Executive Leadership

Executive Leadership

Ali DeMaria

Executive Director exec@wpdaynursery.org

In 2003, Ms. Ali graduated from the University of Colorado with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and earned her Florida Child Development Associate Equivalency from Seminole Community College in 2005. Ms. Ali received her Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling at Rollins College in 2010, where she also earned a certificate in Marriage & Family Therapy. In July 2011 she received her Advanced level Florida Child Care and Education Program Director Credential from the Florida Department of Children and Families. In 2013, Ms. Ali earned her certificate in Non Profit Management from the Rollins Philanthropy and Non Profit Leadership Center. Ms. Ali joined the staff of the Winter Park Day Nursery in January 2005 and has accepted roles of increasing responsibility over the course of her time at the Nursery.

Megan Martin

Program Director megan@wpdaynursery.org

Ms. Megan has worked with children since she was a senior in high school. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in social work and she also has her CDA. When Ms. Megan is not at school, she enjoys spending time with her family and her pets, reading, and dancing.

She truly believes, “A person’s a person no matter how small.”  Dr. Seuss

 

 

Dara Caulder

Executive Assistant/Office Manager & Donor Relations dara@wpdaynursery.org

Ms. Dara completed her AA degree at Seminole State College and loves event planning, which is why she plans our annual Orange Blossom Jubilee! When she is not at work, she enjoys spending time with family & friends, being by the water, and going for a run. She is a proud parent of 2 children and is also fluent in sign language. Ms. Dara completed her certificates in Fundraising and Development and Leadership Practice from the Edyth Bush Institute for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership at Rollins College in 2019 and 2021 respectively. Ms. Dara is enrolled in the Leadership Winter Park Class 34.

Heather Horne

Administrative Directorheather@wpdaynursery.org

Ms. Heather has a Bachelor’s degree in Natural Science and received her Master’s degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture in 2004. She has been a natural healer in our community for 20+ years, educating our youth and elders towards a better lifestyle. Ms. Heather is also a proud mother of three fantastic children, all of which are graduates of WPDN. In her free time she enjoys exploring all mother nature has to offer.

“Play is the highest form of research.” Albert Einstein

Vanessa Melendez

Administrative Assistantvanessa@wpdaynursery.org

Ms. Vanessa graduated from Valencia College with her A.A degree in Early Childhood Education. She has worked in childcare since 2016 and has done volunteer work with local elementary schools.

“Accept children with reverence, educate them with love, send them forth in freedom.” – Rudolf Steiner

 

Kitchen

Shirley Shankle

Kitchen Manager kitchen@wpdaynursery.org

Ms. Shirley has a culinary arts credential from Lake Technical School and taught culinary arts at Umatilla High School.  Ms. Shirley encourages the children to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, prepares almost everything from “scratch”, and limits serving processed foods.

“The best thing I like about working at WPDN is the way everyone pulls together as a team. I also enjoy watching the children progress as they learn from the very dedicated teaching staff.”

Pre-Kindergarten

Paige Castro

Teacher

Ms. Paige started working with children in high school when she got her first job in the nursery at First United Methodist Church of Winter Park. She graduated from Orlando Tech with her Staff Credential and is pursuing her Director’s Credential.  Teaching children has always been Ms. Paige’s passion.

“There is nothing better than going to work each morning to hear the children yell, “Ms. Paige!” as they run over and give you hugs. Working with children is such a joy that most days it doesn’t feel like a job at all.”

Kaliq Lowe

Teacher

Mr. Kaliq graduated with a Bachelors degree in Tourism Management but has always been an advocate for early childhood education. He spent summers interning at Kid Clubs at hotels in Barbados as well as taking active youth leadership roles in church. 

“It is a great feeling to know you’re making a difference in the lives of our nations future.”

“They say old men can make war, but it is children who will make history.” – Ray Merritt 

Preschool

Keyanni McGill

Teacher

In 2020, Ms. Keyanni graduated from Florida International University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education. She is passionate about working with children ever since she was a little girl. Playing teacher was her favorite game. In Ms. Keyanni’s free time, she enjoys cooking and working out at the gym or doing at-home Pilates. 

“I love working in childcare because I enjoy being a part of and shaping the minds of future leaders in a positive way.”

 

Joanne Campbell

Teacher

Ms. Joanne was born in Philadelphia and during her childhood she moved to Ecuador. She studied medicine and became a Family Physician. She also earned a Master’s degree in Early Childhood education because she realized her true calling was working with young children. Ms. Joanne is fluent in Spanish and learned American Sign Language as a way to communicate with babies and toddlers. 

“I am inspired by the curiosity and wonder of young children. It brings me joy to help them learn and grow. “

Toddlers

Yeizary Pena Aguila

Teacher

Ms. Yeizary was born in Puerto Rico and is the oldest of 7 children. which built her passion for early childhood education. While teaching at WPDN, she is also furthering her education working towards certification in cosmetology. 

 

 

 

Victoria Balcom

Teacher

Ms. Victoria grew up in San Diego, California and moved to Orlando in 2020. She has worked with children for 5 years and is currently working on a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education. In her free time, Ms. Victoria loves to watch movies and hang out with her cat. 

“There is something so special about working with young children. Every day they surprise you!”

Yaxielis Benejam

Teacher

Ms. Yaxi has always been extremely passionate and committed to advancing the growth and potential of children. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and has obtained certification in Play Therapy from the University of Central Florida. Ms. Yaxi is eager to be part of the WPDN family and is looking forward to incorporating her skillset to continue growing and changing lives.

“Having my students run over to squeeze me as soon as they walk through my door brightens my days. Knowing that I provide them with a safe place and comfort. Seeing their faces brighten up is the most rewarding feeling.”

Denisse Maruri

Teacher

Ms. Denisse graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2023 with a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Development and Education. She was raised here in Orlando and enjoys going to the beach, parks, painting, reading, and spending time with her family and friends.

“I enjoy creating bonds with children and watching them hit milestones while seeing their different personalities develop.”

It takes a big heart to teach little minds. 

Infants

Nadine Batoche

Teacher

Ms. Nadine (Meme) has always loved working with children and has over 15 years of experience. She started working with children back home then came to the United States in 1987 where she began baby-sitting and teaching them French. Ms. Nadine moved to Orlando and received an opportunity to put together a proposal for a before & after school program and it was a big success. This lead her to get her home childcare license and work at a child care where she received a promotion of active Director. Her grand-daughter attended VPK at WPDN which prompted her to start volunteering. She volunteered so much that she was offered a position in our infant and toddler classroom.

“Kids bring joy to my life and my dream is to be a voice for them.” -Nadine

“Children will not remember you for the material things you provided but for the feeling you cherished them.” – Richard L. Evans

Support Staff

Madisson Cirio

Teacher

Ms. Madisson grew up in Orlando, FL. In 2018, she received her AA at Valencia College. In her free time, she enjoys health, fitness, and the beach.

“I have a baby brother who really helped me understand and want to work with kids more. I love helping mold their minds.”

 

 

Jessyca Bomfim

Teacher

Ms. Jessyca has always been passionate about caring for children, which is why she graduated in physical therapy in 2013 and specialized in neuropediatrics, neonatal ICU and pediatric ICU in Brazil. She is fluent in Portuguese and Spanish. She has always been participative and involved with children, actively participating in her church’s children’s ministry. In her free time, she enjoys being with her family and pet. Ms. Jessyca loves the beach, nature, adventure and exploring new places. She is very excited and grateful to have joined the WPDN team! 

 “Every child is a living potential for a better world”

Gina Passaretti

Teacher

Ms. Gina was born and raised in upstate New York, but has lived in Florida for over 30 years. Nurturing children has been a life long career. She’s been honored to work with children and families as a professional nanny for both typical and special needs children, having her own daycare, and working as a Guardian ad Litem (6th circuit, FL) for 10 years. 

“There is nothing more rewarding than being part of a child’s healthy and happy development.”

“The soul is healed by being with children.” -Fyodor Dostoyeusky

Annese Williams

Teacher

Ms. Annese was born and raised in Florida. As she finishes high school and prepares for college at Valencia, her goal is to major in Finance, but her passion for early education has always been there. Providing assistance to young children with disabilities has been a part of her life since becoming a teaching assistant in 5th grade. She also volunteered as an assistant camp counselor at the Winter Park Community Center with over 300 hours during the summer of 2022. Ms. Annese began volunteering at Winter Park Day Nursery in the same year and was given an internship shortly after, and now working here. 

“As I begin my journey at Winter Park Day Nursery, I am excited for what this year will bring.”

“There are places in your heart you don’t even know exist until you love a child.” – Anne Lamott

Stephanie DeScalzo

Teacher Support Coach

In 2020, Ms. Stephanie graduated from University of Central Florida with her Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and has worked in Early Childhood since 2007.  She has always been passionate about making a difference in a child’s life. During her formal education, it was confirmed how the early years are the most important in a child’s growth, and she loves that she gets to be a part of that.  Ms. Stephanie wants her mark to count.  It is a passion of hers to ensure that all children receive high quality early childhood education. She has worked with not only children from birth through 5 but have also coached and mentored early childhood educators within that time as well.

Ms. Stephanie is a mother of three adult children and a grandmother of 3 (almost 4) grandchildren.    

“A child’s life is like a piece of paper on which every person leaves a mark. – unknown

Ke’Ana Darden

Teacher

Born and raised in Connecticut, Ms. Ke’Ana began her career working with children at 15 years old at her local Boys & Girls Club. She then pursued her dreams by graduating from Clark Atlanta University with her Bachelor’s degree in Educational Studies. She loves working with children because not only do they keep you on your toes, but you learn from them as well.

“Children are not things to be molded, but are people to be unfolded.”

Ashlynn Jones

Teacher

Being one of the oldest siblings in a group of 7, Ashlynn developed a love for childcare and fostering a learning environment for children. Ashlynn previously worked for the Orlando Science Center in the Summer camp program as a counselor and then moved to being a facilitator for the 0-7 area known as Kidstown. 

“The best part about working with children is seeing them so excited to share new information they are learning.”- Ashlynn