I attended the University of Connecticut to acquire a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. My intention was to teach high school English. I had danced for 25 years (tap, ballet, jazz and Hawaiian) and taught children in my later years at the studio. Also, in college I became a teacher in a daycare center. I found that I loved the younger age groups.
Upon graduation, I was offered a full time position with the Hartford Region YWCA. I continued to work for the YWCA child care programs, transferring to Waterbury in 1994. I headed the department bringing enrollment from 55 children to 85 children. When the YWCA closed down unexpectedly in 1996, I went on to teach a program for childcare professionals at a business school. I missed working with children and had my own daughter by this time. I decided to look for space to open my own daycare center.
I opened my development center in December, 1997. It is now 19 years later and we are still going strong. We are licensed for 147 children. I have had 3 of my own children go through the programs, and now have my fourth child starting in my toddler program. My staff therefore, mean the world to me as they are taking care of my children as well as everybody else’s. I believe in running childcare programs in which every child can be successful. I want to utilize my degree, my knowledge of children and child development and make a positive difference!
I feel that I have had the best of both worlds; that of being a Mom and being able to see my children throughout the day, as well as a professional career. I have owned and run Once Upon A Time Development Center for 19 years. I am on premises every day to oversee the daily running of the center. I am also very involved in the community. I belong to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, Milford Rotary Club, Milford Chamber of Commerce. I am a Founders Club member of the United Way.
Tanya Szarmach, Assistant Director
Tanya has been at Once Upon A Time since November 2001. She has worked with all age groups from infancy through preschool. She began at the center as an Assistant Teacher in 2001. She was then promoted to a Lead Teacher/Primary Caregiver of the infant room and in the past 6 years has worked as the Assistant Director of the center, overseeing the daily lesson plans of the staff as well as various other responsibilities including the general day to day running of Once Upon A Time and its staff and children. Tanya went to school to pursue her Child Development Associate Credential. She is First Aid and CPR, and Epipen certified as well as trained to administer medications.
Jennifer Thomas, Office Manager
Kayce Adante, Lead Teacher, Pre-Kindergarten
Kayce has been part of Once Upon A Time family since June 2016.
Latoya Smith, Lead Teacher, Preschool
Latoya has been in the childcare field for 17 years. My goal as a teacher is to understand the specific needs and personalities of the children under my care, provide a safe and nurturing environment for children, lay a good foundation for literacy in early learning, encourage the children to achieve their development milestones and to communicate effectively with parents for the enhancement of the child. I started working at Once Upon A Time in 2012 as lead teacher for in the one year old classroom. September of 2014 I became the preschool teacher. Previously, I was employed by Kids At Play as a interim director and a lead teacher for the one year old room in Plantation, Florida. While working I acquired a Child Development Associate. Director Credential and Head Teacher Certificate.
Megan Northup, Lead Teacher, Early Threes
Megan has been at Once Upon A Time for 12 years. She went to school for Early Childhood Education. Megan is First Aid and CPR Certified as well as trained to give medications and Epi pen. She loves to get messy and do fun, hands on, sensory projects. She loves to play in the snow. She has a goofy personality and loves to play. Megan is the teacher that changes her voice while reading a story or makes animal sounds for their parts to the story. Megan also loves to incorporate music throughout the day.
Danaisha Lawrence, Lead Teacher, Twos
Danni has been with Once Upon A Time for three years. She is currently seeking her degree in Early Childhood Education and has her Head Teacher Certificate. Danni is certified n First Aid and CPR and is trained to give medications. She says, ”Being part of such an amazing team has inspired me to become not only a better teacher, but a better parent and person. It is so important to me to be able to ensure parents that when they leave their children in my fellow team members and my care, that it will be a healthy environment to nurture and teach them the necessary tools to help enhance their development. I love being part of the Once Upon A Time Team!”
Jia Lowe, Lead Teacher, Toddler II
Jia has been working at Once Upon A Time for 7 years.
Kathy Dickinson, Lead Teacher, Toddler IA
Kathy has been at Once Upon A Time for 17 years. She has attended several classes in Early Childhood Education as well as workshops in this field. Kathy is First Aid and CPR certified and is trained to administer medications. She has 3 children of her own and 4 grandchildren. “It’s a wonderful experience watching children grow and learn in my classroom. It is also nice to see children I’ve had in the past that are now in high school and they still remember me. This is why I love working with children and how rewarding it has been for me”.
Cherelle Cruz, Lead Teacher, Toddler IB
Cherelle has worked here since December 2014.
Lisa DeSouza, Primary Caregiver, Pre-Toddlers
Sheila Viscount, Primary Caregiver, Pre-Toddlers
Tabitha Krouch, Primary Caregiver, Pre-Toddlers
Bela Duque, Primary Caregiver (Lead Teacher), Infants 1:3
Bela has been working at the center 3 years. Previously, she owned her own home daycare and has a total of 24 years experience in the child care field. “The reason I started in the field of child care is because I love children and always want what’s best for them. I knew any child placed with me would get a loving, caring and safe environment”. She has taken classes and workshops in the field of Early Childhood Education, is First Aid and CPR certified and is certified to give medications.
Joy Damaini, Primary Caregiver (Lead Teacher), Infants 1:4
Joy has been with Once Upon A Time for a year.
Brianna DeLucca, Primary Caregiver (Lead Teacher), Infants 1:4
Brianna has been working at the center for 5 years. She is currently attending Southern Connecticut State University for Early Childhood Education. She has First Aid and CPR. Miss Brianna loves doing projects with the babies and making them smile and laugh. Her love of the children and the center is evident in all that she does. As the owner’s daughter, she really grew up at the center, constantly interacting with children.