God’s Garden Preschool is committed to hiring highly qualified, loving, Christian teachers to care for our children. All staff members are required to have 45 hours of state-mandated child development training, be CPR/First Aid certified and be at least 18 years old. In addition, Lead Teachers must hold an active Child Development Associate (CDA) certificate, have a minimum of 2 years’ experience working with young children and be at least 21 years old.
Christy has been in the Early Childhood Field for 20 years and has worked in a variety of preschool settings. Her experience includes being a preschool teacher, program coordinator and assistant director for a national corporate child care company; teaching Early Childhood Education at a local high school, where she managed the lab preschool in addition to teaching the high school students the basics of Early Childhood; working for Nova Southeastern University as an Early Childhood Training Specialist where she provided training, coaching and technical assistance to preschool directors and teachers seeking to become accredited or improve overall quality of their center; working as an Inclusion Specialist for the Early Childhood Council providing teachers with strategies and implementation plans to help all children in their care be successful. Christy has a Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development from Florida State University, a Florida Director’s Credential, and is a NAC Validator. She has been married to her husband Chris for fifteen years and they have three beautiful children.
Hi, my name is Wendy Skees. I am the "cookie and pizza lady". Oh, and I assist Christy in the office, keep the files, juggle lots of balls and run this website when I can. Prior to coming to God's Garden, I was a kindergarten teacher at Seffner Christian Academy for ten years. I thought I was just going to "take a break" from teaching for a year and then life got in the way. Sure am glad God brought me back into the world of children because that is where I'm happiest and most fulfilled. I am so thankful for God's Garden and the ministry it provides families and young children. My life verse is "Be still and know that I am God,". (New King James Version Psalm 46:10a). To me, it means get quiet, don't fret, and trust God knowing that He's already got this - whatever "this' might be. I attend LifeSpring Community Church in Tampa. I have 2 incredible adult daughters - Cresent and Gaby, a wonderful son-in-law - Mat, and an awesome granddaughter who makes my heart sing - Lilia.
Co-Lead Teacher - Three Bann@godsgardenpreschool.net
My name is Ann Samuel. I am a wife to a wonderful Godly husband, a mother of four beautiful girls, and a grandmother - or as they call me, "Mimi" - of three wonderful exciting, exasperating grandkids.
We attend First Baptist of Dover and have for 11 years. My favorite Bible verse used to be Philippians 4:13 and it is still important to me in my daily walk with God. But as God takes me out of my comfort zone and challenges me this upcoming school year, He has brought to mind and heart a new Bible verse, Luke 1:45 - "Blessed is she who believes that the Lord would fulfill His promise to her!" I am currently working on finishing my AA in Early Childhood Education at Liberty University.
Lead Teacher - VPK Bpatti@godsgardenpreschool.net
My name is Patti Lusk. I teach VPK and have for 23 years. I have my CDA license and have completed the 40 hour training for teaching. My favorite Bible verse is "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths". Proverbs 3:5,6. My family and I attend Bell Shoals Baptist Church. I am married to Ron and we will celebrate 37 years this year. I have 2 adult children, Austin, Amy and son in law Justin, granddaughter Avery and our newest blessing - baby Luke. I love spending time with my family and I love college football (Go Gators!) but mostly all my spare time is spent with my grandchildren!
Assistant Teacher - VPK Bjacqueline@godsgardenpreschool.net
My name is Jacqueline and I am an Assistant in the VPK B and C classes. My favorite Bible verse is Joshua 1:9, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”. I have an Associates's degree in Liberal Arts and I am working on an Associate's degree in Counseling and Human Services. I have three brothers, one sister and three sisters-in-law and two nephews. I love to spend time with my friends and family.
Lead Teacher - VPK Alouise@godsgardenpreschool.net
Hello, my name is Louise Eaton. I am the Lead Teacher in the VPK A classroom. I have worked in the childcare field for over 12 years. I hold an Associates's degree and my CDA. I was born in Middletown New York, but after moving around with my husband of 23 years with the US Army, I now call Valrico my home. We have raised three wonderful children together.
Children are our treasure. To watch them learn and grow is my greatest love. "God created you to do amazing things." Ephesians 2:10. That is what I hope to help my students achieve.
Assistant Teacher - VPK Atori@godsgardenpreschool.net
Hi, my name is Victoria Burtt. I am the Assistant Teacher in the VPK A classroom. I have worked in the childcare field for close to seven years and am currently pursuing my CDA. My favorite Bible verse is Romans 8:28, "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to his purpose." My husband and I attend Bell Shoals Baptist Church and will be celebrating our second anniversary this year. My favorite thing about working in childcare is having the opportunity to help create the foundation for a lifelong love of education and learning.
Lead Teacher - Three Aemilie@godsgardenpreschool.net
My name is Emilie Campbell and I am the Lead Teacher for the Three A class. I have worked in Preschools for five years and here at God's Garden for four years. My husband and I have two beautiful boys that get to come with me every day, two-year-old Maddox and three-month-old Rhett. They are my greatest accomplishments in life. We attend church with my family at Plant CIty's First Baptist Church. I absolutely love getting to work somewhere I get to share my love of Jesus with each one of my students! My favorite Bible verse is "Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity." 1 Timothy 4:12.
Assistant Teacher - Three Bcooper@godsgardenpreschool.net
Hello! My name is Cooper Tharrington and I am the assistant in Three B in the morning and the Twos class in the afternoon. My church home is First Baptist of Plant City. I just graduated from Plant City High School and am currently majoring in Hospitality at HCC. I love Jesus, my two dogs; Ace & Pepper, and Disney World.
Lead Teacher - Two Ashannon@godsgardenpreschool.net
Hi. My name is Shannon McClellan, I am the Lead Teacher for the Two A class. I attend Plant City Church of God. I have been serving the Lord for over 20 years now. I taught Rainbows (Preschool age girls) for 15 years and now teach Stars (3rd-5th grade girls) on Wednesday nights. I have three children who are grown and one granddaughter. I love animals of all kinds, Disney and cartoons. I am a big kid at heart. My favorite Bible verse is Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Assistant Teacher - Two Bmaggie@godsgardenpreschool.net
Hello, my name is Margarita Ortiz. I go by Maggie. I am the Assistant Teacher in the Two A class. I have been in Childcare for about six years now. This will be my second year at God's Garden Preschool. I'm super happy to have joined this team! I'm a member of Vision Church in Riverview. I'm married to my wonderful husband and we have three boys together. I can't wait for a great year alongside your kids. My favorite Bible verse is Philippians 4:13, " I can do all things through [a]Christ who strengthens me."
Lead Teacher - Two Bkatlyn@godsgardenpreschool.net
Hi! My name is Katlyn and I am the Lead Teacher for the Two B class. My favorite Bible verse is Proverbs 31:30 "Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised." I attend Hopewell Baptist Church and have been a member for 10+ years. I graduated from Durant High School and a few years later married my amazing husband and started our family. I have two handsome boys who bring me happiness and pure joy. I absolutely love being a mom! I also love canvas painting and being outdoors. My passion is Early Childhood Education. I think it is very important for children to want to learn and have fun learning. I am so happy to be a part of this wonderful team!
Assistant Teacher - Infants & Two Bcarly@godsgardenpreschool.net
My name is Carly Berry. I am an Assistant Teacher in Two B in the morning, then in the Infant room in the afternoon. My favorite Bible verse is 1 Corinthians 16:14 "Do everything in love." This verse just reminds me to always give my all with everything I do. I go to St. Luke Baptist Church and I graduated from Plant City High School in 2016. I am a mom to a beautiful little girl named Maiyah. We love to go shopping, get ice cream, and go to the beach.
Lead Teacher - Toddlerssandy@godsgardenpreschool.net
Hi, my name is Sandy Lott. I am the Lead Teacher in the Toddler classroom. My wonderful co-teacher is Ms. Grace. I was a teacher of 3, 4, and 5-year-old children in a deaf and hearing classroom for 17 years. I also worked at Lopez Exceptional Center with children with special needs. After I retired from the public school system I knew God would have a plan, so I prayed He would open a door. God is good. The very next day I found out that my home church, First Baptist Dover, was opening God's Garden Preschool and I was asked if I wanted to be a lead teacher and I could pick whichever age I wanted. It just so happened, I was already teaching toddlers in Sunday School, so I chose toddlers. God's timing is perfect. My favorite Bible verse is "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." (Philippians 4:6 New International Version) Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done.
Assistant Teacher - Toddlersgrace@godsgardenpreschool.net
Hi, my name is Grace Kelley. I am the Assistant Teacher for the Toddler class. My favorite Bible verse comes from John 16 verse 33. John 16:33 states “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” This verse reminds me that no matter what this world throws at us, God has already won the victory over this world so I don't have to worry because he has my back! A little personal information about me; my home church is The Crossing Church of Tampa. I serve in the children's ministry and the college and career ministry, I have two older sisters and two older brothers. I also have the privilege of helping my mom take care of my three beautiful nieces and my adorable a-dork-able nephew. I love being their aunt. It is such a blessing watching ching them grow. I have a passion for children. I currently have my Associate's degree in Elementary Education and am working on my bachelor's at Western Governors University. I am beyond blessed to have a job that helps me grow and learn to be a better teacher. I love what I do and I wouldn't change it for the world.
Assistant Teacher - Toddlers
My name is Laurie DaCosta. I have been working with children for over 10 years. I have worked with babies all the way up to afterschool ages. I am currently working in the Toddler room. I graduated with my Master's in Theology at Life Christian University. I currently attend church at Family Worship Center and love it! I have been married for a little over two years and have two beautiful children. My favorite Bible verse is Jeremiah 17:7-8. “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. 8 He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” This scripture reminds me that my trust solely be in the Lord. When I trust in Him, I will bear fruit in every season, regardless of my circumstances. I love Jesus with all my heart and desire to let Him be known wherever I go.
Lead Teacher - Infantsnatalie@godsgardenpreschool.net
Hi! My name is Natalie Owens and I am the Lead Teacher in the infant room. I obtained my Assistant Group Supervisor certificate in 1998. In 2007, I obtained my Child Development Associate Credential. In 2010, I became a nanny to a child with special needs. In the 5 years I was with her, I was very blessed to be involved with Speech, Physical and Occupational therapy. Our family relocated to Florida in 2015. In 2016, we started fostering children in our home. In November 2020, we adopted two foster children, Madeline and Kylie, adding to John, Kirsten, Madison, and I. After being married in 2018, Kirsten and Austin blessed us with a grandchild and we currently have another one on the way. We attend Fishhawk Fellowship Church. My favorite verse from the Bible is Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Assistant Teacher - Infantsfabi@godsgardenpreschool.net
Hello, my name is Fabiola Ortiz. I go by Fabi. I am the Assistant Teacher in the Infant room and have been in childcare for five years now. This is something that I really like to do -teach children and help them reach a goal in life. One of my favorite Bible verses is Matthew 5:16, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." I'm a member of Vision Church in Riverview, I'm the youngest one of the family and a sibling to two sisters. I do have two small dogs. I love to spend time with family and friends.