Meet Our Team

Jess Wolfe, Director

As Director of the Child Development Center and mother to four wonderful little ones, Jess’ life is centered around children. Her passion for early childhood education and leadership brought her to the First Baptist CDC family. From managing staff to serving lunch, Jess is involved in all aspects of the CDC. Jess comes to us with a background in vocal and instrumental music education, educational psychology, and early and elementary education.

Michelle Pons, Lead Teacher

Michelle Pons has worked in childcare for about 27  years. She is currently the lead teacher in the Stars Room, teaching 3 and 4 year old children.  An avid lover of all living things, Michelle takes great pride in the classroom pets:  Lightning and Rocky.  Michelle’s extensive background in early childhood education brings top-notch pedagogical practices along with an innate ability to help children socialize.  

Chelsea Wells, Lead Teacher
Chelsea is the assistant teacher in the train room. She has her Bachelor’s of Music Therapy from Drury University. Chelsea joined the staff at CDC for her love of children and her relationship with the FBC family. Chelsea takes great delight in working with the children everyday.  Her music and therapy background have greatly enhanced our program.

Frances Cheatum, Lunch Service and Custodian
Frances started working at the Child Development Center during the 2018-2019 school year. She has had many years of prior experience working in daycares and preschools throughout Columbia. Her previous experiences make her the perfect person to help all the children at lunch and makes the center spotless for them every evening. She says she is so blessed to be able to work with the staff at children at the Child Development Center. 

Claire Hazelton, Classroom Aid
Claire came to CDC at the beginning of her college career as a classroom aid in 2018. She is a pre-nursing major at Mizzou but has loved working with kids since as long as she can remember. She started babysitting in middle school and every time she is home in St. Louis she continues to foster the relationships she has with the families and children she has known for so long. As an aid, Claire helps with organizing and helping children learn and grow. 

Marie Moody, Classroom Aid and Lunch Service
Marie is a loving mother and grandmother of three children and six grandchildren. She is a graduate of the University of Missouri and holds both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree. She brings a special flare to the program, helping children learn interpersonal communication skills as well as enabling them to reach their academic potential. 

Krista Riggs, Assistant Teacher
Krista is a student at the University of Missouri studying child development education. She hopes to make a difference in the lives of children facing illness in hospital settings in her career. Krista was drawn to CDC from the emphasis placed on learning through play here at the center and the inspiring teachers and staff. 

Marilyn Canole, Lead Teacher
Marilyn has been making an impact on children’s lives for over 34 years. She joined the team in 2007 and has been an integral part of the CDC family by teaching the Bear class and preparing them for Kindergarten. When she’s not at CDC, Marilyn enjoys traveling, taking cruises, and spending time with her husband. 

Alissa Shoemaker, Lead Teacher
Alissa joined the CDC team as the lead teacher for the Bee Room in June 2018 and has been loving every minute of it. Alissa first discovered her passion for teaching preschool at a Montessori school in early 2018 but has worked with kids for as long as she can remember. Alissa studied Social Work at University of Missouri and in addition to her passion for teaching, she has a strong interest in working with refugees and learning other cultures and languages. 

Alex Black, Classroom Aid
Alex is from from St. Charles, MO and is currently attending the University of Missouri majoring in health sciences with a minor in human development and family study and hopes to be a physical therapist. Alex has worked at The Little Guppy Daycare in his home town for the past year in addition to babysitting. He enjoys being a part of a fun learning environment for the kids and making a positive difference in their lives. 

Katie Britton-Mehlisch, Classroom Aid
Lee’s Summit native, Katie has always had an interest in working with children, but decided she wanted to become a teacher her senior year of high school. She is a student at Mizzou studying elementary education with a minor in psychology. Her favorite part of teaching is when a child’s face lights up when they finally grasp a concept. In her free time, Katie loves to travel. As an aid, Katie helps all the teachers in whatever they may need throughout the day. 

Kate Hazelton, Marketing Coordinator and Classroom Aid

A St. Louis native, Kate joined the CDC team in 2017 at the start of her junior year at the University of Missouri. Kate is a strategic communication major, but has loved working with children ever since she started babysitting in middle school. As CDC’s marketing coordinator, she does everything involving marketing for the preschool. She also helps around the center at organizing and helping the children learn and grow. 

Hannah May, Classroom Aid
Hannah joined CDC in the fall of 2018 and has loved every minute of it. She has spent her last four summers nannying and continues teaching children’s gymnastics back home in St. Louis. Although Hannah is a strategic communication major with a minor in business and psychology at Mizzou, she will always have a big place in her heart for kids. She loves seeing the CDC’s students’ smiling faces and hearing their funny stories everyday.

Madison Ponciroli, Classroom Aid
Madison came to Columbia from St. Louis and is studying math education at Mizzou. Madison was inspired to go into education from her love of working with children and watching them grow through the years. When not working or going to class, Madison enjoys working out and hanging with family and friends. As an aid, Madison works with the children in the morning, helping with parent drop off and breakfast. 

Collen Ostercamp, Music Teacher
Colleen brings the gift of music to our young learners’ lives every week.  Always a song in her heart, Colleen brings so much joy to the children at the Child Development Center. 

Ed Rollins, Liaison Pastor between First Baptist Church and Child Development Center
Ed’s role as liaison pastor means he gets to work with both the church community and the preschool. Being the Associate Pastor for Music at FBC means he is able to show the kids all the different instruments the church uses, including the handbells which he lets them play during the holiday season. 

Board of Directors

Deb Carr, Executive Chair

     Noah Hartsfield, Vice Chair

      Verna Rhodes, Lifetime Member

    Mary Beth Ming, Lifetime Member

       Patty Cornell, Board Member

       Mike Johnson, Parent Representative

     Stephen Hoell, Finance and Fundraising

    Christine Chang, Secretary

    Lisa Lang, Lifetime Member

    Diana Groshong, Lifetime Member

    Cheryl Brewar, Board Member

     Jason Tratchel, Board Member

    Janna Gates, Parent Representative