Karen Coyle - Director
Hello and welcome to the Wonder Playschool!
After knowing Scott and Jodi Thomason for over 10 years and regularly recommending their in-home daycare to families, I am excited for this opportunity to “join forces” with them on this venture of opening a center that is so unique to our area! It is my goal to spend every day giving you and your child the best early childhood experience possible. My family has lived in Peoria for almost 20 years. My husband and I have 3 children, 2 currently at home and 1 at college. We are active in our local church, serving with the youth group as well as on mission trips to Brazil.
Karen Coyle has served as a certified early childhood educator for 20 years. She received her bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University in early childhood education with an endorsement in mathematics. Her most recent role has been Lead Teacher in the full and half-day preschool classrooms at United Presbyterian Church (UPC) Discovery Preschool in Peoria, Illinois. 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. 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. Karen started her career as a kindergarten teacher in Wheeling, Illinois, and continues to partner with families in giving all children a jump-start to school success.
Jennifer Bowman - Assistant Director
Hello! My name is Jennifer Bowman. I am the Assistant Director and a Floater teacher 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 for a year and half and have loved every moment of it!
I look forward to meeting you and your family!
Katelyn Morr - Infant Teacher
Hi! My name is Katelyn Morr and I am overjoyed that I get the opportunity to partner with families here at The Wonder Playschool. It is a privilege to be able
to care for, teach, and watch your children grow and learn.
I have a deep love for people of all shapes and sizes, but for as long as I can remember I have been drawn to little children-- even when I was still a kid myself. Loving and nurturing little hearts and minds is ingrained so deeply into who I am as a person, and I cannot imagine my life any other way. After years of babysitting and volunteering with children, I pursued a degree in human development and family resources from Illinois State University, graduating with honors in 2016.. Since graduation, I have worked in several different fields all revolving around children and youth, including non-profit ministries, churches, and preschools. No matter what organization I was working with, one strong truth held true--I believe I am utilizing my talents best when I am working hands on with children every day.
I believe passionately that the first few years of life are so important for every child's development. As parents, teachers, grandparents, aunts or uncles, we have the unbelievable opportunity to teach children not only how to talk and walk, but more importantly empathy, kindness, how to handle our emotions, and how to make friends. I believe children learn best by exploring the world around them and watching what is modeled by trusted adults. I am humbled to be able to walk with your children as they explore new surroundings, new skills, and new emotions, and to model for them, to the best of my ability, how to be a kind and loving individual.
I look forward to meeting each and every one of you getting to know your family.
Erika Childs - Toddler Teacher
Welcome to The Wonder Playschool! My name is Erika Childs, and I am a lead toddler teacher here.
I was born in Calcutta, India, and was adopted and raised in Peoria, Illinois. Growing up in a large family and becoming an aunt at such a young age, I have always been passionate about teaching young children. I have been in the field of education for 11 years. After receiving my bachelor's degree in education from Eureka College, I spent 6 years in the school district teaching and coaching. Shortly after my years of teaching grade school, my passion and direction in life changed when I received my master's degree in education from Grand Canyon University. I started teaching preschool and my love for early childhood became very apparent to me. I am excited to be part of your child's learning and growing.
Early childhood education is so important in instilling their curiosity through learning. It is my goal to provide your child with the best care, while encouraging learning. I am committed to bringing you an upbeat, friendly, safe, and loving learning environment. In addition to my passion for teaching, I enjoy reading and cooking. I am thankful for this opportunity to teach at The Wonder Playschool, and look forward to getting to know you and your child!
Alexis Walker - Assistant Teacher
Hi, I'm Alexis Walker! I graduated from Peoria Christian High School and am attending ICC for early childhood education! I have worked with kids for several years--
in the church nursery, babysitting, as a teacher's assistant, and helping with my young brothers. I absolutely love working with children, especially at such a developmental age. The kids I get
to work with fill such a big part of my heart. I was a teacher's assistant my senior year in my brother's first grade class and absolutely loved watching the kids grow and develop in their own
ways. I look forward to working with your children, watching them grow and develop, and helping them along the way!
Chasatie Pitts - Assistant Teacher
Hello, everyone! My name is Chasatie Pitts. I am grateful and excited to be the lead assistant teacher of the mobile infant classroom at The Wonder Playschool. For as long as I can remember, I have had a passion for children. I am the oldest of five, and there is a 19 year difference between myself and my youngest sibling-- naturally giving me quite a bit of life experience with kids. I recently graduated with my associates degree from Illinois Central College, and now will be pursuing my Bachelor of Arts degree in Early Childhood Development.
During my free time, I enjoy exercising, spending time with my family and volunteering at my church and with Illinois CancerCare Foundation. I live in Peoria, Illinois, where I attend Northwoods Community Church and serve in Discoveryland children's ministry. I look forward to getting to know your children, creating a fun and engaging learning experience, and watching your children grow and develop. It's an honor to be part of your child's life.
I look forward to meeting everyone and partnering together!
Elizabeth Wittekiend - Assistant Teacher
Hello! My name is Elizabeth Wittekiend, and I am an assistant teacher here at The Wonder Playschool. I am so beyond grateful for this opportunity to spend my afternoons with all of these bright children! I have recently turned 18, and am still attending Richwoods High School. Even though I don't have a degree in early childhood development, I will be taking classes to become a teacher in the near future! Ever since I can remember, I have enjoyed being around children and getting the chance to watch them grow. I look forward to meeting you all and working with your children!
Emily Clark - Assistant Teacher
Hello, my name is Emily, and I am an assistant teacher here at The Wonder Playschool. I am very grateful to be able to help care for your children! I live in Pekin
and am currently enrolled at Illinois Central College, majoring in early childhood education. I have always had such a strong passion for working with children, and I am excited that I get to
work in such a great environment! In my free time, I enjoy babysitting and spending time with my family. I look forward to meeting you and working with your children!
Kristi Wittekiend - Assistant Teacher
Hello, my name is Kristi Wittekiend and I am grateful to be a part of The Wonder Playschool. 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 families kids. 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. Hopefully my time here at Wonder will be long lasting, I look forward to seeing your children thrive and grow!
Melissa Henrichs - Assistant Teacher
Hello! My name is Melissa Henrichs. I feel so grateful and happy to be here at The Wonder Playschool as an assistant teacher and to spend time with your little
ones-- they make me feel like a child again!
To know me some more, I am from Mexico, from a very small fishing port called San Blas. I was studying a career in clinical psychology for three and a half years at the Autonomous University of Nayarit, at this time of my life I met my husband and we created our lovely family, so I decided to make a space from my career to dedicate completely to my two little girls and join him with a pizzeria restaurant as co-owner. Then in July 2014 we moved to Peoria, Illinois. My husband is from here and I feel so lucky that he has a wonderful family that embraces me and my girls with so much love.
All my life since a very young age I have had such good chemistry with kids. Babysitting in Mexico and spending time with kids in my very large family were my first experiences with childcare. Then with my own little girls, it has been so important to me to spend the whole time with them, so once my second daughter started preschool at UPC Discovery, I started to go there as a volunteer mom to play with the children and care for them, too. Since then I have this big interest in helping kids. It amazes me the way they think and by then how they act. I believe that the way adults treat kids is the way they learn to be in life. My every day goal is to make your child feel happy and confident through our interactions, by playing and helping when needed.
Currently, I am planning to come back to study, more specifically in childcare now that I discover how much I love them! Learning never finishes! A perfect day for me is spending the day time with my girls and husband, going for a hike, and end it up with a date night. In my spare time I love to dance, do arts and crafts, and practice Spanish with my girls.
I am looking forward to meeting you and your child at The Wonder Playschool, and, last but not least, thank you for your trust in us!
Meredith Byrne - Assistant Teacher
Welcome to The Wonder Playschool!
My name is Meredith Byrne, I am so excited to help care for your little one! I have always had a heart for kids! From helping my mom babysit, volunteering in the nursery at my church, or being a nanny in the summer, I always found myself taking care of kids. I’m the youngest of 5 kids, and I am an aunt to 3 nephews and 6 nieces. I grew up in Peoria and graduated from Richwoods High and ICC with certificate as a CNA.
I enjoy the dynamic and exciting opportunities that young children bring. They are so passionate and excited about the world around them. These little people have taught me so much about discovery, imagination, curiosity, joy, and the never-ending journey of learning. Most importantly, I love supporting each child in their own individual path, and I always strive to give them the care and resources necessary for their own independent growth.
I can't wait to work together with you as we help your children reach their full potential!