Meet our team
As with all of our teachers our Lead Teachers’ qualifications and experience exceed that of the state requirements. In addition to holding beyond the 3000 qualifying teaching hours with their age group all of our leads hold Bachelors degrees in early childhood or related fields. While not required by the Child Care Division all of our staff participate in an excess of 24 annual training hours and all possess current Food Handlers cards, Pediatric CPR/First aid, and attend both a safety and care training as well as a mandatory reporters training. We are pleased to share that all of our assistant teachers are teacher qualified. They possess more than 1500 qualifying teacher hours with their age group and as with all of our staff participate in more than 24 hours of annual training of child development and behavior guidance and hold all current certifications/safety training. Our assistant teachers also hold advanced degrees in related creative or educational fields from Psychology to Spanish Education and more. Many of our aides are also teacher qualified or working to become so, the majority hold BA degrees and often are pursuing masters programs in related fields.
We offer industry competitive wages and benefits to draw and retain the best dedicated teaching team and with every role from aide to lead we request the teacher’s commitment for a minimum of a year. As with the Early Childhood Education community we do see turnover in our teaching staff as is in line for the new norm of a Millennial generation. When employing well qualified teachers we understand they maintain aspirations and goals that will prompt further career exploration; as such we anticipate lead teachers to remain with us an average 2 years and aide and assistants 1-2 years. We do offer and support opportunities for growth and advancement for the right individuals which has extended our employment averages to 3-4 years with those joining us as aides and growing into leadership roles. It is our goal that staff communicate all transitions well in advance and job shadowing occur within each role so new faces are soon familiar faces.
Gabby // Owl Lead Teacher-Grant Park
Gabby joins us from the Seattle area where she worked at a creative arts preschool program with offerings in all forms of expression. A student of theatre and dance and graduate of Western Washington our days with Teacher Gabby include lots of movement, yoga, and silliness. Gabby joined us in 2016 as the Toddler Lead at Hollywood with a brief pause for a yoga trainer intensive she joins us again as the lead for our Owl friends. Gabby and her fiancé happily enjoy the offerings of Portland.
Mercedes // Fox Lead Teacher-Hollywood
Mercedes joined our center program upon opening and first donned the Fox Assistant Teacher Role before growing in to the role of Lead Teacher. A graduate of University of Oregon she shares with us her musical talent making for a fantastic daily song circle. Her classroom is fun and creative and sure to be full of laughter. Prior to joining SWS Mercedes worked with a SW Montessori program and brings with her many creative Kindergarten readiness activities and projects.
Natalie // Fox Lead Teacher-Grant Park
Natalie grew up in Lake Tahoe and graduated from University of Nevada-Reno with a business management degree. Prior to joining our school community Natalie worked at Brookfield School for 3 years in administrative and assistant roles and eventually as a lead teacher specializing in behavioral intervention within the school. As our Toddler Lead Natalie enjoyed her busy days in toddlerland with dance parties at our Hollywood school and is excited for the adventures with the big Fox kids! She believes in fostering children’s creativity and making learning fun. With her husband she enjoys hiking and exploring Portland.
Mickey // Toddler Head Teacher- Grant Park
Mickey Hanna has been within the early education community for six years. She currently holds an Associates in Early Childhood Education and is completing her senior year receiving her Bachelors in Science majoring in Child Development. Mickey has spent the past three years in Humboldt County working within the early intervention field. Through her experience she has served a wide variety of children, families, and communities. She is passionate about child development and views childhood as an important part of our life cycle as humans. Her classroom is filled with laughter, joy, creativity, and language as she supports children in making meaning of the world around them.
Ally // Owl Lead Teacher-Hollywood
Ally joined us in the fall of 2016 and has held a variety of roles; Fox Aide, Owl Teacher Assistant, and is now flying to land as our Lead Teacher in the Owl Room. Ally has always had a passion to enrich the lives of those around her. She graduated from California State University of Long Beach with her degree in Psychology and a concentration in Human Development. She has been an after school tutor, a nanny, and as an outdoor education instructor at Trackers PDX. As a Registered Yoga Instructor, Ally knows the importance of being present, patient, and kind. She incorporates interactive yoga play, finger puppets, and her love of the natural world in classroom.
Joi // Bear Teacher-Grant Park
Joi began with us in Hollywood and with her extra friendly demeanor and smile she is a fixture with our littles. Joi began her early childhood career with an arts based preschool program. She enjoys taking on silly characters and singing exuberantly with our friends. Joi is there to greet you in the mornings and assist with your short and sweet drop offs, helping friends jump into the day. She enjoys refurnishing furniture and keeping up Westeros along with her partner Andrew and their dog and cats.
Jessica // Bear Teacher-Hollywood
Jessica is a Vancouver native and started with us in summer 2016. Ukulele in hand Jess leads our daily song circle, her favorite songs being “Going to the Zoo” and “This Little Light of Mine,” and her creative play prompts can’t be beat. Jess and her husband like to play music and hike exploring all of the Pacific Northwest offerings.
Mallory // Bunny Lead Teacher-Hollywood
We were thrilled to welcome Teacher Mallory back to our Hollywood space, as one of original faces Mallory has always been a warm and welcome addition to our toddler classroom. Bubbly and again, so warm, Mallory is a delight with our youngest small friends. Previously the Bear assistant prior to some travel adventures Mallory returns to lead our sweet Bunny group.
Zoe // Administrative Assistant
Zoe first joined us as the Hollywood float working with all classrooms before settling into the Fox classroom as the Assistant Teacher. With the expansion to our two larger center spaces we created a role to suit Zoe’s creativity, organization, and extreme helpfulness as both a second set of hands and as a “mind reader”. Zoe attends to school shopping and supplies, keeps us organized and on track, and is overall a busy bee. Hailing from the Boston area she explores the Portland area with her partner Rob and pup Ruthie.
Allison // Owner & Hollywood Director
Allison is thrilled to bring her passion for teaching to work in her own school environment. It was in 2003 when Allison first worked as an assistant preschool teacher in her hometown community of Missoula, Montana. She found she was again and again drawn to the field of early childhood and worked in a variety of settings from Mott’s Children’s Hospital to a unique program from Gifted and Talented children. Allison holds her BA from The University of Michigan, she additionally obtained her Child Development Associate(CDA) from The Council of Professional Recognition and maintains multiple professional memberships including NAEYC and NAFCC. Prior to settling in the Pacific Northwest Allison took a position with a small nonprofit preschool as lead teacher and administrator fulfilling the roles of fund-raising coordinator, web designer, closing supervisor and many others (in addition to storyteller, crafter, puppeteer, silly song singer, etc.). During this time she continued to gain an appreciation for Reggio-inspired design and her classroom environments were featured on environmental tours and in early childhood textbooks.
Together as a team Allison and Nick Morton own and operate Small Wonders School. Nick as Business Manager chiefly works behind the scenes, making the operation at Small Wonders run smoothly, filling many roles from bookkeeper to handyman. Allison as Program Director is there to share the space with you during tours, welcomes you to the center in the morning, and joins in the daily play! Allison and Nick are thrilled to be living in the wonderful city of Portland, where they can enjoy the Pacific Northwest with their Vizsla pup Haley and daughter Adelaide and son Teddy and newest addition Ellery while fulfilling a dream of opening and operating great preschools in a great community.
What do you love about working with children?
I love working with young children because they are so eager to learn and are excited by all the things around them. They are also great teachers; I love coming in each morning knowing that I too will be learning something new. I look forward to each school year as together we create, examine, study, explore, reflect, and laugh. I enjoy the potential of each day, from diving into an experiential art project to revisiting a favorite book, it is sure to be fun and it is sure to be busy. In June 2015 I fulfilled my dream of designing and building out a complete school space in Hollywood and now I am fortunate to spend my days with a great teaching team, happy families, and fun children! I get to wear all the hats and float from the role of tour guide to storyteller to problem solver! I look forward to sharing the space with you.
Quinlyn // Co-Owner and Grant Park Director
Originating from Atlanta Quinlyn moved to Oregon to be closer with family and finding herself quite happy with the Pacific Northwest attended University of Oregon. In addition to her business degree Quinlyn minored in music, we are especially privileged to have her share her musical background at our daily song circles! Quinlyn has teaching experience in Pre-K programs in both Bend and Eugene, Oregon and has worked with Small Wonders School since the program first opened.
We are pleased to have Quinlyn as Program Director and Co-owner of SWS at Grant Park. Her education, training and qualified teaching experience exceeds licensing standards for the position and she continues to accrue training hours in a wide variety of Early Childhood Education themes from child development to outdoor playscapes. Her responsibility, professionalism, nurturing qualities, shining people personality made her our standout presence at school. Quinlyn’s energy and leadership at Grant Park space assures program continuity between both schools with her familiarity of our practices and philosophy, emergent curriculum, program aesthetic and much more. Much loved and adored here at SWS Quinlyn flourishes in her role.
How would you describe your teaching philosophy?
I work to integrate lessons into day-to-day activities to create a complete learning experience for all students. I enjoy planning a wide variety of projects and activities that will serve all types of learning styles as well as focus on the variety of intelligences.
I believe that children learn best when they are given the opportunity to explore subjects through hands on experience in a nurturing environment. I aim to meet the needs of each child by choosing subjects that interest them and will make them excited to learn. I work to create an environment where all students feel comfortable to ask questions, try new things, and speak their minds.
What do you love about working with children?
I love being able to be around children while they get to experience and learn new things. They are so excited to learn and I love that I get to help them in that process. I am always happy to go to work knowing that I will get to play, laugh and learn with my students each day.