Meet the Team

Scott and Jodi Thomason - Owners

Scott and his wife, Jodi, began their journey with early childhood in 2001 as a small in-home daycare in Peoria. Their vision has always been to provide the Peoria area with unique, top-notch childcare experiences that challenge the status quo. After moving and expanding their in-home daycare in 2004, they have been very fortunate to continue fulfilling this vision through the openings of The Wonder Playschool and the acquisition of A+ Children's Academy. They take pride in each of their centers and are grateful for the opportunities to ensure unparalleled care for the children entrusted to their care.

Karen Coyle - Executive Director

Hello and welcome to The Wonder Playschool! After knowing Scott and Jodi Thomason for over a decade and regularly recommending their in-home daycare to families, I am so grateful to be partnered with them as they continue providing the greater Peoria area with such a unique and high-quality early childhood programs.  It is my goal to give you and your child the best early childhood experience possible. My family and I have lived in Peoria for almost 20 years.  My husband and I have 3 children, one currently at home and two living in Arizona.  We are active in our local church, serving with the youth group as well as on mission trips to Brazil. 

Karen Coyle has been with Wonder since May of 2017 and has served as a certified early childhood educator for over 20 years. She received her bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University in Early Childhood Education with an Endorsement in Mathematics. Karen started her career as a kindergarten teacher in Wheeling, Illinois, and has been partnering with families in giving all children a jumpstart to school success ever since. Karen’s work experience also includes serving as a Family Educator, Preschool Teacher, and Teacher Mentor in DCFS-Licensed Child Care and Home Provider settings for the Peoria County Regional Office of Education Preschool for All Program. She also served as lead teacher in the full and half-day preschool classrooms at UPC Discovery in Peoria, Illinois for many years. During this tenure, Karen implemented research-based practices, including the Project Approach. She presented student-led Projects at the National Association of the Education of Young Children’s Conference as well as at the Heart of Illinois Association of the Education of Young Children’s Conference. 

Jennifer Bowman - Human Resource Director

Hello! My name is Jennifer Bowman. I am the Human Resource Director here at The Wonder Playschool. I am very excited to get to know your child and you! I have always had a passion for working with children, so while attending Olivet Nazarene University I majored in social work. After graduating I worked with foster children and teens for 3 years. I began to question if that was what I wanted to do—spending 90% of my time behind a desk. I didn’t feel like I was making the difference in children’s lives like I had always envisioned doing, so I explored with early childhood classes at ICC. Thus began my Early Childhood journey! I have been a teacher with every age group and have loved every moment of it! I have been trained in and have implemented Creative Curriculum in childcare centers. I believe that a teacher has a responsibility to create a safe environment so that children feel emotionally secure. Children should be given choices and have an active role in determining how they will learn. Children need our support to mature in all areas, and as a teacher we strive to help children become successful and eager to learn. I also began to learn the business side of childcare and found another passion for the behind the scenes things. I was a director for 8 years at a childcare in Hopedale, IL. When I saw pictures of The Wonder Playschool and sat and talked to the owner Scott, I knew I wanted to be part of this amazing center. I have been here since 2016 and have loved every moment of it! I look forward to meeting you and your family!

Aubri Austria - Adventurers Support Teacher


Hello! My name is Aubri. I was born and raised in Peoria, Illinois and attended Limestone High School. After high school I served with YWAM in Hawaii. I have also done missions work in Africa and Brazil. I married my husband in 2020 and we attend Riverside Community Church where I serve in the Pre-K ministry. I love working with children and seeing how much they learn and grow, especially in early childhood. It is such a joy and tremendous privilege to partner with parents in such an important stage of children’s lives.

Devon Shaw - Investigators Lead Teacher

Hello, my name is Devon! I was born and raised in Peoria IL, where I graduated from Richwoods High School in 2016. During my time at Richwoods, I developed a love for sports and physical activity while participating on the soccer and cross-country teams. After high school, I attended Northern Illinois University, where I received my bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology with a minor in Public Health. Though I had planned to become a physical therapist, my senior internship with the Kishwaukee Community Wellness Department sparked my passion for working with kids! My last semester of college was spent teaching nutrition and wellness lessons in 8 local DeKalb County elementary schools to children in grades K-8. When I am not in the classroom, I enjoy hiking, hammocking, watching documentaries, and exploring new cities!


Kristi Wittekiend - Investigators Support Teacher

Hello, my name is Kristi Wittekiend. As a mother of three, I know how much joy and love children bring into your life. I began babysitting at a young age and loved it. Later, I was a working mother for a while and then a stay at home mom and cared for friends' and family members' children. Being around children has always been enjoyable and a huge part of my life. Now that my own are older, it’s so wonderful to be surrounded by little ones again. I look forward to seeing your children thrive and grow!

Brittany Harris - Support Teacher

Hello, my name is Brittany Harris. I have been working in the field of early childhood for twenty years. Throughout this time I have worked with children ranging in ages from birth to age five. I attended Illinois Central College studying education and have two children of my own―a daughter and a son. When I am not working, I enjoy spending time with my beautiful family, making the best memories I can.

Nancy Hinnen - Early Childhood Consultant, Teacher Mentor

As a lifetime educator, I am honored to serve alongside you and the Wonder Playschool team, to notice your child’s moments of “awe,” and together, capture their wonder and craft learning experiences that open their minds to cognitive connections and new discoveries. Throughout my lifetime, I have been fortunate to learn from many impactful leaders. Starting with my parents, who exemplified diverse community problem-solving, to growing alongside colleagues, children and families through years of classroom teaching, administration, directing, training, coaching and consulting through the Peoria County Regional Office of Education and Heart of Illinois United Way, and locking elbows with experts in the field of child growth and development, education, and leadership. Angela Andrews (Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics Distinguished Life Achievement in Mathematics Award, author of Little Kids – Powerful Problem Solvers), Howard Gardner (Multiple Intelligences), Judy Jablon (Co-author of Powerful Interactions), Sanford “Sandy” McDonnell (Former chairman emeritus of McDonnell Douglas Corporation and CHARACTERPlus), Sam Meisels (Authentic assessment, President of Erikson Institute), Wess Stafford (President Emeritus of Compassion International, author of Too Small to Ignore), and Harry Wong (Educator and author of First Days of School – How to Be an Effective Teacher) have each given me the gift of learning through the lens of honoring children. As Harry Wong taught me, “You see in children what you look for.” Thank you for allowing me the privilege of extending my lens even further by kneeling among your children, pausing to capture their “wonder,” engage in powerful interactions, and “look for” the amazing thinking within the minds of those who teach me the best.

Choosing your Peoria daycare facility is an important decision, and we look to make it as easy as possible. We would be happy to answer any questions you may have, just give us a call (309-412-6083) or schedule a tour.


Monday-Friday:  7:00am - 5:30pm


1711 W Detweiller Dr

Peoria, IL 61615