Center for Young Children College of Education Department of Human Development CYC Home Page

Faculty and Staff

  • Administrators
  • Preschool
  • Kindergarten
  • Support Staff
  • Music Program

teacher photoDr. Francine Favretto
Professional Presentations

Dr. Francine Favretto has her PhD in Human Development, and her Master's in Early Childhood Education from the University of Maryland. Her undergraduate degree is in Psychology from Hunter College. She is a member of the Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology at UMD. She serves as the Director for Young Children, a laboratory preschool, in the College of Education. The Center has a triple mission of education of children, training pre-service teachers, and conducting research on how children learn and develop. Dr. Favretto is in charge of policy, procedures, and the overall operation of the Center.

Dr. Favretto has held the position as Director of Early Childhood Undergraduate Teacher Education at the University of Maryland. She has published articles, written chapters in edited books, and has presented at local and national professional conferences. Her research interest is in conflict resolution and the development of appropriate curriculum for young children. Dr. Favretto has taught on the undergraduate and graduate level and mentored University students.

teacher photoAnne Daniel
Assistant Director

Anne Daniel has a B. A. in Elementary Education from the College of William and Mary, and a M. Ed. in Early Childhood Education from the University of Maryland. Extensive coursework beyond the Master's level taken at both the University of Maryland and Shenandoah University in Virginia has focused upon the field of children's literature.

Ms. Daniel began her work at the Center for Young Children in 1976 as the lead teacher in a mixed-age group of preschoolers and continued in that role through 1979. After being home with her own two sons, she returned to the CYC as its kindergarten teacher in 1986. She continued in that capacity until 1992 when she became Assistant Director. Work experience prior to coming to the CYC includes teaching first grade in rural Virginia. She has taught both undergraduate and graduate children's literature courses and workshops at Trinity College in Washington, D.C. and taught the early childhood children's literature course at the University of Maryland for 17 years.

Ms. Daniel served as the early childhood representative to the National Gallery of Art's charter Teacher Advisory Board which consults with the Gallery regarding its education programs and school outreach efforts. She has co-authored early childhood curriculum guides focusing upon career awareness, fire safety and burn prevention, and computer issues. Ms. Daniel, head of student employment at the CYC, has been honored as the University's "Employer of the Year" for her work with student employees. Ms. Daniel was nominated for the University's Parent Organization's "Faculty of the Year" award in 2001. In 2005 she was honored as a Phillip Merrill Presidential Scholar "Mentor Teacher".

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teacher photoLeslie Oppenheimer
Curriculum/Enrollment Coordinator
Professional Presentations

Leslie Oppenheimer has a B. A. degree in Elementary and Special Education from Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island, and a M. Ed. degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina.

Ms. Oppenheimer has over twenty years of teaching experience. She has taught preschool (three and four year olds) and kindergarten in an independent school. In addition, she has held various Special Education positions-- Learning Disabilities Resource Teacher for Charleston County Public Schools, Early Childhood Special Education lead teacher for Easter Seals/Disabilities Board of Charleston County, and Inclusion Specialist for the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. . She has been a member of the Early Childhood Faculty at the College of Education at the University of Maryland where she taught an undergraduate education course from 2001-2006.

Ms. Oppenheimer has been at the Center for Young Children since 1999. She taught in the Green Room for six years and the Purple Room for one year before taking on an administrative role. Currently she shares the enrollment process from initial inquiry to full admission with the Program Management Specialist, Jennifer Haislip. She also shares responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the CYC with the assistant director. Ms. Oppenheimer has presented at local and national (NAEYC) professional conferences on topics in early childhood literacy, math, and curriculum. Most recently Ms. Oppenheimer has served as a conference proposal reviewer for NAEYC and for the Council for Exceptional Children Division of Early Childhood(CEC-DEC).

teacher photoJennifer Haislip
Program Administrative Specialist

Jennifer Haislip has been at the Center for Young Children since 2001.  In her official supporting role, Mrs. Haislip is responsible for assisting Leslie Oppenheimer with the admissions, enrollment and scholarship processes.  She manages the flow of student observers through the Center, often scheduling hundreds of appointments per semester.  She handles the tuition billing process, and fields parent inquiries and special requests of every kind.

Mrs. Haislip is a native of the College Park area, and has held positions in several departments on campus, including Athletics, Chemical Engineering and Family Studies (now Family Science).  She is the mom of two boys, both of whom have attended the Center, and this has solidified her status as a lifelong fan of the CYC and its talented faculty.

    Red Room:
Mixed-Age Preschool, 3-5 year olds


teacher photoMeghan Fletcher

Mrs. Meghan Fletcher graduated with a BS in Early Childhood Education at the University of Maryland. Also, she recently completed her M.Ed. in Early Childhood Special Education at the University of Maryland. Mrs. Fletcher has worked at the CYC in many different roles since 2007. This will be her fifth year teaching in the Red Room. She is looking forward to a new school year!


Teacher PhotoKristen Murray

Kristen Murray graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor’s of Science in Family Studies. Ms. Murray has been working at the CYC since 2005. She started working as an undergraduate aide in the Red, Orange, Blue, and Purple Rooms. Ms. Murray completed her student internship in the Green Room and continued teaching, serving as the permanent substitute, when Mrs. Fowler left on maternity leave.

Ms. Murray has also been a teacher during CYC’s summer camp program since 2006. She is fluent in Spanish as well as American Sign Language.


Orange Room:
Mixed-Age Preschool, 3-5 year olds


Teacher PhotoKelsey Blorstad

Kelsey Blorstad graduated from the University of Maryland College Park in May 2010 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education. She completed her year-long internship in Montgomery County Public Schools and a 4-week internship in the Yellow Room. Ms. Blorstad also worked at the CYC Summer Camp this past summer. She is currently enrolled in graduate school pursuing her masters in English Language Learners (ELL). She is excited for the new school year in the Orange Room.


Teacher PhotoJennifer Cunningham

Jennifer Cunningham graduated from the University of Maryland in May of 2011 with a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology and a minor in Special Education. In May of 2013, Ms. Cunningham completed her Master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education at Vanderbilt University. As an undergraduate, she worked as an aide in the Orange Room (she also was a student in the Orange Room when she was 3!). Ms. Cunningham worked as a paraeducator for the Howard County School System’s summer school program from 2007-2009. She completed her student teaching in Williamson County in Tennessee, and also worked as a research assistant while at Vanderbilt. She is so excited to be returning to the CYC!


Yellow Room:
Mixed-Age Preschool, 3-5 year olds


Teacher PhotoStefanie Penland

Stefanie Penland has been a teacher in the Yellow Room at the CYC since August 2010.  She has worked in the preschool field since 1999.  Stefanie graduated from the College of Charleston with a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and also holds a Master’s degree in Special Education from the University of Maryland.  Stefanie is also an educational trainer for preschool teachers across the state.


Stefanie PenlandKatharine Flanders

Katharine Flanders has been at the CYC since 2011. She graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education.. Katharine has previous experience as a student teacher at the CYC and at Takoma Park Elementary. Katharine is excited to begin her Master's in Special Education this fall at the University of Maryland. She has two children of which one will be in the Orange Room.


Green Room:
Mixed-Age Preschool, 3-5 year olds


Teacher PhotoCici Fowler
Professional Presentations

Cici Fowler has been at the CYC since 2003. She attended the University of Maryland and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. She has student taught in various public schools in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties. Mrs. Fowler has also taught seven years of summer camp at the CYC.She presented at the NAEYC conference in Anaheim California on an in-depth recycling study conducted in the Green Room in 2009 as well as the NAEYC conference in Orlando, Fl on a painting study conducted in 2010. This coming school year will be her eighth year in the Green Room. She has four children one of which will be in the Yellow Room this year. Her other three are all alumni of CYC.


Teacher PhotoSara Person
Professional Presentations

Sara Person began teaching at the Center for Young Children in the Green Room in 2005 following many years in the early childhood classroom at St. Luke Christian Day School in Silver Spring, Maryland.  She has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Art Education from Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, VA.  
Mrs. Person is an experienced art educator who taught Saturday ceramics classes to children at the Art and Learning Center in the Stamp Student Union, and now spends her summers teaching elementary aged children at the Stone Ridge Summer Camp in Bethesda Maryland. The courses she has taught there in the summer include Fine Arts, Painting and Drawing, Screen Printing, Sculpture, and Paper-making.

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Purple Room:
Part-Time, Mixed-Age Preschool, 3-5 year olds


Teacher PhotoMichela Denaro

Michela Denaro has been teaching at the CYC since 2000.  This is her third year working in the Purple Room.  She completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of Maryland. She also obtained a Maryland Child Care Certification in early childhood development.  Mrs. Denaro completed her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Walden University.  Lastly, Mrs. Denaro also serves as the CYC Summer Camp Director.

Vera WiestLorelei Ciardi

Lorelei Ciardi obtained both her undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education and graduate degree in Early Childhood Special Education at the University of Maryland. Ms. Ciardi has worked as a teacher at CYC since 2005. She taught in the Yellow Room for seven years and looks forward to working in the Purple Room.

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Blue Room:


Teacher photoAlison Hurst

Mrs. Alison Hurst graduated from James Madison University in 2007 with a B.S. in Early Childhood Education. She taught for Fairfax County Public Schools for two years teaching kindergarten. Mrs. Hurst has been at the CYC since 2012. Mrs. Hurst is excited to be part of this wonderful school!


Teacher photoAmy Laakso

Amy Laakso graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education from the University of Maryland in 2009.  She completed her student teaching at Takoma Park Elementary School.  Since graduating she has taught English for two years in Seoul, South Korea.  Ms. Laakso started at CYC in 2007 as a student aide in the Orange and Green Rooms.  She has taught at three CYC Summer Camps.  Ms. Laakso looks forward to a great year in the Blue Room!


Teacher PhotoStefanie Kain
Professional Presentations

Stefanie Kain graduated from the University of Maryland College Park in December 2002. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education and has a background in Psychology. She also holds a Master’s of Education in Teacher Leadership from the University of Maryland.  Mrs. Kain has been part of the CYC community since June of 1999. As an undergraduate, she worked as a student intern in many of the classrooms. She has also taught in the Red Room, Orange Room, Purple Room, and Kindergarten.  From the summer of 2003 to the summer 2011, Ms. Kain co-coordinated the Summer Camp Program.

Mrs. Kain began her professional career by presenting at a local primary public school representing the University of Maryland's College of Education. She, along with administrators from the College of Education, presented on the benefits of mentoring student teachers. Mrs. Kain has also presented at several NAEYC conferences all over the country speaking to early childhood educators about implementing best practices in their preschool and Kindergarten classrooms.  Some of these topics have included using photography to encourage young children to reflect on their experiences, fostering learning through hands-on investigations, and helping children make meaningful connections with mathematics.  During the Spring Semester 2010, Mrs. Kain taught undergraduates in the Early Childhood Program here at the University.  Her class focused on literacy development of young children birth through kindergarten and how to support young children’s development in this area.  Mrs. Kain has also worked closely with early childhood educators in the community through workshops at CYC, seminars at the University, and memberships in local educational organizations.  From September 2010 until September 2013 Mrs. Kain was a member of NAEYC’s Consulting Editors Panel.  Consulting Editors provide NAEYC’s publishing team with careful thoughts and analysis into the manuscripts they review, as well as consistent feedback on all NAEYC publications.

Currently she lives in Annapolis Maryland with her husband and 18 month old daughter.


In-house Substitutes


Janice GonzalVera Wiestez

Janice Gonzalez has been a member of the CYC community since 2005. She retired in June 2005 after teaching kindergarten for thirty-two years in the Montgomery County school system.  Twenty-eight of those years were at Takoma Park Elementary where a former student of hers is now teaching.  Her most famous kindergartner was Dominique Dawes, the Olympic gymnast.

Ms. Gonzalez has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Rochester in upstate New York.  She also has a Master's degree in Early Childhood Education from Catholic University in Washington, D.C. Recently Ms. Gonnzalez has served as a University Supervisor for Early Childhood Education majors doing their internships.

Vera WiestVera Wiest

Vera Wiest has been a member of the CYC community since 2001. She graduated from Oklahoma State Tech and UMUC and earned the Child Development Associate credential (CDA). She has a 90-hour certificate in Child Care along with a 45-hour certificate for School Age Care.

Ms. Wiest has worked as a licensed Family Day Care Provider in her home taking care of children ages 3 months to 12 years old. In addition, she taught classes at a nearby co-operative nursery school, at a Mothers Morning Out program and worked at the Before and After Care program at University Park Elementary School. Vera Wiest is the CYC web developer.


Music Teacher

Teacher photoEric Maring

Eric Maring, known as “Mr. M” by the students, is thrilled to have been teaching music at CYC since 2007. He received his M.Ed from the University of Maryland and taught elementary school in Washington, D.C. and Montgomery County for 6 years before becoming a full time music educator and performer. He’s the proud father of a CYC student and a CYC graduate.

Mr. M has created two travel videos to share with the children of the Center for Young Children. Please take the time to enjoy these with your children. Mr. M's Trip to India. Mr. M's Trip to Spain. Visit Mr. M's Web Site.