Our Staff

DIRECTOR

Dhu Varren Director Jamie Hillson has been working at Gretchen’s House since July 2007. She worked as an Infant/Toddler teacher, Head Teacher and Program Director before taking on the role of Center Director.  She attended Central Michigan University, where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education. Jamie and her husband David welcomed their first child, Ella in May, 2014.  In their spare time, they enjoy traveling up north to their cottage and being in the company of her family and friends.
SUPPORT STAFF
Office Manager Jinell Warson has been with Gretchen’s House since 1994, first as a classroom Head Teacher, then Assistant Director before taking on the Office Manager role at Dhu Varren. She attended Eastern Michigan University and Wayne State University, completing coursework in the Early Childhood and Child Psychology programs. Jinell’s favorite part about her job is touring families at the center and sharing information about quality child care. Jinell lives in Brighton. In her spare time she enjoys gardening, decorating her home, attending school activities and spending time with family and friends. Jinell
Cook Michael Roller has been with GH Dhu Varren since 2007. He has an associate’s degree from Washtenaw Community College and has worked in the food industry for several years. Michael is a fan of local sports teams and during his free time enjoys going to games and watching movies. Mike

Cook and Young 5’s afternoon teacher Quinton Makgale, also known as “Q”,  is currently a student at U of M and WCC. He is working towards a degree in Child Development at WCC and Pre-Med at U of M. Quinton is passionate about working with children and feels that teaching Preschool is an ideal opportunity as he works his way through school to become a pediatrician.

Quinton Makgale

Building Resource Teacher Rachel Deren earned her degree at Concordia University as a certified family life educator in 2013.  She has been working with children since a very young age which includes, baby-sitting, vacation bible schools and gym center.  Rachel enjoys spending time outdoors, reading and hanging out with her family and friends.

Rachel Deren

Afternoon teacher and morning BRT Mai Ia Vang graduated in 2009 with a Bachelors degree in Social Work from Ferris State University.  Prior to coming to Gretchen’s House she worked at Traverse City Area Public Schools K-12.  She enjoys outdoor activities with her dog, Ginko.  Mai Ia also enjoys reading, watching international movies, and learning about different cultures.

mai ia vang
Afternoon Building Resource Teacher Natalie Frensley began working for Gretchen’s House as a substitute teacher. During the summer of 2015, she was one of the counselors in our SCAMP program.  She currently attends Eastern Michigan University. In her spare time, Natalie spends a lot of time at her church and with friends and family. She enjoys being active, camping, painting/drawing and traveling to new places. Natale Frensley

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POND

Pond wing Program Director Julie Garbacz started working at Gretchen’s House in August 2006. She has her Bachelor’s degree in Family and Consumer Science from Madonna University. In her spare time, Julie enjoys playing sports, spending time with family, and traveling. Julie Garbacz
POND INFANTS AND TODDLERS
Pond Infant and Toddler Head Teacher Katie Kresta is originally from Toledo, Ohio and moved to the Ann Arbor area in May 2009. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Special Education from Eastern Michigan University. Katie has been with Gretchen’s House since June 2009. Katie enjoys playing sports when she has free time – anything outdoors. When time outdoors isn’t an option, she enjoys snuggling up with a good book.
Teacher Alyssa Crawley joined Gretchen’s House in June 2014.  She graduated from Michigan State University in May 2011 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Family Community Services with a specialization in Child and Youth Development.  She has worked in child care for over 5 years.  After college Alyssa and her husband moved to Indiana for two years and Pennsylvania for one year.  They have finally moved back home to Michigan!  In her free time, Alyssa enjoys spending time with her husband and dog (Dixie), reading, scrapbooking and camping. Alyssa Crawley - 7
I/T Teacher Claire Montgomery graduated from Michigan State University in Spring 2013 with a degree in Communicative Sciences and Disorders. She started working at Gretchen’s House in September 2013 as a Building Resource Teacher. She has worked in every room at least once and is familiar with a majority of the children at the center. Claire has four years of prior experience working with children ages 2 through 13 at a summer camp in West Bloomfield. In her spare time Claire likes to watch movies, explore Ann Arbor, and spend time with her friends, family, and pets!
  Caitlen Lucke – “I’m so happy to join Gretchen’s House Dhu-Varren.  I studied at Eastern Michigan University and am now working towards my CDA and Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education at Washtenaw Community College.  I worked for Ann Arbor Public Schools as Assistant Child Care Teacher, and I have one year of experience working as a toddler teacher.  I love working with young children and being there to support and foster their development.”  Catilin - 7
Pond Infant/Toddler Teacher Misty Wesney began teaching at Gretchen’s House in September, 2003. Misty has an Associate’s degree in Science from Monroe County Community College. She has been working in the early childhood field for twelve years. In her spare time, Misty enjoys hanging out with her daughter Elise, painting and camping. MIsty Wesney
Pond Infant/Toddler Teacher Carrie McMurrian says that she “is excited to be part of the Pond I/T staff again!  Before staying home with my daughters (Sylvie – 3, Delainey – 1) from November 2012 until I returned to Gretchen’s House in November 2015 I was part of the Gretchen’s House team for 7 years.  I began in December 2005 as a Railroad Preschool Teacher, then becoming the Head Young Fives Teacher, before becoming the Pond Program Director.  I received my bachelor’s degree and elementary teacher’s certificate from Central Michigan University in 2005.  I’ve began my master’s program in early childhood education at Eastern Michigan University.  In my spare time I enjoy spending time with my daughters and family, going for walks, and watching movies.” carrie
Afternoon infant toddler teacher Kim Monahan was born and raised in Ann Arbor, but decided to go to Michigan State University to earn a degree in Marketing.  After college she moved to Austin, TX to volunteer with AmeriCorps where she tutored children who were below grade level in reading.  Kim loves to fish, ski, hike and enjoys anything outdoors. IMG_0187

 

POND PRESCHOOL

Pond Preschool Head Teacher Emily McGrew graduated in 2012 from Michigan State University with a degree in Child Development and is a HighScope certified teacher.  She has worked with children for 5 years, 2 years being a teacher in a GSRP preschool.  In her free time she enjoys trying new restaurants, running, reading and watching t.v. IMG_0222
Teacher Christina Nellis graduated from Baker College in 2014 with a BA in Human Services with a focus on children and families.  She is currently finishing her classes for her CDA which will be done in March.  In her free time she enjoys reading, swimming and spending time with family and playing with her black lab, Angel.  Christina has been working with children for over 10 years.  Before coming to Gretchen’s House she worked in a GSRP program in Flint. Christina Nellis 7
Teacher Josh Redmon started working as a substitute teacher for Gretchen’s House in June, 2013 and joined the Pond Preschool Team in September, 2013. He has been working with children for 8 years as a retail portrait photographer. He is currently attending Eastern Michigan University, pursuing a major in Early Childhood Education. Josh believes that the children are our future. He loves to read, groove to good tunes, and spend time with his fluffy cat named Merlin. Josh Redmon
Afternoon teacher and morning BRT Mai Ia Vang graduated in 2009 with a Bachelors degree in Social Work from Ferris State University.  Prior to coming to Gretchen’s House she worked at Traverse City Area Public Schools K-12.  She enjoys outdoor activities with her dog, Ginko.  Mai Ia also enjoys reading, watching international movies, and learning about different cultures. mai ia vang

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RAILROAD

Railroad Program Director and I/T teacher Megan Haight began working with the Railroad I/T team in July 2008.  In January 2013, she accepted the position of program director for the Railroad Wing. Megan earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Eastern Michigan University in December 2004.  Her main areas of study were science, language arts, and early childhood education. She and her husband Dave welcomed their son David Michael in April 2010. In her spare time, Megan enjoys running, reading,  baking, and spending time with family and friends. Megan Haight

RAILROAD INFANTS AND TODDLERS

Railroad Infant/Toddler Head Teacher Denise Lechtanski began her career at Gretchen’s House in the summer of 2008. She worked with the school age children before becoming an Infant/Toddler Teacher. Denise is currently attending Eastern Michigan University, majoring in Special Education-Cognitive Impairment, with an Elementary Education minor. Denise spends her free time with her two daughters and her husband. Denise Lechtanski
 Infant/Toddler Teacher Hillary Hawkes began working at Gretchen’s House in July, 2013. She has nearly completed her bachelor’s degree in Business from Baker College. Once that is complete, she plans to work toward her CDA. She has worked in a child care setting and also as a nanny/babysitter for many years before that. In her free time, Hillary enjoys maximizing her time with her 4 year old daughter, Caroline.
Debbie Marsh joined Gretchen’s House in 2006. She received her Early Childhood CDA from Baker College in 2004 and is currently working on her associates in Early Childhood from Baker College. Debbie has been working with children for over 20 years. Debbie is married and has one daughter, Anyssa, and keeps busy with her horses and other family pets. Debbie enjoys tennis, painting, traveling and spending time with her family.
 
Sarah Milner started working at Gretchen’s House in February of 2012 as a BRT and was a consistent substitute during the summer months.  Sarah began working in the Railroad I/T in January 2013.  Sarah is in her last semester of school at Eastern Michigan University, studying psychology. When not working, Sarah enjoys drawing, swimming, reading and going on nature hikes. Sarah Milner
Railroad I/T Teacher Betsy George joined Gretchen’s House in September 2009. She was previously the Young Fives teacher at the Traver location before moving to Dhu Varren. Betsy earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with an Early Childhood (ZA) endorsement from Western Michigan University. In her free time Betsy likes to spend time with her family, and read books. She also likes to go kayaking in the summer and knit in the winter.
I/T Afternoon Teacher/Cook Ally Kidd is new to Michigan and loves it so far. She earned an Associate’s Degree in Vocal Performance and Communication studies at College of the Canyons in the L.A. area, where she was born & raised.  She plans to continue her education in Early Childhood Education and Music Education at Eastern Michigan University.  Her hobbies include music in many forms: choir, solo performance, and transcription, as well as archery.

RAILROAD PRESCHOOL

 Head Railroad Preschool Teacher Katy Czarnecki began working at Gretchen’s House in February 2015.  Before starting her career here at Gretchen’s House she worked with an Early Head Start program with children aged 0-3,as well as pregnant moms, for four years.  She also worked at the JCC of Greater Ann Arbor with the preschool population for five and half years.  She has her Bachelor’s degree in Children and Family Services from the University of Michigan—Dearborn.  In her spare time, Katy enjoys spending time with her  husband Adam, her son Gregory and their two Miniature Schnauzers Sophia & Bane.  She also enjoys going to the movies, going skiing and reading.  Katy
Railroad Teacher Jerod Wesney started at Gretchen’s House in June, 2006 as a full time Building Resource Teacher. Since then he has worked in every classroom, and has spent summers with the SCAMP program. Jerod earned a teaching certificate in Secondary Education with a major in English from Eastern Michigan University. In his free time, Jerod enjoys reading and spending time with friends and family. Jerod
In August 2013 before joining the Railroad Preschool team, teacher Tyan Brown worked with the Railroad I/T team.  She graduated from Mt. San Jacinto College in California in 2011 with degrees in Early Childhood Education and Behavior and Social Science. She plans to return to school and attend Eastern Michigan University. In her free time, Tyan enjoys playing softball and going to Tiger baseball games with her husband.
Afternoon Teacher Mojdeh (Mo) Megnot joined the Gretchen’s House team in August of 2013. She earned her bachelor of science degree from Eastern Michigan University in Psychology and Biology. Mo also has her certificate degree in Dental Hygiene from the University of Michigan. There she worked in the pediatric unit teaching junior, senior and graduate level dental students.  Much of her work there focused on four handed dentistry and alleviating children’s fear in the dental setting.  Mo has also taken many child and family psychology classes at Eastern Michigan University.  She first started working with children in high school, caring for her neighbor’s three children and continued to care for them through college and beyond. Mo has three children age 25, 20 and 17, all of whom have attended or are currently attending the University of Michigan.

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FARM

Karen Clark-Cantu is the Program Director for the Farm Wing at GH-Dhu Varren. During the summer months, Karen runs the Summer Camp Program. Karen worked as a preschool teacher in a HeadStart Program and at the YMCA for 14 years before she joined Gretchen’s House in 1999. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and Health. In her free time, Karen enjoys golf, attending classic rock concerts and walking her black lab. Karen Clark web
Farm Preschool
Garden Preschool Head Teacher Marie Gaab joined Gretchen’s House in July of 2009 and moved from Pond I/T to Garden PS in March 2011. Marie earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Eastern Michigan University. She has 10 years of experience working with young children. When she is not working Marie enjoys hiking, biking, and camping with her husband and teenage son. Marie Gaab

Garden Preschool Teacher Bethany Grates started at GH as a schoolage Summer Camp Counselor at Dhu Varren in 2013. She  graduated from the University of Michigan May 2013 with a degree in Psychology and Women’s Studies. Bethany plans on attending graduate school for a doctorate in School Psychology. Bethany grew up with six siblings which contributed to her outgoing and lively spirit. Bethany now resides in Ann Arbor with her two year-old Siberian Husky. In her spare time she enjoys jogging, playing basketball, participating in Big Brothers, Big Sisters and snowboarding.

Bethany G
Garden Preschool Afternoon Teacher Sarah Campbell joined Gretchen’s House in August 2014, but she has been familiar with our center for much longer as a nanny for several of the families that take part in our program. She graduated from Western Michigan University with a degree in English and Environmental Studies. Sarah is very creative and active on her own time; she is part of and co-manages a performance vintage jazz dance troupe, draws cartoons, paints with watercolors, goes on long bike rides, and spends as much time on the Great Lakes as possible. Sarah Campbell
Farm Young Fives
Young Fives Head Teacher Kim Bailey  earned her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education in 2006, with a major in Reading and a minor in Early Childhood Education.  Kim has been working with children for the past 10 years in both public school and private sector education settings.  KIim enjoys spending time with her two boys, gardening, doing yoga, traveling and spending time outside.
 Young Fives teacher Sarah Hoppenworth graduated from Michigan State University in 2014 with a Bachelors degree in Child Development.  After completing a year long internship in a Kindergarten classroom she also recieved her Elementary Teaching Certification.  She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Eastern Michigan University.  Sarah enjoys spending time outdoors, and her hobbies include hiking, kayaking, riding bikes, reading and camping.  Sarah Hoppenworth

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