Meet Our Staff

Tara Goitein - Owner

Tara has owned her in-home child care business for over 13 years. She has a degree in early childhood education and experience as a pre-school teacher. Her favorite part about working with children is getting to know each child as an individual and helping them have fun while learning. 

"I knew at a very young age teaching children was what I was meant to do. Caring and being able to learn from children every day is the best job in the world!"

 Leah Hanlon - Owner

Leah has owned her in-home child care business for eight years.  She has an MBA and a bachelor's degree in business administration, as well as a degree in early childhood education.  She enjoys helping children learn and guiding them through the various stages of development. 

"Owning a child care has been my dream job. I  have always loved working with children, and getting to make that my career is something I am forever grateful for.  Watching them grow through the years is an unforgettable experience."

Eda Michaud - Director

Eda had been working with children for over 10 years and has a wide range of organizational, program management and teaching experience combined with her strong communication skills.  Eda has two master’s degrees -- in business administration and conflict management -- and is fully credentialed as a teacher from Maryland Child Care Credential Program in both infant/toddler and pre-school age groups. She is also certified as a center director by Maryland's State Department of Education, Division of Early Childhood, Office of Child Care (OCC).

 "The children are our tomorrow's stakeholders, and I truly believe that giving them a positive experience built on love and trust in their early life will make a big difference in their future and the society as a whole!" 

Paige Dickinson - Preschool Teacher (Purple Owls)

Paige was born and raised in Montgomery County, Maryland.  She graduated from Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School and then went on to study early childhood education at Towson University.  She graduated cum laude from Towson in May 2020 and received her B.S. in ECE.  During her undergraduate studies, she completed the first part of her full-time student teaching in a third-grade MCPS classroom, then student-taught kindergarten as well.  She is very knowledgeable about the curriculum used within Montgomery County Public Schools and uses this knowledge to ensure that the preschool children will be ready for kindergarten.  Paige is currently pursuing her master’s degree in early childhood education and is set to graduate in spring 2022.  In her free time, she loves to spend time with family and friends.  She loves coffee and bubble tea, and her favorite food is Thai.

"I love working with children because they are so curious about everything and love to learn.  They constantly make me laugh and smile; I could not imagine a better job for myself."

Renuka Weerawatte - Preschool Teacher (Purple Owls)

Renuka came from Sri Lanka, where she worked as a secretary in a government ministry before coming to the USA with her family in 2015.  She speaks two languages: Sinhala and English.  She is a mother of two beautiful daughters – Kavindi and Minupama.  She has been working in childcare for four years now and has completed her teaching credential from Maryland Childcare Credential Program in both infants/toddlers and pre-school age groups.  She spends time playing music with her family when she is not at work.  They are very passionate about music, and Renuka plays the flute while her daughters play electric guitar and piano.

"I believe children can express themselves through arts, so I enjoy offering multiple activities through crafts and painting. Working with children reminds me of the great memories I have of raising my own two wonderful daughters. It is such a blessing being able to be a part of that.  I am very proud to be a member of the Lily Pads community."

Destiny Tate - Preschool Assistant Teacher (Purple Owls)

Destiny lives in Washington, DC.  She graduated from Cesar Chavez Public Charter School in 2017, and she is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in early childhood education while also working on getting her Maryland credential in childcare, both in infant/toddlers and preschool age groups.  Destiny has always had a passion for working with children, even from a younger age.  She has years of experience working at daycare centers and currently working on her 90 hours Child Care Teacher Training.  She believes that children adapt easily in a social

setting, and when self-esteem and social development are encouraged early in their lives. 

“I love that each child I work with is different and unique in their way.  I enjoyed working with them, and I appreciate that I can be myself when I'm around them." 

Manal Elawad - Infant/Toddler Teacher (Red Caterpillar)

Manal is originally from Sudan in East Africa, and her primary language is Arabic.  She is happily married and has two healthy children.  She has worked with children in Montgomery County for over 10 years and taken many early childhood education courses, including those that earned her certification as Child Development Associate (CDA).  She also has her teaching credential from Maryland Childcare Credential Program in the infant and toddler age group.  She loves to spend time with her family and enjoys reading Arabic books and drinking tea and different herbs.  For her, “water is very important.”  She also follows a strict diet and prefers vegetables to meat.

“I enjoy working with children. I know that being a childcare provider is not an easy job, but it is certainly one of great importance with long-lasting effect.  That is why I work hard to do everything I possibly can to help provide a healthy learning environment that motivates learning and growth.”

Hyunsoo Kim - Infant/Toddler Teacher (Red Caterpillar)

Hyunsoo received her bachelor's degree from Corcoran School of Arts & Design at GW and spent five years of
her career teaching elementary school in Seoul, South Korea, and then as a pre-school teacher in

Fairfax, Virginia.  She holds a 135-hour pre-school and infant & toddler child care teaching certificate card from the Maryland Department of Education's Office of Child Care.  She is happily married, and she has three girls of her own, but she considers all children a blessing that brings a lot of joy and excitement to her day-to-day life. 

"Children are affectionate, loving, and curious, and they are filled with laughter and beauty.  They are like having a younger best friend.  I love getting to help each child discover his or her own strengths and talents, and nurturing these traits through my educational approach."

Rebecca Ramos - Infant/Toddler Teacher (Orange Butterflies)

Rebecca was born and raised in Maryland.  She attended Winston Churchill High School and has for a while provided childcare to families which influenced her to pursue a career early childhood education. She has been working with children for over seven years and is currently enrolled at Montgomery College for early childhood education.  Rebecca is a family-oriented person.  She takes care of her mom, whom she loves so much.

 

“I like working with children because I’m able to guide and help them to be their own selves. I believe that children really grow and learn more through free play so, even at their young age, I offer them choices to support their social and emotional skills.  And I just love it when they give me hugs and kisses!”

Shirley Chao - Infant/Toddler Teacher

Shirley was born and raised in the Philippines and speaks English and Tagalog.  She has a bachelor’s degree in computer science and has completed multiple trainings in child care including child care administration, ADA, and breastfeeding.  She also has her teacher's credential in the infant & toddler age group from Maryland Childcare Credential Program.  Shirley has been working with children for over four years.  She takes pleasure in taking care of them and nurturing them the best way possible.  She is a family-oriented person and supports her family in the Philippines.  She likes to shop, watch movies, and dine out with her husband.  Her favorite foods are Filipino, Indian, and Chinese.

“I am blessed to be in a position where I can assist in the growth and development of children.  I enjoy the challenge of meeting each child's needs and enjoy watching them develop and thrive.  It's very rewarding to share the moment when a child learns something new.  I am proud to be a part of the Lily Pads community."

Bridget Chiagoro-Ojo  - Infant/Toddler Teacher

Bridget is originally from Nigeria and has three beautiful children.  Her native language is Yoruba.  She has been working with adults and children with disabilities for 10 years now.  She has completed her 90-hour training in child growth and curriculum development and continues pursuing training in childcare.  She also has an associate degree in business management from Southern University.  Bridget loves watching cooking shows on her day off, and her favorite food type is seafood.

 

“I enjoyed working with kids since I was a child.  I like that they love you unconditionally.  I enjoy seeing their faces light up when they see me in the morning.”

Andrew Otsuka

Administrative and Logistical Support; Teacher Aide

Sarah Zhang

Infant/Toddler Teacher

Andrew is from New Jersey and has bachelor’s degrees in sociology and Japanese language and literature from the University of Massachusetts - Amherst.  He speaks English and Japanese. He has five years of work experience in youth and other mental health and case management, and also has experience in non-profit administrative support, cultural competence, newspaper translation, accounting (tax), and commercial driving.  He likes to spend time in the gym, jogging, hiking, doing art, and watching hockey.  He likes most anything with ginger and/or cilantro. 

 

“I like working at Lily Pads because not only am I able to see my nephew (a pre-school student here) as he grows, but I get to be my goofy self when I am around the children, all for the purpose of providing them with some of their first lessons about life, at this crucial, very genuine early stage. I take interest in psychology, and working here gives me the opportunity to observe the children, show sensitivity to them, and help them grow in their unique, individual ways.”

Sarah is from China and speaks English, Mandarin, and Cantonese. She has an associate degree in early childhood education from Montgomery College and plans to finish her psychology degree as well.  She has completed the required 90-hour training courses in both the infant & toddler and pre-school age groups.  She has been working with children for about four years and loves being around them.  Sarah likes to travel and play sports.  Her favorite food is pasta. 

“I like being around children because they bring me joy and happiness.”

 

Gabriela Watts

Infant/Toddler and Preschool

Assistant Teacher - Floater

Born and raised in Silver Spring, Gabriela graduated from Northwood High School and worked as a teacher aide at Hope Christian Academy.  She is currently attending Montgomery College, studying early childhood education.  By completing her 90 hours child care -preschool training, and currently working on additional 45 hours in Infant & Toddler Curriculum development, Ms. Gabriela is a qualified assistant teacher here at Lily Pads in the age groups of infant/toddler and pre-school.

“I love teaching because I enjoy seeing the children smile and learn new things!"

Latana Stewart

Infant/Toddler Teacher

Ms. Latana has worked in daycares for 14 years now, and she is state Office of

Childcare-qualified in the infant and toddler age group.  She has two children of her own.

 

"I started working in childcare because I wanted to see children’s points of view – I wanted to see things the way they do, from their level.  I also love to see their developmental milestones being accomplished."

Angelina Sayavong

Teacher Aide; Check-in Staff

Angie was born and raised in Maryland.  She loves to eat spicy food, read books, and go on hikes.  She had the greatest opportunity to teach pre-schoolers for three years in her high school years, and it helped her choose what she wanted to be for the rest of her life.  She enjoys working with children, and just being able to watch them grow into the intelligent people that they are makes her smile.  As of right now, she is currently in school pursuing her dream of becoming a first-grade teacher.

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