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LEDS Leadership Team
+ Adminstration


Christi taught elementary school for seven years, beginning in 2010. Before that, she earned her undergraduate degree at Marietta College in Early Childhood Education. She went on to obtain her master's degree in special education at the University of Mary Washington. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Josh, and two sons, Canyon and Corbin, as well as playing soccer, staying active, reading and being outdoors.  

Christi Gillette
Executive Director,
Operating Director at LEDS South

Prior to joining Little Explorers in 2020, Josh worked for 11 years in the public schools as a first grade and a third grade teacher. He graduated from James Madison University in 2009 with his master's degree in education. He's also our handyman - building all of the natural equipment for the playgrounds, and using his carpentry and renovation skills to support our teachers with all of our innovative classroom dreams! Josh enjoys spending time with his wife, Christi, and his two sons, Canyon and Corbin, as well as walking in the woods, reading and being outdoors.

Josh Gillette
Operating Director
of LEDS North 
Jess Eustace
Director of Enrollment and Community Engagement

Jess is the Director of Enrollment and Community Engagement at Little Explorers. She studied political science at the College of Charleston in South Carolina, where she did an internship at a local nonprofit and fell in love with public service. Jess has since worked in communications, event planning, and engagement for various nonprofits including a homeless shelter, the creation of a giving program for social services in Denver, CO, Habitat for Humanity in Charlottesville, and most recently in the higher education world for the UVA School of Nursing. She is thrilled to be on this journey at LEDS.

In her free time, Jess loves exploring Crozet with her husband, their two children Caroline and Theo (both Little Explorers students!), and their dog Abby. She loves exercise, being outdoors, and spending time with friends and family.

LEDS North
5804 St George Avenue, Crozet, VA 22932


Kathryn is the lead teacher in the Adventurers classroom. Kathryn has a degree in Sociology and Early Childhood Education from Mary Baldwin University. She also earned her Level 1 and Level 2 accreditation in the Program for Infant and Toddler Care in California. She has enjoyed teaching Pre-School and Kindergarten. She has also worked with children in the social work services capacity through foster care programs and many years at ReadyKids in Charlottesville, VA in the Healthy Families and Early Learning Specialist programs. 


Her family is her heart and soul and she lives with her three amazing children Jameson (15) Ava (12) and Silas (6) and her husband Ian here in Crozet. She loves traveling the world and spending time outdoors. 

Kathryn Atkins
Adventurers Lead Teacher

Cortney is the Voyagers Lead Teacher. She graduated from Arizona State with her Bachelor’s in English and discovered a love for education, and went on to get her Master’s in Teaching at Mary Baldwin. Cortney has taught students of all ages from 24 months to 18 years old. Her hobbies include reading, knitting, and spending time with friends and family.

Cortney Ballard
Voyagers Lead Teacher

Ms. Marlyn is so excited to get to work with your child this upcoming year. She was born and raised in the Dominican Republic. She has also lived in New York for 10 years, and moved down to Virginia in September 2016. 


As a child growing up in a family of educators, she knew at a young age that  teaching  was her passion. She has been working in early childhood education for over 10 years and is extremely excited for this upcoming school year.

Marlyn Cruz
Wanderers Lead Teacher
Kelley Lewis
Explorers Lead Teacher

Kelley began teaching preschool while in college.  She finished a BA in English from Kenyon College and her MS in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Bank St. College of Education simultaneously. 

After teaching and leading childcare centers/ preschools and having her own two children, she decided to move up through the grades.  She taught grades one through five in Waldorf Schools in Maine, MA, and VA for a dozen years, and received a Waldorf grade school teaching certificate from Antioch New England Graduate School before returning to Early Childhood Education.

Kelley has worked in Parent Teacher Co-ops and Reggio schools too.  She was so excited to find LEDS, a Reggio Emilia inspired preschool and join the this community.

Outside of school, she is a Maker: fiber arts, food, playful collections and messes! She also loves nature and reading.

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Torry is one of our Trailblazers teachers at LEDS. She earned her undergraduate degree at Bridgewater College in sociology, and her master's degree in Early Childhood Education at JMU. Her background in education includes working as an elementary teacher for Rockingham Public Schools, a summer reading teacher for the Boys and Girls Club, and a lead preschool teacher at Barrett Early Learning Center. In her free time, Torry loves spending time with her family and friends, sketching and painting, and playing outside with her dog, Aloe!

Torry Piper
Trailblazers Lead Teacher

LEDS South
5762 Tabor Street, Crozet, VA 22932


Rita joined the LEDS team in 2019. She has 17+ years of experience in childcare. This year, she joined the Adventurers class as a co-lead teacher. Rita is also the Aftercare Manager. She enjoys spending time with the children, helping with the logistics of the days, and engaging in creative new ways of reaching the needs of the children. Rita is beloved by all her students and coworkers. She is thrilled to be back in the classroom, and we're lucky to have her on our team!

Rita Baron
Adventurers Lead Teacher
Afternoon Logistics Manager

Jen is a lead teacher in the Trailblazers class. She studied English at William and Mary and earned her Masters in Teaching from UVA.  After teaching middle school English for ten years, Jen became fascinated by the psychology and pedagogy of early childhood when her own children were born. She spent time teaching in a two's classroom before the start of the pandemic, when she decided to stay home with her two children, Jay and Annie. Jen lives in Crozet with her family, and they are all so excited to be a part of the LEDS family this year!

Jen Buckett
Trailblazers Lead Teacher
Literacy Coordinator + Story Studio Specials Teacher
Sarah Craven
Trailblazers Lead Teacher

Sarah started working at LEDs in 2020. She has a BS in Elementary Education from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Sarah has always worked with children. Her experience ranges from babysitting as a young girl, to working in the public school system, to working with children who have disabilities. Her time at LEDS began as the Lead Teacher for our K-5 Virtual Class during the pandemic and teaching for our Aftercare Program. Sarah has been in every morning and afternoon classroom at LEDS in some capacity (including the nursery!). She is currently bringing her expertise as the Lead Teacher for the Trailblazers. We're so grateful for her flexibility and confidence with any age group.

Sarah has been married to her husband, Andrew, since 2009 and they have two wonderful children. Garett is a 8th grader at Henely and Clare is in first grade at Crozet Elementary. Their two fur babies are Jeb and Rosie. In her free time she lives to read, crochet, garden, and spend time outdoors.


Rachael is our new lead teacher in the Wanderers class. Prior to coming to Little Explorers, she worked for three years with 0-16 month olds at another preschool in Crozet. At the end of 2022, she decided to take a change of pace with a career that was completely outside of early childhood education. She learned shortly after that, teaching is her calling and applied at Little Explorers. After one summer with LEDs, she has found that this is her HOME. <3 Rachael has completed many hours of training online and is currently working toward her CDA Certification. She looks forward to seeing what the future holds for her at LEDs. 

Rachael recently married her best friend, Ashley. They have an 8-year-old daughter named Tinley! As a family, they enjoy taking long walks on trails in the area. Spending time with her family is her happy place. 

Rachael Dunbar
Wanderers Lead Teacher
Ixchel Inks
Wanderers Lead Teacher

Ixchel started her career in early childhood in her early teens babysitting and then later working in daycare as a toddler teacher and as a nanny throughout college. She graduated with a
degree in psychology with a concentration in early childhood education and found her passion in directing infant/toddler programs. Ixchel has been directing centers (including her own) for over 25 years. In 2017, she left her home state of New Jersey to move to Virginia and accepted a position directing at UVA Child Development Center and ran the infant/toddler center for 4 ½
years. After leaving UVA CDC, Ixchel began nannying again and realized how much she missed spending her days interacting with groups of tiny humans, and she came across LEDS. She is
so excited to have joined the LEDS team and to spend her days with toddlers again!

Ixchel is married and lives in Waynesboro. She is mom to a 25-year-old who she adopted as an infant through the New Jersey foster care system and who is currently a senior at Rutgers University. She has started the process to become a foster parent again here in Virginia and hopes to open her home to little ones again in the not too distant future. In her free time, Ixchel enjoys
antiquing, vintage markets, and exploring this beautiful state, especially the mountains.


Brianne grew up near Roanoke, VA. She earned her Bachelor's degree in Psychology and Master's degree in Elementary Education from UVA. She also played her clarinet in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade with the Cavalier Marching Band! She taught first grade and kindergarten for 6 years before joining LEDS. Brianne loves living in Crozet with her husband and cat. In her free time, Brianne enjoys playing the piano, traveling, baking, reading, and playing board games.

Brianne Rice
Discovery Days Lead Teacher

Kate is our Explorers teacher at LEDS South. This is her second year teaching at Little Explorer’s Discovery School. Kate has 10 years teaching experience, and absolutely adores being an educator. She loves art and science, and encouraging children to use their imaginations and explore new ideas and concepts. Kate is beyond thrilled to work at LEDS!

Kate Staley
Explorers Lead Teacher

Rekah is the lead teacher in our Adventurers class. She is in her second year at PVCC and is working towards her Early Childhood Education Certificate. She is looking forward to pursuing a career involving children. Rekha loves to read, swim, and be outdoors.

Rekha Wright
Adventurers Lead Teacher

Support Staff

Kelsey Fatsi
Art Therapist
Open Studio Teacher

Kelsey is our resident Art Therapist and leads our Open Studio specials. She holds a Masters in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology with a concentration in Art Therapy from Naropa University. Kelsey has worked with children and adolescents for most of her life as a preschool teacher, art teacher, art therapist, and mother. She is passionate about weaving mental health support into a school-based setting, and is so excited to be on this journey at LEDS. In her free time, Kelsey enjoys creating with any and all art materials, baking the perfect chocolate chip cookie, and working to bring as much color as she can into her purple house that she shares with her handyman/techie husband, her three feisty girls, and her two cats, one dog, and a flock of chickens.


For a more in depth look into the aspects of art therapy that she's bringing to our school, check out our "About Us" tab and look for "Specials Team."


Ellen is our Music and Movement Specials teacher, as well as an integral part of the team at LEDS North as floating support and floor manager. Ellen graduated from Texas Christian University with a degree in Kinesiology. She loves to use her knowledge of movement science to help children explore their emotions and personalities through movement. Ellen lives in Crozet with her husband and two daughters.

Ellen Graham
Music & Movement Speicals Teacher
Floating Support Teacher at LEDS North
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Teresa was born and raised in Nelson County, VA. Along with raising her four children, she worked as an administrator in the medical field for many years. She also cared for her grandchildren for several years during their infant and early toddler years. Teresa spends most of her time at LEDS with the Adventurers and Wanderers classes, and loves singing, dancing, playing, and laughing with the kiddos. 

In her free time, Teresa enjoys caring for her backyard flower garden, listening to music (especially anything Motown), going to the beach whenever she can, and spending time with her grandchildren. She loves being a part of the LEDS family!

Teresa Harris
Floating Support Teacher,
LEDS South
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Jennifer has been with Little Explorers since December 2019. She was the lead teacher for our 2-3 year olds for two years. Jennifer previously led our Let's Explore Together class for children ages 0-24 months and was substitute at LEDS. Jennifer spent eight years as a nanny before earning an undergraduate and master's degree in Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management. She was in charge of the programming at Little Planets Playroom and leads Hike it Baby Charlottesville. In her free time she enjoys reading, hiking, and cooking with her husband and two kids.

Jennifer Iyengar
Outdoor Specials Teacher

Bunny grew up in Crozet, graduating from WAHS, then moved away for 16 years. She has been back in her hometown now for 16 years. She has 7 children, from ages 27 down to 13, and 3 grandchildren. She loves babies and children, she became a doula, too!

She spends most of her free time with her husband doing fun things with the children. She also shares her home with a 29-year-old African Grey, a cat, a bulldog, and some house rabbits. She spends as much time as she can outside in her yard planting and caring for vegetables and herbs. Her family is passionate about playing pickleball, and play several times a week! Bunny is enjoying getting to know the LEDS children and getting back down on the ground and in the dirt with every kiddo here! 


Bunny Patterson
Floating Support Teacher,
LEDS South
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