Meet Our Staff
Red Room Assistant Teacher and Art Teacher
Hello! My name is Brittany Wright. Born in Fairfax, Virginia but later moved to Emporia, Virginia were I was raised the majority of my life. Since the age of 15 I have worked with many Early Childhood programs including 4-H, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and church programs. I am a graduate of Norfolk State University where I majored in Fine Arts. After college, I began working towards my teaching license. During that time I worked here at LeafSpring which was then called Rainbow Station. After receiving my certification I left to pursue my teaching career at Greensville County High School where I taught Art, Yearbook and advised many after-school programs and school clubs. During my time there I realized Early Childhood is where my heart is, luckily the stars aligned and I am now back here at LeafSpring. I’m so excited to work with you littles and you.(757)426.6490Email
Purple Room Assistant Teacher - Younger Four's
My name is Kelley Dablow, I’m 25 and so excited to be joining the LeafSpring School family! I moved to Virginia when I was 18 years old from Arizona and I fell in love with how beautiful the state is. I’m an avid hiker and you will more than likely find me hiking Shenandoah Valley on the weekends. I live here with my boyfriend Michael and our two very spoiled cats, Calvin and Theo. My background is in nursing. I briefly went to ODU for the pre-nursing program and I’ve been a CNA since high school. My experience has been mostly with the elderly but I’ve always wanted to work with children. I’m very excited to start this new chapter with all of you and help assist our wonderful lead teachers!(757)426.6490Email
Infant Room Assistant Teacher
I’m looking into studying Early Childhood Development at TCC. I love kids! I’ve been around kids as long as I can remember. In my free time, I love going to the beach and being out in the sun during the summer. I love the color pink and chocolate
I am inspired by my daughter, Viviana!(757) 426.6460Email
Yellow Room Lead Teacher - Older Two's
Hello! My name is Brittany Neal. I was born and raised in Hampton, VA. I earned my bachelor’s degree in Human Services Counseling: Psychology from Liberty University. While at Liberty, I was on the cheerleading team for four years. After college, I taught first grade for four years in Newport News, VA. I have experience with coaching. I’ve coached gymnastics for four years. I enjoy working with children of all ages. I love to see them grow and learn. In my free time, I love reading, shopping, and hanging out with family. I am excited to be a part of the LeafSpring family.757.426.6490Email
Hi! My name is Alison Nichols. I have been with LeafSpring School for almost 2 years now. I started in the village as a recreational counselor and I’m so happy to now be the administrative assistant for the school. Before LeafSpring, I had many different teaching/childcare jobs. Between being a long-term substitute to being a prek4 lead teacher, I have enjoyed working with and teaching children of all ages for years.
A little bit about me, I was born and raised in the Richmond area and came to Virginia Beach after my husband and I got married. We have a dog, Betty, and our cat, Voodoo, that we love to spend time with and take care of. In my spare time I enjoy cooking, playing my guitar, and playing PC games with my husband.
I am inspired by understanding and building relationships and bonds with people757.426.6490Email
Infant Room Assistant Teacher
Hola! My name is Natarsha and I have had the privilege of being a part of LeafSpring School
since March of 2020. I’ve been working with children my whole life; I was basically born into it! I
really enjoy kids and it fills my heart with joy to watch them grow. I’m also excited to be a part of
this wonderful team of teachers at LeafSpring School .
Gold Room Lead Teacher - Older Four's
Hi, I’m Kim Powers. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Millersville University. I have spent the last three years teaching Kindergarten and before that, I enjoyed working with preschoolers. I believe very strongly in living life “scientifically” meaning that every opportunity is a learning experience, a chance to ask questions, and of course, to look at challenges as a chance to improve and grow. I bring my personal philosophy of living scientifically to teaching by aiding students in finding their passion and exploring the world around them. Nothing is more satisfying than watching a child explore their passions through discovery, challenging themselves, and with some hard work and determination; achieve their goal! A smile on the face of a young scientist as they reach the “AH HA!” moment is the root of learning and the joy of any teacher. My dream is to help each child find their passion. Outside of work, I am an avid reader, an enthusiastic, if not over-ambitious gardener, an artist and amazingly, a mother. I enjoy spending time watching movies with my family, curling up with my cats to read a good book, and being outside in nature.(757) 426.6490Email
Gold Room Assistant Teacher - Older Four's
Hi! My name is NaBria. I am a graduate of Tidewater Community College. I am more of a reserved person. I enjoy drawing in my free time and I love games. I currently do not have children, but I do want some one day. My two dogs at home are my babies since they act like real babies. I think the thing that inspires me the most is my family. Being the older sibling out of the babies born, I am held to the utmost responsibility. I have to be a role model for them. I have people that look up to me at home and I want to be that person for your children. I want them to be able to come to me when they have a problem or be able to smile and tell me about their day. I cannot wait to be a part of your child’s life.(757) 426.6490Email
Hello, my name is Tiffani, I was born and raised here in Virginia. I graduated from Kempsville High School where I attended the Virginia Teachers for Tomorrow class during my junior and senior year. I also interned for an early childhood special education classroom at Kempsville Elementary School for my senior year of high school. I am a single mother with a two-year-old son who is a big ball of energy and keeps me on my toes all of the time. It is very rewarding to work with younger children, getting to watch them grow, and hit the important milestones in their lives.(757) 426.6460Email
Hi, my name is Shannon Kelley, you can call me S.K . I moved to Virginia Beach from Dover, Delaware 4 years ago, but I’m originally from New Jersey. I have 5 children and an amazing husband. I have a certification in early childhood education. I have over 10 years of experience working with children and I believe children are the future. It will be my pleasure to help assist with your children’s educational growth and development. I have an energetic outgoing uplifting bubbly personality. To know me is to love me. I guarantee a great time. I’m hoping to form great bonds with your children as well as with the LeafSpring Staff.(757) 426.6491Email
Yellow Room Assistant Teacher - Older Two's
Hello, my name is Janara Ferguson. In August 2019 my daughter Jaedyn and I made a life-changing decision to move to Virginia Beach from our hometown of Farmerville, Louisiana. Working in the public schools as an assistant teacher for over 15 years has given me the opportunity to work with children of all ages. I am elated to be part of the LeafSpring family. I am looking forward to building lasting friendships and simply having fun on the job with the children. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, watching my favorite t.v. shows, writing poetry and reading.
I am inspired by my family and me being the change I wish to see in the world by being a good leader and role model for children. “A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination and instill a love of learning.”
Yellow Room Assistant Teacher - Older Two's
Hello! My name is Jyana Bush. I became part of LeafSpring school in June, 2021. LeafSpring is a huge opportunity, a place of experience and growth for me. I am incredibly grateful to be able to have a job doing what I love. To be able to nurture, teach, and play with kids all day. As I work here I will be attending TCC, working towards a bachelors degree in pediatric nursing.
Some fun facts about me, I have lived in Virginia all my life but moved all around Hampton Roads. I just moved back to Virginia Beach In January 2021. I love spending time with family, making wholesome moments, and always down for anything. I have 11 siblings, including step, and I’m the middle child but have always been the one to look after everyone else.
My family and friends would describe me as a bubbly, awkward, friendly person. Although I’m awkward I’ve always been the one to make others feel more welcomed and let them know they have a friend. I’m excited to learn about and meet everyone who is a part or will become a part of the LeafSpring family!
I am inspired by seeing other people’s acts of kindness and Ikea furniture store!(757)426.6490Email
Private Kindergarten Teacher
My name is Deanne Waller. I have been teaching for thirty years for Virginia Beach City Public
Schools. I have taught second grade, third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade. I have an
Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education, a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education,
and a Masters Degree in Education.
I have been married for 29 years and have two daughters. My daughter, Kayla is a senior at
VA Tech. She will be graduating this year. My youngest daughter is a junior at McDaniel
College in Maryland. She has played travel softball since she was eight years old. She has
continued to play softball at the collegiate level. She is a pitcher on her team.
I love to read and swim. I also love to watch baseball and softball. I am so excited to be a
kindergarten teacher at LeafSpring this year. I have always wanted to teach kindergarten and
my dream has come true!
I love to teach and believe all children need to feel safe and happy. My goal for this year is to
have every child in my class feel safe, confident, respected, and excited to come to school
every day. I am looking forward to meeting all of the wonderful families at LeafSpring!!!!
Hi I’m Mikayla. I am new to LeafSpring and excited to be here! I am from New York but with my dad being in the Navy, I was raised in Virginia Beach. My passion is in musical theater which led me to chase my dreams to be a part of Disney. I was a character performer and also a coach for the performers for 5 years. I hope to bring a little magic of Disney to LeafSpring school.
My family inspires me most! They always taught me to share love and kindness no matter where I go and to be the best version of myself no matter what.(757)426.6491Email
Orange Room Assistant Teacher- Younger Two's
Preschool / Nursery Float
A little bit about me, my family is very important they are truly my support system. I use to work in real estate in NYC Dumbo where I was born and raised. I moved to Virginia Beach during covid 2019. My son Saul is my heart beat he is my entire world. Leaving all we know behind our family and friends was very hard and even lonely at times. Coming to LeafSpring being able to work with children has been such a dream for me. Nyc moves so fast we move in ways to just pay our bills. So being able to be part of your little ones’ lives and also working with such an amazing group has finally made me feel a sense of home. Some of my favorite pass times are just spending time with my son long walks picnicking, and quality time.(757) 426.6490Email
Preschool / Nursery Float
Hi, my name is Jillian Mihalko. I was born here in Virginia Beach but was raised in southwest Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, I fell in love with my job working at a childcare center and volunteering with multiple programs aimed at the youth within the area. Recently, my puppy Mabel and I moved back to Virginia Beach in search of new opportunities. Currently, I am attending Grand Canyon University for a degree in Early Elementary Education and Special Education. A passion for family and the love for the kids I have worked with through the years has led me to this chapter of my life, and I can’t wait to see where it leads. Each day, I am inspired by all of the growth that happens as children learn about the world around them and their individual roles within it. In my free time, I can often be found going on walks with my dog, journaling, traveling, and spending time with family.(757) 426.6490Email
Preschool / Nursery Float
Hi! I’m Natanya but most people call me Tanya. I have lived in Virginia Beach for my entire life and I currently don’t have any plans to leave the Hampton Roads area. I graduated from Bayside High School in 2019 and I have since been working towards the career goal of working in the medical field. I am the youngest sibling to four boys. Being the youngest sibling has definitely made it where I will always be a child at heart. I am very family oriented, so I enjoy spending time with my family, especially all my nieces and nephews. My favorite hobby is interior design, so I am almost always redecorating and reorganizing a room in my house. In my free time I enjoy shopping, traveling, going to the movie theater, and visiting various types of museums.
Preschool / Nursery Float
Hello my name is Monet Mickles (Moe) and I’m from Rustburg, Va. I received my degree from Greensboro College in Exercise Science and have been working with children for over 10 years. I’m married with 2 dogs and I love sports. GO COWBOYS!!! I love being outdoors and staying active. I’m excited to be a part of the Leafspring family.(757) 426.6491Email
My name is Madison and I’m a United States Navy veteran. I’m currently 23 and living in Virginia Beach. I was enlisted for 5 years and have moved all over the country from California to Illinois and now here. I’m originally from New Castle, PA. I have two golden retrievers that I absolutely adore! We frequently go to the dog park and the beach, which is my absolute favorite place to be in any weather. I also love knitting, lifting, watching scary movies, and occasionally playing a game of Dungeons and Dragons. I’ve always wanted to work with children and will be studying at ODU to finish my teaching degree. I was deployed essentially all of 2021 and have loved the experiences and people I’ve met because of the Navy but it’s time for me to do something that I’m passionate about and truly enjoy. Being an academic teacher is my ultimate career and life goal. So I am ecstatic to be working here finally taking steps in the right direction.(757) 426.6491Email
Orange Room Assistant Teacher- Younger Two's
I grew up in Middletown, Delaware. From the ages of 11-18 years old, I worked in the children’s ministry at my church and had the opportunity to connect with and babysit for many of the parents. Going into college, I worked in customer service for a bit, as well as a part-time nanny for my senior year. After graduating from Delaware Technical Community College with two degrees in business, I chose to return to Early Childhood Education. As I searched for a job, I felt called to move to Norfolk, Virginia leading me to LeafSpring!(757)426.6490Email
Hey! My name is Desmond Mobley, also known as Mr. Desmond. I am 22 years old and I am from Yokosuka, Japan. Since the first day I came to LeafSpring I knew that this was the place I wanted to work. I have been working with children since I was fifteen years old and I also coach basketball at the recreational center at the high school level for over 5 years now. I’m preparing to transfer to ODU to major in Physical Education. I plan to be a teacher and basketball coach at the school. My hobbies are coaching, watching basketball, and spending time with my son, girlfriend and family. I also love traveling with my basketball team to new states to explore new things. I’m a very nice and polite person and I like to always be positive. I look forward to guiding the children to be the leaders of our future.757.426.6491Email
Infant Room Lead Teacher
I have worked at LeafSpring School for four years. I left to start an adventure as a private nanny, but life has brought me back to my LS family! I am currently taking classes to earn my CDA for infants and toddler care. I enjoy spending time with my family and dogs.(757) 426.6490Email
Red Room Lead Teacher - Toddlers
Hello friends! My name is Kim Mead and I am the Lead Teacher for the toddlers. I love this age because everything is new and exciting for the little ones. Originally a Jersey girl, I graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Arts, and have been married for over 25 years. In the beginning, we moved quite frequently with the Army, before settling in Virginia. My husband and I have two, wonderful children now in college. We all moved to the Virginia Beach area in 2016 and love it here! When I’m not in the classroom, you might find me on the courts, on the beach, playing with my dog, fishing, kayaking, or spending time with family and friends. Thank you for entrusting me with your tiny treasures!
What inspires me: learning through laughter. It always amazes me how young children can grasp concepts when having fun. They are like little sponges, who soak everything in.756.426.6490Email
Hi! My name is Maddie Starner and I moved to Virginia Beach in 2016 from a small town in Indiana. I have a son named Bradley who was born September 11, 2017. I have been with LeafSpring School for four years! I graduated with my Associate of Science in the Social Sciences in December 2019. I have been working with children of all ages since I was fifteen years old. I love the connection that can be made with children and they can always brighten up my day. My goal at LeafSpring School is to provide a positive and engaging environment outside of the classic school setting.757.426.6491Email
Preschool Assistant Director & Curriculum Specialist
My name is Athena de Graaf and I have been with LeafSpring School since June of 2007. I’ve had the privilege of working at two different LeafSpring Schools and held the position of Lead Teacher in Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, Gold, and Transitional Kindergarten. I will always be a teacher at heart. I earned my Bachelor’s in Child and Adolescent Psychology from Liberty University and have worked with children of all age groups before working at LeafSpring School.
I am married with two children, Joe and Jordin and I enjoy spending my free time with my family.
I am deeply inspired by my faith and family. They motivate me to focus on the important things and to not be swayed by the uncertainties and negativity in this world.(757) 426.6490Email
My name is Barbara Garbin and I have a degree in Fine Art and Art Education. While living in Pittsburgh, I taught Art for a few years and worked in an Art Studio as a Computer Graphics Designer. Upon moving here to Virginia Beach, I have been a Preschool Computer Teacher, a Lead Teacher for 2 1/2 to 3-year-old children and a Lead Pre-K Teacher. I have a son, Josh. I enjoy watching football and an occasional movie as well as going to concerts here in Virginia Beach.
I find that simple things inspire me. When things get chaotic or life presents challenges, I take time to pause and reflect. I get inspired from visiting new places, taking time to enjoy nature, or just taking time for myself.757.426.6490Email
Green Room Lead Teacher and P.E. Teacher
I have a degree in Early Childhood Education and have been working with children for over 5 years now. I moved late 2015 down here from Pennsylvania and I am enjoying it thoroughly. I’m very happy that I was able to find a position away from my hometown that made me just as comfortable as I was there. I am looking forward to helping your children grow and learn as much as I can from them.(757) 426.6490Email
Greetings families! I have been with LeafSpring School since our doors opened in 2007. I have enjoyed serving as a previous Recreational Counselor, Village Assistant Director, and Village Program Director. I attended Old Dominion University where I earned my B. S. in Human Services Counseling and minored in both Management and Psychology. I physically left the program in 2016 to relocate to Northern California and returned to the team in 2018. While I was in California, many life changes happened- I married my best friend, Chris, who I actually met through Mrs. Joyce’s husband! We are now also a family of four! Our daughter Calaleya, whom we affectionately call Cali, is 4 years old and our son, Capello, is 7 months old. I have literally watched our Virginia Beach site grow, both physically from the days when it was still being built to emotionally, in which I proudly share our school-wide accomplishments. I am happy and humbled to be back on the Administrative team.757.426.6491Email
Executive Director and Owner
I am the owner of LeafSpring VB. I graduated from Green High School, received my Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Virginia, and after having worked in pediatrics for a few years, I went on to receive my Master of Science in Nursing from Old Dominion University. I worked as a Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner for many years, and it is during that time that I saw a need in our community for a quality early education program that also encompassed a nursing component. LeafSpring School is the perfect marriage of nursing and education, and I am happy to be a part of it.
Currently, if you will often see me roaming the halls and classrooms of LeafSpring School, or in the Get Well Place. I have five children whose academic and athletic endeavors take up the bulk of my “free time”, but I enjoy supporting them and spending time with my family. I also enjoy cooking, as well as getting caught up in a good read.757.426.6490
Hi! My name is Joyce and I have been with the company since its inception in 2007. Prior to that, I worked for Rainbow Station (LeafSpring School) in Richmond, VA since 2000. I have my BS in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism and my MS in Early Childhood Studies. I am an advocate for young children and am actively involved in the early childhood scene on a local and state level. On a personal note, my husband and I have two children, Ezra Jane and Paul, Jr. I no longer have my own hobbies, but now look forward to the different ways to make memories with my family – surprise trips to Dairy Queen, the beach, and Richmond are the favorites.757.426.6490Email
Hi, my name is Kim Greelish. I am a Recreational Counselor for the Village at LeafSpring School. I am originally from North Carolina and moved to Virginia when I was fifteen. I am married, have two children, and three pets. I received my Associate’s Degree at Tidewater Community College. I have acquired over five years of experience working with children. I have been a part of the LeafSpring School family for over three years. I truly enjoy working with children and teaching them to be at their very best. My goal is to ensure every parent at LeafSpring School that their child is safe, learning to the fullest, and having lots of fun. In my spare time, I love to watch movies, shopping, and spending time with my family.757.426.6491Email
Village Assistant Director
I have always had a passion for working with children and my journey begin at LeafSpring in April of 2012 as I worked as an assistant teacher in Aug 2013 I transitioned into the role of an Administrative Assistant. In 2015 the military sent my husband and me to San Diego, CA for 6 months then to Jacksonville, FL for 3 years. In 2018 we settled back in Hampton Roads and I joined the LeafSpring family once again. While I was gone, I received my Bachelors in Elementary Education PK-6 and was granted my teaching license in the state of Virginia. Also, while away I continued my work in the early education field working at a preschool where I continued to grow as an educator as well as have my own son who was born on Halloween in 2016. My husband and I welcomed our second baby in February 2022 to complete our family of 4! I enjoy spending time with my family, going on walks, and playing board games! I love being a part of the LeafSpring Family!
The future inspires me. Knowing that I work in a field that is helping shape the minds and attitudes of our future generation is a gift within itself.(757) 426.6491Email
Purple Room Lead Teacher - Younger Four's
My name is Patty Oswald and I will be your child’s new pre-k teacher for the school year. I am beyond excited to work with your children and as many of you already know, I have potty-trained your child at some point many moons ago. I am going on my 11th year at Leafspring School. I am the mother of a rising 10th grader his name is Toby and a dog mommy to Miss Daisy. I am bringing back the old school games and learning through nature in the classroom. The children are going to have so much fun at school they won’t even notice how smart they are getting. I am structured and I love routines. I love stories too, either tell them myself or have them told to me. We will be reading plenty of books and documenting which ones we read and how many we read throughout the year. Here is to an awesome year.(757) 426.6490Email
Blue Room Lead Teacher - Older Three's
I love teaching, growing minds, and most important, the Lord! I previously worked at LeafSpring School from 2007 to 2012. For those who remember, yes, I still go by “Superman.” My favorite color is red and my girlfriend’s name is pepperoni pizza. I am back, and everyone, let me tell you – it feels good being home!
Blue Room Assistant Teacher - Older Three's
I graduated from Kellam H.S. and the VB Technical and Career Education Center in 2015. I am attending TCC to become a school counselor. I enjoy reading books in my spare time. It will be a great honor to work with your children.(757) 426.6490Email
Green Room Assistant Teacher - Younger Three's
I have been with LeafSpring School for 10 years now and I love it! I am a mother of two boys, Isaiah and MJ. I am one of 11 siblings! I attended the VoTech Center in Virginia Beach for Early Childhood Education and I received my certificate. In my spare time, I enjoy shopping with my son and spending time with my family. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. I am very excited to be teaching.(757) 426.6490Email
Orange Room Lead Teacher - Younger Two's
Hello, my name is Ulrike Diehl, but you can call me Ms. Uli. I was born in the States. My parents are both from Germany and after living in North Carolina for three years, we moved back to Germany. I spent most of my childhood there – with two years in Argentina. I speak German, English, a bit of Spanish, and some French. I studied four years of Early Childhood Education in Germany to become a teacher ranging from infants to school-age children. I have been living in Virginia Beach for over seven years and have been working as a live-in nanny.