PARTICIPATING MENTORS

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Judy Bissen is a licensed teacher who has been working with children and their families for over 28 years. Her experiences include working as a child care center teacher and director, as well as a child development consultant. She is now employed with a Minnesota school district as an early childhood educator in their ECFE program, teaching in both the parent-child classes and in the integrated preschool. As a master trainer through Develop, she works with state initiatives and training projects and writes her own curriculums. Judy’s other experience includes working as an adjunct professor at several colleges teaching child development courses and working as an Eager-to-Learn instructor. Judy feels working with both children and other adults who care for young children offers the best of both worlds.

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Jamie Bonczyk has been in the early childhood field for nearly 20 years. She began working in adult education as an adjunct instructor for Kendall College in Chicago. The classes she taught included an introduction to special education; children’s literature; professionalism and the early childhood educator; and Health, Safety, and Nutrition. When she moved to Minnesota in 2010, she registered as a master trainer with the Minnesota Center for Professional Development. She actively trains in-person and for Eager-to-Learn. In addition to training, Jamie holds a certificate in relationship-based professional development.

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Wendy Carter has been working in the field of Early Childhood for over 25 years as a teacher, program manager, coach, and trainer. She is enthusiastic about supporting and coaching teachers and providers to find strategies that are effective with children and families in the classroom, on home visits, and in child care settings. Wendy facilitates a variety of classes, including face-to-face trainings with Child Care Aware and online trainings through Eager-to-Learn. She also serves as an education manager for Head Start. Her passion is in building relationships with others and helping them to discover their strengths and grow in their practice.

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Fowsiya Dahir is an approved bilingual/bi-cultural trainer and RBPD specialist Health and Safety coach at CICC. She also works at Robbinsdale Area School District as a family and community engagement specialist/early childhood outreach specialist. Fowsiya has a bachelor’s in management from Metropolitan State University and a Master of Business Administration in Finance from Hamline University.

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Dana Ellingson has been in the early childhood field for over 23 years. During that time, she has worked as a family child care provider, child care center teacher, mentor program manager, and coach. Dana is currently pursuing her master’s degree in early childhood education. Her recent focus has been on supporting adults that work with children to build quality in the early childhood education field.

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Clarice Esslinger has been a trainer for over 15 years in the areas of multi-cultural issues, responding to diversity, and starting the conversation about race. She teaches English and job skills to refugees and immigrants and serves on the State Professional Development Committee for Adult Basic Education. Prior to training here in Minnesota, Clarice worked in Nepal for seven years facilitating community development in marginalized villages through strength-based training. She is passionate about encouraging fellow educators and those new to the field.

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Kimberly Giles has been working in the early childhood field for over 25 years and has over 28 years of experience training adults. In addition to her experience as an early childhood trainer, she works with the National Family Child Care Association as an accreditation observer. Kimberly is a professional development specialist for Child Care Aware Minnesota’s West/Central District, assists with the trainer recruitment project through Child Care Aware of Minnesota, and coordinates an emergency preparedness training project with Child Care Aware of Minnesota and Child Care Aware of America. Kimberly also has experience in developing educational materials, writing training curriculum, coordinating early childhood conferences, and life skills coaching. She is a blogger and has authored two children picture books with a nutrition theme.

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Molly Harney is an associate professor of early childhood and early childhood special education at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Her past experiences include being an early childhood education teacher, parent educator, early childhood special education teacher, and child care center director. She currently supports mothers and young children who live with the impacts of trauma and homelessness at the Steve O’Neil Apartments in Duluth by providing parent education and maternal support. She holds a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education with a concentration in parent education, a master’s degree in early childhood special education, and a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction with a concentration in early childhood studies and cognitive development.

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Angela Kapp has been working in the early childhood field since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in early childhood. In 2012, Angela opened her own child care center in St. Paul, which now has two locations. She recently stepped out of the daily operations of the centers to return to NAEYC as an assessor after a 10-year hiatus. Angela continues to train for Child Care Aware when time allows and conducts verification visits as a CDA Specialist.

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Brenda Lowe has been in early childhood for over 19 years and has experience in everything from teaching and directing at early childhood centers to operating her own licensed family child care program. She has also worked as the Director of Family Services where she led a team of family advocates who supported families while their children were preparing for kindergarten. Brenda has been an early childhood trainer for 16 years and has a master’s degree in early childhood from Concordia University. She currently works as an early childhood education consultant and wears many hats including being an RBPD coach through the Center for Inclusive Child Care, a professional development specialist for those trying to get their CDA, and teaching at Rasmussen College.

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Joyce McQuiston has been working in early childhood and family education fields since 1992. She has licenses in early childhood, family, and elementary (K-6) education. Joyce recently graduated from University of Wisconsin Superior with a master’s degree in education, with an emphasis in special education-cross-categorical. She also has obtained a certification as an autism specialist. She is a special education teacher and an autism specialist at Jedlicka Middle School and Proctor High School. Joyce started her own educational care, consultation, and coaching business with hopes to reach children and families on a more individual basis.

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Sara Mulso has been working in the early childhood field for over 20 years. She has a diverse background, which includes teaching toddlers in a Montessori program and being an assistant director of an early childhood center. She left direct care to pursue a master’s degree and began teaching and training on child development. Sarah has seen firsthand how children benefit from high-quality experiences and hopes her trainings help other children have this same opportunity.

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Oy Oliver has been in the field of early childhood education for 25 years. She has taught preschool, high school, college, and was a center manager. Currently, she is a trainer, consultant, and professional development specialist. Oy has her master’s degree in education, with emphasis in early childhood education.

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Raelene Ostberg is a master trainer with MNCPD, parent educator with Early Childhood Family Education, and founder of Thriving Together, LLC, an organization with the goal of bringing critical, life-changing information and proven strategies to those doing the important work of raising our next generation. Raelene obtained her bachelor’s degree in theater and her master’s degree in family education from the University of Minnesota. She has worked for twenty years to develop and deliver educational experiences designed to lower stress and increase success for all to ensure we thrive together – young children and the parents, providers, teachers, and other early childhood professionals who care for them.

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Cynthia Saarela has worked in the early childhood and family education fields for over 25 years. She began as a family child care provider and earned Minnesota teaching licenses in early childhood and parent education. Much of her career has been in school-based programs as both a teacher and program coordinator. Cynthia currently serves on the board of a metro-area child care program and does training and consulting in areas of early childhood education, assessment, and parent education. She has a master’s degree in early childhood education and a bachelor’s degree in child psychology from the University of Minnesota. She recently retired from full-time program administration and is enjoying the opportunity to focus her energy on teaching and training.

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Michelle Scott is from South Central Minnesota. She has been working with children and early childhood professionals for 20 years. Michelle’s work involves being a coach for the early childhood professionals, a mentor, a CDA professional development specialist, and trainer.

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Karen Trewartha-Weiner has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of California and a master’s degree in education from the University of Minnesota. In the past, she has worked as an early education mentor, a Minnesota Reading Corps coach, and a Parent Aware Coach. Karen is currently a Parent Educator for the Rochester Public Schools and a PreK-12 Teaching Specialist for CEED. In addition, she is a master trainer for the Minnesota Center for Professional Development, training early care and education professionals throughout southeastern Minnesota.

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Kim Woehl owns Acorn Training and Consulting - Planting Seeds of Knowledge. She successfully ran a family child care business for 22 years and has experience working in a center Setting. Kim has an early childhood degree, holds a trainer’s credential through ECSATA, and holds a CBTA. She works with MCCPIN as an AFP Consultant and Mentor and is also a NAFCC Observer Specialist. Kim is especially passionate when it comes to challenging behaviors, special needs, and helping programs find success.