Browsers recommended for viewing this website:

Our Staff


Support Staff


Oak Valley Director Karin Nowak joined Gretchen’s House in November, 2007. Karin graduated from Central Michigan University with a bachelor’s degree in Child Development. She has worked in early childhood since 1984 in a variety of early childhood settings. Karin taught first and third grade, owned and operated a child care center for 12 years and was Preschool Coordinator for Tecumseh Public Schools. Karin earned HighScope Trainer Certification in 2012. Karin has four children and three grandchildren. In her spare time she enjoys attending her son’s sporting events, playing cards and games with her family and reading. Karin Nowak


Office Manager Heike Hampel  has been with Gretchen’s House since 1997, when she started as an afternoon teacher at Gretchen’s House-WISD. Heike is originally from Germany and received her bachelor’s degree in Early Education there. She also attended Washtenaw Community College for her Administrative Assistant Technology Certificate. Heike lives in Manchester with her husband Derek, daughter Emma, son Max, and dog. In her spare time, Heike likes biking, traveling, and spending time with family and friends. Heike Hampel
 Office Manager Rachel Beaver began working for Gretchen’s House in 1991 as a teacher in the Infant/Toddler program at GH-Stadium. She moved into Head Teacher and Assistant Director roles before deciding to stay home with her newborn in 1994. Rachel returned to Gretchen’s House as Program Director at GH-Oak Valley when it was newly opened in 1998 and 1999, and is thrilled to return and share the Office Manager position there with Heike Hampel. Rachel has 4 daughters from elementary school through college, and has spent much of her time volunteering in a variety of school settings, running a small invitation business out of her home, as well as returning to the classroom occasionally as a substitute teacher in all of the Ann Arbor and Chelsea Gretchen’s House locations. Rachel enjoys spending time at home with her husband, daughters, and 3 small furry babies, as well as traveling as often as she can. RB
Lori Williams is the cook at GH-Oak Valley. She has been with GH-Oak Valley since 2006. Lori has been working in food service all her life and enjoys making lunches for the children. In her spare time, Lori likes photography, landscaping, and animals. Lori Williams
Vickey Williams is the cook’s assistant.  She’s excited to share her joy of baking for others at Gretchen’s House.  Her hobbies are reading, baking goodies for others and she recently starting working with stained glass. Vickey Williams
Building Resource Teacher Dan Parker is from Saline and graduated from Hope College in 2010.  He has been teaching swim lessons to preschoolers since 2005, and worked for Saline Area Schools in the Before & After School Care Program.  In his spare time, Dan likes to restore classic cars. Dan Parker 6
Building Resource Teacher Chelsea Molloy graduated from Siena Heights University with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in May of 2014.  She has volunteered with children most of her life.  In her spare time she loves to read, work out and volunteer at Ele’s Place. chelsea molly
Building Rescource Teacher Sarah Brinker has a Bachelor’s degree in Social work with a concentration in Children and Family from Eastern Michigan University.  She has experience with children as an after-school activities coordinator, in-home child care, and as a children’s social group facilitator.  In her spare time, Sarah volunteers at a children’s art center, spends time outside at parks & gardens, writes and does yoga.  Sarah also enjoys hosting family & friends. Sarah Brinker

back to top


Garden Program Director Laura Barker earned her associate’s degree from Washtenaw Community College in Early Childhood.  She is currently pursuing her Children and Family Studies degree at the The University of Michigan-Dearborn.  Laura began at GH as an infant/toddler afternoon teacher in October of 2000, and became a full-time teacher in January of 2001.  Laura grew up in Milan and enjoys fishing, boating, camping, traveling and spending time with her dog, Maisy. Laura barker
GARDEN Infants and Toddlers
Garden I/T Head Teacher Kelly Lessard has been employed with Gretchen’s House since December, 2006. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University, majoring in Child Development with an emphasis on early childhood education. Kelly has been a member of the Gretchen’s House Parent Advisory Group since 2007. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her son Nathan. Some of her interests include shopping, sports, and outdoor activities. Kelly Potter
Garden I/T Afternoon teacher Corey Bondy is a recent graduate of Saline High School. She has three years of child care experience prior to joining the Gretchen’s House team in 2012. In her spare time, Corey likes to read fiction books, to spend time with her family and to work on computer based software in which she creates digital housing. She currently attends Washtenaw Community College and is exploring her career path options. Corey Bondy
I/T Teacher Joyce Westbrook has a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Western Michigan University.  Joyce comes to Gretchen’s House with experience from working in small day cares, volunteering for summer programs and completing internships in a Head Start and 1st grade classroom.  In her spare time, Joyce loves to read, go camping and spend time outside. Joyce Westbrook
Toddler Teacher Heather Riley has a bachelor’s degree in Family Community Services from Michigan State University. Heather gained 6 years of experience working with infants and toddlers prior to joining the Gretchen’s House team in the summer of 2011. In her spare time she enjoys traveling and spending time with her family and friends. Heather Riley
Garden I/T teacher Jade Teachey is a recent graduate from Eastern Michigan University. She has an educational background in elementary education, early childhood education, integrated science, and early literacy. Her practicum and student teaching placements have given her experience working with students at varying age and developmental levels. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her family, reading and researching her genealogy. She is excited to be here at Gretchen’s House, and to have the opportunity to teach infants and toddlers. Jade Teachey
Kristall Knieper says that her passion is working with children and she is excited to be at Gretchen’s House!  She earned a a BA of Science at Eastern Michigan University in 2009.  She is a certified teacher for K-8 with an endorsement in Science, and has been a 4th grade teacher.  Kristall has also provided child care for families of children aged 6wks to 10yrs. 20151214_100525
GARDEN Preschool
Garden Preschool Lead Teacher Knar Pifer is a Michigan native and has been teaching for 8 years. She graduated from Western Michigan University with a degree in Elementary and Early Childhood Education.  Knar has previously taught pre-school, 2nd grade and 5th grade.  In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, camping and playing board games with her husband and their families! Knar Pifer
 Amy Wypyszynski  attended Miami University, Oxford, OH where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Studies and minors in Nutrition and Child Studies.  Amy worked for two years as a preschool teacher in East Lansing and then as an Assistant Department Head of kids activities at Lifetime Fitness in Cincinnati, OH.  In her spare time, Amy enjoys dancing, skiing, traveling to see family and watching MSU football!  IMG_0224

back to top


Lake Program Director Paige Sienko started at Gretchen’s House in August of 1990 and has worked with every age group during her time here.  She completed her Child Care Associate Certificate at Washtenaw Community College.  Paige has also completed the HighScope Preschool Curriculum Training Series.  In her spare time, Paige cheers for the Notre Dame Football team and spends time with her family. Paige Sienko
LAKE Infants and Toddlers
Lake I/T Head Teacher Heidi Hochrein joined the Gretchen’s House family in September of 2013. She earned her Elementary Education Degree from the University of Michigan-Dearborn and has worked in Early Childhood Education since 2001. She has worked with many age groups of children and has found that working with Early Childhood learners is the most rewarding for her. Heidi lives in Dexter with her husband, Kurt and daughter Veronica. She enjoys spending time with her family, who are avid Michigan and Tigers fans.  In her downtime, Heidi can often be found reading a variety of books, trying to make time for yoga class, running her daughter to dance class and always appreciating a good cup of coffee. heidi hochrein
I/T teacher Melanie Hicks graduated from Michigan State University in 2006 with a degree in Family/Community Services. After graduating she moved to Arizona and taught 2 year olds in Scottsdale.  After moving back home to Michigan, she became a Lead Teacher in Canton and remained there for 4.5 years.  I her spare time she enjoys baking and participating in volunteer work throughout the community.  Melanie is excited to be at Gretchen’s House and looks forward to helping your children grow! Melanie Hicks
 I/T Teacher Lauren Dawson graduated from Central Michigan University with a degree in 2015.  She has always loved working with children!  For the past few summers she has been a nanny.  In her spare time she enjoys painting, spending time outside, and practicing yoga. Lauren
Teacher Riah Harris earned her associate degree in Early Childhood Education in Maine.  Prior joining the Lake I/T team, Ri spent four years being a nanny, eventually deciding that she wanted to work in group care.  Her love of early childhood development stems from the joy she gets watching infants and toddlers discover the world around them.  In her fee time she enjoys reading, gardening, cooking, and exploring her new Michigan surroundings.  Riah Harris
I/T Teacher Alyssia Warren started working at Gretchen’s House in March 2015.  She has been working with infants and toddlers for about 3 years, but also has lifetime experience with special needs individuals.  She received her CDA certification from Penn Foster Career School in March of 2014.  She is currently pursuing a certification for Personal Training from Penn Foster as well.  Alyssia resides in Milan with her brother Partick and boyfriend Ryan.  In her spare time she really enjoys being with family.  She also loves to hit the gym for a good workout.  Alyssia is happy to be a part of the Gretchen’s House family and looks forward to watching your children learn and grow. Alissia
Afternoon Teacher Brittany Mida is earning a degree in Psychology at Washtenaw Community College.  She has 6 years of babysitting experience.  In her spare time she likes to bake, go camping, hike and read. Brittany Mida
LAKE Preschool
Tammara Hale is Head Preschool Teacher in the Lake Pod. She started her career at Gretchen’s House in February of 2009. Tammara graduated from Central Michigan University with a Bachelor’s degree in Child Development. In her spare time, she loves spending time with her younger siblings & friends, shopping and listening to music. Tammara Hale
Preschool Teacher Joy Newton graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2006 with a Bachelors degree in Elementary Education with the three minors of Science, Early Education and Reading. Joy previously worked in a preschool classroom setting for 7 years. Some of Joy’s past times included reading stories of all kinds, traveling and listening to a variety of musical styles. Joy is also a big Michigan and Eastern Michigan fan! Joy Newton
Preschool Teacher Cassie Castro graduated in 2011 from Saline High School.  She attended Madonna Univeristy where she played volleyball for 4 years and will earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development when she graduates in December 2015.  Previous to Gretchen’s House, Cassie worked at St. Mary’s Child Care Center as a preschool teacher.  In her spare time Cassie enjoys coacheing club volleyball, exercising and spending time with her family & friends. QkOCHdLb7AzXkjUxYQSV_mewOpsFLwYdTd2abQuTZSk
Preschool afternoon teacher Jill Hegarty graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a Bachelor’s degree in Early Elementary Education. She has taught in the elementary and preschool setting for 25 years. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her family, scrapbooking and reading. Jill Hegarty

back to top


Forest Program Director and morning preschool teacher Pam Preston graduated from Ferris State University after studying Early Childhood Education and completing her CDA.  In the summer months Pam coordinates the Summer Camp (SCamp) Program.  Pam enjoys scrapbooking, gardening, running and cheering the Notre Dame Football team in her spare time. Pam Preston
FOREST Preschool
Forest PS Head Teacher and GSRP teacher Stephanie Lingo graduated from Central Michigan University with a degree in Elementary Education in May 2010. Stephanie started teaching at Gretchen’s House in August 2010 and is very excited to be a part of our team. In Stephanie’s spare time she enjoys water skiing, rollerblading and spending time with her family and dog. Stephanie Lingo web
Teacher Alison Clary was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. (No, she is not an Ohio State fan but does avidly support the Cincinnati Reds and Bengals.) Before graduating from Central Michigan University in 2010 with her degree in Family Studies, she participated in the Disney College Program. There she fell even more in love with everything Disney.  In her spare time Alison enjoys reading, watching Super Hero movies and drinking coffee. Alison Clary
FOREST Young Fives
 Head Young Fives Teacher Alyssa Hammer graduated from Michigan State University in 2012.  She completed her year-long student teaching internship to earn her Elementary Education Certificate with a focus on Child Development & Language Arts from 2013-2014.  Alyssa has previously worked in a preschool classroom setting.  She loves to read, sing and spend time with family and friends when she is not working.  She is also a very enthusiastic Spartan football and basketball fan and enjoys cheering for her teams! Alyssa Hammer
Afternoon teacher Barbara Esper  is the afternoon teacher for the Forest Pod at Gretchen’s House Oak Valley.   She has been working with children since 2006.  Barbara is currently working to complete her CDA at Washtenaw Community College and her degree in Child Development.  She has three grown children, and two new grandchildren.  In her spare time, Barbara enjoys golf, yoga and writing. IMG_0188

back to top