Meet the Staff
JoAnn Eckley, Director
Jo Ann has eagerly taken on the role of Director of the Early Learning Center (ELC) as of June 2016. As an undergraduate student at Rutgers, she was inspired to become a teacher from her studies and work in the University’s preschool lab. “From my semester at the preschool I just knew early childhood education was the career for me. Seeing a child smile, hearing them laugh, and helping them learn is the best reward!” After attaining her Master’s Degree in Education in 1993 from TCNJ, Jo Ann has been employed over the years as a teacher and administrator of preschool through second grade in Bucks County. In addition, Jo Ann has also functioned as a Title 1 reading teacher, a long-term substitute teacher in first and second grades, and most recently as a curriculum supervisor/camp director/master teacher of preschool and kindergarten.
When she isn’t teaching, Jo Ann enjoys attending her children’s sporting events and musical performances, and reading. “I love books and hope to foster an appreciation for reading in my young students.” Jo Ann is excited to draw upon her varied experiences to best serve the children and families at the ELC.
Michele Sexton, Lead Teacher, Preschool Program
Michele, not withstanding her youthful enthusiasm, has over 20 years’ experience in the field of Early Childhood Education beginning when she assisted in her children’s preschool class, followed by time at the Philadelphia Department of Recreation. Michele’s tenure at the ELC began in 2001 with her student teaching practicum in pursuit of an AA degree in Early Childhood Education here at Bucks, which was awarded in 2004. Michele has served in various roles at the ELC from Assistant Teacher, to Toddler Co-Teacher, to her current position as Lead Teacher of the Preschool Program. How’s that for versatility!
Michele is the mother of 3; a board member in her son’s school’s PTO, teaches in camp over the summer and, in her spare time, managed to earn her CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant credential) in the fall of 2012.
Michele says “I learn, through working with children every day, that joy is to be had in the simplest experiences; you just have to agree to see it. I am fortunate to call “working” with children “my job.” It’s a comedy, a heart melting story, and a musical concert every day. I get unlimited chances to enjoy childhood Lucky me! Working with children is just the BEST!”
Margaret Nasta, Assistant Teacher, Preschool Program
Peggy started working at the ELC in September, 2003. Prior to this she worked as a kindergarten teacher's assistant at St. Michael's School in Levittown. She is the mom of four and proud grandmother of four delightful grandchildren. She and her husband, Damian, who also works here at Bucks, are very involved in volunteering at their parish church and school. In her free time Peggy enjoys traveling and cake decorating. She makes sure that no ELC birthday goes uncelebrated!
Peggy feels that one of the most rewarding aspects of her job is helping a tearful child having a hard time saying goodbye to mom as they start their day, and, conversely, supporting that same child, who is now having difficulty saying goodbye to the ELC and their friends, at the end of the day. Knowing she has helped make that child feel at home, loved and nurtured gives Peggy a sense of satisfaction as she turns out the lights and heads home for the day.
Haejung Yum, Assistant Teacher, Preschool Program
Haejung started her career at the ELC as a student teacher in January, 2011. In the fall of 2011, following the completion of her Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education here at Bucks, she became a welcome addition to the ELC staff. In addition to her Early Childhood Education degree Haejung, who is a native of Korea, has a BA in French Language and Literature from Seoul Woman’s University. When not working at the ELC, Haejung spends her time teaching Korean at Bucks County Korean School and volunteers in her church and various community organizations.
Haejung is very pleased that her work at the ELC is “a precious mission” enhancing the development of young children as they move through some of the most important stages of life.
Amber Gushue, Assistant Teacher Pre-K Program
Amber has been working at the ELC since 2008 when she began as a Work Study Classroom Aid. Her energy and enthusiasm made her a natural fit with the program and, therefore, she was offered and accepted a position as an Assistant Teacher in 2010, following the completion of her BCCC Associate Degree in Education. In addition to pursuing her CDA (Child Development Associate) credential, Amber has enrolled in additional college courses to expand her knowledge in the field of Early Childhood Education. Amber is an amazing photographer and has used this expertise to enrich the program at the ELC.
Amber first realized that she wanted to teach young children while in High School. Maybe she knew then that being a teacher would give her the opportunity to “witness the enthusiasm children have toward learning and playing.” Knowing she plays a role in fostering that enthusiasm for learning puts a smile on her face, which is how she comes to work each day!