Meet the Team


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!  


Michelle Moberly - Infant Teacher

 

Hello! My name is Michelle Moberly, and I am so excited for the opportunity I have to start caring for our littlest friends here at The Wonder Playschool!

 

I have always been passionate about working with children, and after years of volunteering, babysitting, and spending summers as a nanny, I took my first course on child development at Olivet Nazarene University. After receiving my bachelor’s degree in social work and completing my field placement, I quickly realized I wanted to do something that allowed me more time working directly with children and less time in an office! 

 

After spending two years as a preschool assistant teacher, (where I was first introduced to Reggio and best practices for early childhood) my husband and I welcomed our first child. I was so excited for the chance to spend my entire summer off at home with him! As glorious as it was spending my days snuggling my sweet boy, after a few weeks I remember thinking, “Is this really all I’m going to do for the next three months?!” It was then that I began to go beyond the knowledge and experience I had to dig deeper—learning what even the youngest of learners are capable of and all that we, as caretakers, can do in those early months and years to promote and encourage future learning. 

 

I look forward to getting to know all of you, and am so grateful for the chance I have to partner with you in nurturing, teaching, and guiding your children through the many exciting milestones and stages of development that lie ahead! 


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!


Raelyn Hoskins - Preschool Teacher

 

Hello! My name is Raelyn Hoskins. Since I was just 8 years old I realized that I wanted to be a teacher. I moved to Peoria in 2015 when I transferred to Bradley University and received my Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood Education with an endorsement in English as a Second Language and an approval for Special Education. I have worked with children of all ages, from birth to teenagers. My degree allows me to properly care for children birth through 8 years of age.

 

I strongly believe that focusing on a child as a whole is important for a child's overall development. Learning does not start and end at school, and for children to thrive all their basic needs must be met. A child's past experiences, prior knowledge, economic circumstances and diversity with the community all influence a child's learning. Therefore, I strive to value your children's minds, as well as their heart and soul, by focusing on their overall development.

 

I plan to create engaging and hands-on lessons, experiences, and a stimulating environment, to incorporate diverse materials and toys, and help children learn to thrive in new social settings. I am a strong believer that children learn best through play. Part of my philosophy as an early childhood educator is that play has an extremely vital role in a child's learning, and it happens in every culture as it enhances learning development. By allowing opportunities in the classroom to be creative, use their imagination, and develop their cognitive skills through songs, stories, games, art, and much more, I have experienced children learning to thrive in their everyday life.

 

Outside of school, I enjoy spending time outdoors, camping or fishing. I always enjoy thinking of new ways to expand my creativity and planning out new ways to help expand the creativity of your little ones.

 


Abby McGowan - Assistant Teacher

 

Hello, my name is Abby, and I want to start off by saying how grateful I am to be able to continue gaining childcare experience with The Wonder Playschool. Throughout the years I never pictured myself dedicating so much of my time with children. I began to further my education in 2014 when I decided to attend Illinois State University as an exercise science major. Fitness has always been a passion of mine and continues to be. I was sure that fitness was the path I wanted to take at the time. My mother decided to open her own in-home daycare where I got to be hands on with children ages 2 months-10 years of age. The children I’ve had the amazing opportunity to care for through the years have made such a positive impact on my life. It’s easy to forget that we all once started off as children ourselves. Being with children brings out the inner kid in me. I love coming up with fun art and outdoor activities, and will never skip out on an opportunity to join the kids in any activity—whether it be coloring in a Disney coloring book or building a castle with Legos. Taking the time to sit down and play with children allows you to get to know their personality, which I find to be one of the most rewarding parts of this job. Childcare has become a passion of mine, and I see myself working with children for many years to come—hoping that I can make a lasting impression on each and every one of their lives.


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 an assistant teacher 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. Currently, I am finishing my early childhood development degree at ICC. I look forward to graduating with my Associate of Arts in December 2018 before continuing to pursue my bachelor's degree in early childhood development.

 

During my free time, I enjoy exercising, watching Friends and The Office, and spending time with my family. I live in Peoria, Illinois and attend Northwoods Church where I serve in Discoveryland children's ministry. I look forward to getting to know your children, creating a fun, 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!