{OFFERING The Best Childhood Preparation for Social and Academic Success.}


Each year, during National Teacher Appreciation Week, we recognize 4 outstanding Goddard School teachers, out of 8,000, for their excellence in early childhood education. Meet the best-of-our-best.

2015 - Angie Petrillo

Wayne, NJ

Angie Petrillo, a pre-kindergarten teacher at The Goddard School located in Wayne, taught children and parents about the importance of good manners by producing a musical called “Good Manners: A Medieval Quest for Polite Behavior.” She and a team of fellow teachers designed costumes, crafted a set and worked with the children to rehearse. After weeks of preparation and rehearsal, the children, ranging from infants through those six years old, took to the stage to tell the tale of sorcerers, princesses, knights and dragons who discovered the importance of good manners. Angie coordinated a total of four performances, and each one was a huge success. The children and parents had a blast while the teachers enjoyed the collaboration.

2015 - Gerianne Holl

Cranberry Township, PA

Gerianne Holl, a pre-kindergarten teacher at The Goddard School located in Cranberry Township, helped develop her students’ writing and communication skills by integrating the Pen Pal Patriots program into the language arts and social studies curriculums. She encouraged the children and families in her class to communicate with members of the U.S. Navy stationed in Bahrain. The children and their families created cards and care packages to send to their pen pal. Gerianne and the children also use an interactive whiteboard and Skype to chat with their pen pals several times throughout the year. The children collaborate in developing the questions, and then take turns speaking to the pen pals via the interactive whiteboard. Gerianne’s family’s military background and her co-teacher’s experiences with the armed forces inspired her to create the program.

2015 - Ryan Mayes

Goodyear, AZ

Ryan Mayes, a preschool teacher at The Goddard School located in Goodyear, is on the cutting edge of STEAM learning (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics). In addition to providing STEAM learning opportunities with the children, he has created a strong home/school connection by providing valuable resources for parents to continue the learning outside of the classroom. The Education Beyond the Classroom: STEAM Parent Series is split into sessions that address each subject and has been well received by families in the community. Ryan has recorded the sessions and has made them available to those who cannot attend.

2015 - Valerie Schmitzer

Doylestown, PA

Valerie Schmitzer, a kindergarten teacher at The Goddard School located in Doylestown, combined education with giving back to the community. Valerie and the children in her class spent months studying coins and money, construction and design, the chemistry of solids and liquids, art concepts of line and color and literacy topics such as letter sounds and persuasive writing. The children then collaborated to use everything they learned to open a lemonade stand at the School to raise money for Alex’s Lemonade Stand. At the end of each day, the children counted the money they received from sales and graphed their progress toward their monetary goal. Valerie and her students also discussed the importance of raising money to help advance medical research.

2014 – Maureen Moore

Glastonbury, CT

Maureen Moore, preschool teacher at The Goddard School located in Glastonbury, designed and implemented the Fitness, Nutrition and Education program after coordinating her School’s participation in the Sandy Hook Run for the Families in Hartford, CT. The run was such a success that it inspired Maureen, affectionately known as “Ms. Mo” by the children, to create lesson plans that promote outdoor activity for the entire School. To encourage family involvement and connection, Maureen includes fitness activities and nutrition facts in the School’s monthly newsletters. She also established a “Community Garden” that the children help to cultivate. When fall arrives, the children plan to harvest the vegetables to create fun and healthy food options.

2014 – Krystal Ames & Diana Butrim

Third Lake, IL

Krystal Ames and Diana Butrim, kindergarten teachers at The Goddard School located in Third Lake, set out to create A Year-Long Program to Promote Tolerance, Diversity, Teamwork and Technology and decided to partner with the Special Education District of Lake County (SEDOL), a special education co-op that is on the cutting edge of providing outstanding education to those with severe disabilities. Krystal and Diana’s aim was to have the children in their class interact with special needs students via letters and Skype with the goal of fostering tolerance and acceptance of people’s differences. The kindergarteners showed the students at SEDOL how technology is utilized in The Goddard School kindergarten classroom. At their Valentine’s Day dance, the children also created rubber band bracelets and held a fundraiser for SEDOL.

2014 – Tracy Imes

Medina, OH

Tracy Imes, kindergarten teacher at The Goddard School located in Medina, developed the Weather Station program, a hands-on approach to learning about the environment. The weather station is located in the preschool play area and is visible to the children even when they are in the classroom. Utilizing Science Inquiry and Application to observe the natural environment, the children communicate their observations by creating monthly weather logs to track how the weather changes with each season. To investigate how water changes with the weather, previous experiments have included making “rain” in a jar with ice cubes and growing ice crystals.

2014 – Maria Ravelli

Auburn, MA

Maria Ravelli, a preschool teacher at The Goddard School located in Auburn, integral in creating the Spanish Immersion program, a method of teaching a second language by using the second language for classroom instruction. Maria has put her own twist on this method by speaking in Spanish while her co-teacher engages with the class completely in English, resulting in a 50% immersion classroom. Conceived two years ago, the program is designed to teach children not only about the Spanish language but about the culture as well. Music and movement, food, literacy and dramatic play are all vital components to this well-rounded program. The program was so well received that Maria expanded the program to promote family engagement by recording audio files of herself speaking Spanish which are then shared with parents. Maria is The Goddard School located in Auburn, MA’s eighth consecutive Teacher of the Year recipient.


Auburn, MA

In 2013, for the first time, a team of teachers has been recognized for a joint project. Justine Gaumond and Misha Coolbaugh, toddler co-teachers at The Goddard School located in Auburn developed Multicultural Visitors Day to teach the children in their classroom to value, respect and embrace diversity. Family members, special visitors and students from local college groups, including Multicultural Student Organization and Multicultural Peer Educators visit the entire school to share their personal cultures through dance, music, culinary experiences, language, sports and traditional clothing.


Concord Township, OH

Anna Stirrat, pre-kindergarten teacher at The Goddard School located in Concord Township, developed The School Garden, an invitation for play, inquiry, curiosity and community. Stirrat began this project in 2008 by digging a small plot in the school yard to plant sunflowers, one tomato plant and one watermelon plant. Now a year round program, the children prepare the soil, plant the seeds (indoors), transplant to the outdoor garden, nurture and care for the plants and then harvest the crops. The children wash and prepare their crops to be taken home, canned or enjoyed as snack. Some items from the garden were sold to raise funds for military families in the community.


Exton, PA

Dan Berardi created Talk it Out, a program to create the next generation of effective problem solvers. As is common in a preschool setting, young children become accustomed to “tattling” and seeking teacher intervention at the first sign of a disagreement with friends. Berardi introduced two simple, colored popsicle sticks that varied in color: “The Talking Stick” and “The Listening Stick.” The sticks were used to communicate when the children had a disagreement. After modeling and sharing the rules of the program, the children began to utilize the sticks to problem solve with their peers and the “tattling” slowly came to a halt.  This program empowered the children to think independently, communicate and collaborate with their peers.


Wyomissing, PA

Linda Taylor, a preschool teacher at The Goddard School located in Wyomissing, PA implemented the Literacy Awareness program to inspire young children to read as well as parent involvement. Taylor brings stories to life and promotes a love of reading for the children in her classroom. She encourages both parents and co-workers to support this passion for literacy for the children. Taylor reads many books throughout each day to the children, though it is her “Book Themed Days” that really stand out—all activities reflect the theme.

2012 - Beckie Comeau

Auburn, MA

Beckie Comeau developed a Lending Library to help encourage early literacy and accelerate reading at home. Comeau, a pre-kindergarten teacher at The Goddard School located in Auburn, MA, developed the idea after several children asked to borrow books from the school’s “exploration room.” The children were so excited and eager to borrow books and this was a natural progression. After receiving donated books from families and other programs, the Lending Library has become an anticipated weekly event that takes place in six of the school’s nine classrooms. Children are encouraged to choose a book to borrow, they receive a “due date” stamp and then take the book home. Best of all, the Lending Library has helped busy parents and families spend more time together and to share the love of reading.

2012 - Megan Kellie

Oxford, MI

Megan Kellie, a preschool teacher at The Goddard School located in Oxford, MI, implemented a Buddy Program between the preschool and kindergarten classes. Her motivation was to help build the children’s confidence and prevent bullying. The project pairs a kindergarten child with a preschool “buddy” and the two classes come together to participate in various activities with their buddies. The kindergarteners read stories to their buddies, and the two classes have made Valentines and art projects for each other. The older children have an opportunity to be positive role models, and the younger children gain confidence from their older peers’ examples.

2012 - Morgan Cooper

Horsham, PA

Morgan Cooper, a pre-toddler teacher for The Goddard School located in Horsham, PA, developed the Growing a Healthy Future program in her First Steps classroom. The goal of this program was to immerse the children in hands-on gardening activities that build upon developing motor skills, independence and fostering a love of nature. Throughout the year, the children engage in several gardening activities and participate by filling garden beds with soil, planting and watering seeds, observing the plants grow, watching insects enjoy the plants, harvesting their crops and finally “cooking” with them in the healthy eating program. The garden beds are altered each season to grow appropriate plants and healthy food. Mini lessons are prepared each week that include gardening and its connection with nature, health, food, science and family life.

2012 - Robin Coatney

Parker, CO

Robin Coatney created the Daisy the Deer program to further a school/home connection as well as parent involvement. A preschool class teacher at The Goddard School located in Parker, CO, Coatney strongly encourages the involvement of the parents in her classroom as well as others by having Daisy the Deer as an ongoing inclusive outside family project. The project was started to welcome families into the classroom and encourage them to partner with The Goddard School to promote the involvement of academics at home. Children in Coatney’s classroom have the opportunity to participate by taking “Daisy” home for the weekend. When “Daisy” returns, the children share stories about her adventures with their family.