Meet Our Staff

Jill Baker
Director
I have lived in the Seattle area for the past 30 years and been involved in working with children and families since 1975. Outside of work I find joy in hiking, frolicking on the beach, geocaching, and playing with my many grandchildren. I am passionate about the importance of early learning in the lives of young children and feel privileged to be able to engage in this meaningful work each day here at UTCS.
Christine Grigg
Business Manager
Hello University Temple Children’s School Family! My name is Christine Grigg and I look forward to meeting and getting to know all of you. I was born in California but moved to Washington before I was 2, so Washington is definitely my home. I love the Seattle area, with our beautiful landscape and water everywhere you turn. I grew up in Marysville and Lake Stevens and graduated from Snohomish schools. My mom and dad were married 61 years before my dad died a year ago. My mom and sister still live in Lake Stevens. I have 3 nephews; the oldest has 2 girls (age 3 & 4) and the 2nd one just informed me that he’s going to be a dad in February – so they keep our family growing! The most adventurous thing I’ve ever done is spend a year in the Philippines with a friend of mine who has since opened a center to help children with cancer. I have a varied work background with half of my working years spent in some form of childcare, and the other half working in various office positions from file clerk to full-charge bookkeeper. I have an AAS degree in Accounting and I have worked with organizations providing financial planning, engineering, adult family homes, property management, and non-profit organizations. I love bringing order from chaos and solving puzzles – so accounting is a perfect field for me! Children have been in my heart from my earliest memories. I started babysitting at age 9, and I’ve never had a time in my life where children weren’t a love and focus of my time and energy. Between my friend’s kids, helping with Sunday School, my nephews, and the kids I actually got paid to play with – I never run out of kids to love! I worked as a nanny for 15 years and I still have contact with some of my kids who are adults already! (Why do they have to grow up and make us feel old?) I also worked in childcare centers and preschools. At my last position, I worked in the Baby Room of the Intergenerational Learning Center at Providence in West Seattle. I loved my job there, but the physical demands of caring for the kids took its toll on me, and I had to leave. I didn’t want to stop working with children, but I realized that I had to go back to my administrative office experience and find a job that wasn’t as physical. And then I found University Temple Children’s School! It is such a blessing to come on board as the Business Manager – and still see kids every day! It means so much to me to know that kids and families will still be a part of my life on a regular basis.
Kenzie Giusti
Administrator
Hi there! I am a born and raised Pacific Northwesterner with a passion for young children and their good beginnings! If you want to talk about enrollment at UTCS, I'm your girl! I have worked with children of all ages and walks of life over the past five years. I've worked with BRIDGES: a center for children grieving the loss of a parent or sibling, coached youth swim teams and swimming lessons for children with learning challenges and taught in a couple of local preschool programs. I began with UTCS as a toddler teacher in 2013 and have recently transitioned into an administrative role. While I graduated with a BA in Neuropsychology from the University of Puget Sound, I am currently enrolled in courses at UW in the Early Childhood Education & Family Studies. I hope to direct someday and am so thrilled to be learning in this amazing community of families, children and teachers. In my free time I love yoga, travelling, backpacking, crafting and seeing live music with friends. Good beginnings never end!!
Lee LaCroix
Toddler Teacher
I have worked at UTCS for nearly 8 years in the Toddler room, where I am privileged to work with a dedicated and talented group of teachers. Prior to UTCS, I worked at Able Child in the infant and toddler rooms for two years. (I'm fairly new to this field since I spent the last 20 years baking bread and croissants with an organic, collectively managed bakery.) I genuinely love working with toddlers! Witnessing and participating in their development is thrilling and fun. Every day brings new challenges and an opportunity for professional growth and development. When I'm not at UTCS, I'm trying to find time to be with my three amazing children and husband. With them, I cook great food, backpack and camp, play softball, contra dance, garden, and go to occasional baseball games. I also love to read, ride my red bike, and take long walks on the beach with my dog Toby.
Cindy Hepler
Toddler Teacher
Cindy Hepler is an East Coast transplant with over twenty years of experience in child care. She began her career as a nanny in 1995 but soon wanted to get her hands into teaching. Through reading, workshops and trial and error, she has cultivated an ever-evolving style. Cindy worked as a nanny in Reykjavik and New York City. She took a detour to London before settling into her new home of Seattle five years ago. In her free time she paints, does make-up, rides horses, and enjoys shenanigans with friends.
Ezra Grey
Toddler Teacher
Sophia Stephens
Toddler Teacher
Hello everyone, I'm Sophia! I am new to the UTCS family, and look forward to years of shared memories, fun, and learning with my students. I grew up in Wenatchee, Washington, and after graduating from Washington State University in Pullman with my undergraduate in English Literature and Comparative Ethnic Studies, I moved to Seattle and haven't looked back since. The opportunity to be a guiding presence in a child's life is a responsibility that I cherish, and am so excited to share here at UTCS. When I'm not with my beloved students, you can find me cuddling my cat, eating some sushi, or writing furiously in my notebook.
Jordan Chan
Toddler Teacher
Hi! My name is Jordan Chan, a new part-time teacher in the Toddler room! I am currently a Junior studying psychology and education at UW and am very excited to join the world of early childhood education here at UTCS. Outside of the classroom, I enjoy music, puzzles, and trying new things with my roommates (which may or may not end in disaster).
Alissa Scheffler
Shooting Star Teacher
Hello, my name is Alissa. I'm a Seattle native and proud mom to an amazing 9 year old son named Dylan. I graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology. After my son was born, I went back to school to North Seattle Community College and earned the Washington State Certificate in Early Childhood Education. I have been involved in early education since my son started co-op preschool in 2011. I have a love of the arts and music and love reading books to the children. I love spending time with my son as well as going to the movies, sewing, listening to music and thrift store shopping. I'm excited to work here and be the best mom/teacher I can be.
Bethany Stackhouse
Shooting Star Teacher
I earned a BS in Biology at University of Puget Sound. Since then I have spent years working as a research scientist in laboratories around Seattle. Science outreach and education have always been a passion of mine, even while working on research projects. I volunteer at the Seattle Aquarium, and teach camps and weekend programs at the Pacific Science Center. I am excited to bring my curiosity and love of nature to each student. When I am not in the classroom I am taking care of my two cats.
Maddy Terry
Shooting Star Teacher
I am currently finishing up my last year of my undergraduate degree of Early Childhood and Family Studies at the University of Washington. It is my goal to apply to the Masters in Teaching (K-8) program and then become a teacher at an elementary school. I grew up in Long Beach, California and moved to Washington State a few years before graduating high school. I love to draw, paint and create. I absolutely love all animals as well!
Lanie Fitzpatrick
Wombat Teacher
Hello friends and family of UTCS! My name is Lanie Fitzpatrick, and I am overjoyed to be joining the Wombat teaching team. I spent my childhood in Bothell, Washington, until the time came for me to start my college career in Seattle. Currently, I am a senior at the University of Washington, studying Speech and Hearing Sciences, while also focusing on linguistics, education, and psychology. I plan to pursue earning a Master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology to help children overcome communication disorders and further develop their social skills. During my years at the UW, I have been actively involved with volunteering at a preschool through the JumpStart literacy program; serving as a mentor for Federal Way High School seniors, aiding them through the college application process with the Dream Project; and serving the community with my brothers of Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed service fraternity. Being welcomed with open arms to the UTCS community has both been heartwarming and inspiring. I cannot wait to embark on the many learning adventures with the Wombats this year! It is my goal to inspire each student to believe in the value of developing their passion for learning and aspiring to achieve their full potential.
Erin Tang
Wombat Teacher
Hello Everyone, I'm Erin! Originally hailing from California, I graduated from college, tried out the office life, and decided I was much more fulfilled working with kids. We moved up to Seattle in 2012 and I have worked with students ages 2 weeks and above ever since. Outside of school I am a Postpartum Doula, classical violinist, world traveler, and local food enthusiast. I am so excited to be joining you and your families here at UTCS!
Deborah Scherer
Wombat Teacher
I was born in Columbus, Ohio, but, after some moving from place to place in early childhood, was raised primarily in Missoula, MT. I attended Hellgate High School and the University of Montana, where I graduated with a B.A. in English Literature, History, and Philosophy, with minors in Art History and Political Science, as well as some courses in Education. I came to a love of working with children as the oldest of 6 children who had much of the caretaking responsibility for my younger siblings. I also took some time off from college to nanny for a one year old child. Teaching has also been a long held interest for me and, in college, I taught English as a Second Language to Hmong students and my high school alma mater. I have take a circuitous route back to working with children and teaching, with stops along the way in commercial fishing, the restaurant industry, and office and clerical work, but am very happy to have found my true calling here at UTCS.
Melissa Danson
Orca Teacher
Hello, my name is Melissa, and I'm a teacher in the Orca room. I started working at UTCS in 1993 after attending the Early Childhood Education program at NSCC. I have always loved taking care of children. Coming from a large family, there were always lots of children of all different ages around, and still are to this day! In 1992, I got married and joined another large family! We have three children, Cody-18, Kortney-15, and Cory-13. Between our siblings, our children are the youngest of 17 cousins! So with family, school, work and all the children's after-school activities, you could say we have a full schedule. But I wouldn't change a thing. It goes by too fast, so you have to make all the memories you can! When I find some extra time, I enjoy scrapbooking, sewing baby quilts, organizing (it relaxes me, crazy I know!), camping, skiing, snowboarding, riding bikes, going to drive-in movies and spending time with family and friends.
Will Opsahl Lister
Orca Teacher
William Opsahl Lister was born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota. He attended the University of Wisconsin Madison, graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting. After college, Will began working with kids through the art outreach non-profit, Artists Working in Education. It was there that he discovered both the joy of working with children and his natural ability to connect with them. Upon moving to Seattle, he continued working in this field through another non-profit that offers art activities to young children, Seattle ReCreative. After working with children through these two organizations, Will realized he wanted to commit more of his time to this profession. He is extremely excited to begin working and learning with both the children and the staff at UTCS. In his free time, Will likes to read (sci-fi and fantasy!), hike, watch cartoons, play with his cat Milo, and work on his artwork.
Amica Dillon
Orca Teacher
Hi! My name is Amica. I'm originally from Seattle, but moved to Hawaii when I was a preschooler myself. Then, I came to UW for college where I am double majoring in Early Childhood & Family Studies (Teaching & Learning Pathway) and Sociology with an education focus, and minoring in Marine Biology. I worked as a America Reads Tutor at John Stanford Int'l School for a year and a half in the 2nd & 3rd grade classroom with the students in the Japanese program (I also come from a bi-ethnic background of Japanese and Caucasian). Additionally, I'm a babysitter and youth ministry teacher. In Seattle, I have volunteered at Head Start Preschool, Seattle World School, and the Boys & Girls Club. I hope to use skills I've accumulated and enrich my role as a teacher at UTCS. I'm beyond excited to be joining the team!
DeDee Texley
Dragonfly Teacher
Hello all! I guess you could consider me one of the long-timers here at UTCS. My first experience with this wonderful school was in the winter of '92 as a student teacher. It was then that I knew I wanted to teach here full time. Finally, in January '94, I was able to take a full time position. Since that time, I have worked with every age group and have enjoyed each and every stage. Thanks to our wonderful and supportive director, Jill, I am able to explore my interests in family education and support. And as long as I can continue to grow and stay challenged in this field there is no place I'd rather be than Temple!
Shannon Weston
Dragonfly Teacher
I moved to Seattle 10 years ago from Concord, New Hampshire. I graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, with a BA in Studio Art, Puppet Making. I worked with school-agers at summer camps and after school programs teaching them to build puppets, as well as other 3-D art projects. UTCS is a very special place and has become a second family. I work in the Pre-K, Dragonfly classroom. I enjoy watching how fast the children here become more and more capable and self-sufficient everyday. I also enjoy working with the staff and families to create the best school environment possible. In my off-time, I like to go running, and also enjoy singing and dancing.
Jessica Kerslake
Dragonfly Teacher