily’s passion for teaching and working with young children comes from her family of teachers. Working at camps and teaching for almost a decade Emily loves being able to give children the tools to express themselves and learn new exciting things about the world around them. She is excited to be working in a Reggio inspired school where the children are able to learn, play, and explore. Emily has a passion for the arts and is excited to incorporate this into the classroom.
In her free time, Emily loves to explore her new town of Raleigh with her husband, play with her handsome cat Elliot, travel around the world and visit with her friends and family; especially her niece and nephew in MA. She also can be found making crafts and loves exploring and developing new ideas for art projects.
Cindy is a Durham native with over 20 year in the early childhood education field. She has worked with children from infancy up to five years old in the preschool setting. Cindy joined Our PlayHouse Preschool in 2013.
In her spare time Cindy enjoys reading, decorating, walking, bingo and spending time with her family.
Liz is a native of Lexington, Kentucky; which is where she attended the University of Kentucky and earned a BA in Psychology. Shortly after graduation, she moved to San Francisco where she worked for over a decade as a compliance and operations management professional in the financial services industry. In 2011, she and her family relocated to Chapel Hill. This cross country move granted Liz the opportunity to change careers and pursue her lifelong dream of working with young children.
Liz began working at Our PlayHouse Preschool Chapel Hill in early 2014 before joining the OPH staff full-time for the 2014-15 school year. Liz is passionate about the Reggio philosophy and loves the opportunity it provides her to wonder and inquire right along with the children. She values classroom relationships and believes in ongoing collaboration between children, teachers, parents and the broader community.
In her free time, Liz enjoys outdoor adventures with her husband and two daughters. She also loves running the local trails, cooking, and traveling to new places.
Sally has over a decade of early childhood educational experience, including ten years in preschool and preK classrooms and two years of school administration experience, including serving as the Head of Admissions at an independent PreK-8th school in Brooklyn. Sally loves working with children and families and is passionate about creating strong school communities and deepening those connections with the larger community of Durham.
Sally has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Clark University and a double masters degree in Infant and Parent Development and Early Intervention, and Early Childhood General and Special Education from Bank Street College of Education. Sally is a proud parent to a current OPH preschooler and an OPH graduate and enjoys spending time outdoors with her family.