Getting to Know Ms. Brianna

Getting to Know… is part of our new Teacher and Staff Spotlight series. Each week we will shine the spotlight one of our classroom teachers, allowing them to share some of their stories, their interests and their favorites with us. We hope our teacher spotlights will help our Morning Star parents and families further engage with our teachers, as well as give them a more personal idea of who is teaching and caring for their children during their days with us. This week we are getting to know Ms. Brianna!

Ms. Brianna has been part of our Morning Star family for three years and, as a floater, gets to work with so many of our children. Bri is an Omaha native who grew up in a blended family with an older step sister, one younger sister and a little brother who’s nine years younger than her.

As a little girl, Ms. Bri dreamed of someday becoming a doctor.

Brianna teaches because she loves being around kids and being able to help them learn new things and watching how they grow from those lessons. When asked what she loves most about Morning Star, she credits her coworkers and her passion for the students. “I love watching the children learn and grow, and working with amazing staff members who encourage each other.”

If Ms. Bri could give each child a piece of advice, it would be to never give up. “Always try your best, no matter what.”

Outside of work, you can find Bri spending time with family, listening to music and going out with her friends.

We’re so happy Brianna is part of the Morning Star family and can’t wait to watch her grow!

Getting to Know Ms. Marilyn

Getting to Know… is part of our new Teacher and Staff Spotlight series. Each week we will shine the spotlight one of our classroom teachers, allowing them to share some of their stories, their interests and their favorites with us. We hope our teacher spotlights will help our Morning Star parents and families further engage with our teachers, as well as give them a more personal idea of who is teaching and caring for their children during their days with us. This week we are getting to know Ms. Marilyn!

For the last 13 years, Ms. Marilyn has been teaching and nurturing our littlest students as well leading by strong example what it really means to be a teacher and a caregiver. As the Infant Program Coordinator for all children age birth through 20 months, Ms. Marilyn creates weekly lesson plans that meet the Nebraska department of education early learning guidelines.

She understands the importance of brain growth during these important formative first months of a baby’s life and is an active champion for baby sign language, inspiring her team of nine teachers to give all of our babies 110%. Around here, she is known as the baby whisperer, guiding parents through Getting to Know You meetings and the important (and often difficult for parents) transition from mama’s arms to caregiver.

She was one of the first certified, state of Nebraska Safe with You instructors, a 6-hour mandatory state regulation class that is required by all licensed child care centers. And this year, Marilyn has also taken on the important role of staffing, making sure everyday there are consistent and caring teachers placed in our classrooms. This means, Marilyn has added excel to her list of accomplishments!

What would we do without her?!

Ms. Marilyn, proud to call herself an “air force brat”, spent her early childhood moving to a new city or town about every 18 months. When she was in 7th grade, her and her family settled in Carroll, IA for good. As a young girl, Marilyn looked forward to “Sunday Night Wrestling” when she’d grapple with her dad and her brothers. She dreamed of being a teacher or an administrative assistant/secretary and later went on to receive her AA in Early Childhood Education from Des Moines Community College (DMACC)

Having been with Morning Star for so long, it’s hard for Ms. Marilyn to pick just one or two memories to call her favorite. We can’t blame her, she must have hundreds she’d like to share! When asked why she chose to teach, the answer was simple: “It is what I am!” And when asked what it is about Morning Star that’s kept her around so long, her answer is familiar but one we never tire of and can’t stress enough. “Sounds cliche but the families are great to interact with; they’re alway so supportive.”

Her advice for our students and her life motto go hand in hand. She urges our children to be how they are while living by a simple and sound motto: I am who I am, don’t try to change me. And though she’s been teaching here for 13 years, she too has learned a couple lessons along the way. A good general lesson she’s learned is that just because someone does something differently, doesn’t mean they’re doing something wrong. The more personal lesson she learned made us chuckle. “Never thought I was a ‘baby person’ until I started at Morning Star and discovered I was!”

If she could be anything, Ms. Marilyn says she would be organized, “like I used to be…I lost that when my kids moved out.” In her free time outside of work, you can find Marilyn spending time with her grandkids, trying new crafts and failing at knitting and crocheting.

We are incredibly lucky and so happy to truly call Ms. Marilyn family.

Getting to Know Ms. Dawn

Getting to Know… is part of our new Teacher and Staff Spotlight series. Each week we will shine the spotlight one of our classroom teachers, allowing them to share some of their stories, their interests and their favorites with us. We hope our teacher spotlights will help our Morning Star parents and families further engage with our teachers, as well as give them a more personal idea of who is teaching and caring for their children during their days with us. This week we are getting to know Ms. Dawn!

Ms. Dawn has welcomed our students and parents with a smiling face for the last four and half years. As Morning Star’s Office Manager and Administrative Assistant Ms. Dawn is a big part of the glue that keeps our center running, from handling billing and enrollments to training staff and organizing our popular Kids Escape event and even caring for all of our beautiful fish, she is our jack of all trades. And fun fact: Ms. Dawn used to teach Spanish for us and her daughter, Abigail, is a Morning Star Alum.

Ms. Dawn is an Omaha native who grew up calling South Omaha home. Her favorite childhood memories recall afternoons at her grandmother’s house, watching Knot’s Landing and Dynasty while drinking Tang along with trips to the Henry Doorly Zoo, the Aksarben Aquarium, Elephant Hills and the pumpkin patch with her mom and siblings.

Growing up, Ms. Dawn dreamed of becoming a teacher. She went on to graduate from the Omaha College of Health Careers as a Psych Tech and later attended Bellevue University to attain a Bachelor’s in Health and Human Sciences Management. Currently, Ms. Dawn is working to get her Child Development Associate (CDA) credentialing and is looking forward to completing that in April.

When asked why she chooses to do what she does, it’s evident how much passion Ms. Dawn has for education and our students. “I love knowing what we teach the kids at this age will make a difference in their life, and start them down the path to success.” When asked what she loves most about working at Morning Star, Ms. Dawn credits our families and staff. “I love our families and kiddos. They truly are the BEST.  They are very kind and caring; once you talk to them, you can just tell they appreciate us and what we do. As for my coworkers, they really are more like extended family. A lot of them were even at my wedding!”

As both a staff member and parent, Dawn’s favorite Morning Star memory is a special one. “When I first started, my daughter Abigail was placed in the Red Star Bears with Mr. Brian and Ms. Hilary. One day at home she began playing school with her babies, it was nap time and she covered them up, began rubbing their backs and was so compassionate toward them. I asked where she had seen or heard the things she was doing and she said her teachers do it to her. I loved it and knew I was in the right place because beforehand she had been really mean to her babies at naptime. I am so glad I switched jobs and preschools for her!”

While working at Morning Star, Dawn says she’s learned to always strive to b someone’s marigold! She admires our students’ honesty and sincerity. “They are constantly showing you that they do care about you as much as you do care about them.” And if she could give them one piece of advice it would be to always believe in yourself and know you CAN do hard things!”

Outside of Morning Star, you can find Ms. Dawn studying, attending trainings and doing homework for her CDA or enjoying family time with her husband and kids.

We’re so proud of all of Dawn’s hard work and incredibly lucky she landed at Morning Star four and half years ago.

Getting to Know Ms. Kathy

Getting to Know… is part of our new Teacher and Staff Spotlight series. Each week we will shine the spotlight one of our classroom teachers, allowing them to share some of their stories, their interests and their favorites with us. We hope our teacher spotlights will help our Morning Star parents and families further engage with our teachers, as well as give them a more personal idea of who is teaching and caring for their children during their days with us. This week we are getting to know Ms. Kathy G!

Ms. Kathy has been part of the Morning Star family for seven years working primarily with our younger students. This year, Kathy is our Green Star Butterflies Assistant teacher. Aren’t our Green Stars so lucky?

Ms. Kathy was born in Omaha but spent her early childhood growing up in Texas. Her early memories are laced with sunny summers in southern Texas, days spent playing on the beaches of Padre Island and visits to her Grandma’s Mexican restaurant. Today, she calls Texas – where her father and extended family still reside – her second home, visiting annually.

As a little girl Ms. Kathy dreamed of becoming a teacher on an Indian Reservation and while it’s not quite the same, we’re happy Kathy landed at Morning Star teaching our students. When asked what she loves most about working at Morning Star, Ms. Kathy praises the kids and families, as well as our program. “The whole program is so geared towards them both in such a positive way.” Being a teacher is ingrained in Ms. Kathy. “I love, LOVE the children. It is such a true joy to be with them.”

Her favorite Morning Star memory ranks up there with so many of ours. “Working with miss CiCi. She taught me a lot in every sense of the way. She made me a much better teacher and oh, the laughs!” We couldn’t agree more.

With our teacher spotlights, we always like to ask our teachers what they have learned while working at Morning Star. Ms. Kathy has learned it really does take a village. And when it comes to what she’s learned about herself she says, “I have great stamina! I have stamina because I don’t tire being with the children and I really enjoy what I do” adding, “I might never retire!”

As for what advice she’d give her students, Ms. Kathy would tell the students to strive to be happy. “Look for the good in all situations. Laugh at yourself. And remember, God loves you.” Her advice isn’t far from her life motto, “Smile – Pray – Roll (with it)”. “Whenever my husband and I are in a funky situation, we will look at each other, take an arm and making a waving motion. Roll with it.”

Outside of work, you can find Kathy tending to her flower gardens or riding co-captain with her husband, Chuck, on their Harley. Kathy and Chuck are members of Bikers for Christ (BFC) and Chuck is their chapter President.

We are so happy and lucky to have Ms. Kathy as part of our Morning Star family.

Getting to Know Ms. April

Getting to Know… is part of our new Teacher and Staff Spotlight series. Each week we will shine the spotlight one of our classroom teachers, allowing them to share some of their stories, their interests and their favorites with us. We hope our teacher spotlights will help our Morning Star parents and families further engage with our teachers, as well as give them a more personal idea of who is teaching and caring for their children during their days with us. This week we are getting to know Ms. April!

Ms. April has been in Morning Star family for almost one year but it feels like much longer! As our Toddler and Preschool Coordinator, Ms. April has the unique opportunity to be in touch with most of our parents on a weekly basis via emails, while working behind the scenes to assist our teachers with lesson planning.

As the Toddler and Preschool Coordinator Ms. April uses the Nebraska Early Learning Guidelines along with her knowledge of each teacher’s personality to design all Green Star, Purple Star, Red Star and Orange Star lesson plans. Each week, Ms. April meets with our lead teachers to plan and each day, she sets up all of our Green, Purple, Red and Orange Star classrooms with the children’s daily materials. She really is our teachers’ go-to person for every day needs and requests and our teachers who have nothing but great things to say about her addition to the Morning Star Family.

Ms. April is the fourth generation within her family to grow up in Bellevue, Nebraska. She is one of two children raised by a single mother and she’s still very close to her family. Growing up she loved taking family road trips and her favorite place to visit was the Black Hills. As a little girl, April dreamed of someday becoming President. Now, she can’t stand politics.

After high school, Ms. April received her Associate’s Degree in early childhood education from Metro and then attended Bellevue University. There, she earned her Bachelor’s in Early Childhood Program Management as well as a Bachelor’s in Behavioral Science. When asked why she chooses to teach, April says, “I love the moment when children finally get a concept. That light bulb moment.” That’s one of our favorites, too.

We’re so lucky to have Ms. April, not only because of the education and experience she brings but the love she brings to work. When asked what she loves about Morning star, she credits the children — as most of our teachers do. “The bright smiles from the kids.” And even though she hasn’t been with us long, she does have a favorite memory. “Experiencing my first preschool graduation. It was a proud moment.”

Ms. April says being at Morning Star has taught her to be more flexible. “There are lots of different personalities to juggle.” But when asked what she admires most in her students, she says they all have one thing in common. “Their willingness to explore new things.” If she could give our students any advice she’d tell them to have no regrets, to take risks in life. And if she had to pick one motto she lives by, it’d be one day at a time.

In her spare time, you can find April scrapbooking, reading, taking trips to the dog park with her three fur babies or binge watching Netflix. And outside of teaching, if she could do anything now, April would love to open an animal rescue just to play with dogs all day. That’s not a day dream we can argue with!

We’re so lucky to have Ms. April as part of our staff and we can’t wait to watch her grow!

Getting to Know Ms. Kennady

Getting to Know… is part of our new Teacher and Staff Spotlight series. Each week we will shine the spotlight one of our classroom teachers, allowing them to share some of their stories, their interests and their favorites with us. We hope our teacher spotlights will help our Morning Star parents and families further engage with our teachers, as well as give them a more personal idea of who is teaching and caring for their children during their days with us.

This week we are getting to know Ms. Kennady!

Ms. Kennady is new to the Morning Star family and we’re so happy to introduce her this week. She has been working with our Orange Stars for only a few months but has already had such a positive impact.

Kennady grew up in Valley, Nebraska as one of four children. Her parents were both teachers but as a young child Kennady dreamed of being a veterinarian…and a cat. Her favorite memories of growing up in Valley were playing outside until the street lights came on and teaching herself to ride her bike. Kennady graduated high school from Papillion La Vista and has since attended the University of Nebraska – Omaha as well as University of Nebraska – Lincoln in pursuance of a BA in Art Education. She starts classes at Metro this month!

Ms. Kennady has been a great addition to our staff. She loves being able to work with the same students every day, seeing their creativity and intelligence flourish. And even though she’s only been here a few months, the students are already wearing on her. “One time, when I had just started, a friend said, ‘Miss Kennady, I believe in you.’ And that really solidified my confidence that I was in the right field.”

Working at Morning Star has taught Kennady to humble herself and to take moments here and there to listen. And even though she’s the teacher, she notes the students are teaching her lessons in patience. They have also pushed her to realize that something can be learned from every walk of life.

We’re so happy Ms. Kennady chose to teach but we really have her parents to thank. “I choose to teach because I love to learn and the most influential people in my life have been teachers, so I would love to have the same impact.” If she could give the students any piece of advice, she would tell them to never stop learning or bettering themselves. “The greatest gift we are given is the availability of infinite knowledge.”

Outside of work, Kennady loves to paint (mainly acrylic) as well create art in other mediums. When she’s not busy with art, you can find her hiking and bike riding. She lives by words of wisdom from John Lennon, “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.”

We’re so happy to have Ms. Kennady as part of the Morning Star family and can’t wait to watch her grow!

Getting to Know Ms. Taylor

Getting to Know… is part of our new Teacher and Staff Spotlight series. Each week we will shine the spotlight one of our classroom teachers, allowing them to share some of their stories, their interests and their favorites with us. We hope our teacher spotlights will help our Morning Star parents and families further engage with our teachers, as well as give them a more personal idea of who is teaching and caring for their children during their days with us.

This week we are getting to know Ms. Taylor!

Ms. Taylor has been a friendly face in our hallways for the past four years. This school year, Taylor is excited to be leading the Red Star Adventurers!

Taylor is an Omaha native. She earned her high school diploma at Millard West and her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Peru State College and we’re so happy she found her way into our classrooms. As an only child, Ms. Taylor spent her childhood wanting to be a veterinarian, spending her summers with her family at Lake of the Ozarks and playing card games at family gatherings (her favorite childhood memory). Growing up has really taught her how big of a role family plays and she’s so grateful to have had hers. And we’re so grateful she joined ours.

There are a lot of reasons to love Morning Star but when we asked what she loves about working here, Ms. Taylor said the kids and the activities make it fun. “I love that there are a lot of activities from waterplay, VBS, art and others that are brought in – like magicians. Waterplay is my favorite, when all of the kids and the teachers get wet and play together.” In teaching, we often learn our fair share of lessons as well. “I’ve learned children will be children by being silly, wanting to be praised at what they make but also wanting to be loved by hugs.” The kids have also taught her to be more carefree and patient — a lesson they’re very good at teaching.

Going beyond just Morning Star, we also asked Taylor why she chose to teach: “I want to help children grow and learn. Seeing the smiles on their faces when learning something new is great.” And if she could give the students one piece of advice to live by, she’d keep it simple: “Sharing is caring. It’s always nice to share.” But she’s not sure they’re the ones who need the advice, they have so many qualities to admire. “No matter what, they always get back up again.”

In her free time outside of Morning Star you can find Ms. Taylor traveling. She recently went to Italy and has trips to the Bahamas and Costa Rica on the docket. She also has plans to attend UNO for school psychology. When she’s staying local, she enjoys a fun card game, hanging out with her friends, catching up on her television shows and going shopping.

We’re so lucky to have Ms. Taylor as part of the Morning Star family and can’t wait to watch her grow!

Getting to Know Ms. Alex

Getting to Know… is part of our Teacher and Staff Spotlight series. Each week we will shine the spotlight one of our classroom teachers, allowing them to share some of their stories, their interests and their favorites with us. We hope our teacher spotlights will help our Morning Star parents and families further engage with our teachers, as well as give them a more personal idea of who is teaching and caring for their children during their days with us.

This week we are getting to know Mrs. Alex!

If you have a little in the Green Star room, this week’s teacher in the spotlight is a familiar, always-smiling face. Ms. Alex, previously one of our fabulous teachers in the Green Star caterpillars room, is now joining the Red Star room with Ms. Courtney. 

Ms. Alex is an Omaha native and like many people we know, her favorite childhood memory is baking with her Grandma, who also raised her to be the woman she is today. As a small child, Alex recalls wanting to be a teacher, a nurse and Scar from The Lion King. Boy are we happy teaching won out!

Alex will receive her Child Development Association license this year and then plans to finish up her associate’s degree. When asked why she chose to teach, she says, “Early childhood is very important to me. This is the foundation of every kid’s learning.” We couldn’t agree more. We’re so lucky to have her as part of the Morning Star family.

Ms. Alex’s favorite Morning Star memory was playing Star Wars with the Caterpillars and having epic play battles with the kids. If she could give her students any piece of advice to live by she would tell them “mistakes happen – it’s what you learn from them”. We’d like to think that’s a byproduct of a lesson Ms. Alex says she learned here at Morning Star, “to go with the flow”.

When she’s not studying or working, you can find Alex watching anime and kdramas, sewing or exploring cool places to eat. And at all times, she’s living by one motto: You don’t always get what you want but if you try sometimes, you get what you need. We didn’t ask if she’s a Rolling Stones fan but something tells us she might be.

We’re so happy to have Alex as part of our Morning Star family and can’t wait to watch her grow!

Getting to Know Mr. Troy

Getting to Know… is part of our Teacher and Staff Spotlight series. Each week we will shine the spotlight one of our classroom teachers, allowing them to share some of their stories, their interests and their favorites with us. We hope our teacher spotlights will help our Morning Star parents and families further engage with our teachers, as well as give them a more personal idea of who is teaching and caring for their children during their days with us.

This week we are getting to know Mr. Troy!

As one of two of Morning Star’s male teachers, Mr. Troy is hard to miss! While he’s only been at Morning Star for seven months, he is already making a big difference! You can find him currently leading the Orange Star Zebras with Ms. Stephanie and this fall, he’ll be taking over Fine Arts!

Hailing from Seattle, Washington, Mr. Troy is the youngest of three children. His favorite childhood memory is going out and riding dirt bikes with his dad and his friends. And like most kids, growing up he wanted to be everything from a fireman, to an artist, to a professional skateboarder. You name it, he probably wanted to do it!

After earning his bachelor’s degree in visual art from Seattle University, he found himself in Omaha — and luckily, right here at Morning Star choosing to teach because it gives him and his work purpose, to give everything he has to let children know they are loved.  When asked specifically why he loves Morning Star, he elaborates “It’s having the opportunity to have a positive impact on children’s live and to be able to show them love and compassion.”

His favorite Morning Star memory was the class of 2018’s Orange Star graduation. “Orange Star graduation had an awesome impact on me. I saw the progress and maturing … made me proud to be a part of it.” Pride isn’t the only thing he’s gained here, he also admits he’s learned a few things. He’s learned to lead by example, that all it takes to earn respect is to give it and even if he’s simply showing compassion and recognizing each child’s uniqueness, he’s already making a positive impact.

Faith has played a big role in Mr. Troy’s life and the motto he lives by reflects that: “I have been saved by God’s grace, not to live for myself but for others.” And when asked what he could be if he could be ANYTHING, Mr. Troy says, “Many things. Not limited to a pastor, missionary and youth pastor.” In his free time you can find Troy serving at church, reading or watching movies.

We’re so happy to have Troy as part of our Morning Star family and can’t wait to watch him grow!

Getting to Know Ms. Teresa

Getting to Know… is part of our Teacher and Staff Spotlight series. Each week we will shine the spotlight one of our classroom teachers, allowing them to share some of their stories, their interests and their favorites with us. We hope our teacher spotlights will help our Morning Star parents and families further engage with our teachers, as well as give them a more personal idea of who is teaching and caring for their children during their days with us.

This week we are getting to know Ms. Teresa! 

Ms. Teresa has been part of our Morning Star family for four and a half years, but it seems like much longer than that, doesn’t it?! Through her role as a floater assistant teacher, and a stint as the Red Star Explorer lead at the beginning of this school year, Ms. Teresa is probably a familiar face to most of our parents and to all of our students.

Growing up in Bellevue with one older sister, Mary, in the family home her parents still live in today, Ms. Teresa has a lot of fond memories but her favorites are her family’s weekly visits to her grandma and grandpas. She recalls fondly how her grandmother would make wonderful meals and then everyone would spend the evening together, playing cards or Farkel. Teresa also has warm memories of the in-home daycare she went to on the next block and she still keeps in touch with the family to this day!

As a small girl, Teresa always dreamed of being a news anchor. She remembers clearly sitting at a table at her babysitter’s house with a pen and paper in hand, pretending to report the news and write in cursive (AKA scribbles). When it came time to choose a career path after graduation in 2008, rather than the news, Teresa decided to obtain her CNA / Med Aide license – only to realize it wasn’t for her. That’s when she decided to teach and crossed paths with Morning Star! When asked why she chose to teach, she says, “I started not knowing how I’d feel. But when you first see a child learn something that YOU taught them, there is no greater feeling. That’s why I’ve been here so long; I love it!”

When asked why she loves Morning Star, Teresa said, “I love the kids! Watching the kids go from White Stars to Red Stars or Green Stars to Kindergarteners is such a heartwarming feeling and I love to be a part of it. It also feels like family!” Choosing one favorite memory from her time with us isn’t as easy. “There are so many! But I love the summer activities. Everyone can let their hair down and play in the mud on Mud Day, get wet during water play and just have a great time!”

Throughout her time here, Ms. Teresa has been taking early childhood courses at Metro here in Omaha, as well as taking advantage of every learning opportunity Morning Star has offered along the way. She says working at Morning Star has taught her it’s possible to make anything fun – whether it be singing a hand-washing song or dancing to lunch or even doing these things at home, anything can be fun. And she adds that she’s also learned and realized she has more patience than she ever thought.

When asked what advice she’d give her students, she says she’d tell them to always have fun and when asked what life motto she herself tries to live by, she had an all too relatable response: “I read a quote once that said, ‘Let me love you a little more, before you’re not little anymore.’ Being a mother and a teacher this really sunk in because grow up so fast, you don’t want to miss a beat.

And like all teachers will tell you, there’s always something they admire in their students. For Teresa, that quality is the love they have for one another. “Watching a child comfort a friend when they’re sad or willingly help someone who needs help or even share something. It’s heartwarming. You know the friendship and the love for each other is so genuine. I admire that in my students because compassion is a great trait to have and learning it early on is so important.”

In her free time, you can find Ms. Teresa spending time with her two boys, Bryce (9) and Tyler (3), practicing fonts with new calligraphy pens or playing board games with her family (their favorite is Monopoly)!

We are so happy Ms. Teresa found her passion and that it’s teaching; we’re so lucky to call her family and can’t wait to watch her grow!