Meet the Preschool Team

Lucie Bertz, German Teacher

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Berlin.

What are 3 words that describe you?
creative, honest, reliable

What inspired you to become an early childhood teacher?
My grandmother was the director of a preschool, which I often visited. I also was part of a peer helper group which gave back to the community. Every Sunday we drove to different public places with a van full of toys and offered activities. Both of those experiences shaped an early interest in working with children.

Can you share a bit about your teaching philosophy and approach to early childhood education?
For me it’s important to create a safe and stimulating environment for each child to develop at their own pace and time. Through authentic interest and by listening deeply, I want to support every child to believe in their abilities and develop a positive self-perception. I also think it’s important to teach children the power of the group and our community – they are part of it and have rights and responsibilities.

What are some of your favorite activities or lessons to do with the children?
In my work I love to use music and art to show the children the abundance of our world.

What do you enjoy most about working with young students?
I love the way children explore their world often with fearless and unbiased curiosity!

 

Leah Hamlin, English Teacher

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Richmond, Virginia.

What are 3 words that describe you?
Flexible, caring, positive

What inspired you to become an early childhood teacher?
My own early childhood teachers! I came home from my first day of kindergarten and told my parents that I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up.

Can you share a bit about your teaching philosophy and approach to early childhood education?
I like to use a self-directed learner approach. I am here to guide the children and help them to unlock their full potential. Giving kids autonomy in their daily decisions and approach to their learning helps them to fully grasp new concepts and take ownership over their own learning. My end goal is always that students leave my classroom as thoughtful, responsible, and respectful humans.

What are some of your favorite activities or lessons to do with the children?
I love to explore the five senses through activities that give the kids hands-on experience. One of my favorite lessons is explored through mystery stations where students can put their senses to the test to discover the mystery items. Can you use touch to figure out what is inside the box? Smell to figure out what is inside the cup? Taste to discover what’s inside?

I also love to explore with the kids how our world changes as the seasons change. The change of seasons always brings enriching discussions and fun seasonal activities. We do experiments with snow in the winter, plant seeds in the spring, explore different animal life cycles, and make art with fall leaves. I really love to incorporate student interests in seasonal activities. Who knows where our discussions will take us!

What do you enjoy most about working with young students?
I enjoy their excitement for everything we do. I love seeing their smiling faces when they walk in the building, listening to their stories, and their passion for every project we complete together. I also enjoy seeing the astronomical growth that kids make in their early childhood years. They are totally different kids at the start of the year versus the end!

Jens Ellerhold, Music Teacher (German)

What are 3 words that describe you?
Creative
Passionate
Patient

What inspired you to become an early childhood teacher?
My inspiration to become an early childhood teacher came from my love for music and my desire to share that joy with young learners. I believe that music has the power to ignite creativity, build confidence, and foster a sense of community. Watching children’s eyes light up when they grasp a new concept or feel the rhythm of a song is incredibly rewarding and motivating.

Can you share a bit about your teaching philosophy and approach to early childhood education?
My teaching philosophy revolves around the belief that every child is inherently musical and capable of learning through engaging, hands-on experiences. I focus on creating a nurturing and inclusive environment where students feel safe to express themselves and explore their creativity. I integrate movement, singing, and instrumental activities to cater to different learning styles and keep the lessons dynamic. Building a strong foundation in rhythm and melody through playful and interactive methods helps young students develop essential skills while having fun.

What are some of your favorite activities or lessons to do with the children?
Some of my favorite activities include:
Using the song “Johnny Works with One Hammer” to teach steady beat and coordination.
Exploring different percussion instruments like djembes to introduce rhythm and dynamics.
Singing nursery rhymes and movement songs to develop language skills and gross motor coordination.
Incorporating solfege and simple songs like “Do Re Mi” from The Sound of Music to build vocal skills and pitch awareness.
Introducing jazz tunes such as “A Tisket A Tasket” by Ella Fitzgerald to expose students to different genres and historical contexts.

What do you enjoy most about working with young students?
What I enjoy most about working with young students is their curiosity and enthusiasm. Their eagerness to learn and genuine reactions to musical activities are incredibly rewarding. Watching their progress and the pure joy they get from music reminds me why I chose to become a music teacher.