Who We Are

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 Carbaugh : Director

Christy Carbaugh



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.

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Wendy Skees : Office

Wendy Skees



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.

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Melissa Cruz Mejias : Lead Teacher - VPK A

Melissa Cruz Mejias

Lead Teacher - VPK A


Hi, my name is Melissa Cruz Mejias. I am the Lead Teacher for VPK A. I have my NCDA - National Child Development Accreditation, and FCCPC - Florida Child Care Professional Credential. I also have two years of Microbiology and some Early Education from Polk State College. I am bilingual, married to Sergio and we have two beautiful children; Valeria, 7 years old and Diego, 5 years old. I am a DIY person, I love all things handmade and love working with wood. My favorite Bible verse is Joshua 1.9 "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” I attend Primera Iglesia Bautista in Plant City with my family.

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Patti Lusk : Lead Teacher - VPK A

Patti Lusk

Lead Teacher - VPK A


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 granddaughter Avery!

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Louise Eaton : Lead Teacher - VPK B

Louise Eaton

Lead Teacher - VPK B


Hello, my name is Louise Eaton. I am the Lead Teacher in the VPK B 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.

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Tori Winters : Assistant Teacher - VPK B

Tori Winters

Assistant Teacher - VPK B


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Kiah Jackson : Assistant Teacher - VPK

Kiah Jackson

Assistant Teacher - VPK


Hi! My name is Kiah Jackson. I am 18 years old and the afternoon assistant teacher for the VPK class. I am a senior at Plant City High School. I live with my family - mom, dad, sister, and brother. My family and I attend First Baptist Dover. FBDC has a special place in my heart because my mom and dad got married here and my family and I got baptized here. Growing up in my family, I was always involved in church. Some hobbies of mine are being involved in school by doing Special Needs Cheer and helping out the kids. Also, I Iove Art and going to Wednesday night church. One of my favorite bible verses is "The Lord is on my side; I will not fear." Psalm 118:6

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Michelle Booher : Lead Teacher - Three A

Michelle Booher

Lead Teacher - Three A


My name is Michelle Booher. I am the Lead Teacher for the Three A class. This is my 5th year at God's Garden. I have been working in preschool for about seven years and I absolutely love it! I am currently completing the process of earning my A.S. degree in Early Childhood Education from Hillsborough Community College. To share a little bit about me, I am 24 years old and come from a Christian family. I have an older brother and an identical twin sister. I am a member of Hopewell Baptist Church in Plant City. I clog on a competition clogging team and have for the past 15 years. 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 hand." Sometimes life can get tough but with God as our strength we can get through even life's toughest battles!

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Emilie Campbell : Assistant Teacher - Three A

Emilie Campbell

Assistant Teacher - Three A


My name is Emilie Campbell. I am the Assistant Teacher in the Three A class. I have worked in the Preschool field for two years and am currently working to obtain my AA in General Education. My husband and I have a beautiful boy named Maddox in Ms. Sandy's Toddler class. We currently attend First Baptist Church of Plant City. I am the oldest of three children with a little brother and sister. 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. No matter how young, you always have someone watching, so always be an example in the way you live.

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Alanis Stevens : Assistant Teacher - Three A

Alanis Stevens

Assistant Teacher - Three A


Hi! My name is Alanis Stevens. I am an assistant teacher here at God's Garden and I love working with kids! I regularly attend Grace City Church with my husband, Jacob. I serve in the children's ministry, children's worship and I also serve on the worship team. I LOVE to sing! I have my Associates's degree and I love school! I have two cats, Keanu and Kiwi. I enjoy spending time with friends and family. A verse I hold close to my heart is Lamentations 3:22-23, "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are here every morning; great is your faithfulness." Praise the Lord!

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Ann Samuel : Lead Teacher - Three B

Ann Samuel

Lead Teacher - Three B


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.

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Maggie Ortiz-Ventura : Assistant Teacher - Three B

Maggie Ortiz-Ventura

Assistant Teacher - Three B

Shannon McClellan : Lead Teacher - Two A

Shannon McClellan

Lead Teacher - Two A


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.

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Jacqueline Whatley : Assistant Teacher - Two A

Jacqueline Whatley

Assistant Teacher - Two A


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Karaline Burney : Assistant Teacher - Two B & Toddler

Karaline Burney

Assistant Teacher - Two B & Toddler


Hi, my name is Karaline Burney! I am a 22 yr old that loves Jesus, dogs, making music, and gardening. This is my first year at God's Garden and my fourth year working in preschool. My educational background includes an Associates in Business Administration from HCC. I am a member of Cornerstone Baptist Church where I play guitar and drums on the praise team and lead worship for the youth on Wednesday nights. Some scripture that is special to me is Psalm 139. This Psalm reminds me of how precious we are to God and it leaves me in awe thinking about how He created everything so intricately and thought the world needed one of you and one of me. I'm excited about this school year and I look forward to seeing how God moves at God's Garden!

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Sandy Lott : Lead Teacher - Toddlers

Sandy Lott

Lead Teacher - Toddlers


Hi, my name is Sandy Lott. I co-teach with Ms. Louise in the Toddler classroom. 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 left public school employment I knew God would have a plan, so I prayed He would open a door. The next day I found out that my home church, First Baptist Dover, was opening a preschool and I was asked to be a lead teacher of whatever 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.

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Grace Kelley : Assistant Teacher - Toddlers

Grace Kelley

Assistant Teacher - Toddlers


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 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 baby nephew. I love being their aunt. Taking care of them and watching them grow up is such a blessing. My passion is children! I am working toward my major of Education at Hillsborough Community College and planning to transfer to USF to acquire my Bachelors. It's my dream and calling to be a teacher and I'm so excited that God's Garden is helping me with that dream. I'm so very thankful and excited to work at God's Garden Preschool.

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Natalie Owens : Lead Teacher - Infants

Natalie Owens

Lead Teacher - Infants


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. I went back to school in 2006, and obtained my Child Development Associate Credential in 2007. 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. My husband John, our two daughters – Madison and Kirsten- and I moved to Florida in August 2015. Our dog, Darla, joined the family in October 2015. 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.”

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Fabi Ortiz : Assistant Teacher - Infants

Fabi Ortiz

Assistant Teacher - Infants


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.

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Katlyn Meeks : Assistant Teacher - Infants

Katlyn Meeks

Assistant Teacher - Infants


Hi! My name is Katlyn and I am an assistant teacher for the infants. 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!

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