Our staff family believes in loving children, families, and colleagues as Jesus loved us—providing the soil in which each learner can grow.
Engaging and Encouraging
Emphasizing encouragement and active learning, our team guides children through unique experiences to develop skills for future success.
Smart and Collaborative
Our lead teachers hold at least bachelor's degrees and build creative lessons with powerful, creative teaching moments.
Purposeful and Joyful
Our team intentionally plans interactions with each child, infusing contagious joy and natural wonder into each learning experience.
Mandy GibbonsExecutive Director
Mandy joined the Early Learning Center with over sixteen years of experience as a preschool and Kindergarten teacher at Bridges (also NAEYC accredited) and Covenant Christian School. With a B.S. in Hospitality Management from Purdue University, as well as a master’s degree in Education from Bethel University/IUSB, Mandy is passionate about shaping the development of young children in their early childhood years. Most recently, she worked as a preschool director, employing best practices to create an incredible learning environment that nurtures and supports young children. With a warm and magnetic personality, Mandy has led the Early Learning Center since the fall of 2018. She attends Granger Community Church with her husband Russ and her daughters Kaylah and Kenzie. Mandy and Russ are empty-nesters!
Olivia AlexanderArt Teacher
Olivia graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting from Herron School of Art & Design at IUPUI. She has always had a passion for art and painting and has fallen in love with sharing her passion with a new generation of budding artists. She loves the creativity, wonder, and joyful spirit with which children at the Early Learning Center approach their art.
Stefanie BergerSubstitute Teacher
Stefanie has a degree from IU and is HighScope certified. She has taught preschool for nine years and loves every minute of it. She loves having the opportunity to enrich young minds through play and mindful experiences. She and her husband have been married for 18 years and have two sons.
Mary has been the catering contractor of the ELC since we opened our doors 12 years ago. Mary’s mission is to show people love through creating tasty food—this is evident with every creative meal and snack that she plans and prepares for our students. She cherishes the opportunity to work in a faith-based environment. Mary enjoys spending time with her granddaughters, Makaila and McKinzee, her best, most reliable taste testers for new recipes. When not working at the ELC, Mary creates floral arrangements for weddings and events.
Erin BozhaAssociate Teacher
Erin has worked with children in various capacities throughout her life, including being a foster parent for many years. She is HighScope certified and is working on her associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education. She has two daughters and a son. In her free time, Erin enjoys working out and going to car shows with her son.
Nicole BurkusLead Teacher
With a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Indiana University South Bend, and a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education through Ball State University. Nicole has years of experience with young children, including teaching Kindergarten in South Bend schools. Her passion is creating a rich environment that encourages young children to explore and discover the world around them. In her free time, Nicole enjoys being active outdoors and spending time with friends and family.
Holly CaseMaster Lead Teacher
Holly is the Lead Teacher in our Journey pre-k class. She has experience teaching multiple ages in early childhood programs and public-school Kindergarten. She has also directed a NAEYC-accredited center but found that her passion is directly working with children in the classroom. She received a master’s degree from Ball State University in Elementary Education with a Master Teacher Certificate after being awarded the TEACH scholarship. She is HighScope certified and loves the curriculum and their Conflict Resolution Strategy. Holly is married to the love of her life, Ryan, and together they have two sons, Lucas and Henry, who light up their lives. Holly looks forward to building a relationship with your family as together, we seek to best educate and care for your child!
Kelly CharltonAssociate Teacher
Kelly has been on the ELC staff as an associate teacher since 2021. She is HighScope certified and recently earned a CDA certificate. Kelly is currently in pursuit of a degree in Early Childhood Education. Sharing the love of Jesus is her calling, and working with children is Kelly’s passion. A single mother of two amazing daughters, Kelly enjoys spending her free time with her family.
Katelyn DeJongAssociate Teacher
Katelyn has been an associate teacher at the ELC since 2019. She is currently working on earning a business degree. Katelyn cherishes the relationships she can build with the children in her class and loves watching them learn and grow throughout the year. She has a twin sister, Lauren, an older sister Leanna, and a younger brother, Andrew. Most of Katelyn’s free time is spent at the barn riding and caring for her horses, Bentley, Finn, and Rory. In addition to showing her horses in the summer, she also teaches while providing riding lessons in the community.
Marissa DownerAssociate Teacher
Marissa loves working with children and sharing her love for Jesus with them. She has grown up in a faith-filled household and continues to volunteer at church. Marissa’s spiritual gifts are to love, guide, and teach young children. Marissa graduated from Clay High School and is working toward her associate degree in Early Childhood Education. In her free time, you’ll find Marissa with family and friends.
Casey FikeAssociate Teacher
A member of the Early Learning Center since 2014, Casey will teach in the Explorer pre-k classroom. She graduated from Bethel University with a Bachelor of Arts in Exercise Science. Before her career at the ELC, Casey worked with young children as a nanny. When she’s not working Casey likes spending time with friends, going to the beach, and reading.
Kathy GreveAssistant Director, Intergenerational Experiences
Kathy joined the staff of the ELC in 2021. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education with a minor in Kindergarten from Ball State University. Kathy has 30 years of teaching experience, with most of her time spent with kindergarteners. She loves witnessing the learning process with children. In her new role at the ELC, Kathy is overjoyed to create intergenerational experiences for our students and the residents at Hubbard Hill Living Wisdom Community. Kathy and her husband, Dan, are the proud parents of two children, Meredith and Aaron. In her free time, you’ll find Kathy making memories with family and friends or cooking, gardening, and reading at home.